Category Archives: Sewing keeps me sane

Top 5 of 2018: reflections & goals

Woohoo! January is rolling like a high-speed train and February is already peeping over the horizon. So it’s high time for the last part of the #sewingtop5: Reflections and Goals!

2018 sewing goals

 

2018 Sewing Reflections

Some things I learned about my sewing in 2018!

#1 The joy of basting

Basting does not slow down your sewing, but, it helps your sewing. I bast both by hand and by machine. Basting by hand gives you control over these difficult, sometimes curved, seams. I also baste my zippers when I’m using challenging fabric like pleather or if I want the print to match.

2018 sewing goals
Basting a curved hem by hand.

You can also baste with your sewing machine. Herefore I use a straight stitch with stitch length 5. This is very handy when you’re sewing with knit fabrics.  I always machine baste neck bindings and sleeves. This way you can see the result and eventually, make some corrections. Afterwards, it’s easier to put these basted seams under your overlocker.

Once in a while, I baste the whole garment—even put in a zipper— with stitch length 5. Especially when I am a bit unsure about the fit. I make sure that then I have some extra seam allowance.

2018 sewing goals
The Snowball high neck dress machine basted for fitting purposes.
#2 The joy of hand sewing

It goes in fact hand in hand (!) with the joy of basting! Last year I often sewed some parts of the garments by hand. Usually the finish of the waistband. I find it easier than stitching in the ditch at the front side and trying to catch the seam at the back. It was Brooks Ann Camper on the ‘Love to Sew Podcast‘ who inspired me to do more hand sewing. She said: “It’s much easier and faster to unpick hand sewed stitches than machine sewed stitches!”

2018 sewing goals

 

#3. The joy of making a muslin!

2018 sewing goals

I made a muslin for my Vogue 9075 Jumpsuit. Being a tall girl I did want enough ease in my jumpsuit to be able to put my arms up when wearing it. Making a muslin is a bit more time consuming than basting but it so worthed when you preview fitting issues.

#4 The joy of prewashing your fabric!

Like I told you in my 2018 misses  I did not have the routine to prewash all my fabrics. This led to the minor disaster that some of my me-made garments shrunk after being washed! So after that calamity, I prewashed all my fabrics!

2018 sewing goals
Prewashing 7 meters of sweatshirt fabric.
#5 The joy of measuring!

I totally embrace the saying: ‘Measure twice, cut once‘! I do this now systematically. I measure all my pattern pieces and compare the results with my measurements. Sometimes I pin them already together to omit the seam allowances in my calculations. I find this very rewarding because I often use patterns intended for woven fabrics with knit fabrics and vice versa.

2018 sewing goals
Me, myself and my measurement tape!
2018 Sewing Goals

Well, here I am going to be very brief. I only have one sewing goal for 2019. Actually, there are two!

#1 Finish all—ALL—my UFO’s and WIP’s!

I’m not going to list all the UFO’s and WIP’s I collected the last 4 years— yes, I know some of them are that old! At the beginning of 2019, I had 9 of them.
Today, 3 weeks into the new year, I’m happy to report I already finished three of these sewing projects. Including the boxers for my sons which I started in September 2016!

#2 Don’t create new WIP’s!

This is also a simple goal. In 2019, and for the rest of my sewing life (hmm!), I am going to try not to start a new sewing project when the one I’m busy with is not finished!

Do you think that’s too ambitious? We will see next year!

 

Previous on the  #sewingtop5 series:  Hits, Misses & Highlights

 

Top 5 of 2018: misses & highlights

Next up in the ‘Sewing Top 5‘ are the 2018 misses & highlights!

2018 misses & highlights

M i s s e s

“Misses” is a very elastic concept! It could be some projects that totally went wrong, or that you didn’t wear. It’s also possible that you have sewed your garment ok but that when you wear it doesn’t feel like you. Or maybe you destroyed it by accident!

These are my 5 misses in random order.

