Tuesday 31 December 2013

Monday 30 December 2013

Lace skirt finished

My lace skirt was finished just in time for Christmas. Considering the fact that working with lace is a bit time consuming this skirt was a relatively easy make. In my earlier post I described construction details until basting the hemmed underlining and lace together. I stitched the side seams and inserted the zipper by hand.

The pattern used satin bias tape as a visible finish at the waistline. I chose to use grosgrain ribbon on the inside and added a hook and eye instead of a button. The waist ended up a tad wide, lucky coincidence taking the amount of food at the Christmas dinner in consideration!

Looking at the picture I'm not very pleased with my styling. This skirt definitely asks for more delicate tights and high heels. Well, sometimes you need to make a concession. Specially when travelling by public transport and walking the streets of Amsterdam with the furry assistant.

On Christmas Day we went to the theatre to see The Sleeping Beauty, a magnificent production by the Dutch National Ballet. Principal dancers Anna Tsygankova and Jozef Varga stunned the audience during a overwhelmingly beautiful performance and received well deserved standing ovations and curtain calls.

Here's another picture, also at the theatre. I'm standing next to one of the amazing costumes from The Sleeping Beauty. Those are real works of art. Delicate fabric, beautifully embroidered with crystals and pearls. Yep, there's lace skirts and lace skirts!

Although the one on the left is in another league I'm very happy with mine!

Thursday 26 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Now look who's sitting under the Christmas tree!

Can you guess?

It's a limited edition whisky in a box designed by GBSB's judge Patrick Grant!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday 19 December 2013

Lace for Christmas

During a city trip in Ghent, Belgium, I bought some lovely lace.

It disappeared into my stash until I saw this skirt in the december issue of Knipmode:

Because I wanted to use the scallops of the lace for the hem I decided to make a muslin in order to make sure the length was right before cutting. Hooray for the muslin! The length was just perfect.
That was about all that could be said in favor of this skirt. I like my pencil skirts to be tapered towards the knee and at first glance this picture looked okay. Ehhmm, you know, I like how the skirt is going down to the right knee. Now look again. What's going on behind that little silver evening bag? Right. Lots and lots of fabric. That line drawing should have been a clue. That's one boxy skirt!

Out with the ruler! It took two rounds of adjusting, in the end I lost over 20 cm of hem circumference.
Taking out more would mean making a kick pleat, in lace. Don't think so.

Next challenge. Hips. I'm curvy, but this skirt got some prefab hips like you would not believe! Ruler making overtime to flatten out these kingsize curves. Ha! It's finally starting to look like a pencil skirt. 

The pattern instructions are for a lined skirt. Since I don't want my darts and side seams showing through the lace I chose for underlining. My inner stash police voice told me to use what I've got, which left me with the choice between satin for a shiny look (tempting, very Christmassy!) and this fabric of unknown origin:

Right color, perfect drape. We have a winner! 

I hemmed the underlining by hand. As you can see, or better can't see, it's pretty much invisible. I really love those relaxing couture techniques.

Then I put the lace over the underlining, matching the hems at the top of the scallops.

It's a dark and rainy day so I'll put on some candles, pump up the volume of the Love Actually soundtrack and start hand basting my layers together.

Happy sewing!

Friday 13 December 2013

They're back!!

Please. Don't call, text, or visit me this Sunday evening, unless you're willing to shut up and sit quietly in front of the telly. They're back! The Great British Sewing Bee returns for a Christmas reunion with judges, Savile Row's Patrick Grant and sewing teacher, May Martin, and this year's semi-finalists; Stuart, Sandra, Lauren and 82-year-old winner Ann.

Embroidered napkins, table runners, handmade gifts and fabric wreaths, you can already watch some video clips and download instructions at the website of BBC2.

Don't miss it! Sunday, December 15 at 20.40 hrs (Dutch time)

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Chocolate Jasmine

Finally finished: the chocolate Jasmine bow neck blouse. It was supposed to be my garment of the month November and entry for the November Bow neck blouse sewalong so I thought: let's take an autumn-ish picture and no one will notice ;)
It could have been finished only one day late, at the first of December,  but I took the advice to let the finished blouse hang for at least 24 hours before hemming a bit too seriously. Cut on the bias and we don't want a wonky seam!
So I painted a small room, put in some new flooring and went back to the blouse.
By that time it was closer to Christmas than to November so the next picture, which shows the color in a more realistic way, was shot in the holly tree. Even though I'm always late, I DO know what time of year it is, see?

