Category Archives: sewing community

4 reasons to participate in the 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange

Woohoo!! The 2018 Secret Valentine Exchange is back. I love this “sewing-community- handmade-gift-swap” so much that I give you—again—4 reasons to participate. I wrote this blog post exactly one year ago for the 2017 Secret Valentine Exchange but everything is still true!

2018 Secret Valentine Exchange
Design made by Sanae

The  Valentine Exchange is a non-conventional handmade gift swap that occurs worldwide. It’s the fifth time it takes place and it is organized by two very creative and inspirational women: Sanae from Seattle (US) and Ute from Berlin (Germany). You can read more about the exchange on Sanae’s blog.
In 2016 I participated for the first time and it really was a heart-warming experience.

Here are my 4 reasons why you should participate as well!

1 You get to know new people

  • Like I said before, the hosts, Sanae and Ute, are amazing people to meet.
  • Then you meet your assignment: the person you have to make a gift for, in my case, that was Elle from the UK. I received an email from the organizers with some information and her IG-account for inspiration.
  •  And of course, at the end, you get to meet the person who made something for you. Last year Angela from Oakland was my Secret Valentine.

2 You get challenged

The purpose of the SVE is to make something yourself with barely any costs, to use materials from your stash. I learned that Elle’s favourite colours were: grey, navy, gold, and mustard. Luckily I had some scraps in my stash of these colours.

Grey and mustard scraps from my fabric stash

Then you have to let your creativity work. Elle is a great sewist, so I decided to make some pattern weights and a bag for putting them in. I used the open wide zippered pouch pattern from Noodlehead for it.

The pattern weights are filled with lentils
The open wide zippered pouch from noodlehead

I pimped it with some cuberdons, a famous sweet from Ghent, my hometown.

3 You get thrilled twice

  • It is very exciting to send a gift to someone and have to wait to receive their response, whether they liked it or not. Elle expressed her thanks extensively and still does, and every time I get warm and fuzzy all over again.
  • It is also very exciting to receive your gift, especially when it comes from overseas and when it is beautifully wrapped gift containing a block print of David Bowie on a white canvas bag. I use it all the time because I love it so much.

4 It is very easy to sign up
Just fill in the Google form. The deadline is  Wednesday, January 10th, so you have still a few days. You don’t need to have an online presence to participate. You just have to let your creativity work!

Are you participating?

** I also posted about my 2017 Secret Valentine Exchange **

1 year of blogging

1 year of blogging

Exactly one year ago I pushed the publish button of this blog for the first time and herewith I entered the blogosphere.  Not that there weren’t enough sewing blogs already but I wanted to share my personal sewing stories. Although I was pretty nervous—would someone out there ever read it?—I also felt very excited. Especially when I received positive and supporting comments. So today I am celebrating 1 year of blogging and…

one year of blogging

 

1 year of blogging = 55 posts

I published 55 posts! That’s more than once a week.  While they are all sewing related, I don’t have a fixed format. Most of the time I write about the garments I sewed. Three of them: The Daphne Day Dress, The Chari Dress, and The Laneway Dress were pattern reviews and I loved the combination of sewing and reviewing.
In February I started the Eye-catchers series and this series worked really well. I got a lot of positive comments on it and it gave me heaps of sewing inspiration. I absolutely am going to write more Eye-catchers.
Writing a guest post for the Sewcialists blog was also a fun experience. After two years of inactivity  Gillian from ‘Crafting a Rainbow‘ reanimated this blog. I am glad that I could contribute with a piece about sewing bloggers who inspired me.

4 most read posts

I love some statistics so I consulted Google-analytics and found my most-read posts. The result doesn’t  surprise me.  In fact, they cover my different types of blog posts.

Eye-catchers #18

what I sew: one year blogging

 

The striped nanöo top

what I sew: one year blogging

The Laneway Dress

The refashion of a men’s shirt

What is not so good about having a sewing blog?
It’s time-consuming

Creating content, making and editing photos, this all takes a lot of time for me. Also because I am writing in English, which is my second language. Sometimes I think: “ Wouldn’t it be better to sew instead of blogging!”

 Feeling guilty

When I haven’t posted for more than a week I start to feel guilty. I tell myself that this feeling is unnecessary because blogging is a fun hobby and it should stay fun, not an obligation. Alex, from Sewrendipity, wrote about this guilt feeling too.

Still, I think the good vibes that blogging brings are stronger than the negative ones, so I am going to continue for at least another year!

