Saturday 23 December 2017

A sparkly top for Christmas

This year I wanted to make a few festive pieces to wear during our Christmas holidays at home. We're having two weeks off so there's plenty of time for baking, knitting, watching movies, sitting by the fire or going out to meet with family and friends. The velvet dress I made for my recent birthday will be fine for Christmas Day and the black jacquard dress I made a few years ago is a good back up in case there's a kitchen accident involving cranberry sauce or red wine. Which is not unlikely to happen to me. (This afternoon I made a spectacle of myself by flying through the supermarket, shopping cart and all, when I slipped on an avocado someone had dropped on the floor. So you get the picture, I need clothes that wash well)

A few years ago I bought some sparkly knit fabric that looked perfect for a festive sweater. It was just enough to make a Deer and Doe Plantain shirt with three quarter length sleeves. I had made this pattern before and it was a straight forward make. In fact it took me longer to de-sparkle the house after cutting this fabric than it took me to sew! When I tried it on I discovered the fabric was more scratchy than I thought. I used black cotton jersey from my stash to make a short sleeved Plantain to wear underneath. Problem solved.

Well the weather outside is frightful, but the tree is so delightful...

Bad light, but the best head to toe shot I have. And bonus sleeping dog ;)

To keep up with the tree theme I went outside and posed in front of my favourite beech tree.

I think this top is too sparkly for daylight. I like it better in candlelight conditions!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Review Knipmode January 2018

Last week, with Christmas preparations in full swing, Knipmode January 2018 arrived. I was tempted to postpone this review till after the holidays, but on January 6 the next issue will already be here. Hard to keep up with 25 new patterns each month! So just a quick post now, and later this month I'll write an update on the KnipmodeChallenge2017.

Patternoverview Knipmode January 2018

The January theme is 'Readers' request'. Not a receipe for a coherent collection, but it is an excellent chance for readers to ask for a type of pattern that is missing in the Knipmode magazines and pdf shop.

Dress 23 (Loes), toggle coat 8 (Eline), sailor's pants 3 (Katrien)

The dress is a copy of a dress as seen in a mail order catalogue, and it's been a while since we've had  patterns for a toggle coat or sailor's pants.

Dress 15 (Lola) and dress 10 (Jantiene)

At first glance the dress on the left looks like the type of fit and flare dress we've seen in all recent issues, except this one is for woven fabrics. The dress on the right has a Ralph Lauren style polo neck, as asked for by a reader who loves the versatility of the style for both office wear and weekend outfits.

Blouse 13 (Laura), this month's designer dress, skirt 1 (Edith)

The Italian style silk blouse is looking a bit too messy for my taste. Too much detail, or would this neckline look better in a firmer fabric? A double breasted robe manteau is always a nice classic, but for the sleeves I think I would prefer sharp cuffs over a flounce. It feels like the softness of the sleeves is clashing with the pointy lapels. The skirt on the right is a request by a lady who says the style reminds her of the engagement dress she made in 1963. Wouldn't you love to see that dress? It must have been stunning!

Coat 9 (Suzy) and pants 4 (Amber),  dress 27 (Joanne) and jumpsuit 5 (Jada)

The patterns above are from the regular collection so no reader is to blame for the 'eye catcher' dress in the middle. I'm curious to see if anyone will make this no-pattern-dress. It's a rectangle with cut on sleeves, all shaping comes from the ties.

What's new? A few weeks ago the Knipmode editors announced that from now on all patterns will have a female name. This was not received very well, to put it mildly. Not only is it questionable how long this will work with 300 patterns a year, it is also rather strange to ditch a fully functional system that also works fine for social media.
For a large number of years all patterns could be identified by their unique code, consisting of year-month-number. For instance KM 1706-23: Knipmode 2017, June issue, pattern 23.
I'm a long time collector of Knipmode magazines and I keep them by year of publication. Give me the code and I can locate any pattern, even from over a decade ago, within seconds.

Now out of the blue the editors have concluded that this system is too complicated for us readers. I quote: "When someone asks you what pattern you used for your skirt, you need to say it's pattern 2 from Knipmode January 2018 - it's a mouth full - now you can just say you made the Lisanne from Knipmode." Right. Except in a few months time nobody will remember in which issue the Lisanne can be found. 
We'll see how long this silliness will last. In the meantime I'll keep using the good old code and I'll add the name of the pattern for completeness' sake. Thus proving that dumbing down only complicates matters.

