Monday 31 December 2018

My year in patterns

This is what my sewing year looks like in line drawings. The bare bones of what I made.

It's interesting for me to look back on this very last day of the year as what I made is always a reflection of what my year looked like. I sew what I wear and I wear what I sew.
So if I made sleeveless tops that's a sign of a warm summer, or a holiday in southern Europe (actually both, in 2018) No new evening wear or party dresses means there were few formal or festive events this year. No coats, as my winter coats were still in good shape and I barely wore coats during summer.

In 2018 I made twenty garments. Nineteen for me, one for mr Foxgloves.
Let's take a closer look. I won't bore you with a ton of links but if you want to go to the original blogpost you'll find the links on the top of this page under 'Sewn'.

1) a pink Knipmode sweater (KM1801-25) with a lovely neckline. It's soft, warm and comfortable and I wear it a lot.
2) The black midi skirt Knipmode KM1711-08) is not worn that often, but it's a timeless classic and good to know it's there I want something dressy.
3) A pair of black Cashmerette Ames Jeans. It initially had wrinkles at the back of the leg, an issue that was fixed by taking the legs apart (imagine ripping serged-stitched-topstitched seams, all black on black), reducing the length of the back leg above the knee and adding the same amount at the hem. Worked incredibly well, worn very often.
4) Simplicity 1563. Very happy with the decision to line this robe with satin. Feels luxurious and I've worn it every morning, except during heatwaves. By far the most worn garment of 2018!

5) McCalls 6436, a button down shirt in viscose. No gaping at the bust, by far the best fitting shirt I've owned in the last decade. Note to self: make a plain version next year.
6/7) Two Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigans. Wardrobe staples.
8) A Cashmerette Concord Tshirt hack. V neck in the front and back with ties. An absolute summer favourite. The only downside: the rayon knit is growing and the shirt got longer and longer with each wear. I need to take up the hem when it comes out of winter storage.
9/10) Two knit tops from Ottobre 2/2014. The tops are lined, which gives them a very clean finish. Both tops are mostly worn under jackets or with a cardigan, perfect layering pieces. If I make them again I will alter the armholes and go down a size.

11) Vogue 8379. A wrap dress in a loud floral print. Definitely a winner!
12) A breezy blouse, Knipmode KM1708-24. Can't wait for the first sunshine to wear this again.
13/14 Two Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigans. The pink version is the least succesfull of the four I have made this year. The cotton jersey has barely enough stretch for the pattern. The emerald version is the best of the lot. Lovely colour that goes with everything and a super leightweight drapey rayon.
15) Fail! Nice Knipmode pattern, peasant blouse KM1803-103, beautiful broderie Anglaise in the most perfect royal blue. Just not a winning match between pattern and fabric.

16/17) Two renditions of the Cashmerette Concord T-shirt. A nightgown, finished with lingerie elastics. A refashioned blue and white tee with elbow length sleeves. Both in heavy rotation.
18) A navy Deer and Doe Plantain shirt. Very basic, very useful around the house.
19) Menswear! A Knipmode bomber jacket (KM1704-23). Mr F likes it, but due to my unseasonal finishing of this light summer jacket in late autumn it did not get much wear so far.
20) A peplum top, Knipmode KM1803-12. Nice pattern, lovely print but sadly the fabric is not wearing well as it is prone to snagging and pilling.

All in all a rather succesfull year with one fail out of 20 garments, and two cases of disappointing fabric. All garments but one (the failed peasant blouse) have been worn often or very often or probably will be worn often in the right season. In addition to the 19 items I've sewn for myself I only bought one pair of RTW jeans.

To keep my wardrobe balanced it's good to look at what I did NOT sew this year. I already mentioned the lack of coats, also no jackets for me. Next year I need a new winter coat and I can certainly use a few jackets. With just a single dress and a single skirt sewn in 2018 I'm looking forward to sewing more skirts and dresses next year! 

It's only a few years ago that I started sewing with knit fabrics on a regular basis. Things have changed, his year the knits are winning.

And finally some statistics for the patterns I've used:

O dear, that's not adding up to 20! Knipmode should be 6, but it's New Year's Eve and the traditional 'oliebollen' are waiting for me so this will have to do.

Thank you all for following along and for your support, helpful tips and wonderful comments.
Being part of this worldwide sewing community has truly broadened my horizon!

