Thursday, 20 July 2017

Review Knipmode April, May and June 2017

At the beginning of spring I stopped reviewing new Knipmode magazines. For no particular reason, other than being busy. Recently there were few signs that people might be missing these reviews. In a discussion at the Curvy Sewing Collection site it was mentioned that there used to be much more information on pattern magazines available before bloggers shifted from blogging to Instagram. I decided to check the stats for my blog to see if anyone was actually reading my reviews. Guess what?  This week alone over 250 people read the old post about the August 2016 issue, I presume most of them were looking for news about August 2017. The biggest surprise of all was the number one search entry: книпмоде. Coming from a Russian sewing forum. Hi there!
So I thought I might do a quick recap of recent months to see what's new. Today it's April, May and June, later this week July and August. All patterns can be downloaded as pdf here.

The regular April issue had some useful patterns, but nothing that really caught my eye. One of the new trends: lingerie inspired tops and dresses. What do you think? I'm afraid it will make me look like I've lost my marbles and forgot my dressing routine. Does a slipdress worn over a shirt become a dress?

My favourite item in this issue was again the menswear. This pattern is already traced to make for mr Foxgloves in a wonderful navy twill.

Bomber jacket

The April supplement was a bridal special, containing a three piece bridal gown and several pretty dresses for wedding guests.

Dress, overskirt and top

Colourful and summery dresses for all guests, except for the poor mother of the bride who is all buttoned up in beige.

May was the month we'd all been looking forward to ever since Knipmode announced a new designer collaboration. De jurken van Janice (dresses by Janice) is a new monthly feature. The dresses are accompanied by an instruction video on the Knipmode YouTube channel. Ready for the first 'designer dress'?

Not a top notch first impression, to put it mildly. The only thing distinguishing this dress from a regular Knipmode pattern is the use of a finer fabric. (The feature is sponsored by a higher end fabric shop). In fact this dress looks like a simplified version of for instance dress # 1 from April (check the pattern overview above). The designer tells us this dress was inspired by the 30s charleston style. Blahblahblah. Curious to see where this is going.

The rest of the May issue has a patriotic vibe with red, white and blue, tulips and orange. Both the colour and the House of Orange as once again a collection is inspired by Queen Maxima.

June was all about dresses. The bodice of dress 5 (below in orange, second from the right) has interesting seam lines. The pink dress on the left (14) is not an A-line dress but has a waistband behind the models arm.

One of the benefits of delayed reviews is seeing some of these patterns pop up in the blogosphere.
Camelia made a lovely version of the dress on the left (#10), you can find her blogpost here

June designer dress
The designer dress (26) looks somewhat more interesting than last month's, but apart from the slightly more glamorous styling it's not really different from the rest of the dresses in this issue.

All patterns come in EU sizes 34-54, except for the bikinis

Polo shirt
Menswear comes in European sizes 46-58 and is drafted for a height of 184 cm.

Well, that was a long and picture heavy post! Another catch up post will follow soon and then it's back to monthly reviews. And sewing of course! I have a few unblogged items waiting for pictures but unfortunately my iron broke down and I'm not ready for a wrinkle fest.
To be continued!

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own. Photocredits: Knipmode

Saturday, 1 July 2017

A polka dot wrap dress

....Or the story of a twice forgotten dress. Last month I checked my Instagram account to see at what date in 2016 an event took place. (Do you also use Instagram as a picture diary? It's my favourite data source when I want to know when and where I bought that floral fabric, at what time last year I picked the first sweet peas or when we visited a concert or exhibition. But I digress) What I was going to say was I rediscovered this picture:

Posted in June 2016, when I was cleaning my sewing room and found a shoe box with a neatly labeled Vogue 8379 wrap dress. I cut it out during the summer of 2015 and then completely forgot. Salient detail: the print on the sticky notes says 'don't forget'.

Apparently I finished the dress at the end of August 2016, given this photographic evidence of hand stitching the hem in the garden.

The dress was put away in the back of my closet and if I hadn't seen that IG picture again I'm afraid it would still be there. Well, it's re-rediscovered now!

It's a remake of the  Jungle January dress, with short sleeves. I made my standard adjustments for this pattern: lengthened the bodice, skipped the facings and lengthened the ties.

It's still my favourite wrap dress pattern. I like the look of the diagonal pleats, the neckline lies flat and there is plenty of overlap in the skirt, making it suitable to wear on a bicycle.

