Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sewing Top 5 2015 - Hits & Misses

It's this time of the year again. The Christmas holidays are over, there's only a few dozen hours left in the year, we're a bit sad to see it go but excited for the new one - time to have a bit of a lookback and join Gillian's #sewingtop5!
This year really has been an exciting one, or maybe intense is a better word. Mostly job-wise for me, but there was also some family stuff going on. Looking back, I'm really greatful for the job I had in Acute Geriatrics for 10 months, because I learned loads and grew both as a person and as a doctor. I'm rather happy to have landed back in a doctor's practice now, though. It's so much more chilled, it's not even funny - although after a two month break, I have now decided to go back to the occasional night on call... ;-)

Anyway, sewing-wise, it was a much less exciting year. I guess I can be glad that I managed some time for sewing at all. Blogging and reading blogs and commenting fell totally to the wayside for a while. 

I actually had a hard time to come up with some sewing misses at all, since I didn't sew that much - it took a bit of thinking. I'd say that all of the following are part-misses for one reason or another, nothing that really screamed big-time failure.
1. My biggest miss really is that I had so little sewing time, and fell out of touch with blogging and reading and commenting for so long - so here's a symbolic pic of my sewing machine. 

2. That red pair of Sewaholic Thurlow trousers is yet unblogged, and started out pretty well, but turned out quite a way to big. Possibly partly the fault of the linen fabric... I tried taking it in at the back, but threw off the crotch curve while I was at it. Oh well. I guess it's mostly wearable. Better luck next time (as I have that fabric in another three colours).

3. My Closet Case Files Bombshell swimsuit also gets to take part in the misses, even though it's really rather cute. The fit feels very tight and the lining is too thick, I think. In any case, I haven't actually worn it this year.

4. You'd think that teal polka dot jersey dress is exactly my style, and to be honest I have worn it quite a lot - mostly on the way to and from work, because it fills the requirement of being appropriate for public, has long sleeves and feels like secret pyjamas. It's pretty much the last thing I reach for on non-work days, though. No idea why, it just feels a little bit drab...

5. I really like that Deer&Doe Bruyère shirt (also still unblogged, oh my)! I had to shorten the sleeves to 3/4 though (I look silly in long-sleeved collared shirts), and the cuff turned out pretty tight. Which made my choice of snaps instead of a button hole even sillier. I'll have to put on new cuffs with real buttons at some point. Until then, this shirt just feels a bit not good...

Ok, on to the hits then!
1. Ginger jeans by Closet Case Files. They're not perfect but I love them. :-)

2. The green maxi dress. I really wore it all during the summer.

3. The rose dress (unblogged) is a very recent make from shortly before Christmas, just like the 
4. striped cowl-neck Lola. Both have already seen quite a bit of wear over the holidays and I think they turned out very nicely.

5. Rose print Appleton dress by Cashmerette. I feel quite elegant wearing it. :-)

So a lot of the garments I made are still unblogged. I think I will find the time to redress that at some point. Until than, hope you have a lovely New Year's Eve and Happy New Year 2016!

PS: If you're interested, here's a link to my #sewingtop5 of 2014. ;-)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

An Exercise in Origami - Jade Skirt

First things first: this is a review of a pattern that I have received for free, with the express intent that I blog about it.

I made these two cute Jasper skirts back in spring. The pattern is by Lisa from Paprika Patterns, and back in February she was extending her size range (it now goes up to a waist/hip measurement of 105/128 cm // 41.5/50.5 in) and looking for reviewers for the new sizes. I loved the look of the skirt, the folds look so cool! So I was very happy to be chosen.

I actually started making the pattern up right away, but made a couple of mistakes when chosing and cutting my fabric, which made the process of getting the folds in place really tedious and frustrating. Since I suspected that my fabric choice was at fault (the folding process does look rather effortless in this video tutorial), I wanted to try a second time to give an unbiased review. And it did work a lot easier the second time round! But then life intervened and I never managed to remember to make some decent outfit pics, so now it's December.

But: I managed to time this review with Lisa's new pattern release: the Zircon sweater and dress, and her patterns are 20% off until tomorrow! Just in case you're interested.
Pattern & Instructions:

It's a PDF pattern and I had no particular problems with assembling it. My version didn't yet come with layered sizes, not sure about the current version. (The Jasper sweater/dress has them and they're so cool!) The instructions are very thorough and easy to follow, and for the slightly more difficult bits, there's a reference to the tutorials on her blog (like the video above). Some bits are rather fiddly (like the folds and the final putting-together of the side seams), so I'd recomment at least some experience with sewing knit fabrics.
Sizing & Fit: 

Sizes go from 1 to 10, which covers everything from a 24.5 in/62 cm waist to a 41.5 in/ 105 cm waist, though I do think that there is some room depending on your fabric. I made size 6 according to my hip size, and as my fabrics were stretchier than recommended, had to take both of them in a couple of centimeters. The instructions include a final fit before adding the waistband, which I think is a fantastic way to get the fit that you're looking for!

