Picture perfect

This week had me saying goodbye to Sew It Up. And that’s too bad, because what I had prepared for the next challenge was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Want to see it anyway? Why thanks, supportive reader!

The challenge was to create an outfit based on the work of an artist. Now I happen to know very little about the visual arts, but I do know a bit about literature. I inquired with the organisers about working with a poet, but in the spirit of keeping a level playing field, I had to change my plans. And as such things tend to go, the right piece of inspiration crossed my path just as I was about to give up in despair!

Enter Andrei Tarkovsky. This is what Facebook is for, people: a friend posts a beautiful, impressionistic polaroid picture and BAM – inspiration hits me!


Andrei Tarkovsky’s polaroids project exactly the atmosphere I had in mind for this week’s challenge. I know – it’s a bit of a reversed logic. The truth is that the photograph caught my eye precisely because it depicts the mood and feeling I had on my mind. The diffuse light and faded colours, the simplicity of the subject matter and the emphasis on everyday beauty resonate with what I’ve been thinking and feeling of late.


See what I mean? I felt like flowy fabrics and early morning hues would be the perfect fit for this project. So here’s what I went with:


The skirt is nothing less than a dream wardrobe piece for me. The pattern is one of Sewaholic’s latest, Gabriola. I’m not usually one for maxi skirts, but this one… it just hits the spot. The fabric is a cotton satin that I got the fabric from Katelijne at Mondepot. It complements the pattern perfectly: it’s flowy but not flimsy, has a nice soft drape and keeps its shape well. The print works really well with the shape of the skirt, but I’m already dreaming of this skirt in a solid. Because look at it – the geometric panels in the Gabriola pattern skim over the hips so beautifully, it’s ridiculous. Owning only one of these just won’t do.

ImageThe top is another champion piece. You can get the pattern for free (!) from Fine Motor Skills, and I seriously recommend you make at least five of these for summer. The fit is just the right amount of slouchy but also a little bit sexy. The fabric is a super soft, thin micro modal from Mondepot.

The cardigan was a bonus garment. I felt like the outfit needed something to tie it together. When I saw this tie-dye knit at Pauli I knew it was going to come home with me. The pattern I used is the Karen cardigan from BurdaStyle; I did consider drafting something myself but I didn’t quite trust myself to pull it off.

To be honest, I feel like I nailed it for this challenge. I would have liked to continue in the contest, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be! On the upside, now I have time for a few of my backburner projects. More on those soon.



Last week’s Sew It Up challenge was a success: you guys voted me onto the second round! This week’s challenge was to make a shift dress and specifically to show the techniques used in the details and finishings.

A shift dress. I’ll just come out and say it: noooo. It is said that every woman needs a shift dress, but this particular woman does not. I like my dresses fitted at the waist. I did my research and found an abundance of tent-like rectangles with arm- and neckholes, and shuddered in abhorrence. But things are the way they are – I was going to have to make a shift dress and make it work. So I took it in stride and out of my comfort zone I went… with EVERYTHING. Fabric. Style. Finishings. The result is a great dress which I’m not sure I’ll ever wear.


Best thing about this picture has to be the sneaky garden gnome.

Introducing The Way Out There Dress. Don’t get me wrong, I do love everything about it. I love the fabric: it’s a silky crepe with a golden sheen that makes my feel like I’m the queen of Sheba. I love the cut, because it’s still a shift but I also have a waist. And I LOVE the lace, probably because there’s no way I’d otherwise have worked with lace for anything other than lingerie.

ImageI had so much fun putting this old gal together, too! I overlayed the side panels with the lace and slashed the shoulders for a little lacey detail, then spent hours matching the panels precisely at the side seams. The left side seam has an invisible zipper, making the matching part even more fun. I must have unpicked the zipper three times before I was happy with it.

ImageI added a full viscose lining, which of course meant having to repeat all the weirdly angled inserts for the side panels. And then I hand-stitched the lining to the outer fabric with a lace ribbon at the hem. Yes, really.

ImageAnd then I was done and tried to think of an occassion to wear this little number. Couldn’t think of one. Cried a little. Ended up deciding to make new friends of the variety that hosts cocktail parties. Just for you, my little parallelepiped love.

I beg of you, friends: host that cocktail party for me. And while I’m begging… maybe vote for me this week?

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I won’t say that I’m losing sleep over the Sew It Up contest… but maybe I am a bit. It could also be that I’m finally learning to drive (night terrors galore on that front), that we are in the midst of making very adult decisions at Miss S Headquarters, or just that I should really lower my coffee intake. In any case this contest has me very excited. Allow me to present the first challenge: the Pierrot jacket!


