A tale of two Venus Kimonos

When I restyled a summer dress to a kimono a few weeks ago I absolutely wanted to sew one for myself. I already had the perfect fabric in mind for it. Then I went to the market in Castel del Piano and I found some nice remnant pieces of fabric at my favourite stall. One of them eminently suitable for a kimono. So the only thing to do was to sew two Venus Kimonos in two days!

Venus Kimono

 

Venus Kimono #1 in African Wax Cotton

I got this fabulous—but impossible to photograph—piece of African Wax as a present from my sister-in-law. I don’t know where it came from or what its origin is but it has some vintage vibe. The piece was 1,80 m by 1,40 width.  I was intrigued by the design and I wanted to use as much of it as possible. African Wax

Therefore I placed the shoulders of the front and back in the middle of the fabric and lengthened both the front and the back, until the borders. Just like the restyled kimono, I made before, I put the back at the centrefold, after folding over the seam allowance of 12 mm.
The front pattern was too big for the width of the fabric so I cut off 21 cm at the arms and placed these pieces at the selvedge. This gave me more of the fabric design on my kimono and the selvedge didn’t need hemming!

Venus Kimono
The back of the kimono with the beautiful design.
Venus Kimono
The front with the design in the middle and the borders on the sleeves.
Venus Kimono #2 in sheer flower fabric

When I touched this fabric at the market I knew immediately it would be perfect for a kimono: light, fluid and drapey. The only problem with this kind of fabric is that it is devilish to work with.

Sheer FabricSo, I treated it with starch to make it easier to cut and sew. And it worked! I didn’t have a single problem.Using starch

A small pattern hack

The sheer fabric was 1,65 m on a 1,50 with. I wanted a longer kimono so I lengthed the front and the back at the side seams with 35 cm and redrafted the hem.Venus Kimono

Venus Kimono
The lengthened kimono.
The Sewing Proces

It’s not difficult to sew the Venus Kimono. Annie, from Sew This Pattern,  has a detailed sew-along on her website with clear instructions and pictures.
The next three steps made it even easier for me.

#1 The 1/4 inch presser foot

1/4 presser footFor me, a 1/4 inch presser foot is an unmissable guide for sewing french seams. Here you see that I use some tissue paper for the start of a seam of fragile fabric.

#2 A stitched line to prepare the rolled hem

rolled hemThis I do slightly different than shown in the sew-along. I stitch a line 1/4 inch from the edge of the hem.

rolled hemThen I fold the fabric on the stitched line and press. Next, I fold the fabric again 1/4 inch and sew the hem at 1/4 inch. Here again, the 1/4 inch presser foot is unmissable.

rolled hem

#3 Basting the curves of the rolled hem

bastingWith my first Venus Kimono, I had trouble with the rolled hem at the neckline so I finished it with bias tape. For these two kimonos, I followed Annie’s advice and basted the curved neckline. And I learned that basting isn’t slowing your sewing process but in fact skilling it up.

Venus Kimono

Conclusion

Do I love my new Venus Kimonos? I do! Do I have a favourite? No, I don’t. It’s difficult to choose one because both are different in style and in how they feel. Will I sew more Venus Kimonos? Not in the near future but you all know: never say never!

Venus Kimono

 

P.S. All the time when I was sewing these Venus Kimonos I was singing Venus from Shocking blue. This song is a huge teenage memory. The strangest thing is, that when you look at the video, Mariska Veeres is wearing some kind of Kimono.

 

 

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?

