Tuesday 9 December 2014

Kelly Skirt in Corduroy

Now here is a post that is long overdue. I made this Kelly Skirt already back in September, even before I made my Colette Parfait from the same red corduroy. When laying out my Parfait I realised that there was enough fabric left to cut a skirt. So I started to rearrange the patten pieces until both, the Kelly and Parfait, just about fit.

I couldn't cut the Kelly Skirt Back panel on the fold, but managed to cut it with a 5/8'' seam allowance to sew it with a center back seam. There were some black marks on the corduroy and I couldn't cut around them, but I managed to hide them on the inside of the waistband. 

I was keen on making another Kelly Skirt because sadly my first version is too tight and I don't feel comfy in it. My first version turned out to be too tight because I managed to shrink the waistband with my iron. So This time I made sure that no shrinkage happened.

I lined the pockets with some leftover Liberty cotton lawn (I still have more left!). They peek out a little bit, but I don't mind at all.

And here you can see that I'm still having problems to properly fuse interfacing to fabric. Ok I was also a bit worried to damage the corduroy.

The buttons are from Kiev and have lived for the last 4-5 years in my stash. They were destined to be added to a coat. However they were the only bottons that looked great with the red corduroy. As the corduroy is from Kiev as well, I just couldn't resist to put them together :)


The skirt is fully lined with an acetate lining. It is the same I used for the Parfait. Thanks to the lining the skirt is great to wear with tights and leggings. I always feel a bit christmasy when I put it on, haha.

I actually haven't worn it that often. I'm always worried that both, dress and skirt, look to similar and people will recognise they are made from the same fabric. Silly, I know. Do you have similar thoughts when wearing garments made from the same fabric?

Friday 28 November 2014

Wedding Dress Inspiration

Today I'm going to share with you my wedding dress inspiration. I had a general idea how I wanted my wedding dress to look and I was utterly amazed when I found a dress that exactly looked like in my imagination.

The wedding dress is from Bluemarine. It is an empire waisted dress with a tulle overlay and little lace flowers at the waist, straps and skirt panels. I imagine I could also use some chiffon for the overlay and satin for the lining.

As I'm not into drafting my own patterns, I tried to find similar style dress patterns and I've found two that I have already ordered. One is a bridal pattern from Butterick (B5325)


and the other one from Kwik Sew (K3400).

Both patterns are very similar: Empire waist, boned bodice, princess seams, lapped zipper. I have never used boning before, so I think this will be a interesting experience (I only say practice, practice, practice). I really like the option that both patterns suggest to sew little buttons on the center back zipper :) If time allows it I will definitively add these because they just look so pretty. The Kwik sew pattern comes with a little bolero pattern made from lace, which I might make.

My dress will have little straps because otherwise I would be constantly worried that it is going to slip down (I only tried to wear a strapless dress once and it was a nightmare.). I'm planning to use some rose colored tulle/ chiffon and satin which I hope will enable me to wear the dress afterwards as well :)

As for the flowers, I had a quick look on ebay, but couldn't find what I was looking for. Most flowers are white and I would like to use pastel colored ones (rose, purple, yellow, green). I guess I could cut these flowers from actual lace.

I haven't bought any fabric yet as this will have to wait until I have started with the muslin and to see how much fabric (plus extra) I need. I'm also not sure how many layers of tulle I would have to use. The inspiration dress seems to have two layers. I'm getting rather excited :)

Sunday 16 November 2014

My most loved Colette Hawthorn - so far

I made another Hawthorn! It's already my fourth version (click here for versions ONE, TWO and THREE). Because I have sorted out most of my fitting issues it should have been a fast make. However, it took me 4 weeks to actually finish the dress.

Fabric: I used a heavy brocade for the shell and some cotton-silk to line the bodice. I only lined the bodice this time because I made a slip to wear under the dress. 

The slip made from yellow polyester lining.
 I wanted to make a slip for ages, but couldn't find the motivation to do so. The slip is made from polyester lining and gathered with some picot elastic. 

Embellishments: I think the most pronounced feature of this dress is the off-white piping and self-covered buttons. I bought the piping in Shephard Bush market (London). I can't remember the price but it was really cheap. I have to say the buttons were a pain to make and I actually needed Leschas help to assemble them. It took us an hour and we were both glad when it was done. For the facing and under collar I used some poplins with flowers on it. You know me, I just couldn't resist to sneak in some flowers :)

Alterations: As I worked out most of my fit issues when sewing my other Hawthorn versions, I actually didn't do any fitting this time :) I know the sleeves look really creasy but that's because I was wearing the dress with a tight fitting cardigan before. 

