Thursday 24 March 2016

The continuing story of a French jacket

Fifteen months ago I took a break from working on my French jacket. It was meant to be a spring/summer jacket and once I had missed the time slot other sewing projects seemed more urgent. The jacket was carefully packed away in a box, together with thread, chain and every bit of leftover fabric. I hoped to pick it up again last March, but by then coral coat fabric had taken over my sewing room. Fast forward one year and the French jacket is back on top of my sewing list!

This is where I left it. Bodice seams were closed, sleeves cut and ready to be constructed. Once that's done it will be time to make a few design choices. I'm considering several neckline options and I'm still not sure whether I want patch pockets or not. Whenever I'm thinking about the different options I feel like I can't choose properly without envisioning the overall picture. And for that I definitely need to decide on the trim.

The jacket may have been out of sight for fifteen months, it was often on my mind. I experimented with the selvedges, used different fibers for crochet and visited haberdashery shops during the quest for the perfect trim. Wherever I went, from Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht to Liege, Edinburgh, Prague and Bratislava, I always had a quilted square of boucle in my handbag. No luck. Navy looked boring, white was either too white or too yellow-ish, mixing navy and white resulted in a overly classic look. If only I had enough fabric left to make fringe!

The more I thought about it, the more I realised I'm probably more in love with the lining than with the main fabric. And then I remembered the Chanel ensemble I admired two years ago at an exhibition in The Hague.

What if  I incorporated a tiny strip of that colourful lining in a trim? My fabric isn't as loosely woven as the example fabric, maybe layering will work?

Since last week my options doubled. Can you believe my luck when I unexpectedly stumbled upon a bolt of the same boucle? I had last seen that fabric for sale in 2014 and back then it sold out fast. I quickly bought enough to start experimenting with fringing bias strips as well!

Lots of things to try out during the upcoming long weekend!

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Bootstrap Fashion 42379, a cowl neck knit top

Although I was planning to work on a more challenging project, a chain of events made me change my sewing plans. More on that later. I needed a simple project, made from stash fabric as there was no time for fabric shopping. Maybe it was finally time for spring sewing? But then it started to snow again and I brought out a lacy wool knit fabric. Now what to make? While looking for a pattern I ended up at the Bootstrap Fashion website. For those of you not familiar with this brand, amongst a lot of other services Bootstrap offers custom fit sewing patterns. You enter your measurements and about ten minutes later you can pick up a made to measure PDF pattern from your inbox.

This cowl neck pattern came close to what I was looking for, except for the sleeve and hip bands. Not very hard to make a few changes and browsing the Bootstrap site made me want to try the patterns. I entered my height and measurements for bust, underbust, waist, hip, upper arm as well as fit adjustments like bust apex height, arm length, shoulder width and more.

The line drawing was the only image available. No artist's impression, and as far as I could see no one ever mentioned Bootstrap 42379 on the internet. So if there's only one image, it'd better be correct! 

Enter confusion. The line drawing shows a center back seam, which is nowhere to be found in the layout picture. To get an idea of the depth of the neckline I checked the red pattern piece above. It suggests the lowest point of the neckline is at the same height as the bottom of the armscye. Nice! 

After printing and assembling the pattern I was in for a surprise. No center back seam, and the back bodice pattern was much wider than the front bodice. I carry most of my weight on the front, and the 3D-illustration of my torso (gulp) showed I'd been very honest when I entered my measurements. What happened? Was the back seam planned but later omitted, without removing the seam allowances? Nope, the notches of the cowl seemed to match fine! 
Speaking of the cowl: the neckline was 7 cm higher than the layout image suggested. And wasn't that cowl on the tiny side? I warily started sewing. 

Hmmm. I made a test cowl from a scrap of jersey. Just as I thought, not very impressive.
And certainly not looking like the line drawing. 
So I changed the finished height of the cowl from 14 to 34 cm. Why 34? That was all I got ;)

Better! Now what about the fit? I had to remove 6 cm at the hip, the shoulders are a bit too wide and although I added the equivalent of the length of the removed hip band to the bodice the overall look is shorter, and certainly less fitted than the line drawing suggested. 