 

How to restyle a summer dress in a kimono

When Amy and Pilar launched the second annual restyling exchange I was very excited. Last year, my first restyling project was such a fun and challenging project that I didn’t hesitate signing on again.
What is the annual restyling exchange? In short, you get a garment from someone to restyle and you send a garment to someone to restyle! So I received this summer dress from Rebecca and restyled it into a kimono.

restyle
Restyling a summer dress in a kimono.
Restyling: the start

When I opened the package that I received from Rebecca I was pleasantly surprised that it contained this bright summer dress with the floral embroidery. It was still new, barely worn, and it had gathered skirts. So I had a significant piece of fabric for my restyling project but not an idea yet. Initially, I wanted to go for the Kastrup top again because that pattern has several smaller pattern pieces. More, I could play with the placement of the embroidered border, which is something I like a lot. It was not until Diane, from ‘Dream. Cut. Sew.‘, posted her kimono made out of two scarfs that I had a lightbulb moment. I could restyle this dress in a kimono. I even had already the Venus Kimono pattern from ‘Sew This Pattern‘, so no extra costs were made for this challenge!

The Venus Kimono pattern

The Venus Kimono consists of 2 pattern pieces: the front and the back piece. I had the pattern already printed on A0 format so that was a huge timesaver. Although this kimono comes as a one size pattern with a relaxed fit you want to check the finished measurements. For Rebecca, the Venus kimono would have been far too big the way it is designed. So I shortened it with 14 cm and took about 1,5 cm off from the center front. These alterations were also necessary to make the pattern fit on the fabric I had available. I traced the customized pattern on to tissue paper because I wanted to keep the original pattern for a future kimono for myself.

Restyle: fitting the pattern on the dress

The first thing you do when you begin your recycle project is unpicking the seams. I started with the gathered skirt because this would give me the biggest fabric pieces. I also unpicked the hems as I needed every mm of fabric I could get. It takes a while to unpick all the overlocked seams and I was a surprised how much thread it gave.

After unpicking I gave the big pieces a good press to smooth the gathers. Then the most challenging part started, the pattern Tetris!

I put the pattern piece of the back, center back to fold line, on the front piece of the skirt. The pattern is designed with a center back seam but I cut off the 1,5 cm seam allowance. The arms were not covered but I marked this on the tissue paper and cut the pattern on this line. Also, you can see that the curve of the hem did not fit; so I adjusted that later when I hemmed it.

 

The front piece of the pattern went on the back piece of the skirt. Here, the length of piece fitted but for the arm, I had again to make a mark and cut the pattern piece.

 

To cut out the rest of the arm I lengthed the back and the front piece with other fabric fragments. Herefore I unpicked the bodice of the dress; also the shoulder straps.

restyle
Lengthen the front piece with the unpicked shoulder straps.

After lengthening the front piece with two fragment pieces of fabric the arm I was able to cut the arm piece of the front.

For the back, I worked the same way. First, I lengthened the pattern with fragments of the dress bodice. Here I kept the side seams of the bodice.

Then I put the pattern piece of the arm on the assembled fabric. You will notice that it didn’t fit totally. As I didn’t have any substantial piece of fabric anymore I shortened the front piece to make it match.

restyle
The assembled front piece with the shoulder straps and fragments of the bodice.
Restyle
Finished back sleeves.
The sewing process

After putting together the pieces of the kimono, sewing it was a piece of cake. Annie, from Sew this Pattern, has a very good sewalong on the website with clear instructions and pictures.
For the french seams, I used my 1/4 inch foot to have a guide and this helped a lot.

I finished the back neck line with bias binding because that is easier than a rolled hem.

 

Conclusion

I am super satisfied with this restyle project. It gave me a taste for more. I loved sewing a kimono, my first ever, and that also gave me a taste for more.
Thank you Amy and Pilar, for organizing this great challenge.

 

 

The Vogue V9075 Jumpsuit!

F I N A L L Y!
Finally, I finished my V9075 jumpsuit. Ever since I saw Beth’s,  from SewDIY, linen version of this jumpsuit I wanted to make one for myself. That was in November 2015! After that I was I was always fascinated when I saw some V9075 jumpsuits on sewing blogs and social media. I even featured some in my eye-catchers posts, including Rachel’s and Alex’s versions. Last March 2017 I bought the pattern with a discount online and even though I had some suitable fabric in my stash I didn’t start sewing it.
Until, right before the Easter break, I had this sudden vision of using this charcoal fabric from my collection and I went for it. Needless to say that I am over the moon that I finally finished the V9075 jumpsuit!!

