About time…

(Note, I finished writing this post only 8 weeks after I started…)

Dear reader of this nearly-nonexistent blog,

This is where I bore you with anything but a photo report of a newly sewn dress, because I haven’t sewn a dress in a long time. I have a new desk, in a new house and right now, when I look over the top of my monitor, I can see my 4×4 Kallax filled with beautiful fabrics that I bought over the summer and autumn at various fabric markets, just idly waiting to be turned into dresses. But when I look at my monitor, I see my OneNote page with notes on Oliver Twist, just idly waiting to be turned into an essay.

The last dress I made was a Colette Myrtle. (This was in July.) I used a lightweight jersey featuring various London landmarks. At first sight I didn’t really like the print very much, but was cheap and I’m an English teacher, so I couldn’t not buy it, now could I? As a dress, it doesn’t look half bad though.

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Ths photo isn’t the best. I was 24 weeks pregnant when I finished the dress and according to Instagram I had also been writing an essay on Sylvia Plath’s poetry, so I mean: “Pfff!” The fit also isn’t the best. I think the bodice is too long, so the elastic doesn’t sit at my natural waist. It creeps up at the front, but sags at the sides, which makes the skirt hem look lopsided. You might think this was due to my pregnant belly, but it’s still a problem now.

Now, because hurrah, on November 2nd my husband and I became proud parents of a little, funny, amazingly lovable bundle of joy, whose main skills, at 3 weeks old, are peeing all over himself and slapping himself in the face.

I’ve sewn him two things. The Oliver pants, made  from a free pattern from famous Dutch sewing blog Emma & Mona. I changed the measurements of the cuffs a little from the original pattern , but the finished product fits him perfectly.

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The other thing I sewed that I was really enthusiastic about when I saw the pattern and sample outfits online is the Brindille & Twig hooded hooded zip coverall. So, I sewed one up with fabric that my sister gifted me from her shop in Norway, Kjekk og Søt, but I made the fatal mistake to misread the seam allowance and ended up chopping off quite a bit of fabric with the serger, so it ended up a little narrow.

On the hanger, it looks like a super cool space suit. On Rowan, it just looks weird. I really like the fabric, still, but the hood is way too big, and it just looks too much like pyjamas, which it cannot be used as due to the hood and the zip. So, unfortunately these space dogs have mostly just seen the inside of a closet instead of galaxies far, far away…6tag_071016-123437

Now, since it is now 8 weeks after I started writing this post, I will end it by saying I did finish that Oliver Twist essay and I made more Oliver pants to celebrate! Featured below with a Thread Theory Finlayson I made for my husband. Why is sewing for men so so SO much easier than sewing for myself?

Alright, time to wrap this up now and continue with my summary for the Pragmatics exam I have next week…. I will sew something for myself again, I promise, but I’m starting to think that something will be my graduation dress. wp_20161217_17_18_14_pro

New year, new dress

I’m not really into this whole New Year’s Eve thing where people look back on the past year and forward to the next and reminisce about everything that’s happened and make huge plans for the coming year. Maybe it’s because I have the worst memory and just forgot most of what I did, or maybe it’s because growing up we never even knew where or when we would go on summer holiday until a day in advance (there were always several options for departure days  and destinations, depending on when my dad finished work and what the weather was like), so making big plans is just not something I do, especially not for an entire year!

Fact of the matter is, my studies are keeping me more than occupied and even my plans to sew a Christmas dress went out of the window because I couldn’t finish it in time. So instead I wore a rtw dress I bought in England on sale three years ago, which I did shorten a bit because it had an awkward length for me, does that still count?

However, this week I managed to finish a dress I started two months ago. It’s the Harriet dress from La Maison Victor, edition November/December 2015. I like the design a lot, but it turned out just not to be so very flattering on me (or maybe I’m just not very flattering). I’ll show you why.

