April 27, 2015

Where I couple a Zinnia with a Flora

Hello there!
Today the weather is grey and stormy in Toulouse, so it kind of looks like a good day to publish this outfit from almost one month ago, when I enjoyed one of the first days of spring. Sorry for the no-face pictures but I was having a bad-face day. 

What it special is the skirt. You can recognize the distinctive features of Zinnia by Colette, with buttoned front and pockets. I had made it like a proper Zinnia one year ago, but got to wear it only once, basically because I didn't like the gathered waistband look on me. 

So I modified to be like a Flora by BHL. I've had occasion to sew the Flora dress a couple of times and happened to like how the skirt looked on me. So I unpicked the waistband of my Zinnia (oh the joy of unpicking a three-rows gathered waistband!) and converted the gathers in pleats.

I like this look better, even if now it rides up a bit, especially in the back, and pulls around the first button.

I truly don't know how orthodox it is to make such a conversion, so please excuse me and shield your eyes, everyone. I just didn't want to lose such a nice fabric (shoes!!!), and all the effort in the buttons and buttonholes.

Even though I like this skirt, still I find it difficult to wear it effortlessly, because it has extremely bad finishing, as you can see from the pictures of the poor button placket and pockets.

This modified skirt gave me the occasion to ponder about my sewing skills and decisions. One year ago I would buy patterns based on how great they looked on other bloggers. Today I am capable to isolate the design features I like, and try to implement them in my personal style. It has nothing to do with "flattering" (read this amazing article by Mary about the idea of flattering), but just with the possibility of wearing precisely what I want to.

Once again, sewing has given me the opportunity to have total control on my choices, in terms of style, look, pattern, details, fabric and all. I am far from sewing perfection now, and I am happy to have room to improve myself through sewing (and through imperfection eheh).

April 21, 2015

Where I worship polka dots, border prints and tied collars

Hello there. 
I have finally managed to take some pictures of this dress that I adore. It's a Nani dress from Schnittchen. I bought the printed version because Silke has the sweetest prices and the best customer service: this pattern got lost in the mail and she was kind enough to send it over again. Just like that.

The pictures you see now are taken in springtime, so bare legs and ballerinas, but I made the dress in December and I have been wearing it ever since, let's say once every ten days or so. So it has seen winter tights, high boots, low cut boots, cardigans and coats. 

Can I just say that I love border prints and polka dots? I had to buy this viscose when I saw it in Toto Tissus, also because it was a coupon of a couple of metres (I think) and I had it for a ridiculous price. After having the fabric I bought the pattern, because I am sucker for a tied collar (yeah, that too) and the original plan was to make it contrasting by using the border print. But when I had the fabric on my dining-studying-cutting-sewing table I changed my mind.

I don't know what happened to me while sewing, but I think I might have notched too deep into the fabric, with the result that you can see the viscose tearing apart just under the collar. I of course ignored the problem, but the last washing cycle has definitely worsened the tears, and I think I will try and repair them with a few handstitches.

The pattern is well drafted, with a nice shaped bodice and a simple gathered rectangle skirt. Since I don't like the look of gathered skirts on me, I changed to pleats both at the front and at the back, inspired by BHL Flora dress. Now that I think about it, I seriously should show you my two Floras, and make at least another one! But I am digressing.
Even after this modification, I had too much fabric to cover my booty (at least for my taste), so I shaved ca.10cm from the back, making a central back seam which is not supposed to be there. You can see both the back pleats and the cb seam in the previous picture. For your information, this is the only seam which is not French seamed.

Overall I like the look of the dress. I will probably sew it again, I am thinking a bright coloured solid wool for winter time, Joan Harris style. I hope I will have a job and an office where to wear it by then. But I am digressing again.

I did my best to match the only matchable feature of the fabric, which is the horizontal line at the bottom, but the fabric being fluid and my machine being a beatch, I always end up displacing one of the layers I am sewing. This happened also in this case. Anyway, from a distance it looks matched enough.

The dress was made for the Ph.D. defence of my Chéri, so it has a special meaning. Also, it is super comfortable for everyday but easy to dress up for any particular occasion. I received a lot of compliments, so it makes me even happier, as you can clearly see from the pictures.

I wish you all a good evening, I go back to my job hunt.
And, by the way, -8 days to Scotland! Any recommendation for nice places to buy fabric and yarn in Edinburgh?

