Friday 26 January 2018

Simplicity 1563, a pink kimono

Earlier this winter, when I was freezing while preparing breakfast, I felt the sudden urge to make a more comfortable and warmer robe to replace the old frumpy one I'd been wearing for years. I added 'stylish' to the list of required characteristics, and it absolutely needed to be pink. Don't ask me why, sometimes an image pops up in my head and it won't go away. (During the search for fabric that image became a bit of a burden as it made me reject lovely fabrics in fine shades of blue and green) 

The pattern choice was easier. Simplicity 1563, a kimono style robe with a front band, long sleeves and a tie belt. I ordered the pattern a few years ago for the pyjama pants for guys and gals but so far no inspiring images for those popped up in my head.

After searching high and low for the perfect pink fabric I ordered Japanese cotton online. And, as happens so often, I was in for a surprise.

I knew the fabric had an ombre border print, grading from dark to light and back to dark again. When the fabric arrived the light band in the middle was almost white and looked horribly faded and the dark was a really dark wine red. Those colours didn't qualify as pink!! There also was a silver print on top which I didn't expect but I like the subtle sparkle it adds to the overall look (top right). On the selvedge, bottom right, you see the seven shades of pink/red used in the print. To make my kimono as pink as possible I cut the fabric in single layers, trying to avoid the darkest and lightest colours as much as I could. That worked quite well, the only concession I had to make was adding a centre seam to the back.

 You may have noticed this pattern is a 2 hour one. Those two hours were spent on cutting out alone!
I like the effect of the lengthwise colour gradient though and I managed to cut identical sleeves that match the bodice at the lowered armhole seam.
By the time I finished cutting it started snowing so as an after thought I added a few extra hours to the production process by cutting and sewing a slippery satin lining.


The only thing that didn't quite work out as planned was the belt. I only had a light strip of fabric left and I did not like how it interrupted the carefully created colour placement.

I found pink nail polish to paint large snaps and also looked for cord to make a knot closure like this one

And then I discovered I didn't need a closure after all. Miraculously this robe stays closed even when I raise my arms.

All hems are hand stitched, as well as the front band. By then this had turned into a 2 weeks rather than a 2 hour project but I think it was worth the effort for a garment that is worn every day.
I can definitely recommend this pattern, at least for a winter robe.  Due to a generous overlap of the fronts this robe has a rather high neckline, which is much appreciated during chilly mornings. For summer I'd prefer a lower cut and shorter sleeves.

One bonus picture to show more of the Cashmerette Concord T nightgown that is underneath. It matches so nicely!

Wishing you all a happy weekend! 

Thursday 18 January 2018

Review Knipmode February 2018

What type of sewing month is February for you? I'm usually finishing the last winter garments, or make a few basics like jeans, cardigans or a blouse. When it comes to coat making I feel it's too late to start another winter coat and a little early to start a spring coat as not all new fabric collections have yet arrived. In the February magazine Knipmode is keeping all options open with a mix & match coat pattern that allows you to design a coat for any season.

Coat 12 (Lana) in boiled wool

Spring coat 13 (Marlou), biker jacket 14 (Nella) and trenchcoat 10 (Jadi)

In the basics the pattern is the same for all of these coats. There are different collar options,  a hood, you can choose several pockets, a variety of closures and different sleeve types.

Parka 11 (Kee)

This parka is a must have for many of us Dutch people cycling to work since we won't be surprised to see four seasons in one day. It's made from windproof scuba and has a detachable inner coat. All five coats shown above are included in a single PDF file.

Pattern overview Knipmode February 2018

Line drawings Knipmode February 2018

Much to my surprise one of the themes mentioned on the cover was  'patterns for plus sizes in knit fabrics'. Did I miss anything? Since the restyle of Knipmode in 2015 and the change to an all-inclusive size range all patterns come in European sizes 34-54. Apparently in the eyes of the editors some patterns are more plus size than others?? That's ridiculous.
Those 'special' patterns are shown elsewhere in the magazine on different body types so I thought I'd put them side by side in the next two collages. Looking good on everyone!