So what's the verdict about the pattern? It doesn't look like the line drawing. The bodice, shoulders and sleeves are too wide for a fitted top, the cowl (before my adjustments) looked like a droopy collar and I don't like seams showing up in the line drawing that are not in the actual pattern. There is no way to tell if the pattern was meant to look oversized and the line drawing was off, or the drawing was right and the pattern was off. 

In the end I do like the result but I feel that has more to do with the pretty fabric than with the pattern.
Bootstrap has not convinced me yet, but now that I've made an account and saved my set of measurements I may try some patterns for woven fabrics in the future. 

Although the daffodils make it look like spring, I still need a warm top for chilly dog walks!

Now there's something else I'd like to discuss about this pattern. When I was looking for other cowl neck top images to compare the size of the cowl with, it suddenly hit me that this pattern (at least the line drawing) was the spitting image of Sewaholic's Renfrew, view C. At first sight the only difference is the center back seam (remember, that same one that isn't really there). I've never seen the pattern pieces of the Renfrew, so I may be wrong, but even the sleeve and hip bands look similar. I've seen patterns on the Bootstrap site that obviously were designer knockoffs like this Armani jacket. Now what if Indie pattern companies start copying other small companies' designs? Is it the same? Or does it feel a bit awkward?
I'd like to hear your opinions on this one!

This will be my last winter sewing. I do have some plans for spring sewing, but I'm not sure if they're going to happen.
You see, Mr Foxgloves has a hobby too. I like cutting fabrics, he likes cutting wood. Ten days ago he had an unfortunate encounter with one of his lumberjack toys and we ended up in the Emergency Room. He cut a tendon, had surgery and ended with his hand in plaster.

He's not allowed to drive a car, so for at least the next six weeks I'll be the Chief of Transport, Operator of Buttons and Shoe Laces and Head Gardener of Foxgloves Manor.
Not sure how much sewing I can squeeze in. But mr Foxgloves is on the mend and we keep smiling!

See you later!

PS Thanks for the lovely comments on my previous post. I hope to catch up on blog reading and IG soon!

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Sewing room swoon!

I'm sitting in my sewing room, reading an article in a magazine......about my sewing room. I'm tempted to do a 'spot the ten differences'-game. I notice a different variety of tulips, some extra pattern magazines on top of the shelves, red thread cones on my overlocker showing the progress on the pattern I'm tracing in the magazine picture. So meta!

A few months ago I received a mail from Amy Thomas, the editor of UK-based Love Sewing magazine. She wondered if I'd be interested in having my sewing space appear in the Sewing Room Swoon feature in the magazine. In case you wonder how the UK's no.1 sewing magazine spotted a Dutch room, Amy (of the Almond Rock blog) follows my Instagram feed. I incidentally post pictures of the room, mostly during challenges like #bpsewvember or #sewphotohop.

So far it had never occurred to me to write a blog post about my sewing room set up. Yet I like a good peek into sewing spaces! In fact, all of you out there provided so much inspiration when I was searching the internet for storage and lay-out ideas for my first dedicated sewing room. Who knows, maybe someone would like to see my fabric stash or my button organization? Amy's request was just the little push I needed to take some decent pictures (easier said than done on a dark and drizzling January day). And here it is, a pretty compilation of my happy space. Thanks, Love Sewing!

For someone who works in publishing it has been a very useful experience. How often did I think people got a little carried away when I wrote an article about them? Relax, it's only the newspaper! And here I was, impatiently looking forward to seeing the pictures of the room I'm sitting in on a daily basis. I'd already seen the pdf's of the spread, but  I just couldn't wait to see the article in print. So exciting! Food for thought and lesson learned :)

Love Sewing issue 24 page 44

Love Sewing issue 24 page 45

I'll write a follow up post soon with more pictures and details. But that will have to wait. I have a shiny new magazine to read!