Crafting plans for 2015

With 2015 already in its third month (I can’t quite believe that, where did January and February go?) it’s about time I start thinking about my sewing plans for this year. We’ve moved into our new home and life is slowly starting to get back to normal. I’ve even been sewing again! My new sewing room is great to work in. It’s huge with good natural light during the daytime and a lot of storage space. The latter I have to admit is currently still quite disorganised which can make it difficult to find what I need.

This year I am going to continue to make my own clothes, but I’m not going to stress about it. Not that I did that last year anyway.

In 2015 I’d like to challenge myself a bit more in the sewing department, try more new techniques, different fabrics and more complicated patterns than I did during 2014. This year also comes with more special occasions requiring special clothes, which could make things interesting.

Garment sewing

Complicated projects

• Cocktail dress to wear to a winter wedding. (Coming soon!)
• Complete those jeans! I really need a new pair… or two… or even three…
• Summer coat
• Party dress to wear to a summer wedding
• Dress to wear to my very own thesis defense
• Winter coat
• Classic tailored shirt for my boyfriend. Promised long ago, gorgeous fabric was bought long ago, it’s about time I get started…

Now that I’ve written these down it seems like this might be a bit too much for a single year, we’ll see how far I get. Especially since I am not particularly good at deadline sewing…

Easy in between projects

• Pyjama pants
• Cardigans
• T-shirts
• Casual skirts
• Knit dresses
• Alabama Chanin style top

Crochet

I’ve not done a lot of crochet after finishing my scarf (that I am still wearing!). It turns out that granny squares aren’t really my kind of project. A real garment is what I’m now after. I still need some help with crochet as this is a skill that doesn’t come natural to me so I bought the “my first crochet cardigan” class from Craftsy, I also got the yarn kit that came with the class so that I don’t have to worry about getting the correct yarn for this project. I’ve already made a gauge swatch with the recommend hook size which turned out pretty but way too small. Apparently I crochet tight. I have ordered more crochet hooks in other sizes and will continue my crochet garment quest when those arrive (I’m hoping soon!).

Quilting

• Finish that quilt that should have been finished way too long ago
• Couch quilt to snuggle under
• Pillows that match our, not yet ordered, new couch
• Try some art quilting to decorate the still empty walls of our new house (My boyfriend is going to freak out when he reads this…)

Did you make a plan this year for the things that you would like to make?

 

Completed: yet another Lady Skater t-shirt…

front colour blocked t-shirtI needed some simple projects to get going again and decided to fill a gap in my wardrobe: long sleeved t-shirts. Useful when it gets a little bit colder and a short sleeved t-shirt doesn’t provide enough coverage anymore but a cardigan or sweater is still too warm.

140907_sideIf you have been following this blog for a while you may have noticed that I usually use solid colours when sewing for myself and that I am not averse to some colour blocking. To make this t-shirt I used the same pattern as before but adapted it to give the top of the t-shirt a different colour. I even remembered to take some progress pictures so I could show you how I changed the pattern to achieve this look. This is a very easy method to give your favourite t-shirt (or dress) a different appearance.

The first step is tracing your pattern because you don’t want to mess with the original, you might want to use it again some other time. Make sure to include all relevant pattern markings, I forgot to add the straight of grain line for the sleeve at first…

trace pattern

Fresh pattern pieces!

The second step is to decide where you want to cut and mark this position on all pattern pieces (front, back and sleeve). I made a mark ¾’’ below the armpit. You could cut a little bit higher than that, but I would advise you to take into account that you are introducing extra seam allowances inside the shirt and you don’t want all of those to meet exactly at the armpit because that will become very bulky which is a pain to sew and might also not be too comfortable when wearing. If you only want a small strip of the second colour at the top you can also cut above the armpit. Check that the marks you made on the front and back bodice match and that the marks you made on the sides of the sleeve match as well.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Mark a certain distance away from the armpit and check on front and back bodice (and sleeve) whether the marks match up.

Draw a line across the pattern pieces through the mark and cut the pattern. Make sure that both sides of each pattern piece are labelled correctly.

mark and cut

My pencil marks aren’t very clear but I first drew the cut line with pencil.

The Lady Skater pattern has the seam allowance included in the pattern. However, where I cut the pattern, the seam allowance is not yet included. This means that I have to remember to add the appropriate seam allowance when I cut the pattern from fabric. I use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to get a straight cut. You can also tape some extra tracing paper to the pattern and add the seam allowance to the pattern if you worry that you’ll forget.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

Add seam allowance to side that was sliced.