V9075 jumpsuit

The V9075 jumpsuit pattern

Why am I so drawn to this pattern? Well, it ticks several of my favourite boxes: a jumpsuit, princess seams, pleats, culottes with very wide legs, and pockets. Did I mention the wide legs?

V9075 jumpsuit

This is the third Vogue pattern I sewed and now I’m familiar with this company pattern specifics. I know that the finished garment measures are indicated on the pattern pieces and this is very handy. Based on this finished measurements I cut out a 20 at the arm and bust and graded to a 22 at the waist and hips. To fit my belly I graded a bit at the princess seams and narrowed the pleats. This after I lengthened the body with 2,5 cm and the crotch with 4,5 cm.

V9075
Grading at the side and the princess seams.

V9075

Narrowing the pleats.

To be sure that the jumpsuit would fit I made a muslin. I didn’t want to end with any form of cameltoe! The lengthening was okay, I could raise my arms and didn’t feel uncomfortable sitting down.
The bodice was a little too wide under the arms but that was easy to modify.

The fabric

I used this cotton and silk blend I bought at Goldhawk Road in April 2017. It was the end of a bolt, with a separate piece attached. That made that I had more than 3 meters for a ‘good price’ like the seller said! I never sewed with this type of fabric before but it went smoothly.
The silk gives it a faint shine and the cotton some rigidity, which I like for this silhouette. Also, this fabric has a great wrinkle recovery. On the pictures here in this post, you see how the fabric behaves after I wore the jumpsuit for a day. I cycled, I had lunch, I sat at my desk to write reports, and I had a walk.

 

The sewing process

On the pattern cover, you read that this is a very easy sew. And it is! It only takes much time because there are a lot of seams and these legs are very long and very wide! In my case, the side seams of the legs are 90 cm and the hem of one leg is 137 cm.
The instructions asked for lining the bodice but I didn’t do it because the fabric is rather heavy. Also because I didn’t have suitable lining when I sewed this jumpsuit in our holiday house in Italy. Instead, I finished the neckline with a facing. Next time I will probably use a

bias binding finish.

V9075 jumpsuit
The not so blind zipper!    The neckline finish with facing and rainbow overlock thread!

The only thing I struggled with was the blind zipper. Again, being in Italy in the countryside, I had only access to a small haberdashery shop. I needed a blind zipper of 65 cm long, although I had a smaller one with me to show, the one I bought was not a proper blind zipper. The first tape went in easy, using my blind zipper foot, but the second tape was horror. The stitches were to close to the teeth so the fabric got caught in the puller. Aargh!! I had to redo it several times and ended with some hand stitching.  So it is not perfect but good enough for me.

 

Conclusion

I am sew excited about my V9075 jumpsuit that I can’t hide it. I love, love wearing it. You have to do some arm exercises to get the zipper open but after a few times,  you handle that like a pro.

 

Will I sew more V9075 jumpsuits? I hope I will.

V9075 jumpsuit
The first outing of the V9075 jumpsuit was at the celebrations of the diamond wedding anniversary of my parents-in-law. Introducing the women of the family.

 

 

Eye-catchers #19

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 wardrobe

 

Follow below what caught my eye the last months:

Sara’s cape

Sewing a cape for myself is one of my secret wishes. I even don’t know if it would be something that would suit me but I like the shape of it. Also, I think it would very wearable here in Belgium as an in-between-seasons coat. Definitely something my wardrobe is lacking as made clear by Me-Made-May ’18. So I was immediately taken by Sara’s beautiful version of the Woodland Stroll Cape from Oliver + s. This pattern somehow escaped me but it is definitely on my sewing list now.

