Category: French seams

M.M.M.’13 Version 2.1 and Collegien Giveaway news!

My-Maxi-Miette 2013.

This pattern hack of the Miette skirt pattern by Tilly and the Buttons, was the result of an online search of Miette pattern reviews and a suggestion by the lovely Oonaballoona on her blog to make the Miette into a maxi. I thought this was a great idea and immediately stole it  was inspired to make one myself.

Maxi Miette skirt on tour in Venice, Italy
Maxi Miette skirt on tour in Venice, Italy

It’s really easy to make this pattern into a maxi. All you have to do is lengthen the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces to your desired final skirt length, being careful to follow the angle of the outer lines of the original pattern and remembering to include a hem allowance. Then construct the skirt as usual and voila, you have a maxi!

One more maxi skirt to add to this summer's growing collection
One more maxi skirt to add to this summer’s growing collection

I used a really lightweight and fine linen bought from Anita Pavani online shop (http://www.naturstoff.de) in the Italian designer fabrics section, to make mine. It’s really nice to wear and has washed well. I did French seams to join the main skirt pieces.

(BTW – Anita Pavani provide washing care instructions for the fabrics they sell and they recommend not spinning linen in the washing machine when you wash it, you should hang it and allow it to drip dry instead.)

Very fine and slightly transparent Italian linen
Very fine and slightly transparent Italian linen

I partially lined my maxi-skirt with more of the organic cotton batiste that I bought at http://www.lebenskleidung.com, that has served me so well as a lining for all of my summer makes this year. The batiste is really lightweight so it hardly added to the weight of the skirt at all but just gave me enough coverage and confidence to step out in bright sunlight, safe in the knowledge that my undies weren’t on show! I didn’t line the overlap piece at the back because it wasn’t necessary.

Lined partially with organic cotton batiste.
Lined partially with organic cotton batiste.

I made another Wiksten tank top in a Liberty Art Fabrics cotton print to go with this skirt, which I wore on this day-trip to Venice, Italy during our summer holiday this year. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it in Venice because by the time we’d reached the city from where we were staying, I’d already put my jumper on over the top of it, so here it is on my dress-form Beatrice.

Wiksten tank top and Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt
Wiksten tank top and Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt
Wiksten tank top in Liberty Art Fabric cotton print
Wiksten tank top in Liberty Art Fabric cotton print

BTW – If you’re planning to visit Venice, I would suggest getting to the Rialto bridge in time to catch the sun setting over the Grand Canal – the view is spectacular!

The view from the Rialto bridge over the Grand Canal, in Venice, Italy
The view from the Rialto bridge over the Grand Canal, in Venice, Italy

It gets a bit jammed with tourists though! You wouldn’t believe how many people I had to elbow in the face to get a bit of clearance for this photo!

The Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Elbows come in handy here!
The Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Elbows come in handy here!

Of course I’m exaggerating – it wasn’t that many!!

Anyway back to the Miette maxi skirt. It was comfortable and practical to wear for a day’s sightseeing around the quaint little streets of Venice.

Hanging with my kids in VeniceHanging with my kids in Venice

The skirt performed well under pressure, even under the harshest of test conditions, such as when I was hurling my toddler over the bridge into the canal for misbehaving! The back flap of the wrap didn’t budge all day, successfully avoiding any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions!

No wardrobe malfunctions of the back wrapover flap.No wardrobe malfunctions of the back wrapover flap.

Again, only joking of course – MY kids don’t misbehave!!

Very posy looking - I was actually just readjusting the wrap when my husband snapped this!
Very posy looking – I was actually just readjusting the wrap when my husband snapped this!

All in all, Tilly and the Buttons has created a very versatile skirt pattern and I love it!

As I write this, Tilly’s busy finishing off her first book for sewing beginners which is due out next spring. I can only imagine how good that’ll be! I wish her lots of luck with it and I’m sure it’ll be a huge success!

More YoSaMi news – don’t forget to stay tuned for the giveaway soon, it really is worth waiting for! You could win your very own pair of these delightful Collegien slipper socks!

Collegien slipper socks - they're French!
Collegien slipper socks – they’re French!

Also, I’ve finally finished my red silk Anna dress by By Hand London after what feels like f-o-r-e-v-e-r! I’ll be posting it as soon as I’ve had a chance to photograph it!!