On a more positive note I'll end with my favourites from this edition.

Sweater 25 (Bonne) and skirt 24 (Yara) and top 16 (Tinka) and skirt 12 (Klaske)

Sweater 25 is already on my sewing table and it's looking good so far. The matching skirt has an asymmetric flounce and I'm on the lookout for the right fabric for that one. 

Just the kind of sweater I love to wear while baking Christmas cookies!

Friday 8 December 2017

How wedding dress alterations led to experiments with a Knipmode dress pattern

Back in August I got an emergency phone call from a friend. "Do you know anything about overlockers?", she asked. There was a hint of panic in her voice. I went over to her place and found her struggling with an enormous cloud of lace, satin and organza. She had promised months ago to hem her daughter's wedding dress and procrastinated doing so till four days before the wedding. And then her overlocker refused to do a rolled hem. We spent the evening reading manuals, changing settings and trying different needles but nothing worked. When it was way past bedtime I took some offcuts of the dress home to see if my machine could do the trick.
The next evening I was again reading a manual and looking at settings because I had never before used the rolled hem function. What a relief when good old Bernie produced a lovely, wavy, tiny rolled hem. I cleaned my sewing room because it was still covered in blue fluff from a previous project. I also like to write little reminders on my sewing table. Somehow I didn't think the bride would be overjoyed when finding my topstitching notes printed over her skirt!

The next morning the bride and her mom came over with the dress. We improvised a little stand so we could do a final check of the length and started threading my overlocker with the right colour Gutermann threads. Fail!
Pressure? What pressure? (Two days to go till the wedding)
At this point I should mention that the bride is one of the most laid back persons you'll ever meet. I've known her from the day she was born and she has always been very relaxed. Even now. While her mother and I were stressing she was cheering us up. "Don't worry! We can always cut it and use clear nail polish to seal the hem", she suggested. Or pinking shears. Shiver! We took a deep breath, had more coffee (was it really too early for wine?) and threaded the overlocker again. And it worked!

MOB's victory moment

The bride looked gorgeous on her wedding day so there's the happy ending!

After the wedding I returned to a spic and span sewing room and rolled hems were still on my mind. Now that I had learned a new trick I wanted to use it again. And then there was also that ongoing mission to tackle the fit of the Knipmode block. To kill two birds with one stone I took a length of black and white striped jersey that was earmarked to become a nightie and a Knipmode knit dress pattern.


This pattern from the December 2017 magazine had made an earlier appearance in the October 2017 supplement. In fact this garment was made before I started sewing my birthday dress and it turned out to be a rather useful pre-toile.

Instead of a neckband I used pink lingerie elastic, leftovers from another nightgown.

And of course, rolled hems....

That was fun! What about the fit? Well, it was too big. I could go down a size at the shoulders, the sleeves were too wide and it was a tad too long. If I had made this as a dress I would call it a wadder, but for sleepwear it is quite okay. Oversized but comfortable.
All in all it was a useful exercise that gave me a better idea where to start with Knipmode knit dress patterns.

Of course I owe you a picture of me wearing the actual thing. Since it's snowing outside this rather awkward indoor selfie will have to do. Barefoot in the sewing room, surrounded by a minefield of pins. Living dangerously for the sake of sewing science!

Next up: a kimono, to wear as a robe. I'm freezing!

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Velvet Knipmode designer birthday dress

When you're celebrating a significant birthday you need a new dress, right? And when you're going to spend your birthday in a castle it needs to be a posh dress!

After going through my pattern collection I decided this was the perfect occasion for one of the Knipmode designer dresses by Dutch designer Janice. It's from the October 2017 magazine, #26

KM 1710-26

I chose a matte stretch velvet in a deep shade of emerald. The colour is very hard to capture and it doesn't help that most pictures were taken by candlelight. Although the pictures are a bit blurry, I hope their festive character will make up for that!