Please excuse the grainy pictures… The weather around here has been terrible and, consequently, so has the light.

This week’s challenge was all about making it your own. All contestants were sent the Jackie pattern from La Maison Victor, which is a classic Chanel-inspired tailored jacket, intended to be made with frayed edges and ribbon at the cuffs, neck and front. So classic, in fact, that I felt like an old lady just looking at it. It is beautiful and timeless, but I just couldn’t see myself wearing it. So I took the pattern and ran with it.

ImageThere was no way I was going to make the jacket in a tweed. I just don’t like the stuff – sorry. My fabric choice ended up being a no-brainer: I saw this slightly quilted, super soft cotton at Stoffen Joëlle and had to have it. I knew I wanted to do a full lining and chose a happy irregular polka dot that fit the bill.


Caution: lining success may lead to smug smiling.

The truth is that I didn’t need to alter the pattern very much. It is well designed and the sizing chart told me I could probably get away with a straight size 38. So that’s what I cut, including my standard extra cm of width at the shoulder. I then drafted the pattern pieces for a full lining, added hem allowances and called it a day. Yay for easy alterations, I say!

It looks like the Jackie jacket is going to be a wardrobe staple for me. I can totally see myself going on job interviews wearing this jacket – it says “I’m a bit serious but also a bit fun” before I’ve even had to open my mouth. Good thing, too, because once I do open my mouth things tend to get ugly.

I made the dress with the same goal in mind, but I’ll be honest: there is absolutely no way I would show this much leg for a job interview. Damn you, Sigma! I thought I was being smart by adding 4cm of length and doing a facing for the hem to save length… But still it turned out leggier than I would like. This dress is getting reassigned to comfortable party duty.ImageSo that’s what Sew It Up is getting out of me this week. Next week’s challenge is already on the sewing table… so I do hope I’ll make it that far!

Oh, and… Why “Pierrot”, you ask?



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Sewing It Up

Announcement! I’ve been selected to participate in Sew It Up, a Flemish-Dutch sewing contest which is going to take place over the course of May. Exciting, right? Yes! Also, sort of scary! There’s some stiff competition, peeps… Check out the other contestants at the Sew It Up website and you’ll see what I mean. These ladies are pretty awesome. I’m absolutely psyched to participate and may or may not have lost sleep over the first challenge already.

Another thing is that I’m guessing more people are going to be coming round here because of this. (Hi there!) I hadn’t really thought of that when I signed up for the competition; I’ve never actively tried to lure readers to this little corner of the interwebs and I enjoyed the (completely false) sense of privacy that gave me. But ok, fine, I’ll make more of an effort from now on. Maybe even regular posts…? Pinky promise – for the effort, that is.


Spring! Finally!

The sun is out, the birds are chirping away in the trees, and I’m doing some pretty cool stuff. This must be spring!

I’ve made a charming new acquaintance – with Katelijne from MonDepot. Katelijne lives right around the corner and has recently started up an internet business from her basement. She sells the fabrics that I’ve been having a hard time finding online in Belgium: not the fun, novelty printed quilting cottons that you can find on every corner of the interwebs, but wearable, modern fashion fabrics for serious adults. (Ahem. Maybe not so very serious all the time.) Being the unsatiable sewing addict that I am, we quickly came to a collaboration of the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” variety: I’ve been helping Katelijne out with sewing garments to showcase some of the fabrics she sells. This, I needn’t tell you, IS WAY AWESOME.

So! I am delighted to show you some of the results of this fun little endeavour… Drumrolls please!

Stripey Kanerva

Fabric: Brown and white striped jersey by Atelier Assemblé. Get it here at MonDepot. Pattern: Kanerva button back top by Named Clothing. I’m very impressed by Named’s new collection, by the way. Is anyone else ogling the Ailakki jumpsuit? I’m dreaming of pairing its bodice with Sewaholic’s latest pattern, the Gabriola skirt, for the most dazzling of evening gowns. I see red silk in my future…

Vichy checks

Fabric: a Vichy checkered cotton by Scapa. Find it here. Pattern: Butterick B5895 top by Gertie; jeans soon to follow because man, those have been screaming at me from my pattern stash.

My Sweetheart Renfrew

I call this one my Sweetheart Renfrew – the Renfrew pattern has inspired so much creativity already! I came up with this one to showcase the stretch lace fabric in the cutout – which, sadly, seems to be sold out now. The pattern adaptation was really quite simple: I raised the front neckline and slashed the pattern diagonally to get the sweetheart shape. I reinforced the seams of the lace with clear elastic to make sure everything kept its shape, although I don’t think it was entirely necessary. Here, have another photo, because I do love this one verrrry much.


