Category Archives: Sewing keeps me sane

Top 5 of 2017: the misses & the highlights

Following Gillian in her Sewing Top 5 series, next up are: my misses and highlights of 2017.

sewing top 5 misses highlights

It’s a bit strange to make a podium for your misses, isn’t it? You don’t want to honor them but would rather forget them. On the other hand, you learn something from your blunders. That makes them a kind of necessary evil for improving your sewing skills. In no particular order are here 5 of my misses:

1 The Bridgetown backless dress from Sew House SevenThe Bridgetown backless dress from Sew House Seven

What went wrong? First, I cut the sleeves cross grain because I thought the stripes would give a nice effect. On the contrary, this made them pop up instead of falling on the arm. Second, the fabric was somewhat too stiff to give the dress the needed drape. Third, there was not enough ease around the hips. I should have looked better to the given finished measurements. I never wore it.
What can I do with it? Restyling it into another garment will be the only solution for this dress.

 

2. The Saunio Cardigan from NamedSaunio Cardigan Named

What went wrong? What was I thinking using a woven fabric when the pattern asked for a knit. It could have turned out ok if I’d made the arms a bit wider. Now they are at their narrowest. I wore it a few times but I’m not really comfortable in it.
What can I do with it? Perhaps I should make a belt for it like Jessica did. Otherwise, it is also going to the restyling pile.

 

3. The Carolyn Pajama DressCarolyn Pajamas Dress

What went wrong? This Carolyn Pajama Dress hack was supposed to be my entry for the ‘Sewtoghetherforsummer challenge.’ Unfortunately, I didn’t reach the deadline of 21st of June to finish it. Now, it is still laying there on my WIP-pile.
What can I do with it? Finish it! It’s cut and I have all the needed notions.

 

4. The Skeleton PJ’s for my godsonSkeleton Fabric

What went wrong? I promised my godson PJ’s for his new year’s present but I only managed to finish the pants on time. Hence he received a PIP—Present in Progress. He triet them on and they were on the small side. I could solve this by putting a band on the side seams. I had also already cut the pieces for the top so probably these will be on the small side too. In fact, in the rush to get the present ready on time, I used a too small pattern for his measurements. I made some alterations on it but it was a lost cause. Now, almost a year later, he has grown more than 7 cm so the PJ’s are not usable anymore.
What can I do with it? Use the pieces for a PJ for a smaller child.

5. Turning my WIP’s in UFO’s

I started 2017 with 6 WIP’s—finished two— and I ended it with 4 UFO’S.

  • Duffel bag to use for pattern drafting class
    Started in September 2016
    I cut all the pieces and bought a zipper
  • Boxer shorts for my sons
    Started in September 2016
    I cut all the pieces and made a mistake: the front and the back have different colours from the same fabric!
  • Paxson for my son
    Started in December 2016
    Cut all the pieces
    I put the sleeves with the wrong side of the fabric up!
  • Hudson pants for my daughter-in-law
    I made 7 Hudson pants for my family’s New Year’s present. Unfortunately one for my daughter-in-law was too small.

What can I do? Finish all of them!!

 

sewing top 5 misses highlights

Life isn’t only about sewing! Or, is it? So here are my highlights of 2017.

 

1 Podere Santa PiaAbout ten years ago we bought a holiday home—Podere Santa Pia— in the South of Tuscany, Italy. It is our heaven on earth. Going there as much as my working schedule allows is truly a highlight of my life! More, I can also sew there and that makes this place even more of a paradise.
Every time we visit Podere Santa Pia, or we have friends or family visiting us we take a goodbye picture. You can see them all on Instagram with #ciaosSantaPia.

 

2 Spending time with my familyWe have three, now adult, children and I love them and their significant others to pieces. We installed a tradition to make pizza’s on Sundays, when we are at home. These are great nights.

 

3 Quiet days with friendsEnjoying a “quiet day” at the Martin Creed show at Museum Voorlinden.

We have a more than 35-year long during friendship with another couple. More than 15 years ago we decided to no longer give each other material gifts for birthdays. Instead we give each other time. We call this “our quiet day”, which we organize for each other several days a year. This can involve visiting an exhibition, or a historical place and have a nice dinner together. When this “quiet day” is in Podere Santa Pia (see highlight 1) the joy is double.