Martina’s refashioned sweater

refashion sweater

The Annual Restyling Exchange of Amy and Pilar is running to its end. With the big reveal weekend coming the 22nd, 23rd, & 24th of June. The sweater Martina refashioned is not for the restyling exchange but something she made for herself. She made a new Sewhouse 7 Toastersweater #1 out of two old sweaters she didn’t wear anymore. I find this a brilliant idea and very inspiring.

Izzy’s pencil skirt

diy wardrobe

I think we, sewists, all have been there, at least I have. You have some leftover fabric from a sewing project and you have this particular idea of what to sew from it. Then you don’t have enough! Izzy resolved this in a very creative way. For a pencil skirt, she added a lace band and cut out the bottom section the other way. A very clever idea with a stylish result!

The blouse from @fragmentid

Burda blouse tweak

Hacks or tweaks do not have to be complicated. @fragmentid lengthened the sleeves of this Burda blouse and finished the hem with gathers. She said that she didn’t wear it with the original elbow length sleeves. Again a brilliant idea with a stylish outcome. Very inspiring.

Giorgia’s African Wax culottes

African Wax Culottes

Giorgia just combined two of my favourite things: African Wax print and culottes. A golden combination. I already made the Velo Culottes in African Wax but seeing this version of Giorgia makes me want to sew several more.

Tilda Swinton by Tim Walker

Tilda Swinton

Wow! This picture of Tilda Swinton by Tim Walker is a real eye-catcher, isn’t it? When it popped up in my IG-feed (@the_red_list) I couldn’t stop looking at it.  The movement of the fabric is just mesmerizing. I wished I could make garments like that!

Did anything catch your eye lately?

 

Me-Made-May ’18—It’s a wrap!

I’ve just finished my third Me-Made-May and I’m feeling happy and a little sad at the same time. Happy because I managed to wear me-mades every single day of May 2018. A little sad because it’s over now and I have to wait another year for a new Me-Made-May!

mmmay18
Standing in front of Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror on day 30 of Me-Made-May ’18.
Me-Made-May ’18: Day 19-Day 31

I already showed my first 18 wears of MMMay’18 before, below you see my 13 last wears (blog post linked where the me-mades have been blogged).

19. Seamwork Oslo Cardigan.
20. Seamwork Brooklyn skirt and  Sew Much Ado Seafarer top; new combo!
21. Maria Denmark Rachel Wrap dress.
22. In the Folds Rushcutter dress.
23. Newlook 6106 skirt with Burda Turtleneck Top; new combo!
24. Zippy top from See Kate Sew with box pleated skirt from Allemaal Rokjes.

25. New!! Vogue 9075 Jumpsuit; will be blogged soon ;).
26. Schnittchenpatterns Chari dress.
27. True Bias Ogden Cami maxi dress.
28. How to do Fashion n°7. Vanlose trousers and top.
29. New!! Seamwork Mesa dress.
30. Skirt from Knipmode with a 15-year-old rtw top; new combo.
31. In the Folds Rushcutter dress #2

The Me-Made-May challenge

Me-Made-May is all about setting a personal challenge regarding your me-mades, you can read all about this on Zoe’s blog. So the big question is: “Did I reach my challenge?”

  • I wore at least one me-made garment every day.
  • I wore every garment only once; so I had no repeats!
  • I wore 12 garments I didn’t wear last May 2017. So I reached my challenge here as I pledged to wear at least 10 garments I didn’t wear last year. I made 3 new garments this month.
  • All my combinations of two garments were different than the previous years.

Was it hard? No, not really. After nearly 5 years of sewing clothes for myself I have a considerable wardrobe to go through each morning and make a selection. Also, a bonus was the nice weather we had here in Belgium because I have a lot of summery clothes.
So it wasn’t hard, although I have to confess that towards the end of the month I would have loved to wear something I already wore this month.

Reflections

First of all, I am proud of myself because I’m able to wear 31 different garments that were self-made and appropriate to the situation, in a row. I didn’t give this feeling a lot of consideration the previous years.
Still, there are some serious gaps in my me-made wardrobe. Where are thou: solid tops? trousers? bras? in-between-seasons coat?  And I sound like a broken record here.
So, I am going to make that my challenge for the coming year: focus on sewing these types of garments.