Lastly, here’s a bit of a sneak peek from this week’s project. The fabric is an absolutely gorgeous thick, soft cotton by Antwerp-based designer Stephan Schneider – this one, to be precise. You guys, trust me when I tell you that you need this fabric in your lives. Katelijne offers it in blue, green, yellow, dark grey/brown and the lighter grey and yellow you see below. I went with my gut, thinking that a very clean-cut coat would really allow the fabric to shine. Looks like I was right.


Pattern: collarless open coat 03/2012 from BurdaStyle. I added a centimeter to the shoulder seam and lengthened the sleeve, which are becoming pretty much standard alterations for me. I skipped the FBA that I usually need, since this coat has no closures. It fits me perfectly and I am totally in love. I’m also pretty proud of how well I’m sewing for the coming season rather than the current… but that could just be me wishing winter to be over as quickly as possible.


What are your sewing plans for spring?

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On fitting jeans

I’ll just come out and say it – I have a fairly big bum. Generations of fertile women have passed on their signature hips to me, and for that I am grateful. I suspect, however, that I am the first in that long line to attempt to squeeze those hips into pair after pair of skinny jeans.

When I started sewing I believed, for a minute, that all my jeans fitting issues would be resolved once I’d start making my own. Ah, if only things had been that easy! Take a look at my first attempt: Named’s Jamie jeans.

ImageI’ll start with the back, because the issues I have here are actually quite minor. (Hello, butt picture!)

My biggest problem here was that my waist is much smaller than the size of my bum would indicate. I cut a straight size 40 according to the pattern and had to take at least 4cm out of the waistband to make it fit. Lesson learned: grade down at the waist. Also a bit annoying is the wrinkling at the upper thigh. I think this is because I have wide thighs (and can we all agree on how sexy I’m making myself sound here?), a problem I think I can solve by adding some width to the inseam of the pant legs.


Don’t look at my tired face and/or messy hair – look at my crotch. (Never thought I’d say that.)

Now as for the front… this is where I felt I had the most visible issue. Baggy crotch! Ew. I really had no idea what went wrong here or how to solve it. After googling such unsavory terms as ‘crotch length’ and ‘crotch depth’ I think I understand the issue much better. These two posts helped tremendously. Here’s the next issue though: I clearly need to remove length from the front, but definitely not the back since a ‘big butt adjustment’ is still in order (I’ll get back to that). So what I need to do is change the crotch length without touching the side seam. That means that I will need to use a cut-and-lap method rather than folding over the excess length from side seam to mid-crotch.

Most of this I learned only after making a second attempt with a different pattern. Like I said, I wasn’t sure what went wrong and wondered whether Jamie and I were just not made for each other. My next project was Anita.

ImageImageAnita and I clearly have some things to work through as well. This is a size 38 and I find it generally a bit loose. Of course I had to take the waistband in quite a bit. Again the crotch is clearly too long at the front (eek, crotch wrinkles). And finally, I would never dare to sit down in these pants. Big butt adjustment to the rescue. Or should I say FBA (full behind)? GGA (grotesque ass)? This stuff is confusing. To sum up, for my next attempt at making my own jeans, I will need to 1) grade down at the waist, 2) adjust the crotch depth to fit my thighs, 3) adjust the crotch length to avoid droopiness in the front and 4) create room for my derriere in the back.

That was a lot of talk about crotches, all to get to this: it took me a looooong time to figure out which adjustments to make to these patterns. So here are a few links to the most helpful resources, all for your convenience!

You’re ever so welcome!


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Hello, baby!

Recently I’ve had the honour of welcoming a couple of brand new human beings into the world. And how else would I have done that than with a little DIY?


For little J, I made baby slippers with some felt and cotton scraps, and a personalised onesie. The onesie is store-bought (this was supposed to be a quickie project!) and I added the initial cut-out from some Petit Pan fabric.


I used a blanket stitch for the appliqué. The stitch is simple enough and the result is quite pretty. And I learned that hand stitching is the perfect TV activity!


The shoes… Well, we all know that babies hate shoes. They kick them off in any direction they can in the hopes of never having to wear them again. Still, I wanted these to be more or less practical and found them quite a challenge. I ended up drafting my own pattern. The fifth (!) attempt was a keeper. The fabric is a leftover from my foxy Sorbetto.

Baby J is a dear friend’s little boy, born in September. I repeated the onesie project for baby M who was born shortly after J. I doubt J and M will ever meet, but I enjoy knowing that for the first weeks of their lives, they will have had matching outfits!