Tuesday 25 February 2014

Deer and Doe Plantain

Each day is full of challenges for the serger newbie! For my second project I chose the Deer and Doe Plantain t-shirt. Fitted at the shoulders, flaring at the hips with contrast neckband and elbow patches. The pattern is a free download and can be found here at the website of the small French pattern company that offers 'jolis patrons de couture'. And nice they are indeed!

The recommended fabric was a light jersey with a stretch percentage of 40-50%. Do I smell trouble? Like wobbly overstretched seams and baggy shoulders? Careful sewing ahead!

To avoid stretching out of shape I stabilized the shoulder by incorporating clear elastic in the seam (pinned in the above picture).

I was quite pleased with my first ever neckline band:

Although it's a little wider than I intended. It turns out I'm not as accurate on the serger as I am on the sewing machine. Something to do with not really knowing the exact spot of the stitching line, but as you can see I'm working on that issue. Testing 1,2,3.

Stitching the elbow patches and sewing the sleeves was an easy job and there were no fitting issues whatsoever.

Time for the scary bits! How would I manage to get nice hems without s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g? 
I bought a twin needle for stretchy fabrics, put the walking foot on my sewing machine and did some test runs. Argh. Skipping stitches. Changed to a universal twin needle. Better. Changed the walking foot for a standard foot. Bingo. Winning combination.

This is how the sleeve hem turned out:

While watching the Craftsy course 'Sewing with knits' I picked up another trick for hemming knits: use Steam-a-Seam to glue the hem in place before stitching. Steam-a-Seam was nowhere to be found in the Netherlands so I used the Dutch equivalent Plakgoed. Not quite the same, but it worked well on the bodice hem as you can see below.

One more picture of the back:

Le Plantain, c'est fini!

I'll be back modeling the shirt, but for now I'd better move on with all those winter fabrics.
Spring is just around the corner!

Thursday 20 February 2014

Start the Serger, day one, first project

I did it! My first serger project: a skirt in black jersey. 

There's not much to tell about the construction: threading the serger took almost twice as long as sewing the skirt. (Room for improvement on the threading part but thanks to all your great tips I hope to set a new personal best time tomorrow). I found a tutorial by Portia but whether it was due to my hip/waist ratio, my fabric or my technical skills, I had to redo the waistband. I cut some extra 4 inches off  and it still feels a bit loose. But it's a promising start!

Next experiment : a Deer & Doe Plantain top. To be continued!

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Start the serger!

Some time ago I bought a second hand serger. I put it away in a safe place until my sewing room was finished. Fast forward one year and I still have not used it. What's keeping me from serging? Am I scared of the fabric eating beast?
Nope. I'm fearless. In the sewing room, that is.
If an experiment fails there's always more fabric. Then why is this beauty still unemployed?

The reason is I'm not really attracted to sewing with knits. I don't do fast sewing.
There, I've said it.
I like my garments either fully lined, or with French seams or Hong Kong finished seam allowances, with hand picked zippers and invisible hems.
I don't like whipping up a knit dress, skirt or jacket in a few hours. Although I never tried.
That's right. I never tried.
Maybe I should.

So here's the deal. The next month will be all about experiments with the serger.
If I like it, I will have learned some new tricks and sew happily ever after.
If, after that month, I still think the serger is a waste of space I will sell it, invest the money in Linton tweed and silk charmeuse and sew slow projects happily ever after.

Last week all fabric salesmen on our local market dumped their winter fabrics for 1 euro/meter. Since I had no knits in my stash I went a little overboard:

From February 20 till March 20 I will be serging my way through this stuff and learn all about 2-, 3- and 4-thread overlock, flatlock, narrow seams and roll hems. I've got my Bernina manual ready, the Craftsy course on beginner serging, two reference books and some patterns.

You can place your bets now. Will I have a new best friend, or will I give the darn thing it's walking papers?

Sunday 16 February 2014

You know you're turning into a sewing nerd when....

.... you find yourself melting a big chunk of Slovakian beeswax, turning your kitchen into a scene bearing a striking resemblance to Walter White's rolling meth lab.

The results are what I hoped for: nicely shaped beeswax figures, a treat for all sewing members of the Foxgloves family. For those of you who don't know how to use this notion that will take your hand sewing to the next level I recommend reading this article

Valentine gifts!

Another sign of developing a one track mind is when you start analyzing the fit of players outfits during an exciting ATP World Tour tennis match. A few years ago I was watching Andy Murray playing at the ABNAmro tournament in Rotterdam. He was wearing an extremely oversized shirt. After each serve or return his shirt was all over the place. One couldn't help thinking this guy was in urgent need of a shoulder adjustment. This week I witnessed another Murray match at the same venue. 
Can you imagine my surprise? Look at that sleeve! Sheer perfection! 

Needless to say he won in straight sets.

Of course I already knew Andy had great taste in furry assistants, now I admire his taste in tennis gear too.

The Wimbledogs

The next player in need of some fitting advice showed up later at Centre Court.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was compulsively pulling up the hem of his bermuda by at least 6 inches after every rally.
He was not playing his best game, was easily distracted and lost the match.
I almost shouted : "Darling, go hem those pants!" but I had to bite my tongue.
Don't think hubby would take me out again if I behaved like an officer of the fitting police en plein public. 

The moral of this story: some players seem to be so worried about feeling restricted by fitted outfits that they fail to notice the obvious: the irritation caused by ill fitting outfits could influence their play as well. Food for thought for the sponsors? It's not just about a new color, or the right sized logo. Fit matters!

Or is it me, seeing the world through sewing nerd glasses?

Monday 10 February 2014

Finished wrap dress

Vogue 8379 is finished, and just like the furry assistent I don't really know what to think of it. It was an easy make with some little adjustments. The shoulders were a bit too wide, I took out 1,5 cm before putting in the sleeves. I took out some of the fulness of the skirt and lengthened it by 15 cm, aiming for the top of my boots. 

A (badly lighted) picture from the sewing room which shows the pattern's potential for a sleeveless summer dress.

I omitted the facings and instead used some fusible tape and turned the sides under. I added a small gingham ribbon to stabilize the back neckline and the shoulders and used the rest of the ribbon to make hanging loops.

What more is there to say? It's a very classic dress, bordering on boring. As I wrote in an earlier post, my intention was to make this dress in a very rich purple. Perhaps that would have provided the wow-factor it is now lacking.

On to the next sewing adventure that hopefully results in a bigger smile!

Happy sewing!

EDIT: After receiving lots of positive feedback, in the comments, by mail and in real life, I think I've been to hard on this poor dress. 

After seeing these pictures of a 300 euro LK Bennett dress I am even considering a second make with a slightly shorter and straighter skirt, and maybe in a print resembling the one used for the dress on the right.

Tuesday 4 February 2014


....I made a blog header! The picture was taken in June, months before I even started this blog. I already knew the blog name I wanted to use so when I saw the first flowering foxgloves there was no time to waste. On a background of white organza  I made this composition of my sewing in a garden symbols.

Fabric, homegrown foxgloves and my grandmother's thimbles.