See you at Me-Made-May 2019!

PS. An enormous thanks to my husband who took all the photos this month. I love you, baby.

Two versions of the Seamwork Mesa Dress

It started with the fabric. Last January, on a family pizza night, I showed my fabric buys. When E. – my daughter-in-law – held the milk fabric in front of her it suited her perfectly. So I simply had to sew something out of this fabric for her. But what? It had to be a pattern for knit fabric and besides suitable for a pregnant woman. Yes, E. is expecting our first grandchild and we are thrilled about it!  After a thorough pattern search, the Seamwork Mesa Dress became the winner. And I enjoyed sewing E.’s dress so much that I immediately made one for myself too! Hence the story of two Mesa Dresses.

Seamwork mesa dress
Beautiful pregnant E. wearing her Mesa Dress!
Seamwork mesa dress
Future grandmother with her Mesa Dress!
The Mesa Dress pattern

Like all Seamwork patterns, the Mesa Dress has a simple pattern design. It only consists of 4 pattern pieces and, yeah!, it is available in A0 (copy shop) format.
Based on E’s new measurements I traced size M for neck and sleeves and graded to size L for the bodice of the dress. With the baby bump in mind, I lengthened the bodice with 7 cm. These alterations made a perfect fit.

Based on my measurements and based on the given finished measurements I cut out the XL pattern for me. But while cutting the fabric it started to dawn on me that knits always have some negative ease. So I started to worry that my dress was going to be too fitted. Alas, after basting the side seams my worry was confirmed. The fit was exactly right but too showing 🤦🏻‍♀️.
I didn’t have enough seam allowance to broaden the dress so the only solution was to sew in some side panels. Starting from nothing under the armpit and grading to the hem. All in all, I’m satisfied with the ease and the fit now. I deliberately didn’t bother with pattern matching to give it a small effect.

The fabric

The milk fabric, as I call it, is a french terry from See You at Six. This is dream fabric to work with. I used it before for a baby sweater and a sweater for my godson (not photographed yet). So I had a royal leftover of this fabric. Typical for #sewingleftovers is that you mostly have not enough length for the project you want to sew. So you have to be creative! I put a yoke in the back. Again I deliberately didn’t bother with pattern matching to give it a small effect.

Seamwork Mesa Dress
The back yoke and the slightly too wide neckline.

 

The fabric I used for the second Mesa Dress is a Cotton Jersey Poly Blend from Girl Charlee UK, that I bought in November 2016! So, using this fabric definitely counts for #makeyourstash.  It has some retro vibe and I love how it came out but in hindsight, it’s maybe a little too light. The Mesa Dress needs a heavier knit.

The sewing process

Sewing a Mesa Dress is easy. Also,  because you put in the sleeves first and after that, you close the side seams. I sewed both dresses on my overlocker for the seams and the neck binding. For the hems, I used the 3-step zigzag stitch.
The only minor thing about this pattern is the slightly too wide neckline. I already made the neck binding shorter but it still was a little too loose for both dresses.

Conclusion

Sewing the Seamwork Mesa Dress was fun! It made me happy all the time. Most of all I am very pleased with the dress for my daughter-in-law. Especially that she is able to wear it as a maternity dress.
Will I sew more Mesa Dresses? I think so. I’m already thinking of new version for my daughter-in-law. Wait and see!

18 days of Me-Made-May ’18

We are more than halfway through Me-Made-May ’18 and I wanted to let you know how the first 18 days of the challenge went.

As you can see in this little fragment— where I listen to my husband giving some posing instructions— the challenge is going smoothly. Even though I already wear my me-made clothes all the time throughout the year, I’m enjoying it a lot. Mostly, because I hadn’t worn some of the clothes I wore the last 18 days for a long time. Wearing them again made me happy, and probably (hopefully) these garments will come more in the rotation now.

