Losing focus part II: one distraction after another

Dear readers,

The reality is that unlike some prolific bloggers (yes Lladybird, I’m looking at you), I can only sew on weekends. And even then not the whole weekend (hello power cuts…). So between monday and friday, I usually get excited about projects and the one the most recent excitement is usually the one that receives attention over the weekend.

Case in point : after coming from holidays I set to work on a modified Archer shirt, the following tuesday I got distracted by Lekala 4362. I ordered it and print it out. Unfortunately on Friday I got distracted by the idea of making cute cotton shorts as sleepwear… I reviewed all the PDF patterns available, almost bought Grainline Lakeside pattern, but my walllet got lucky and the shop was down for update. BTW, talking about distraction, have you seen the Alder shirtdress ? I can confidently say that this is pushing all other projects on the side and will get done in the very very near future…

Going back to sleepwear, I then remembered the cute cute version the free Colette Madeleine bloomers made by Peneloping. What she talks about in her post is exactly what happened, a pattern you looked at a million times, even printed and taped but suddenly YEARS LATER, you need to make it. And you need to make it NOW. I went to Pattern Review to check the comments because I remembered some useful insights about the fit. Reviewers mention the very low waist, which is what I wanted, and the lack of coverage, but considering that I was going to sew an XS, I figured it would be ok.

Colette Madeleine bloomers

As you can see, it is not bloomers at all. Call me weird but I could not imagine sleeping with ribbon tying my thighs… That required some pattern adjustment which I will probably detail in another post, as I plan to make another pair very soon (this weekend if I don’t get distracted by friday!). For this test version I used a Theory shirting cotton that I bought in Moods while still living in NYC.

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I used flat-felled seams everywhere and the whole process from taping to hemming took less than 2 hours. Bonus, The Old Man loves them (understatement). Extra bonus, they are comfortable and I’ve been wearing them every night (and day, humhum #sundayinyourpjs…).

Now, on sunday I’ve been good and I dedicated all my sewing time to Lekala 4362. After quite some work and alterations, this is where we are.

Lekala 4362, in progress

I will write a whole post about my modifications for this pattern so stay tuned!

And this is how you lose sewing focus…

I was in France. For 3 weeks. I bought fabric (of course). I came back less than a week ago and pre-washed all said fabrics (gold star for me). I started working on an apdapted Archer pattern for 1 or 2 shirts out of the new fabric.

Proof #1

Practising Plackets à la Off-the-Cuff mode...

Practising Plackets à la Off-the-Cuff mode

And Proof #2

 

Removing shoulder length...

Removing shoulder length…

And then i visited Lekala’s website and saw this :

Good by focus… HELLO RALPH LAUREN INSPIRED SHEATH DRESS!!!

I’m off to check my mailbox compulsively until the custom sized pattern arrives. It’s been 6 minutes and 48 seconds. WHY IS IT TAKING SOOOO LONG??!

More to come….

Faux Lace Nettie Dress

Close Front - Nettie Dress Side View - Nettie Dress Back View - Nettie Dress
It’s very rare that I use independent pattern companies. It’s even more rare that I decide to use them right after they are released. Unless you have been living under a rock buried under your stash the last few weeks, you have seen many many iterations of Nettie, the bodysuit pattern released by Closet Case Files. Frankly, I am not sure a bodysuit would add anything in my life (but I understand that it can be useful to others) so I had a look but did not pay all that much attention. But then, I saw this dress made by the lovely Lindsay. I did not have a choice anymore, I NEEDED IT NOW. Unfortunately, knit is NOT an easy thing to find in Port-au-Prince AND the old man tends to make those comments about new fabric purchases that cool me down a bit. So I know I had to be sneaky. And sneaky I was! When I was told that the daughter of our friends dreamt about having a mermaid tail she could swim in (more later), I happily volunteered myself, knowing that it would mean a trip to the fabric store without The Old Man. And there it was, waiting for me, lace printed knit that looks A LOT like the one Carolyn used recently or the illustration of the Nettie pattern. The worst part is that I did not even realize it was the same as the illustration until Heather pointed it out on Instagram.

Close Bottom - Nettie Dress Close back - Nettie Dress

In the same weekend, I completed my mermaid making commitments, I ignored the less-than-convinced comments from the old man about the fabric and tackled the Nettie on Sunday afternoon. By Sunday evening, after taking a nap and a break for dinner, the dress was done. The old man was so impressed that i/ he admitted he was wrong about the fabric and ii/ he wondered why my other projects are all so long. Men… But I mean COME ON, he admitted he was wrong about something, that NEVER happens.