Things to keep in mind: 

1. I was actually a bit surprised both at how much fabric was needed and how long construction took for this skirt. But if you think about it, it's fully lined and the folds take up quite a bit of fabric, as well as construction time. The waistband is curved for a better fit, which also takes up a bit more fabric. So really, I could have forseen that. ;-)

2. The very silly mistake I made with my first version was that I used a rather drapey rayon jersey, and cut out the front on the cross grain. I know, whyever would I do that??!? It was one of those fabrics where the white shows through when you stretch it horizontally, but not when you stretch it vertically, so I wanted the stretch to be vertical. As it's a knit, this threw off the drape so badly that it took me ages to get the folds in place. I had to use a myrad of pins *and* press them into place.

Despite my initial problems during construction, I like my two skirts quite a lot and I've worn them regularly during spring, early summer and autumn. Knit skirts just can't be beat in the fit-and-comfort aspect! It's not as quick a project as I thought, but I'm planning on making another version or two, maybe in a heavier fabric for the colder season. :-)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Two Appletons for Autumn ...

... and spring, and possibly the cooler parts of summer and the warmer parts of winter as well. :-)

It's been a while since I last jumped onto a new-pattern-bandwagon while it was still running, so to speak. My to-sew list is always so long and my love of using my favorite patterns multiple times so big that I tend to need to see several dozen amazing versions made by others, before I'm convinced that I actually need a new pattern.

With the Cashmerette Appleton dress, it actually only took a tiny poke (by Gillian) to get me to buy the pattern, print it out and make it up, all inside of maybe a week. And boy, am I happy I let myself be convinced.

This geometric rayon jersey print wanted to be a wrap dress since I first saw it, but I wasn't quite happy with the first Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress I made last year. It gaped, which didn't make it unwearable, but seeing as it's a cute black&white polka dot dress, it certainly isn't worn as often as it could be, because the need to wear a slip or tank top underneath annoys me. So when Jenny advertised her Appleton dress, with cup-based sizes and a guaranteed no-gape neckline, and I looked at the sizing and saw that my measurements fell, for once in my life, into one straight size, it's maybe not very surprizing that it only took Gillian's "come on, go for it".
And it's a terrific dress! I cut out a straight size 12, C/D cup, not even shortening the bodice, since even on the models it seemed to sit where I prefer it, which is a bit lower than empire-waist but definitely higher than natural waist.

And the only alteration I made to have it fit perfectly was to shorten the hem by about 4 inches! Granted, it's a jersey wrap dress. If you think about it, the fit should be quite forgiving. Still. It does. Not. GAPE! The neckline sits pretty much exactly where I prefer it. The waist tie sits pretty much exactly where I prefer it. This is my personal wrap dress perfection. Jenny, I really have no idea why or how you managed to read my mind in this way, but you did, and it's fantastic. (Could you maybe read my mind about shirtdresses next...?)
I'm a bit sad that I didn't manage to take actual nice outfit pics of this dress. I even packed it for my long weekend trip to Italy at the beginning of November (like several other unblogged-as-yet outfits), but didn't manage to wear it until our trip back...

I did manage to wear the other Appleton dress I made, though, for a lovely and warm afternoon of wine-tasting at a Castello. 
If you would just ignore the shoes I paired it with. We went by plane, so I only took two pairs. ;-)
Also, please observe how I'm trying to make angles with my body, following Jenny's advice in Gillian's Better Picture Project. Ahem, yes, I know how completely fangirly I sound.
I think I may like this version even a tiny bit better than the geometric one. I was worried that the rather large rose print might be a bit too granny-ish but I think the contrast tie takes it more towards a ... kimono style, maybe? I don't know, but I like it.

Ok, so now for some facts:
Pattern: Cashmerette Appleton dress, size 12 (C/D cup) - the PDF is actually really nice to tape together, since there's an all-over grid to make it easy to align
Fabric: 1.5 m each of geometric rayon/lycra jersey (Maybachufer Market) and cotton/lycra rose print ( as well as 40 cm of red rayon/lycra jersey
Notions: none
Time to complete: about an hour for taping and cutting the pattern, half an hour for cutting the fabric, and maybe an hour and a half sewing-time
Techniques used: I used my overlock machine for most of the construction, the hems were made with a zigzag stitch on my conventional machine, because I was too lazy to re-thread the coverstitch.
And what to do differently next time: nothing, actually. :-)

So there's still several unblogged outfits, plus the Christmas party from my workplace is on Friday, and I meant to make that silver&black sweater jersey into an appropriate dress for the occasion... Then again, I've got a rehearsal and a choir concert tomorrow night and the night after. Hmm. Some sewing during lunch break, maybe?