 

Thanks

A huge thank you to my daughter for editing all of my posts, and to my hubby for taking almost all of the blog photos.

Maremma love
Mother & daughter in the Maremma, my favourite place on earth. Photo was taken by my husband.

 

And of course enormous thanks to you readers all over the world. Because without your support this blog would have no sense at all.

xxx

My TNTs – Tried and True patterns

The November theme of the Sewcialists is TNT patterns.  One of the purposes of this theme is to show the patterns that you tried, several times, and that you love. You can either share them on Instagram with the #SewcialistTNT or tell about them on your blog. (At this moment you have still one day for it!)
So I dove into my sewing archives and discovered that I had several TNTs.

My first TNT patternTNT Tried’N’True patterns

In 2013, after a sewing hiatus of more than 20 years, the first pattern I tackled was the A-line skirt from the book  Allemaal rokjes from Mme ZsaZsa  (You can translate the title as A whole lot of skirts !).  After sewing this skirt I felt the joy of sewing something for myself that has a good fit. The feeling was so strong that I immediately sewed some more of the same skirt. For myself and for my daughter.

allemaal rokjesIt is always the same pattern but some have more flare and others have a box pleat at the front.

Why sewing a TNT pattern?
  1. You save time
    The fact that you have already a traced and maybe an adjusted pattern saves you a lot of time. This is a big win for me because I am tall and I have to lengthen all my patterns.
  2. You professionalize
    Every time you sew a pattern that you sewed before you improve your sewing techniques. Well, after sewing in about twenty blind zippers in your skirts, I can do it with my eyes closed ;).
  3. You can vary a lot
    You can use another type of fabric for the same pattern. You can make small changes like lengthening the sleeves or the hem. Small decisions that bring a lot of variety to your wardrobe.
  4. You have joy
    Sewing a garment more than once gives joy. When you are sewing it you know already that the fit will be good, how it looks on you and how you feel in it. That makes that you have a smile on your face while you are sewing it because you know the outcome will be great.

 

Look below for some patterns that are my TNTs. For me, a pattern is a TNT when I sewed it at least three times.

The Hudson Pants from True BiasHudson Pants True Bias

The most loved and worn comfort pants in our family. I sewed several for whole my family.

 

The Odette Dress from BluegingerdollOdette dress

I sewed all three of them in a knit fabric. That makes them secret pyjamas.  And you don’t have to sew in a zipper on when you use a knit fabric, win-win.

 

The Brooklyn Skirt from Seamwork

Same skirt and the same pattern with no changes, but three different types of fabric giving three different looks.

Ogden Cami from True Bias

The same pattern in three different lengths. This cami and dresses gave me so much joy in the scorching heat of last summer.

Future TNTs?

Will I sew some more variations of above TNT patterns?
I don’t have a crystal ball but it is possible. But, more likely it is that I create new TNTs.
And you? Have you some (favourite) TNT patterns?

 

 

 

Nina Leen, a fantastic photographer

Those of you who are also active Sewist of Instagram will know that September is SewPhotoHop month and how fun it is to participate.  For the others, I’ll explain. SewPhotoHop is an Instagram photo challenge where you post a picture inspired by a daily prompt. These prompts are always sewing related.

As one of the prompts was ‘Past Era’, I searched the internet for fashion photos from the late fifties—my favourite era—and I was taken by this telling picture. I was even more intrigued when I learned that the picture was made by Nina Leen, a so far for me unknown female photographer.  As I scrolled through more of her pictures I wanted to know more about her and share it with you.

Nina Leen
Plaid and checks are lined up at the Roosevelt Raceway pari-mutuel window, March 1958
Nina Leen, photographer
Nina Leen
Nina Leen, holding onto her Rolleiflex around her neck and holding up a tripod in her other hand, 1945.

Nina Leen was born in Russia (between 1909 and 1914; she always kept her age a secret). She emigrated to the United States in 1939. The first pictures she published in LIFE, in 1940, were from animals that she made at the Bronx Zoo. Then started a long cooperation as a contracted photographer with LIFE until the magazine closed in 1972. This means three decades of photos within a wide range of topics: animals, young people, American life, fashion, actresses, and the group of artists known as the Irascibles. Nina Leen died in January 1995.

***  If you want to see the Nina Leen pictures that are published in LIFE you can easily search the LIFE photo archive through Google with the following command: nina leen source:life.  ***

Nina Leen, photographs

What I like about her photographs is that they are often conceptual and even sometimes surreal. Her fashion images have a crisp, linear quality while her photographs of American culture are relaxed and without artifice.