April 17, 2015

Where I bloom with a petal shaped neck collar

Hello there.
I hope life is treating you well, Mine is kind of bitching me right now, but I survive. 

I'm back today to show you a shirt sewn back in November (I think) but photographed a couple of days ago. It's a Chemise Margot by Republique du Chiffon. I bought it when I first started sewing and I was not able at all to even give it a try. But Géraldine was selling her first pdf at reasonable prices in order to get things started for her brand, so I kind of charity-bought it at the time, being confident that one day I would have been able to even understand where to start. 

I look like an old picture of a lady sighing about her lover longing at the sea. Also, I have a huge face

As you can see, I actually stated and finished it! One year after buying the pattern. The main feature is of course the petal shaped collar, which I like a lot because is different from a regular collar. I understand that now there might be three zillions French women who sewed it and wear it, but I have never met them, so I am still different from people around me. 

I like a lot the result, because of the small things that make it. For example, the buttons: bought in my favourite haberdashery in Toulouse, they are of two different kinds, but assorted. Wrists and collar are bigger and more of a statement, the others more discrete but not mundane.

The overall fit is quite boxy, but I have noticed it is quite a signature feature of RdC, and to be honest is the second main reason why I in theory love her patterns but hardly sew them. The main reason being the price.

I have learned a few new things with this project, which is always good for my sewing-self-confidence. I am looking forward to sew another shirt, maybe more fitted to better compliment my body shape.

This is an involuntary pose à la Jolies Bobines, only difference I am ridiculous, and she is not. She is amazing, but that's another story.

The fabric is a magnificent blue silk crepe de chine, I guess, since I still can not distinguish different kinds of silk. It's not chiffon and it's not charmeuse. I bought it in Toto Tissus in Toulouse and it's actually a leftover from a Flora dress I might, one day, get photographed and blogged.

I can go on and on about the beauty of the petal collar, but I will mercy you and stop right here. I will add though that the instructions are very basic since it was and old pattern as I explained before, but all in all you can follow and actually sew something wearable, like I did. Ah, and it's all French seamed, of course. 

I have been wearing it at least twice per months, with or without jumpers on top, so it's a wardrobe success.

I am deeply in love with silk, because it keeps me warm when is cold, and it's also pleasantly breezy in spring time.

I have been wearing it over skirts and trousers, so I can confidently and happily repeat: wardrobe success!

Now I go assembling the shell to the lining of my first Kim dress, and maybe cut a second one. I am in a sewing rush, because of my imminent trip to Scotland, and for me every occasion is a chance to sew a dedicated outfit.


April 14, 2015

Where you get to see my first knitted garment

Hey, I'm on a roll, three posts in three days! Don't get used to it, I just happen to have some photographed yet unblogged projects. At the moment I'm quite stubborn to give the best finish ever to my vintage dress, so you'll not see me for a while until I finish it.

Anyway, today I'm here to talk about knitting. If you asked me one month ago, I would have told you that I hate knitting, because it's repetitive and not challenging for me. Big self-confidence for someone who had only knitted scarves so far.
Then I got bored when my daily routine suddenly changed, and I was in a stashbusting mood, and those skeins were looking at me and calling to be knitted. Enters the blogosphere and the huge positive reputation of Andi Satterlund and her fantastic patterns. Miette cardigan is free, so I thought it was the right move from boriiiiing scarves to -finally- a garment.

And BAM! Revelation! Knitting can be fun, guys! You have yarn, and needles, and you get to see the garment taking shape in your hands. Sewing is still number one creative outlet for me, but knitting has just become number two.

So this very imperfect and much loved Miette of mine. She comes from a 50% acrilic 50% wool blend, and unfortunately the biggest part of this yarn was poorly knitted and deconstructed by me, so used yarn that already peels when knitting it. Poor Miette.

Anyway, she has bigger problems, like the ridiculous button holes I made her: they are so uneven and poorly sewn into the stabilizing ribbon that it hurts my eyes. Or my many mistakes and in general poor master of basing knitting technique, which is by the way very visible even after blocking.

But, she has got all my love, and she will always be the first knitted garment I have ever made. This comes with the privilege of the best mother of pearls buttons I could find. Also, yes, the yarn is bad, but came with me all the way from Rome to Toulouse, and I am in many ways attached to it.