Are you sewing for the holidays?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Winter Sewing Plans

Well, well, well. I don't know how this happened, but this post has been sitting around unfinished for over six weeks... I titeled it "Fall Sewing Plans", because back then, we were just going into the crisp, colourful part of fall, but by now I'm guessing winter isn't far around the corner, and the pretty red and yellow leaves have already turned dry and brown and fallen down. I also hear that we may be getting snow next weekend...
So it's a good thing that I've done at least a bit of fall sewing already, but since this post has been sitting around already half-finished, why waste it?? So here we go.

A while ago, I catalogued the fall/winter appropriate fabrics in my fabric stash. There are really quite a few, enough probably to make a whole wardrobe without buying anything new. Which means I really only have to pair fabrics with appropriate patterns and prioritize, and voilà: sewing plan! (Hehe, funny me, I never stick to plans anyway. But the planning itself is sort of nice...)

The next question, of course, if there's anything I need to make, to close a wardrobe gap. Well. I have the feeling that it would be nice to have a couple more leggings, and maybe a pair of Hudson pants, to lounge around at home. I also would love one of those warm, wooly, long cardigan, which seem to be in fashion right now, although that's probably something best knitted, which I'm not sure if I could finish in any reasonably amount of time. Apart from that, I think I don't have any actual "needs".

So, let's start with a few of the fabrics I'm really excited about! The first three are from Lillestoff, which had a pop-up store in Berlin a little while ago. I never tried them before (I usually stick to the cheaper fabrics) but after reading several gushing reviews (by Heather and Mary, among others), I had to at least have a look. The ones shown here are a cotton/spandex jersey with rose print, a black & silver metallic sweater knit and another teal/white striped sweatshirt knit.
I'm not sure what to make with the rose print yet. Possibly a simple long-sleeved jersey dress, maybe one with a knot detail. I'm pretty sure it will need a solid black midriff band, and possibly solid black neckline and cuff bands, to break up the rose theme a bit.
The metallic one will be a sweater dress. I'm not sure yet if I will go the princess-seamed, Lola-without-the-pockets route, or if there will only be bust darts. I think I'm going to make that one my Christmas dress. Sort of a casual-chic, glittery, secret pyjama dress. My favoirte kind. ;-)
Jasper dress
Now, the striped one will definitely be a Lola, or possibly a Paprika Patterns Jasper dress. Since the colour scheme is more spring/summer, maybe it will keep for next year. 
Oh look, more flower prints! I really love the print of the topmost fabric, and was meaning to make leggings with it when I ordered it online. It turned out to be a ponte/romanit jersey, though, with limited stretch and recovery, so now I'm a bit stumped. I've never used that kind of fabric before. So... probably a dress? Or maybe some kind of zippered jacket thingy? I've got the Waffle Patterns Cookie Blouson pattern... But I'm open for suggestions.
The striped one will probably be a longsleeved shirt. And I've already made up the bottom two fabrics. If you're following me on Instagram, you may already have seen the results. Hoping to blog about those soon!
This is my pile of miscellaneous jersey, most of them impulse buys from the Holland Fabric Market. I should stop that, all of them are just 1 m coupons, too. I was meaning to use the two at the top for a colourblock Jasper dress. And maybe make shorty pyjamas from the two in the middle...? I'm seriously short on sleep shorts (pun intended) at the moment, and they're practically all I wear to bed, even in winter. ;-) Last one is a nice, silky rayon jersey, destined to be a top of some sort.
These are my actual winter weight fabrics. A jersey jacquard at the top, followed by a textured wool knit and two textured cotton/poly knits. I bought the first one in inspiration of Gillians fabulous Jasper dress and want to shamelessly copy it, if I can find another nice textured fabric to go with it. Sadly, I think the wool fabric below it is a bit too heavy to work. I see that one as a sleeveless jumper dress, maybe with a cowl. No idea what to make with the dotty fabric, it's another online buy and I didn't anticipate the dots to be so close together, the effect is a bit psychedelic. Maybe a figure hugging skirt, though? What I wanted to make was a polka-dotted blazer, but for that I think the fabric isn't quite right.
The last one is a souvenir fabric from last year, when we were visiting B.'s grandparents in Wiesbaden. I guess I'm getting a bit repetitive when I say I planned on making a dress with it, probably long-sleeved and A-line, maybe with a bit of a 60s mod feel to it.
Another pile of miscellaneous fabric. The one at the top is a stretch cotton, which I thought might make a fun pair of leggings. Fun fact: it has no crosswise stretch at all, only stretches length-wise. Why??? Again, I'm open for suggestions. If I can think of nothing else, I guess it will make a cute little girl's dress (seeing as I recently acquired a 1-year-old goddaughter :D).
The lace print rayon is quite thin, and also just a 1 m coupon, but I was wondering if I couldn't maybe manage to get a Colette Macaron dress out of it, using either black stretch lace or jersey for the yoke and sleeves. And the last two fabrics are a leftover from another jersey dress. I've been thinking about making a kimono-sleeved top with a patterned back and solid front. I've never actually worn a kimono top, so I have no idea if it's my kind of thing at all, but it's fun to try something new once in a while.
Ooh, blue stretch lace and matching jersey! The lace is actually a cut up dress that I won in an internet giveaway a few years back, which sadly didn't fit me at all. Low-waisted, dirndl-skirt dresses just don't work for me. I've always been meaning to salvage the fabric, 'cause it's really nice and a lovely colour. If I raise the waist and make the skirt an A-line, I'm pretty sure that should turn out nicely.
And last but not least, I bought that blue&black wool fabric at the most recent Holland Fabric Market. It's destined to be a princess-seamed winter coat, but I'd really like to pair it with a nice, solid black fabric for the sides and possibly the sleeves. I'm still on the lookout for some decent black wool fabric, though, and I haven't found my pattern yet, either. I think view B of McCall's M5525 (with long sleeves) is rather cute, but I also really like Simplicity 2508, especially with the funnel collar in the white version.
I've dithered about getting either of them, because they seem to be difficult to get in Germany and shipping prices from the US are quite ridiculous. Maybe I'd better have a look through the current Burdastyle patterns, to see if I can find something nice there... ;-)