Have a great week,

Christine

My first By Hand London Anna dress!

I say my first because this will definitely not be the last!  I love the Anna dress pattern! I feel like it was made just for me! The slash neck, the nipped in waist and gentle A-line skirt, all details that I love.

Unfortunately there are not many patterns that really flatter me. I have a natural ability to make most things hang unattractively like sacks. Clothes that look absolutely gorgeous on other sewers tend to look atrocious on me. So what a joy to find something that, dare-I-say-it, may actually suit me and fit me too!

So without further ado, I present to you my first and hopefully not my last Anna dress.

By Hand London Anna dress

Like others have said before me, I have so many more versions of this dress already planned. I’ll be joining the online sew along from By Hand London this month to make a silk version. I have a lovely silk twill from Italian designer Etro that I’ve just bought from the new autumn collection of Anita Pavani online (www.naturstoff.de) that is destined to become my next Anna.

back view of dress

For this dress, I used a black cotton eyelet batist fabric (also from Anita Pavani online) lined with a fine white cotton batist. I don’t tend to wear black and I’m probably the only woman not to have a little black dress in my wardrobe so I thought that that ‘LBD’ gap ought to be filled. I liked this eyelet batist as soon as I saw it and thought that if I underlined it with white it would lift if out of total blackness.

Anna dress - black cotton batist

To do the lining, I simply omitted the neck facings and cut all of the dress pieces out of the main black fabric and the white lining fabric and sewed them up as two seperate dresses and then sewed them together at the neck edge and then turned the while lining dress to the inside. From then on I treated the two dresses as one and hemmed both together.

hemming detail

I made my dress in size six with no alterations other that adding the lining. It’s really easy to make and sews up relatively quickly even though I did French seams on all seams.

French seams

This was the first By Hand London pattern that I’ve tried and I’m impressed by this new pattern company. The packaging of the pattern is so attractively done and I thought that the inclusion of the ‘By Hand London and Me’ made-by tag, that has been proudly sewn into the back of my dress, gives the final product a satisfyingly professional finish.

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I also loved the credit card sized fabric suggestions card. What a practical and thoughtful addition that is! You can slip that into your purse when you’re out shopping for fabric and away you go! No effort required and no need for scribbling on scrap bits of paper that get lost in your bag in amongst the nappies, the wetwipes, half-eaten apples and doggy bags. Not with By Hand London, you’re all efficient and organised with a card, explaining exactly what you need. I guess that’s what happens when you have women running a company! All details attended to!

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I’m really happy with my Anna dress and think it’s such a versatile and universally flattering pattern that everyone should make at least one of them!

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Am I the last person to make this dress? Are you joining me for the Sew-Along? I hope to see you there.

Megan Nielsen Cascade Skirt MN2202

After seeing several striking versions of this wrap skirt on sewing blogs including the wonderfully colourful version by www.lladybird.com, I succumbed to ordering the Megan Nielsen Cascade skirt pattern.

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Megan Nielsen is an independent fashion designer who has branched out into selling garment sewing patterns for home sewists. This is the first of her patterns that I’ve tried and so far I’m really impressed.

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The Cascade Skirt is described by the designer as a ‘full wrap skirt with a graduated hem and attractive cascades along the hemline.’  It’s aimed at novice sewers and is perfect for every day but also dramatic enough for special occasion wear.

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The pattern itself is well packaged in a bulging envelope with a velcro closure, which includes an instruction booklet and a multi-sized pattern made from sturdy paper. The instruction booklet is really comprehensive and covers everything you need to make the skirt from the recommended fabrics and tips for their pre-sewing preparation to cutting layouts and sewing directions including how to make a lining if using a very sheer fabric. There are also suggestions for how you could customise the skirt by altering its length and adding layers.

At the end there’s space to sketch out your own ideas and record all the details of your make in a pattern log, such as the fabric used, size, modifications etc.  This is really useful and a thoughtful addition for people with sieve-like memories like me!

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I decided to make the version with the front tie and found this cotton/silk blend batiste in the Italian designer section of Anita Pavani Stoffe online shop www.naturstoff.de. The pattern suggests lightweight fabrics with lots of drape so I thought this colourful batiste was perfect for this pattern, with the added bonus that it is machine-washable – a definite must for me especially as I’m around little kiddies all day!