Regarding the pattern I used the high front neckline and the lowest back. I was a bit concerned about the sizing since I had the initial version of the pattern, before Heather amended it. But I decided that my knit had enough stretch so I cut a size 4 (so if I understood correctly this size would now be a 2 and is not included in the pattern anymore) and graded out to a 6 at the hips just to be sure. I also shorthened the sleeves because I have creepy baby length arms and the cropped sleeves would have ended at my wrists…

Dressform front nettie dress Dressform Side - Nettie Dress Dressform Back - Nettie Dress

I did not really use the instructions, first because I did not use my regular machine but my serger (and I don’t baste, I hate basting) and second I prefer to construct knit flat as much as possible (except hems). That means that I joined 1 shoulder, added the neck binding, closed the second shoulder, sewed the sleeves in the armholes and closed the side seams from the bottom of the hem to the end of the sleeve. The hems were serged, turned and topstitched twice to mimic the effect of a coverstitch.

Neckbinding - Nettie DressInside Front - Nettie Dress Inside back - Nettie Dress Inside close - Nettie Dress Cup - Nettie Dress

 

I used the instructions to add the shelf bra. I am still undecided about the cups. I destroyed an old bra to steal the cups but I don’t know if they add to the silhouette or detract from it. The dress has not been taken out on a date yet so I guess that a few hours of test wearing will tell me if I like the cups or not. By the way, yes, I know this dress needs a date. I told the old man and I wore it around the house to signal my impatience so it should be coming soon. Unless we get knocked down by the epidemic of Chikungunya. And I really hope it is not the case because we are leaving to France in 10 days. I do not want to be sick, I want to be able to sneak around to by fabric and hide it in my suitcase!!

Finally, I believe that the Nettie dress requires a Vixen pose, so here it is :

Front - Nettie Dress

 

To finish on an unrelated note I changed the design of my blog. I hope you like it and that it makes reading easier! Let me know if you have comments.

What do you think about bodysuits ? Do you wear them? And more importantly, do you have to hide to buy fabric???

Free pattern alert: the French Jeans edition

I am usually a bit lazy when it comes to reading french sewing blogs, but I was catching up on Threads and Needles today and I discovered the French brand 1083. For the explanation, 1083 km is the longest distance between 2 french towns/willages, so it’s all about Made in France jeans and sneakers. Their jeans are made of organic cotton and are affordable. I have to admit that I am quite impressed with the business model.

Now comes the best part, the jeans patterns are under Creative Commons so they are free!! You can find them on this page, or you can click on the links below and be directed to the PDF in case your French is a bit rusty

Straight jeans for men W26-40 L30-36

 

Straight jeans for women W24-36 L30-36

A bootcut for women W24-36 L30-36

Now, there are no instructions but hey free pattern!! The pdf is tileable with adobe acrobat pro… Enjoy! I don’t plan on making them because 1/ I can’t locate the notions here and 2/the waist seems a bit high for my taste but I would love to see what you will make out of it!!

2 pencil skirts and a mitered corner tutorial

First things first, as will see in ALL the following pictures, there is a new addition to our family. His name is tikiki and he is a 4 months old beagle who will not let me stand in the garden without trying to chew on my shoe :

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Going back to sewing, as said by one of the stars of the sewing community, when you don’t know what to make, make a pencil skirt… Or make two!!

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For both skirts I used the same Lekala made to measure pattern as my base, namely Lekala 5268. I considered using the free pattern 5088, but I find that a single dart in the back and a more centered front dart gives a more modern look. I know that especially if you are pear shaped, double darts are recommended but there is something that really feels dated to me.

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Both skirts are made from left overs from stash, zippers and interfacing were also from stash. So apart from the 2 dollars from the pattern, they ended up being “free” projects. Yay!! You can recognize the fabric I used for this linen dress and my archer shirtdress.

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Regarding the pattern, I converted the front into one piece with a dart instead of a princess seam. The hem is tapered 1″on each side seam which makes a total reduction of 4″ so I drafted a vent. The waistband is a simple rectangle that does not overlap as I wanted the invisible zipper to reach the top of the waistband. The fit came out perfect with 0 adjustment. Double yay!! I added the seam allowances (3/8 at the waist, 1/2 at the sides and 1 1/2 at the hem.

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The construction is pretty straight forward, they are both unlined so I finished the seams with my serger and used my usual invisible zipper technique. Despite the result, I did try to align the prints at the center back seam of the floral skirt, obviously something went wrong…

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One thing that I wanted to try was a mitered corner for the vent. The pattern adjustment is easy, you just chop the corner at a 45 degree angle, leaving a 1/4 seam allowance.

