It’s official, my husband and I have finally booked our holiday to Japan. We’ve been planning to go for two years now (it was supposed to be sort of our honeymoon) and we finally managed to find a date. We’ll be there from the beginning of April until the beginning of March, travelling around the country. I’m very excited!
So what is the first thing a sewist does when they booked a holiday? Dream up a travel wardrobe of course and make a list of things to sew. This list I’ve sketched out focuses on some key pieces I felt I was missing. Clearly I’m already dreaming of warm weather sewing. No worries I’ll take thermals and jackets too.
This list got me so excited that I’ve already sewn half way through it. Today I’m showing you the Claudia Dress and the Stellan Tee. The leather fanny pack is done too (check out my Instagram for a preview) and I’m currently working on the Raspberry Rucksack.
The Claudia Dress by Tessuti has been on my to-sew list since it came out. I love the neckline, the length, the side slits; basically it’s my dream summer dress. I used a Robert Kaufmann cotton-linen mix that I got from Ray Stitch a while ago. It’s a beautiful fabric but it took me a long time to decide what exactly to make with it. I’m glad I decided to pair it with the Claudia dress. It’s the perfect weight for this dress and the stripes work well with this simple shape.
Talking of stripes, I totally copied the idea of playing with stripe direction from Ellen (@ejc______). I saw her version of the Claudia on Instagram and immediately wanted to make my own. I broke up the front pattern piece into two (actually just at the place where you would stick the two pattern pieces together) and cut one piece on grain, the other one cross-grain. The back stripes are aligned with the ones of the lower part of the front. I made sure to pattern match just above the slit where both sides meet and love this little detail.
In terms of sizing I graded from a size S at the top to a size M in the hips. The amount of ease around the hips is perfect, at the top though I had to take the dress in quite a bit through the side seams. Now it sits close enough to not show any boob but it’s still relatively loose so that I can wear a T-shirt or turtleneck underneath. I tried to be super careful with the armhole stitching to not stretch it out (I stay stitched instead of using tear-away vilene as suggested in the pattern), still it gapes a little. Something to improve on the next version.
For the facings I used the main fabric, but decided to also invert the stripe. I figured rather than trying to match up the stripe I would create a sort of checkered pattern if the fabric was to sheer. And indeed you can see a faint pattern in the right light, which I think is quite fun.
The dress has pockets that are topstitched to the front. While I like the construction and the fact that they are there, I feel the pockets are really tiny, and I don’t even have big hands! Something to keep in mind if you ever make this pattern.
While I like the dress loose as drafted (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture), I also sewed up a tie to cinch in the waist. It breaks up the front bodice and adds a little bit more to the stripe play.
All in all it’s a wonderful pattern. For my next version I might hack it into a top for summer.
Next up is the Stellan Tee by French Navy. It’s a FREE pattern and a great contemporary version of a tee. I love the high neck and the relaxed fit.
The fabric is the ochre merino from The Fabric Store. I don’t really wear yellow/mustard colours, but it suits my husband so I had ordered some to make him a T-shirt. While the fabric was sitting in my stash, I got curious and decided to give this colour a try. So I stole a piece to make the Stellan Tee (don’t worry, there is still enough left for my husband).
It’s a simple tee, nevertheless, the instructions are nice and thorough. I’m not much of a T-shirt sewer, so this was actually the first time that I used the technique to enclose the back neck seam allowance with tape. I love how clean it looks and will definitely add that to any future T-shirts.
I don’t have a coverstitch machine, so I used a small zig zag stitch to finish the neck and hems. I always thought it looked a little bit amateurish though these days I actually really like the look of it.
The sizing for me is spot on. I made a size S based on my bust measurements and there is plenty of room even at the hips.
The hem is drafted as curved, which was a bit fiddly to sew. It’s a cute detail, though I might straighten it out next time to give it an even cleaner look.
Such a quick and satisfying sew and this merino is a dream to wear! My husband only wears merino shirts these days and I can understand why. It’s perfect for any climate and will be great for travelling.
Hello there! We are having a couple of warm and sunny weeks here in Germany and I wanted to check in to show you my new spring uniform: the Persephone Pants (by Anna Allen Clothing) and the Mandy Boat Tee (by Tessuti).
I’ve been wanting to make the Mandy Boat Tee for ages, but somehow never really got around to it. Then I was in Berlin in November and visited Siebenblau, a beautiful shop with organic fabrics, where I picked up this striped jersey with the Mandy in mind. I’ve been stalking them online and was very intrigued by their naturally coloured cotton. Shortly after, I came across the new podcast Reverberate by A Verb For Keeping Warm where in Episode 1 they interview Sally Fox who breeds coloured cotton and explains the history behind it. Definitely worth a listen!