For the construction I seriously had no problems, thanks to mr. Youtube and its tutorials on every stitch I needed, and thanks to the patterns directions which are very cleverly written and easy to follow. I was amazed to see the lacework coming out of my hands, and then neckband, buttonholes, augmentations and reductions, circular needles, counting stitches and placing marks. I have learned all of that thanks to this pattern, and I truly don't care about the mistakes, I so love love love this cardigan.

The fitting is perfect, the shoulders look like designed on me, and even the waist fits correctly, or at least in a way I like. I was a bit worried about that, because of my waist measurement which is nothing alike the size of the pattern. I coped with that by means of an elastic bind-off, and blocking.

Of course there will be a next time, I am thinking cotton for example, for the summer nights in Toulouse. This first Miette was worn one day only, and then spring decided to rise the temperatures. So Miette is resting in the same drawer with my other cardigans and of course making them miserable because she is the only one hand-knitted and truly loved. She knows she is going to Scotland in a couple of weeks, when I'll go see my darling, I'm sure she might me handy there!

If my sewing plans go as I hope, I might need a red one in cotton, and probably a Myrna in green. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, and let's enjoy yet another useless picture of me being happy in my first cardigan.

Well, I hope your eyes will not hurt after such bad interpretation of Andi's clever pattern, and I hope to come back soon with a couple of other sewn projects I have in the blogging pipeline.


April 13, 2015

Where you get to meet (a part of) him and some sliding bears

Hello there!
As promised I'm back to show another sewing project. This time, big news, it's for my man!

To be honest, I like a lot sewing for him, because he always has some pungent remarks on how to improve my projects. I understand this might sound as a pain, but I actually enjoy that he listens and comments on my sewing rambling. And most of all, I am so glad he appreciates the beauty of something unique made for him, and made by my little hands.
Last week we were out for dinner with friends and he proudly said "She made me a tshirt from scratch!" Doesn't make any sense to me, but all the other guys were amazed and repeating "Wow, from scratch!"
So the big news is not sewing for him, but have him pictured! He's such a poser (and the pictures prove it!), but I couldn't get him to show his face. Fair enough, we'll negotiate again when I sew him a nose cover or a pair of glasses. Till then, I'm ok with the present agreement.

This is the second tshirt I have made for him. The first one got to be worn on a weekend trip since it was meant to be a pajamas top. After that weekend, it got accidentally forgotten despite my reminders, and I think we threw it away when he was packing. Before getting rid of it, I managed to have some constructive feedback about it: first of all, the fabric was a very think jersey who couldn't hold any shape: for me was ok for a pajamas but no, he wanted stiffer jersey. Then the neck was too wide, and maybe there was something wrong about the sleeves... Basically he was just annoyed by the light jersey.

So I bought this amazing jersey at Arrow Workshop, after he choosed and approved the print and actually got extremely enthusiastic about it. Good news is that the jersey is much stiffer, bad news it has no elasticity. Enters the horrible neckband. I am ashamed of it, but the boy liked it anyway, saying that next will be better. I've told you he's cool!
On the other hand, I'm super proud of the sleeve bands, because the stiff fabric makes them just the way I like them.

One small detail that irritates me is that the bears appear to be sliding sideways. If you don't notice it's ok, but once you notice you can't ignore it. I take full responsibility of it, because the print was not perpendicular to the grain, so I had to choose between an off grain tshirt or sliding bears. I went for an arbitrary compromise: for the back I went slightly in favor of the print, for the front I opted for a more correct (yet still wrong) grain. I know I should have done the other way round, but I was disappointed about the off-grain print. Anyway, he didn't even notice when he tryed it on, and when he is moving around the bears don't appear to be so drunk and glissants.

The pattern is copied from one of his favorites tshirts, only difference is that his favorite is made of a very elastic jersey. I am that inexperienced I didn't think of this detail. Well, I guess I will use this pattern again for very extensible jerseys, and trace a roomier pattern from a stiff tshirt he likes. So I will have two patterns: more fun and choices for me, more tshirts for him. Win-win.

So that's a wrap for my first blogged project that features my man. I enjoy sewing for him and I will do it again for sure, and I don't mind the notes and remarks. What about you? Have you ever tryed sewing for your dear one? And how do you handle his/her remarks?

Ciao ciao