Open Skirt Project

Dear Readers,

 

I will not apologize for the long absence, as it seems to be too common around sewing blogs (especially this one). There is a flu going around Haiti and I’ve been so sick that I could not participate in round 2 of the PRSewingBee. For me, that means very VERY sick… Enough on my disappointment, let’s have a look at V3 of the Open Skirt Project! For my next versions I will start using Size 1 for myself instead of size 2 as I like a closer fit. I’m very happy with the lowering of center front:

V3 Open Skirt Project

I did manage to send out the first newsletter of the Open Skirt Project and to update the pattern based on feedback and my own toile of version 3 (up). If you are interested in trying it out check out the size chart below:

Size Chart

Please take into account that although there will be instructions in the future, currently you have to be able to sew it on your own! For version 4, The PDF layout has been entirely redone and now you can use the layers in acrobat reader to print only the size(s) that you want!

If you are interested in trying out V4 of the pattern and receive the updates, please email me!

I will be off for a week to Dominican Republic and I have not been doing much sewing lately but hopefully I will have things to show before the end of the year…

See you all soon!

Open Skirt Project: an update + PR Sewing Bee

Dear readers,

 

First of all, I’m super happy to report that I have passed round #1 of the PR Sewing Bee contest, along with 55 amazing other seamstresses. The bad news that the second challenge is a man shirt refashion. And I hate refashions, they don’t suit my style. So it’s going to be a real real challenge this time: make a refashion looking polished… I also needto buy a thrifted shirt in a Pèpè (second hand stuff sold on the sidewalks) because The Old Man will not commit one of his!

To keep pretending that I follow-up on my announcements, I wanted to update you on the free skirt pattern that I have been talking about here. I created the first draft from the Muller&Sohn book and ran a first toile.

photo

I decided on a number of changes such as bringing some ease at the waist and shortening the back darts. I also offset the vent by 3/8″ to make it appear more closed.

For the second toile, I ran out of muslin and used the cheap gingham reserved for school uniforms in Haiti. By accident, I created the vent on the wrong side (and realized only after taking pictures).

Openskirt V2

I decided to bring the front darts a bit closer and to change some of the construction details of the vent. Also, the back is a bit big on me but I am a slightly smaller than my sample size.

I have been exchanging emails with Miranda, a super nice reader, and a New York patternmaker friend about this project. Their input have been invaluable. Thus, I would like to extend the discussion to whoever is interested. I have a lot of questions about what would people prefer (serged edges, favorite zipper type, number of pages for the PDF, etc.) If you feel like telling me what you believe is the best way to sew a vent, to layout a pdf or you just want to sew the pattern for yourself, let me know. The pattern is currently available in my sample size (that I’m arbitrary named size 2).
I already able to send V3 of the pattern in the sample size. Measurements are the following:

Sewing Tidbits – Skirt 1101 – Size 2
Cm Inches
Body Measurements
Waist 63 24 6/8
Hip 90 35 3/8
Hip Length 20.5 8 1/8
Finished Measurements
Waist 65.4 25 6/8
Hip 94 37
Skirt Length 55 21 5/8

Ultimately, i want to release 3 sizes, 1 up and 1 down from the sample size. If you want to participate in this discussion, please email me. I promise to send a weekly update on the project.

Wow, promises… Dangerous.

#PRSewingBee – A-line Skirt – Vogue 1247

Dear readers,

You may have realized that I am awful at sewing on a deadline. I announced my participation in the Pattern Review Surprise Sewing Bee contest and then COMPLETELY forgot to check PR on 1st of November. On the 3rd I had almost a panic attack reading that submissions were due on Friday. It meant that I had no weekend to sew, when 99% of my sewing time usually happens… But I managed!
wpid944-Vogue1247stripes-3.jpg wpid942-Vogue1247stripes-2.jpg wpid940-Vogue1247stripes-1.jpg

I stole 15 minutes here and there to make a lined version of the infamous skirt from Vogue 1247. Two years ago, I made the top and I cannot say that I liked it. It was huge and uncomfortable, even after alterations. I probably wore it twice. However, I heard only great things about the skirt. So I figured it could be a quick project not requiring a muslin.

wpid948-Vogue1247stripes-5.jpg wpid954-Vogue1247stripes-19.jpg wpid956-Vogue1247stripes-21.jpgSo many people reviewed this pattern since 2011 that I believe that everything has been said, but here are my remarks:

  • The construction of the pockets is a bit fiddly. I’m sure there is an easier way, but I had no time to figure it out.
  • I did little bartacks to reinforce the pocket openings.
  • The design/fit/finishing are great. If all the Vogue patterns were like that, we the overall standards of sewing patterns (indie and non indie) would be higher.
  • Creating a lining pattern is very easy: just overlap the yoke and skirt parts for the front and the back. For the back lining, I recommend removing the SA were the lining is attached to the zipper for a clean finish. Attaching the lining to the tape is similar to sewing the pocket bag on a welt (do I make any sense? Is further explanation required?).
  • I used french seams for the lining.
  • Although it is lined I still used seam binding (snug hug tape) because it’s my favorite finishing method and it looks a lot cleaner than over locked edged to me.

The fabric comes from my 2013 Paris fabric shopping. It’s a striped cotton silk blend that I found at De Gilles. Friends attending Chardon-Savard fashion school recommended the shop many years ago but only last year I managed to pay a visit. It also appears to not be on the radar of fabric tourists but trust me, it’s a gem! The prices are not cheap but what you will find there, you will not encounter anywhere else in the city.

wpid958-Vogue1247stripes-22.jpg wpid962-Vogue1247stripes-25.jpg wpid964-Vogue1247stripes-26.jpgThe main fabric being a bit thin, I decided to line the skirt with something more substantial and I used cotton baptiste from my stash. I  got it in New York but where, when and why? I have no idea… I appear to be the victim of stash amnesia syndrome!

I’m very pleased with my skirt, and with myself since i managed to make it happen in 2 (work/week) days. The Old Man likes it too, according to him “it looks like an apron… in a good way”. Whatever that means. But he suggested a linen version, so I guess he does like it.

wpid946-Vogue1247stripes-4.jpg

Last point, pictures are from my new camera! I have been practicing every weekend to learn the manual mode and I feel like it’s starting to make sense. But of course taking pictures in 5 minutes between the door and the car before going to work is not the easiest way to practice new skills…

In addition, the fabric has a subtle sheen to it (think very very thin taffeta) which makes it a pain to look ironed. I did my best but I realize that it may not be the best fabric choice for a sewing contest. Especially on PR, where people are picky (with reason). So I leave you with my far-from-perfect focus and slightly wrinkled look…

Did you enter the contest? Which is your favorite submission so far? I love Dawn’s crazy zebra lining!

Seamwork

Dear readers,

Apart from pyjamas made from the Madeleine free pattern, I never ever made a Colette pattern. They don’t fit my size, my style or my sewing preferences (too much hand sewing and beginner techniques). However, I do own the book, I’ve been reading the blog since the beginning and got on every email lists for sneak peeks…. To be perfectly honest, I even started a project from the book but I quit at the muslin stage as I got too upset with the pattern. Despite my lack of interest for the patterns themselves, I am impressed at how Sarai’s ideas for the community are always ahead. And she did it again with Seamwork (if you enter your email, you can win 1-year for free and you give me an extra entry, if you don’t want to give me an extra entry click here ;-)).

I strongly believe that sewing is underusing the possibilities of online publishing. An online magazine like Seamwork will be a good first step. Personnally, I cannot wait to see more ebooks/apps that make full use of the different type of interactive media that can be integrated: video, animated illustrations, text, pictures that are zoomable, samples in 3D, in-app comment/feedback… This is something I am passionate about, so I could go on and on. But I want to hear from you! How do you think sewing instructions, patterns, books, etc. could make better use of the available technology?

Named pattern : the Shadi skirt

Dear readers,

It appears that I have been making a lot of announcements on this blog lately and my follow-up capacity is limited. But, for once, I have good news: you may remember my purchase of the Shadi Knit Skirt pattern from the F/W 14-15 collection of Named Patterns. Well, I did sew 2 versions of the skirt in August, photographed them in Guatemala in September and now they are on the blog in late October, YAY!

Named shadi skirt

Named shadi skirt lace

It’s a simple pattern that I could probably have drafted myself but I really wanted to give this company a try. I don’t regret it. The construction was pleasant. I like the narrowing at the knee and the very wide elastic waistband. The first version is made from leftovers of my faux lace Nettie Dress.

named stripe shadi front named stripe shadi back

I found this super sof striped jersey in one of Port-au-Prince fabric stores. Obviously, the lace one is only one appropriate for work, the stripes are reserved for date nights… But both are perfect for traveling, they take 0 space, they don’t wrinkle and they can be dressed up/down easily.