I chose to first sew top and bottom of each pattern piece together before assembling the t-shirt. You could topstitch the seams but I didn’t. For another look you could also only do this modification to the bodice to get a differently coloured yoke and leave the sleeves as they are.

pieces assembled

And it case you are wondering, yes, there will be jeans at some point, just not this week, I have too much other stuff going on…

140907_back

 

My boyfriend wrapped me in duct tape

frontA title like this could contain a very sinister story but in our case it was my idea to wrap duct tape around me. If you are a garment sewer you might already have guessed that I was after a dress form.

I aim to make clothes that fit but the fitting process can be quite lengthy if you have to fit yourself. For me it usually includes sewing a muslin, putting it on and going to our bedroom that has a full length mirror to see how it fits. With just one mirror it is, however, quite difficult to assess fit because you can’t really judge the fit from the side and back because you distort the garment when bending your head and body in an attempt to see what the garment looks like. Usually, I’ll go downstairs to take some pictures so I can assess what the garment looks like from those angles. I find pictures really helpful to assess fit issues.

backWhen the fit issues are clear it is time to make adjustments. It is easiest to make adjustments to a garment when it is on a body. When the garment is on your own body that does create some challenges. Adjustments to the front are usually doable. I’ll do them in front of the aforementioned mirror (all the while worried that I end up leaving pins in our bed, on my boyfriend’s side…). Adjustments to the back are more difficult. Most places are problematic to reach without ending up with a back injury so it often involves a lot of taking the garment off, guessing what needs to be done, trying it on (often also taking more pictures) and then trying something else. This can go on for quite a long time because I’m also still learning how to fix certain issues and a lot of what I do is trial and error.

sideI’ve been thinking for a long time that a dress form would be extremely helpful to decrease the time spent fitting. If I can make the initial large adjustments on a dress form and only have to do the final tweaking on my own body the whole process should go a lot faster.

My first thoughts went to a commercial dress form but I quickly realized that even if they are of the adjustable variety I’ll never get one that is exactly like my own body. I think the future of dress forms will include a body scanner and a 3D printer that recreates your body to perfection but I haven’t been able to find a company that already offers this (and at first it’ll probably be insanely expensive) so I went with the next best thing: duct tape.

There are loads of tutorials out there on how to make a dress form using duct tape so I’m not going into all the details here. I’ll just give three top tips. Use a close fitting t-shirt as a base and not a garbage bag. The fabric of the t-shirt adds a lot of support to the duct tape shell and I believe this helps the form to keep its shape.  Use non-stick scissors when you cut the dress form open to get out. Lastly, when closing the cut, start taping from the inside with the small lengths of duct tape and try to align the cut as best as you can. If you are happy with the alignment, put some tape on the outside as well, then move onto the next segment. Taping from both sides will make the seam stronger and you’ll have less chance the form will pop open at some point.

Cut open dress form. I later cut off the top of the pants that wasn't attached to the duct tape.

Cut open dress form. I later cut off the top of the pants that wasn’t attached to the duct tape.

 

Feeling a little deflated...

Feeling a little deflated…

I started with a long sleeved scoop neck t-shirt but sewed some ribbed knit onto the neckline to create more of a turtle neck because I wanted to include part of my neck in the form (it’s easier to start with a turtle neck but I didn’t have one). Because my hips are the widest part of my body I find they also affects how tops look on me so I decided to include my hips and upper legs in the form as well so I also wore close fitting sports pants.

We used one layer of duct tape and two layers on some areas that I felt needed some more support. I bought two rolls of 50 meter each but we ended up using less than one roll. I would advise you to buy more than you think you’ll need because you don’t want to realise half-way through taping that you’re running out and need to go to a store to buy more. It’s not that comfortable to be wrapped in duct tape…

You should choose someone you trust to do the taping because it’s quite an intimate process. It was also a bit scary to have someone use scissors this close to my bottom.

Getting some shape as the form is stuffed.

Getting some shape as the form is stuffed.

My form was stuffed with filling from old pillows and some stuffed toys filling. I chose to put a hanger inside so I can hang the form somewhere when fitting. If you don’t include the legs you could also make it so it stands on a desk or insert a stand. In a future sewing room I’ll probably make something on the wall so I can hang the form permanently. For now I’ll make do with a hook a previous tenant left in our bedroom ceiling. The only thing she really lacks is collapsible shoulders, but I think that feature will have to wait until those body scanning companies are up and running.

duct tape dress form

Do you have a dress form and do you find it helpful for fitting?

Sewing jeans: Muslin 4

First I’ll show you some changes I made to muslin 3 to improve the fit.