#1 The Highland Wrap Dress by Allie Olson

2018 misses & highlights

This pattern checks a lot of my boxes: a sleeveless, maxi, V-neck wrap dress. Perfect for hot Summer days. So I started sewing it last June. In fact, if I had participated in the #sewtogetherforsummer, I would have chosen this pattern.
What went wrong? I think the type of fabric is wrong. This rayon gives the dress an airy and drapey feel but it made it very hard to sew it. But I kind of managed it until I got at one of the final stages: the arm facings. Here it went all kind of bumpy and I only finished one arm. And the bodice turned out too big.
What can I do about it? Unpick the already finished arm facing and redo it to make a crisp finish.

 

#2 The Kabuki Tee from Paper Theorie

Kabuki Tee

It is really with pain in my heart that I put these two Kabuki Tees under my misses. I adore the pattern; I used two of well-loved fabrics; I like the challenge of sewing the angels; I like them on hangers and still, I’m not happy wearing these Kabuki Tees.
Why? I think the boxy shape of the pattern is not suitable for my body type? When I see other sewists wearing it—check #kabukitee on Instagram— and looking good in it, everyone is kind of thin.
What can I do about it? Maybe I could wear them so that they’ll grow on me? I do have some fabric left so maybe I could lengthen them with a border?

 

#3 The shrunk Mesa dress

2018 misses & highlights

This happens when you don’t prewash your fabric. There’s a risk that your garment will shrink in the laundry! As a result, this Mesa dress is at its shortest now! Luckily it’s a summer dress so it’s still wearable but I can’t pick up something from the floor.
What can I do about it? Maybe I could lengthen it with a strip of fabric.
Note to myself: Prewash all your fabrics!

 

#4 Maxi Brooklyn Skirt

2018 misses & highlights

I lengthened the pattern of the Seamwork Brooklyn Skirt—which I already made several times to a maxi skirt. I thought I did it correctly by adding substantial length to the hem. I measured it accurately but apparently, I did something wrong. Anyway, what was I thinking because I know that you can’t lengthen a half-circle skirt in this way.
What can I do about it? I am going to reuse this fabric for a jumpsuit I am planning to sew this Summer.

#5 Creating (more) WIP’s

This was already one of my misses last year 🤦🏻‍♀️! I’m glad though I finished two of them. I reused the fabric of the sweater for my son and finished the Hudson pants for my daughter-in-law. Alas, I created some new ones. So this is going to be my goal for 2019: finish all (ALL!) my WIP’s and don’t create new ones.

 

H i g h l i g h t s 

Life isn’t only about sewing! Or is it? So here are my non-sewing highlights of 2018. If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will notice that these highlights not so different than those of last year. Except for number 1 of course!

#1 The birth of our first grandson M.

grandson

This is THE highlight for us for 2018! The first part of the year there was the excitement of the anticipation and after his birth, he brought so much love and joy to our family. We all adore him and love him to pieces!
Of course, it’s super fun to sew all these cute little clothes for him!

 

#2 Podere Santa Pia

Podere Santa Pia

Staying at our holiday home—Podere Santa Pia—in the South of Tuscany, Italy keeps being the best thing of our life. It’s even better if we are there together with family and friends. To keep the memory alive we take a goodbye picture every time we are leaving this paradise: #ciaosantapia.

 

#3 Spending time with family and friends
2018 misses & highlights
My father and mother celebrating my father’s 85th birthday. He is holding is first great-grandchild.

2018 was an intense family year. There was the 85th birthday of my father, the 80th birthday of my mother, the 60th anniversary of my parents-in-law, the birth of two little babies, and two big family gatherings: one at my husband’s side of the family and one at my side of the family. And of course, the pizza nights with my crowd.  These were all great days!

 

#4 Starting to walk
Rosa Dress Tilly & The Buttons
Walking through the city and discovering all kind of great backdrops.

I am so not into sports. I have absolutely no talent for it but I wanted to improve my condition. So last September I started to walk with the ambition to walk every day. And I am succeeding. The last 4 months of 2018 I walked about 5000 steps each day. For me, that’s 100 % more than before! I love doing it and I do feel an improvement of my condition.  Also, it’s nice to take these walks in the city and often my husband is accompanying me. Last year we had real luck with the warmest autumn since ever so that made these walks even more agreeable.

