Last summer

Finally finding some time to talk about what kept me busy this past summer…

We bought an apartment!

And we had some work to do inside before we could settle in. More than we initially thought, as it wasn’t paint on the walls of the main rooms (dining room and bedrooms), but something that we had to remove before we could paint. So we spent quite some time…

sanding,

scrapping things off the walls,

smoothing the walls,

painting,

cleaning,

and finally, moving in

and unpacking everything.

It’s a huge investment, which is stressful, but the place is great now that we made it our own. And we learned new skills. ;) We wanted to do most of the work before moving in, because of Mr. E., which was stressful and exhausting, but thanks to the very nice people who helped us we managed it! We have wonderful friends and family members. In case you’d like to see the before/after pictures I posted everything on my Flickr account. This past summer we also…

Celebrated Mr E.’s first birthday! As you can see he loved the paper wrapping his gifts. ;) It’s not always easy to have a child, but I love him dearly and I’m really happy to know him.

Improved the apartment. Two words: “Thanks Ikea”.

Spent a one week holiday in the south west of France to see one of my two best friends and my god-daughter, her little girl who was born only three months after our son. They live in the US and were in France to see the family. Mr E. discovered the swimming pool and loved it!

And I colored my hair! ^^ You might have guessed it on the last pictures I posted, or seen it on Facebook. I love it!

In the middle of all this I did manage to start sewing a little bit again at the end of summer. I made a dress for my god-daughter, which I forgot to take pictures of. I’m hoping her mom will send me some so that I can show it here. And I did a little something for two friends’ wedding. I do have picture of this project. The past weeks have been quite busy but I’m slowly working on more toddler clothes at the moment.

Sewn art

This title is a reference to a competition going on at Thread & Needles, a French sewing community (I know, why an English name if it’s a French community? Maybe because the girl who created it was a IT girl? ;p ). This is not my entry for the competition, but an old project that perfectly matched the competition theme. I thought it was a perfect excuse to take new pictures and share it! ;)

This dress was a gift from some of my friends for my 17th birthday. I had no idea at that time that I could learn sewing, but I did love to design and drawn garments. One of my friend’s mother knew how to sew, so there offered to custom make me a dress from one of my drawings. You can guess how happy I was.

The lucky winner was a drawing of a dress inspired by an illustration by Clamp. It’s on the cover of the 2nd Card Captor Sakura art-book. The outfits from this series are really fun and original and I really liked this dress in particular. But since I wasn’t a child anymore and didn’t live in a manga, I had to make some changes.

You can see the resulting dress is longer and simpler. We kept the style of the motifs but simplified them a little bit, as my friend’s mother had to embroider them by hand (I think she wasn’t too happy about it ^^; ). If I were to make it today I wouldn’t choose the same fabric, as it probably has a good deal of synthetic fiber, but it does hang nicely.

This dress was a favorite of mine for a long time, I wore it whenever I wanted to be nicely dresses and feel pretty. I have to admit it had been quite some time since I last wore it though. Putting it back on for the pictures made me want to wear it again. Sadly it’s a little bit tight around the arms now… I might try to let out the seams a bit and see if it solves the problem.


Facebook

In the French version of this post I talk about two giveaways on a french sewing author’s blog. If you want to read about it head over there.

I also wanted to share that I created a Facebook account! It’s over here. This account is for all things creative and crafty, and since it’s for sharing links and short texts I can post there even if I don’t have time to write blog articles. Part of my posts are about the dolls I collect, but if I have more sewing-related contacts it will encourage me to increase the sewing-related talk. Please give me an excuse to do so! ;)

Giveaway winner

The giveaway is now over. Since all participants commented in French I invite you to read the French version of this post for the winner announcement.

