Wednesday 18 November 2015

Review Knipmode December 2015

As a long time subscriber to Knipmode I've always been very strict on the twelve issues in, twelve issues out rule. With one exception: the December issue was always a keeper. Not sure about this one though, as I'm a little underwhelmed. Look at the cover. Perhaps it would make a good January front page with all the grey, but does it say Christmas, or New Year's Eve?

Looking at the technical drawings I don't see much that makes me change my mind. Even though some of the dresses are made up in lace and one of the tops has sequins, design wise they're not very different from linen dresses and tops we saw in the spring and summer issues. It's all a

Let's take a look at some of the older December issues.

Designer evening wear, not one or two, but 20 Little Black Dresses in different styles, patterns for stylish accessories like clutches, bow ties, evening coats. 

It's not just about Christmas. The box with my treasured December Knipmode magazines is where I will be looking first when I need a pattern for a cocktail dress for a Midsummer night's party, where I found Prom dress patterns for my daughters, evening wear for a Gala or a dress pattern suitable to attend a formal wedding. I know of students and musicians using the designer patterns to make affordable  outfits for events with a 'white tie' dresscode or stage performances. With eleven magazines a year full of everyday wear, can we please, please have a festive December issue?

End of rant. When you're not looking at the collection through my disappointed eyes you may find some useful patterns.

 I'm all for relaxed family gatherings during the holidays but even secret pyamas can be a little more glamourous in December!

Deck the halls?
The styling of these patterns is definitely more festive, but a tank top, a t-shirt, rectangular skirts with elastic waists and a simple sleeveless dress? Make these patterns up in bright or floral cottons and it's called a summer holiday capsule wardrobe. 

A pencil skirt and a jacket, modeled in two different sizes. The classic skirt is looking good, but something is off with the jacket (#23 and #24). Is it the collar that looks too tiny? The centre front that looks a bit frumpy when the jacket is closed? Is there just too much going on with prints and colour blocking? Or is it the placement of the princess seams and the extra darts? I'll pass.

Now finally, here's a dress with interesting seams! Maybe in red to show off the design details? (The Knipmode website is down, so I can't add any details from the pattern shop)

Let's end this review in a positive mood. Is it all bad? No, it's not. I've already traced A-line skirt #5, I'll keep dress #17 in mind as a summer dress and maybe cardigan 13 will end op in my sewing queue. But is it a collectors item? Certainly not.
This December, and for all events in the next year, I'll be looking at Vogue or Burda for evening wear and cocktail dresses. Or, of course, my trusty box of older Knipmode December issues.

What brought on the change, I wonder? Of course Knipmode found its niche by selling patterns for busy and active women. Not as fashionable or experimental as Burda, not as basic as Ottobre. Over the years I've read several columns by chief editors suggesting we don't want to dress up anymore, all we want to do in December is put up our feet in lounge wear, play games and watch Netflix. But is that really true? Theaters all over the country are sold out for ten days in a row around Christmas, restaurants are fully booked. Whenever I go to the ballet, or a concert hall, I see lots of people dressed to the nines. We need patterns for that!

How about you? Do you like to dress up whenever you can or are you in Team lounge wear? 
What's your favourite source for evening wear and cocktail dresses?

Sunday 8 November 2015

Brushing up my French with Dior and Carmen

Early this summer, when we were in the Francophone parts of Belgium for a wedding, I felt the need to work on my rusty language skills. After successfully practicing my culinary French in restaurants and bars (très important, non?) I wanted to find some books to bring home to keep up the good work. Of course I went straight to the sewing books when we found a lovely bookstore in Liège. What else? Sewing wise I could not find anything interesting, but there were some very pretty fashion books!
After spending an hour in the reading nook of the store I bought La révolution du New Look.

Great read, and brilliant pictures!

In case you ever wondered about the perfect skirt length, here's Christian Dior telling us all hems should be 40 cm above the floor. No more, no less.

As I was slowly making progress reading this book I received a surprise email by Carmen of CarmencitaB blog : I won her book in a giveaway!

Carmen is the winner of Cousu Main, the French equivalent of the Great British Sewing Bee. She wrote a beginner friendly sewing book including 11 patterns. The book is a joy to read and the patterns for pants, blouses, la petite robe noire, a button down shirt, pencil skirts and more are looking great. The styling is fun, just like Carmen and her blog!

Hi Carmen!

Carmen also sent me a pretty tote bag. If you're part of #bpsewvember on Instagram you'll have seen today's question 'Why I sew?'. Here's one of the many answers:

Merci beaucoup, Carmen!

Monday 2 November 2015

Why I skipped my birthday dress

Look at that sweater! Sewing doesn't get any easier than that! Just what I was thinking when I started working on a fitness outfit. Quick project, could easily be finished in an evening or two and then over to making a glorious birthday dress. To speed things up I skipped making a muslin.

Clever thinking, Mrs Foxgloves. What went wrong? I used a Knipmode pattern (KM 1510-13) in my usual size 48. It looked a bit big, but as I wanted to wear it as a layering piece it didn't worry me too much.

When I looked at the technical drawing I assumed it was rather short. Something to do with the over all proportions, and the sleeves looking longer than the I added 6 cm extra length. Huge mistake! I was completely misreading the shape. It looked almost wider than long but it was not caused by the sweater being short, but by it being extremely wide! Not too worry, as a commenter on Instagram said: look at the bright side, it isn't too small!

After some chopping and going down two sizes I had another wadder.

Was this thing growing overnight? I recut again. Luckily there was so much excess fabric that I could just cut off all serged seams again, including the raglan seams. I finally ended up with something wearable, but I made three sweaters to get there. Waste of time de luxe. I equally blame the pattern, my own bad judgement and the fabric, which is a very soft, lightweight cotton/poly knit.

I attached the cowl neck twice on the final garment. Brilliant. Depending on how the cowl is worn you see the seam on the inside or the outside of the garment. The only way to get a clean finish both ways was by using French seams. On a very unstable knit. Holy cow, it never stopped!

That'll have to do. I finished my sweatshirt this morning, twenty minutes before my first serious fitness training in well over three years. I recently did some try-outs and my back and various other protesting body parts were finally holding up fine, so my return to the gym was planned for the first Monday in November. Wait, that's my birthday! As you can guess by now I didn't even start sewing my birthday dress. Well, who cares. It's the perfect day to start working on my health again and I'm very grateful to be able to reach a new level of exercise. I enrolled for a year of training and I'm wondering where I'll stand same time next year. I hope to rebuild my strength and, if possible, regain my former shape and size. And look, who needs a birthday dress when you can have a party in the gym???

It'll be quite a journey, for me as well as for my trainer. Cause I'm such a natural ;) See?