July 28, 2015

Where I surrender to cuteness

Hello there.
In the past weeks I have been sewing a lot for my holidays, and I'll try and show you the finished garments in the next weeks. 
Today it's a little thing that is going into my luggage: presents for Chéri's niece!

Viola is a lovely 3 year old girl, and unfortunately I get to see her no more than twice per year, since we live in two different countries. Every time I see her, she has grown up so fast! Tomorrow night I'm going to meet her and her family and I wanted to bring a little gift. At the beginning I was convinced I wanted to buy something for her, but when I saw this tutorial on Melly Sews, I knew it was the perfect gift for her.

It is a simple gathered skirt with pockets, and downstring at the waist. The tutorial is very clear and the pattern is quite cute: I could not resist and I knew I had the perfect fabric for it. It is a quite rigid cotton, subscription gift from Love Sewing Magazine. I had two fat quarters and they were enough for this cute little skirt. The name of the fabric is Swallow Song.

The pattern itself is super easy, but I took my time to give it a nice finishing which would be nice to look at, but also resistant to a little girl's playful movements.
I took the occasion to use up some scraps in pink cotton to add a touch of fun contrast.

Chéri told me that Viola is recently obsessed with everything bandanas, so I also made her a little headband, following the tutorial on Happy Together.

The headband is reversible and made with the same fabric of the skirt, and the tutorial is easy to follow and illustrated.

As for the sizes, I don't know Viola's measurements, so I went for a size 4 for the skirt, imagining that this way she can wear it until next year. I hope it will fit, and I'm confident on that: there is an elastic sewn to the two downstrings, so the size is adjustable at the waist. As for the length, she will grow up into it.
For the headband, it comes in two sizes: adult and child, so this was an easy choice.

I think her mum will like the skirt and she will prefer the headband. I hope everyone will be happy with this little handmade gift.
As for me, it was my first time sewing for a kid, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It takes no time and in the end you have a rewarding amount of cuteness. 

July 27, 2015

Where it's #vintagepledge in polka dots

Hello there.
New week new energies to spend. This is hopefully going to be a good one. I've always been one to love Mondays: new prospects, new hopes, new planning...
Today is a special Monday for me, because it's D-2 to meet my Chéri again, after one and a half months apart. We'll meet in Rome and then spend a little less than one month travelling around Italy. We'll be at home but it's going to feel like holidays. Anyway, this dress is going directly into the suitcase:

It's my first make for #vintagepledge of 2015, and I completed it a couple of months ago. Since then, I've been wearing it regularly. The pattern is Modes et Travaux n.1176, and as usual I am having a hard time to understand which decade it is. From the styling I guess something around late 1980s or 1990s, but I can totally be wrong. Correct me if you have more informations or more pattern-dating skills.

I can easily say that is one of my favourite dresses ever. I liked the design since the beginning and then I've come to love it even more after all the details I hid into it: a lot of topstitching and a lot of satin bias binding, all handsewn. The inside is definitely more interesting than the outside.

The only thing I didn't make is a matching belt. I have the fabric to make it, and I have an idea in mind, but I started wearing the dress with a belt I already had and lost the motivation to make a dedicated one. Maybe one day. I think it is cute even without belt, but it is designed to have one and kind of looks incomplete without it.

Left: no belt. Right: with belt

The main feature of the design is the collar, with its sailor vibe. It is the collar which inspired the colour combination of this version. Maybe one day I will make this pattern again in a drapey silk and it will be very different, but the present version is perfect for summer and for my wardrobe.

I like a lot how the bodice is gathered under the collar both at the front and at the back. For this simple gathering it was quite easy to fit, since it has a forgiving shape with a lot of ease. I like that it looks fitted at the waist but remains quite puffy at the back and at the hips.
The construction was quite interesting: the front has separated pieces for bodice and skirt and the back is all one piece. You sew everything apart from the collar, which is eventually assembled to the rest with the visible topstitching. 

The fabric was a present from Chéri: last October he went to visit some friends of him in Bristol and dragged them into the fabric store to choose this very fabric. Imagine four non-sewing guys looking for fabric. Isn't he the sweetest?
Anyway, the fabric is a nice light cotton, printed in the tiniest polka dots, white on blue. Difficult to capture in pictures, but nice. I decided to emphasize the sailor look with red topstitching and big red vintage buttons I bought at the flea market here in Toulouse.

It is a wrap dress but I actually always leave it closed since I can wear it as it is, and I don't like to mess with my fragile buttonholes.
The pattern modifications I made concerned the collar and the waist, and shortening the hem. At the waist I added several cm. to comfortably host my characteristic belly; given the forgiving design with a lot of ease I could have maybe forego this step, but I wanted to be on the safe side.
For the collar, I had to widen the internal curve of 2-3 cm. to host my neck, and maybe I could have done a little more: as you can see from the picture it still lays a bit too much on my neck. Next time.

When I started working on this dress I muslined also sleeves, but then decided to go for the sleeveless version, and finished armholes with facing. I enjoyed sewing this dress, because I took my time and splurged on hidden details. Now I am enjoying wearing it because it is the perfect everyday dress with enough coverage but cute finishing, and I always get a lot of compliments for it. It makes me feel like a total vintage babe! French people often say that it looks perfect for my chic Italian style. Let's see what Italian people will think of it in a few days.

July 13, 2015

Where I am a colourful bird

Hello there,
I hope this new week is going to be good for everyone, me included. I had a terrible past week and I am enjoying this new beginning as a chance to be happier. First thing to be happy, is wear something you enjoy wearing, like this top.

