Thursday 22 February 2018

Sewing room improvements

Last month a small parcel from Ikea completely changed my sewing life. Below you see the before picture. Can you spot the difference?

Apart from a few bits and bobs (and way more fabric) the set up is still very much the same as when the room was featured in Love Sewing Magazine two years ago. I absolutely love the two Ikea Melltorp tables. Stable and indestructible with iron legs and a melamine top that is moisture and stain resistant. During projects I write little reminders about seam allowances or top stitching directly on the table top, knowing it's all easily removed when I'm done. So far tracing wheels, scissors or other tools haven't caused a single scratch since I started using the table twins five years ago. Why two identical tables? One is holding my sewing machine and overlocker while the other one is used for everything else.

Planning new projects, pinning, basting, hand sewing, tracing patterns and cutting fabrics.

So far I didn't have a cutting table. What I do have is a herniated disc. Usually it's not causing me much trouble but certain movements can cause severe pain in my left leg. Or worse, numbness and muscular weakness. Tracing patterns and cutting fabrics on a regular height table is certainly a trigger. Sometimes cutting out a coat means walking like an employee of the Ministry of Silly Walks for the rest of the week, battling with a leg that's making unpredictable moves. Luckily I'm not a speedy sewist, so most often there's enough time to recuperate before I reach the point where I have to cut out the next project.

In December I cut out several patterns with only a few days in between. Things were spiraling out of control and I knew I had to find a solution before the pain was killing my sewing joy.

A few years ago I saw a picture of someone using bed risers to raise an existing table. I experimented with cans of beans and tuna to see if that would work, only to find myself limping for the rest of the day. Apparently crawling under a table with canned food was another trigger. I did post a picture on Instagram of my temporarily raised table and Christina, a sewing architect from Norway, suggested to look into Ikea's sit/stand desks. Which I finally did, 110 weeks later. Yes, my wheels turn slowly.

I checked the Ikea desks and really liked the Skarsta, which can be easily adjusted in height by turning a crank handle. It comes with a 120 x 70 cm particle board top, finished with paper and acrylic paint. Bummer. I was not ready to give up my melamine Melltorp top, which was also slightly larger (125 x 75 cm). That may not look like a big difference, but when you're cutting 150 cm wide fabric on the fold it is!

After studying the assembly instructions mounting the Melltorp top on the Skarsta legs seemed possible, although the pre-drilled holes would be useless. Enter Mr Foxgloves, my beloved engineer in residence!

Et voila!

When not in use the crank handle slides under the table top. In a few seconds the height can be adjusted from 70 cm to 120 cm. Even at maximum height the desk is still very stable. This type of desk is also available in a larger size (80 x 160 cm) or with a motor if you prefer to adjust the height electrically. I can see how that's a nice feature in an office setting, where you'd adjust the desk multiple times a day to change between sitting and standing. In my sewing room I'd rather use the crank. Piece of cake, no strength required.

I'm very happy with the new multifunctional desk. Most days it is functioning as a regular table, like in the top picture. When I'm cutting fabric or tracing a pattern I raise the table to a height of around 98 cm. Cutting at an ergonomic working position makes all the difference in the world! I can really recommend the Skarsta desk. When your sewing space is limited it could double as sewing desk/cutting table, while only taking up the floor space of a regular size desk.  Legs and table top are sold separately so when you're willing to do the maths and drill a few extra holes you can mix and match or keep an existing top.

Total cost of this improvement: 169 euro. Result: priceless.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

Review Knipmode March 2018

The March issue of Knipmode is the one I'm always looking forward to the most, for a variety of reasons. Firstly it is all about new spring fabrics, prints and colours. Secondly, I find spring collections so versatile. In our Dutch climate we need those 'in between' clothes almost all year round. There may be a few days each winter when we really need to bring out fake fur and heavy wool. If we're lucky there will be days to wear sundresses and shorts during summer. But apart from the extremes our weather is mostly of the 'in between' type and you can't go wrong with jackets or long sleeved tops and dresses.

