Kennis released a new pattern, the Anza Jumpsuit and Dress. When I first saw it I immediatley fell in love with the bodice: the slightly curved V-neck and the breast pockets. So I coud not resist and applied for the testing.
The Anza comes as jumpsuit or dress and features an elastic waist, pockets, cuffed sleeves and different cup sizes. I made the dress. I love the jumpsuit look on others, but I am still a bit reluctant to try it for myself.
I used a black-grey cotton that I bought last year in a local fabric store. I had bought 5m of it with the purpose of making pants. But it was the only fabric in my stash that was lightweight enough and that had the required length.
I cut a size 2 A cup for the bodice, tapering to a size 4 for waist and skirt. I made no other changes. As this is a loose fitting style, this was to be expected.
The construction is straight forward. As there are no sleeves to set in, no collar and no lining, this is quite a quick sew. I kept it simple and finished the seam allowances with my serger. The most challenging part was sewing the cuffs to the sleeves at the underarm seam. This reminded me of sewing a placket to a slit in a shirt sleeve.
This Dress is quite an unusual silhouette for me. Usually I prefer a fitted bodice and a flared skirt. I am also not so in shirttail hems for dresses, but this is really a trend at the moment. And I think, this is the first woven dress I made that is not lined! But, of course, this dress is really comfy. So lets see how it will work its way into my wardrobe. At the moment, it is still just to cold to wear it.
Disclaimer: I got the pattern for free in exchange for testing it. All opinions are my own.
The pictures are not the best but it was cold and rainy that weekend and I had to take advantage of a rain break.
I used a 100 % cotton batiste from my stash. It was not quite enough so I had to use some other scraps of green fabric for the waistband and the pockets. In the end I am happy how this turned out. The green contrast balances the flower print.
I also had to piece the pocket facing as there wasn’t any piece left which was big enough. I always felt that piecing is not professional and would somehow downgrade the finished garment. My mind changed after I read an article about piecing in one of the last Thread issues. If you use it deliberately and in unconspicous places it can save a lot of fabric. That is something I can appreciate.
I started with a size 4, as I was sure this is my usual hip size for Itch-to Stitch patterns. This version was a bit tight though, and after remeasuring I found myself between size 4 and 6 (I totally am sure hope this is due to my regular visits to the gym and not due to too much cookies during the holiday season). So I let out all seam allowances and this final version is rather a size 6.
I made two other alterations to the pattern:
shortening the front crotch
taking off some fabric below the butt
For the first alteration I just used the crotch curve of a Burda pattern. I always have too much fabric in the front, so this has nothing to do with this pattern, but with my body shape. I also had a bit extra fabric below the butt. To get rid of it I used the method from Kennis King and folded out the extra fabric below the crotch curve at the back leg and added the same amount again at the hem.
Construction was very straight forward. I finished all my seam allowances with the serger. The elastic in the waistband is sewn down with two seams. This gives a nice, smooth look and prevents the elastic from twisting, but you have to make sure to cut the elastic to the correct lenght. Alterations later on would be difficult. I made some really quick and dirty drawstring from fabric scraps with my serger.
This is my wearable muslin of the pattern. I admit I planned to wear these as pyjamas, but now I think they are just too pretty to hide in the bedroom. They are really comfy, but with the slim leg also look dressy. The rise is very low, but just OK for me. Unfortunately I will still have to wait a few months until it wil be warm enough to wear my Tierras Woven Joggers.
I did need a lot of patience for this dress. I started back in February last year, hoping I could finish it before winter was gone. Alas, this did not happen, and when the weather warmed up I was not in the mood of sewing a warm woolen winterdress. So it sat in my sewing space for nearly a whole year. When I put it out a few weeks ago, I had so many issues to deal with that I was not sure if I could finish it this year in time. But I did and have worn it already twice.
The fabric is a 100% wool sweater knit from Anita Pavani. The fabric is lovely and very warm, but also quite expensive. So when I pulled the dress out of its corner this winter, I wasn’t pleased at all to notice a lot of wholes. Some tiny, some not so tiny. There was nothing else for it but to sit down and mend the fabric. Did anyone else had to mend a dress before it was finshed? I unripped some thread from scraps for this so that the mending would be as unobstrusive as possible. I counted 12 wholes, and just yesterday I discoverd two more….Lesson learned: don’t throw your unfinished projects in a corner for one year.