In the wine cellar

Now let's talk about construction details first before all that wine will distract us. Over the last few months I've been struggling with the fit of the Knipmode bodice block. Although I was making progress, I was not ready to cut that pretty velvet without making a toile first.

When I was looking for fabrics with a similar amount of stretch I found a loud mix that resulted in a Pippi Longstocking / Ikea employee type of dress.

On second thoughts, I probably would have been arrested for indecent dressing when entering Ikea in this prototype. That neckline was scarily deep! I raised the neckline (4 cm), thus creating a cheater FBA by adding length where it was needed.
 The rest of the dress was fine once I did my usual  adjustments: taking out 2 cm at the neck base and correcting the hip curve. Knipmode patterns are drafted for a X-shape while I'm 8-shaped with a higher hip curve. I shave a bit off at the lower hip and the same amount to the high hip. This is such a standard procedure I'm thinking of creating a cardboard hip curve template.
One other thing I should mention is that, although the line drawing suggests otherwise, the pattern has no darts in the back bodice. The center back seam provides subtle shaping, resulting in a nice overall fit.

Since I hadn't been sewing stretch velvet in ages I did a few test runs to decide on the finishes. The biggest challenge was formed by the front neckline. Instructions told to just foldover and stitch down, but to be on the safe side I added fusible seam tape first.

After fusing and topstitching I measured both bodice pieces against the pattern. No stretching had occurred so all was good! The skirt has three diagonal pleats, the bodice two. The lower bodice pleat is folded over the waist seam before the side seam is stitched.

When I put on the dress to decide on the length I found the skirt too straight to my liking and I tapered it to obtain more of a pencil shape, taking out a total of 10 cm of the circumference. I catch stitched the hems because I prefer the clean look over a twin needle or coverstitch finish.

I'm really happy with how this dress turned out and I will most likely make this pattern again.

I'll add some extra pictures, just because....partydress in action! I had the most wonderful time celebrating my 60th birthday with our family. Excellent company, great food, ample wine and whisky. All that, and a dress that was made to party!


With the knight in shining armor

And with the real deal 💘

Bring on the next decade. Cheers!

Thursday 16 November 2017

Review Knipmode December 2017

Sometimes I wonder if  Knipmode's copywriters play those silly word games where you take random syllables out of a box and make a sentence with what you've got. How else can you explain Pink Christmas (Roze Kerst) on the cover of an issue that neither contains visual references to Christmas nor many pink garments?

Pattern overview Knipmode 12/2017

What's new? By popular demand all patterns are back on the pattern sheets. For the last few months some of the patterns in the magazine had to be downloaded as pdf. This caused a major uproar in The Lowlands, also known as The Kingdom of Tracers. May the dust settle soon.

The first collection in the magazine is all about the new trend colour grenadine:

Clockwise dress 17dress 7, and blouse 4

Dress 7 is the exact copy of a dress that first appeared in the October supplement. I know because I've made it. (Still to be blogged). I like the blouse but I'm not sure about the combi of volants and my ample bosom.

Next up is a 10-piece capsule wardrobe, consisting of a skirt, blouse, coat, cardigan, culottes, a top, sweater, pair of jeans and two dresses.

From left to right: cardigan 14 + top8 (variation of dress 7) + jeans 15, top 8+culottes 10, coat 13 (missing in the shop)

 Blouse 20 + skirt 24 (not yet available in the shop), sweater 12dress 17

I'm not known for limiting myself to a capsule wardrobe and am not tempted by any of the individual pieces, which is good with my mile long to-sew list in mind.

 Designer dress 22

This month's designer dress is a maxi, made in a graphic print silky twill. The flutter sleeves add a summery feel. Must remember this one in June, lovely for a garden party.

Boho chic in mini dress 21 and vest 25

This one made me smile. I swear she robbed my 1973 wardrobe! The boots, hat, self drafted mini dress with vest, even the embroidered velvet band around her neck, I had them all. Soundtrack: Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin.

In the mean time we've reached page 64 and not a single pink item in sight!

