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

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?

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?

 

 

 

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

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!

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.

The floral Ogden Cami Dress from True Bias

Wow, this is the Summer of the Ogden Camis. I so enjoy wearing my Cami and my Maxi Cami Dress that I decided to make another one. This time I would go for another hack. I wanted to use the bodice of the Cami and combine it with the skirt part of the Chari dress. I hoped that would give a whirly, summery dress. However, it turned out a little different ;).

Ogden Cami Dress
The floral fabric

Like the fabrics for my other Camis, I also found this one at the market in Castel del Piano. It is soft, silky, and drapey. Normally I’m not a great fan of floral and blue but I liked this piece. It has a bit of an oriental vibe, hasn’t it?

Ogden Cami Dress

All these market fabrics are pre-cut and this one was only 1,60 m with a width of 1,50m. So I knew that I had to cut both the front and back piece in two pieces. I even had to put a seam in the back lining.

Ogden Cami
Stitching two pieces of fabric together to be able to cut out the lining.
The planned dress hack

In one of her latest video posts, Johanna LU from ‘The Last Stitch‘ called for sewists to show more sewing struggles. Well here is my struggle.

First I measured on my Ogden Cami where would be the good spot to put the tunnel for the elastic (about on my natural waist). I put the mark on my pattern pieces, folded them, pinned them on the fabric and cut the fabric.
Next, I cut the skirt pieces as wide and as long as the rest of the fabric allowed. After sewing everything together and only with the first fit, I noticed my mistake. I cut a straight seam on the bodice pieces and not a curved one! I totally forgot that I have boobs. So the desired straight seam was now curved. More, it was not possible to use this seam as a guide for the tunnel for the elastic.

Ogden Cami Dress
Forget to draw a curved seam for the bodice.

Luckily I saw that it was possible to wear the dress as it was. Due to the floral print and after a good press you don’t notice this curved seam.

Ogden Cami Dress

The sewing process

For this Cami I used the construction method from ‘What Katie Sews‘ and it worked well. She has a good tutorial on her blog. Although following True Bias’s instructions was not complicated I found Katie’s way easier. It simplified the attachment of the straps and made it a quick sew.

Ogden Cami Dress

Conclusion

It’s no secret that I, again, love my Ogden Cami Dress. Even if it turned out different than I planned.  I wore it already several times and it is absolutely a much-needed garment for hot weather. I am even more pleased that I can layer it up with a linen jacket or a cardigan. So it will be suitable for colder days.

Ogden Cami Dress

Will I make more Ogden Camis? Not immediately but someday I will.

 

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?