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I’m pretty happy with the bodice fit, although there is some room above my bust, which I could probably lose by adjusting the princess seams. I love the sleeves with the folded hem. However, I think the bodice is a little too long and the skirt is really not flattering on me. It’s a panelled skirt with pockets in the side seams and hugs my belly just too tight.

LMV Harriet 002

Also, wow, my back is just not pretty like this! But let’s not focus on that but instead look at the backdrop I chose for today’s photos. There are murals all over Heerlen (where I live), mostly covering up empty buidings or graffiti-prone walls. This one features a tiny picture and the woman on the right is actually pouring out the orange paint onto the street. It’s a bit damaged from wear and tear, though.

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Some of the murals are huge, like this one. Some are more beautiful than others, but overall it livens up the streets and I really like them.

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Maybe it’s the fact that it’s plain, maybe I really should lose weight again. The fabric for this dress is punta di roma, quite heavy, nothing wrong with it, other than it not being floral 😉

Construction-wise, it has 15 pattern pieces, times 2. Most of the seams are serged then topstitched, which is time-consuming but pretty. I installed an invisible zipper, a red one, but I messed up bigtime, stitching too close to the zipper teeth and it broke, so I installed a black one instead, only to realise I really didn’t need it. (So far, none of the zippers I have installed in dresses have been necessary, which says something about my bodice fittings skills I think…

LMV Harriet 004

Overall, I like the design on this dress, but it needs some New Dress resolutions:

  • better upper bust fitting
  • a different skirt (I’m thinking of the June dress skirt)
  • me losing weight

And I’ll add one more: actually sewing something once a month. Okay, you caught me, I do make plans sometimes…. Check back next month to see how I’ve got on. 🙂

For now, I’ll leave you with my mural collage and Happy New Friday to you! And wow, blog writing and watching Homeland really don’t go together, I’ve spent over two hours on this post…

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(PS more at http://www.heerlenmurals.nl/en/)

 

When I did the ironing today, there were so many handmade items in my laundry basket!

So, on each of the past eight Saturdays or so, I told myself: “today I am going to sew a new dress”. I could have known that with work and a Master’s program that was quite an ambitious thing to say… I started a graduate program in English and Education, which is sort of semi-fulltime, with two days of classes and an internship on the third day. I also still work at my current school two days a week. The Dutch educational system is quite complex, with different levels of secondary education and my current teaching degree allows me to teach the lower grades only. When a local college advertised they were going to offer the Master’s program, I jumped at the chance and signed up. So currently, I’m in a class of seven female students learning all about everything from Beowulf to Shakespeare, formative assessment, extensive reading, applied linguistics, phonetics and all other things fun! It sounds like a tea party with only girl students and girl teachers, but it really is a lot of work. Means I’m actually learning stuff, I suppose 🙂

However, this means I have been really busy. While I’m really glad I get to go to class during the day instead of doing a parttime evening course, it has been a lot of work and I hardly ever find myself doing anything that doesn’t involve either work, college or housekeeping. A few weeks ago I also received an unexpected, handmade, gift from my parents. When I saw it and realised how much work they put in it, I felt really guilty that I hadn’t touched my sewing machine in weeks. It’s awesome!

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But, last week I knew half-term/ autumn break was coming up, so I allowed myself some time to get started on a dress and I finished it this morning. Hurray! For this project, I actually knew what I wanted to make beforehand. I’d seen some simple A-line dresses in shops, made from textured or pre-quilted fabrics, usually with an exposed zipper. I really liked the look of them, but the ones I tried on didn’t fit me very well. So when I saw some charcoal coloured pre-quilted fabric at the market I thought I would make myself a dress just like it. I asked my mum if she had an A-line dress pattern. There was one in the latest Ottobre magazine, which I planned to use, but when I received the latest edition of Knipmode magazine I thought the pattern in there would fit me a little better.

Knipmode magazine has recently had a makeover and they now offer all of their patterns in sizes 34-54. (Marianne of Foxgloves and Thimbles recently wrote a review of the restyled magazine over at the Curvy Sewing Collective, if you would like to know more).