Below I let her photos speak for themselves.

Nina Leen
From an April 20, 1942, LIFE story about proper skirt-hem lengths.
Nina Leen
Wedding Essay, June 1947.
Nina Leen
From the series: 420-Cotton Dresses—I love the photobombing man.
Nina Leen
Beach Fashions, April 4, 1950.
Nina Leen
Beach Fashions, April 4, 1950.
Nina Leen
Beach Fashions, April 4, 1950.
Nina Leen
Cover image for the Feb. 25th 1952 cover of LIFE Magazine “News In Gloves”.
Nina Leen
Tanned model is wearing striped denim bare-backed overalls with attached halter by Two Smart Girls, Miami, Florida, March 1955
Nina Leen
From the series: 477-Howe Fashion.
Nina Leen
Fashion at the Roosevelt Raceway, New York, 1958.
Nina Leen
Simone d’Aillencourt modeling a Traina-Norell dress, 1959.
Nina Leen
Nina Leen, fantastic photographer, with a fashion model, 1954

 

 

 

Eye-catchers #18

An eye-catcher is a person or a thing that attracts the attention

The online sewing community is very visual. So, every day I see heaps of sewing related images on social media and blogs. Some of them catch my eye because they make me think or they give me inspiration. Here, I want to share these eye-catchers with you.

DIY sewing

 

Follow below what caught my eye last August:

Catherine’s  V9253 dress

DIY sewing

This was the first V9253 dress I saw in my feed and this version by Catherine from Thread Snips left me speechless. She searched for the perfect fabric and ended up with silk noil. More, she dyed it herself in this gorgeous colour. The result is a stunning dress that fits her perfect! I should really start to dye my fabric too.

@mokosha_ll’s  dress

Burda Dress

There are sewists out there who can work wonders. @mokosha_ll squeezed this Burda Racer Tank Dress out of 0,8m (where 1,8m was suggested!) As usual she combined two different patterns for the bodice and the skirt. That’s something I want to do more.

Bianca’s caftan

Simplicity 5313

The summer of 2017 was certainly the summer of the caftan. A lot of them popped up in my feeds but look at the brilliant version Bianca sewed. She used a 1970s vintage pattern, Simplicity 5313. I totally adore how she played with her striped fabric. Very inspiring!

Beth’s striped dress

Burda dress

Beth proved that there is more than one way to play with stripes. Although I am not a big fan of striped garments— I only have a few myself — I like the way how the stripes are put here. The pattern is the Asymmetric Sheath Dress from Burda. Beth posted this on her Instagram although she made it a year ago. She herself is not that convinced of it but I find it beautiful.

The tribute blouse of Meris

M6436 Blouse

August 2017 was the Sewcialist’s Tribute Month. It was all about paying tribute to inspiring sewists. I wrote a post about it but I didn’t get to sewing a tribute piece. But a lot of sewists did. You can read all about it on the Sewcialist’s blog.
I was immediately taken by this blouse by Meris of The Fabric Alchemist. The pattern is M6436. Meris made a tribute to Morgan from Craft & Bee, who made not less of 10 versions of this pattern. What I found striking is that Meris used this beautiful fabric from a kimono gown of her husband’s grandmother. That makes it a double tribute and a total lovely project.

Did anything catch your eye recently?

Laneway Dress Jennifer Lauren

The Laneway Dress from Jennifer Lauren Handmade

A month ago Jennifer Lauren called out for pattern reviewers. She is the driving force behind Jennifer Lauren Handmade, a New Zealand Indie Pattern company. She wants to show people with a variety of body types wearing her designs. Hence the call out for reviewers. I volunteered and I’m happy that I am an official Laneway Dress Reviewer!

Laneway Dress Jennifer Lauren Handmade

The Laneway Dress pattern

I was pleased that there is an A0 format of the Laneway Dress pattern because I try to avoid assembling pdf-patterns. One of the advantages of the Laneway Dress is that it comes with different cup sizes (B, C, and D). To prevent unnecessary prints and costs Jennifer made a different page for every bodice pattern with the facing. So you have only to print the page with your cup size. This is very economical and much appreciated.
After grading between the 20 for the bust and 22 for the waist I cut out the pattern pieces. Here I found that the difference between the lines for the different sizes was not always that clear, especially on the curves. To distinguish them I marked them.

Laneway Dress

With 14 cm difference between my full bust and my under bust, I went for the B-cup and the fit was right.