Happy New Year!

Friday 21 December 2018

Sewing for men: a bomber jacket

Sewing menswear is one of my favourite things to do. Finding interesting patterns is often the hardest part, so I was very happy to see a men's capsule wardrobe pop up in pattern magazine Knipmode last year.
The April 2017 issue had a pattern for a bomber jacket that I wanted to make straight away. Well, sort of. It only took me 18 months to actually start ;)


The pattern is still available as pdf or printed pattern here in the Knipmode webshop

When I'm sewing for mr Foxgloves I always need to make length adjustments. He is 1.96 m tall and the pattern is drafted for 1.84 m. So before ordering the zippers I made flat pattern adjustments, followed by a muslin.

The muslin gave rise to mixed reactions. On IG someone mentioned it would make a nice garment for a 80-year old, while others (including mr F) liked it. Given the lack of plaid matching - amongst other flaws - I decided that no husband of mine would be seen out in public in this garment. I had to act fast and deconstruct it immediately, as mr Foxgloves had already declared this his perfect gardening jacket.

We had a little debate about the best length for a bomber jacket, which was settled when we saw the tv weather man sport two different bomber jackets on consecutive days. We agreed that one was obviously too long, while the other version was just right.

For the outer shell I used a navy cotton twill. The jacket is half lined and there was a request for a colourful paisley lining. I searched high and low but couldn't find it. We went for a flannel plaid in matching shades of blue from the stash, but there definitely needed to be more colour on the insides. Hong Kong seam finishing was the way to go!

When you go to the trouble of sewing over 9 meters of Hong Kong seams it's nice to see the recipient appreciates your efforts!


The pattern has a few nice details, like padded and quilted shoulder yokes, large pockets and a smaller zipped pocket on the left sleeve.

Except for the length adjustments and adding a hanging loop I didn't change a thing.

The tiny pocket is perfect for a bank card or some coins and is used on Saturday morning's bike run for freshly baked buns.

What more is there to say? Perhaps you're wondering about arm movement?


The back?

Yeah. When your model starts frolicking around you know the session is over.

One last one, just because.

Mr Foxgloves is very happy with his jacket and I'm planning to sew for him more often. On weekdays he's always wearing serious business attire so it's nice to have casual garments with a fun and personalized twist.

Ehm, did I mention serious business attire??

Happy holidays!

Tuesday 11 December 2018

A floral peplum top

As some of you will know I'm a gardener who often disappears from the blogosphere during the summer months. Summer is for the foxgloves, winter for the thimbles. Except, this year we had what felt like a never ending summer, followed by an Indian summer, and then some more fine days. Less sewing, but lots of outdoor fun!
On one of these glorious days in early autumn we were invited to a garden party in the woods.

I always struggle when part of the dress code says casual. Casual, casual chic, business casual....Definitely not a party dress and heels, but also not my lawn mowing-type casual outfit. Invite me for a formal event and I immediately start planning and sewing an outfit, but I've been terrible at this casual stuff all my life.
For this occasion inspiration finally came from a piece of floral fabric.

A scuba knit with a pretty digital rose print on a dark navy background. It was my first time working with scuba and I did not know what to expect. Because I did not want to break up the pattern in too many places I started looking for a top with cut on sleeves.

Knipmode KM1803-12

This dolman sleeve top from Knipmode March 2018 (available as pdf) more or less fit the bill. This type of top can look massive on me, but I liked the fact that the waist seam would probably provide a hint of waist definition. I cut center front on the fold and skipped the drawstring. The line drawing suggested extra length in the front, but the pictures of the finished garment showed that the front became shorter than the back when the drawstring was used. There was hardly any extra length in the front bodice so I figured I could use that scant centimeter to serve as a tiny built-in FBA.

I did my usual 1.5 cm low neck base adjustment, made the V neck 1.5 cm higher and added 4 cm to the hem.

I mentioned it was my first time working with scuba and I can safely say it'll be the last time as well. Pressing was a nightmare! Scuba is spongy and it was not easy to get a nice and sharp V, not even with the firm use of a clapper. But the biggest disappointment was that this fabric is rather prone to snagging. Luckily I was not yet aware of that fact during the first outing of this top.

The location of the party was so beautiful. We arrived at this dreamy forest (glad I wasn't wearing heels!)