It was fun to read all comments and see what people like and what they would make with those prints. There are definitely some favorites. The winners, with 6 mentions, are “Fleurs d’été”  (the red one having 3 mentions) and “Dot Power” (with 3 mentions of the purple version). Then there are “Ecorce” in purple and “Pois perdus” (3 in blue, 1 in pink) with 4 mentions each. I think the blue “Pois perdus” was the most ordered motif during the jersey sale. Then “Jungle” was mentioned 3 times. And with 2 mentions we have “Indian summer”, “Pétales de cerisier”, “Tulipe”, “Flower power” and “Pois fleuris”. There were also diferent fabrics of the “Arlequin” series. As to what you’d do with them, as could be expected you talked about dresses and skirts, sometimes retro inspired A-line shaped, blouses and tops (the Datura pattern by Deer and Doe being considered by 2 commenters) but also about bags (3 times) or cushions (2 times). And of course you talked a lot about swimsuits, which is not suprising considering the current sale. You seem to like the Soma pattern from Papercut, which was released not long ago and is totally cute, so I definitely understand (did you see Lauren’s versions? You definitely have to!). I’d love to make a swimsuit but it won’t be for this year, I won’t have enough time sadly… If you want to read everyone’s suggestions I suggest you go read the comments directly. As for me, here are the motifs I ordered during the jersey sale, the two on the right to make matching tops for my skirt and the Dot Power in purple just because:

On a more personal note I hope you all had a nice week-end. It was a three days week-end for us here, and I really enjoyed it: we had a sewing party with some friends, it was wonderful! During one and a half day all we did was sew, eat (lots of yummy food) and chat together. There were 5 of us in total, plus my friend’s father since it was at her parents house. It was the first time I did something like this, we had a blast and are totally planning to do it again! As a result I will have a few things to share with you soon. :) Here is a small teaser…

70′s dress from a japanese pattern

Do not forget the giveaway for La Modette’s fabric store, you have until tomorrow 10pm Paris time to enter (that’s 1pm pacific time I think)!

This dress was made a few year ago (I was still living in Japan!) and was never shown here, but I love it and with summer coming it’s a good time to finally share it. This project was born because we were invited to a “disco” themed party, which was a perfect excuse to finally make of those long and flowy dresses from the 70′s that I love. I browsed the web for inspiration (no Pinterest at the time, I had to save the pictures on my computer ;p ) and fell in love with this pattern drawing: McCall’s 4399.

I didn’t want to order a pattern, so the plan was to make a dress similar to the maxi shown on the cover, using a pattern I already owned as a base. I didn’t have any vintage pattern at the time in my collection. Instead I turned to my collection of japanese pattern books, and found that the top of the I dress from the Stylish Dress Book had a similar top that I could use.

I used a picture from the envelope back as my guide for fabric requirements and the overall shape of each pattern piece and I went modifying my pattern to get the dress I wanted. In the end only the shoulders and armholes of the original pattern remain untouched. XD I changed the neckline to lower it and added lots of length to the top. The original pattern has a seam under the bust with a gathered skirt, mine doesn’t have any horizontal seam. However there are seams down the center front and center back since the botom of the dress was to wide for my fabric width. I was planning to add sleeves, but left them of at the last minute because of a lack of time. I did like the dress as it was so I left it like this.

I used a floral cotton fabric that wasn’t probably the best choice in terms of thickness and drape (it probably is light quilting cotton) but that I thought was nice in terms of print. Plus I didn’t have much time so I had to do with what I could find around me. Because of that fabric it might not be as flowy as it could be, and it’s not as light as I wished it was during very hot summer days, but I wear it all the same. I wear it every summer since I made it. For the neckline ribbon the pattern calls for “stretch lace or foldover flexi-lace”. I couldn’t find any so I used a sort of gauzy ribbon. Since it couldn’t follow the round neckline at the back I slightly gathered it. Now I think it wasn’t the best idea, but I’m too lazy to change that… ^^; If I make it again I’ll probably cut a fabric band the same shape of the dress neckline (kind of like a facing).

The funny thing is that this particular pattern is for a maternity dress. Of course I wasn’t pregnant at the time but I didn’t mind and I don’t think the resulting dress screams “maternity”. But I was super happy to have it when I was indeed pregnant last year. :) It was indeed perfect, as you can see in the following pictures.

Overall I’m quite happy with this dress. I love that it is quite comfortable because of the tent shape (I can even tie the ribbon at the front to remove the empire waist) but still feels feminin. Sure it has flaws but at the time I made it I didn’t have that much sewing experience and I was super proud to be able to make it by altering another pattern. :) It’s quite nice to wear. I’ll probably make other(s) in the same style, either maxi length like this or shorter.

Firsts I remember for this project:

  • first vintage style garment
  • first time hacking a pattern

Blog birthday and giveaway

Giveaway is now closed, thank you for your participation.