The pattern is designed for an average height of 170 cm. Being 181 cm I lengthened the bodice and the skirt each with 5 cm. On the bodice pattern there are no lengthen/shorten lines but in the instructions is explained how you can do it.
I didn’t lengthen the skirt at the seam but I put 5 cm in the middle because I wanted to hold the original width of the skirt.

Laneway Dress Jennifer Lauren Handmade

The Fabric

I had this African Wax Print in my collections since September 2016. I bought it in Paris in the Sacre Coeur neighbourhood where there are a lot of great fabric stores. When I bought the fabric I just went for the colours. I didn’t notice that the balls were, in fact, all kind of sports balls! Although the Laneway Dress has a 1940s A-line silhouette which is not immediately associated with African Wax Print I went for it and it worked perfectly!
For the contrasting collar, I used some gingham from an old table cloth.

Laneway Dress Jennifer LaurenThis  100 %  African Wax was a dream to sew but very difficult to photograph. The colours change all the time. I also used the selvedge as a ‘natural’ hem.

The sewing process

This is the first pattern I sewed from Jennifer Lauren Handmade and it was a very satisfying experience. The accompanying instructions are detailed and illustrated with clear designs. The order of the steps is logical and there is nothing confusing.
A little different from my usual method was the way the pockets were sewn. It was described and illustrated in detail and they came out neat and smooth. For sure a technique that I will adopt now.
Laneway Dress Jennifer Lauren Handmade
What I also like in the instructions is that every step includes how to press the sewed seams.

Due to the grading between sizes, the fit was ok but could be more perfected. In hindsight, it would be better for me to grade between 18 for the shoulders and armscye, to 20 for the bust and 22 for the waist. Another minor mistake was that I had lengthened the bodice too much. I was able to take off 1 cm but for the future, I better lengthen the bodice only with 3,5 cm.

Laneway Dress Jennifer Lauren Handmade

Is this a quick sew?

I would not say that sewing the Laneway Dress is a quick sew. The sewing, however, is really satisfying. It is not difficult and after every step, you immediately see your progress. That makes that you are sitting there sewing with a smile on your face.

Laneway Dress Jennifer Lauren Handmade

Conclusion

I only finished my Laneway Dress today but I am positive that I am going to wear it a lot. It feels comfortable. The design of this dress is exquisite and the use of non-obvious fabric choice only confirms this. So, thank you, Jennifer Lauren, for letting be me a Laneway Dress Reviewer!

Eye-catchers #17

An eye-catcher is a person or a thing that attracts the attention

The online sewing community is very visual. So, every day I see heaps of sewing related images on social media and blogs. Some of them catch my eye because they make me think or they give me inspiration. Here, I want to share these eye-catchers with you.

sewing dresses

Follow below what caught my eye recently:

Jenny’s Eden dress

Eden La Maison Victor

Isn’t this lovely finished back of the La Maison Victor Eden dress an eye-catcher? The dress has a beautiful back decolletage but the way Jenny embellished it with the white ribbon is exquisite. Very inspiring.

Sewionista’s red-white striped dress

sewing dresses

I only have a few striped garments but when I saw this amazing dress of Sewionista I decided I want some more. This is the 05/2014 #104 Burdastyle dress. The pattern design is not that complicated but Julia did a sublime stripe placing that took sewing a striped garment to a higher level.

Shar’s Jazz Jumpsuit

ready to sew Jazz

She has a serious look in this picture—she says she can’t do selfies ;)— but the Shar’s version of the Ready to Sew Jazz jumpsuit is simply delightful. The use of Ikat fabric works excellently for this pattern. Picking a non-obvious fabric for a pattern is also something  I always try to aspire.

Anne’s keyhole blouse

Anne’s keyhole blouse reminded me of the Knip blouse I featured in Eye-catchers #4.  Both blouses consist out of several pattern pieces so you can mix and match fabrics. Anne did a great job here using a different fabric for the sleeves and back yoke.

Mirella’s dress

sewing dresses

This amazing fabric used by Mirella immediately caught my eye.  It’s a knit fabric but I could not read more about it on Mirella’s IG (@mirei_71). She used it to sew a dress from the Rosa P. book. This is an unknown designer for me. I always like it when I discover new designers, patterns,…  So thank you, Mirella, for sharing.

And, did anything catch your eye recently?

A guest post for the sewcialists blog

Hey there, I am super excited because today I posted my first guest blog post. More, it is on the sewcialists blog.

I am a sewcialist!