After a short walk we reached an open spot with the entrance to one of the most fabulous gardens I've ever seen. A beautiful cutting garden, a maze formed by Verbena plants, a small open air theatre, stunning ponds, sculptures and a large glasshouse. The garden once was part of an estate that was destroyed during the 1944 Battle of Arnhem. Only the foundations of the large country house remained, and part of the garden walls. Fifteen years ago a group of volunteers started restoring the garden. They did an amazing job and created a peaceful oasis on what once was a battlefield in a region where many lost their lives during airborne landings and fights for strategic bridges.

One more picture of my new top with a gorgeous backdrop of magenta Phloxes.
I always find it funny to see myself from the perspective of Mr Foxgloves, like I instantly shrink 8 inches!

It's been a long and wonderful summer, even though sewing was on the back burner.
Now, with the garden set safely stored in the shed and the chimney sweep's job done I think it's time to officially declare the garden season over and snuggle up in my sewing room.
Or? Even on the 10th of December there are still a few roses and marigolds in bloom, and I picked raspberries for lunch!

 December 10, 2018 chez Foxgloves

Wednesday 5 December 2018

A 4-in-1 remake roundup

 I've always considered taking pictures to be the bottleneck when it came to creating new blog posts. Apparently that's not entirely true, as I've had these pictures waiting for ages. So, what kept me from blogging for so long? Honestly? I sewed myself to sleep!

It's not that I didn't sew at all in recent months. But my choices were boring, like I was sewing on automatic pilot. Once I realised what was happening I made a few changes that will have a positive impact on my sewing for the coming years, but that's a subject for another post. For now I do have a few of those boring things to share. After all I use this blog to keep track of what I made, and when, and for the sake of keeping it real I think it's best to document less inspired moments as well.

So let's get this out of the way!

In June I made a Deer and Doe Plantain, a t-shirt that is fitted at the shoulders and flares at the hips. I had used the pattern a few times and wanted to recreate the look of one of my favourite versions that I made in January 2015. That tee has been in heavy rotation since then and can no longer be worn in public as it's almost see-through now.

Here's a close up of the fabric. A sturdy textured knit, perhaps a bit too stiff do do justice to the flared hipline, but all in all a versatile garment that makes retiring its predecessor much easier.

Next: a refashioning project.

ConcordTShirt in the Portuguese mountains

I'd been wanting to make a navy and white striped Cashmerette Concord T-shirt but just couldn't find the right fabric. One day I discovered this monstrosity in the back of my closet:

A long forgotten RTW top with a neckline that would only look good when the ties were pulled so tight that the V ended up at belly button level. But the fabric was exactly what I had in mind and the top was tunic length, so plenty of fabric to play with. For a short moment I considered keeping as much of the top intact as I could, but I ended up taking it apart to start from scratch. The sewing was horrible! 

RTW hem on the left, hand stiched hem on the right.

I cut off just enough from the bottom to create a neckband (navy on the outside, half white/half navy on the inside) and ended up with what turned out to be one of my favourite travel shirts.

Working with the Concord pattern reminded me of the time I used this pattern to make sleepwear.
Apparently our high summer temperatures were killing my creativity as not only did I use the same pattern, I used the same print again as well.

In order to prevent a total deja vu effect I used a different colourway of the fabric, drafted cap sleeves and used matching lingerie elastic not only to the neckline but also along the sleeves and hem.

The last remake of this summer is another Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigan.

It was my fourth version of this pattern and I call it Murphy. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The fabric, a lovely cotton jersey, had a faded line down the middle. I was so happy to finally find the shade of pink I was looking for that I failed to notice this flaw. I managed to mostly work around this issue, only to discover later that there was barely enough stretch for this pattern. And it is wrinkling like crazy. Then, right in the middle of this project, my serger knife hit a pin so Murphy's insides looked wonky and frayed.

By this time the only thing that kept me going was that gorgeous pink.

