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!

DSC_0374

DSC_0375

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.)

Knipmode 11/2015-12 002

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.

Knipmode 11/2015-12 003

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.

Knipmode 11/2015-12 005

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 🙂

Knipmode 11/2015-12 006

Trial and error: the fitting project (and more)

Hello folks and welcome to a new working week. Unfortunately I didn’t have the best day at work, but hey, I have another four days to forget all about it. Last time I told you about my two weeks off and my intention to finish two garments during that time. I was playing around with the Knipmode pattern I used for the dress I blogged about in my last post. I thought I needed a narrow shoulder adjustment. People on the Curvy Sewing Collective forum suggested a smaller size for the bodice with an FBA. By that time, I had already traced the pattern and cut and taped an NSA, I decided to use some cheap fabric to whip up a blouse. I learnt a few things:

  1. Doing a narrow shoulder adjustment was the wrong choice.
  2. Cheap plastic fabric is annoying.
  3. When turning this blouse pattern into a blouse (because seriously, the original length is somewhere in between a blouse and a dress) I need to shorten the button placket.
  4. Sewing in sleeves and then taking them out because the fit is all wrong, not bothering to use a seam ripper, but instead cutting them off to use as the binding, does not a pretty armscye finish make.
  5. I can still wear the sleeveless blouse with a cardigan and get a compliment from a colleague about it. Hurrah!

Anyway, this blouse remains unphotographed but I’m having a me-made-May-day as we speak.

So, on to version 3 of the same pattern. I decided to not bother with the FBA, because the blue dress bodice is really quite roomy. I used a white and pink floral fabric that had been lying in my mother-in-law’s cabinet for at least fifteen years, so she decided to give it to me. I washed it and it didn’t fall apart completely, so I figured it was perfect for another trial version that was going to fail, obviously. I figured it was fabric that was nice enough for a wearable muslin, but that I wouldn’t be sad about if I ended up never wearing the blouse. I learnt a few things:

  1. The pattern came with very concise instructions. Therefore I hadn’t understood there was gathering involved in setting in the sleeves. Ahhh, so that’s why they were way too big for number two…
  2. There is something I really don’t understand about this pattern. You see. The front pattern piece comes with a gap, because it has a pleat below the henley placket. The thing is however, that the pleat is smaller than the gap for the placket. The pattern doesn’t have seam allowances included. For number two I added the 1.5 cms, which closed up the gap, but then my collar was too small. For number three I didn’t add the seam allowance, but instead just closed the gap by making a larger pleat and then my collar was too big. It really doesn’t make sense.
  3. Florals of 30 cms diameter in pink do not look good on me at all.
  4. I really should have done that FBA. I will listen to you next time DeniseM and michelleinsea. I promise!

Anyway, this blouse remains unphotographed and unworn, unless it miraculously fits my mum and I will have instantly unlocked the achievement “sewing for others” (blinking stars appear).

The other day I read Tasha’s post on By Gum By Golly on why she isn’t participating in me-made-May and I realised that the person she describes is me. I have sewn about a dozen garments now and there are only a couple I think are good enough to wear. I guess that comes with learning to sew though. Each item you sew will be better than the last (usually) so you end up being really critical of the items you made before that. I am like that anyway. (So in fact I was really proud today when that colleague complimented me on my blouse and I didn’t straightaway start mentioning all its flaws.) I really need to learn more about fit and how to alter patterns so I will end up with wearable clothes instead of “Oh, I guess this was just another project to practise my techniques.”

However, I am not giving up and in fact in the last few weeks I visited two fabric markets and bought some neat stuff! I pre-washed a selection and took some photos while it was drying outside (ohh the wrinkles!).

fabric collage

Two of them, as you can see, are actually border panels, or gradients, or whatever that is called (I am expanding my vocabulary as it is, please give me a break). I love them so much I will probably not use them for a long time. I need to learn to sew first… I bought much more than this, a laundry basket full to be precise, but I am really happy with these finds in particular.

I will leave you with my first home deco project! Or garden deco really. Cushions for our picknick table. Fabric courtesy of IKEA. Pretty straightforward. Found a tutorial online, made cushions. The third one actually worked out better than the fourth so I just proved my own theory wrong. 