No wardrobe malfunctions during a typical Dutch breeze, so what's not to like? I'm not sure. What are the odds of a twice forgotten dress turning ever into a wardrobe staple? Time will tell!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Foxgloves and tees

After finishing two time consuming projects in a row, a winter coat and a French jacket, I felt the need to change my sewing pace. I wanted to make something quick and easy. Around this time of year the garden is seriously eating up my spare time so it was not just a matter of looking for instant gratification. When there is little time even simple projects can take ages so I steered away from my usual habit of overthinking and overcomplicating things and went straight into the sewing room to look for inspiration.

I found a piece of jersey in my stash that was just waiting to become a Cashmerette Concord tee. Number six, or seven, I lost count.

As you can see the Concord Tee is an essential part of my gardener's uniform. I've already made all views: high neck, scoop neck, v-neck, short, medium and long sleeves, cropped length, mid length and long curved hem. This time around the length of my fabric did not give me many options: short sleeves and then hoping for the best regarding pattern matching.

Although I liked the idea of a short sleeved v-neck tee I was worried the angle of the triangles in the print would look weird with the different angle of the v-neck. So scoop neck it was, meaning it was an exact remake of this Concord. Shoulder adjustments, size 18 G/H and a bit of extra ease at the waist.

The jersey is rather thin and clingy, which means it works better as a layering piece. Or for showing off those biceps, after carrying around watering cans....

Now that this pattern is still on my sewing table I'm making a few adjustments to try a different shape. Giving the bodice some flare and doing a front and back v-neck. We'll see how this ends!

Friday, 9 June 2017

Vogue 7975, finished French jacket

Two years and nine months after I first mentioned my plans for this French jacket it's finished. I loved every minute of the quilting and hand sewing. I love the lining, the trim,.....I'm just not sure I like it on me.
Actually I finished it a month ago (does two years and eight months sound marginally better?) but I needed some time to collect my thoughts before writing a blog post. But let's save the reflections for later and continue with the construction details.

This is where I left in my previous post. Ready to add the trim. (More details about the trim can be found here) I hand stitched the ribbon to a double layer of 5 cm wide fringe, cut on the straight grain.

I hand stitched the trim along the neckline and front before closing the lining. Last step: threading strips of lining through the horizontal ribbon stitches.

After careful consideration I decided against adding trim at the hemline and sleeves. I preferred the vertical line as a focal point.
So far, so good!

Pretty insides! Now let's put in on me:

Hmm. A rather dull outfit on someone who loves colourful clothes.

These pictures were taken during the first outing of the jacket. Mr Foxgloves took me out for dinner in a lovely orangerie. Wonderful occasion to wear something new!
Confession: this was before I added the chain and it definitely affected the hang.

I already knew the jacket was going to be too big. Even after a delicious four course meal I could easily take out 10 cm at the hip and slightly less at the waist and high bust. I did try to open up the seams before I added the trim but using a seamripper with bouclé that's falling apart when you just look at it? Mission impossible.
Well, too small would be worse. I'm so grateful to be in better shape than I was when I started this project while recovering from a back injury.

Now is there anything else I can do to improve the look of what I now consider a wearable muslin of a French jacket?

Add colour? I usually wear my jackets open. When I don't use the hooks and eyes it is less obvious the jacket isn't as well fitted as it should be (at least in my mind). One of my daughters suggested rolling up the sleeves to show more of the lining, it also enhances the more casual look. I'm thinking of making a pink bow blouse and slim white pants for a smarter summer look. As you can see in the various pictures this jacket easily picks up colour from the environment and looks rather different in a sunny garden than on a cloudy day. I'll try a scarf, necklaces and different coloured tops underneath. Not giving up yet!

Regrets, I have a few.
The fit isn't one of them. The original muslin had a good fit and so did the basted jacket when I checked after quilting and before sewing the seams. This could not have been avoided. Even if I had finished it sooner it would now be too big. That's life.

My biggest regret? I wasn't sure about buying the bouclé until I paired it with the lining. The lining was love at first sight. But hey, it's LINING. That's on the inside when you're done!!! Lesson learned. Ouch.
In hindsight, I think I lost my enthusiasm at this stage:

Although I didn't put my finger on it at the time I don't think it's a coincidence that this was the moment the focus shifted from working on the insides (quilting, finishing all thread tails) to working on the outer shell. Red flags were neglected. I even took a fifteen months break whereas my usual modus operandi for an exciting sewing project is more like order pizza and spend long nights in the sewing room till it's done. If only I had chosen a red bouclé, or royal blue...

So what do we have so far. Too big, wrong colour.
But..... Did I already tell you how divine this jackets feels?
Those of you who felt the magic of quilting two fabrics to become one know what I'm talking about.
So soft, so luxurious.