Construction: Because I added the piping I had to change the assembly order of the dress completely. The instructions have you assemble the bodice first and then attach the skirt at the waistline. But because I wanted the piping to be continuous all the way from top to bottom, I first stitched the front bodice and front skirt panels together and than attached the piping and facing. The pattern doesn't come with a separate skirt facing, so I drafted it myself.

It took me two evenings to handstitch the hem - I used a slip stitch - but I'm so glad I took the time because you can't see the stitches on the right side.

You can see that the collar isn't completely flat and the facing is peeking out. That's despite me trimming as much fabric on the seams as I could. I guess I would need a clapper to flatten it completely.


Finally, I just would like to thank you all for your kind words regarding my engagement. The last couple of weeks were really exciting and I have bought a couple of wedding magazines to get some inspiration for wedding dresses, cakes and decoration. I haven't decided on a wedding dress yet. But have already a vague idea in my head which involves lots of chiffon and flowers :)

Saturday 1 November 2014

Colette Moneta

Didn't I say in one of my last posts that my life started to settle after having started a new job and moved into a new flat? I guess I was wrong. Life has taken another excited turn. I got engaged :) You can imagine that I'm the happiest woman ever! 

It also means that I'm having not much time at the weekends (to sew, haha) as I'm trying to find out what you actually need to do to get married. Apart from that there is also the questions if I should sew my own wedding dress? I think as a seam stress I can only answer with YES. I haven't decided on a pattern yet. Luckily there is no need to rush as we are planning to get married earliest next summer. 

But now let's move on to my most recent creation, the Colette Moneta which is a jersey dress.

Fabric: 1.5 meters of lacy jersey. I bought the jersey in Walthamstow market (London) and fell in love with the lace pattern. Unfortunately the quality of the jersey is not very good. You can actually feel that it is low quality polyester. It keeps reminding me of very cheap bath towels. That's why I plunged ahead with this fabric to cut a Moneta before sewing a muslin.

Construction: The assembly was straight forward. I thing it took me longest to assemble and attach the collar (which also was because there was some handstitching involved, see below). The skirt is gathered with an elastic which scared me a bit. Ever since I tried to insert elastic into a leggings waistband 4 years ago (which failed), I'm a bit anxious about elastic. However, you can see that it turned out well. Despite me stretching the clear elastic to the max. Luckily it shrinked back after giving it a good steam.

Fit: I think the overall fit is quite good (as I would expect from a jersey garment), however there are still some fitting issues. I need a square shoulder adjustment. You can't tell from the fit of the bodice on my shoulders, but the collar gave me very obvious signs. It didn't want to stay flat. The edges of the collar were pulled up towards the shoulders causing the collar to roll upwards on the outside. You can't see it in these photos, because I've tagged the collar down with several hand stitches hoping the neckline doesn't need to stretch too much when putting on the dress. So far all stitches are intact.

I attached a little ceramic button at the back and tagged it to the bodice to keep the collar down (you can see the collar pulling on the left), which I think looks really cute.

I've added the pockets that come with pattern, but I'm not sure I will do so again. It's handy to have pockets, but I didn't want them to exaggerate my hips. Thus I used a thin white jersey. But the jersey is peaking out and when wearing the dress I have to check every so often that the pockets stay hidden.

One more thing to change are the shoulders/sleeves, which is totally my fault. The sleeves are too big on me and I have to take them in. When tracing the pattern I made a broad shoulder adjustment by tracing a bigger size above the notches at the sleeves and bodice pattern. I guess I don't need this adjustment for the Moneta and will change it back next time.

One final photo showing you that this dress goes really well with my wardrobe, although I have to admit that's a bit cold for me already to wear three-quarter sleeved garments and cardigans.

Will I make it again? You can expect to see more Monetas on the blog, hopefully soon. I would like to sew the versions with all the different collars and I think there are 6 in total. I'm not calling this a personal challenge, because I'm not having time for any commitments at the moment. So we will see.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Selfless Sewing: A Men's Shirt

A while ago I made this shirt for Lescha. It was my second attempt. The first one was a slight disaster which escalated when I stitched and opened the buttonholes on the wrong side of the button band. As I don't want to relive this nightmare, I'm not going to show you version 1 (which is wearable - and Lescha does - after I closed the buttonholes and stitched them on the right side).