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I took some pictures of my sewing process for that mitered corner, as you can see I interfaced the hem on the floral skirt to give it some body. My linen did not seem to need it. I believe that the pictures are quite self explanatory but I can give more explanations if needed.

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This post brings me to almost the end of my blogging backlog. If you follow my instagram you know I just made a nettie dress and I hope to take pictures quickly!! I also have a pair of linen twill pants as a WIP and need to work on 2 more pencil skirts for the fabric I got in Mood during my trip to NYC in March. But for those pencil skirts, I have a special project and a treat for you!!

By the way, I cut and sewed the skirts at the same time. 2 skirts at the end of one weekend feels really good! Almost as good as a sexy Nettie Dress made in one afternoon !! As I have been looking into streamlining my closet, pencil skirts and skinny jeans combined with shirts have imposed themselves as a daily uniform. And since I do not make my own skinny jeans, this means you will see a lot of pencil skirts. I created a pinterest board for the special pencil skirt project, I hope that I will be able to share with you very soon!

What about you ? What do you sew when you are wandering helplessly in your sewing room ?

Linen dresses Part II

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Ok, so now that I confessed that I let The Old Man design one dress and that I realized that I’m not the only one after reading your comments on my last post, I can go further in my confessions. In addition to cooking for me, cleaning my wounds (a not-so-funny story in the streets of Port-au-Prince) and driving me around, The Old Man keeps a Pinterest board of LADIES outfits, for me. Yep. I said it.

I know…. Now, let’s move on to the dress. This is the second linen dress on which I worked with The Old Man. The selected inspiration dress was an Asos ponte knit number. Try to explain that ponte and linen do not behave in the same way and you will get a blank stare back at you… So I decided to keep the technical challenges for myself and try to make it work in a Tim Gunn’s manner!

Inspiration picture

 

As it is extremely difficult to show the seamlines in the pictures, I hope you will get a closer idea in the dressform shots and the inside-outs. As for my previous linen number, I used my now TNT sheath dress pattern Lekala 5166. This time I kept the center back shaping. I made the dress longer (OBVIOUSLY) and tapered the seam at the hem up to 1″ on the front and back side seams. In total that represents 4″ less in the knee area so adding a back vent was mandatory if I intended to do more than standing straight in that dress. I created the underbust seam and I closed that section at the princess seam to just keep a pleat under the bust. My other modification for the front was to extend the bottom of the side dart into a pocket. For some reason I find these type of pockets visually interesting as well as practical. If you remember I already used it in my Reiss inspired coat last year. So instead of a 1 piece front you get a front and a side panel that acts also as the pocket bag.

After the pattern work, the construction was fairly simple :

  • the upper front pieces  sewn at center front on the SA
  • on the main front a attached the pocket facing and then added the side panel and then attached to the rest of front,
  • Attach the upper front and the front together
  • Sew the back darts
  • Join front and back at shoulder seams, do the same for the front self lining and back facing
  • Insert the invisible zipper (still with the Fashion-Incubator technique), sew the center back seam (and the vent)
  • Attach the facing all around the neckline and armholes. Turn out the whole thing like a sock. I hope you are all familiar with the all-in-one facing technique. If not, I think Salme patterns did a good job at illustrating the concept.
  • Sew the side seams in 1 step, from hem to facings
  • hem, topstitch the vent and done!

You can see that I left some of the process regarding seam finishes out. I mostly used seam binding as you can see on the inside out post!

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I really like this dress and I wear it quite often even though it is a bit formal for the everyday look at my work place. Thus, it’s great for these I-have-a-meeting type of days. However the décolleté is a bit on the osé (bold?)  side…

Overall it was a great experience and I officially awarded TOM with a special advisory title on my sewing. I know it’s been a while since my last post, but in the mean time I’ve been to NY (brought fabric that you will see very soon), to Guatemala, sewed 2 pencil skirts, currently looking at relaxed wide linen pants and worked on a special project that you should be able to enjoy soon if things go according to plan. Yes, I’ve been busy…

My last word are on press cloth, I will admit to be a wild presser. I press everything heavily and I try to pretend that I don’t see the shiny marks that I am creating… But to be honest it’s bothering me more and more. Recently I read this post on Sunny Gal Studio’s blog and I think it’s time. Time to stop being lazy and start using a press cloth! In my 14 years of sewing, I had to fight my laziness many times : stop ignoring that you have to “set in” a sleeve, stop cutting double layer for silk, stop thinking it’s ok not to finish seams, etc…. Overall this is how my sewing improves, gradually and in steps. BUT I know very little about press cloth. Do I need more than one ? Is a piece of muslin ok ? Does it depend on fabric ? I will have to do some research…

What is your favorite source of information when it comes to press cloths ? And I would love to hear what was the latest step you took to take your sewing to the next level!