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The fabric was a dream to sew but in full sunlight it’s quite sheer – as you can see in the above photo but I decided against a lining because I wanted to retain the fabric’s floaty nature and with the cotton content you can’t really see completely through it so I’m not being too indecent!

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The main body of the skirt was super quick to make – it only has four pattern pieces and is really straightforward, with only two seams to sew.  I did French seams as recommended in the pattern.

My one sticking point with this skirt was the narrow hem which I really struggled with at first. The sewing instructions explain how to make one but I have a narrow hem foot so it should have been simple for me – right?!

Wrong!!

I’ve had two babies and many sleepless nights since I last used my narrow hem foot and I find that lots of things pre-babies have just been erased from my memory! It’s as though I had a mental re-boot when I gave birth so that I could become a mindless nappy changing, bottom wiping and feeding machine. Has anyone else experienced this? Anyway unfortunately the knowledge of how to use my narrow hem foot appears to have been one of the things that ended up in the trash bin of my brain!

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I turned to my trusted friend Google and found ‘BrianSews Hemming Foot Tutorial’ on YouTube which was the perfect remedy.  What set this online tutorial apart from the others that I came across was that it was long enough to get the full gist of what I needed to do and also showed how to do a narrow hem using the specialist foot on a curved edge which is what makes hemming this skirt tricky.

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After watching this, I realised that I’d had too high expectations of my little gadget and had expected the foot to do the hem all by itself and I didn’t appreciate how much continuous manual manipulation of the fabric was required from me to correctly feed the fabric into the foot. As I pushed the fabric through the foot it kept popping out again and refused to roll over. Once I’d figured out why this was happening, hemming became a lot easier.

The key to a successful rolled hem seems to be taking care to keep the width of the fabric being fed into the gap in the narrow hem foot roughly the same width as the gap. When it’s narrower the fabric tends to pop out of the foot and enough fabric doesn’t feed in for it to be able to roll over itself as it should. Once I’d practiced a bit, it worked a treat – well almost, the finished hem isn’t perfect but it’ll do for a first attempt.

Overall I’m happy with the final result and it was a light and breezy skirt to wear when it was baking hot here this summer.  I would like to make another version with a level hem but that’ll have to wait its turn in the sewing queue.

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To wrap this wrap review up, I’ll leave you with this photo of me and my dog – don’t you think that it looks like we’re about to be abducted by an alien spaceship!

Wishing you a happy sewing weekend!

Vintage Lace Blouse Burda 3/2013 #137

Today I want to share with you a review of this vintage lace blouse that I made using pattern 3/2013 #137 from the BurdaStyle magazine and let you know about a good online source of organic fabrics that I found here in Germany.

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But first the review.

I’d had this vintage cotton lace in my stash for literally years.  In fact I’m shocked when I think of how long it’s actually been!  It was vintage when I bought it and must be uber-vintage now! How time flies, especially after you’ve had children!  Anyway I bought it on a flea market during a holiday in Provence in the south of France many moons ago.

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It had matured in my stash ever since, just waiting for a suitable project to come along and then I saw this blouse pattern in Burda Style and thought that finally it was a chance to give this lace a life.

Vintage cotton French lace from the South of France.

The pattern is rated as intermediate in the magazine, which I think is fair.  The main body of the blouse is made from a very fine organic cotton batist that I bought online at lebenskleidung.de.  I bought ten metres of it in the end of summer sale last year for forty euros and it was such a good buy – I’ve literally used it for everything!  I’ve lined so many dresses and skirts with it because it’s so soft and fine, it feels great next to the skin.

Organic cotton batist vintage lace blouse
Organic cotton batist vintage lace blouse

The cotton is so fine and transparent that I’ll have to be more careful about what I wear under it in future. As you can see in the above photo, a white vest is not recommended! It didn’t seem so see-through on the day that I wore it until I saw these photos – Oops! The camera never lies as they say! The cotton is natural coloured so I can obviously only get away with wearing cream or nude coloured under-things.

This was also why I chose to do French seams on all the seams, because I knew that they would be visible from the outside.  This made the construction of the blouse much more time-consuming and trickier than it should have been.

