29 april 2013

A Fluttery Flowery Dress

I made a second Cambie dress! Most of the pictures we took for this post involve strange poses and silly faces, so please bear with me. I take dressmaking seriously. Sometimes.

Since my first version of this pattern went so well, I didn't really waste any time in making a second, more casual one. This Liberty tana lawn has been in my stash since October and I had been a bit scared to cut into it, since it was definitely one of the fancier fabrics I owned!

It turned out ok!
I completely understand why everyone raves about this stuff. It is BEAUTIFUL. The print quality is perfect, it's soft and extremely easy to sew and drapes very well. This dress is seriously comfortable!

I added about 1,5 cm to the back seam of the dress, since the first one was a bit on the tight side and I wanted to be able to wear this in the summer. This solved the problem entirely, although I might take some out of the neck again for the next one (because hell yes there will be a next one).

Another thing I did was use a different skirt. The pattern has a simple gathered skirt (two rectangles) which I love for prints with a clear horizontal or vertical direction, but I prefer something a bit twirlier for prints like these! I used the skirt from the Colette Chantilly dress, which makes for a massive hem with it's six gores (it took three yards of bias tape to finish it!). I love how this skirt makes the fabric even swishier. Finishing a hem with a bias facing might just be my new favourite method, by the way. It makes for a very even hem with a nice drape. I stitch the bias tape on the right side of the skirt, lining the edge up with the edge of the fabric, flip it to the inside, press and handstitch the other edge to the skirt with an invisible hem stitch.

Massive hem!
I stuck to the pattern for the rest of the dress, opting not to line the skirt part of the dress. I wanted this to be a very light summery dress to wear on hot days! If I want more volume in the skirt I'll probably add a petticoat or something.

I really love how this bodice looks. The sleeve construction is quite brilliant, you feel like you are wearing sleeves, but with the comfort of a sleeveless dress. I lined the bodice in a lightweight white cotton.

Here are some action shots, with my dog making an appearance in one of them. I was so happy about the weather getting nice but it went back to cold and rainy in no time.

I feel very comfortable in this dress, and see it becoming a summer staple real quick! Keep your eyes peeled for more Cambies in the near future... For now I will leave you with some kitty cuteness:

(Since my dog got a place in this post I thought it would only be fair to put my other little buddy in there too. This is Jakkepoes, and he's turning fourteen years old tomorrow! This picture makes it look like he doesn't really want to be cuddled, but the opposite is quite true.)

21 april 2013

The Famous Blue Raincoat

I'm proud to present the second garment I've ever made from a Sewaholic pattern: The Robson coat! As soon as Tasia revealed her latest pattern I realised it was everything I was looking for. I had been wanting to make a trenchcoat for a while and was prepared to do some frankenpatterning to make it happen, but this one was just right!

(Please excuse the squinty face, it was BRIGHT outside)

I actually tried making a trenchcoat last year, from a vintage pattern, but found that I had been a bit too quick about the whole process. The pattern was ok but lacked a few details that would make it right (it didn't have belt loops, for instance) and the shape just wasn't all that for me (it was basically a tube you had to cinch to fit around the waist). All this combined with me wanting to finish as fast as possible made for a coat, but not a great coat. So this time I tried a different approach.

Love that back detail.
There's one thing I didn't do, and that was making a muslin. Gasp! But after my success with the Cambie dress I decided to go by the measurements on the envelope and fit the coat as I went. The fit turned out pretty great, actually the only thing I would do differently is the sleeve length (there a tiny bit too long on me) and the size of the pocket openings (I have big hands!). No complaints on the actual construction of the coat though. Tasia's patterns are very well drafted with attention to detail, and the whole thing went together like a dream. I liked all the tiny bits you had to do, they were easy to plan in as a break whilst working. There was a lot of topstitching involved but it was never super difficult, since most of it was just straight lines. The topstitching really helped the seams lie flat as well!

So what materials did I use? I found a navy poly-cotton mix for 6 euros a yard at a local fabric outlet and managed to squeeze the entire coat out of four yards. The fabric seems to contain more cotton than poly since it pressed relatively well, without that typical seventies smell. I used eight large gold-toned buttons on the front and five smaller ones on the sleeves, shoulders and back. I also made functional buttonholes everywhere, instead of just sewing the buttons on through all layers. I love touches like that in rtw so I try to incorporate it into my own sewing as well!

But wait, this coat has a little surprise! While I like the idea of an unlined coat, binding all the edges with bias binding seemed a little scary. Plus, I love me some contrast somewhere. So I drafted a lining pattern and used a cotton-silk blend for the inside, to give this otherwise surprisingly basic coat a little kick! The lining has been inserted by hand and feels really good against the skin.