What's the verdict on this pattern? When I made a muslin I was unpleasantly surprised by the size of the sleeves. I'm a swimmer, and I'm blessed with..ahem...quite full upper arms, but really, the Hulk himself would not burst out of this sleeves in his most impressive moments! Even after removing two inches of the width I still think the sleeves are overpowering the look.  
My fabric was a bit of a nightmare. It was somewhat slippery, but not in a way I couldn't handle. However, it was very difficult to press! Before pressing the bow ties I hand basted everything  flat, pressed, removed the basting thread and pressed again.

And yes, those darts needed three more rounds of pressing!

Next challenge. Making bias tape for the neck binding. Ever done that with fabric that presses so badly? After adding several layers of spray starch the fabric finally surrendered.

The drape of the fabric is very nice, which is a bonus in a bias cut garment. It's flowy and lightweight. 
When it came to constructing the collar those flowy qualities became a drawback. I used the same collar in my Jasbetto, made of cotton lawn. it was nice and crisp. The muslin collar also turned out fine, but this collar in cupro could have used some interfacing. Again interpretation of the muslin proved to be tough because of difference in drape.

Excusez the wrinkles in the sleevehead. I should have pressed again after wearing it. Sigh. Technically there's nothing wrong over there. (Just checked after seeing this picture)

Surprise! Closer inspection of the pattern made me realize this collar is supposed to be wobbly!

The lack of interfacing in the collar is more than made up for in the cuff. Even though I used very delicate fusible interfacing, the cuffs are a bit stiff compared to the rest of the garment.
Maybe next time I'll use silk organza to stabilize both collar and cuffs.

In the end I like the finished project, although I'm glad it's done! I think this blouse will fill a gap in my wardrobe and I have a nice cardigan to wear over it on colder days. That is, after I made some minor changes to it.
Can you imagine the design genius that wakes up in the middle of the night, shouting: 'Eureka! Let's put white buttons on burgundy cardigans!'

Button box to the rescue

I cleaned my sewing room and ironed the Anna dress pattern tissue so now let's hope for a nice, carefree run on my next project.

Happy stitching!

Monday 9 December 2013

Next up: the Anna dress. For real.

The Jasmine blouse is finished, I just need to take some pictures of it. Preferably outside, because the color and details are hard to catch in flash light. Update will follow soon.

Next up is By Hand London's Anna Dress.

When I planned to make this dress in september I needed the long version in black, to wear to a ballet gala. The pattern got lost in the mail and there was no urge to make the formal Anna any time soon. Sewing plans were piling up and I forgot to return to the pattern. Until recently. Wouldn't it be a nice, comfortable dress, perfect for the holidays when made in a vibrant red ponte knit? Midi, V-neck and long sleeves. This time I'll make it. For real!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Sorbetto saga, part 2

Foxgloves and thimbles proudly present................the Jasbetto!



The round neckline on the Sorbetto was not doing me any favors. The boxy style of the top meant I would only use it for layering, but it looked just too plain and neutral under a jacket or cardigan. Accessorizing was tough, the curve of the neckline did not look good with any of my shorter necklaces, while the front pleat clashed with the longer ones. That's when I decided this top needed a focal point.

Since it's Bow Neck month I gave the shorter version of the Colette Jasmine necktie a try.
I started by carefully removing the bias binding.

Then I altered the front neckline by using a Jasmine pattern piece. The Sorbetto curve at the back was much wider, so I drafted a new pattern piece for the back collar.

I had just enough leftover fabric to cut the collars, ties and loop.

Binding the new collar was a bit tricky. I was working with tiny second hand seam allowances and had to stretch the bias binding a bit because the neckline was slightly wider now. Hand sewing for extra control, the things we do to save a top!

But it worked! The finished Jasbetto is looking so much better. The neckline is really flattering and I can make it work in different outfits.

Layered with a warm cardigan
With a lightweight silk cardigan and white jeans 

And remember the jeans I'm making? Look at those pockets, isn't it a match made in heaven?
Soon those two will be joined together and live happily ever after.
Isn't that a happy ending for a sorry Sorbetto that turned into a Jasbetto princess?

Monday 25 November 2013

Sorbetto blues

Earlier this year I made this Colette Sorbetto top.

It started with some very soft cotton in a nice color and subtle flowery print.