The basic construction of the blouse isn’t really complicated, just very fiddlely.  BurdaStyle magazine is available here in German although I’d downloaded the sewing instructions in English from the BurdaStyle.com website. And as anyone who has made anything from Burda magazine knows, the sewing instructions are often complicated to understand and the lack of pictorial guidance to further assist only makes matters worse which made wading through these instructions bad enough but it was those front and back yoke pintucks that caused the most headaches – and I’m sure added to my growing collection of white hairs!

buttons on back opening and close-up of pintucks
buttons on back opening and close-up of pintucks

French seaming everything made it really difficult to match the pintucks up on the joining seam of the yoke to make a nice and sharp ‘v’ shape.  They fitted together nicely for the first seam and then were all off for the second.  So finally after unpicking them several times when they refused to match up neatly, I surrendered and made the extra effort of basting them first to make sure they lined up correctly before I sewed them.  Thankfully, this worked!  They are not absolutely perfect, but nothing that I make is and I can live with that.

I left off the neck piece of lace mainly because I didn’t have enough lace left but I also thought it would have pushed the laciness of it over the top.  I was actually thankful to have run out of lace because all the lace on the front and back yoke pieces was hand-stitched down and I’d simply had enough by that stage!

I’m not a patient sewer. If truth be told I prefer quick and easy projects. Fast sewing. It’s just where I am right now.  I have a toddler at my feet most of the time, what more can I say!

Burda 3/2013 #137
Burda 3/2013 #137

Overall though, I’m pretty happy with this blouse.

How about you?  Do you like quick and easy sewing or slow-burn projects?

July Jumpsuit Trio

I’ve had a bit of a thing for making jumpsuits lately.  In fact, I’ve already made three!  What can I say other than -I like them – you get the fun of a dress with the practicality of trousers.

This blue one below, made up in a Liberty print tana lawn cotton, was inspired by a Liberty cotton jumpsuit I saw on the A.P.C. online shop earlier this year which unfortunately I don’t have a link to.  The A.P.C. one was retailing for nearly 300 euros!  Needless to say, mine cost a fraction of this price to make!

Liberty jumpsuit with side pockets P1230051

I found the pattern in this Japanese pattern book ‘Dressmaking at Home’ by Machiko Kayaki ISBN 978-4-579-11393-4.

It was really straightforward to make.  It consists of a top with an elasticated neck and wide leg pants which are then joined together in the middle with an elasticated waist and a drawstring with silver beads on the end – from La Droguerie in Strasbourg and in-seam side pockets. You get the whole thing on through the neck – this is the only opening so before I joined the top to the pants I checked that I could get my shoulders and hips through the neck opening.

The A.P.C. version had almost an identical looking neckline but it had a button opening on the front of the top from the neck down to the waist, which would make it a lot easier to get on and off.  I did toy with the idea of trying to copy this by altering my pattern and cutting the front top piece into two and adding a button placket.  But finally I decided against it.  I thought I’d make it up as it is first to see how it turned out.  Maybe I’ll make another with buttons next time.

In the book the pattern had been made up in viscose and was a bit wider and had more drape than mine in the tana lawn cotton.  So I took mine in a few centimeteres at the side seams and a bit in from the leg width because I was worried that it would be a bit too wide. Now that it’s made up though, I think a bit of extra width at the sides would have been ok.

The next two jumpsuits of the trio are two versions of the same pattern from this Japanese book – ‘Lots of Liberty print! Dresses and tunics’ ISBN 978-4-07-277210-2.

Liberty jumpsuit with patch pockets and tie-neck Liberty jumpsuit with tie-neck

This is another easy pattern that has patch pockets at the sides and separate belt at the elasticated waist and a tie halter neck top, which I also added beads from La Droguerie on.  This green one is another Liberty print tana lawn cotton lined with a very fine cotton batiste.

Lightweight denim jumpsuit with Liberty contrast belt

The final version is made up in a lightweight denim bought at the Hollander Stoff Markt in Karlsruhe, with a belt with a contrast side in Liberty print tana lawn – which can just be seen in the above photo.

I made them all using French seams and I would recommend adding a few centimetres to the leg length because I always find the Japanese patterns to have short legs – and I’m not tall at 162cm!

All three have been really easy and comfortable to wear and I’m really happy with them.  I’ve got a bold print drapey viscose that I would like to make a drapey neck version of the jumpsuit in.  All I need now is a few more hours in the day!

Have you made any jumpsuits?  Which patterns did you use?  I’d love to hear about them.

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