This jacket may have some serious flaws but it's such a joy to wear. And I often do!
Had it turned out better it might have become 'special occasion' wear, as it is I wear it as my new favourite cardigan. To the grocery shop, to the pub, to the vet's.

It's been a long journey and an interesting one. I've learned new techniques, read many couture books, visited exhibitions and met new online sewing friends from all over the world working on similar projects. Thanks everyone for your helpful and supportive comments and special thanks to Leisa of A Challenging Sew and Inna of Thewallinna for starting the Little French Jacket Sewalong with special contributions by Susan Khalje. If you're ever considering making a French jacket make sure to check those sewalong posts for inspiration, resources and tutorials. I know I will when I'm starting the next one. Which I most certainly will. I didn't spend 100+ hours on this muslin to stop here!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

It's alive!

It's been exactly a year since I last posted about my adventures in French jacket sewing. Last Easter I started making a trim and from there it was one step forward, two steps back.

When I started this project back in 2014 (!) I was still recovering from a back injury and was rather limited in my choice of exercise. My return to the gym apparently resulted in losing some inches, so when I finally unboxed the ufo jacket and tried it on it was too big. The muslin had been taken apart to be used as the pattern, making it impossible to go back and come up with an action plan for adjustments based on that muslin. Time out.
Life happened and sewing was on the back burner for the rest of spring and summer. By the time I was ready for a more involved project autumn had arrived and the jacket ended up hibernating in the box. Again.

Last month, when I was spring cleaning the sewing room, I stumbled upon the box of doom. I tried the jacket on, still too big. Fix it or dump it?
I decided to give it one last chance. After all the time and energy spent on this project the least I could do was finish it, practice a few new techniques and enjoy hand sewing that fabulous lining!

First I opened up the sleeve seams and took out 4,5 cm of the circumference. It was a tricky job to remove the almost invisible stitches that disappeared into the boucle. Of course the fabric was fraying like crazy, making unpicking a slow and challenging process, but it was well worth the effort. The sleeves look much better now. I also made minor adjustments at the bodice seams from the waist down.

After adding the hooks and eyes I was able to check the fit once more. Still a little roomy at the hips. Not sure if it's worth opening up the seams again, there's always the risk of making things worse by over working those fraying parts! In an ideal situation I would also take out some width at the high bust and shoulder but at this stage I don't think it's wise to mess with the crossing princess seams and shoulder seams. 

What's left to do: 
- close the lining at the armholes
- add the trim
- close the front and neckline
- hem the sleeves
- sew the lining to the hem, on bodice and sleeves
- add the chain

It's all hand sewing. Perfect job for a cold and rainy long weekend.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Finished faux collar

Recently my oldest daughter told me she was looking for a faux collar, or half shirt, dickey, hoaxer or whatever you'd like to call it. She sent me an inspiration picture of these cute collars, made by the Dutch brand Idiot du Village.

 Knipmode December 2016 happened to have a mix & match blouse pattern, one of the views being this gem:

DD1 is living 1,5 hours away from me and has a very busy schedule so fitting sessions can be hard to arrange. For this pattern I didn't foresee any issues so I just guessed her size and added 3 cm to the length as she's 1.82 cm / 6' tall. I knew she wanted to wear the collar under a slim fit rayon top (not the one pictured above) so I chose a cotton batiste. The bodice is self lined for a clean finish. To keep it light and soft I used silk organza as interfacing for the collar, collar stand and button band.

If I'd make this again I would probably change the separate button bands for a cut on facing for an even smoother effect.

I think next time I could go down a size to 36. I would also add a few centimeters to the the shoulder width now that I've seen it in action while worn with a chunky sweater with a wider v-neck. Check the little gap on the right:

It was a fun project to make and the pattern went together well.
KnipmodeChallenge2017: 2 down, 10 to go!

To continue this selfless sewing story: back in January I posted a picture on Instagram of a silk organza pressing cloth I made for myself to replace the one I had accidentally cut up. To prevent further klutz action I serged it with hot pink thread for easy identification. Much to my surprise I saw a message from my daughter in the comments, hinting that she would love to get a similar one as a birthday present. She doesn't have a dedicated sewing space so I made a little zipper bag to store it near her ironing board.

It was my very first time using a rotary cutter and I was trying so hard not to hurt myself in the process that I completely forgot to take pictures. (I'm not sold on the scary tool)

Luckily thanks to daughter's boyfriend we have the birthday pictures and a few very artistic shots of the project!

Don't you love the matching tulips?