The dress is lined with pongé silk. I just love the combination of wool and silk and have used this pongé already a lot. I bought it at a reasonable price at buttinette, and it is OK, but for the future I would like a silk that is not see through.
It was an experiment to combine a stretchy fabric with a non-stretch lining. The wool knit obviously stretched out a bit (I put the dress on like a thousand times while fitting the sleeves). When I sewed the lining into the dress I had to release the darts at the skirt and the princess seams to make it fit.
I described the alterations I made to the bodice already here. I fiddled a long time with the sleeves. First, I raised the bottom of the armscye, because when I raised my arms the entire dress would move with my arms. Then I was not happy with the sleeve cap. I thought I could shape the fabric with steaming to decrease the excess fabric but this did not work. In the end I cut off 2 cm of the sleeve cap height (forthe lining I cut off only 1 cm to have a bit more ease for the woven fabric).
I sewed the complete dress on my regular sewing machine. Somehow I did not want to use my serger. Shoulder seams and the seam allowances for the zipper are reinforced with silk organza strips.
All seam allowances are catch stitched down. This was only possible as the fabric is quite thick. Nevertheless I had to make sure to only pick one thread so that the stitches would not show through on the outside.
I put the zipper into the side seam. It was the first time that I did this. It is nice, because the zipper is quite unobstrusive and I can close it by myself, but I find it more difficult to get into the dress. So, not sure if I will do this again or not. First I made a handpicked lapped zipper, but that was just too bulky, so I ripped it out and sewed in an invisible zipper by machine. So much better!
The sleeve lining is cut on the bias to have more give. Obviously when I cut the lining last year I did not have enough fabric because the sleeves were too short. So I had to sew on some fabric scraps. Because of the bias the seams are a bit wonky, but nobody will ever see this.
To add a bit more interest to the dress I added black ribbon at the waist and made a little bow. I copied this idea from one of the dresses in Gerties ultimate dress book. So simple, but makes a plain dress less boring.
There is no question, this dress is really comfy and I can even ride my bicycle without problems. I am not sure, though, if I would like to have it a bit more fitted. Also, for a winter dress, I would have liked to have the back neckline a bit higher. All in all I am just happy to have this long project finished and I am itching to try the bodice for a new dress, maybe with a circle skirt.
Somehow I managed to follow the 365 challenge during January and have now all 31 blocks complete! Sometimes I sewed one block a day, but often I had to catch up during the weekend. And often I just hurried up to get finished and did not really enjoy the process. But on Friday I got a call that left me thoughtful. My gynecologist’s practice called me. I had an appointment for next week and they had to cancel it because my gynecologist had passed away. She had had a stroke. I was really shocked and did not know what to say on the phone. I think she was the same age than me and I went to her for the past ten years once or twice a year for my routine check-ups.
When my father passed away two years ago it made me sadly aware that our time on earth is only limited and recently I tried to live my days more consciously. Last New Years Eve I contemplated the last year, and there was not much that I remembered besides our holidays. Now, my boyfriend and I often ask each other in the evening “what was your favorite part of the day”, and often enough it is quite difficult for me to have an answer to that question because the day just flew by. But on other days it is quite nice to remember the full moon, the chimney sweeper who made me smile, a beautiful sunrise, all those little moments that make you feel happy.
After the phone call I decided that I will try to connect those special memories to the daily blocks, to take that sewing time as an opportunity to reflect the past day and be grateful for it. And maybe on New Years Eve I will have more to remember.
The blocks started very easy which is great for a beginner like me. And I really was astonished that it makes fun to cut stripes, sew them together, cut them again only to sew them together in a different way. I like this aspect very much, how so many different geometrical pattern can be created just by putting the same basic pieces together in different ways. So here are my blocks:
6th of January yearly “New Years” event from our company
10th of January was my shop opening
11th of January I sold the first pattern
12th January chimney sweeper (he looked so cute in his traditional costume and just made me smile when I opened the door)
28th January I finished my winter dress
What I learned:
you can buy self-adhesive fabric grips that prevent rulers from slipping over your fabric while cutting with a rotary cutter
My first make of the year is the new Itch to Stitch pattern, the Paro Cardigan. It was love at first sight and I was more than happy to be chosen as a tester. The Paro is a long cardigan with a feminine touch.