When I first made this floral Blackwood I wasn't too happy with the horizontal seam hitting me at the widest part of my high hip. I considered making the band the same width as the front bands, but suspected the counterweight was needed for a correct hang. So I kept the band at the original width and added 7 cm length to the bodice. Guess what? That looked odd. When I asked Mr Foxgloves for his opinion, without mentioning the length issue, he took one glance, raised an eyebrow and said: 'That cardigan is either too long or too short.' I did not want to restart the now blunt and misbehaving serger so I simply folded the hem band over and hand stitched it to the seam, thus enclosing the frayed edges.
Smaller hem band, same weight, shorter length. Still far from perfect, but much better.
And pink :)

Next up: a few new patterns, sewing for men, Christmas dresses, a brand new sewing machine and exciting sewing plans.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Blackwood in Braga

This cardigan, here worn during our holiday in Portugal, is a top competitor for the title 'most worn garment of the year'. It's the long version of the Blackwood cardigan, made in a very lightweight rayon knit. The ideal garment for layering on an overcast day!

I'm sitting on one of the many balustrades of the baroque sanctuary Bom Jesus do Monte near the city of Braga.

Zigzag staircases are leading to a church on top of the hill. Pilgrims are encouraged to climb those steps on their knees! If you're not a pilgrim you can use a water balance funicular or go by foot, as we did.

Here I am posing in the bottom circle from the picture above.

But back to the sewing part!

Helen's Closet Blackwood cardigan

I had made both the longer and the shorter version before so this time I could skip the fitting part. Not that fitting was hard the first time around. The only changes I made were shorting the sleeves by 6 cm (and I have long arms!), and omitting the pockets. I don't like pockets in knits and in this particular fabric even the weight of a museum ticket would probably distort the hang.

This cardigan is a very versatile addition to my wardrobe as it can easily be dressed up with a silk scarf and heels, can be worn over dresses as well as pants and the colour has chameleon style qualities. It looks very different and really fresh when paired with white.
One of the best features is that it can be rolled up into a very small bundle. I'm tempted to sew a little drawstring bag as it can easily fit in my handbag.

Nice accessory when flying to a different climate zone

Just for the record, and because I can as mr Foxgloves patiently took the photos that are always out of focus when I take them with a remote, some pictures of the inside and the back:

More holiday outfits in pretty settings coming soon.

Happy sewing!

Thursday 23 August 2018

A peasant blouse in Porto

Nothing like upcoming summer holidays to get me into planning and sewing mode! During spring and early summer I've sewn quite a few garments with our trip to Portugal in mind. I managed to take some in-progress shots and made construction and fitting notes but just couldn't find the time for shooting blog pictures. However, after going through our 1500+ holiday pictures I thought perhaps y'all would welcome a change from my boring old back drop and see some action shots instead!

First up is a Knipmode blouse from the supplement of the March issue (KM1803-103)

The fabric I used is a royal blue embroidered cotton lawn, known here as broderie anglaise.
I used French seams and finished the neckline with a bias strip. For the ties I cut a strip on the straight grain from that particular 5 cm wide part of the fabric close to the selvedge that isn't embroidered. I figured this would make my ties more even.
The sleeves originally were in one piece, with a tunnel for elastic just above the elbow. I cut the sleeve pattern right below that tunnel in order to make the lower part of the bell sleeves a little wider, without ending up with extra width in the upper arm.

The only other change I made was straightening the curved hem. I can't recall why I did that and I don't think it's an improvement. Maybe I had a plane to catch and made a shortcut?

Here's an action shot, taken right after we crossed the famous Ponte Dom Luis I, which is no sinecure for someone who suffers from fear of heights. The neckline may or may not have shifted while I was frantically clamping the railing with both hands....

Well, the view was worth it. And even better, we were now on the river bank where all the port houses are located. After tasting a few port wines that bridge didn't look half as scary!

But I digress, we're here for the sewing. What's my verdict on this blouse?
I like the colour.
Anything else? Ehmm, nope.

It's not the pattern. Everything came together nicely, instructions were sparse but okay.
It's not the fabric, which is lovely.
The pairing of the two was less successful. The embroidery gives the fabric a firmer hand compared to regular cotton lawn and affects the drape. Together with the absence of shaping this results in a rather unflattering square silhouette.
Maybe this blouse would look better when made in rayon or silk but I'm not volunteering to test that.

Here are a few more pictures, mostly to remind myself that I'm done sewing boxy tops.

I can't deny that the colour is a perfect match with the beautiful tiles in the Sao Bento train station, which is about the most positive thing I can come up with before I donate or refashion this wadder ;)

Showing up one last time twice

You can't win them all. At least the one and only day in the life of this top was a very good one!