18 days of Me-Made-May

Here’s what I’ve worn so far (blog post linked where the me-mades have been blogged).

18 days Me-Made-May '18

1. Odette dress – Blue Gingerdoll.
2. Seamwork Brooklyn skirt; new combo with very old RTW blouse and cardigan.
3. Seamwork Wren Dress.
4. New! Seamwork Eliza skirt.
5. True bias Hudson Pants; new combo with very old RTW tunic.
6. Colette Moneta dress.

18 days Me-Made-May '18

7. Daphe Day Dress from Sew This Pattern.
8. Colette Crepe Wrap dress.
9. DKNY Vogue 1349.
10. Telmadress from Vintage en Retronaaipatronen.
11. Megan Nielsen Briar Tee and A-line skirt; new combo!
12. Laneway Dress from Jennifer Lauren Handmade

18 days Me-Made-May '18

13. Festive plissé skirt in Lotte Martens fabric.
14. Veloculottes from Sew This Pattern paired with The Juniper Cardigan from Jennifer Lauren Handmade; a new combo!
15. The Rosa Shirt Dress from Tilly and the Buttons.
1
6. Julia Sweater from Compagnie M. combined with a self-drafted skirt; a new combo!
17. Papercut SJTee with an A-line skirt; new combo!
18. Deer and Doe Sureau Dress.

The Me-Made-May challenge

Did I reach my challenge? So far, yes!

  •  I wore at least one me-made garment every day.
  • I wore every garment only once; so I had no repeats!
  • I wore 7 garments I didn’t wear last May 2017. So I am on track here as I pledged to wear at least 10 garments I didn’t wear last year. Only one skirt came fresh from the machine.
  • All my combinations of two garments were different than the previous years.

When I look back at which garments I wore it strikes me that 10 out of 18 are dresses. And I always thought I was skirt kind of girl.

Was it difficult to select my clothes? No, it wasn’t. Partly because it is only the first half of the challenge and there are still a lot of options. Also, partly because we were blessed with some very sunny weather last week. So I could wear some of my summer clothes.

Overall I am very pleased with how MMMay18 is going and I am really looking forward to the next weeks. Are you too?

Me-Made-May ’18 ◊ I’ve signed up for #MMMay18

It’s the end of April and that means that Me-Made-May ’18 is very near. What is Me-Made-May? It’s a personal challenge to wear and to love your me-made-garments. This year is the ninth edition. If you want to know more about this challenge I suggest listening to the fantastic interview with Zoe, the founder, on the ‘Love to Sew’ podcast. Or read more on Zoe’s blog.

Me-Made-May '18 My Me-Made-May ’18 pledge

I, Wis (from @wis_g and www.whatisew), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18.

  1. I endeavor to wear at least one me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2018
  2. I will wear every garment only once; so no repeats.
  3. I will wear at least 10 garments I didn’t wear last May 2017.
  4. If I wear a combo of 2 me-mades I will wear a different combination than the previous years.

Me-Made-May '18

My Me-Made-May history

My first became aware of Me-Made-May in 2015. I was reading several sewing blogs and there was some MMMay15 buzz, either in blog posts or in the sidebar widgets. I was intrigued by this and I wondered if I could meet the challenge to wear me-made clothes during a whole month.

In July 2015 I joined Instagram (@wis_g) and made a huge and very inspiring connection with the International Sewing Community. So when Zoe made the announcement on Instagram for MMMay2016 I decided to accept the challenge and make a pledge. More, I made it quite challenging for myself because I endeavored to wear at least one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2016. I had no clue if I could make it but I did. Even more, I was able to wear a different me-made garment for 31 days.

Every day I posted a picture on Instagram.  I know this is not the purpose of Me-Made-May but I wanted to document the challenge for myself. More, this was an opportunity for me to archive my me-mades from earlier years. For this, I use the hashtag #wgsewingXX (where XX refers to the year I sewed the garment; so #wgsewing18 is for all my sewing I do in 2018)

Also, the pictures made it easier to contemplate about my self-made wardrobe and sewing.