I used a lightweight sweater knit as main fabric that I purchased some years ago at a local fabric store. It is a cotton, and it may also have some poly in it, but I am not sure. It has a nice texture nad drapes very well. For the band I used an organic single jersey from my stash which is a shade darker than the main fabric. This adds a little bit of contrast.
I cut my usual size 2 with a size 4 at the hips. I thought about going one size up to make sure that the cardigan would not be too small in the shoulder area, a problem that I often have with Itch-to-Stitch patterns. However, the Paro Cardigan is designed to fit over garments, so I went with my usual size and the fit is just right as is.
I made a small bust alteration as after basting everything together I had too much fabric across the bust. This pattern does not include different cup sizes, so this is a normal adjustment for me.
The instructions are clear and detailed as always. I planned to sew all seams with my serger, but then I suddenly decided to finish the seams with Hong Kong binding. Kennis has this included in the instructins as an option, and as a dutifully tester I tested this seam finish also….Of course this put me in some time pressure. Especially as I used the Hong Kong finish for the hems too, but then had to unpick everything again as it was too stiff and the fabric could not drape anymore. I used my coverstitch instead. This is an inside view:
I changed the order of construction a little bit. I used a second layer for the waistband. The single jersey was a bit thin, so I thought it might be a good idea to have it reinforced with a second layer. This gave me also the opportunity to have a clean finish on the inside. I tried to use the burrito-method (the same method you use for sewing shirt yokes), but it was not possible to have the whole cardigna rolled up in the waistband, so I ended up sewing the inner layer by hand.
Another change is that I hemmed the cardigan before attaching the front band. Also, I sewed the front band in two steps, first I sewed the outer band to the cardigan. Then I folded the seam allowance of the inner band under and handstitched everything in place. I tried to stitch in the ditch, but somehow this technique is just not for me. I never get it nice on the inside. After I took the pictures I unpicked everything and sewed it in place by hand. This just works everytime
I found the button in my stash. Years ago I inherited a box with buttons from my grandmother. Often I think I will never have any use for them, as there are a lot of single buttons, and usually you need more than one button. But for this project I found the perfect button. The topstitching on the button has the same shade as my fabric. I could not have found something better.
I am sure I will make another one. The pattern is very versatile. Have a look at the other testers’ versions, there is so much inspiration. Just keep in mind that the fabric should have enough drape and is not too thick, else the pleats might become too bulky. Unfortunately, it is too cold at the moment to wear my Paro Cardigan right now, so I need definetively a winter version. I already have some fabric in mind.
I like the beginning of a new year, because it is an opportunity to reflect the past year and to start fresh for the new one. I like beginnings: I am full of expectations and optimistic and can start something new with all the best intentions. It really is like Hermann Hesse said: “Jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne” (a magic dwells in each beginning).
To make the best out of the new year, it is always good to look back and learn from the experiences. Let’s start with some numbers: In 2016 I made 17 garments (lingerie sets counted as 1 item) and 1 set of little owls and knitted one pair of wristwarmers. This is just half the amount of items I made in 2015. Was, then, 2016 less succesful for me? No! Because I think success is not dependent on numbers. Nearly all items I made turned into favorite and loved pieces. This is my personal success. So, it was quite difficult to choose my top 5 makes of the year, but here they are:
From left to right (links in the pictures):
The Butterick 6285 skirt is the garment I am most proud of. I implemented all couture techniques I could think of and had joy making it as well as wearing it. Even if it took some time, such projects give me more satisfaction than an 1 hour knit top.
The Bonn shirt is just so lovely to wear and I plan on making more.
I wore the wristwarmes quite a lot. Unfortunately, I lost them just before Christmas, but I have already started new ones from the same wool.
This lingerie set is the one I wear most often, in fact as soon as it is back from the laundry. I will have to make more bras from my self drafted pattern, as the fit is so much better than from the first ones I made.
I love both the Vienna tank top versions I made and wore them so often during summer, the black one for office, and the grey one at home.
Now to the 5 items that were either less worn or could need improvement:
From left to right (links in the pictures):
I like the style of the ITS Zamoura blouse, but I am not in love with the test version I made up. The fabric choice was not perfect and for a next version I would raise the V-neck a bit.
