Category Archives: Sewing

Checking Off My Must-Have List: McCall’s 6800

Guys! Have I mentioned that I write blogs professionally nowadays? Ridiculous, right? Especially considering what a terrible job I’m doing here… But you’ll get no apology from me! This is my blog and I will post as irregularly as I damn well please. Except that, you know, I’m sorry and I’m working on it. 😉

Let’s chat about this year’s winter coat. It was on my must-have list for quite a while before I finally got around to it – much like my Minoru jacket, which I mentioned very briefly in my last post. Anyway, here it is: McCall’s 6800. Continue reading

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Getting Back on the Horse: Hits and Misses of 2014

Confession time: I’m a terrible blogger. Getting myself to update this thing on a more or less regular basis… It’s clearly not my strongest suit. So in the spirit of getting back on the horse, here’s a picture-heavy recap of my year in sewing projects.

First… the bad!

Deer & Doe Airelle, January 2014

Deer & Doe Airelle, January 2014

Not so bad at first sight, is it? Oh, but it is. Deer & Doe’s patterns are so adorable, but I should have learned by now that they’re just not made for my bosom. An FBA should have been the first thing on my mind. But it was not… so the top rises up over my bust, baring my stomach. This was also the last time I let myself fall for a polyester fabric. So on all accounts: no, no, no, no. I gave this top away.

BurdaStyle Anita: January 2014

BurdaStyle Anita, January 2014

Another January fail: my Anita jeans. Initially blogged here, I knew before I even finished them that I would never wear these. Sad crotch, saggy waistband and room for about half of my butt. Nope.

BurdaStyle shift dress with side panels, May 2014

BurdaStyle shift dress with side panels, May 2014

Oooooh. The sad little shift dress. I worked so hard on this one, and it’s been hanging in a dark corner of my closet ever since. Making it an absolute, undeniable miss of a dress. Its only virtue is having taught me to sew for my own style – even if it’s for a contest.

BurdaStyle cigarette pants, August 2014

BurdaStyle cigarette pants, August 2014

And just for funsies, here’s a fourth miss from this past year. That crotch! I tried everything with this pattern, but even after many alterations this was the best I could get out of it. In the bin it went – pattern and pants. Perhaps I should just stay away from Burda.

Now for the hits – and I must say, 2014 has been a very successful year for me, overall!

Butterick B5895, March 2014

Butterick B5895, March 2014

Who cares that I have yet to find a single occasion to wear this little ensemble to – I love it to pieces! This is Gertie’s retro top and high-waisted jeans for Butterick. If only I remember to size down next time, I’m thinking many reiterations of this one. And then maybe a rockabilly party.

Sewaholic Gabriola, May 2014

Sewaholic Gabriola, May 2014

Just look at her swish! My Gabby, she’s a winner. I whipped her up for Sew It Up back in May, before I knew I’d be eliminated in the round before this one. No matter; she and I spent an amazing summer together. I couldn’t even bear to put her in storage for winter.

By Hand London Victoria blazer, July 2014

By Hand London Victoria blazer, July 2014

Victoria, my go-to jacket for the summer. She’s completely reversible, so she combines with anything and everything. AWESOME.

Sewaholic Minoru jacket and Thread Theory Newcastle cardigan, November 2014

Sewaholic Minoru jacket and Thread Theory Newcastle cardigan, November 2014

Hah! Would you look at that – I snuck in a two-in-one. My Minoru jacket is entirely waxed on the outside and lined with faux-sheep. Cosy and dry, just how I like my autumns. Wim’s cardigan went from the bolt onto my sewing table and into this photoshoot within a week. He hasn’t taken it off since. (Seriously, I have to steal it off him to get it into the laundry.) Photo by Frieda Vanhauwaert – thanks Frieda!

I’d say 2014 was a good year for sewing. It was certainly intense, what with Sew It Up and my collaboration with Mon Depot. I met Anneke, Lieke, Hanne and Caroline. My homemade wardrobe exploded. And I completely forgot about my blog. I’m sorry, guys. Give me another chance in 2015?

