Sewing for Hibernation

Hello everyone! Wow, it’s been a while. I mean, I don’t know if anyone notices apart from my mother, who has my blog as her start page and complains regularly that I don’t write blog posts anymore but only share stuff on Instagram (give me a follow over there if you are interested).

Anyways, there is a big reason, why I haven’t been blogging lately. I’m 24 weeks pregnant and completely lost my sewjo throughout the winter. It was such a new experience for me to not constantly be sewing or at least be thinking about sewing; I just couldn’t find the energy or inspiration. Truth be told, I didn’t really feel like myself. I guess that’s quite a normal feeling for a lot of people in their first trimester. But fear not, my sewjo has come back full force, so I will have more to share in the future.

It’s not that I didn’t sew anything at all though. I did, but a lot of comfy and practical stuff, that does not necessarily lend itself to an interesting blog post. Which is why I have decided to do a little roundup here of all the pieces I have sewn over the winter, before I move on to the more exciting spring/summer sewing. While I wasn’t heavily inspired (or maybe because of it) I did end up with a lot of practical stuff that I wore non-stop throughout the winter.

So what did I make?

The Ruska Dress was the one reason why I finally decided to get the Named Clothing “Breaking the Pattern” book and it didn’t disappoint. The version with the knotted overlay is such a cool design and the plain version is a great staple. I made the knot dress version first in a wonderfully heavy tencel knit. I got it from “Stoffmarkt Holland”, a travelling fabric market when it came here to Karlsruhe last autumn, and I wish I had gotten it in all the colours. It’s a great fabric to wear and it barely wrinkles, which has made it the perfect dress to wear on business trips. I graded between three sizes to give my hips enough room; other than that I sewed it up as drafted. Some hand-sewing was involved to get the points of the ties to look neat and crisp, which I didn’t mind though. It’s always worth putting in the extra effort for a nice finish.

The plain version of the dress is made from a navy herringbone wool knit (which you can’t really see in this picture) that I picked up at “Die Stoff Scheune” a small fabric shop close to my parents place, with a great selection of designer deadstock fabric. For this version I left off the overlay and added a little turtleneck, based on the Nikko Top. It has a curved turtleneck, which in my opinion has the best shape! Again another comfy dress, perfect for work on cold winter days.

The Toaster Sweater, is another pattern I’ve been wanting to make for ages. When I found this heavy viscose knit at “Stoffmarkt Holland” I knew the Toaster would be a great pairing. However, I was envisioning something with balooney sleeves and a bit more oversized than the pattern is drafted. So what I did was to sized up and make the sleeves wider and longer before gathering it in in a cuff, slimmer than drafted. I played around with different gathering and pleating options and settled on one box pleat with two knife pleats on each side. This sweater is exactly what I’ve been wanting to wear all winter; super soft and just very cozy.

The Nikko Top: I can’t believe it took me so long to make this pattern. I love wearing turtlenecks in winter and have been experimenting with a lot of different patterns from my stash and also self-drafted versions to get the perfect fit, but never 100% achieved it. Then I tried the Nikko and it was almost there on the first try. Next time I would shape the side seams to follow my figure more but other than that I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s perfect, especially in this Acorn merino jersey from The Fabric Store. I’m still obsessed with all the brown colours and this is gorgeous; it perfectly pairs with my denim Persephone Pants.

Corduroy has been on my mind all winter, and I’m super happy with the two corduroy pieces that I made.

I really wanted to make a pair of corduroy trousers for winter but struggled to find the right corduroy (I wanted something really heavy) in an interesting colour. I looked everywhere until I realised that I had a suitable fabric in my stash, two pieces of heavy cotton corduroy that I had picked up at a flea market. In theory they would have been too small to fit the pattern; however, I am not one to get defeated by fabric limitations. Instead I got creative, chose the slim legged version, cut the waistband on the cross grain, the fly pieces from lining fabric (which was a wise move with this heavy fabric in any case) and left the legs as long as would fit on the fabric (which was shorter than I needed, but I decided I’d rather have cropped trousers than none). So in the end, everything fit, including back pockets, ideal! Next I had to tackle the colour of the fabric. It was a very uninspiring beige-grey. However, with a packet of Dylon dye in Emerald I was able to turn it into a dusty teal, which actually works perfectly with my wardrobe.

