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.

UFO busting: Knipmode dress turns into Lady Skater dress

My thinking cap has returned and I managed to finish my Lady Skater dress while busting another UFO in the process.

back facing

Ridiculous back neckline facing, it’s supposed to be on the inside of the dress…

This dress started as Knipmode dress 12 from February 2011. It only needed hems but I wasn’t happy with how it looked. It was too large and the back neck facing refused to lay flat (I’m never going to use this method for finishing a back neckline again, it just doesn’t work with knit fabrics.). I suppose I could have fixed it but I didn’t think the shape of this dress was working for me either so my motivation to get it finished had completely disappeared.

I decided to turn it into a Lady Skater dress instead. This would not have been possible if I hadn’t had about 1 meter of fabric left-over.  I was able to cut out the back skirt from the back and front skirt of the Knipmode dress, but had to add a centre back seam in the process. The front skirt, front and back bodice and one sleeve were cut from the piece of left-over fabric. That left me 1 sleeve short. There was absolutely no way I could squeeze it out of the fabric in one piece. My options were to either change to short sleeves or piece the sleeve. I think an unnecessary seam in a sleeve isn’t very desirable. It’s bad enough I had to create a centre back seam for the skirt so my solution was to turn it into an asymmetrical colour block dress! I used some olive green single jersey for the bottom part of the right sleeve. I think it adds an interesting touch. Do you like it or do you think it looks as if I didn’t have enough fabric?

I did make some changes to the pattern pieces before I cut the dress out of fabric to improve the fit even more compared to my previous version and I thought it would be nice to show you what I changed and how that affected the fit.

At the top of the front bodice there was a little bit too much fabric that created some wrinkling. I used some pins to pinch this excess fabric out on my test version dress and transferred the amount of fabric that was pinched out to the pattern piece by folding the pattern the same amount. When you look at the before and after picture below you can see that the fabric in my new dress is much smoother in this area.

At the top of the back bodice there was also some excess fabric. I solved this the same way as I did the front bodice. (I apologize for not using a picture of the same shoulder.) Since the changes I made to the front and back bodice also affected the length of the neckline I also shortened the neckband by the same amount to make sure that it would still fit correctly.

In my test version I had already slimmed down my sleeves somewhat and this had improved the fit but there were still a lot of drag lines. I suddenly realised that my arms were much skinnier than what this pattern is made for and that there was simply too much fabric in this sleeve, especially on the front of my arm. Again I used pins to pinch out the excess fabric and transferred this to my pattern piece. Additionally, I slimmed down the sides of sleeves a little bit as well (using a good fitting sleeve from another pattern as a guideline). I also made the sleeve pattern longer to get rid of the sleeve band.

I am much happier with this dress than I was with the original one and I think I’m going to wear it this Christmas. I still have quite a bit of small pieces of fabric left-over since I didn’t use the original bodice and sleeves for my new dress. Perhaps I’ll be able to turn those into a baby top to get this UFO busted even more.

UFO busting: Knipmode blouse

I could have finished this top ages ago. I’m blaming shinier projects, unclear instructions, judgement errors and stupid mistakes. I even thought I had finished it about two weeks ago and just as I was almost ready to take some pictures I noticed this:

131015_knipmodetop_cuffsmistake

Right… How did I fail to notice this while I was constructing it???

I can assure you, that was not good for my motivation… I finally unpicked it yesterday and made a new cuff today. Of course, that didn’t even take all that long so I should really learn to just fix these things immediately instead of waiting until the right mood hits me.

That’s much better!

The pattern is blouse 8 from Knipmode October 2011. I am pretty sure I started this top in the winter of 2012. This was in my pre-muslin days and as a result I find that it doesn’t fit as well as it should. For example, I could have done with some more room across my chest. I let out the side seams a little bit, but since I used 1 cm seam allowances I didn’t have a lot to play with. With all the buttons open it is wearable and I’ll probably wear it at least a couple of times. Don’t think it will become my favourite top though.

 

131015_knipmodetop_wrongbuttons

Is it just me, or does anyone else get the feeling they’re being watched?