These were my observations:

  1. I was able to wear at least one self-made garment every day for 31 days in a row.
  2. No repeats!
  3. While I wore only black clothes in the eighties, I was wearing a lot of colour being 55!
  4. Taking a picture of yourself every day was quite confronting.
  5. My style is very eclectic!
  6. There are only 6 self-made tops.
My Me-Made-May’s from 2016

After my successful first Me-Made-May, I participated again last year in MMMay2017. This time I made the challenge a bit more daring for myself. Not only did I endeavor to wear at least one different me-made garment each day for the duration of May 2017. I would also wear at least 10 garments I didn’t wear during May 2016.

For the second time I succeeded and I enjoyed it enormously. To be able to wear a different self-made garment for 31 days in a row made me happy. On top of that, I was really pleased that half of them were recent makes. Though I must confess that I didn’t wear some of the older makes since May 2016, I was happy with the excuse to wear them again.

For MMMay17 I documented on Instagram and wrote three blog posts about it. (I started this blog in December 2016). Again this made it easier to reflect on my wardrobe and sewing.

These were my observations:

  1. A LOT of prints! I definitely have to sew some solids.
  2. A variety of colours.
  3. No repeats, at all.
  4. An eclectic style.
  5. At that time we had some ‘tropical’ weather in Belgium so I was happy to wear my summer clothes.
  6. Two old rtw-tops. The others I made myself.
  7. Taking a picture of yourself every day is still quite confronting.
  8. I enjoy the challenge to search my wardrobe every day to look for a new me-made!

Wardrobe-wise I made some progress on self-made tops but I’m still lacking some garments in solid colours to combine with all my prints clothes.

MMMay17
My Me-Made-May’s from 2017
Me-Made-May preparations

How do I prepare for Me-Made-May? I don’t! That’s not exactly true but I mean I don’t sew any new garments especially in advance, or even during the month of May. Of course, when I finish something for myself I will probably wear it. This happened three times in MMMay16 and only once in MMMay17.

How do I then prepare? Instead of grabbing the first garment that comes to my mind in the morning I sort of plan my outfit in advance.

  1. I go through my agenda and look if there are some special activities or parties planned. If so then I know already which clothes I am going to wear for them.
  2. How many days do I have to teach or go to school. I try to picture in my head the work appropriate garments I have and that I could wear.
  3. Are there some vacation days? Again, I make a selection for these days.
  4. I check the weather forecast as the weather in Belgium is unpredictable. I am hoping for some sunny days because then I can prepare (in my head) my summer clothes.

Be aware that this planning is not on paper. These are only some thoughts in my head and they are not fixed. It is possible that at the end of May I didn’t wear that skirt that I thought of in the beginning.  After all participating in Me-Made-May is fun and shouldn’t be a stressy business.

I am really looking forward to MMMay2018. I’m definitely aiming to wear a different me-made garment every day. Also, if I wear two pieces I am going to try to make different combinations from the previous years.

See you at MMMay2018!

 

 

Fashion Revolution Week: restyling or ‘New Lease’

Every year between the 23rd and 28th of April the Fashion Revolution Week takes place. This is an awareness campaign to remember the victims of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Sadly, today 5 years ago on 24th April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapsed, which killed 1138 people and injured many more. To raise awareness that the fashion industry also has to be a clean industry—fashion can’t come at the cost of people or our planet—there are several campaigns and challenges this week on social media.

On Instagram, we have the ‘Makers for Fashion Revolution’ campaign hosted by Emily from ‘In the Folds’. Today’s prompt is ‘New Lease’.
Besides sewing your own new clothes there are also a lot of ways to changes old clothes to new ones. You can upcycle, recycle, restyle, refashion, embellish… them and so create new dazzling garments.

