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.
Last year I started working on a wool knit dress, but then spring was comming and I was not in the mood anymore to sew a warm winter dress. Now I have started working on it again, and maybe it will be finished before the winter is gone.
When I hemmed the sleeves to the length I liked, I was left with only a small hem allowance. This hem allowances is far too small to attach a lining properly with a jump pleat. I remembered that Susan Khalje explained in her Craftsy class “The couture dress” what to do in such a case. And this is what I did:
Catch stitch the sleeve hem allowance in place
2. Cut a bias strip from the lining fabric. The strip is approximately 3” wide and long enough to go around the sleeve with a little overlap. Turn one long side up and press.
3. Pin the strip to the sleeve hem with the folded edge towards the hem. The raw edge is enclosed.
4. Attach the strip with fellstitching
5. At the end overlap the strip folding the raw edges under
6. Secure the overlap with fell stitches
7. Attach the raw edge of the strip to the sleeve with catch stitches
8. Complete! Now there is enough room to install the sleeve lining properly
I hope this little tutorial is helpful for you. I think this technique can also be applied to the hem of a skirt or dress.
When I am in a bad mood or unhappy I tend to buy fabric, patterns or sewing books. It is like I disappear into another world and I often have the illusion that with buying a pattern I already own the finished garment. Sounds silly, I know, but happens often enough. This is how I came to the Ginger Jeans pattern. I am in a desperately need for a pair of jeans. I love my Liana Stretch jeans, but the color is difficult to combine and the raise is a bit too high for my taste. And as the fabric I used for the Liana jeans wears out already minutes after putting it on, it is really difficult to assess the fit. This is why I decided against altering the Liana jeans and starting with a new pattern dreaming of a perfectly fitting pair of blue jeans.
So now here they are, my Ginger Jeans, not blue and not perfectly fitting, but a real pair of jeans! I made view A: low-rise with stovepipe legs.
I bought some denim from stoffe.de that were on sale for a first test version of the Ginger Jeans. Unfortunately they only had black denim but it was rather cheap and so I decided for a test version this would be fine. The fabric has 2% elasthan. It feels a bit stiff, but it holds the shape over days and does not wear out. For the pocket lining and inner waistband I used some cotton scraps I had in my stash. I love how the orange flower print looks against the black denim.
I do not know how often I read on blogs “I made the Ginger jeans without alterations and the fit is spot on”. So, I am not one of those lucky girls. My experience with pants so far is not the best one and I knew that I would need to fit the pattern and I would need time for that. I had a week off in October so I decided this would be the time for sewing up the Ginger Jeans. I spent three complete days with fitting! And there are still issues to fix. Maybe American patterns just do not fit my body shape? But RTW pants do neither….
I cut the pattern with huge seam allowances so that I would have room for alterations. I started with a size 10 according to my hip measurements. Here is what I did:
removing approximately 1.5 cm at the side seams and inseams and tapering to zero at the knee
Shortening the leg below the knee by 2 cm (I had to add this later on again)
Adding 0.5 cm to each side seam below the knee
removing 3cm below the butt and adding the same amount at the bottom of the back leg
sway back adjustment (reducing 1cm height and width at the back center seam, tapering to zero at the side seams)
lowering the back croth curve by 1 cm
removing 3cm at the front crotch and tapering to zero at the side seams to reduce extra fabric
shaping the waistband
There were still wrinkles at the back knee but at that point I decided to sew the jeans up and wear them for a time and then decide what further changes would be neccessary. It is also such a difference if you only stand before the mirror, or if you are wearing a garment a whole day. All in all these jeans are wearable, comfy and the overall fit is ok (except for the front crotch). There are still some issues to solve:
shaping the waistband more
dealing with the knee wrinkles
still too much fabric in the front
I also noticed that the point where the inseam and crotch seams meet is shifted to the front. So I think my attempt to reduce the excess fabric at the front crotch was maybe not the right one. With the next version I would try to bring the seams back by lengthening the front crotch and reducing the back crotch seam by the same amount.
I am also a bit frustrated because until now I have not found a solution how to get rid of excess fabric at the front crotch. I have this issue with all pant patterns so far, but I have not found this described in my fitting books or craftsy classes. My first attempt was to make the front crotch curve more straight, so it looks more like a J. But then it was too tight and I had to go back and immediatley there was this excess fabric.
I often have the feeling with pants fitting that I make an alteration to solve one issue, then I make the next alteration to solve another issue, and this reverses the first alteration. Which means the whole process is somehow ineffective.
I did not look at the instructions but followed Heathers Sew Along. As this is a test version I kept the construction simple, no flat felled seams. I finished the seams allowances with my serger. For the topstitching I used my regular thread but doubled it. The hem was a bit short, so instead of double folding it to the inside I used a facing. This helped me to get as much length as possible.
I haven’t made up my mind yet if I like my pair of Ginger Jeans or not. Partly because of the rather stiff fabric (but that is ok, it was cheap after all, and this is a test version) and partly because of the fitting issues. There are still so much wrinkles. And I feel a bit lost as I have no idea how to improve the fit. Maybe I should go back to the Liana jeans and lower the rise.
I have exciting news. I have teamed up with Kennis from Itch to Stitch and started translating her patterns into German. The first one was the Lisbon Cardigan which is available at the moment at Näh-Connection. Now I have finished the translation of the Hepburn Turtleneck and I need some proof readers who are also willing to sew up the pattern.
You can find the full description of the pattern including material here.
You are a native or fluent German speaker with a good feeling for the language
You like the pattern and intend to sew it up as is
You have enough time to send me the corrections and pictures of the finished garment until December 05.
Ideally you have a blog or facebook page to share your finished Hepburn Turtleneck and to participate in the blog tour.
I plan to start testing on Friday, November 25 and would like to receive the proof read pattern as well as your modeled photos with the Hepburn Turtleneck on Monday, December 05.
Testers will be invited to a facebook group where we can discuss the translation and share pictures. In return for your effort you will receive a copy of the final German pattern.
Then please leave a comment or send an email to sewingdreams (at) web (dot) de with ref “Hepburn”.