 

 

Linen dresses part I

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OK I know I announced a lot of posts, or at least weekly ones, but of course life/work got in the way. I’m currently enjoying freezing in the streets of NYC for a quick 5 days and then I will be off to Guatemala. I made this dress before the end of 2013, and it is sort of an experiment than could be entitled “what happens when you let your boyfriend design your dress?”.

First of all, I have to say that he is very interested in women dressing. Like we shop together, for real. He does not wait around the entrance looking like he’s trying to escape. He selects clothes on the rack, wait around the dressing rooms, gives his opinion about fit and quality of material, etc. I’ve never been so much of a group shopper but for some reason it works well and generally if I follow his advice I get a lot of compliments by strangers later… So ok I give in, a guy may have better taste than me to dress me… After doing a closet clean-out due to some weight loss and style evolutions, I talked him into defining a dress he would like to see me in.

Overall no big surprises : it’s short, it’s fitted and in a solid color… Men… He also made the specific requirement that it should be linen (and navy). Which is good because it’s the only natural fiber readily available in Haiti (at high cost though).

For the pattern I used the made to measure lekala 5166 that I used for my little 90′s dress. I altered the pattern to make a sleeveless dress (bring the underarm seam up and in), removed the back seam and its shaping so it’s a bit more loose in the waist, raise the neck line and create a placket opening, and finally lengthen it  a little. I’m sticking to my strategy of working based on Lekala patterns, and it has been very rewarding so far!

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Construction was fairly simple, I finished the seams with french seams and the front placket unbuttons down to the waist so no need for other closures. I fused the placket pieces and the opening on the dress. Unfortunately I only had white interfacing but it’s on the inside so it does not bother me too much. Since I made that dress well over 3 months ago, it got a lot of wear already. Comfortable + flattering + easy to wash = heavy rotation!!

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Overall the experiment was a total success so we tried a second time. I already have the pictures of that second (linen… again…) dress and should be able to post it soon! What about you ? Have you ever let someone else decide on all the aspects of a garment you were going to sew for yourself? Is your partner a good source of advice for clothing or does he run away when you say you are looking for constructive criticism ?

Late Archer appreciation: it’s a shirt, it’s a dress, it’s a shirtdress!

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What, a new post??? I warned you, it’s going to be crazy blogging weeks with at least a post a week… It will be probably followed by the usual hiatus. Not because I haven’t been sewing (I have, 2 pencil skirts in one weekend, so proud!) but because I travel every 2 months so that usually put everything on hold. This time, I will be going back to NYC for 5 days (YAY!!! FRIENDS !!! DOUBLE YAY!!! MOOD FABRICS!!! TRIPLE YAY!!!) and then joining The Old Man) in Guatemala (3rd time now).

Now going to this dress, if you follow me on Pinterest, you know that I have a limited number but very pronounced obsessions (hum hum Miranda Kerr… hum hum). Among them you can count skinny jeans, pumps, shirts, maxi skirts, pencil skirts and SHIRTDRESSES. All these pretty much define how I dress on a daily basis.

I already made one last year but since then I started thinking about a dress that would be basically a long loose shirt. And what would be more perfect than Grainline Studio’s Archer pattern for that purpose ? That’s right, NOTHING!

Following the advice on Twitter from A Stitching Odyssey, I used size 0 for bust and waist and graded out to a 2 in the hips. In addition, to turn this shirt pattern into a dress I just added 10 inches below the hips area. I think it’s important to do the lengthening below the hip level other wise you end up elongating the curve between the waist and the hip. Other than that I did 0 alterations. Yes, you read well zero.Knowing me you could have expected a debauch of 1/4″ seam allowances, redrafting of the under collar, changing the button placket, etc. But, I wanted to follow the sewalong to the letter, so i did NONE of that, ET VOILA! I finished all seams with french seams, including the armholes (I recommend it, it’s really really nice).

The fabric is something synthetic that I found here in Port-au-Prince, I would go for something like rayon. Actually, The Old Man found it and made me buy it. He is EXTREMELY proud of it, so every time I got a compliment for the dress, he is beaming (men..). As much as I like to contradict him, I have to admit that it’s nice to wear, easy to wash and to iron. I already used the remnants to make one of the pencil skirts mentioned above. But of course it will probably take me an additional 2 months to blog about those.