The sewcialists blog

The sewcialists blog is a blog from and for the sewing community. The goal is to build a community and make everyone feel welcome. There was a lot of activity between November 2013 and August 2015, but then the blog dozed for two years. Recently Gillian from ‘Crafting a Rainbow‘ reanimated it.

As a sewist, I entered the social media world in August 2015. So the previous activities of the sewcialists blog went past me. When about a month ago Gillian asked for writers for the blog I took the chance to participate because I love the sewing community!

sewcialists

Here is my first contribution to promoting the August Tribute Month: 5 bloggers who inspire me. Get over to the sewcialist blog to read it! Thanks!

Eye-catchers #16

An eye-catcher is a person or a thing that attracts the attention

The online sewing community is very visual. So, every day I see heaps of sewing related images on social media and blogs. Some of them catch my eye because they make me think or they give me inspiration. Here, I want to share these eye-catchers with you.

inspiration sewing

Follow below what caught my eye recently:

The Fielder sewed by Sal

Sewing something from the Merchant & Mills Workbook is on my 2016MakeNine and 2017MakeNine. But so far I didn’t get around to it. When I saw this amazing Fielder Dress (not from the Workbook but a separate pattern) from Sal (@sewingunlimited) it inspired me again to sew something from M&M.

Renee’s Frida Kahlo skirt

inspiration sewing

One skirt, two pockets, and no pattern. That’s what Renee calls free style sewing. She says it is fun to do and I believe her. Especially when you have such exciting Frida Kahlo fabric.

The 1930s waitress dress from Vintage Gal

inspiration sewing

I did not participate in #vpjuly—the vintage pledge challenge on Instagram— but I saw a lot of beautiful vintage outfits in my feed. This genuine 1930s waitress dress from Vintage Gal stood out. She found it at a sale of a theater company and paid £1 for it. On her blog, you can read the whole story. I find it astonishing that she found this marvelous dress and that it fits. She put on red 1930s buttons and sewed a belt with a 1930s buckle. The result is dazzling.

The coat with a character

inspiration sewing

Alfia Galimova needed a coat. She made one from two vintage jackets. Isn’t this creative? The result is marvelous.  For me, this is the pinnacle of upcycling. Hats off!

Dana’s Dress

inspiration sewing

Again a successful example of pattern hacking. Dana (@sewingbassoonist) took the Annie A-line skirt from Sew This Pattern and added the Emery Dress bodice to it. The result is a cute and unique dress.

Did anything catch your eye this week?

Eye-catchers #15

An eye-catcher is a person or a thing that attracts the attention

The online sewing community is very visual. So, every day I see heaps of sewing related images on social media and blogs. Some of them catch my eye because they make me think or they give me inspiration. Here, I want to share these eye-catchers with you.

eye-catchers sewing

Follow below what caught my eye recently:

The pillowcase dress from Aida

pillowcase dress

When recently Europe was suffering from a heat wave Marilla Walker whipped up a pillowcase maxi dress. Basically, it consists of two rectangles and a shoulder strap. Aida got inspired immediately.  I just adore her version. Maybe I am going to ‘whip one up’ too.

The Edith dress from Nancy

Edith Dress Maria Denmark

Also made for hot weather is this Edith dress by Nancy from ‘Sewing in Surf City‘. It is a mid 50’s-style inspired shirtdress from Maria Denmark Patterns. You can also sew it as a shirt.  I love Nancy’s stylish version. It would also have been a good entry for the Sew Together for Summer Challenge —whose deadline I didn’t meet.

Melisha Simone’s shirtdress

Carolina Herrera

Speaking of the Summer of the Shirtdress: look at this astonishing one Melisha sewed. I am totally in awe! She let her be inspired by a Carolina Herrera dress she saw at Neiman Marcus. By hacking two patterns—M7351 and v1534—she made her own version of it. That’s also something I would like to do: hacking existing patterns to create a new one.

The cold shoulder top from Zoona Nova

African Waxprint Cold Shoulder top

Two beautiful tops in African waxprint, designed and sewed by Tamara from Zoona Nova. She lives in Malawi, so she has easy access to all these beautiful fabrics. I also like the sleeve detail. This could be an idea for the #sleevefest2017 that was launched last week.

Vera Venus’ 1930s dress

Vera Venus Dress

When I saw this dress sewed by Vera Venus my mouth dropped to the ground. For me, this is the ultimate vintage-style dress. It is hard to believe it was only sewed this week and not 80 years ago. I envy Jeanne’s (the woman behind Vera Venus) skills.

Did anything catch your eye this week?