WP_20151024_21_35_00_RawSo, to cut to the chase, I chose dress number 12 from Knipmode november 2015. It’s actually a colourblocked dress, which I really like, but it is photographed very poorly I think. I really like the idea of this dress, so I might make it in its full glory if I ever have four colourways of the same fabric, but for now I just used the basic outline. I installed an exposed zipper instead of the lapped zipper and omitted the back kick pleat.

Obviously, I don’t look anything like that in my dress! (Knipmode has received quite some criticism lately, because even though they offer a wider range of sizes, they don’t have any plus-size models in their magazines.)

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I thought this was a great location for the photos, but we had to get back in the car really soon because we were being followed by a horse and cart… We didn’t find another good location so the rest of the photos were taken in the backyard, with a dog photobombing all of them.

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Of course, I couldn’t find a single front picture that was flattering, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that my belly always shows, no matter what I wear, and unless I put my life on hold and go to the gym every day and l never eat anything anymore, it will always be there, and even then, probably…

Did I mention I think this exposed zipper is absolutely amazing?! I love the colour and am quite proud of how I put it in.

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Fitting-wise, this is the best dress I’ve ever made. It looks a bit wide around my shoulders, but the fabric has quite some body, so sometimes it stands up a bit. It was a dream to sew up though. and the facing stays put so well. I love it! And so does Henkie 🙂

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Season of change: a dress for autumn

Time flies! As I am typing this, it’s officially the end of my summer holidays. I’ve had six weeks off (I’m a secondary school teacher) and they’ve flown by so fast! Things will be a little different this coming school year though, because I’m going back to college to get my Master’s Degree in English and Education. I will work two days a week and go to college and do an internship the other three days. It sounds busy, but it means I won’t have a tutor group this year and that will save me a lot of time.

I’m excited to go back to school. It’s the first year the nearby college offers the Master’s program and there’s a total of six students for English (they offer programs for maths and Dutch, too, with about the same number of students) so that will be special! The low number of students is ridiculous of course, but I guess they have to start somehow, right? So, over the next two years it’ll be all about language acquisition, didactics, drama, grammar and literature for me. Speaking of which, I was browsing Etsy last night and I already know what dress to make for graduation!

wuthering heights dress

It is way too expensive, but I love the idea and there must be some way I can print my favourite parts from The Catcher in the Rye on cotton, surely? I can sew the dress myself, maybe even using the pattern I used for the dress I want to show you: Simplicity 1873. When Mary of Idle Fancy started showcasing her lovely versions, I thought it would be a good pattern for me too. It took me a long time to make one though!

I’m conflicted about the result. I’ve had bodice fitting issues with everything I made so far, so I knew I had to make a muslin. I used some linen that I disliked, but it stretched and pulled and was just not suitable, so I dragged my husband to ikea and snapped up about ten meters of ikea Bomull unbleached cotton. I made a size 22 bodice, cutting the back on the fold but with extra width for the zipper. From measuring I knew I needed some extra width for my waist. It wasn’t much, so I figured I could easily just use the size 22 skirt and adjust the pleating a little, so I didn’t make a muslin for that.

Simplicity 1873

I was quite happy with the muslin bodice, but it was hard to tell without the weight of the skirt. I shortened the vertical bust darts a bit and there was quite a bit of neckline gaping so I tried to adjust that too. I thought the muslin fitted quite well in the end, but translated into the real deal I’m not that happy.

Simplicity 1873

There is neckline gaping at the back and front and I think I should lengthen the bodice a bit because it is just above my waist. I didn’t do an FBA because I needed that extra width for my waist and I started with that, but reckon I should have. I guess the dress fits okay, but I can put it on without having to open the zipper, so it must be too wide. Any ideas on what to do about it?