Named stripes shadi skirt

I used size 32EUR (0 US). I love that they take the smallest spectrum of the sizes into consideration. However, Named patterns are designed for tall people and at only 5’3, I knew I wanted the skirts considerably shorter. But I forgot to shorten the pattern before cutting the fabric. It felt like a waste, I don’t know what was distracting me, sigh…

I guess this is how much I can talk about two basic knit skirts! I hope I will find some of Named future designs more wearable as I enjoyed working with this pattern. I will definitely use it next time I stumble on a cute knit (very rare around here…). It’s a very quick make and it forces me to practice my (limited) serger skills.

I still feel sort of guilty for not making the pattern.. Do you sometimes buy the pattern of something you could have drafted? Is that ok?

PR surprise contest!

Hi!

I just stumbled on this Surprise Sewing Bee Contest on PR and I think it looks like a lot of fun! I will probably fail at committing the appropriate number of hours as early as week1 but I want to try!

The Great Pattern Review Sewing Bee

Who else is joining??

Anachronistic sewing – still stuck on Archer shirt

Dear readers,

I rarely manage to make-up the “trendy” sewing pattern at its trendy time. While you all finished your Alder shirt dresses, I still sew Archers. In addition, when Alder first came out, I could not wait to make it up, but now I am having second thoughts. A-line may not be that flattering on me after all.

Also, unrelated to this post, I wanted to thank all of you who shared their thoughts on my last post. It is definitely something I could talk about all day but I will spare you and only add 2 things :

  • Can you get more disappointing than this? This dress is in any big 4 catalogue, burda magazine and you can get a customized pattern by Lekala. What are you bringing to the cutting table? Apart from pulling at the bust. No, I’m not nice, I  know.
  • Hope for collaborative sewing exists. Lovely reader Miranda emailed me about this PR conversation that I had missed. Seeing how the community can engage in a project all together is heartwarming . I would not make that pattern because it’s not my style but it seems to appeal to many. My only regret is that the result of this awesome collaboration is yet another simple knit pattern for sale… BUT it should not detract from how great it is to witness all the contributions.

Now back to the shirt! Pictures are still from my Iphone, but for once the location is NOT my garden, YAY! My dog is therefore NOT in the background, (NAY?). I spent a week by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala (highly recommended) in August and I packed some garments to photograph on the beautiful terrace of the house we rented.

wpid858-Modified-Archer-2.jpg

Please note that this is not the pattern straight out of the printer. I was happy with my first version of the shirt (see my shirtdress version) but I want to create a TNT pattern for boyfriend shirts and I am glad to report that it is almost a success. To guide my fit alterations, I used a Banana Republic shirt I love. I measured elements like shoulder length, waist shaping, pocket placement, final length, etc. Beth’s post on Craftsy is timely as it is exactly what I did!

wpid856-Modified-Archer-1.jpg

Main fit alterations:

  • adding 3″ of overall length, and note that I am only 5’3″. But I like my shirts tucked in and I want to raise my arms without exposing skin.
  • Shortening the shoulder length by and adjusting the yoke accordingly

Archer alteration

  • Removing most of the sleeve ease at the underarm seam and reshaping the sleeve head a little (for an idea of how, you can check this post at Fashion-Incubator)
  • Further shaping the waist at the side seam
  • Shortening the sleeves

wpid862-Modified-Archer-4.jpg

I also tried to use more advanced sewing techniques, and I will do a detailed post. Some worked (tower placket, button placket, cuff construction) and some did not work at all (ouch, collar+stand). Sometimes, a “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach is best. I never had a problem with  stand collar construction before so why did I try to find a better way to do it? Don’t know… Some of my techniques required pattern alteration or drafting of extra pieces. Look out for the post next week soon!

wpid864-Modified-Archer-5.jpg

I am planning my next shirt with further alterations. The final pattern may have little to do with the original Archer but I still believe that it was a great start. It produces wearable garments from the first trial and can be altered easily. Next time, I want to tackle the collar & stand: the collar could be wider and the stand should close at a 90 degree angle (this is what I mean). I will also start adding darts to the back so it remains relaxed but more fitted. Finally, further shortening of the sleeves is necessary (creepy baby length arms, again), sad…

wpid860-Modified-Archer-3.jpg

I almost forgot to tell you that the fabric is one of the pieces I brought back from Paris last June. I found it at the cotton stand of Marché St Pierre. However, looking at the drape I guess some rayon is thrown in.