 

#5 Visiting musea
Sean Scully at the Pont
Standing in awe in front of a Sean Scully painting.

I can be totally flabbergasted by seeing a good art show. This year I had the pleasure to see two interesting art shows at the Museum De Pont in Tilburg. First, at the beginning of the year, there was the Jubilee show, Weerzien, which showed all their acquisitions. Later, in May, we visited the Sean Scully and Rineke Dijkstra show. Both shows gave me a lot of food for the soul!

Next up in this series: reflections & goals.

What I sewed in 2018 –Top 5: the hits

Nope, we can’t ignore it any longer. The new year—2019!—is definitely here. That makes that I can look back again and reflect. What kind of sewing year was 2018?
Like the previous years, I collected all my sewing data in an infographic and here below you see the result of my 2018 sewing!

2018 sewing

What do these numbers say?

I sew mostly for women, using a pdf pattern from an Indie Pattern Designer.  Although, compared to previous years, it isn’t that pronounced anymore. There is a shift in who I sew for. In 2018 I sewed more for babies. How else could it be with the birth of our first grandson! This joyful event is, of course, THE highlight of 2018!

2018 sewing
M. wearing his long sleeve sweater. Free pattern from Dromenfabriek.
54 sewing projects

I was a bit surprised by this number when I did the counting.  I didn’t have the feeling that I sewed approximately 1 item per week! Say what? The previous years this was somewhat of a (hidden) goal that I could not reach and this year it came to fruition without special effort. Of course, with the 13 Bombazine Mitts, which I sewed in January,  I took already a big jumpstart.
And yes, these 54 projects are ALL finished projects! Alas, I also have 7 (seven!!) WIP’s! But I am going to catch up on them!
Another thing that helped to get this high number of finished projects is that I didn’t lose my sewing-mojo this year. Last year, I didn’t sew every day and certainly not 300 times like I set out to at the start of the year, but there wasn’t a significant period of non-sewing!
A new item that I checked for this year is for how many projects I used fabric from my stash. It’s about 47%. This figure could be higher but I’m already pleased with it. Even more so, because it came naturally. It was not a specific goal of me to sew as much as possible from my stash.

sewing 2018
Buying new fabric or searching through my stash?
Top 5 of 2018

Gillian form ‘Crafting a rainbow’ has this nice challenge for your #sewingtop5. I enjoyed following this last year so I will do it again this year.

2018 sewing

Top 5 Hits

The first thing I want to share with you is my sewing hits! My hits are sewing projects that give me the most joy! And this joy can be caused by several things: from the pleasure of wearing it, the challenge of sewing, the first time tackling a particular technique, or the gratitude you receive from the person you sewed for…

Here is my selection of joy for 2018.

#1. My Jumpsuit

The Vogue V9075 Jumpsuit is without a doubt #myproudestmake. Why? I made a muslin for it so I would not have any fitting issues. This paid off. The fit is perfect!
This is also my best fabric-pattern combination of the year: a cotton and silk blend that I bought at Goldhawk Road in 2017. This counts for sewing from my stash! And I wore it a lot and with pleasure!

#2. The Statement dress

When you make a summer dress in a red/black plaid then you make a statement dress!! This dress gives me so much joy. Why? I had severe grading to do and it worked! The pattern matching is impeccable! And last but not least, my daughter loves it and that makes me happy!

#3. The Jill Coat

It was such a good decision to put a lining in the Seamwork Jill Coatigan. Even more, to put two buttons with a loop closure on it so this coat is totally suitable for Belgian winters.
I particularly enjoyed all the hand stitching I did because of the furry character of the fabric.

#4. All the baby clothes

I started sewing baby clothes in November 2017 when the first grandson of my brother was born. Then in 2018, there was the first granddaughter of my other brother and then in August our little treasure was born. Sewing all these cute baby clothes is great fun and these projects are great stash busters too!

