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!