So anyway, I did not make it on time for the Archer Appreciation month launched by Lucky Lucille and Miss Crayola Creepy back in December (part of my love/hate relationship with sewalongs) but I really love this dress. It’s a great option for these days when you have nothing to wear! I have a white 23mm silk crepe in my stash that is screaming to be made into something similar to this very popular pinterest picture… I may remove 3/4″ to the shoulder length though, because they are dropping a bit.

Have a great day everybody, I will finish this post with a gratuitous picture of where I was last weekend, this is  Ile-a-Vache, an island in the South of Haiti.

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Eye candy – Couture at Dior…

In a previous life, my first 6-month internship was at Christian Dior Couture (during Galliano’s days). I did a few different jobs there but the one where I had the most fun was being an “habilleuse” (a dresser) for a RTW wholesale show. Peeking into the dresses, even though they were RTW was an amazing opportunity. So I cannot imagine what it would be like to spy into the Couture Garments.

Raf Simons - Dior

 

If, like me you missed this article from “Le Figaro Madame” after the arrival of Raf Simons at Dior back in 2012, go and enjoy !! Even if you cannot read French, only the pictures are worth a look (or 2!!)

In case you need extra incentive :

Raf Simons - Dior 2

Frankenpattern making, the result of Grainline Moss and Lekala 5430

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460 by Sewingtidbits

 

You guys! I took pictures! I did, and of 3 projects so get ready for some intense blog activity, because I may be reaching a post a week! I know, I know, it’s going to be INSANE!

So, first to come is the result of my frankenpattern-making from december (DECEMBER !! shame…). I did a whole construction post then, so there is not much to add.

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460 by Sewingtidbits

 

As you can see, it’s VERY VERY short. I don’t know what possessed me when I decided on the length… If I remember well I chopped off at least 3″. Aaaah late night sewing, when will I learn ?? It’s a lot of (short) legs showing… But surprisingly, it does not stop me from wearing it almost every weekend. It’s like impractical cut-offs. What can I say, I like to live a dangerous life!

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460

Where I hold a wooden giraffe in an attempt to fight posing discomfort…

Now, on the whole process… The construction went seamlessly (haha) except because of my own stupid, stupid mistake. Can you spot what is wrong here ?

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio - Lekala 5460

That’s right, I assembled the wrong yoke and back pieces AND serged them AND topstitched them. YES BOTH OF THEM. The result looked kind of weird but I did not stop. When I realized, even though I was alone in my sewing room, I was extremely embarrassed… Of course I took a picture, so that you can all make fun of me or reassure me that it happens to everyone (while thinking, OMG this girl is kind of dumb!).

Apart from that I’m super happy with my pattern prep process, the zipper and the pockets almost assembled themselves (almost)…

Grainline denim moss skirt

Blurry rushed Iphone photo…

Denim grainline moss skirt Grainline moss denim skirt

Fabric : in my initial post, I said it was chambray and as you can all see, it’s not. It’s denim. OBVIOUSLY! I actually had to google the difference… The verdict is : denim is a twill, chambray is a plain will. So if you all knew this, you can make fun of me again.

Going back to this nice and soft denim, I do not remember where I bought it. It was 4 years ago, when I just moved to NYC and I decided to knock-off an Abercrombie gathered mini skirt. It was a disaster, skirt was never completed and very little fabric was salvaged, stored and moved to Haiti, to finally found its use 3 1/2 years later.

Moss Denim Mini Skirt - Grainline Studio

 

Lastly, I’m thinking more and more about what I sewed and what I sew. I lost some weight in the last 6 months, so I went through a closet purge assisted by The Old Man – TOM. It was a painful process, but I had to admit that I don’t wear a lot of things that I made (including quite a few that was blogged last year). The time involved makes it extra hard to remove items from the closet, even though they were worn once. So I want to plan my projects a lot more carefully now.

TOM has a very precise idea of what he likes me to wear (very decent, I promise) and I’m starting to realize that he is usually right. Currently, I’m running by him my ideas before I jump into the making and the results have been very wearable: more solid colors, natural material and focusing on a close fit. As much as I like loose shapes and interesting prints, they tend to make overpower my small frame. To give you an idea, the next posts will include 2 solid linen dresses and a shirt dress.

What about you ? Do you have an approval process before you start a garment or you jump right into what your heart (or pinterest) tells you ?

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