Have a lovely New Year’s eve

I told you I’d try to come back for one last post before the new year. I intended to share the last sewing project I made in 2015. Sadly I had just a short period of free time today and I baked scones for our friends instead. It’s for brunch tomorrow, hoping that 1. they turn out okay, since it’s a recipe I’m using for the first time and 2. they’ll still be okay tomorrow morning when we’ll be eating them. ^^; The good news is that I started processing the pictures, so it shouldn’t be long before you see this project here.

In the meantime I’m leaving you with the teaser picture above and I wish you a very nice New Year’s eve!

Lucky finds, October 2015

Hello dear readers! I have many things to share with you. Sewing projects but also several inspirational things, as the past few months were rich with good findings. I have been to a few garage sale the past weeks, which I haven’t done a lot this summer. As you probably already know if you’ve been around for some time I like vintage clothes and old books and magazines. I entered the world of garage sales when we were looking for decor props for our wedding and I got hooked. We don’t have estate sales in France (or at least they’re not the thing they are in the US and there are not as many), so we’re left with garage sales to try and find interesting goodies from the past. Sadly it seems that the tendency here is more for people to throw their old patterns away because they think they won’t be interesting to anyone nowadays, which I find really sad, and which makes finding old sewing patterns a bit of a challenge. When I see the posts on the WeSewRetro Facebook group and other groups for selling vintage patterns, it seems it doesn’t work the same in the US where people seem to find patterns much more easily. But I’m still hoping to be able to find interesting patterns here someday (or talk enough about this around me to the people I know to be able to salvage some from the dumpster ’cause they’ll know some people could be interested). Anyway, back to the subject! I made some good findings last Sunday at two garage sales, and I wanted to share them with you.

As you might have guessed after reading the introduction, I didn’t find any pattern per se, but I did find many sewing related magazines, from different periods of the 20th century. :) At the very start of my first visit I discovered a pile of magazines in front of a booth. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The lady told me that she grabbed almost all the magazines she found in her attic, which belonged to her grandmother, saving just a couple for herself. To other ladies went by while I was quickly browsing through them to decide what to bring home, and I was quite happy to have been there early. In the end I bought almost all of them. ^^; There is a catalog from the Louvre dating from 1935, with a part on clothes but also some housewares, and about ten issues of “Le Petit Echo de la Mode” from 1937 to 1939. Those are fragile, two in particular are a bit damaged. I might do copies or scans of those to keep another “safer” version.

Among those magazines were also two pattern catalogs from 1917-1918 for “Les patrons français Echo”. I didn’t know this pattern brand, I’ll try to look into it. Those went directly into the “I’ll take them” pile without thinking! ^_^

On another booth I found this little book title “Je serai couturière”, which means “I will be a seamstress”. It’s a collecting of sewing advice previously published in the “Modes et Travaux” magazine, grouped together in one booklet to create a sort of sewing reference guide. It was published in 1952 and has 79 pages organized in sections (how to use a pattern, sew sleeves, necklines, closures…).

Then somewhere else I found three issues of that same magazine the book was made from, Modes et Travaux, dating from 1967, 1973 and 1979. Inside you can find some sewing inspiration and knitting and crochet patterns. That’s all for sewing magazines, now let’s see some knitting ones. I don’t knit so I usually skip those, but recently my mom (who used to sew but now mainly knit and crochet) told me that she was disappointed at the modern knitting magazines, that she used to find more interesting things back in the days. So I thought “Hey, I’ll look for things for her!”. Those weren’t very expensive so I guess it’s not a huge loss if she’s not interested in any of those, and I can use then as inspiration maybe. If I knew how to knit, I’d definitely make some projects from those magazines!

There is a Phildar magazine without any date on it, but from the style I’m guessing 70s or 1980-1981 at the latest. I hope she’ll find some things of interest in this one. The other two are much older, so I’m not sure she’ll like them, but they were amongst the pile of fashion magazines from the 1930s and I thought the idea of magazines around knitting patterns + a novel (which the title “Tricot-roman” means) was fun. And then two Phildar devoted to babies clothes. This is not a hint to a big reveal, it’s just that there were some cute clothes inside, they were really cheap and I foresee possible other babies in my mom’s future as beside me my mom has two other children, both younger than me.

And then some materials. First two pieces of lace, one that I intend to cut and use as appliques and the other to sew on the border of a future piece of clothing. Under them you can see a piece of fabric I also got at the garage sale. We call that king of fabric “madras” in French, I don’t know if there’s a special name for that kind of cotton check fabric in English… I love that type of fabric, but didn’t have any in my fabric stash. I fell in love with the colors and considering the crazy amount of yardage I got for the price I paid it was a steal, and I couldn’t let it pass. And now I’m off to think about my next sewing projects. ;p

Checker skirt

The project I’m showing today is quite special: I got the opportunity to test one of the first fabrics produced by french designer La Modette. :) I was so happy when Sandrine told me that I would be part of the first round of testers for her new fabrics! She liked the fabric I had picked and the project I suggested.  It’s the first time I take part in something like this, it was exciting but also a little bit stressful. It felt like such a huge decision when I started cutting into the fabric to make something out of it. ^^;

First fabrics from La Modette

As you can see from the above picture (taken from La Modette’s facebook page with Sandrine’s permission), all fabrics from this first batch are really nice and colorful. I thought for a moment of making something with this umbrella print (cause umbrellas are fun and I still can’t forgive myself for not getting some of Alexander Henry’s April Showers print), but in the end I decided to stick with the checker print (which you can see better here) that had first caught my eye. Since I don’t have much available time lately (perhaps you’ve noticed?) I knew a simple project would be best. I thought I could make another skirt similar to my brown skirt with the lace print. It has few sewing lines and it’s based on rectangles, which would work well with that kind of print, and it’s a skirt I wear quite often so I’d probably make good use of another one in the same style.