#5. The Kingfisher Top for my daughter-in-law L.

I was over the moon that I could cut out the Kingfisher top out of one panel of Lotte Martens handprinted fabric. This panel was 60cm by 150cm. I had some serious pattern tetris to do but it worked. I was even more over the moon when L. loved this top I made for her birthday! It makes me happy when my family loves and wears the garments I sewed for them!

Next up in the top 5 of 2018 are Misses & Highlights, and Reflections & Goals.

Sewing seconds or more…

If you read this blog regularly you know that I ask myself every time when I finish a garment: “Will I sew some more of this pattern?” Often I do but I never showed them to you. So now with December being the traditional month of overviews, I checked my sewing archives and found several second sewings (or even more…).

So, here are some of them.

The Moneta dress from Colette patterns

Moneta Dress

I sewed my first Moneta dress for the Moneta party in February 2017 and the urge to sew another has always been there. Then, when I was sewing my Beryl Bomber dress I put the leftover fabric on Lola, my dress form, who was already wearing my Wren dress. It was then that I noticed that the two fabrics worked together. Luckily, I had enough leftovers from both fabrics to cut out a new Moneta dress with 3/4 sleeves.
I made no alterations to the pattern and the sewing went super smooth. In hindsight, I should have made the bodice a little wider because this fabric has not the same level of stretch like the one of my first Moneta. It’s a little on the snug side but I’ll leave it this way.
I did not use clear elastic—I hate sewing with clear elastic—for the gathering of the skirt but a small, regular white elastic which I had in my stash. It worked out perfect.
One small sewing secret: I didn’t hem the sleeves and the skirt. I wore the dress already several times and the fabric doesn’t fray at all. So I am just going to leave it this way!

 

The Ali Sweatshirt from Sew DIY

Ali Sweater DIY

When I finished my Ali Sweatshirt,  E., my daughter-in-law, was very enthusiastic about the pattern. So it wasn’t hard to find something to sew for her birthday! I used two brushed sweater fabrics from Chat Chocolat: Mackerels for the bodice and Mackerels- the essential for the yoke, sleeve and cuffs.
The birthday gift was a huge success. She likes the sweater a lot and that makes me very happy!

Ali Sweatshirt DIY

The Kingfisher top

Kingfisher Top Sewing Revival

When I finished my Kingfisher Top I knew without a doubt that I would sew more very soon! I proved to be right.
Here again, two things came together. My other daughter-in-law’s birthday was nearing and there was a sale of Lotte Martens handprinted fabric in my neighbourhood. I love Lotte Martens handprinted fabric. I used one of her panels for my plisé skirt last year.
When I saw this panel with the copper birds I knew immediately that it would be perfect for a top for L. There was only a minor problem: the panel was 60 cm by 150 cm.
To make it work, I divided the sleeve in two and cut them on the bias. As you can see in the photo I only have some small pieces of the fabric left.Kingfisher Top Sewing Revival

Just like with the first Kingfisher top the sewing was a walk in the park. For the binding of the neck and the sleeve cuffs, I used some peanuts brown rib I had in my stash.
This birthday gift was also a huge success. And seeing somebody being very happy with something I sewed makes me (again) very happy.

Kingfisher Top Sewing Revival

 

The Burda Turtleneck Top

Burda Turtleneck Top

I loved my Burda Turtleneck Top so much that I immediately sewed another one the same week. I had this soft jersey in my stash for about 3 years so it was about time to use it. Again this pattern proved to be very easy to sew. One of the joys of sewing a pattern for the second time is that you already know all the tricks.
I am so enthusiastic about this pattern that I have cut out the third one. Alas, this is one of my WIP’s. I cut it out in April but I have to tackle it soon. Like I said: ‘It’s an easy sew. Just a few hours work!’
Burda Turtleneck Top

 

And you? Do you have sewing seconds??

 

 

How to sew 7 Hudson Pants and a mini-one!