May I proudly present Lescha's purple shirt:


Fabric: Black/purple oxford shirting bought in Goldhawk Road. It frayed a bit, but was otherwise a breeze to sew. I interfaced the collar, collar stand and cuffs with fusible canvas which I bought from English Couture. The plackets are interfaced with fine cotton. I got these two interfacing plus Bondaweb (which I didn't use) in a Shirt Interfacing Starter Pack. 

I had the hardest time ever to fuse the canvas to the fabric. Although I used loads of steam and pressed with my whole weight on the iron there are patches on the collar and cuffs where the interfacing came off after washing the shirt. It's so annoying. So if you have any tips, please share.

Pattern: It's Burda style pattern 7045 which comes in three versions - aka three different collar types. Lescha wanted version A which has the classic collar.

Alterations: I made four muslins (if counting shirt No1) before I got the fit right. Leschas main problem with RTW shirts is that he always has a massive fabric fold at the back joke right under the neck. I quickly figured out that this was due to his square shoulders. So I made a square shoulder adjustment on the yoke following the instructions of "Fit for real people". It essentially involves the addition of a triangle of fabric to the yoke at the shoulder points.

To make the shirt more tailored I took it in a lot at the side seams. Here I just took a tailored shirt he owns and likes as a guideline to have an idea how fitted the shirt should be. As shirt No1 was to tight over the chest and in the back I added 1/4'' on the back, front and yoke pattern (that was after I attempted a FBA on a MEN's shirt, haha, didn't work well). I know that on the photos it still looks like the shirt is too tight but Lescha said it isn't. I think the shine caught by the camera makes it look worse on the photos than it actually is.

I raised the sleeve cap as well a couple of centimeters. Because I had done the square shoulder adjustment, I didn't had to worry about the added circumference of the cap. I just kept measuring and changing the sleeve cap until it fit into the armhole. (The massive crease you are seeing here is not my doing. Lescha always irons it in.)

You can see that he has plenty of space at the back now. Thus his forward arm movements are not restrained.

I also changed the sleeves. I made them a bit tighter at the wrist and 1" wider at the underarm. I couldn't find instructions how to widen the underarm only (and not the wrist and biceps area). Thus I cut off the wrist and biceps on the pattern leaving me with the underarm. I spread the underarm by 0.5" left and right to the center and then attached the now to small wrist and biceps pattern. I then tapered the seam lines so that they fit. Leaving me with a sleeve pattern that had a bulge in the underarm area :)

Construction: I didn't follow the instructions - except for the placket. Lescha had lovingly gifted me with the Craftsy class "The classic tailored shirt" a year and a half ago. So I followed the instructions of the instructor which are great and very detailed. Thanks To the class I didn't have to handstitch the yoke but could use my sewing machine. I handstitched however the under-collar and the cuffs to the shirt. Which was not too bad and didn't take long.

The only time I used the instructions were for attaching the placket because this type of placket is not covered in the Craftsy class. My second attempt turned out much better.

So how about you? Have you attempted the "art" of shirt making? I will be making another one soonish - Christmas present :)

Sunday 5 October 2014

A Parfait in Corduroy, please

You might remember that I sewed the Parfait twice already, once in linen and once in cotton voile. I have worn both versions loads in the summer and decided to make a autumn/winter version as well. To add warmth and to prevent sticking of the dress to tights, I lined the dress.

Fabric: I used a soft baby rib corduroy for the shell. The color is fuchsia red (thus very difficult to photograph) and I brought it from Ukraine when visiting Leschas family over Easter. The dress is lined with a super slippery acetate lining. It was a nightmare to sew. A fraying nightmare. But it looks pretty with these massive red flowers and I could well imagine it as a bathrobe :) The facing fabric is some cotton lawn leftover I had in my stash - liberty copy cotton lawn. I used it for lining the pockets as well.

Embellishments: The buttons are made from coconut shells and I bought them a year ago in Canterbury. That brings me to the question: Can I put coconut buttons in the washing machine?


SHELL: I didn't follow the instructions and decided to press all seams open to reduce bulk as much as possible. To do so, I first finished all the raw edges with my overlocker before stitching the seams. I also trimmed the seams in the interfaced straps and pockets super small to avoid any problems with stitching the buttonholes. There weren't any :)

LINING:  I cut the whole dress pattern (minus the straps) in lining fabric as well. I used french seams to enclose the raw edges fully because these were fraying a lot. I couldn't overlock or zig-zag because the sewing machine ate my fabric. To say the acetate didn't press well would be understated. It didn't press at all, so putting in nice french seams was a challenge.

