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.

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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

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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 !

 

 

New Named patterns!!!

I have no idea why my blogroll is not full of them already but FYI the new Named patterns are out!!

I never tried them before, mostly because I believe that they are designed with tall (Finnish) people in mind. And obviously 5’3 dark hair me does not qualify (not because of the hair). But I love that we have more edgy pattern designers around. Honestly, I am not a retro girl, so even if I find a lot of indie designs cute, I will never wear them. Unfortunately for me, a lot of the designs don’t fit my lifestyle. I don’t know winter, or even fall (Yes you can hate me now), and I have very little activities that require wearing overalls or fringed sweaters… So I had to go with a basic design.
Even though I could have found it in a burda magazine/hacked my nettie/drafted it, I decided to give the company a try with the Shadi Knit Skirt pattern.
IMG_4188.JPG

It was just bought and printed, I will report back asap!

You can see the whole collection on the Named website.
What do you think? Do you plan on making some of the designs?

Short Shorts on the line – Retro Burda 07/2013

Dear readers,

This is so rare that it is worth noting. I MADE IT FOR A DEADLINE. Ok, at work, I’m pretty much fine with deadlines but when it comes to sewing I believe that I am cursed. As soon as I think about following a sewalong/contest/etc. there are 100% chances that I won’t. Hence, new strategy, I make whatever I want and then believe that the sew along gods will align their plans with mine. This is totally what happened with Shorts on the Line! 2 weeks ago I was browsing my burda magazine collection for a color blocked dress (did not find) but then I rediscovered those seriously cute vintage shorts from the issue of july 2013. I’m not entirely sure what is supposed to be retro about them but I know one thing, I LOVE THEM SO MUCH! I’ve reached a new level of comfort in the daily Caribbean heat that denim cutoffs CANNOT compete with…

wpid786-Burda-linen-shorts-5-3.jpg wpid788-Burda-linen-shorts-1-4.jpg wpid784-Burda-linen-shorts-1-3.jpg wpid794-Burda-linen-shorts-6-2.jpg

As you can see my ability to have any picture taken without a beagle biting my heel has considerably decreased over the last 4 months. Along with the one of making it with clean pants from the front door to the car, but that’s another story. I also have to apologize for the wrinkles, which are the result of way more than 1 day of wear… (TMI?)

The nice bonus about this project is that it felt “free”. You may or may not recognize the navy linen I used for this dress, the pattern came from my existing burda collection (justifying to move twice overseas with magazines, yes), zipper and eyes and hooks from stash!

wpid792-Burda-linen-shorts-5-4.jpg wpid790-Burda-linen-shorts-4-4.jpg

Regarding the construction I did not look at the instructions but shorts are pretty straight forward. I used my usual technique for the fly (see here), the pockets are self lined and all seams are finished with the serger and then topstitched.

My only note is about waistband, I HATE (yes hate) waistband. Especially the moment when you try to stitch in the ditch the wrong side folded. It gets distorted, it looks bad, stop me now because I can go on for HOURS. I’ve been experimenting with different techniques (I know Colette just wrote something about using the invisible hem of your machine but I haven’t tried), and these were done with a lot of swearing and using the technique described here for shirt cuffs on which I plan to write very (or not) soon.

wpid797-Burda-linen-shorts-11.jpg wpid799-Burda-linen-shorts-12.jpgwpid807-Burda-linen-shorts-13.jpg

 

 

I can foresee a another version with single welt pockets in the back because honestly, this was way too satisfying and eventless…

Now pleeeeaaase tell me if you have a waistband secret (no hand sewing) that I have not heard about!!!

Lekala 4362 – Mickael Chors

Dear Readers,

I made a terrible mistake. The sign that my pinterest board has become too big for my eyes has come. When I said that I was going to make Lekala 4362 because it reminded me of a Ralph Lauren design, I was terribly wrong… It was Michael Kors. Let’s see it in pictures :

Lekala 4362

Ralph Lauren

Michael Kors, retailed for over 1400$!!

Now that I confessed my mistake, let’s look at my version, my Michael Kors knock-off very own Mickael Chors dress.

wpid766-Lekala-4362-front-main.jpg wpid768-Lekala-4362-back.jpg

The differences that you can notice with the original “inspiration” are 1/ the pleats at the shoulder and 2/ the symmetrical hem. Although number 2 is deliberate, I have to admit that number 1 is probably linked to my limited non-existant understanding of russian…

The fabric is an extremely lightweight denim bought before I moved out of NYC at Moods. I know it looks like linen but it’s not, I promise!

wpid772-Lekala-4362-front-second.jpg wpid776-Lekala-4362-closeup2.jpg

wpid774-lekala-4362-closeup.jpg

On the opposite of my Lekala experience, this pattern required quite some work before I “made it work”. First, as you know the patterns are generated automatically to fit your measurements, which I believe is fine when doing simple shapes, but becomes a bit more complicated when there are slashes and pleats and rotated darts all over… So that means WALKING ALL THE SEAMS, to make sure they match.

The good thing is that I could still trust the fit enough not to make a muslin (time is a rare luxury these days). However the bottom part did not come “exactly as expected”. On the below pictures the dress is just pinned at the sides on my form :

wpid758-lekala-4362-form-before.jpg

Hum… Not really what I had in mind so I re-draped the front skirt portion and transferred the changes to the pattern to get this :

wpid754-Lekala-4362-skirt-redraft.jpgwpid762-lekala4362-form-after.jpgI also took the back in before inserting the invisible zipper and decided to do my usual 4″ inches tapering on pencil skirts, adding a slit at the back because it was obviously too late for a vent… I drafted a lining (the front bodice lining is included, one less thing to do) and found the most luscious silk twill in my stash. I have 0 idea where it comes from but if I had to (wondering who would threaten to take my dog if I could not remember where each piece of my stash is from?? The stash police maybe…), I would bet on Paron’s in NYC.

Oops blurry... The correction is in red!

Oops blurry… The correction is in red!

wpid764-Lekala-4362-lining.jpg

For the construction side, it went rather smoothly. I finished the lining edges to edges (the lining is a tiny bit smaller than the dress) because I hate facings. Did I tell you I hate facings? Ok, yes I probably did… But really, I HATE facings. The invisible zipper, the best one I ever sewed according to The Old Man, was inserted following the technique that I mentioned several times. Because it’s the best. Yes. It. Is.

One last thing, there is a new feature on the russian lekala website (leko-mail.net), if you click on “order” for a pattern, then under the technical drawing the last icon before the “save” button takes you to a page where you can CHANGE THE COLOR OR THE PRINT of the illustration. OMG. SO MUCH FUN!!! Go and try it for the dress I just made, and it works for all their recent patterns!

Sometimes I wonder how a company can be so advanced on their core technology (automated made to measure patterns!!) and so behind with their website designs and marketing… What do you think ? Do you enjoy this fun feature ?

Come back soon because I’ve been away from the blog for the only valid reason: I’ve been sewing a lot (well at least for my standards)… More later!

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.

IMG_3744

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!

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