I wore the Style Arc Posh top at home. It is a nice for hot summer days, but both fabric and style are not my favorite.
My modifed bras were made mainly for trying out new techniques, so they have fulfilled their purpose even if I am not wearing them often.
I made a partial band bra whick looks quite cute, but this style is just unsuitable for my shape. There is nothing to hold the bra in place when I lift my arms.
I wear the Ginger jeans quite often despite it flaws. Soem day, I hope, I can figure out all my issues I have with pants fitting.
I do not have precise sewing goals for 2017, but I want to work on the following:
Sew up as much of my UFOs as possible
I have a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) laying around. This is so stupid, because you put a lot of money and time into them and then you have nothing in the end. Also, they take up a lot of space and they stress my mind. Some are already nearly 10 years old, some only a few months. Most of them are unfinished because I encountered some fitting issue.
Work through some of my Craftsy classes
I have become something like a craftsy addict. I was quite embarrassed when I discovered that I own over 40 classes. At least I want to work through one of Suzy Furrer pattern drafting classes. I hope this helps me to understand my fitting issues better.
Participate in the 365 challenge
I discovered this challenge end of last year. You sew a little block every day and end up with a quilt at the end of the year. I am quite sure that I will not be able to presevere for a whole year. Also, I am not a quilter, but I have the feeling that this would improve my skills for accuracy and straight seams. And, maybe, help me get rid of some of my fabric scraps.
Sewing Active Wear
I started with yoga a few months ago, and I am quite enthusiastic. What better reason to replace my old active wear with some nice selfmade one?
In addition, I have things like “sewing more dresses”, “sewing up my fabric stash”, “finding my style” etc. in my mind. As this is far too much that I could achieve, I take this just as guidelines and not goals :-).
There is, however, one goal that I have:
Build my business
This will be the biggest challenge for me in 2017. As you might have noticed I started to translate Itch to Stitch sewing patterns into German and I will open my shop in a few days (stay tuned for that!). This is all so new for me and takes a lot of time and sometimes I am really scared and feel overstrained. But I take one little step after another and so far everything worked out in the end, last but not least also due to the support I got from Kennis (Thank you so much!).
Often when bloggers take the step to get commercial, the blogs lose a lot of the personal content and change into advertising tools. I really do not want to take this route but keep my blog as it is now. Let’s hope that this will be possible!
I want to thank all my readers for stopping by at my little blog and I look forward to another year with you!
Do you have sewing goals for the new year? Are you like me and have a much too long list in mind?
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and enjoy the last days of the year. Here is one last garment that I made in 2016 and that I want to show you.
I finished this little blouse already last summer, but somehow I did not get around to take pictures. Later, I totally forgot to blog about it. But this pattern really deserves to be shown. As I am not as brave as Fleurine and did not feel like modeling a summer blouse outside in the winter cold, I only have pictures of it on my dress form. Here is a picture from the magazine so that you can see how it looks on a real person:
The blouse is loose fitting without darts and features a small collar.
I used the scraps that were left from my Style Arc Sissy blouse. It is a sheer cotton batiste with a nice texture. I had the pieces cut out and lying around for almost a year before I took them with me to our summer holiday in Sweden where I thread traced everything.
I cut out a size 36 and made only minor alterations:
adding 1 cm to the back shoulder seam at the side tapering to zero at the neck
cutting off approximately 10 cm from the hem.
The pattern is described as long so that it can be worn tucked in. However, it was much too long for my taste, so I compared it to my other blouses and cut off a good part of the hem.
The side seams are french seams. Armscyes and shoulder seams are finished with bias binding. What I really loved was the construction of the collar. First, the collar is sewn to the back. Then the shoulder seams are closed. After that the collar is wrapped around the front in a way that all raw edges are enclosed nicely. It really felt like magic when sewing this together.
I topstitched the pleats a few cm so that they lay more flat. With a more drapey fabric this should be no issue, however.
The last buttonhole is sewn in horizontally so that the blouse should not unbutton itself during wear.
Here is an inside view:
This little blouse got a lot of wear. I paired it with a pencil skirt and felt dressed up even during the hot summer days.
The pattern is a little treasure with such a clever construction for the collar. I had so much fun while sewing and I think it would also look great in a silk fabric.