I finally understood how very very important it is to use the right needle size when sewing. I tried to sew lining with a big needle - it got stuck in the machine. Then lazy me tried to sew corduroy with a small needle which lead to skipped stitches.

I finished the hem of the lining with my rolled hem food. Which turned out ok but not great. Any tips about how to stitch a nicely rolled hem over side seams? 

coconut buttons!

Facing: I didn't plan to use a facing. I thought it would be alright to just use a lining. The lining would have been enough to give the neckline a nice finish, but it wouldn't have been stable enough to stabilise it. I realised this when trying on the dress. The neckline was out of shape and the whole bodice looked saggy. So I cut a facing, interfaced it and sewed it to the shell. I was planning to hide it below the lining, but sewed lining and facing in the wrong order, ups.

I've sewn the side seams with an 1/2" seam allowance only so that I can wear a jumper or blouse underneath the dress. Styled with black tights and boots, I think the dress is a great autumn/winter outfit.

Now have a look at this nice zipper: The only zipper I had on hand was a white one.

But I managed to make it completely invisible, phew.

invisible zip

Now I'm leaving you with another pic that's look like I was in an enchanted forest :) You will see this fabric soon again, because I had enough to cut out an EXTRA Kelly Skirt. Ah, I just love it when you can squeeze an extra garment out. And I had only 1.50 meter. And as it was end of roll, there were also some stains on it - stains that you can hide on the insides of waistbands :) 

Sunday 21 September 2014

A little Chickadee told me . . .

As soon as I finished my Hetty Cardigan, I started to knit the Chickadee cardi - a pattern by Ysolda Teague. The pattern has been published in the book a "Little red in the city". I don't have the book and only bought the cardi pattern from Ravelry. I really couldn't wait to get knitting this cardigan. Although it has the Chickadee fair isle pattern (which was what drew me initially to the cardigan), most of it is knitted in simple stockinette stitch. So having knitted Hetty, I really wanted to knit something simple without having to think about the pattern too much.

Yarn: Garnstudio DROPS Karisma Superwash. It was the first time that I used the brand and I just love it. So far, I think this wool feels best in comparison with the brands I have used before. It's super soft and was nice to knit with.

Instructions: I love the instructions, because the pattern has little gaps where usually the numbers of repeats are. You just have to look into a table, find out the numbers of repeats for your size and fill it into the gap. So no confusion with other sizes, genius!

Construction: I'm not going into detail here, but you can find some more infos on my Ravelry page. It was the first time that I tried a fair isle pattern and it was challenging, but manageable. The birds are not perfect yet with the tension being far from even. But after I wet blocked the cardigan the bird design smoothed out a bit and now they look great :) I think I had to start the first row of the fair isle pattern three times because I just kept making mistakes with the order of the yarns.

The cardigan is knitted from the top down and after knitting the yoke, I had to knit the sleeves. I liked that a lot. Because that means your are already done with the sleeves when starting on the bodice and they are not looming at the end of the knitting, yeah. These sleeves were the fastest I ever knit, it took me only four evenings to finish them.

My main problem was knitting the neckband/buttonband/hem bit. It is knitted altogether in the round in garter stitch. Meaning you have the complete outer edge (hem- left buttonband - neckband - right buttonband - hem) on your needles. So one row took me about 30 min and to knit the whole edging it took me about 6 hours! Because you have the whole cardigan on your needles, you can't try it on and that's why I didn't realised that my edging was too big. So imagine, a totally excited me trying on the cardigan in front of the mirror. Realising that the neck edging stood up making me look like Dracula. There was no way it would stay like that.

It took me almost a week to finally gather my courage and frog the edging. I then knitted the edging on smaller needles because I had read that often garter stitch turns out bigger than stockinette stitching. I also only knitted half of the edging rows to prevent the neckline from being to close to my neck. And this time it worked. The neckline lies flat against my collar bone :)

I think the buttons I used are a bit to small. They look nice with the cardigan, but tend to spring open when I'm wearing it. You might have noticed the open button in a few of the photographs already---my photographer obviously didn't. Also, I should have added a few more buttons in general as there is a lot of strain on the yoke and I think one more button there would have divided the strain.

There is no more left to say. Thus I wish you all a good start into the coming week and if you get ever tired or stressed get a cuppa tea :)

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