Simplicity 1873

However, I do really love the fabric and the silhouette of this dress. I think it’s a great dress for autumn and it even allows me to wear this cardigan I bought two years ago, but have never worn! I bought it to wear with a specific top but it didn’t look good, so it’s been in my drawer ever since. I thought it would look good with my dress and when I read the  post about 70s inspired Fall Colours (shouldn’t that be ‘Autumn colours’ or ‘Fall colors’?) on Sewaholic I realised I might even be fashionable! Although my dress might be some twenty years off…

Simplicity 1873

So, apart from the fitting issues, I do like this dress and will wear it, especially with the cardigan I think. That said, I really wanted to take these pictures today, but it was over 30 degrees and I just couldn’t be bothered with shoes!

Construction was nice, part of it was done at my sister’s. She worked on her own sewing project and I laid out three meters of skirt on her living room floor, this skirt is huge! It was my first time lining something, so I took some pictures of the inside too for you to see. I got lazy and stitched-in-the-ditch the bodice lining at the waist though, so that isn’t as neat as it could be, but other than that I’m satisfied. I blind-stitched the skirt hem on my sewing machine and it worked out really well.

Simplicity 1873

Simplicity 1873

Oh yes, that Moneta I mentioned two posts back? Still needs hemming and needs bust darts desperately, it’s a disaster. Wrong fabric maybe (cotton and lycra, but not very flowy), I will try again with some proper knit fabric.

Sleeveless summer

Bonjour mesdames, monsieurs et mademoiselles! I am back from France, where we spent a week in a quaint little cabin in Normandy. We were in Perriers sur Andelle, which is near Rouen. Close enough to the coast so we could do a day trip to Étretat and Honfleur, but far enough away to not have to spend the whole week around tourists. Our dog came with us and especially that day on the coast he became quite a tourist attraction himself. Somewhere in Asia a girl will look through her holiday pictures and fondly remember that moment in which she was poking a dog (trying to pet him?) captured in a photograph.

I took three me made items with me on holiday, which I thought was pretty good, considering I’m quite the sewing newbie still. I took my floral Adelaide, which I coincidentally ended up wearing to a market again (so it’s been dubbed my ‘market dress’ now). The other two items are sleeveless blouses.

I bought a sleeveless blouse on sale a few weeks ago. It was a really thin chiffon type fabric and I was already hesitant about buying it. I shouldn’t have because I had a great big tear in it before the day was out…

I decided to get my 12 euros’ worth though and cut the whole thing apart to draft a pattern from it. This means this post is not going to be very interesting to you at all, so I’ll keep the details short and let you enjoy some holiday pictures at the same time.

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The first version I made of a cotton I still had in my stash (yes I think I should admit my ever growing fabric collection is officially turning into one…) The print, especially the use of dots, reminds me of aboriginal art, but I am sure I am offending people by saying that, so I won’t. I though the print was a little busy and therefore I still had it lying around, but it works for this blouse!

I am looking out the window of Chateau Gaillard, medieval castle ruins on a hill near Les Andelys overlooking the Seine. The castle was built on the orders of Richard the Lionheart and there’s a whole story about how when the village was attacked all the people fled to the castle and then at some point were kicked out again and had to survive a gruesome winter out in the cold. It wasn’t pretty… The castle site was though.

collage Chateau Gaillard

The next version of the blouse I made from a white cotton lawn with a geometric beehive-like print in metallic turquoise. It’s very subtle, the blouse looks plain white from far off. I tweaked a few things after the first version and am really happy with the finished product.

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My stitch-in-the-ditch presser foot was my friend for all the topstitching and I French-seamed everything.

Louviers 02

These two blouses will get plenty of wear now and they’re really good for autumn too, combined with a cardigan or blazer. Yay!

Where Adelaide meets Liège.

Today a post about the second Seamwork Adelaide dress I made. I actually finished it a few weeks ago and I’ve worn it a couple of times, but I hadn’t gotten around to having the pictures taken. I wore it today when we were out, so I had William take some action snaps.

We went to the market at La Batte in Liège in Belgium (or Luik for the Dutch speaking population). It’s a weekly market stretching along the river Maas and according to a website it’s existed since 1561. We had never been there before and after yesterday’s summer storm (which actually wasn’t that bad in this part of the country) we woke up to a sunny blue sky and figured it would be a perfect day for a stroll.