 

4 City trip to LondonMy husband had a business meeting in London last May and we took advantage of it to stay there for 4 days. It had been 15 years since we visited and we were excited about the renewed acquaintance with this fantastic city. Totaly new for me now was the discovery of the famous Goldhawk Road, THE fabric shop street. Strolling around in this street and, of course, buying fabric was the crowning point of this trip.

 

5 Nick Cave concertI don’t often go to concerts anymore. This year I only went to two: Bob Dylan’s Never-ending Tour and Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree Tour. Both of these concerts were amazing but I was totally blown away by Nick Cave. This was so heartfelt and moving, and at the same time energetic and diabolic. The best concert I’ve ever experienced.

 

Next Up in the Sewing Top 5 series are: the reflections and the goals.

 

 

 

 

 

What I sewed in 2017-Top 5: the hits

There are two reasons why I love a new year. One, you can start a lot of things with a clean slate, and two, you can look back and reflect on the past year.
Like last year I collected all my sewing data in an infographic and here below you see the result.

what I sewed 2017 sewing top 5 the hits

What do these numbers say?

In one sentence: I sew for women, using a pdf pattern from an Indie Pattern Designer. No drastic changes here in comparison with last year.

40 sewing projects

These 40 sewing projects are all finished ones. (I may have a few UFOs also). That’s one less than in 2016. Like last year I am a little disappointed with this number because I have this irrational idea in my head that I want to sew something new once a week. I knew I didn’t succeed at this because last September and October I totally lost my sewing-mojo.

 

Top 5 of 2017

I am joining Gillian from ‘Craftingarainbow’ for the #SewingTop5 of 2017. It’s already the 5th time she launches this annual blog series. Like she says: “It’s a chance to review what worked or didn’t, celebrate the highlights, reflect and get some goals for the next year.”  All the things I like about starting a new year.  So, here I start with my Top 5 Hits.

Top 5 Hits

My hits are sewing projects that gave me the most joy. This joy can be derived from various sources: from the pleasure of wearing it, the challenge of the sewing, the first time of tackling that particular technique, or the gratitude you receive from the person you sewed for…

Here are in random order my 5 Hits of 2017.

The Vogue DKNY V1235 Dress1. The Vogue DKNY  V1235 Dress
I sewed this dress for my daughter to attend the wedding of her best friend. I worked very hard on this dress: I made two muslins for it and executed my first FBA—that still sounds like a medical procedure ;). It was also the first time I sewed with border fabric. I love how the placing of the border I had in my head came out. My daughter received a lot of compliments on the dress and she loves wearing it. This makes me sew happy!

 

Toaster sweater 2 Sew House 72. The Toaster Sweater#2 from Sew House Seven
Thanks to the SewMyStyle project I sewed this Toaster Sweater and I am so glad I did. It was a quick sew with instant gratification. I wore it a lot and I would never have thought that I could pair it with a variety of clothes, old and new ones, like the A-line skirt and the plissé skirt.

 

Chari Dress Schnittchen Patterns3. The Chari Dress from Schnittchen Patterns
I was a pattern tester for Schnittchen Patterns new collection and though I am not a ruffle kind of girl, I’m glad I picked this pattern. It turned out that ruffles could be stylish for me.
This dress also proved to be the ultimate summer dress when we had temperatures around 40°C last August. So, no surprise here that I wore it A LOT!

 

restyle refashion4. The restyling of a men’s shirt
Wow! This project had several firsts for me! I never restyled/refashioned something before and I never hand-printed fabric. I succeeded in both new skills and I am very proud of the result. Extra exciting was that this project was for the First Restyling Exchange. So it was not for me but for Elisabete, who sent me her husband’s shirt and received a top for her. It was thrilling to wait whether the top would suit her and if she would like it. I got two yesses!

 

plissé skirt Lotte Martens5. My Plissé Skirt
I only sewed this skirt on Christmas Eve but it feels like my best sewing project of 2017. The fabric is exquisite and it took only half an hour to transform it into a skirt. More, I feel like a queen when I am wearing it. A fabulous project to finish my 2017 sew year.

