Monday, 19 February 2018

Basic and Repeat

2017 was a year of many repeats and there are actually several reasons for that.

I almost stopped buying RTW. I am not participating in any RTW fast of anything because I still prefer buying two types of clothing – lingerie and sportswear – and I do not want to venture into sewing them. I find lingerie very fiddly and the accessories rather expensive and most importantly, I found a brand which fits perfectly, so why bother. I really like nice lingerie but at the end of the day, I alternate between the same model in different colors because it is the least visible under my clothing. And now, that VS ships to EU without charging taxes and high shipping costs, I really do not have a reason to get to sewing underwear.
As for sportswear, this is a different story. I do at least 3-4 hours of sports every week, so my sportswear needs are important. On the other side, I am already very well equipped and get a new t-shirt any time I participate in an official run (4-5 every year). So even though I throw then from time to time, I always have a lot of them. In addition, sportswear being stretchy, the fitting needs are less important.

I am sewing a big majority of my clothes, which means that I also found out what works for me and where I should concentrate my efforts. I of course dare to try new patterns and expand my sewing skills, but for the basics I will not change what already works

It has been some time I have been sewing, therefore, I have already thrown away things I have sewn because they have shrunk in the washing or because they have been worn to death (or because of a poor material choice).

This basically brings me to this repeat dress. It has been made to replace this basic shift. The original version was sewn once just because I did not have a better idea on what to do and I just pulled out a piece of black cotton remnant for that. It was in a regular circulation for some time, the fabric was no longer black around the seams and the back seams were almost disintegrating. (normally, I do not need any back seam or zipper on my shift dress T&T, but I was distracted then and cut out 2 back pieces. I knew that I could not live without it so set out to replace it.

The new dress is made out of some embroidered cotton which was stiffer than expected and at the same time really difficult to iron – a big problem because a basic black dress needs to be practical. I decided to interface it with some black light silk-cotton voile which helped a lot to the creasing/ ironing problem but at the same time added bulk. So I abandoned the idea of lining the dress and just finished the main seams with some bias binding (the original dress had neck facing and I never really liked that).

I also sewed pockets because I was too lazy on the original version and missed them too much. In this picture you can also see nicely the fabric.

And basically that’s it – it was done in just a few hours and hopefully will serve me for some time now.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Brown Wool Skirt

This one was an extremely quick project. I have seen this skirt pattern in my Burda Classics edition a few years ago and I kind of like the silhouette. I was always hesitant on whether it is a right one for me, since I am not the tallest one over here and also I do not have a significantly pronounced waist. After a lot of hesitation, I decided to just sew it and see afterwards. Sometimes it is difficult for me to estimate whether a certain style is suitable for me since I have never had a piece of that particular clothing in the right size, so sometimes my apprehension just comes from poor fitting of RTW clothing.

For this skirt I used an exquisite brown wool-cashmere I bouhgt this year in Thailand. It has just a very nice touch, and a certain glance on the daily light, so even though I was worried in the beginning that it might appear rather granny's, bacause of the fabric, it does not.

I sewed a muslin, because you never know and I do not sew skirts so often. And then, the skirt was done in just a few hours, I could not almost believe it was sooo quick. I even took time to sew the belt and the belt loops properly.

The skirt is more or less a semi circle one, so I let it hang for almost a week, working on another project in the meantime. This is strange, as I am usually very mono-project: start muslin and cutting during the week, sew the maximum on Saturday and do some finishing touches on Sunday. Done. Next please.
I found out that this rhytm works perfectly for me. And it got rather broken by this skirt hanging for a week in the middle of my living room where I could see it every day.

Buuut, it got finished in the end :o)

Friday, 2 February 2018

When it is really cold outside..

I am always chilly. Like anywhere and anytime. I admit that I no longer endure the Central European freezing winters and the Parisian one are just full of clouds and some rain (and against all odds I often miss the time when it is -10, with snow and so sunny that it hurts your eyes, but that's life).

But whatever the place I am, I get chilly. So I always have a few dresses/skirts in wool to keep me warm when times are hard.
Two years ago I sewed these two basics from a Burda pattern 110-09-2015 (grey version and black version) and mainly the grey one just got worn to death (actually, the wool flannel or whatever it is ended up shrinking a lot over the time) so I had to give it away. And I was clearly missing it.

You see, I just had no choice and had to sew it again. This time, with longer sleeves, so that it becomes basically a copy of the black version. (btw: the dress is a pain to photograph)

I do not think I have something more to say about this dress. I love the semi-fitted version, you can wear some jewellery to spice it up and the wool flannel combined with silk is my little bit of luxury for every day. It is just a perfect basic and hey yeah, a girl needs that as well.