I got this idea—sewing matching Hudson Pants for my family—from Emma (@emmas_atelier). For the ‘Fun prompt’ of the #bpSewvember photo challenge, she posted a picture of the set Hudson Pants she made for Christmas. I found this very inspiring as I love sewing gifts and I love the Hudson pant.
You can read below how I did it!

Hudson pant True Bias

The Hudson Pant pattern

The Hudson Pant is a pattern for very comfortable sweatpants and there is a female, male and mini version of it. At that time I already sewed 5 Hudson pants—for my daughter, for my husband and for myself— so the pattern had no more secrets for me. I already made the necessary adjustments on these patterns: lengthening of the crotch line for my daughter and lengthening of the legs for all of us.
I traced new pattern pieces for the pants for my daughters-in-law. For my sons, I used the pattern of my husband with some extra length on the hems of the legs.

Hudson pant True Bias

 

The Hudson Pant Fabric

I bought 7 m of grey melée ‘sweatshirt fleece’ with a soft brushed inside at my local fabric shop. It’s a blend of cotton/polyester. Luckily for me, it was the end of the bolt so I got some more than 7 m and I needed it.

Hudson pant True Bias

The advantage of using the same fabric for all the Hudson pants is that you can really place your pattern pieces very economical. More, you can easily fit the smaller pieces in the leftover fabric after you’ve cut out the bigger pieces

Hudson pant True Bias

 

Sewing 7 Hudson Pants in a row

I had already the different measurements of everybody so I could cut out the pattern pieces. To make sure I didn’t forget any of them (8 pieces per pants makes 56 pieces in total!) I made a graph and I gave every pant a different colour. Because there was an obvious difference between the men’s and women’s pants I could use the same colour for the marks twice.

Hudson pant True Bias

I also put these marks on the wrong side of the pattern pieces.

Hudson pant True Bias

Then I followed the successive stages of the sewing instructions but I did each of them 7 times. I kept sure I always put the several “pants-in-construction” in the same order.

Hudson pant True Bias

I sewed everything with the overlocker. As I sewed already 5 Hudson pants before I had no problem at all with putting everything together.

Hudson PantA pile of “pants-in-construction” after sewing all the pocket pieces. You can see some of the pink and yellow marks.

Hudson pant True BiasAll the Hudson pants are the same except for my husband’s. He didn’t want leg cuffs.

The gift

When I gave the presents I was nervous of course but they were all surprised and happy. They all tried the pants immediately and alas one of the pants for my daughter-in-law was too small on the legs! I widened them with a black strap and now they are good. Unfortunately for her, it took me more than a year to do so.  I gave the too small pants to my godson and made a new one for my daughter-in-law. Can you imagine my horror when she tried it on it was again too small, although I adjusted the pattern. That’s why I fixed it with the black straps.

Hudson pant True Bias

Hudson pant True BiasThe ‘kids’ looking cool in their Hudson pant!

The mini-one

This whole story took place in 2017 but we never got together to make a picture with all of us wearing our Hudson pant. In the meanwhile, our grandson was born so I had to make matching pants for him! There is no Hudson pant pattern for babies so I took the Oliver pants pattern that I used before. But I used leftovers from the grey fabric and from the fabric that I used for the dress for his mama when she was still pregnant with him.

Hudson pant True Bias

Conclusion

My family and I, we love our matching Hudson pants. We all think they are very comfortable and we love wearing them.
Will I sew more Hudson Pants? I guess so because after the photoshoot my son asked me to sew him another one!

Bonus: the Hudson pant Photoshoot

Hudson pant True Bias

Hudson pant True Bias Hudson pant True Bias Hudson pant True Bias

Do the Hudson Dance!