Next up are  Misses & Highlights, and Reflections & Goals.

 

How to make a-made-in-a-blink festive skirt

Plissé Skirt

Two days before Christmas it looked like I wouldn’t have a new garment for the annual family Christmas dinner. That’s nothing new because last year I didn’t sew one either. Then I went to ‘De Stoffenkamer’ to buy some fabric for presents when this lovely black plissé caught my eye. Immediately, the image of a new skirt—a plissé skirt— popped up in my mind. More, this was going to be a very easy sew, so I bought the fabric right away.

A plissé skirt: how did I do it?

A panel of plissé fabric

Lotte Martens Fabric

The black plissé panel is from Lotte Martens, a Belgian fabric designer. In fact, it is a semi-plissé, which means the pleats aren’t as deep as in a regular plissé. The panel is hand printed with a Bremen gold design. This is Lotte Martens’ trademark. She hand prints all of her fabrics and you know that I love hand printing. Since long I yearned to sew something with a Lotte Martens fabric.

This plissé fabric also reminded me of my visit to the Fortuny Palace in Venice for the Biennale 2015. There I learned that the plissé was invented by Mariano Fortuny, a Spanish fashion designer who lived in Venice. He opened a couture house in 1906 and continued until his death in 1946. Fortuny rebelled against the fashionable styles that were popular during his time. Together with his wife, Henriette Negrin, who was an experienced dressmaker, he created the Delphos gown in 1907. The Delphos gown is a shift dress made of finely pleated silk weighed down by glass beads that held its shape and flowed on the body. The pleating was all done by hand and the process was kept secret. Today these dresses are seen as works of art and many survive, still pleated, in museums and personal collections. (Source: Wikipedia)

Delphos gown
On the left: Clarisse Coudert, who married Condé Nast, wearing a Fortuny tea gown. ca. 1909 – On the right: (Isadora) Duncans three adopted daughters (Lisa, Anna, and Margot) in Delphos dresses c.1920
One side-seam

The panel is 70 cm with a 150 cm fabric width. For this type of skirt, you don’t need a pattern. Double the fabric, right sides together, pin and stitch.

The elastic waistband

Measure a piece of broad elastic around your waist. Sew the ends together to create a circular form.

Divide the waistband and the skirt into four even parts and mark them with chalk and/or pins. Now pin the waistband to the skirt. I placed the side of the waistband with the mini ruffles atop the top of the skirt. This makes the stitching of the elastic easier.

The whole sewing process took me about 20 minutes.

Conclusion

We had to leave for the family party at twelve and I finished it at 11 o’clock! I love wearing it and I got a lot of compliments. Who doesn’t like that?!

Will I make more plissé skirts? When I find the right plissé fabric I probably will. Or maybe another type of garment like the Fortuny tea gown. Who knows?

The A-line skirt that brought my sewing mojo back!

After going on holiday, I think my sewing mojo went on a holiday as well. I don’t know how it happened but I didn’t touch my sewing machine for more than a month. I just couldn’t bring myself to sew. Then I remembered how long it had been that I sewed a skirt for myself. Although I have several WIP’s gazing at me I went for a new A-line skirt and it gave me back my sewing joy!
A-line skirt

The A-line skirt pattern

When I was wearing the Laneway Dress from Jennifer Lauden I noticed how nice the design and the fit of the skirt felt. I love the A-line and it has pockets. The decision to use this pattern for the skirt was quickly made.
The pattern didn’t need any modifications. For the dress, I had lengthened the skirt with 5 cm but I took it back to the original length. The fit was good so I let it fall on my natural waist.

The fabric

A few months ago I got a bag with fabrics from my sister-in-law; all from unknown origin and unknown composition. This small piece is probably upholstery fabric. It is medium weight and both sides are useable. I opted for the side with the dark background and blue-ish flowers. I love that it has some art nouveau vibe. The fabric feels a little rough that’s why I lined the skirt with some green lining that I had left from sewing my husband’s jacket.