Top 18 (Rivka)

Jacket 25 (Yasmijn)

Another surprise, this time a pleasant one, was seeing the photography of these skirts:

Skirt 3 (Carla), skirt 20 (Tirza), skirt 7 (Geertje)

Don't you love it when the focus is all on the garment? And nobody is sitting, twisting or otherwise hiding seam lines and pretty details! Such a nice change from the usual fashion style photo shoots.

Of course fashion style photo shoots can hide a multitude of sins. If you want to see the true colours of a pattern you can always check the pictures at the PDF page. Let's for instance check the green jacket from the cover.

Jacket 16 (Pam)

In the magazine picture the forward bending makes it less obvious that the waistline is rather high and the pocket placement is a bit odd. The model's hair hides the collar and you could get the impression that the twisting of the sleeves is caused by her posture alone. While I first liked the look of this jacket I now think the proportions are off. When in doubt, check the PDF pics!

Let's try another one!

Cardigan 17 (Quin)

Cute cardigan......or Monstrosity of the Month?

I was firmly in camp Monstrosity when a really nice version of the same pattern showed up in my Instagram feed. A timely reminder that there are a lot of factors that have to be considered when judging magazine pictures of sewing patterns. For starters the patterns are not custom fit. Maybe the model is taller, has a different shoulder slope, cup size or back length than what the pattern is drafted for. Maybe the colour or fabric choice for the sample is putting you off.  Nothing a few adjustments or a different fabric couldn't fix. Anyways, I like the option to see more and different pictures of the patterns. They may be less glamourous but they're definitely more informative!

Finally a few of this month's dresses:

Designer dress 22 (Vivien), dress 5 (Elena) and dress 19 (Saar)

I'm pleased to see the return of the midi skirt. Dress 19 is firmly on my wishlist!
What do you think of the February patterns?

Happy sewing!

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

Wednesday 10 January 2018


In the style of Janus, thought to be the titular deity of January, it's time to put on two faces - one looking backward to the past, the other one looking forward to the future. I always feel it's good to take a moment to contemplate successes, failures and road blocks of the previous year in order to come up with realistic plans for the next.

Last year I finished 12 items. Six of them were Knipmode patterns, three Cashmerette, two Vogue and one Deer & Doe. You can find them all under Finished projects on top of this page.

Last January I started the KnipmodeChallenge2017, with the main goal to use my magazines more often and to get a set of standard adjustments in order to nail the fit. Since half of what I made comes from the magazines I consider the first part a success. I made progress on the fit but it's still a bit hit and miss. My favourite Knipmode garments were the winter coat (most worn) and my velvet birthday dress.

Knipmode coat and Knipmode designer dress

Another two Knipmode patterns are still in the toile stage. One, a potentially fabulous red skirt, looked completely different in the larger block due to weird grading decisions. I'll pick that one up again in spring. The second one is a lovely top that will look good in fabric with more stretch. If only Knipmode would be more specific when it comes to fabric recommendations: a pattern is either for a woven or a fabric 'with stretch'. The latter can be anything from cotton sateen to spandex. In this round of fabric roulette I guessed wrong. Will try again!

Many thanks to everyone who joined me during this challenge, on blogs, Instagram and Pattern Review. It's been fun!

In 2017 I finally finished the French jacket that I started three years earlier. I loved the process so much! From selecting the fabrics, the quilting, hand sewing, planning the trim to sewing on the chain, I loved every minute of it. The jacket turned out a bit large and the colour isn't my best but despite these flaws I've been wearing it a lot. So soft, so easy to pack and it goes with everything.

Vogue 7975

Other favourites are the Cashmerette Concord T-shirt variations, especially the white one with statement sleeves and the royal blue swing top with v-neck front and back.