Obviously everything I do is sewing-related these days, I look for fabric everywhere and when shopping I can’t help but look at the way clothes are constructed (poorly, usually). So when we spotted half a haberdasheries stall I had to take a look at the buttons.

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Unfortunately, half that market stall was all there was, and a few stalls with oilcloth and table cloths. It’s a huge market, but there wasn’t much variety, unless you’re looking to buy a dog… We spotted three shops near the market selling puppies. Abominable…

But, back to my dress. It’s made of a stretchy cotton twill. Because my pink Adelaide was too tight in the bust area, I performed my first ever FBA, but kept the bodice size the same. This version fits fine around my bust, but there’s a bit of gaping in the necklines. It’s hard to compare because this one is so stretchy and the pink one doesn’t have any stretch, but I might have to go down a size for the bodice and do the FBA on that. It is okay though, I can totally wear this dress, sleeveless as well. (Forgot to take my cardigan off for the pictures, sorry.)

Seamwork Adelaide 12

I used snaps for this dress and I had leftover bias tape from the pink dress which was the perfect colour (and I folded it under anyway) so the construction went a lot faster this time! I again omitted the belt loops, I really don’t need them.

And sometimes a girl really has to put the most unflattering picture online to show how perfectly her sunglasses match her dress! (Biggest tompouce ever…)

Not much else to say about this dress, it’s a winner! Have new shoes too. Not so fashionable maybe, a dress and sneakers, but you have to understand, when we go somewhere, we walk a lot. A lot.

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This is typical for Liège. There are some beautifully restored old buildings, beautiful new buildings. Sometimes you find a beautiful front door as the perfect backdrop for your picture, but then someone left their garbage out…

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Next up: a Moneta! (Yes, I like to do things backwards…)

Slowly strolling in the sweet sunshine.

So how about this heatwave hey!

Yesterday was my birthday. Yes, I have to share it with the great United States of America, but add that to being born in 1984 and I think I’ve got a pretty neat date of birth! (Yes, I’m old…)

For my birthday I got a pair of espadrilles soles from Prym. I read about them a few weeks ago and when we walked into a little haberdasheries/ old fashioned toiletries / shoe polish shop in Haarlem last weekend I saw them and just couldn’t resist. They were actually on my birthday wishlist but I hadn’t seen them anywhere before and the haberdasheries stall at the market didn’t have them, so I thought I’d better buy them while I could. This meant on my birthday I received a note from our dog that he was really happy I was going to have new shoes he could play with. Yes, our dog can read and write, and watch telly. Seriously! Well that last thing at least.

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The birthday barbecue that we planned has been postponed till next Saturday due to the heat and the fact that our backyard has no shade whatsoever, so my family wasn’t here, but I had lunch with two colleagues, sat in the pool for most of the afternoon and had friends over in the evening. And there were even fireworks! Those Americans are everywhere…

Anyway, back to my new shoes. It looked so easy, but it was actually quite time consuming. It’s a miracle I can type this, because my fingertips are still numb from all those blanket stitches..

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I already knew I wanted to use the black and grey floral fabric I used on the McCall’s 6696 I made for William’s birthday and I had some black cotton for the lining. I thought about lining the insole too, but couldn’t find anything about how to do that online, so I chose to just follow the steps explained in the tutorial by The Makery. The package comes with the pattern pieces, but has no instructions, so I found the tutorial very helpful. Especially for the blanket stitches, which I’d never used before.

Putting together these espadrilles is actually really straightforward. It just takes some time! Such a great task for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

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Note: two-and-a-half weeks ago I slipped in wet grass and bruised my right foot. I didn’t notice how swollen it still is until I saw these photos.

Note two: photos edited with the Aviary tool on Flickr.com. Pretty instagrammy!

Note three: I finished my floral Adelaide, and started the mental process for a maxi dress. Upcoming!