I think this is one of the biggest learnings from the last two years' sewing - it is always fun to make unusual projects, challenging sews etc, but at the end of the day, I also need my little grey basic because that's what will get worn a lot on normal days.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Black Blazer

The last project of 2017. Actually, I did not plan to finish it and I did not finish it in 2017. I was not even sure that I would start it. I was done with X-mas presents sewing by the end of November, then I spent a few week-ends out, 2 weeks sick and the rest of my time baking a few hundreds of x-mas cookies. So I woke up the week before x-mas with no special project in mind. The 2017 was a very productive year so I felt like I have sewn everything I wanted to sew and had no special wish for the rest of the year.

 Also, quite exceptionally for me, I did not want to sew a special X-mas dress, as we were going to my in-laws, meaning in the middle of the French countryside where I am always freezing, so I knew I would wear one of my wool dresses with nice jewelry.

A week before x-mas when job got less crazy and all the baking was done, I just pulled out this pattern without overthinking things. I liked it since I bought this Burda (2015!), but never got to sewing it. Now I also had a nice wool/cashmere suiting bought this summer in Thailand I wanted to use. It is a less-formal blazer, which suits perfectly my work wardrobe. I have my eye on another blazer from this year Burda so I hope I will get to it soon.

I like the rather unusual darts, no pockets, and quite short jacket style (I am pretty short, so not a big fan of large jackets, however in vogue they might be). Also, it still creates a nice silhouette and simulates a waist, even for those who do not have it, hahaha. And... the pattern is a petite size, so a great bonus.

As I did not have any pressure on, I traced the pattern on Tuesday, sewed the muslin on Wednesday (in a terrible green old sheet fabric, btw) and got totally psyched out. No adjustments needed in the shoulder area, is that even possible?!?! I shaved 3cm off the sleeves length, added 1cm on each side around the waist (did I tell you I have no waist?) and shortened the front by 2cm - this was pretty easy because there is basically a double dart in there, so a lot of opportunities to incorporate these adjustments.

Oh yes, and I had to explain my BF that no, this green is just a muslin and I am not counting on sewing the blazer in any colour, I just need a nice basic black one. (He loves any colour on me as long as it is not black, oh well...).
On Thursday evening, I cut out everything from the fashion fabric. I was on vacation on Friday and basically, sewed the outer vest and lining during the week-end (apart from preparations for x-mas, of course). I was really excited how everything fitted and I liked it a lot.

However, it stayed in that status till 2018, since I was rather exhausted from the x-mas celebrations and we flew away to Sicily to spend a few vacation days and more importantly New Year's over there. On 2nd of January I was already back at work and life caught up slowly. I finally had some time to attach the lining (on the machine for most of it and by hand on the back hem and the sleeves).

I am very happy about the result: I used more interfacing than recommended and honestly, I could have put it even on the back and it would have worked too. There is no pulling or creepy lines, if I am really picky, the sleeve head could have been slightly larger, but I am really searching for bugs here.

I know this is a basics and that's what is great about this blazer, it will just work with everything.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

X-mas sewing - Part II.

X-mas is now entirely over and I can publish the second batch of me-made gifts.

The first one is a silk kimono I sewed for my mum. Last year, she was disappointed, as my sister got a new dress and she nothing, so this year she had some as well. The challenge is that we are not of the same size and it is rather difficult to guestimate her size on distance.
Then I had the idea of sewing a kimono for her - I have seen so many of them this year and liked the idea of a silk colourful one. Then I found this violet silk fabric in my stash (Malaysia, 2 years ago) and there were no more doubts.

I did not use any commercial pattern, just tutos on Pinterest and I used all of my fabric. All the seams are French-seamed and I used a piece of the remnant to do a little double-facing. The sleeves' hem is just a fabric selvedge, so I left it off as such.

It looks little weird on myself, as I am slightly smaller than my mum, but on her it was quite cool actually and definitely her colours.

The last gift I sewed is this kind of cape-sweater for my sister. It is Burda 120-12/2016 pattern I bought separately and loved since I first saw it. However, when I sewed the muslin (in the smallest size), it was more than oversized. I think I had to take away 7-8cm on each side and on the length as well.

I used some wool crepe which is a little more flowy than the recommended bouclé but works perfectly as well. There is nothing special to say about theused techiques, I used large French seams and hand stitched the hems, it was a quick and very cool make.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

2017 Hits and Misses

I have realized that I tend to forget what I actually sew during the year. Some pieces of clothing become such big hits that it seems I own them since ever. So it is always nice to go through the year again and remind myself what worked well and what did not as it definitely helps my planning.

Let's start on the positive note - my 2017 hits:

This dress has everything - it is very simple, yet very intricated. It is sewn in dark blue linen which is not a usual colour for me but I like it a lot on myself. It is a shift dress so quite comfy even in the worst heat waves.

Ok, so officially, 2017 was a year of the sleeve and this is the only funny sleeve I did. Another shiftdress, in rather dark colours, it quickly became a wardrobe staple for me. In addition, I used some oooold fabric for that.

I still do not understand why it took me one year to motivate myself to sew this cape. In the end, it was such an easy make and I am very proud of the details, such as the zip, the arm openings etc. It is not a thing to wear every day, but I love it.