I had only 1,10 m of this fabric so I could not place the front and the back piece in the same direction.

Luckily the line of the drawing is not that strong so you have to look really closely to notice that the front and the back are not in the same direction.

The sewing process

Sewing this skirt was easy and quick. Having sewed already more than 20 skirts the last years I had no difficulties putting this one together. However, for the pockets, I followed Jennifer Lauren’s method and it proved again to give very neat ones.

For the waistband, I used preformatted interfacing band, a handy prop. This band has three punched lines to make it easy to sew it on and fold it over.

A-line skirt
Lining, waistband, skirt and neat pocket. Also, that’s not a tuck between the lining and the waistband but a loose thread!

Conclusion

I love this A-line skirt. Not only for making me happy when I’m wearing it but also for bringing back my sewing mojo. Give me more of these kinds of skirts!

A-line skirt

A sewing secret

We all have secrets, don’t we?  These secrets can also be sewing secrets. I am going to reveal you a small sewing secret about the dress I am wearing today: the Rushcutter from In the Folds.

Rushcutter In the Folds

 

The Rushcutter from In the Folds

Last summer I sewed two Rushcutter dresses from ‘In the Folds’ because I like this pattern a lot. The design is ingenious: the A-line shape, the raglan with the front insert, the side panels, and it has pockets!

The grey one with the colour streaks was the first one I sewed. Because I loved it so much I immediately sewed another one. The two contrasting pieces of this black & white fabric I had were ideal for this pattern. I love both versions and they are in my top 5 of last year’s sewing.

wear both dresses a lot, both at work and on holiday when the weather is hot. Below are some pictures that were taken in the Tuscan city San Gimignano last summer.

Rushcutter In the FoldsHere I am standing in front of a work of Ilya & Emilia Kabakov in Galeria Continua in San Gimignano.

At the Palazzo Comunale, San Gimignano.

The sewing secret

What is now my sewing secret about this dress? Well, I am a little ashamed but I never finished the back closure. I never sewed the buttonholes. I put in a pin and every time I wore it I closed it with the same pin. There is no specific reason why I didn’t do it. I started to wear it with the pin and I never came to finish it. Every time I put it on I think that I should finally sew these buttonholes, if only for my husband because he did hurt himself a few times when he hugged me.  And again I didn’t do it today.

Rushcutter It doesn’t show that the closure isn’t properly finished, does it?

Do you have sewing secrets? I would love to know what they are.

5 advantages of printing your pdf sewing pattern at a copy shop

When you buy pdf sewing patterns, most of the time you have two print options: print at home or print at a copy shop. So far I’ve always printed my patterns at home and assembled them with glue. While planning my Summer sewing I got the idea to try printing patterns at a copy shop. I’m so glad I tried. Now, after a month I can only express the advantages of printing your pdf sewing patterns at a copy shop. Read below which they are.

printing pdf patterns copy shop

#1 It saves time!

Looking at the patterns I wanted to sew this Summer, if I had printed them on A4-format, as usual, I would have had to print and assemble 143 pages! That would have cost me a lot of time. Printing the patterns at the copy shop took me half an hour. I searched the Internet and found a copy shop that could print the A0-format two streets from my home. Of course, living in a university city helps you with finding one nearby.
I put the pdf-files on a USB stick, went to the copy shop and half an hour later I was back with a carbon box with seven beautiful pattern sheets. The price was 3,40 € per sheet. I found that a fair price.
One tip though: read the print instructions beforehand. (I didn’t!) Little did I know that the Laminaria Swimsuit pattern consisted out of two pages. Accidentally the paper roll of the printer was finished after one page and I thought that it was OK.

printing pdf patterns copy shop

#2 It is easier to work with

I don’t know about you but my glued and assembled pattern pieces are not always that smooth; the lines don’t always correspond neatly.  The A0-format pattern sheet is flat. This makes it is easy to trace the pattern pieces, to grade between sizes and cut out the pieces  (if you want).

printing pdf patterns copy shop

#3 You can use the leftover parts for lengthening your pattern pieces.