I picked the Sorbetto against better judgement. I knew this would not be the best shape on me, but I needed something simple to do some testruns. It was the first time I downloaded a pattern, I wanted to make a long overdue first full bust adjustment (FBA), had never sewn an indie pattern before and wanted to see if I could document this project for a future blog. With such a lot of 'firsts' I thought making a muslin would be a cunning plan.

If this is what it takes to construct a pattern for something as simple as a Sorbetto top, do I wanna know what a downloadable trenchcoat looks like??

To keep my spirits up I put up the inspiration pictures on my iPad. "Look, everyone and their mother is making good looking Sorbetto's. Don't despair, you can do it. Keep calm, tape on!"
(Not much later I discovered this post by Heather B. on assembling pdf patterns. Changing from tape to glue made all the difference!) 

Next up, a scary looking FBA. O joy.

Succesful? Not so much. It took me some time to realize that, other than most fitting books tell us, there is not such thing as a 'one solution, helps all' FBA. Some people need extra length above the apex, others in the underbust curve. The next few nights I read FBA chapters in fitting books as my bedtime stories. On to muslin number two. Mind you, we're still talking Sorbetto. I did not even make more than one muslin for my wedding dress!

Muslin number two. I was prepared for some serious slashing and even stitched lengthwise and crosswise grain, better safe than sorry. Muslin number one had been beaten up beyond recognition, who knew what would be next? Surprise! The fit was much better. In fact, it was rather good.

Since I was already on my best behavior I made some neat French seams.

Made some bias type:

And then took it outside to pin the binding to the neckline and armscyes. From the look of those flowers it must have been a sunny day in late spring. (Edit: pictures were taken on May 31)

Sewing in the garden, just what I needed to get things into perspective.  
So I made a Sorbetto. It looked good on the hanger, it looked ehhh....not too impressive on me. As was to be expected.
Did I care? Not really. 
I learned a lot about FBA's and I liked the presentation and instructions of Colette Patterns so much that I later ordered the Negroni shirt for my husband (blogged here). O wow. Can you guess the best part of sewing for guys? NO FBA. Never. Ever.

I put the finished Sorbetto in my closet and it never saw daylight again. 


This could be the sad end of a garment that was never really loved. Feeling blue and rejected in an overcrowded closet, the only way out being the bin. Somewhere deep down I must have felt guilty, cause last night I woke up with a possible rescue plan. This morning I immediately checked my leftover scraps. Could it work? Find out in the next episode of Sorbetto blues. Tomorrow, same place, same time.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Fitting buddies for a day

A few weeks ago I was celebrating my birthday. For me the best thing about birthdays is having the kids around. And they brought the best of gifts!

A Kenneth D King inspired ruler, a gift card from my youngest daughters favorite fabric store in her hometown Enschede, flowers and a big chunk of beeswax. Sewing related presents and flowers, those girls and their boyfriends know me so well!

One of my daughters could stay for another day and she wanted some help on sewing a Sewaholic Pendrell blouse. Since she wants to make all three views of the pattern we decided to make a muslin, tweak that to perfection and then make all necessary adjustments to the flat pattern.

She's just over 1.80 m tall so I was hoping to check if the waistline hit her at the right spot. Boo! No waistline mark! So we eyeballed one on pattern and muslin and checked the fit. Not too bad. We took the princess seams in, adjusted the shoulder seam and then it was time to make those corrections to the pattern.


Things are obviously progressing well in Amsterdam cause she sent me this picture recently:

Look, mom! Matching seams!

Since I don't have sewing buddies around on a regular basis I asked her to check the fit of my jeans, aka Garment of the Month October (blush). Together we reached a surprising conclusion. As I was grumbling about the extra fabric at the back of my upper legs my daughter pointed out my original jeans had the same issue. Nooooo! Really?? Well, it turned out I DID succesfully copy my favorite jeans after all.
That's good, because I proved the method worked and in theory I know how to copy anything in my wardrobe now. But. My favorite jeans has its flaws.
Flaws I won't accept in my bespoke jeans pattern. So we pinned out the extra fabric and I'm in for some quality time with my seamripper. It will be fixed!

In the meantime I prewashed my fabric for the bow neck blouse that will be Garment of the Month November, I've traced the pattern and will be making a muslin. Since I'm not sure which of the sleevetypes I prefer the muslin will get one of each. I'm also opting for a bigger bow so it's playtime in the sewing room!