At the front I pinned out a horizontal dart and added some fabric to finally fix that wavy side seam (this latter part is better visible in the side view of the muslin).

muslin front

The change I made to the paper pattern to add that extra room to the front is possibly different from how you think it was done so I took some pictures. I chose not to add this extra space by adding onto the side seam because that most likely would have changed the length of the front side seam and then it wouldn’t have been the same length anymore as the back side seam. Instead I made a vertical cut in my pattern and created a lot of hinge points at the side seam. In the muslin I measured at several point how much room I had to add. The hinge points made it possible to curve the original side seam to mimic what I had done in the muslin.

straighten side seam

1. Slice in the pattern as you did in the muslin. 2. Create hinge points, I accidently cut some of those too close so they teared… 3. Tape a piece of tracing paper underneath the pattern and shape side seam to add additional room to pattern.

At the back I struggled a bit and ended up adding another wedge across. Not sure whether that was really necessary… In the end I decided that the way I had taken out the extra space I had taken out at the yoke wasn’t right and created the weird shaping so for muslin 4 I redrafted this curve in the pattern.

140811_muslin3_back

140811_muslin3_side

Then onto muslin 4. I didn’t have enough fabric left to make it full length so I made it as long as I could with the fabric I had left over from muslin 1 and 2.

140811_back curveFor this muslin I redrew the back seam because I needed to fix the problems I had created by taking out all of the gaping I had at the center back of the yoke. In the muslin you can see that I am now planning to remove this excess by pinning it out as if they are back darts. This will create some shaping in the yoke pieces and I think this should get rid of the gaping. I also realised that the curve I had at center back wasn’t deep enough to accomodate my curves so I changed it as shown in the picture on the left. Perhaps I’ll have to scoop it out yet a little bit more.

In muslin 3 I felt that after I straightened the side seam it was still located a bit too much towards the front of the trousers so I moved it back by 1 cm in the pattern. This was done by making a vertical slice in both front and back pattern pieces. The front piece was taped to some extra tracing paper adding an extra cm. The back was overlapped to take out 1 cm. Don’t forget to also make this change to the yoke piece!

muslin 4 front

Still a couple of wrinkels at the crotch, but not too bad. The top of the trousers aren’t straight so I’ll have to change that. I think moving the side seam backwards is an improvement.

muslin 4 back

I do think the back looks better but now there is some fabric pooling that I’ll have to get rid off. This picture is also a bit slanted…

muslin 4 side

Side seam is much straighter. Top front is a bit lower than the back.

Since jeans are usually supposed to fit quite tight when you put them on I think I’ll make them a bit more fitted at the side- and inseam because the muslin is a bit loose right now and I think they will end up too loose when sewn in a stretch denim.

I’m afraid I’ll have to make at least 1 more muslin… Can you believe I am already dreaming of all the easy no fuss tops I’m going to make after I finally finish these jeans?

 

Sewing jeans: Making samples

topstitchingthread

Do you ever get started enthusiastically on a project and then suddenly lose steam? That’s what happened with my muslin process. I was a bit tired and didn’t have much time so not much progress was made and now I have to motivate myself to get back to it. I have finished muslin 4 though and I think I’m really close to getting a good fit. I’ll probably write about it after the weekend. Now I want to show you another part of the sewing process, collecting all the materials and testing out different techniques before using them on the actual garment.

needle&thread

Also important: a supply of fresh denim needles!

I already bought some denim and matching thread for this project a while ago. All my RTW jeans are blue so I thought it would be fun to use a different colour for this pair and chose grey. I like how the fabric looks and feels, but it is quite lightweight so probably more suitable to wear in summer than winter (so I’d better hurry up making these!).

In Angela Wolff’s Craftsy class she shows how to distress denim with sandpaper to get that worn look that most RTW jeans have. I wasn’t really sure how well that would work on my fabric so I tested it and it’s not a success. It makes the fabric fuzzy which doesn’t look very pretty so for this pair I’ll give the distressing part a miss. I’ll have to try it on something else though!

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper.

Fabric on the left is not distressed, fabric on the right was distressed with sandpaper. It’s turned a bit fuzzy.

I my opinion topstitching in contrasting thread is one of the scary parts of sewing jeans. It is so visible and if it isn’t done right it can really brand your make as homemade. For my jeans I bought two colours of Coats Epic 40 thread to try out. Black and a brown that is really close to black. First I tried which stitch length would look best and decided on 4.0. I also tried some stitches to use on the back pocket embroidery (another scary part…). I used the black thread for my samples but I think in the end I prefer the brownish thread over the black one because it is a little more subtle. I’ll have to practise a bit more though to get my double rows of topstitching consistent before I attempt this on the actual jeans.

stitch length

I also tried a keyhole buttonhole.

