Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter Wardrobe - The Anise Jacket

So today I'm going to tell you about a project that I'm pretty proud of. I know that a lot of the garments that I sew are rather basic, quick and easy knit dresses and tops that are usually finished within a few hours. That's fine, because that's pretty much what I wear most days. However, it's also neither very challenging nor very exciting. (Hmm, not quite true. I'm always excited about wearing something new, or trying a new pattern.) Anyway - I made a Colette Anise jacket!
I  started making it sometime in mid-November. Cutting it out was a bit of a challenge, since I only had 1.5 meters of this burgundy herringbone wool blend, a remnant purchased at But I'd been dreaming about a red herringbone coat or jacket for years now, so it had to be this! A game of very careful pattern tetris later, and I had actually squeezed out all of the pieces for this jacket, even managing to make long sleeves. Yay, me! ;) 
It took me until Christmas to finish the jacket, and I think it's the garment I have put the second most care and work into, second only to my Starlet Suit Jacket (and only because I didn't make a muslin this time). There are welt pockets and bound button holes and shoulder pads and quite a bit of handstitching. 
And a cute label. Not to mention it's underlined with fleece (repurposed from an old blanket) for warmth. And of course it has a very pretty polka-dotted lining (that I bought in Italy, near the Lago di Garda). I even bought Karen's ebook on How to Make Bound Button Holes - but in the end I used the tutorial that accompanies the Colette Patterns instructions. It's a bit less involved than Karen's method but I think the results are very satisfying.
The construction didn't go quite without hiccoughs. For one, with all those curves and the collar and sleeves, I kínda missed having a pressing aid, like a tailor's ham or a seam roll. Um yes, I've been sewing for almost five years without ever bothering to buy one. Did I mention that I sew mostly knits? I mostly don't even bother to press the seams when sewing with them. ;) But I can now totally see how they would come in useful when sewing something like a wool jacket.
The other hiccough was the insertion of the sleeve lining. I must have read the instructions wrong, since I attached the sleeve lining to the bodice lining first, then attached the lining to the facing and then wondered how to get the it attached at the cuffs. In reality, the instructions have you attach the sleeve lining to the sleeve cuff first, and then hand sew the sleeve lining to the bodice lining, for a better fit. In the end, I wasn't in the mood to undo my stitching, so I attached the lining to the cuffs by hand. I hear there is a strange technique called "bagging a lining", which may possibly be an easier way. At least there is way less hand sewing involved, and I may try that next time.
My final thoughts about this Anise jacket: it's pretty, but I have the feeling that it doesn't go with everything. Possibly because it's a tad short for my taste. It's works rather nicely with dresses, and also with skirts, but as you can see in the picture at the beginning of this post: the bottom part of my top shows. Thus it's not quite ideal for the cold days of winter, but it's fine for intermediate days and for colder spring and autumn days. I made bound button holes for the first time and love how nicely they turned out! And I think this won't be the last jacket I made. It may not even be the last Anise. :)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

An Oufit with a Twist

This is the story about my new favorite knit dress pattern. 

Although to be completely honest, new is a relative term, since my first version (the one with the flowers) was already made in... October? Possibly even September? Oh my...  In any case, I've been looking for a knit dress pattern with a knot or twist along the neckline for a pretty long time. They show up from time to time in the blogosphere, I think the first one I saw and fell in love with was made by my fellow Berlin sewing blogger Wiebke, who has made several cute versions of Onion 2022. Then there was also Amy, who has made at least two cute versions of a twisted Burda maxi dress, the same one that Allison made. There's also a cute Ottobre pattern (as seen here), McCalls 5484 (which Sarah made a cute green version of) and which looks pretty similar to a pattern from the Dutch pattern company Knipmode. Plus, Desigual got out a line of cute twist-front dresses sometime in the fall, which might have been what tipped me over the edge of actually buying a pattern. ;)
looks like that dress is just a bit too bif on that model... source
After a long bit of dithering, I decided to buy Onion 2022, which was pretty hyped and often sewn in the German sewing blogosphere, oh, sometime in 2012. Call me a late bloomer. ;)
This is the result, although I have to admit that it took me a little while to get there. My first version, before altering the heck out if it, looked like this:
See the uneven hemline and the big fold in the front? Yes, I should have guessed that from the pattern pieces (which featured an almost straight line where the skirt connects to the bodice, even though the bodice, after being twisted, forms a definite upside-down V in the middle). The correction, thankfully, was done easily enough by making the middle angle more acute, as seen in the picture (dotted lines) below.
I also scooped out a bit along the middle of the back skirt to make the fit better. The end result, as seen in the first picture, is still not quite perfect (the back neckline gapes a bit, and the front is low enough that I always have to wear it with a slip or tanktop underneath), but it got to be my favorite dress this autumn. I'm pretty sure I wore it several times every week, mostly with a cardi and tights. :)

I liked the style so much that I used a slinky blue rayon jersey to make a top for work. Actually, the fabric may have been too slinky since it shows every bump, but I never quite noticed in real life and wore it a lot. With a white tank top underneath, of course. No peeks for the patients. ;)
Last but not least, I filled a definite wardrobe gap with that pattern! If you have a look through my handmade wardrobe, there's a definite bias towards cute, fun knit dresses. There are a few everyday woven dresses, a couple of skirts, a whole lot of every day knit tops, some "Sunday Picnic" dresses - but really nothing chic or elegant. Nothing with a bit of sexiness to it. The type of dress that pairs nicely with your man's best suit. So, with Christmas in sight, I thought I'd finally get cracking on a chic dress with a bit of sexiness to it. The twisty neckline dress in a light navy cotton jersey seemed perfect: sexy neckline, chic, classic colour, comfy jersey.

I was actually not sold on it, the first time I tried it on. It looked... boring.

That was before I put on the black tights and lace-edged slip and necklace.
Now it's perfect.
It saw me through two office Christmas parties, Christmas Eve Dinner (which is A Thing in my family, a.k.a. a three-course meal with champagne and wine and all the trimmings, and yes, the men wear a suit or at least a dress shirt), New Year's Eve, my stepdad's birthday party.
I may need to make a sleeveless version for summer. Then we can live happily ever after.

The End. :)

PS: This blog post was inspired by Karen, who wrote about "The power of Story" this morning, and gave me the impetus to finally write another blog post about sewing again. Head over and read it, because she really has a way with words. :)