In this spirit, I want to draw attention to the annual restyling exchange of Amy and Pilar. This exchange fits perfectly with the Makers for Fashion Revolution action. I participated last year I want to share my experience with restyling a garment.

Fashion Revolution Week
Restylingexchange2017: look at this beautiful top Linda, @listokap restyled for me! I sent her an old dress that I only wore once!
My first experience with restyling:  a ‘New Lease’

*** This post was previously posted on June 17, 2017. ***

When Amy and Pilar announced the first annual restyling exchange I immediately jumped on board. Those who read my blog know that I am always in for a challenge!
What is this restyling challenge? You receive a garment from someone to restyle it. Meanwhile, you send a garment from yourself to someone else, also to restyle it. So I received a men’s shirt from Elisabete and sent an old dress to Linda. A simple and beautiful concept. To make it more easy to sew something a questionnaire with measurements, colour and style wishes was sent with the garment.

restyle men's shirt
From a men’s shirt to a women’s top.
Restyling: how do you start?

I have never restyled or refashioned an existing garment before. So I started with unpicking the main seams of the shirt. In the meantime, I thoroughly went through Elisabete’s IG-feed and read her blog. This gave me an insight into her style, but it was also a little intimidating because she is a very skilled seamstress and ‘refashionista’!
Looking through her pictures I got the idea of sewing the Kastrup top from ‘How To Do Fashion’. I have this pattern in my pattern collection but I didn’t use it so far. So no extra costs were made.

Fitting the new pattern on the shirt

Once I decided to sew the Kastrup top I stuck to it. This top has a vintage vibe and also nice sleeves. And, Elisabete has a thing for particular sleeves.
It was quite a puzzle to get the top out of the shirt. This was also the hardest work of the restyling.

restyle men's shirt
Fitting in all the pieces and cut them single layer.

restyle men's shirt

It was not possible to get the back pieces out in one piece. So I made a yoke for the back and used the original closure of the front for the rest of the back.

restyle men's shirt

I unpicked a little of the sleeve placket to be able to cut the new sleeve pattern.

restyling
The largest use of the old shirt!
Making my own border print

woodblock stamp printing

After cutting the pattern I was not satisfied. I wanted to give this restyling a more personal touch. So I decided to make my own border print. Also prompted by the recent positive experience I had with a border print.
My husband, who is an editor of artists books, has these Indian woodblock stamps, that would be perfect. I bought some blue textile ink and together we gave it a go!

woodblock stamp printing
The Indian woodblock stamp.
woodblock stamp printing
First test on a rest of the shirt.

restyle men's shirt

It is easy to print your border after your pattern pieces are cut. Then pattern matching is not difficult.

woodblock stamp printing

I was able to give one sleeve a non-conventional placing of the print. Which I adore.

Kastrup top - How to do Fashion

restyle men's shirt

Later on, I needed the test pieces to cut out the arm facings.

The Kastrup Top

Kastrup Top - How to do Fashion

Here is the result: «insert drumroll» the Kastrup Top! I adore how it came out. There are several features that I am proud of:
– The back with the yoke and the original front button placket.
– The sleeve with the non-conventional placing of the border.
– The vintage fabric used for the lining of the sleeves.

Conclusion
Kastrup Top - How to do Fashion
This is how I look after a full day of sewing.

I am super satisfied with my first restyle project ever. Now I hope that Elisabete likes what I’ve done with her husband’s shirt. I want to thank Amy and Pilar for this great challenge. I enjoyed every minute of it. More restyling projects will definitely follow.

When I was finishing this post, the message came through that Elisabete finally received my restyled top. She liked it and, moreover, the top fits! I am a happy woman now.

restyling Kastrup Top - How to do Fashion
©photos: Elisabete Carvallo
Sign up for the Second Annual Restyling Exchange

To sign up for the Second Annual Restyling Exchange go to Amy’s or Pilar’s blog and fill in the form. Simple as that. Maybe we meet as restyling exchangers!