In bag making one trick to make your bag look professional is to throw some metal hardware at it and I think this might be true for jeans as well. I bought some metal rivets and jeans buttons that I can apply with my Prym pliers. Rivets are typically used in jeans to reinforce pocket corners. I got enough of both in each packet that I could try them out to see how well they behave when I apply them. It worked surprisingly well. It also made me realise that I have to think how I want the button oriented before I put it into the fabric. I think my jeans will feature at least a couple of rivets.

140808_rivetandbutton

I am not yet ready to get started on my jeans because I still need to perfect the fit but I think I do have everything I need to finish this pair. I’ve also already made some design decisions, like which thread to use for the topstitching and what stitch length to use. This will speed up the sewing process because I won’t have to stop to test this anymore. I also don’t have to quit in the middle of a sewing frenzy because I forgot to buy a zipper (I have a huge stash of zippers and something is bound to be suitable). Testing these things also makes for a nice change from making muslins.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It's also fuzzy.

This fabric was distressed before topstitching. It’s also fuzzy.

Do you generally make samples before trying something new?

I'll need to experiment some more...

I’ll need to experiment some more…

Sewing jeans: Muslin 3

Before I show you what muslin 3 looks like I first want to show how I adapted muslin 2 into muslin 2.1 to determine how to change the pattern.

I started with a very simple alteration. Muslin 2 showed a lot of fabric being pulled into the crotch indicating the crotch length was not long enough. The trousers were also very tight across my thighs indicating I needed some more room there. I solved both issues by doing what “The Perfect Fit” one of the fitting books I own, calls a full thigh adjustment. The pattern is extended both at the side- and inseam which lengthens the crotch seam and increases thigh circumference. The red lines in the schematic below indicate how I re-sewed the seams in muslin 2 and changed the pattern for muslin 3. I also removed the gaping I had at the yoke.

full thigh adjustment

These 2 changes already made a huge difference to the fit as you can see below.

Muslin 2.1 front

Notice how the straight of grain lines have become much straighter and more horizontal.

 

Muslin 2.1 back

Wrinkles at the knee have disappeared. Straight of grain lines are straighter and more horizontal. Yoke lies nicely against my back. It no longer looks like I am about to burst out of these.

Muslin 2.1 Side

Wrinkles at the knee have mostly disappeared. Side seam has become straighter. There appears to be less strain on the fabic on my butt.

After I changed this I noticed I could remove some of the wrinkles I still had at the front by pinning out 2 darts. I made this alteration in the pattern by slicing the pattern open and overlapping the edges to simulate the dart I had pinned out. This does not change the side seam.

pinned darts front

At the back I thought I probably still needed to add some more length to the crotch seam so I sliced the muslin open horizontally and inserted some fabric. This did seem to improve the fit at the back and the muslin became more comfortable to wear so I made this alteration in the pattern as well. This is done by slicing the pattern open and creating a hinge point at the side seam. You can then add a wedge to the pattern by sliding the center back upwards. The side seam does not change.

adjustment to back

After I had made all these changes I decided it was time to make muslin 3 to check whether the changes I made on the pattern were correct. Unfortunately I ran out of muslin fabric (why did I ever think 3 meters would be enough???) and had to use something a bit lighter weight than ideal but I didn’t want to wait until I had the opportunity to get some new fabric. The fit is still not perfect but I think you’ll agree this is definitely an improvement over where I started with muslin 2!

Muslin 3 front

Still not 100% happy with the crotch, but overall I don’t think this looks too bad. Side seam at the thigh is perhaps still a bit too much to the front.

 

I still need to add more lenght to the back crotch lenght because fabric is still being pulled in. My alterations at center back caused the center back seam to be a bit strangely shaped so I'll need to reshape it.

I still need to add more lenght to the back crotch seam because fabric is still being pulled in. My alterations at center back caused the center back seam to be a bit strangely shaped and it sticks out so I’ll need to reshape it.

Muslin 3 side

Side seam still not completely straight. Center back seam sticks out.

How many muslins do you think I’ll end up making before I dare cut into my denim?

Sewing jeans: Muslin 2

If you are now wondering whether you missed a post about muslin 1. You didn’t. I had originally planned to blog the whole fitting process but muslin 1 was unfortunately not suitable for public display due to indecent exposure of underwear.

I am attempting to sew myself a pair of well-fitting jeans. I’ve wanted to do so for years because I am never completely happy with the fit of RTW jeans, yet jeans are what I wear most days. In summer I am a jeans and t-shirt girl, the rest of the year I’m a jeans, t-shirt and cardigan girl. With my RTW fast the need to finally make these self-made jeans happen is getting more urgent. Sewbusylizzy organised a Jeans in June and July challenge and this was the final push I needed to get started. Not sure whether I’ll actually manage to finish an actual pair in July since August is already looming on the horizon and I have to work all remaining July days except for today but if I finish the muslin process in July I’m happy (and if not, I’m probably still happy).

