Monday 29 September 2014

French jacket, books and blogs

During summer I did a lot of research about construction techniques used for a couture cardigan jacket. For future reference, and by special request, I'll write some blogposts on resources for couture techniques, design inspiration and fabrics and supplies. 

Over the years I bookmarked the epic tales of six bloggers who wrote about the Classic French Jacket Class they took with Susan Khalje in Baltimore. If you're in for some jawdropping stories read the adventures of Marina (Frabjous Couture), Karen (Fifty Dresses), Melanie (Poppykettle), Sarah (Goodbye Valentino), Leisa (A Challenging Sew) and Inna (Thewallinna)

Last year Leisa and Inna hosted a French Jacket Sewalong, with wonderfully detailed posts and video's. During the construction of my jacket their posts will be my lifeline!

For general couture techniques I rewatched Susan Khalje's Craftsy class: The Couture Dress.

The Couture Cardigan Jacket, sewing secrets from a Chanel collector by Claire Shaeffer, a step by step guide including a dvd.
Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer, a useful reference book
Cool couture by Kenneth D King, construction details for runway style 

The next best thing to going to Baltimore for a couture class must be watching Susan Khalje's video course on the French jacket. It's coming soon! There is no release date yet, and I want to start my jacket now.  I can see more cardigan jackets in my future so I'm looking forward to this video!

For now take a look at this wonderful video from the Chanel atelier!

Saturday 27 September 2014

And now for something completely different

As a freelance writer and editor (you have to take my word for it I'm much more eloquent in my native language) I work from home. During writing sessions in my home office I wear jeans or a skirt with a knit top. When I go out to visit a client, or do an interview, I always add a jacket to finish my outfit. Sometimes I'm multitasking and taking the pictures for my articles as well. The last thing you need when juggling pen, paper and camera is a restrictive jacket!

Over the years I bookmarked every post I found about couture methods for constructing a Chanel inspired jacket. Coco Chanel's revolutionary cardigan jacket was designed to be stylish, yet comfortable. It has the look of a jacket and the feel of a cardigan, as Chanel wanted women to be able to move and drive a car without bursting their seams. Just what I need!

So I'm moving from one extreme to another. After seven months of simple knit sewing I'm in for 100+ hours work on a garment with lots of hand stitching involved. I'm fond of hand stitching and I think I'll enjoy every minute of this project!

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Sewing with knits, a beginner's evaluation

Back in February, when I finally unpacked my second hand serger, I was not convinced I would enjoy sewing with knits. Seven months after this Start the serger post, and twelve knit garments later, it is time to make up my mind. Do I like sewing with knits? Place your bets!

Let's start with my thoughts on the Bernina 1100 D. It behaved well, from the very first moment on. Which is more than can be said about it's owner, who may or may not have used some inappropriate language in the sewing room while threading the beast. 

Really, I felt like the biggest klutz in sewing history. Determined to master the situation I kept threading and threading over again for about two hours until I got the hang of it. I never had a threading issue after that. Also: no breaking needles, no fabric eating or other incidents during those seven months of serger joy.

So technically it was a success. Yet I'm not completely sold.
As I said at the start of this experiment, I don't like fast sewing. After making some easy skirts and shirts I was missing the feeling of accomplishment, of making bespoke one of a kind garments with nice details. That's when I started to bring some of my favourite techniques into the mix. After whipping up a Moneta dress in a few hours, I wanted my next dress to be more of a challenge. And it was! Stretch lace, underlined bodice, french seams for the skirt and a hand stitched hem.

It's the most 'me' garment I made during this test period and I'm wearing it whenever I can. 

Although I may not get overjoyed by sewing knits, I do like wearing them.
Initially I thought sewing simple tees was a waste of time. Why bother? But after making a Deer&Doe Plantain shirt I completely changed my mind. This was so different! A relaxed (and forgiving) fit, sleeves that ended where I wanted them to end, nice details and a loud print. Just because I could pick whatever I fancied!

When it comes to fitting with knits each fabric will behave differently. Lots of variables have to be taken into account. The amount of stretch, mechanical- and yarn stretch, vertical stretch, weight of the fabric and more. In The Colette guide to sewing knits the advice is to fit as you work. I find that hard, especially when it comes to creating the right neckline. With my frame I look massive when the neckline is too high, on the other hand a neckline that drops too low can be pretty indecent when you're blessed with a large bust. Fitting a bodice can not be done properly without knowing how much the neckline and waistline will drop once you've added the skirt. It's interesting to compare pictures of Moneta dresses, made by bloggers in different fabrics. Fabrics with little stretch result in high necklines and short skirts, too much vertical stretch and you'll end up with lots of cleavage, a dropped waist and a midi skirt! Making a test garment is only useful when you use the same fabric you're planning to use for your final garment. That's not a very cheerful thought when you lay your hands on some beautiful but expensive knit fabric!

All in all I've learned a lot about sergers and knits and there's a lot more to investigate. And I will! The serger will stay for sure. Must make more Mabels and Monetas.
And Plantains, and... Yet, I don't know how to put it, something is missing. 