While I prepare my post on shirt construction, I would love to hear from you your favorite shirt making tutorials. I am familiar with the Archer Sew-along, Fashion-Incubator, Off the Cuff, Male Pattern Boldness and Sewing Square Walls but I may be missing on important ones! Please, fill me in!

Slouchy white linen pants and thoughts on the online sewing world.

Dear readers,

Forgive me in advance for the ramblings. To ameliorate it, paragraphs will be separated by pictures from the white linen pants I made 3 months ago. Since then I change the waistband to the same rectangular waistband as my linen shorts.

The pattern is a very modified version of this Japanese book.

The pattern is a very modified version of this Japanese book.

I feel funny. I have pictures of finished garments to show and I don’t write the posts. I even love the said garments but talking about them is not as exciting anymore. The fact that they were all completed between 1 and 3 months ago may have something to do with that… So what to do? The blog is going to be 2 years old very soon. I keep enjoying it but I’m still looking for my “voice” (OMG that sounds so lame), or at least looking for something that sounds like who I am IRL.

Also, I just discovered GOMI… Such a relief to read what my little mean french inner voice has been saying!! Of course, I don’t agree with everything (who could?) but some points really resonated with me. Since sewing became so prominent online, maybe we lost something on the way.

The fabric is a linen blend from Mood NYC, extremely annoying to working (all about shifting and fraying)

The fabric is a linen blend from Mood NYC, extremely annoying to working (all about shifting and fraying)

When I started sewing, I also got internet access. But in 1999, not many sewing resources were available online, especially not in French! Everything was about forums back then and closed groups. I use to be part of one called affinitiz…

Thus to learn, I read books, bought burda magazines, took classes with an old lady and… I failed and failed and failed many projects. At least, there was no one to show them too. Except my critical French mom (hey mom!). Having them all around the blog would be kind of embarassing, with their unraveling seam allowances, blown seams from the absence of ANY wearing ease and their highly impractical sleeves.

However, since that day, I had the feeling that something was missing in the home sewing pattern industry. Something that would allow us to achieve results closer to high-end RTW: the ability to follow trends before they are translated in the mass-market, beautiful finishings, a focus on higher-end materials, etc.

Fast forward to the mid 2000s, this is IT! Burdastyle website has been launched, we are all talking about open source sewing, a website called “Inner French Girl” is around and awesome (do you remember??), fashion-incubator, the first sewing blogs . Such an exciting time!

White linen pants 3

I was very happy with my double welted pockets with flap, i took pictures of my pattern making and sewing process, but I don’t know if they are worth posting..

And now here we are, in 2014, and it’s all about pattern releases, book deals, fabric blogging networks, sewalongs and blog tours. I cannot say that I did not want to be part of it. I love shiny stuff! But I don’t have the time and the skills it takes to jump there. Plus, I miss the time when we were talking about collaborative sewing, when the Selfish Seamstress was throwing patterns at the world and when PR was a mandatory stop before spending 15 EUROS on a Vogue pattern!

Going back to GOMI, and to the pattern testing controversy, I’m not saying that bloggers should stop releasing patterns and getting book deals. As long as people buy them, they should keep on releasing them!! However, I believe that a collaborative approach could help the ones that are just bored with Peter Pan collar tutorials. The new sewing experts are here to teach beginners (and that’s great) or to underline stuff in silk organza (please don’t make me!! I promise I will be a good girl!!).

I don't think it shows in the pictures, but the (very) curved waistband I prepared initially made them slightly uncomfortable. So I ripped it off and put rectangular waistband. When pants sit that low, I think it suits me better.

I don’t think it shows in the pictures, but the (very) curved waistband I prepared initially made them slightly uncomfortable. So I ripped it off and put rectangular waistband. When pants sit that low, I think it suits me better.

So I’m offering an experiment. In the coming weeks, I will throw a free pattern on the blog. It will be a pencil skirt. Initially graded in 3 sizes, on the small spectrum of sizing range, because that’s the one I know. I will take pictures of my construction steps to put them here too. And then let’s all pattern test!! If people wants to tell me that explanations are poor, the pattern needs improvements, they can grade it to bigger sizes, the pdf layout is bad or whatever, let’s have it! And maybe, MAYBE, one pencil skirt at a time, we can work towards patterns fit (haha) our needs better. On the other hand, it is very possible that nobody cares, anyway, let’s at least talk about it!