I already had a pair of jeans stashed away that I had started copying using the method from Kenneth D. Kings Craftsy class. I started that project ages ago but got distracted and was also a bit scared to continue because my first ever attempt at trousers years ago failed horribly and caused a bit of a trauma.

Tracing pattern onto silk organza

copying jeans

The original jeans were copied by thread tracing the seams and straight of grain lines and then transferring these markings to silk organza. If you want to get a better idea of how this method works have a look at this post by Cindy from cationdesigns, she posted about this process in more detail earlier this week. The pattern was then transferred from silk organza onto Swedish tracing paper (my favourite type of tracing paper ever). The pattern was trued (which means making sure that all seams have the correct shape and that seams that are supposed to match up, do in fact match up) and I made a muslin. I made my muslin using regular muslin fabric without stretch, because this is what Angela Wolff recommends even if your fashion fabric contains lycra. I’m really hoping this will work out ok when I do sew my final pair in denim that contains some lycra and is, therefore, somewhat stretchy…

Anyway, as you may have guessed after reading the first paragraph of this post, they did not fit. In fact, they were super tight and couldn’t close (to be honest the original jeans are also a bit on the tight side). I made 3 changes to the pattern. 1. An adjustment for full inner thighs. 2. More room at center back. 3. More room at side seam of back. I probably could have tried to change more but worried that it would get so messy that transferring my changes to the pattern would become a nightmare.

After making these changes to the pattern I made muslin 2 from the same muslin fabric hoping I would now have something approaching wearable. Note that this muslin does not yet have a waistband. I’ve used waxed tracing paper to indicate the straight of grain lines. I’ve also added some horizontal lines that help to diagnose fit issues. These are definitely not the most flattering pictures I have ever posted of myself but I think I am now at a point that it seems likely I can get to a fitting pair at some point. Remember, it’s always the garment that is causing the horrible fit, your body is just fine! After all, I can change the garment to adjust for my shape but I can hardly adjust my shape to fit the garment. Well, I suppose I could get a surgeon to shave some flesh of my thighs but that doesn’t really seem like a workable approach to use for each new garment I want to make…

Muslin front

Do you notice how the fabric is pulled into the crotch causing distortions?

Muslin back

Again fabric is pulled into the crotch. It’s also pulled towards the sides. I will also need to change the placement of the back pockets at the end of the process to make sure they end up more centered.

muslin sides

Eventually the side seam should end up perpendicular to the floor. Right now there is too much strain because fabric is being pulled to areas where there isn’t enough fabric causing a wave-like shape

Obviously they are still too tight but at least I can close them now. I believe most of the issues are caused by a too short crotch length that is causing the fabric to be pulled into the crotch both at the front and back. I think I will also need to add some more room in the thigh area as they are still very tight. My previous adjustments at center back now causes some gaping at the yoke (something I nearly always get in RTW jeans) so I’ll fix that too.

Do you have any other suggestions for adjustments that I could make to get a better fit?

Completed: a new bathrobe, finally!

Knipmode december 2010 bathrobeYes, I actually finished the only item I listed as quite urgent in my wardrobe sewing plan. It’s probably been urgent for the last 5 years though. You won’t believe the state my old bathrobe is in, and I’m not going to show you because it would probably be held against me for the rest of my life.

I got my old bathrobe when I was 12 and it had previously belonged to one of the women I was named after. I believe I first started mending it (by hand!) about 10 years ago because the seams started to fall apart. Later it also developed holes. Why didn’t I get a new one earlier? I never really saw one I liked and I usually forgot to look for one anyway when I was in a store (that’s what happens when you don’t like shopping).

Yet, a bathrobe is an essential part of my wardrobe because our house gets cold in winter and I wear one in the morning when I’m having breakfast. I used pattern 5 from Knipmode December 2010, size 38 and a dark blue terrycloth that feels nice and soft against the skin. In Knipmode they used polar fleece but I think terrycloth is much more luxurious. Be prepared to get your house covered in fluff though when cutting this type of fabric… Seriously, it gets everywhere… My favourite part of this pattern is the raglan sleeve with a dart in the sleeve head. This dart cleverly turns into a shoulder seam.