In the shop I was warned that the fabric was warped due to the way it was wrapped on the bolt and that I should wash it and then stretch it in place. Unfortunately that didn’t really work. I stretched, I steamed and stretched but the fabric was still far from rectangular. My last resort was to pin it, while damp, to the wood wall of my bedroom and stretch it into submission. That worked reasonably well, not perfectly, but given the loose fit of the Mandy Boat Tee I decided to use it as it was.
The other struggle I had was the fact that I had only purchased one meter of fabric and with the warped ends even had a little bit less than that to use, so it was difficult to fit all the pattern pieces. In the end I had to piece the sleeves and shorten them slightly.
The construction process on the other hand was a breeze, thanks to the jersey being very stable. Another reason for being able to achieve a neat finish was that I finally purchased some flexible seam tape (I used the Vlieseline Nahtband Flexibel T15) that helped immensely with stabilising the neckline and the hem. Why have I not started using this sooner?
Excited about adding a new staple to my wardrobe I put it on but immediately realised that the sleeves were far too tight. Apparently the sleeve is drafted with a lot of negative ease and my fabric did not have a ton of stretch. Since I didn’t have any fabric left over to re-cut the sleeves I could only let out the seams a little bit. Now it’s wearable but still on the tight side. So next time I’ll definitely widen the sleeves. In terms of sizing, I used the new graded version of the pattern and chose a size 2 (S-M).
Despite all the struggles, I’m really happy with the final tee. The fabric is beautiful and lovely to wear. Now I finally understand why everyone loves the Mandy Boat Tee. It’s so easy to wear and I love the boxy fit. Once I have sorted out the sleeves I’m sure I will make more.
This pair of Persephones has been a long time coming. After I had finished my first pairs last summer I knew immediately that I wanted to make a denim pair. However, somehow I just couldn’t find a good heavy-weight denim neither in shops nor online. Then The Fabric Store had their sale at the beginning of the year and in addition to the merino jersey that I came for, I added a length of a 12 oz denim in Indigo to my cart. The fabric is actually perfect for the Persephones. The 12 oz weight is heavy enough to give them the needed structure but still thin enough so that my domestic sewing machine could handle it.
In terms of fit adjustments I made the same as for my first full-length pair (here the blog post with all the details). In summary, I sized down to a 10, shortened the front crotch, deepened the back darts and added a curved waistband with a centre back seam. When I basted them together to check the fit they came out bigger than expected. This was due to a combination of two factors. First, I had lost a little bit of weight after changes to my diet and second this denim, while being non-stretch, has some give whereas the fabric on my previous pair had none. To make them sit a little bit tighter I took them in through the inseam of the leg and some further through the back darts. They still sit a little bit looser than my other pair but they keep their shape nicely and are super comfortable to wear.
While I loved the construction of the original button fly, I do think a zip fly is a little bit more practical to wear. I could have probably figured out how to convert the button fly but decided to purchase the Zipper Expansion Pack that Anna just released. The construction is slightly different to what I normally do (which is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans method) but it came out beautifully. I love learning new techniques!
I also added some length to the legs. With a generous 5 cm double hem they finish just at my ankle. This makes them a little bit more practical to wear in cold weather, without the need for knee-high socks all the time.
Since I went with denim, I decided to go all out with the top stitching details. I chose an orange colour and loved adding all the details. I also incorporated the pretty selvage by using it as the belt loops. To top it all off I used a white bone button from Fringe Supply Co. The white button with the orange stitching makes me so happy!
So, another pair of Persephones down and I think I’m still not done with the pattern. I might make an off-white pair or one in khaki. I’m constantly inspired by the all the great versions popping up in my Instagram feed (just check out the hashtag).
Hope you are all getting some sunshine, wherever you are!
The ones that follow me on Instagram know that in November I spent a few days doing a lot of natural dyeing. I started with a cotton table cloth and a cotton/linen curtain; both old and stained / with some holes, which luckily wasn’t a problem for the project I was planning with it. Then I dyed pieces of the fabric in all the colours that I could find.
I don’t have a lot of experience with natural dyeing, apart from some indigo and avocado dyeing (like my Blaire Shirt), but I was keen to experiment a little. The whole dyeing process was very intuitive. I basically just used what I could find in my parents house and garden. Once a year they have a little natural dyeing festival, so they actually have some dye plants in the garden. I even was able to save some Madder root, that my mother was getting rid of, since it is growing like weeds. If you want more details on the whole process, I have saved everything in my story highlights section on Instagram.
I won’t go through the whole process, but basically I used soy milk on all the fabric as a mordant and prepared the dye bath in either cold or hot water. I played around with the temperature to figure out what worked best for each colour. Except for some iron liquor (home made) on eucalyptus (from our France holiday) I didn’t use any agents to change the colour. I also didn’t use any fixatives, since I found with my avocado dyed clothes that the colour keeps surprisingly well. We’ll see how well the other colours hold up.