So, that's it for my fall/winter sewing plans! If I actually manage all of that, I will be quite impressed. ;-) Then again, depending on how long winter is going to last, it might even be possible. I started a new job at the beginning of November, where I only work 4 days a week, which so far has been absolutely fantastic! For now I'm still catching up on stuff that has been piling up the last few months, but once I get that done, I'm hoping to make that one my sewing day. :-)

Do you have any definite sewing plans for winter? Anything exciting? Coat sewing?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Summer Sewing I

Oh, hi! Look who it is - yes, that's me. Not quite sure how to start this blog post, since reiterating that time's flying by incredibly fast feels like I'm repeating myself ad infinitum. But yes, um, it's been more than two three months. *waves* Life happened, and summer happened, and I'd like to pretend that I took an intentional break from blogging and blog reading, but it just kinda happened. Oh well. There was a lot of reading (books) and meeting friends and enjoying the sun though. Lots of work. A bit of travelling and knitting. And a bit of sewing, too. :-)

Has anyone else noticed that Bloglovin' has started to delete all unread posts that are older than about 20 days? Like, sometime in April? I haven't been reading blogs with any kind of regularity since I started working on-call, but even less since Bloglovin' made it impossible to catch up. So if you've been wondering why I barely comment, that's why. I've even put together a must-read list, but still can't manage to keep up. Oh well. It hasn't been a priority, I guess. Happily, I manage to check my Twitter and Instagram once or twice a day on my commute, so I'm not totally out of the loop. ;-) If I'm not following you already, feel free to put a link in the comments!

So, sewing. As with most years, my summer to-sew list was way longer than what I actually managed to make, but I did manage some crucial bits:

Bombshell Swimsuit

That must have been my favorite part of summer sewing! I spent a week at my parents' while it was 30+ degrees outside, and whiled away a couple of afternoons on the veranda putting this together.
The fabric is quite lovely, a hawaii print bathing suit fabric that Gillian graciously picked out and sent to me, because it is entirely impossible to get bathing suit fabrics in cute prints in Germany. Don't ask me why, everything I found online and at the shops was either boringly solid or weirdly neon or definitely old-lady prints. Anyway, thanks again, Gillian!
As you can see, I am a tiny bit uncomfortable posing in a swimsuit. Even though this one makes you feel remarkably covered. :-)
For a bathing suit, this took quite a while putting it together what with all the layers and the gathering and the elastic. It's worth it, though, since the look seems to be flattering on pretty much anybody. :-) Thanks for this wonderful pattern, Heather!
In the end, there are a couple of things which I am not quite happy with, and will do differently when I make another version (there's still a red&white polka-dot fabric, also sent to me by Gillian, waiting for it's turn!). For one, the suit is quite snug on me. I can get it over my hips, but it's really hard when wet, next time I should probably go up a size. Not quite sure if I measured myself incorrectly or if it's the fact that I'm pretty sure I used bigger seam allowances than the included 1/4 inch, what with all the basting and gathering.