If you force me now to push one of the three buttons above I'll pick the middle one. I like the garments I've made so far cause they're easy to wear in everyday life. But when it comes to sewing, for me it's not the destination but the journey that counts. Seeing a garment come to life little by little, going through your reference books to find a new technique. Nothing beats daydreaming with a fine needle in your hand!

Maybe I need to find a balance. Sew up some knits for quick wardrobe fixes, alternated with slow and mindful sewing projects? 

Monday 22 September 2014

Lekala 8004, a faux wrap knit top

What to do with an end of the bolt piece of lightweight knit in deep purple? Back in March BT (Before Tripod) I tried my first Lekala pattern. More on the construction and thoughts on sizing can be found here. What the pictures did not show clearly (duh, no wonder when you're not modeling your garment!) is how wide the neckline is. The shoulder seam is barely existing, the v-neck practically ends at the top of the arm.
As much as I liked the look, the combination of long sleeves and bare shoulders wasn't very practical. It was often too hot or too cold to wear this top. Time to get the pattern out again!

In brown the extra length added for a vertical only FBA, in red the extra inches now added to the neckline, front and back. It may not look like a big difference but it's much more comfortable when you're not feeling like you're sitting in the middle of a draught all day long. 

Excusez the weird look, it's the best close up shot of the new neckline....

And the back. Looks like I'm directionally challenged when I'm trying to take pictures of my back side. Always missing some limbs or even my head.

Looking at these pictures it may appear like I could go down a size. I pinned the side seams in to check and although it improved the fit, it did not improve the overall look. This fabric is so lightweight that the belt loops and button of my jeans show through it if I go any tighter. 

I do recommend this free pattern to anyone who wants to try a customized sewing pattern. Instant gratification: just minutes after sending my measurements the pdf was in my mailbox. 
Someday soon I will try one of Lekala's skirts to check the fit on my bottom half.

Did you try a Lekala pattern? Did you like it?

Sunday 14 September 2014

Multiple Monetas and a sewing machine on fire

For OWOP 2014 (One Week One Pattern) I picked Colette's Moneta as my pattern. The aim of the challenge was to wear your favorite pattern throughout the week and show it's versatility. Hundreds of sewists all over the world joined in and it was fun watching those countless pictures on Instagram.

Day 1: Wearing my Monet inspired Moneta during a relaxed day in the sewing room.

Day 2: gardening in my Floral frenzy Moneta

Day 3: disaster day. As I was sitting in my sewing room, quietly pinning some pieces together, I heard a strange noise coming from my sewing desk. Then there was smoke. Lots of smoke. Coming from my beloved Bernina, yikes! More on that story in another post. Needless to say there was no finished Moneta peplum top at the end of that black day.

Day 4. What's a girl to do? Keep smiling, get dressed, in a repeat Moneta, and take the sewing machine for an emergency visit to the repair shop.

Day 5: I posted my 'if only' Moneta on Instagram. If only my Bernina had not been overnight in intensive care, this would have been my fourth Moneta dress. Now it was 3 meters of fabric, draped convincingly. Fooled anyone?

Day 6: look who's back! (Another repeat, now worn with a cardigan)

Day 7: The Grande Finale! For the last day of OWOP I picked my lace Moneta.

So, although things did not exactly go as planned, I enjoyed wearing these dresses and styling them with or without cardigans and with different accessories. For sure my Moneta collection will  get some new additions in the near future.

Day 8: OWOP, I can't stop! Lace, for a night at the ballet.

Cheers to Jane of Handmade Jane for hosting this inspiring edition of OWOP!

Thursday 11 September 2014

Giveaway winner

It's happy hour chez Foxgloves and Thimbles! Cocktails ready to drink to the start of a brand new blogging year. And let's not forget there's a lucky winner!

Oww! I've learned a lot over the last year, but putting a random number generator on the blog apparently is not one of my most successful new tricks. I made a nice composition, in foxglove pink, added the numbers, generated the winner and then I got stuck. 
How to get that thing up here? Copy/paste left me with a mysterious HTML message in the middle of this post. So here's a picture of my screen.

And the winner is.......... Evie of Pendle Stitches.

Knipmode magazine will be on it's way to England soon.

Now to cheers to all new sewing friends all over the world!

Thursday 4 September 2014

Blogiversary and giveaway

It's time to celebrate! September 10 will be the first blogiversary of Foxgloves and Thimbles. 
It's been a wonderful year and I've really enjoyed being a part of the online sewing community. Thanks everyone for your inspiration, support and thoughtful comments!
My blogiversary coincides with the 45th anniversary of Dutch pattern magazine Knipmode so I thought it would be nice to send a copy to one of you, happy to send worldwide.

The September issue contains over 40 different items in regular and plus size ranges. Tops, tunics, sweatshirts, trousers and more.

Coats Knipmode 9/2014

Skirts Knipmode 9/2014

Dresses Knipmode 9/2014

If you would like to win a copy of this magazine leave a comment before Wednesday, September 10. 
The winner will be picked randomly.