I realized it wouldn’t be so easy when I measured the fabric after washing it. I also measured my original skirt and here is how it went: my skirt has two 52×99 cm panels (not counting the seam allowances) and my fabric was 94x155cm. They was no way I could cut two panels high and large enough to make the same skirt. Since I didn’t want to chance the skirt shape, my only option was either to mix fabrics (I’m sure it would be nice mixed with a plain black) or patch smaller panels together to create the length I needed. I figured the skirt would be easier to coordinate if I didn’t add yet another color to it, so I went for the latter.

Une jupe puzzle...

Technical details:

  • I cut a first rectangle of 52 (+ sewing allowances) x 155cm, and made a second one measuring 52 x 50cm (+ allowances) by sewing together two smaller rectangles of 26 x 50cm (+ allowances). As a result 3/4 of the skirt don’t have any seams, and the last quarter has two vertical seams and an horizontal one around the middle. I did my best to sew on the squares to hide the seaming.
  • as the fabric is rather light I was concerned about show through so I decided to line the skirt in a very soft cotton fabric (maybe a blend?) I’ve had for some time. Maybe it wasn’t necessary, but it had the added benefit of providing another layer to catchstitch the hem to, so that I wouldn’t have any hem stitch showing on the right side.
  • the waistband is a simple 6cm height band folded and sewn with 1cm seam allowances, for an elastic band that was 1,5cm large. It was a little tight for the elastic but I think it may have to do with me not reducing my allowances after sewing.

Nice invisible hemA nice hem without any stitches showing on the outside

So what about the fabric? As a tester I have to give my opinion about it (although it’s probably easier to review a pattern…). I found it nice and easy to use and found the colors to be really nice in real life too (at first on my computer I thought the light squares were white but they’re a sort of pale salmon pink). It creases normally for a cotton poplin. I prewashed it at 30°C, Sandrine says we can even wash it at 40°C. The colors didn’t fade or bleed. It seems the fabric shrank a little bit in the direction parallel to the selvage: the squares are supposed to be 4cm by 4cm according to the website, but mine were a tiny bit less high. The fabric doesn’t fray much. There was a tiny flaw in the print in one place, but I guess it happens sometimes. Unfortunately I saw it after I had already cut my pieces, but I managed to hide part of it by moving a seam a little bit and I don’t think it’s really noticeable on the skirt.

The good:

  • it was a great opportunity to take part in a nice project, test new fabrics, and promote and support a French creative woman.
  • the resulting skirt is fresh and cheerful.
  • I succeeded in getting the skirt I had planned, which has the right size, even if it seemed at first that I didn’t have enough fabric. It was an interesting challenge. The easy to match and regular motif clearly helped.
  • The motifs match almost perfectly at the seams.
  • I’m really proud of my catchstitched hem. I’m quite lazy usually when it comes to hand hemming, but I felt it would be a shame to ruin the lovely check motif with visible stitches. My stitches aren’t perfect, they’re still not quite regular, but it could have been worse, I’m getting better. It’s funny because they vary a lot in size at the beginning: first they were tiny as I was hesitant, and then as I got scared that it would take forever they got huge. XD After that I decided to be more focused and they got better.
  • The lining is super soft on my legs it’s a pleasure. :)

Isn't it nice?First stitches...First stitches: from tiny to huge

The not so good: I’m not entirely sure I made the best choices…

  • I should have cut to rectangles of 47cm by 102cm and add a band at the bottom rather that cut the right length and add a vertical band with a seam in the middle of it. It’s not balanced and even if the checks match from up close you can see the seams. And I’m afraid if might alter the way the skirt hangs.
  • I feel like the waist on this skirt is thicker than on my brown skirt. It’s probably because of the added lining and the fact that I didn’t cut the allowances.

Can you spot the seams?

Mr Robots says he really likes this skirt, which he finds fresh, and he thinks it fits me well. I’m wearing it right now with a black tank top. The top is fitted so it’s hiding the elasticized waistband and makes the skirt flares a little bit more under it, it looks nice. I think it looks better like this than with the shorter top I used for my outdoor picture. And it made me think of another use for this fabric: a dress in the 20′s style, in black, with a flounce in this fabric at the bottom. What do you think, would it be nice ?

I still have a little bit of fabric that I’m keeping for the perfect use. I’m even thinking about getting more of this same print in the same colors to try another idea or two that I had during this project. So maybe you’ll see more checks here soon? What about you? Will you fall into check love (this fabric is available in several colorways)? What would you make with such fabric?

La Modette

Hello! April didn’t leave me much free time to blog, but I did make a few things that I’m going to try and share in the coming weeks.

Today I’d like to introduce a new French independent fabric brand: La Modette. I first hear about it a few weeks ago when Sandrine, the designer, posted a call for testers on Thread & Needles. I went to check La Modette’s Facebook page to learn more about it, and was instantly seduced by her joyful fabrics. Here is the teaser we could see on the page:

Les premiers tissus test

Aren’t they nice? They’re printed on cotton poplin, and since La Modette’s official website is now up and running, you can order them for yourself. Although