Last Saturday it was my blog’s birthday. As you can see I took a few minutes to celebrate during a short escape to the coast. ^_^ Yes, it is supposed to be a birthday cake that you see drawn in the sand. ;p Mr E. [my 10 months old son for those who are new around here] discovered the sand on the beach, it was funny: at first he was scared, then skeptical, then intrigued and by the end he was covered in it as the result of his playing. XD

I have to say that I’m not even sure how old this blog exactly is. I wish I’d find time to write more often but I like it however it is. Through the years it became a part of who I am, just like sewing is, and I like spending time here with you. I made some nice acquaintances thanks to it and I hope to make more in the future. So here’s to another year of blogging! :)

And since blogs are about community and connecting, I’m celebrating with you by doing a giveaway! You probably realized I’m quite smitten with La Modette‘s cheerful prints. I want to share the love and support a local designer, so I’m offering a 20 euros credit to her store. Here’s your chance to test her fabrics. ^_^ If you haven’t read it already, you can find my test garment from her poplin here and the links to the others testers on La Modette’s blog. The website is still in French only, but she sends her fabric everywhere in the world (and you can pay by Paypal). If there are enough entries from non-french speaking people and a need for it I might post some explanations in English on how to order, but I think it shouldn’t be too difficult.

How to enter? Go check La Modette‘s website and come back here to let me know which motif you would get and for what project (if you already have an idea). You can earn another entry by sharing this on your blog, Twitter, Facebook (with public access) or other places and coming back here to share the link to your post in another comment. Giveaway is open until next Tuesday (that’s June 10) 7pm10pm Paris time. I will randomly pick a winning comment shortly after that so you have time to use the code on the next fabric order if you want. I got swatches for those: the voile is super soft and the polyamide seems indeed perfect for a swimsuit, soft, thick enough and stretchy with good recovery.

As for me, I’m going to think of the perfect use for the poplins I just received. I can’t wait to play with the different sizes and search how to combine them in projects. ^_^

Giveaway is now closed, thank you for your participation.

Sewing is the new thing

The other day I stumbled upon a short article in Elle magazine about sewing being the new fashionable hobby. Of course I had to share it.

They take the soon to be aired french version of The Great British Sewing Bee as the final proof that sewing is a thing again. I was a little bit disappointed in the content but I found it nice to read about sewing in such a magazine. And it is true that sewing is getting more and more popular in France. Contrary to some other countries we don’t study sewing at school anymore (my mother did in the 60s) and I think most women of my parents age don’t regularly sew, so people from my generation didn’t get an early acquaintance with sewing through school or their parents. Therefore sewing wasn’t very popular for quite some time, and many fabric stores closed. For a few years now we’ve seen many new fabric designers, modern fabric stores, independent pattern brand and sewing books (first translated from japanese and more and more written by French people) arriving. There are also more offerings for sewing lessons. It’s a really good thing, we get access to many interesting things directly in France. Let’s hope it will keep on that way and get even better!

What about in your place, is sewing getting more popular also? Or has it always been quite common for people to know how to sew?

1916 dress project

Summer approaches, and with it the end of my sewing lessons. Realizing that, I started a project last week that has been in my mind for some time, and was delayed by my pregnancy: making a dress from a 1916 magazine’s pattern. There are many unknowns in this project, which might turn out very easy or, as I suspect, quite challenging. That’s why I want to use the remaining lessons to start it with an experienced seamstress beside me. And I hope to share the process here with you. :)

The magazine is La Mode Illustrée from January 1916. It was published during the war and you can feel it when you read the front page article, which talks about lifestyle changes: reducing costs, having less employees, even women looking for a job! It seems a little bit strange to read this nowadays. I like reading those old magazines, they give you an insight at what life was for some people in those days. The dress I’m interested in is shown on the “afternoon dresses” page and described as a dress of broadcloth and velvet (I think, not 100% of my translation here). In the description they write that this dress was designed so that an older dress in a narrower style could be used to make it, lengthening the velvet band at the bottom if needed.

What do you think of this dress? Would you wear it? I do find it really promising, it looks nice and elegant. And although I think the journey in itself will probably be interesting, I do hope to have a wearable garment at the end of it. I fear I might have to make quite a lot of alterations: I doubt my measurements match those of the average women of that time, and they probably wore corsets under their clothes, which I’m not going to do on a daily basis. I actually prefer to wear my corsets on the outside. I couldn’t find any measurements on the magazine or the pattern sheet, so I have no idea what size this thing is supposed to turn out. It will be a surprise. ;)

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?