The other thing is that I used a quite substantial nude swimsuit lycra as a lining, instead of the recommended (mesh) swimsuit lining. This makes the suit quite heavy, especially when the 3 layers and all that gathered fabric are dripping wet, plus it takes forever to dry! Does anyone know a (European) source for swimsuit lining - the thin, mesh-like stuff?

Green Maxi Dress

This is the dress I spent most of my summer wearing. Honestly, I think I only took it off to wash it. ;)
It's a rather lovely, thin jersey with a bit of texture to it. The pics actually don't do the colour justice, it's really quite a bit more vibrant in real life. The pattern is just a version of my regular go-to to with lowered neckline, no sleeves and two little tucks below the bust.
The skirt is mostly a trapezoid with slits from the knee down. And no, I didn't bother to finish the slits or hem. But it's got binding at the neckline and armholes and clear elastic to stabilize the waist.
It's nothing fancy, just the best sort of secret pyjamas really. I think maxi dresses are my new love affair for summer. You always look put together, even you missed shaving your legs for a few days in a row. ;-)

That's actually only the beginning of what I made this summer. More to follow. And then I may even manage to tell you about my fall sewing plans...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hopping on the Ginger Jeans Train

It seems like forever since I wrote a blog post about sewing something. Heck, it seems like forever that I sat at my sewing machine the last time (and as, objectively, that has been mid-March and end-of-April, respectively, maybe my feelings are not so far off). Anyway, I cut out a quick sewing project a couple of days ago (just a knit top), and I'm on night shift today, so I actually have time to sew! And it seems I have time to blog, too!

There's actually quite a few projects I have managed to finish this year (seven, to be exact, with only one already blogged) but I'll start with the most recent one: Ginger jeans!

Even though I got the pattern within weeks of its release last year, it took me a long while to gather the courage and motivation to actually start making them. Why? Well, I bought my last pair of jeans in 2010 (in Sydney, incidentally). I wear jeans about twice a year, mostly on cold summer days when I'm really not in the mood to wear tights under a dress, and all my leggings are in the wash. Jeans are uncomfortable, and it takes forever to find a pair that fits. Plus, they never looks quite right on my short-legged body. But after reading what felt like the millionth blog post of an awesome sewing lady about the general awesomeness of the Ginger pattern (all of them looking seriously lovely in their jeans), I felt compelled to try

Well, turns out that, like many others, I just never had a pair of jeans that really fit before.
This first pair of Gingers is made of a really stretchy denim I bought in Hong Kong five years ago. IT'S SO COMFORTABLE! Almost like a pair of jeggings. It did take me several tries to get the crotch curve right. In the end, a flat-bum adjustment plus a sway back adjustment seemed to do the trick.
I really enjoyed the process of putting them together. The topstitching proved to be surprisingly painless. I did that portion of the sewing on the Pfaff machine that I inherited from my paternal grandma, which has an integrated walking foot. It's certainly not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with it. The seams are finished on the overlocker. 
I was very happy with the thoroughness of the instructions, too. I don't think I have ever installed a fly front that went in that easily. 
As with many first attempts, not everything went perfect. For one, I cut one leg short for some reason. Happily, my legs aren't that long, so they're still full length. For another, when I took the legs in to get a more skinny fit, I took all the width from the back leg sideseam. Why? I have no idea, it was a totally silly idea, because now the leg twists.
I'm pretty sure people in real life don't notice, though. ;)
Version number two is made with a strawberry coloured denim that I got in Cologne a few years ago. It has a lot less stretch, but is still pretty comfortable to wear. Must be the fit, then... 
I drafted a pocket stay for both versions, following the directions at the Curvy Sewing Collective. Although I hear that Heather has updated the pattern to include a pocket stay now. Plus, there's a discount code for 20% off all patterns viable until today, in case you still need your own Ginger jeans pattern (or Bombshell swimsuit or Nettie or whatever)!

I love the happy colour, it's perfect for the cooler summer days. It also fits right into my colour palette (good thing I have several navy tops). Both Gingers got worn several times during MMMay and I'm really happy that I managed to finish them in time, because the weather was pretty unseasonably cold this year. Actually, it's still pretty cold most days, even though it's June! 
Have you ever sewn something you weren't quite sure about, only to realize that it perfectly filled a wardrobe hole you hadn't noticed before?