Hudson Pant True Bias

Summer Sewing at Podere Santa Pia

Exactly today 10 years ago we bought a holiday house—Podere Santa Pia—in the south of Tuscany, the Maremma. No need to say that this is our heaven on earth and we don’t regret this investment for one second! Of course, we try to go there as much as my school schedule allows. My husband is self-employed and can take his work with him wherever he goes. So, we are staying here for at least 8 weeks during the long summer break. This also means that I have to organise 8 weeks of sewing in advance. How can that be done? Below, you can read the story of a summer of sewing at Podere Santa Pia.

sewing at Podere Santa Pia

What do I bring with me?
1. My sewing machines

Ten years ago I was in a non-sewing-period and my sewing machine was gathering dust somewhere back in the attic. So, when we bought Podere Santa Pia there was no urgent need for a sewing space there. This changed in September 2013, when I started sewing again and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to sew all the time. Including when on holiday; maybe especially when I was on holiday because then I had time for it. That’s why I brought my trusted Toyota sewing machine and some projects with me. The start of a new tradition.

Sewing at Podere Santa Pia
July 2014, first time sewing on the terrace of Podere Santa Pia. I’m sewing a swimsuit.

It’s 1444 km between our two houses and it takes about 16 hours to drive there. Luckily, our car has a huge boot to take all my sewing luggage with me.
After buying a new sewing machine on Easter 2015, I left my Toyota sewing machine permanently at Podere Santa Pia. This is handy for when we come by plane. We fly when we have a short break. Then I only bring with my special sewing feet:  the walking foot and 1/4 inch foot. I didn’t research it when I bought a new machine but my two sewing machines have the same foot mechanism. Very handy.
I still bring my overlocker though. Especial this summer as I want to sew a lot of knit projects.

Sewing at Podere Santa Pia
The sewing machines on the desk I use as a sewing table.
Sewing at Podere Santa Pia
The sewing luggage: my overlocker, baskets and bags with fabric, a box of WIPs, a roll of A0 printed pdf patterns and a bag of sewing notions.
2. Sewing materials

Of course, you need more than a sewing machine to sew. So a few days before we leave I  make a list of all the projects I want to sew and I make a list of all the materials I need: fabric, zippers, lining, interfacing, buttons, etc…  It is necessary that I bring this all with me because there are no specialised sewing shops in the neighbourhood. Podere Santa Pia is situated in a quiet and rural area and the nearest small sewing shop is in Castel del Piano, about 30 minutes away.  In this village, there is also a monthly market with a fabric and haberdashery stall. Luckily this exists, because last year I had not brought enough fabric for the Laminaria Swimsuit and I found suitable fabric at this market.

Sewing at Podere Santa Pia
Selecting fabric at the market in Castel del Piano.
Sewing at Podere Santa Pia
Cute haberdashery stall at the market at Castel del Piano
The drawer with notions and supplies I collected last 3 years.
What do I want to sew this summer?
1. Finish some WIPs!

First of all, I want to finish some WIPs. I have several projects I started last year, or even before that,  but didn’t finish.

  • Boxers for my sons and husband.

It’s the Jalie 2326 pattern. All of them are cut out, most of the side seams and flies are sewed. They just need hemming and elastic put in.

  • The Highlands Wrap Dress

Oops, this was supposed to be my entry for #sewtogetherforsummer this year.  Again I didn’t make the deadline. I cut out all the pieces—and there were a lot—I just have to sew it together!

I cut out this pattern of the leftovers I had from the Cashmerette Turner Dress.

2. New projects
  • Sewing for babies

We are expecting two new babies in our family this summer and one of them is going to be our first grandson. So I brought with me some cute fabric to sew some presents for these little ones.

  • New garments

Starting at the top:
– African wax for a Venus Kimono for myself.
– African wax for a second V9075 Jumpsuit.
– Black linen for comfy trousers for my husband.
– Polka dots for the Dartmouth Top for my daughter.
– Red & Black plaid for the Zéphyr Dress from Deer&Doe for my daughter.

  • Testing a sweater pattern

I had to bring several medium heavy knits to test a sweater pattern. I can’t tell you more at this moment.

  • 2018MakeNine

I also brought the patterns and fabric with me for two items of my 2018MakeNine: the Jenna cardi and the Watson bra. In fact, they were on my 2016 and 2017MakeNine too. Will I sew them this summer?

  • The Ellsworth Coat

Sewing at Podere Santa Pia

 

At the end of the summer, I want to start on the Ellsworth Coat from Christine Haynes. I have the pattern, in A0 format, and I have this beautiful, red, vintage, heavy cotton. This coat is also on my 2018MakeNine.