Line drawing When you closely compare the line drawing of the pattern with my bathrobe you’ll probably notice that mine looks a bit different. For one, I really don’t like the bulky sleeve cuffs that the pattern features so I changed the sleeve pattern to get rid of those (really easy, just chop them off but remember to add a hem). I also shortened the sleeves because I don’t want them to get in the way when I am cooking. Cooking you say? Wearing a bathrobe? Yes, do you never cook eggs on lazy Sunday mornings while still wearing pyjamas and a bathrobe? Second, I wasn’t a big fan of the patch pockets. For about 1 millisecond I considered getting rid of the pockets altogether but pockets really are a necessity. If you’re going to remember only one thing from this post it should be this:

One day you might be home alone with the flu and decide to leave your bed to take some paracetamol. If you then almost faint in the bathroom and can’t get up anymore it is really convenient if you can reach your phone because you put it in a pocket. If you aren’t wearing anything with pockets you’ll probably have left yours on the nightstand and lie on the (cold) bathroom floor for hours until someone finds you…

Yes, this sort of happened to me a couple of years ago but luckily I was wearing something with pockets and could call my sister who quickly came to the rescue. I should probably also add that it is a good idea for someone to have a key to your house so they can rescue you without breaking down the door.

PocketSo, pockets. I sliced the front pattern piece at the height of the original pocket opening, drew a new pocket pattern piece and sewed it in between the new seam I added. I am relatively happy with how this turned out. It’s not perfect but will do fine and I think they look better than the original pockets. Perhaps I should have sewn stay tape around the opening to prevent stretching out over time?

DetailsI lengthened the tie because I found the original length a bit on the short side. I also accidently made the tie a bit narrower than the pattern dictates but I think this width is probably better anyway because it’s easier to knot. I also changed the construction. I first folded the tie in half lengthwise, sewed the long edge closed, leaving a gap in the centre for turning. Then folded the short ends so that the seam ended up in the centre and sewed the short ends closed. Then I turned the tie right side out, hand sewed the gap closed and sewed the polka dot ribbon on top of the seam. I think the ribbon adds a nice touch and I also used it to add a loop so I can hang the robe.

140629_collarThe upper collar and front facing are one pattern piece. You need to understitch this so it falls nicely when you are wearing the robe. The instructions only tell you to understitch the front facing but I understitched the upper collar part on the under collar and the front facing part on the front facing (leaving a small non understitched part in between, 5 cm or so) so that both parts fall to the correct side when I am wearing the robe. If you understitch the whole pattern piece on one side it will fall weird on either the collar or the front opening.

front facing and hemOn the inside I deviated quite a bit from the instructions. The instructions have you first stitch the front facing in place and then turn up the hem. I think the way I did it results in a much prettier finish (and I learned this method from another Knipmode pattern, so why don’t they use it here as well???). The way it works is that you first flip the facing right sides together with the front of the robe. Then stitch them together parallel to the hem at the desired hem depth. When you then flip the facing to the inside you get a very nice square corner.

I didn’t feel like finishing the inside exposed edges of the upper collar/facing with my overlocker and I also didn’t want to turn them under because that would become bulky. Instead I decided bind the edges with self-made bias tape (Notting Hill by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit ). After I attached it I felt some regret that I didn’t use this fabric on the outside as well instead of the polka dot ribbon because it looks so good against the dark blue of the robe.

140629_inside

I also didn’t feel like topstitching the collar/facing piece in place by machine but decided to invisibly hand stitch. I did question my sanity a bit after this decision because it took ages to do the 5-6 meters because I had to flip the fabric back and forth to check whether the stitches looked good (meaning: were invisible) on the outside of the robe. I do love the inside though…

Will I use this pattern again? Well, with my current bathrobe track record I guess I am already set for the next 20 years or so but if I need a new bathrobe by that time I might as well use this pattern again because I`m quite happy with how it turned out.

140629_bathrobe3

To conclude this already quite long post we also have a giveaway winner!

140629_giveawaywinner

Congratulations Jilly, I’ve already send an e-mail to ask for her address and the Knipmode magazine will quickly be send on its way.

 

A year without buying clothes & giveaway

The last time I bought a piece of clothing that wasn’t underwear or socks was June 8 2013, meaning that I haven’t bought any RTW for over a year now! This seems a good reason for some reflections and a little celebration!

Dresses made during RTW fastWas it difficult? No, not at all, but then, I never liked shopping for clothes. I didn’t even realise it had been that long until I signed up for the RTW fast in December. I am definitely going to continue not buying anything this year because it has been a lot of fun so far.

Since posting my original sewing challenge post I have made 2 dresses (here & here), 2 skirts (here & here), 2 t-shirts (here & here) and a scarf for myself that all get worn quite regularly. The scarf is a real bonus because I have learned how to crochet while I didn’t plan on learning that. It does offer some new opportunities for making cardigans and sweaters once I get better at it.

140621_skirtsI’ve reached my goal of sewing 2 casual skirts and 2 casual dresses, I do want more though! I especially like wearing the skirt that has a button front placket. Also, would it be really strange to make another Lady Skater dress or should I venture out to other patterns? The 2 t-shirts get worn almost as soon as they are dry after having been washed so those are definitely a success and I probably wear them too often…. I really need more of those.