Those who read my blog on a regular basis, know that I am a #sewingtall girl (1,81m). I have to lengthen every pattern I sew. After cutting out the pattern pieces of the Ogden Cami I had long strokes of leftover paper. Very useful and handy to use for lengthening the pattern pieces.

#4 It is a good work mat!

In our holiday house, I sew on a garden table, the kind of table that has space between the wooden slats. Not very convenient for pinning and cutting your fabric. The pattern sheet, which is sturdier paper than the usual pattern paper, functions very well as a cover

printing pdf patterns copy shop

#5 It gives joy!

It is such a good feeling when you kick off a new sewing project that you only have to unroll your pattern sheet. No gluing and assembling. No ironing your pattern when you use a store-bought pattern.  You can start immediately either with tracing or cutting your pattern.

printing pdf patterns copy shop

 

So, a big thank you to all these indie pattern designers who give the option to print your pattern at a copy shop. I will never go back to gluing my pdf patterns.

And you readers? Do you print your pdf pattern in a copy shop?

1000 followers on Instagram

My Instagram profile picture.
My Instagram profile picture. Sewing keeps me sane!

When I posted my first Instagram photo in August 2015 I could never have guessed that I would ever reach 1000 followers. I am even more in disbelief because about 950 of them are people I don’t know in real life! But I am thrilled to have met this wonderful online sewing community.

 

What!?? 1000 followers!

 

First post, August 2015

I joined Instagram with a photo of me in our Tuscan garden. I wanted to share pictures of my two loves—besides my family—sewing and Podere Santa Pia, our Tuscan holiday house. Back then I could never have predicted the joy it would bring. I met so many inspiring dressmakers, pattern designers, fabric stores… I even met the fabulous Anne Whalley in person.

Anne Whalley
Meeting Anne Whalley was an amazing experience.
All the sewing joy

Thanks to IG I had the opportunity to test several patterns: the Nita Wrap Skirt from ‘Sew DIY blog’, the Daphne Dress from Sew This Pattern and currently I am testing a dress pattern for Schnittchen (still a big secret).

Testing the Nita Wrap Skirt and the Daphne Day Dress

 

I was flattered and excited to be featured on the Girl Charlee UK blog. The Secret Valentine exchange brought me a beautiful bag from @sophomorestudio.

I really love the-photo-a-day challenges in which I participated like #sewphotohop, #bpsewvember, #MIYMarch, #makersforfashrev, #mmmay, and #dressmakers52.

I can’t forget the Moneta Party. A virtual party only attended by sewists of Instagram all dressed in their Moneta Dress.

The Moneta Party.
And the sewing joy continuous

At this moment two new and exciting challenges are running. First, there is the Sew Together For Summer. We all sew together a shirt dress before June 21.

Second, the Restyling Exchange which is very thrilling. You receive a garment from somebody to restyle and to refashion and you send one of yourself to another sewist. Although this will give a lot of sewing joy it is also a bit nerve wrecking: sewing for somebody you don’t know. But everything is perfectly organized by Pilar and Amy.

The men’s skirt I received from @elisabetefcarvalho.
The dress I sent to @listokap.

And last, but not least, it was Instagram that stimulated me to start this blog. I felt that I wanted to share more than was allowed in the comment section beneath the photos. But I get a lot of inspiration for my blog through Instagram like you can read and see in the Eye-catchers feature.

Thanks for all the love, here’s to many more years of Instagram sewing!

Eye-catchers #10

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-catcher

Follow below what caught my eye recently

 

The Seamwork Jane T-shirt by Becs

Seamwork JaneBecs made a real eye-catcher from a basic T-shirt by using this beautiful, bright floral jersey. Again evidence that the right fabric choice can bring a pattern to a higher level.

The African wax Tunic Dress of Eleonora

Burda Tunic DressI love African wax and when I see something made of it that immediately gets my attention. So I was intrigued when I saw the Tunic Dress Eleonora made. It is a pattern from Burda. The straight lines of this pattern make the design of the fabric sparkle.

The Winterdress from Bianca

Winterdress Patternreview

Bianca, from the blog Thanks! I made them, made this Winterdress from Patternreview in a double layer cotton jersey. She airbrushed and stenciled it. Then she handstitched around the shapes and cut out the middles. That’s the way to have unique fabric. Very impressive!