Because I think it is quite funny I am showing you the judgement error that also stalled the sewing process for a while. I wanted to use buttons from my stash and thought some very light pinkish ones would work well. You guess right, they didn’t.  Just take a look at what it happened when I attached the pocket buttons. Uh uh, very wrong indeed… Unfortunately I had already made all the button holes and cut them open so not only did I have to find new buttons I also needed to find ones that were more or less the same size as the original ones. I was lucky to find something suitable in the second shop I went to.

Anyway, I managed to bust another UFO and it feels really good to have gotten rid of yet another plastic bag in my sewing room.

Do you often have to change your plans for a garment half-way through like I had to with this top?

UFO Busting: Alabama Chanin style cardigan

131006_cardigan3I am in love with this cardigan, it is absolutely perfect in all of its imperfections. It is also completely out of my comfort zone. Who would have thought that I was going to wear an embroidered cardigan and love it? Not me, that’s for sure. I am a no-nonsense girl, my wardrobe consists for more than 90% of solids and typically lacks frilly details. So, how did I end-up creating an all-over embroidered garment?

It all started when Craftsy launched their Hand Embellishing Knit Fabric course that is taught by Natalie Chanin from Alabama Chanin. Alabama Chanin sells completely hand-made embellished garments made from 100% organic cotton jersey. Their garments are very expensive, which is totally understandable once you realize how much work is put into creating each item. For those of us that cannot afford to spend several thousand dollars on a single piece of clothing they sell books and supplies that help you to create them yourself. I became fascinated by this process so I signed up for the Craftsy course and also bought the Alabama Stitch book.

131006_cardigan5

Would the woman who made this pattern still recognize it?

I decided against using the coat pattern supplied with the Craftsy class (it’s huge and I don’t think I’d wear it) but instead made cardigan 17 from Knipmode June 2011, that I already made once before. I did make some adaptations though. The original pattern calls for some voile being sewn in at the hems and shoulder seams, I had already discarded this detail as too frilly in my previous version and left it out here as well. I added 1 inch to both sides at centre front tapering to nothing at the shoulder. I shortened the sleeve to ¾ length because I couldn’t fit a full sleeve out of my fabric, and I usually push up my sleeves anyway. I also rounded up some corners to make it easier to install the ribbing around the edges. For the closure I used a hook and eye instead of ties.

131006_cardigan1Alabama Chanin garments typically consist of two layers of cotton jersey. For embellished versions a stencil is used to paint shapes onto the fabric. This is then embroidered, (reverse) appliqued and/or beaded.

I used 2m white 100% organic cotton jersey and dyed it with procion MX 128 warm black that turned out more grey blue than black, but I love it anyway. The inside layer is a lighter shade than the outside layer because I used a more diluted dye bath for that piece of fabric. The stencilling was done with white paint and the bloomers stencil supplied with the Alabama Stitch book. For the backstitch embroidery around the painted shapes I decided to use all the different shades of green I had in my stash which is probably close to 30 different colours. I love the effect that this creates.  It also made the embroidery part more fun because I could make some design choices along the way. The ribbing was attached with the whipstitch.

131006_cardigan4

I’m sure some of you are wondering how long it took me to complete this project. I keep a sewing logbook in which I write down what I do each day to help me keep track. I started this cardigan on March 16 of this year and worked on it during 46 days. On some days I only embroidered one shape, but I think it is safe to assume that on average I probably worked at least 2-3 hours a day, so in total it took at least 100-150 hours to complete it, but that might still be a conservative estimate. Anyway, I don’t really care how much time it took, all I know is that I ended up with one pretty amazing and unique garment that is for sure going to be a wardrobe staple!

131006_detailsI am definitely going to continue on this handsewing journey. It was a very relaxing process, I kept the project in our living room and worked on it while watching television or listening to music. It was also really nice that I could take this project with me to work on it elsewhere because it didn’t require a sewing machine. Talking about comfort zones, I now also want to try my hand at beading, yes beading.

131006_cardigan2

I just had to add this picture because my boyfriend, who took the pictures, thought it was very funny, so this one is for him!