Till next time!

cushions collage

DSC_0463

Something new, something blue.

Two weeks off from work, so I decided I was going to sew at least two new items of clothing. It’s the first day of the second week, and I can show you my first item! This time it’s something I’m quite happy with, so that’s an improvement from the last post.

But before I tell you all about it, I’d like to point out I added this neat little button to the right side of this blog, so it’s now very easy to find and follow me on Bloglovin’! (So please do 🙂 )

So, a few weeks ago I was in H&M – where husband can buy lots of cool shirts and trousers in fancy colours like vintage green and light petrol and I never fit in anything, so end up only buying hair elastics –  when I spotted something in the LOGG section. It was terribly overpriced and I seriously doubted it was going to fit me, but I tried it on, and it has been my new favourite dress ever since. Of course, whenever I see clothes I like now, I automatically think “Can I make this?” and sometimes even “I can make this!”. This tunic from H&M doesn’t look very complicated at all. It doesn’t even have bust darts, but it has some gathering at the shoulders, and a pleat in the middle, so I wouldn’t know how to draw it out exactly, and this one landed somewhere between those two categories…

Instead, I started looking through all my sewing magazines and sewing patterns and found a pattern for a blouse that had quite some similarities, and thus my new sewing project had been found! It’s a pattern from a Dutch sewing patterns magazine I bought back in the summer of 2012. It’s called Knipmode (which literally translates to Cut fashion…) and usually only has a few plus-size patterns per edition. I read this is going to change in autumn though and they will make all their patterns up to size 54 (about 24UK/ 20US). Hurray! That said, the magazines often contain very weird and ugly patterns, but it’s good value for money even if there’s only one pattern you like.

The pattern I chose is this one: blouse 45 from Knipmode 6/2012.

BRW1008B19D2642_000025

I decided on the size by comparing the pattern measurements with my H&M tunic and added some extra length, because I hadn’t quite decided yet whether to make a blouse or a dress.

The result: a dress in lightblue linen bought at a fabric market. Sewing with linen is a charm, because even though it creases like crazy, it’s also very ironable, which helps create nice seams and all.

IMG_6547

I finished this dress on Saturday and wore it yesterday for my father-in-law’s birthday. We went for a walk with the dog first, and ended up in the pouring rain, but William managed to take some pictures when it was still drizzle…

IMG_6543

(doggie has a loooong tongue!)

The technicalities:

  • French seamed the side and yoke seams.
  • First ever henley button placket (cue Boys of Summer here).
  • Size is okay, but I have the same issue I had with my black floral McCall’s 6696: when I want to wear something over it, it pulls in the armpit area. In this case it could be due to my forgetting to add seam allowance for the armscyes. (I did, but then was silly enough to think it shouldn’t be there… I was thinking sleeveless I suppose.) You can see what happens really well in this picture. I should really find out what to change so this sits better. It fits fine though, I can move my arms and all that!

IMG_6554

  • I used interfacing for the collar, but I think it was too thick, which causes the sagging you can see here.

IMG_6634

  • I followed the magazine’s description for adding the collar, but definitely should have used the method Andrea of Four Square Walls uses in her collar tutorial. I’ve used that for my shirtdresses, and I think is much easier than how I did it now.

Overall, I’m quite happy with this dress (even with some top stitching glitches) and it gave me a chance to use a collection of sewing feet such as the 1/4″ seam foot and the stitch-in-the-ditch foot for the collar facing.

The pattern calls for a hem with facing, but after reading through a few tutorials for curved hems, I decided to go with the method described on Coletterie. I should have used gathers or a tiny (rolled?) hem though, because this fabric was too thick and left some weird creases on the inside. Oh well.

Pfft. I think I’ve said more than enough now, and I haven’t even mentioned the weird middle pleat measurements (wider than the button placket) or how I harvested the buttons from a jacket I bought at a flea market..Or that my sister and mother-in-law don’t like this dress think this dress is a bit plain and suggested I make something “with flowers”. 

IMG_6640

IMG_6517

What do you think?