Conclusion

So this is how I sew during the summer at our holiday house, Podere Santa Pia. What do you think of my sewing plans? A little too ambitious? I will let you know at the end of August!

Do you travel with sewing luggage?

 

Top 5 of 2017: reflections & goals

The final part of the Sewing Top 5 Series: Reflections and Goals

sewing overview reflections goals

Reflections

sewing reflections goals

Some, not 5 though 😉, thoughts about my sewing in 2017.

*Deadlines

The common thread for my sewing last year would be sewing against a deadline and not reaching that deadline. That’s no fun because often it left me with an unsatisfied feeling or even with unfinished projects, like the Carolyn Pajamas Dress.
How did I keep ending up there? Because I want to sew everything for everybody and for myself: birthday presents, Christmas presents, party clothes, … Plus, I love to participate in all these exciting sewing challenges the sewing community launches. This was infeasible and led to situations that I was still finishing the party dress for my daughter 5 minutes before she had to leave. So, I had to stop myself making all these sewing promises. In fact, this happened naturally because I lost my sewing mojo last fall. In hindsight, I think this was the underlying cause. The last part of 2017 I did not make any more promises and I feel more confident about my sewing now.

*Sewing classes

Sewing class

In September 2016 I started a pattern drafting course for a year. Here I learned to draft my own pattern blocks for a skirt and trousers using the method of M. Müller & Sohn, aka the Rundschau method. These lessons are intense but they also taught me a lot. I enjoyed it so much that this September I started the second year: drafting a basic pattern for a dress. More, I also started another sewing course: couture techniques. This year the focus of this course is sewing pockets. So every Monday I have now 7 hours of sewing lessons and I love it.

*Sewing is a verb

This is the most important insight I gained last year. Sewing takes time and when you take your time for it,  you get smashing results. Take your measurements with care, control the finished measurements on your pattern, maybe make a muslin, baste tricky seams, do some fitting and make the needed adjustments, etc….  This year I learned to enjoy doing all these steps and leave the quick-sew road behind.

*Sewing blogger

I started this sewing blog a year ago and I don’t regret it. Okay, it is some work and there are already a lot of sewing blogs but it made my connection with the sewing community stronger. That’s why I am going to keep on blogging. I wrote all this in my one-year anniversary post.

 

Goals

sewing reflections goals

*Sew 300 times a year

The first criteria for setting goals is: “Be realistic!”. That’s why want to sew 300 days a year instead of every day. I’m lucky to have my own sewing room so I can easily start sewing most of the days, even if it is only for fifteen minutes. To keep the score I mark my sewing days on the Sew DIY sewing calendar. (How nerdy can you be?)Counting my sewing days

*Make no sewing promises

Like I wrote above I will not make sewing promises anymore. This does not imply that I won’t sew for other people. No, I am still going to do that but without outspoken promises. Also, I still am going to participate in some sewing challenges but I will be more selective.

*2018MakeNine

What am I going to sew in 2018?  A variety of garments I hope, but certainly bra’s. The attentive readers of my blog may be a bit skeptical here because I said this also for 2016 and for 2017.  Indeed, the Watson Bra was on my 2016MakeNine and on my 2017MakeNine.
Even though I sewed 40 projects in 2017 I only made two garments of my 2017MakeNine: the Paxson sweater and the Hudson Pants for man.
But I still like the not yet sewed patterns of 2016 and 2017 so I decided to keep them on my 2018MakeNine. The new ones are:
*The V9075 Jumpsuit
*The Ellsworth Coat – Christine Haynes

2018MakeNine
2018MakeNine

I wish you all a very inspiring sew year!

°°°

Read more about The Sewing Top 5 series: Hits, Misses and Highlights!

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 honour 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 with it.
What can I do with it? Perhaps I should make a belt for it as 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 tried 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. Totally 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 of my 2017 sewing!

2017 sewing

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.

1. The Vogue DKNY  V1235 Dress
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?