Cashmerette Patterns Concord T-shirt

Now what are my sewing plans for 2018? Honestly, I don't know. I sew what I wear, and what I wear depends on the adventures that lie ahead. Will we drive north or fly south for the summer holidays? Any formal events to attend? We'll see what comes up.
I need a few work appropiate jackets, practical outfits for gardening, walking the dog and cycling in the rain and some tops and dresses for fun events like going to festivals and concerts. And perhaps a party dress or two.

I'm always tempted to join a few challenges at the beginning of a new year but when you're sewing at my pace you have to pick your battles carefully. I like seeing everyone's #2018makenine plans on Instagram but really, that possibly means planning ahead my total output for the year right now!

The challenge that really made me want to jump in was #januaryjacket, hosted on Instagram by @lonestarcouture and @julie_starr. Dorcas and Julie have the awesome tradition of sewing French jackets together each January by long distance. This year they invited everyone to join, which I happily did. It's a challenge with very loose rules and my only condition was I could finish my jacket by January 2019, which was accepted. It's wonderful to follow the progress of these experienced French jacket sewists! I've already started planning my jacket and I'm considering buying Susan Khalje's online Classic French Jacket class. Any thoughts about that class?

Potential fabric combination

I was also seriously tempted to join the #2018RTW fast hosted by Sarah of the Goodbye Valentino blog. During  Christmas break I came to the conclusion that I already kind of completed a RTW fast in 2017. (I only bought a pair of jeans that I have not yet worn)
I decided against joining because due to not buying and slow sewing last year I probably need to fill more wardrobe gaps than I can handle with sewing alone. That's okay. I'm not aiming for a 100% handmade wardrobe, 90% will do.
Instead I'll be cheering for the over 1000 participants and give my own twist on this fast by starting with sewing jeans to make up for that one buy.
I'll also be buying sustainable fabrics from Enschede Textielstad and sew garments with fabrics woven from recycled or locally sourced yarns.

Well for someone without sewing plans that's already a lot of commitment! This means that I'll only join other challenges like Make a Garment a Month (#magamsewalong hosted by @sarahlizsewstyle ) or #curvyyearofsewing when the monthly themes coincide with my own plans.

Did you join any challenges? If so, good luck and happy sewing!

Monday 1 January 2018

New year, new outfit

Happy New Year, sewing friends! May you and your loved ones all have a wonderful year. Thank you all for your inspiration in 2017 and I can't wait to see what 2018 brings sewing wise.

I'm in the middle of a two week staycation and in between cooking, baking, reading and catching up on favourite series I did manage to do some sewing. Although I have a reputation of being a slow sewist I actually finished a 2018 pattern in 2017!

KM1801-25, top Bonne

The pattern is top #25 from the Knipmode January 2018 issue, also available as PDF.
I used a very soft and drapey wool jersey that I got in the sale for a total of 4 euro. Which is one of the reasons why I didn't bother to make a toile. Maybe the fabric is a bit too drapey, as the neckline isn't holding its shape as well as the samples in the magazine. I think I could have gone down a size, but there is something to be said for oversized loungewear. The only thing I would change if I used this pattern again, and maybe I will change it on this top, is to take a bit of width out of the sleeves.

As I had a little time on my hands I decided to make a skirt as well. I used pattern #08 from Knipmode November 2017, also available as PDF.


It's a simple pencil skirt with elastic waistband. I had an end of the bolt piece of black ponte and thought it would be nice to experiment with a longer length. I lengthened the pattern (adding around 15 cm) and then tapered it, taking out a total of 12 cm of the circumference at the hem. I used a  curved ruler to do so, which was already out to do my usual hip adjustment for Knipmode. This involves adding width at high hip and removing some from the full hip. 

Although I liked both individual garments, I didn't particularly like them together. At least not on me.

Mehhh. That top is just too boxy, even with a belt, to go nicely with a skirt.

Better! Paired with my new favourite sparkly Christmas top.

Enough with bubbles and sparkles. Time to start thinking about my 2018 sewing plans!