Sewing and Body Image

I’ve been eagerly following the Curvy Sewing Collective – not because I fall into the category of ‘plus-size’, but because I’ve noticed that no sewing pattern caters precisely to my body type, and I’m interested to see how others deal with such issues. I realise that for many, sewing their own clothes is a way to avoid the frustrations of RTW shopping where one size never really fits all, items that look pretty on a model are far from flattering on a real-life body, and the emphasis undeniably lies on the very skinny end of the spectrum. I, for one, never EVER manage to squeeze my thighs into pants that fit at the waist, so I inevitably have to size up and take my gaping waistbands as a bonus. Making my own clothes bypasses the impossibility of trying to fit into a ready-made size and I am thrilled to be able to do that. It is clear that many sewists share that experience.

The day I realised I needed to learn about swayback adjustments.

The day I realised I needed to learn about swayback adjustments.

HOWEVER. I’ve found the very same adage to be true for sewing as for buying off the rack: in order to be comfortable, you have to sew for the body you have, not for the body you want. The truth is that I feel more comfortable, more confident and more beautiful when wearing something that fits me perfectly, rather than anything that pinches, cinches, or is just two sizes too small. But when my measurements put me at a size 42 instead of the elusive but oh-so-desirable 38, I can only admit that I tend to cut a size 40. As a compromise. A compromise for the benefit of my self esteem or my preconceptions of what is acceptable as good, pretty or even healthy for a woman. But also, I am well aware, a compromise on comfort and even happiness.

Too small? Ohhh yes. DEFINITELY too small.

Too small? Ohhh yes. DEFINITELY too small.

Sewing changes nothing about that. Yes, I can alter patterns to achieve the perfect fit: smaller at the waist, larger at the thighs, and let’s not forget that I have that ampler-than-average chunk of meat on my rear as well. If done properly, my me-mades fit me well and flatter my figure. But it also takes courage and an almost cruelly honest eye. I need to know precisely how large my bottom is if I am to fit the perfect pair of pants around it. And I do find that an unpleasant confrontation. Does anyone else?

Dressing for a 1920s Themed Wedding

It’s been a long time coming – the 1950s revival is still in full swing, but the 1920’s are clearly catching up. (Hah, full swing. Good pun, if I do say so myself.) I’ve been listening to a lot of electro swing lately, and I can see the genre becoming big very quickly. Downton Abbey, Boardwalk Empire, The Artist, The Great Gatsby… all have visually brought the 20s back to us. I’m sure we’re only just seeing the beginning of a 1920s revival. But must it really be a fashion revival, too? Continue reading

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A Foxy Sorbetto

I had to give Colette’s Sorbetto top a try – it looked like such a quick, gratifying project. And it was! It took me an hour to put it together, and I just had to wear it immediately. In fact, I wore it to a job interview this morning… probably not the most professional outfit, but it definitely shows my personality.

A summery Sorbetto, already a bit wrinkled from hanging out at the park.

The fabric is Socks the Fox by Michael Miller. I used store-bought bias tape, although I’m sure it would look great with matching self-made bias as well. This is such a great pattern for a beginner, Colette’s instructions are easy to follow as usual and there’s really nothing challenging about putting it together. Just a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Fun fact – I was a bit short on fabric so I had to cut the front in two pieces, adding a separate piece for the pleat. And then I went and put the pleat in wrong side up. I thought it was a hilarious mistake to make, and decided to leave it that way. Just to honour what a dunce I am.

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Work in progress – if progress is the word.

One of my first projects when I got my sewing machine back in November, was the immensely popular Coffee Date dress. It’s a pattern from The Selfish Seamstress, available at BurdaStyle (here) for free. Let me repeat that. For free. It’s a basic dress with a bit of frill, just how I like it. I fearlessly got to work, cursing merrily as I tend to do in the face of a challenge, and plowed on. The final result was actually not terrible.

Coffee Date dress - first attempt

Coffee Date dress – first attempt

Continue reading