All in all, I could really see myself making this again in a funkier fabric. This started as a wearable muslin that turned out really well, but maybe if I find the perfect shade of green...

But do you know what I like most about this coat? It kinda makes me feel like a badass. Or a spy. And that's definitely a plus!

15 april 2013

The Woodland Dress

When I spotted this print for the first time, I immediately loved it. I was watching a lot of Twin Peaks at the time and felt like making something inspired by woods and woodland animals. The end result turned out a lot more literal than expected!

Funny thing is, the image on the website didn't show the entire print. I was pretty excited already about sewing something with bears and deer on it, imagine my squeals when I found out there were happy moose running around as well!

The pattern for this dress was super simple and straightforward, you might even remember my sketch from this post.  It's basically the same as the Birdsong Dress, minus the collar and with added short sleeves.

Look at my smug face being happy about what I made, even if it's super wrinkled from trampling around in it. Ha! The dress is lined in white cotton voile and is comfortable enough to wear all day. I wore if to a family gathering yesterday and tested it on a trampoline!

 But seriously, I love this print. I know it's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but this kind of thing makes me so happy. I do feel like it's more of an autumn/winter garment (probably the colouring) so this one will go into the closet for a few months... See you soon!

PS: I just noticed there's not one single photo in this post showing the entire dress. Whoops! Here's (a slightly goofy) one:

And this is what happened when I spotted a rabbit:

08 april 2013

Liebster award!

I got a comment from Lisa over at Small Things saying she gave me a Liebster Award! I have to admit I had to go and see what it was since I'd never heard of it before, but I love the idea behind it! It's an award especially for smaller blogs with little following and give them some exposure. I'm honoured!

I'm supposed to answer eleven questions and then pass the award on to eleven other bloggers I like.  So let's do this!

A bit about you - where are you from and do you have a favorite local sewing store? Can I come visit? (Ok, you don't have to answer that last part.)

I live in Antwerp, Belgium and have lived there for most of my life. Although Antwerp is considered a fashion city it's not an amazing place for fabric shopping. There are a few very cheap stores and a few very expensive ones, but nothing too spectacular imho... There is a large outlet half an hour outside of town where I go for cheap cottons to line dresses with, but their selection varies all the time and their prints aren't that great. However, twice a year a few designers have stock sales of their past clothing collections and fabrics, and I usually score some nice things there!

How do you choose your fabrics? Do you go with what catches your eye? Have something in mind when you go? Or shop for certain fabric weights or colors?

This really varies. Sometimes I find a fabric that I really like and I'll just buy it and find something to do with it later, sometimes I fall in love with a pattern and start looking for the perfect fabric. My sewing time is a bit limited so by the time I get around to making the garment the idea probably changed a few times! I have fabrics that were meant for three different things before I settled on a final choice.

Are you a cautious, measure-twice-cut-once type of sewist or are you the throw-it-up-on-the-dress-form, make-it-up-as-you-go type of girl?

I try to be a bit less of the latter... As I said before, sewing time is limited so it's tempting to just forget about muslins and dive in head first. But my body does have its quirks and there are certain adjustments I usually have to make, especially with form-fitting garments. So I try to make a muslin as often as possible, even if they are being sewn together rather haphazardly!
What is your favorite thing you've ever made (show me!).

This dress is probably my favourite make ever. It has its flaws- an invisible zipper that isn't invisible at all, a bodice that's a bit too tight for dinner parties- but I love it so so much. I had been looking at this print for so long, wondering if it would be ok to wear it, and worrying about how it would be ridiculous, but then I just threw all of that overboard and went with it, thinking that as long as I liked it, it would be awesome. I kept working by this philosophy since then and love it.

What was the most DISASTROUS thing you've ever made and why? (You don't have to, but of course we'd all like to see that as well!)

I don't have a lot of things that I consider disastrous, since I spend so much time planning and designing a project the final idea usually works anyway. I do have a maxi dress I started working on last summer that sort of lost its appeal. The print just looks frumpy to me now, and I don't really feel like spending time on finishing it. However, I can show you The Ugliest Muslin Ever:

This was going to be a cape and I made a test in some super cheap pastel coloured poly crepe. Ugh!

Do you primarily sew special garments for your wardrobe (dresses, jackets...) or do you try to make everything yourself (underwear, t-shirts...)? How's that going?

I'm not a basics type of gal so I usually sew items that are considered 'special' by others but 'daily' by me. I try to sew things I'd wear regularly, since I'm really not impressed with the quality of ready to wear clothing (that's within my budget). I'm very interested in making underwear, especially bras, but the combination of precision, working with stretch fabrics and math is just a bit too intimidating right now!

Would you say you've found your personal style? Or do your tastes constantly evolve so that what you made last year doesn't work for you any more? Any tips on that front?