Dress 3skirt 19jacket 1 and skirt 5

At last! The pink Christmas dress on page 68! And it's a beauty with a high waist, statement sleeves and a lovely deep v-neck with volants. The straight skirt on the right is made in jacquard fabric. I'll keep this one in mind for when I find time to watch Susan Khalje's Couture lace skirt class on Craftsy. Maybe it will work in guipure lace. 
Jacket #1 may be the solution for a 'Year of the Sleeve' conundrum: what to do with those statement sleeves now that it's time to put on extra layers? The sleeves of my white concord tee tend to bunch up the moment I throw on a jacket, which I often do. I'm always looking forward to fall because I love wearing jackets.

That brings me to my absolute favourite outfit in this magazine:

Jacket 2 and trousers 9

Jacket #2 was love at first sight. I love the styling with wide legged pants, however I don't think a paper bag waist is the best choice for me. I'll be tracing the jacket tonight and I have a lovely piece of  crepe waiting. The colour? Magenta. So who knows, I may have a pink-ish Christmas after all!

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own. Photocredits: Knipmode

Friday 20 October 2017

Concord tee with statement sleeves

Hi everyone! Can you believe I completely forgot to write a post about my most worn garment of late summer / early autumn? Like always, it started with the fabric.

I found this wonderful eyelet jersey during an early summer sale at the fabric market. At first I wanted to make a sleeveless top but quickly decided this fabric was too good to use for a garment I could only wear incidentally during our chilly summer.

I went through my sewing magazines and although I liked the look of all patterns with statement sleeves most of them had rather high necklines. That's when I brought out my favourite v-neck version of the Cashmerette Patterns Concord t-shirt. I measured the circumference of the sleeve hem and drafted a full circle extension.
Well, maybe it had to do with the white eyelet but everytime I looked down I felt I was wearing my grandmother's lampshades.
When I redrafted the flounce to a half circle the proportions were much better.

I opted for a catch stitched hem for the bodice and narrow hand-rolled hems for the sleeves.

Apparently a white top was just what was missing in my closet as I've been wearing it as often as I could!

During our holiday in Belgium.....(best hotel carpet ever!)

While at work, interviewing the owner of a shoe shop for the local newspaper......

Partying with Joliet Jake Blues....

Getting ready for a walk in the beautiful city of Leuven....

And after said walk. Happy smile caused by the contents of that bag next to me.
Y'all guessed right. Fabrics!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Review Knipmode November 2017

I know, I know. I promised to keep up with the Knipmode reviews. Let's just say life got in the way. I did miss a few, although I managed to sew something from the October supplement while it was still September. Will show that in one of my next posts.
Anyway, with chaotic sewists like me in mind Knipmode decided to make the November issue the party special, giving us plenty of time to work on that Christmas outfit. Or plenty of time to procrastinate and get distracted by other shiny patterns of course.

Pattern overview

Looking at the pattern overview I was a little underwhelmed, feeling that this collection of dresses, jackets and pants could easily have been a regular collection for any month of the year. Apparently it's all about the fabric choices.

Lots of shiny jaquards, here used for a bomber jack and matching skirt. On the right the festive looking suit from the cover. Although at first sight the jacket appears to have lapels it is in fact a jacket with asymmetrical closure worn open.

On the left another version of the same jacket, now in velvet. Wrap dress with a slight a-line skirt in velours de panne, a straight skirt version of the same dress in embroidered stretch velours and a kimono style dress. I haven't seen the new fabric collections in real life so I'm really looking forward to finally do some fabric shopping tomorrow. I absolutely love velvet and I'm glad it's back!

Don't you think that jumpsuit looks stunning? Been there, done that in the 80s but I can so see my daughters in this outfit! Not sure about the dress. I think it will look lovely as a summer dress in a floral print but it's looking a rather plain in this silver stretch lamé.

This formal evening dress was a plus size reader's request. Once again Knipmode failed to use a plus size model while so many readers are begging them to do so.

Lovely use of fabrics for a jumpsuit and top in tulle with little golden polka dots and a party dress in sparkly golden jersey with a black print.

This month's designer dress is again very simple and not standing out from the rest of the collection but I do like the style. I may be tempted to make it if I can find a pretty silk.

So far my top choice from this issue is the wrap dress.

I have a, ahem, significant birthday coming up in a few weeks time. Isn't that the best excuse to make a new dress?

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own. Photocredits: Knipmode