140621_t-shirtsIt does still leave me with a long list of garments that I need to make to achieve a proper basic self-made wardrobe. I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that I have almost finished the 1 item that I listed as being quite urgent… When that is finished I intend to tackle jeans. Yes, jeans! Sewbusylizzy is hosting a jeans in June and July challenge and I’ve decided to join in. I’ve unearthed the pair of jeans that I had started to copy using Kenneth Kings method. A real bonus of finishing that process will be that I can finally start wearing that pair again…

140621_scarfBesides not buying any RTW I’ve also recently passed the 50 post milestone on this blog. My goals when starting out were to blog at least once a week and to post at least one tutorial each month. I believe most of my posts were less than 7 days apart except for a couple of crazy weeks so I’ll call that a success and I intend to continue in this way. Anyway, I’m not going to lose any sleep because “I need to post something”. In the almost 10 months that I’ve been blogging I wrote 7 tutorials so less than intended. This is mostly because my work has been really busy in 2014 (finishing up your PhD apparently tends to be) so I didn’t have as much time and energy for sewing as I would have liked. Tutorials are the first to suffer because they take a lot of time to put together. Hopefully I’ll get another tutorial ready soon because I enjoy making them and based on my blog stats I think the ones that I have made so far are being used quite often.

Perhaps I should give it a press before I continue...

Perhaps I should give it a press before I continue…

Some random facts and figures:

Over 200 people are following my blog, either via wordpress, email or bloglovin and only a small number is biologically related to me.

I find photography a necessary evil of blogging. I take pictures because a “hey I made a dress” post doesn’t really work that well without pictures of the finished item but don’t expect dashing photo-shoots from me anytime soon. It’s just not something that I enjoy doing so I am usually satisfied after 5 minutes of trying to take the perfect picture.

I think blogging has improved my productivity because I am eager to show new finished items and am therefore more likely to just finish what I am working on instead of starting something new when I reach a boring part. My UFO pile has definitely shrunken in size!

I have found new blogs and interesting people to connect with that I am not sure I would have found without my blog and this has been a very enjoyable experience. I do like the interaction with other bloggers.

Now onto the celebration!

Giveaway to celebrate the joy of sewing my own clothes

Knipmode July 2014 issue

Knipmode July 2014 issue. On the right the line drawings for the patterns in this issue. If you click on the picture you can see a larger version.

Since so many of my lovely readers are from abroad and also into garment sewing I thought it fun to present you with a giveaway prize that is not so easy to get when you’re not in the Netherlands (it’s not impossible though). The most recent issue of Knipmode! It’s a sewing magazine that I use often. It offers multi sized patterns that have to be traced before you can use them. I don’t think this is difficult because the different patterns are drawn in different colours and the different sizes are drawn in different line styles. Seam allowances are not included in the patterns, as is the case for most European patterns, so you’ll have to add those yourself. Instructions are in Dutch, but I know there are non-Dutch speaking sewers that use this magazine successfully and if you’re still baffled after trying Google translate I am willing to be your personal helpdesk. I own the same issue so in theory I should be able to help you (no guarantees though!).

Some of the dress patterns that I like in this Knipmode issue.

Some of the dress patterns that I like in this Knipmode issue.

Most patterns are drafted for bust size 83 to 107 cm (33 to 43 inches) but there are also several patterns for bust size 107 to 137 cm (43 to 68 inches). This particular issue offers a lot of dress patterns and also some tops, trousers and skirts, some of which I really like the look of. Somehow they also always manage to include at least one pattern that I really don’t get…

And then there is this dress... I'm lost for words.

And then there is this dress… I’m lost for words.

Giveaway rules:

  1. Giveaway is open internationally.
  2. To enter leave a comment that clearly states you wish to enter the giveaway. If you comment but don’t state that you want to enter I will assume you are not interested in the magazine.
  3. You can enter until Saturday June 28th, 20.00h UTC+1.
  4. Only 1 entry per person.
  5. Friends and family are allowed to enter.
  6. Prize drawing will be performed by my boyfriend.
  7. Results are incontestable.

The importance of choosing the right colours for your self-made garments

This is me with the summerwinter colours.

The summerwinter colours.

One of my reasons for sewing my own clothes is that I want to wear clothes that fit. A well-fitting garment flatters and will also make you feel better when you are wearing it. That was not something I often achieved with RTW clothes but I think I’m starting to get there with the clothes I make myself.