Suzy’s Jumpsuit

Jumpsuit Bridgetown Dress hack

The April entry of the project SewMyStyle was the Bridgetown Backless Dress from Sewhouse 7. Suzy took the challenge to a higher level and created a jumpsuit with the pattern. Therefore she used the bodice of the dress and combined it with trousers. This is an ingenious idea and the result is stunning.

The Mirri Dress from Ariane

Mirri Dress Wardrobe by me

I discovered a new pattern designer by looking at and reading about this beautiful dress Ariane made. It is the Mirri Wrap Dress from Wardrobe By Me. I like faux wrap dresses and this one has a nice shawl collar. Also, the left under-piece has no pleats and that gives the dress a smooth look.

Did anything catch your eye this week?

Eye-catchers #3

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

Eye-catcher

The online sewing community is very visual. A lot of images are published on social media and on blogs. So, every day I see a lot of sewing related images and some of them are eye-catchers for me. Why? Because they make me think, they give me inspiration. That is why I want to share these eye-catchers with you.

Follow below what caught my eye this week:

  • Split sleeves in a blouse

    Split sleevesOn Craftsy Beth Galvin wrote a very do-able tutorial to transform almost any sleeve in a split-sleeve. I really think it is worth a try to spice up an ordinary top.

  • The wide leg crop pants, McCall’s 7445

    McCall's 7445Wow! Look at these pants Lori made. I really love a pinstripe and I love cropped pants. That makes this combination very inspiring.

  • McCall’s 7153

    McCall's 7153The mcCall’s 7153 is a reissued pattern from 1933—from the Archive Collection— and I think the design of it is striking. Also, I adore that Annie used stripes, that really gives it an original touch.

  • Riga Coat from Orageuse

    Riga CoatThanks to @sewinglovelythings I caught this amazing coat this week. The Riga coat is a rather new pattern from Orageuse.  I just fell for the clean lines and that it closes solely with a belt.

  • The Ellsworth Coat

    Ellsworth Coat Trudi proves again what difference fabric can make to an already great pattern. This is simply gorgeous. No more words needed!

And, did anything caught your eye this week?

Eye-catchers #2

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

eye-catchers

The online sewing community is very visual. A lot of images are published on social media and on blogs. So, every day I see a lot of sewing related images and some of them are eye-catchers for me. Why? Because they make me think, they give me inspiration. That is why I want to share these eye-catchers with you.

Follow below what caught my eye this week:

  • V9015 Jumpsuit made by Rachel from Sew South London

    Vogue 9075

    Ever since Beth from SewDIY made a linen version of this jumpsuit, I am dreaming of making one myself. This gorgeous version of Rachel really puts me on board.
    More, at this moment— until 11 March there is a 50% discount on all the Vogue Patterns at naaipatronen.nl so I already bought my pattern.
    *** Update: naaipatronen.nl is a Dutch site but the sold Vogue patterns have English/French instructions! ***

  • The Wanted-T-shirt from Vanessa Pouzet

    Wanted T Vanessa Pousset

    This version that Annika made really caught my eye this week. The red-white stripes and the neat neckline are a match made in heaven. I have some striped knits in my stash just waiting to use for this pattern.

  • The raglan top for men

    raglan top

    Buster from Mensew sewed several raglan tops for men and I absolutely love this striped one he made. Again, I have some striped knits in my stash to make some for my husband and sons.

  • A piped tab for a coat

    lekala coat
    Vesna decided to add a piped tab with buttons on the beautiful coat she is making. I think it is a very good addition. The pattern is coat #4333 from Lekala Sewing Patterns. I didn’t know this pattern company. Apparently, you can give in your measurements and you receive a personalized pattern. Do you have experience with it? Does it work?
    At least the coat Vesna is making looks great.

  • The Watson bikini

    watson bikini

    Sienna from ‘Not a primary color’ proved again how you can make some very funky underpants from your left-overs. I also did it before but didn’t use the Watson pattern for it. I have this pattern— and a lot of leftovers— so I will sure give it a try.

Did anything catch your eye this week?