Photography for sewing bloggers – My plan to improve

Dear readers,

 

First, hello from Panamá! In the middle of my holidays in Guatemala, i’m attending a work training and I will be back in Haiti next week. I used the opportunity of being in Guatemala and Panama to buy some sewing notions (nothing exciting), and I found a beautifully cheap washed cotton but the best part is that I BOUGHT A CAMERA!!

bodylens

I think you all noticed that photography for sewing it is a pretty popular topic these days. It’s something that I mentioned before, photography is one source of embarrassment and an element stopping me from starting a blog before. I knew, I would want to show pretty pictures but the whole things felt very overwhelming. However, after reading the great great posts from Amy and Heather about the mirror less cameras, I finally found the courage to upgrade from taking my pictures with an Iphone. I was always scared of DSLRs and there size makes me think that I will never carry one around, so the Sony Nex 6 felt like a perfect compromise for now. I am slowly working my way through a book (this one if you are interested) and I chose not to purchase a prime lens yet. This will be my reward if I go through the whole book AND put it in practice.

I also started using Lightroom about two month ago but I don’t know if you can already see the difference. My latest Lekala dress, the black Nettie and my linen shorts pictures were all edited in Lightroom. Obviously there is a learning curve, but as described by Heather, it makes the editing much faster. One other thing that I really like, is the LR/Blog preset that I bought. It allows me to automatically export my pictures to my wordpress media library. Totally worth 8 euros!!

I have several items to show. However, the pictures have been taken on my Iphone so do not expect to see changes too soon. I hope that within a month I can welcome you to a new and updated visual universe… (What? Am I being over ambitious here??)

Now I would LOVE to hear about your favorite (beginner-friendly) resources for photography and post-processing! Do you have a favorite book? Blog? Do you use any Lightroom presets? Let’s help each other!

A simple black Nettie dress

Dear readers,

Do you realize that as seamstresses, we tend to overanalyze our wardrobe? I mean who else spends these hours reading about the Wardrobe Architect, or every current and vintage wardrobe/style advice ever printed? I, for example, am having a massive style crush on Un-fancy. Even though her style is much much more casual than mine, and I have 0 plans to get dressed with 37 items, I am addicted to her daily remixes and the clean feeling of her pictures. And even after all our careful analyze and planning we get distracted by the latest pattern release or a nice print at the fabric store…

Finally let’s also be honest about one point: having a blog does change what you sew, because for instance neon color will pop on the screen and social media, as well as pretty prints. For some of us it’s ok, because it is actually our uniform, but for others it is not. As I am now just 1 year before 30, and I’m starting to admit that I don’t wear that many eye-popping color and prints. I will keep enjoying them on other blogs and once in a while fall for distraction bu, sewing my “birthday dress” meant sewing something that will come out of my closet every time I need to “fancy” up myself!

What can be better than a black Nettie dress from Closet Case files then ?? Nothing.wpid830-Black-nettie-dress-35.jpg wpid828-Black-nettie-dress-29.jpg wpid819-Black-nettie-dress-15.jpg

I made this dress before, so I did not change anything, except that I did not add bra cups inside. The fabric is a viscose jersey bought in Paris while I was there in June (at Sacré Coupons), and although it is very soft, it is slightly less stretchy than the printed lace I used for my previous version. Therefore, I am trying to feel what the reviewers stated about the arms being on the tight side. However, please note that I use the smallest side of the initial pattern release, before Heather corrected it.

wpid826-Black-nettie-dress-27.jpg wpid824-Black-nettie-dress-19.jpg wpid821-Black-nettie-dress-16.jpg wpid817-Black-nettie-dress-3.jpg

 

I have several garments to show here, including some that are not even photographed yet. Last weekend I did try the Named Shadi skirt and made 2 (knit skirts, so fast…). BUT it is this time, you know the one that comes every 8 weeks. I will be traveling to Guatemala (for rest) and Panama (for work). I have hopes to take pictures before and write blog posts during my holidays. We will see how this goes.

Now, I would really like to hear about your strategies to make clothes that suit your lifestyle and not be distracted by pretty prints and patterns releases !

 

 

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