The whole dyeing process was super fun and I loved creating a whole rainbow of colours. I’m by no means an expert in natural dyeing but I learned a few things along the way:
Make sure to spin out the soy milk/water mixture in the washing machine and don’t wring it out by hand, otherwise you’ll end up with uneven dye patterns.
Be patient. Some colours take more time to extract than others. Avocado skins and pits for example take a while to release the colour.
Start with low temperatures. Some colours (e.g. from the sunflower seeds) change colour when they come to a boil. In most cases the colours turn into a grey/brown, which you might want to avoid.
Start with little fabric swatches to get a feel for how potent the dye is. Once you know the dye is potent enough start adding bigger pieces. This obviously works best when you are doing a quilt rather than trying to dye lengths of fabric for a garment.
Accept that the colours might change with exposure to sun and that the colours will fade quicker than chemically dyed fabric. My avocado dyed shirt has shifted into a slightly warmer colour over time. I love the fact that the colours change, in exchange the natural colours have a lot more depth than anything chemically dyed.
Natural dye keeps very well if stored in a plastic container. I had some left-over avocado dye that I made in September, and two month later it still worked perfectly. Just make sure to strain it properly before storing, to ensure that no plant pieces are left in the liquid that could start molding.
Experiment! I was in such a dyeing frenzy that I just tried random stuff that I could find. For example with the bay leaves, I didn’t know that you could dye with them, and even less that they would give a beautiful pink, such a lovely surprise!
Once I had my stack of fabrics, I had to decide on how I would want to use them on the jacket. Originally I had planned to stick to a limited colour palette but then I got carried away in the dyeing process. Once I was done, I had grown attached to each colour and was unable to narrow it down. I was afraid I would end up with a crazy jacket if I used all of them, so I consulted Instagram. In the end most people supported the colourful jacket idea and I decided to go for it, it was for #sewfrosting after all!
Once I had roughly decided on a design (one front in cool colours, the other in warm and the back with a colour gradient) I started piecing the quilt. To make it all manageable to quilt and to avoid wasting precious fabric I decided to assemble and quilt each jacket piece individually. For that I cut the pieces in a lining fabric (a beautiful block printed cotton that my husband brought back from India a few years back) and the cotton batting. Then I arranged the dyed fabric pieces on top to roughly work out the design. For the piecing I worked with a mixture of machine quilting (for the larger pieces) and hand stitching (for the smaller accent pieces). Already in the dyeing process I had cut all the swatches on grain, so that I decided to fringe some of the smaller pieces and applique them on top. Finally I hand-quilted everything using a vintage linen thread that I had picked up at a flea market this summer.
I really enjoyed the whole quilting process; especially because I was working on it while the jacket was in pieces ,which meant that it was the perfect project to work on while travelling or in front of the television. In terms of quilting pattern, I decided to follow all the joining seam lines and add additional Boro stitching in different places. The linen fabric had a few little holes, so I focused first on adding reinforcing stitches there. The rest of the quilting didn’t follow a strict pattern, my only aim was to create a balanced design overall.
Once the individual pieces were quilted I assembled the Haori. First the fronts, back and the sleeves. The collar I slimmed down to remove the fold-over detail, which would have been too bulky in the quilted fabric. To finish the seams and the sleeve hems I cut strips of left over fabric and bound them by hand. For the bottom hem I decided to just fold both the outer and the inner fabric to the inside and close the seam with a blind stitch. You may notice, that I left off the big patch pockets of the original pattern. I thought they would have made the pattern too busy with all the quilting going on. Instead I decided to add one pocket to the inside.
The pattern is super straight-forward to assemble, though I had to change the order of construction quite a few times. I chose to make a size M (which corresponds to my hip measurements) and I’m happy I did. While it is designed as quite an oversized jacket, I need the room to be able to move around in this thick fabric.
Phew, what a long post! For everyone making it that far, congrats!
This project definitely was a labour of love, and I’m not sure if I would have ever tackled such a big and crazy project if it wasn’t for #sewfrosting. So thanks Heather Lou and Kelli for initiating such a fun challenge! During the process it often felt more like working on a piece of art rather than sewing a garment, since it was so intuitive and the outcome so unpredictable. And I have to say, it was such a satisfying experience! I also decided to take it really slow and hand sew the majority of it. That meant my fingers had blisters at the end and I missed the deadline of the challenge by a month. But it was so worth it!
The first outing for this Wiksten Haori was my uncle’s birthday last weekend. He is an artist, so it was the perfect setting and such a great conversation starter too!
The one thing that I have taken away from this project is that I love working on projects where the fabrics and colours guide me and I don’t have to strictly follow instructions. I’ve never really identified as an artist (more as a crafter/maker) but this project really felt like art and I had so much fun! And yes, I do feel a little bit like a crazy lady in this jacket; and I don’t think I will wear it out a ton. But I love it nonetheless!
So here is to the new year, to taking risks, to making art and creating something crazy once in a while. Happy 2019 everyone!