The colour of a garment is another aspect that influences how flattering it will be on you. A dress that fits perfectly but is in a colour that makes you look pale will not flatter you all that much. I will even go as far as saying that a dress in a colour that makes you shine but isn’t fitted to perfection will get you more compliments than a perfectly fitting one in completely the wrong colour.

Picking the right colour fabric for a garment is as important as picking a pattern that is the right style. It has to work for your body. If you pick a pattern that doesn’t flatter your body type you will end up disappointed with the finished item. The same holds true for the colour. If you pick a colour that is unflattering you are not going to like the garment when you are wearing it and you’ll probably not wear it very often.

140603_Coloured squares

They’re exactly the same shade, but A looks darker than B because the area around A is lighter. The surrounding colours influence how a colour comes across. The colours around your face also influence how your face looks.

It’s not always easy though to decide what style and colour will work best for you. I don’t think I was making really disastrous colour choices but I did feel that my choices could probably be improved upon and that I perhaps should be a bit more adventurous to get a more versatile wardrobe. When I make a garment I want to be relatively certain at the start that I’ll be happy with the end product so I make safe choices with the colours that I use. I know blue and purple usually look good on me so I have a lot of blue and purple clothes. I also always end up buying more fabrics in those colours even when I decide at the start of the fabric trip that “this time I am going to get something completely different”.

My sistere with the autumnwinter colours.

My sister with the autumnwinter colours.

I wanted to get a bit more knowledgeable about which colours look good on me and decided to get some professional advice. One of my sisters also wanted to see if she could add some more colours to her wardrobe so we went together to Marjolein.inc in Leiden.

Marjolein works with the 10 seasons system and she uses 10 sets of coloured pieces of fabric to determine which colours work best for you. The fabrics were draped over us and we could see in a mirror what the different colours did to our face. I found it really interesting. Some colours made me look like I was about to come down with the flu while others really made my eyes come out. She also compared similar colours from different seasons to show us how subtle differences in colour could sometimes have a quite large effect on how they made us look.

To look good you should make sure to always wear at least one of your good colours next to your face. It doesn’t have to be the complete top though, a tank top under a cardigan or a shawl is enough. What colour you wear on your bottom half doesn’t really matter (as long as it works with what you’re wearing on top that is…) so that’s where you should put those colours that you really love but that don’t work next to your face.

140603_colourcardIt turns out I am a summerwinter type and should stick to cool bright colours. These are the colours with a blue undertone. I don’t look too good in the warm spring and autumn colours that have a yellow undertone because they either make me look unhealthy pale or are so strong that I disappear. I also finally got confirmation that I was right all those seasons I was utterly annoyed that someone had decided pastels were “in” and finding a t-shirt with a bit more colour was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I need more colour!

When I wear jewellery silver is better than gold. It’s a good thing I prefer silver anyway. Stones should preferably also be from the summer-winter colour palette. I don’t wear jewellery often, I don’t have a lot of it and when I am dressing I usually forget that jewellery is something that you can also add to your outfit. Perhaps I should get some in my good colours?

We also got some make up advice and while I don’t wear any make up I suppose it is good to know what to look for if I ever change my mind on the topic of wearing it so I’ll at least make a good choice and not have some salesperson try to force a warm colour lipstick on me.

chartreuseMy sister was a bit more difficult to figure out. She looked really good with some of the autumn colours, but not so great with some of the others. Especially the darker colours worked well. Just look at her with this dark chartreuse. Her eyes, just amazing. She has to make sure to get a garment in this colour soon! She also looked good with some of the winter colours. Eventually the autumnwinter type worked best overall. It was fun to see that there is some overlap in the colours that work for both us but that there are also some clear differences.

We were both already going in the right direction with our colour choices but I can definitely add some raspberry red to my wardrobe because that is a colour I don’t really wear right now but I look pretty good in it. My sister was already mostly wearing dark clothes with a lot of navy and black and she certainly did look best with darker shades. Besides the chartreuse she is also going to add dark eggplant to her wardrobe because she doesn’t have any clothes in that shade right now while it really worked for her. We got a colour card that we can use when we go fabric (me) or clothes (my sister) shopping. I think the card will be helpful to steer me away from my usual choices.

I did have some fun with my stash of solid (quilting) fabrics and took pictures of myself with different colours and made a collage of them. They were all taken at the same time so the lighting should have been more or less equal in each picture, I took a single picture per piece of fabric and didn’t do any photoshopping. I’ve arranged them somewhat per colour. If you study them you’ll notice that with some colours the first thing you see is my face and with others the first thing you see is the colour which is not what you want. With some colours my eyes and lips become more prominent. I think you’ll agree that some of these colours are definitely more flattering than others.

How do you choose the colour for your next garment sewing project?

140603_black&white140603_Blue140603_brown140603_green140603_yellow140603_red