My personal style has evolved a bit over the past few years, and I feel like I'm finally wearing what I really want to be wearing. I've tried dressing vintage for a while but found it too restrictive, and at this moment my style is just defined by: 'If I like it, I'll wear it'. I now sort of know what patterns and shapes work for me, and what I will like to wear. It doesn't make sense to spend hours slaving away on pants when you rarely wear anything but skirts, right? It's hard to predict the future and know what you'll like in two years time, but I am wary of pieces that are too clearly 'trendy' and might look super dated soon.

Vintage Style!

What decade other than now most closely inspires your (current) personal style?

I love the fifties/early sixties for the shapes and patterns, but find that many of those clothes make me look frumpy and older than I really am (especially the higher necklines). I like some seventies silhouettes as well, minus all the brown and orange. So basically I'm taking the general shapes of things I like and mix them with contemporary things and prints.

Have you ever sewn for others? Did they appreciate it? Did it fit?

I have to refer to the Dress of Shame here. Part of me wants to be that nice person who provides everyone around her with beautiful handmade clothes, but the reality is that I barely get around to making my own ideas, and on such a tight schedule my inner Selfish Seamstress kicks in. I promised I'd make my boyfriend a shirt AGES ago, even bought the fabric, and it still hasn't happened.

What is your day job/day-to-day life like? Are you an all-around creative or is this your artistic outlet?

I currently study illustration and comics, and work as an illustrator from time to time. This also explains my limited sewing time: I don't have specific work hours, and sometimes there will be weeks of not being able to do anything but illustration work. This is also one of the reasons I don't like to sew for others: I already have had a creative outlet turn into a job and would like to keep this one free of pressure! I sew for my own enjoyment, and because I happen to end up with wearable clothing afterwards.

I know all your friends are telling you to get into the sewing business. Do you ever have aspirations to start your own handmade-related venture?

For aforementioned reasons: not right now. It's something I'm doing for fun,  and I don't consider myself professional and wise enough to do anything else with it. I do like combining my illustration work with sewing though: I've been selling fabric designs on Spoonflower and find this an interesting thing to do. My final project for this year is a comic strip about a young seamstress, incorporating techniques I've learnt. So I think all these little things will eventually mix anyway!

Phew! That was fun. Now for the hard part... Who to nominate? I have to admit most of the sewing blogs I follow are pretty well known, so don't hate me if I don't make it to eleven!

- Een Nieuwe Jurk: a fellow Belgian and super stylish girl... I'm curious about the Macaron she has planned!

- Jo Sews: a British gal living in Brussels. I love her photographs and was amazed by her Briar variation!

- The Botterman Empire: She's a shoemaker. It's awesome. Go look at it. Awesome!

That's it for now, I'm afraid. Everyone else I love has too many followers. But who knows, I might add to this list!


01 april 2013

The Radio Dress

The reason why this dress is called the Radio Dress is quite simple: I wore it to a party called Radio Modern. It was a vintage-themed party so I felt like I needed something pretty and feminine with a retro touch. A perfect moment to try out the Sewaholic Cambie pattern!

I bought this pattern during Tasia's Birthday sale, after eyeing it for a while. It's a pretty clever dress: the style is simple enough to work in a variety of fabrics and prints, but the details keep it interesting. I love how the cap sleeves create a pretty neckline without showing off too much.

I used a cotton-linen blend with a Nani Iro print from my stash for this. It was purchased some time ago but since it was a remnant (only 2 meters) and quite narrow I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get a dress out of it. Lo and behold- it worked! There was some squeezing involved, I was unable to match the pattern and I have nothing left but scraps, but I managed to make the dress exactly like the pattern illustration (I was worried I'd have to skip the pockets)

This fabric is awesome: it has some texture and body, but is quite fine (I used a dark blue cotton lining since it's even a bit sheer) and the colours look beautiful. I cut the dress out in one evening and spend two days sewing it together. And here is the end result, modeled by me (with some assistance from my friend Maarten):

I set my hair in pin curls for the occasion, and really liked how the dress finished the look. I felt quite vintage without feeling like I was dressed in a costume, and think this dress will work for a number of different occasions!

Constructions was pretty straightforward. I followed Tasia's instructions because they were excellent and very clear, and didn't really add any extra steps apart from stabilizing the curved seams and zipper opening with fusible stay tape.

If I make another version of this dress (and I definitely will!) I'd add a touch more ease in the back. The dress fits, but it's quite snug, so it's fine for a night out but not so much for a day dress. These photos were taken after a train ride and dinner, hence the wrinkles!

I really enjoyed sewing this dress and can really see this pattern become a wardrobe staple! I already have a few different versions in mind...