Pattern overview Knipmode 3/2018

With seven jackets, a cardigan and four long sleeved tops in numbers the March collection is as could be expected. But, what's new? To be honest, nothing much. It's more of the same trends we've seen for a while now: athleisure, ruffles, flounces, statement sleeves. When we zoom in on the fabrics we see flamingos (not again!), bold florals, monstera leaves, black and white, pastels and nudes. Some linen, but also a lot of viscose and polyester. I do hope my daughter returns from Paris this week with more exciting news from the Premiere vision fabric expo!
At the end of the month I'll be visiting the spring fabric market in a nearby town, curious to see the new collection of my favourite fabric sellers.

Jacket 7 (Geesje) + pants 16 (Peppe), sweater 18 (Raja), jumpsuit 14 (Nadien)

I haven't worn athleisure since I lost my beloved red Adidas hoodie from the seventies but the style is once again very popular in our streets. My 70-year-old cousin successfully adopted the style by wearing black trousers with two subtle metallic stripes along the outer leg seam.

Jacket 10 (Jara) + trousers 2 (Bruni), blouse 6 (Fleur) + trousers 2, Jacket 9 (Ilona) + trousers 1 (An)

Knipmode has offered patterns for floral suits for months in a row now, but so far I have not seen any of these out in the wild. Same goes for the pyjama style suit. Interesting to see if these trends will make an appearance in our streets any time soon.

Dress 11 (Klaartje), dress 17 (Qaya), dress 4 (Daan)

Two woven fit and flare dresses and a straight jersey dress. Nothing spectacular but these patterns can all show off a pretty print very well.

Dress 5 (Elize) and top 12 (Liese)

Two of my favourites. Dress 5 is a straight shirtdress with hidden button placket. The use of stripes and the half tie belt create an interesting asymmetric look to an otherwise straightforward dress. The top has cut on sleeves and a peplum.

Dress 23 (Wilma)

This month's designer dress looks very attractive in this flowy fabric with a good drape. With all the flounces along collar, hem and sleeves selecting the right fabric will be crucial to make this dress work. I'm tempted to give this pattern a try with a slightly longer skirt.

Jacket 22 (Vero), jacket 21 (Ursa), coat 20 (Teddi)

Three jackets, all different views from the same pattern. Sadly none of these jackets is lined. The sturdy floral linen is holding up okay but when you look at close-ups of the white linen coat you'll see a very wonky zipper, facings and seams showing through and imagine how wrinkled it will look after a day's wear. With a little extra work these jackets could look and feel so much better!

Coat 20 (Teddi) and McCall's 7730

Actually I quite like the coat in black jacquard. I've had my eyes on McCall's 7730 for a while and I think I still prefer that pattern. It is lined and has set in sleeves, a better look on me than raglan sleeves.

Cardigan 8 (Hana) + skirt 19 (Sandra)

I'm always hoping to find some truly unique patterns in the newest Knipmode collections. This month cardigan 8 was the only one that showed a few surprising details. I'm not into short and boxy cardigans for myself but I do like the use of organza for the ruffles and extra set of lapels, combined with a soft merino jersey. 

All PDF patterns can be found in the Knipmode webshop. I used both pattern names and numbers to make it easier to navigate the site. But, in a new mysterious move, it looks like Knipmode is now back to using only numbers in the shop where last month it was all about the names. Weird!

Traditionally at the beginning of a new season an extra supplement is added to the regular magazine. It is heavily sponsored by fabric company Hilco. The 11 bonus patterns are not available as PDF, but some of them may show up in the coming months as happened before.

Pattern overview and size chart bonus supplement March 2018

Shirtdress 110, blouse 103 and jeans 102

The garments on the right will make a nice outfit for gardening, bike rides and grocery shopping. The shirtdress, another one with a twist, will look great as a casual dress for hanging out with family and friends. 

All in all, although not groundbreaking, a nice bunch of new patterns and I can't wait to start sewing for spring. Well, after I finish that emergency cardigan because it's freezing again!

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