Again, not a dress I would wear every day, but an achievement in terms of sewing skills. I was too intimidated by the complexity, but once I did the muslin, everything was pretty clear.
Lesson to take with me to 2018: challenge myself more - I can sew a lined and fitted dress without asking many questions because I do it often. So I need to gain the same confidence on other types of garments, such as jackets.

Burda top
This top, because it got worn even though I do not have many white things to complement it. It is simple, yet comfy and creates a nice silhouette.

2017 misses:

The colour tops
Not all of them got worn, not because they are not nice, but because I tend to wear mainly dresses and miss some bottom separates. Actually, the only time I really wear tops is on summer vacation when I spend my time in shorts. So the take for the next year should be to sew more skirts and shorts to take advantage of my tops.

Red jumpsuit
While the first jumpsuit was a success and got some wear on vacation, I did not manage to take this one out of my wardrobe. Perhaps because it is too revealing or because I only remember the overexposed pictures on my blog which certainly do not do it favour. I think that the revealing back combined with shorts was a bad idea, it looked rather elegant in the original long version, while the short one is just blaah. However, I might try to sew another jumpsuit this year as I consider them quite cool and practical (once I solve the "toilet issue")

The 50' dress
I like the result, but it does not fit into my wardrobe. I do not have many opportunities to wear such kind of dresses, I will always prefer a nice shift to a large skirt. Also, the fact that the skirt is not lined feels like the dress is a cheap one.

This year's UFO
I usually do not produce UFOs, but this one was hanging on my sewing dummy for too long. It is my x-th attempt to sew a wrap dress (and definitely not the last one because I.need.a.wrap.dress). The fabric is some poly and I have to be really careful not to burn it during ironing. I am very happy with the cross-over which sits nicely, but am really bothered by the sleeves. Also, while the fabric looks cute on the black dummy, it is less appropriate on myself. I have considered black piping to break it. I am still convinced that I should try to finish this dress and that it can work. The aim overhere is to have a T&T pattern for a wrap dress.

Green-brown dress
Not yet on the blog as I have to adjust it. There is something about the proportions really bugging me; the bodice sits nicely, but the shoulder area seems strange, maybe if it was a V-shape, it would be nicer.
I like the colour of this suiting (not very clear in these pictures) too much to throw it away, so this went to my re-do pile.

All in all, it was a very positive year. I am not sure if I will be able to do so much sewing next year as well, so I just enjoy the new clothes in my closet :o)

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Review of 2017

Originally, I did not want to write an overview of 2017, but the year finished rather beautifully, and I actually like reading the reviews from other bloggers so I will write mine as well.

First, to remind ourselves with the objectives of 2017 - I wanted to sew and I needed to decrease my stash by 10% while still buying fabric. I found out that being on a buying diet does not work for me - sometimes I just see the amazing fabric while on vacation or need to buy lining to finish a project. But buying while being careful and decreasing the stash at the same time works pretty well.

We went to Thailand on our big summer vacation so buying fabric over there was a must. However, I learned from my past mistakes and bought fabrics I would easily use up for my daily wear, not only those colourful cottons with Asian motives. I brought a few meters of some basic wool-cashmere suiting, as well as silks for linings. In total I bought 56,7m of fabric during the year which was A LOT. I need to be more careful next year, mainly at the beginning of the year, while "saving up" for the vacations.

On the consumption side, this was probably my best sewing year. Work was less crazy than usually, mainly in the second half of the year, so I had time and energy to sew.
  • I sewed my first patchwork - a large one - which used up a lot of my stash. I managed to use a lot of cotton coupons I had brought from the US or Indonesia a few years ago and which I liked a lot but which were not suitable for clothes. Also, I could use some of the large scraps I have left. Clearly a winner. It took me crazy hours but fits nicely into my piano room.
  • I used some little coupons for a few summer tops
  • I started sewing from the fabrics I bought on this year's vacation - a good proof of the right choices
  • I sewed up 78m of fabric, so the decrease is of 21,3m, which is largely above the planned 10% (I did not get under 100m of total stash, ending at 106, but that is okay, I will get to that soon)
  • I sewed a few of x-mas presents which enabled me to sew things I would usually not make for myself, I still have one post to publish on that
  • I got to sewing items from my long-term wishlist, such as some Vogue dresses or a cape
In total, I have sewed 38 pieces:
18 dresses
2 skirts (not blogged)
1 cape
7 tops
1 blazer
2 jumpsuits
2 pairs of trousers
1 short
1 patchwork
3 x-mas gifts

As for the pattern company stats:
I mostly sew from Burda (22 pieces), followed by 4 repeats of one NewLook and 3 different Vogue patterns and I did not have to do the statistics to know that, haha. I bought a few Burda numbers, as well as a few patterns. It still does not justify Burda yearly subscription; in addition, I know feel that I have a good stock of basic patterns in case I need something rather standard.

I am also quite happy with my blogging, as I have published 34 posts and I do not have a major blogging delay.