It is a quite simple "Button back blouse", found in the book "The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric". Since the pattern is an easy one, I took the occasion to better work my fitting skills, also because the fabric is on the non expensive side, so it was worth to be sacrificed as a wearable muslin.

Let's talk FBA: my upper bust is 95 cm, while my full bust is 105 cm, resulting in a D cup (105-95=10 cm) and the necessity of a 10/2=5 cm FBA. Hence the huge dart, visible in this picture:

Now, this is clear to me (if it is not correct please shout out, I am here to share and to learn). My problem is from which size to start the FBA. My poor knowledge says I have to start from the size which describes my upper bust measurement.

In this book, this is between size 12 (93 cm) and size 14 (98 cm). For this top, I used size 14, and then added 10 cm FBA in total (5 + 5). As you can clearly see, the blouse is too wide.

Writing this post up, I am checking again the measurements to give correct information, and honestly I can not understand why I went for such big alteration, ignoring the finished measurement provided for the garment: I should have noticed that the finished bust measurement is 104 cm for size 14, so the design has a large fit...

So ok, now I understand my mistake, and maybe next time I try this pattern I will start the FBA at size 12, because also on the shoulders I can use a smaller size.

Anyway, fitting issues aside, I do like the result. Maybe I am too sentimentally attached to anything I sew. In this case, the main features are the back buttons and the fabric. This is my first make from the book, but I foresee more, because I like the style, and because every single pattern has a sufficient amount of details to make it interesting.

I picked 3 different colours of buttons: light green, blue and red, to match the fabric. I could not settle on one colour so I went for all of them (hoarder alert). As usual I was over-scared to sew buttonholes. They are not perfect but good enough. I blame my machine, but don't tell her, she can get upset.

At my favourite local heberdashery, I also bought the bias tape which finished neck, hem, and armholes. In this colour they only had a kind of satin one, that in my modest opinion it is not really bias, since it has no give at all. The nightmare for those armholes!
I am so sorry for the over exposed pictures. Note to self: no more pictures at noon! Even if my balcony is in the shadows at that time of the day, it is difficult to clearly see details and fabric.

Speaking of fabric, it is a lovely cotton by Toto Tissus, where I bought this precut remnant for something like 3 €. I still have a tiny little scrap of it, maybe I'll do something for Chéri's niece. But we'll see about that. The print is a series of birds in and out their little cute cages.

In conclusion, I like this blouse, for the birds, the buttons, the nice feel of cotton on the skirt under the sun, and because it goes very well with all my bottom separates for this summer. I bet it will go into my holiday suitcase!
I wish you a nice evening, I go back to listening to "Sense and Sensibility" audiobook while tracing something new for my big project... (I'm such a teaser!)

July 7, 2015

Where I use a vintage remedy against the heatwave

Hello there.
As I am sure you have been informed by everyone on the internet, temperatures are crazy in Europe right now. Here in Toulouse we have peaks of 38°C. 
Something you might not know is that I do not enjoy hot weather. I might be unpopular but it's not my fault, I just feel dizzy and deprived of any energy. Case in point: yesterday I fainted in the metro. 
So please excuse my non smiling face in these pictures, it is just enough that I was standing up. They were taken two weeks ago but never got around actually writing this post.


This is my second make of the #vintagepledge even if you still haven't seen the first one. My life is quite messy right now so it seems about right to have no order whatsoever in my posts. Anyway.

The pattern is a new acquisition in my library and it is Modes et Travaux # 1087, year unknown. Please shout out if you have any clues about the date. 
I bought it one month ago at the monthly flea market for 2€. It is described as "Blouse bain-de-soleil en cotonnade imprimé". It is a wrap blouse which closes with a waist tie and back bow. Super cute, I know. 
It also has a second blouse pattern integrated, which I will make as soon as I find the perfect fabric for it.

I removed the waist tie because I didn't have enough fabric (more on that later on) and went with a few hidden buttons to keep it close.

The first time I wore it, I realized it had a too deep décolleté and ended up covering myself up until I reached the haberdashery and bought a strategic safety pin. Chéri was with me that time and he agreed. On the previous picture you can see how the safety pin is pulling in my chest area and changing a bit the overall look of the garment.

I like how this pattern pairs with my plain separates and my vintage sunglasses, and how easy and breezy it is to wear in the heat. I am also very pleased with the back view, since this is my only blouse with straps and low-cut back. I should make more like that! I look awful in every back picture, but I like to believe that reality is better.

As this was my second Modes et Travaux pattern, I already knew how to hack the fitting: I went for a size 48 grading up a few cm at the waist. My previous pattern of the same brand ended up being a bit tight at the shoulders, but this time the straps were easy to fit with simple adjustments on length and positioning.

The fabric is a scrap from another project (that you will see around here soon enough). I bought it in Remnant Kings in Edinburgh, composition unknown but it feels like a nice viscose. It is very drapey and probably not the best for this pattern, which I would like to make again in a more stable cotton or linen. I believe the drape covers a bit the interesting pattern features but all in all it is a nice colourful blouse to wear in summertime. Also, the fact that it was the first time with this pattern pushed me to use whatever nice scrap I had around just to play with adjustments and make something quick and rewarding. 

The pattern features French darts, which I had never experienced before, and I must say I love the vintage feel they add to the garment, and the bust shape they make, quite pointy to be honest. I wish I took more care in sewing the darts especially in smoothing their ends, but I felt I was in a no-pressure mindless project and went all the way lazy. And I can be a lot lazy.

Anyway, that's it for this blouse, and I am closing with a picture where I actually smile despite the heat, go figure!