As I had read a few times that the Dawn runs small, I chose to go up one size. I made a quick muslin and realised that that would not have been necessary, so I took some width out again through the side seams. In the corduroy the trousers still turned out a little big, especially in the waist. Since I knew at that point already that I was pregnant though, I decided to leave them as they were, to be able to grow into them. And I’m so glad that I did, as they are the only pair of normal trousers that I’m still able to wear. They have been a life saver in the cold winter months. My husbands calls them my “sofa” trousers, which is fair, as this fabric most likely was upholstery fabric. I don’t mind since they are so warm and cozy.

Finally, this olive green dress. Some of you might have a slight deja-vu. Didn’t she make the same dress last winter? And you are right. I made a dress very similar, which I however, gave to my sister as she liked it so much. I figured if I really missed it, then I could recreate it again. And it turned out I did. So when I was visiting “Die Stoff Scheune” over Christmas (which is where I got the fabric last time) I was delighted to see they still stocked the exact same fabric. To switch things up, however, I decided to try a new pattern.

The original dress was self-drafted but in one of my Japanese Sewing books, I saw an almost identical dress, with a deep v, which looked interesting. I raised the neckline a little, left off the pockets (though I might add one still) and added some length. Other than that sewed it as drafted. I love Japanese pattern books! The diagrams are so clear, that within just a couple of pages, all the instructions are covered. There wasn’t even a need for me to translate any of the text. The fit of the dress (a size L) turned out to be great too, the armhole shaping is perfect for this pinafore style.

Phew, that was a long list of projects after all. As I said in the beginning, I’m super happy with all these pieces and have been wearing them a ton. It showed me, that with winter sewing it all comes down to the fabric. Cozy, high-quality fabric in combination with simple/comfortable patterns is the key to a perfect winter wardrobe. It kept me comfortable throughout the dark winter months. While I really can’t complain about my first trimester (just some constant nausea and tiredness), I still was very grateful for a wardrobe that felt like a warm hug.

I’m so glad though that we are now heading into spring. Dressing and sewing for the warmer months is still what I enjoy the most. So expect some pregnancy friendly sewing projects on the blog soon.

Finally, I of course have to mention the crazy situation we are in right now. I can’t believe how much the world has changed over the last few months. Being pregnant during these uncertain times is definitely scary. We are already affected by COVID-19 through things like my husband not being allowed to join for the big ultrasound I had a couple of weeks ago, hospital visits being cancelled and prenatal courses having to switch to virtual. I’m glad though that the birth is still a while away (due date is in August) so hopefully the situation is a little bit clearer by then, especially the question of whether fathers are allowed to be present at the birth. There are positive sides to this situation too. Thanks to lock-down, my husband is not allowed to travel, and being out of a job for the foreseeable future he has all the time in the world to look after me and really be present for this pregnancy, so I’m not complaining.

For any other pregnant mothers out there, I hope you are holding up ok. I’m sending you all the love!

The Wiksten Shift Dress

Another week, another crowd favourite; this time, the Wiksten Shift Dress.

This is one of these patterns, that I hesitated to buy because I felt like I could either draft it myself or adapt a pattern that I already have. However, after seeing so many beautiful versions of this dress online, I decided to purchase it after all, and I’m glad I did! I love everything that Jenny designs; the patterns are always great wardrobe workhorses and super stylish. The Wiksten Shift Dress of course is no exception.

Luckily I had a good amount of orange linen in my stash for a perfect fabric-pattern match. Two years ago I experimented with dyeing fabric, aiming for a terracotta colour, which turned out a lot brighter than planned. This is how I ended up with a lot of bright orange linen (which I used for example for my Highlands Wrap Dress). The colour really has grown on me and lately I’ve seen it become more and more popular. There are quite a few beautiful orange Wiksten dresses out there, so I’m in very good company.

The pattern is designed to be quite oversized, which I’m totally into. Knowing that it would have enough ease, I decided to select the size based on my bust measurements (a size 8) and not grade out in the hips. It worked out well as I have plenty of room all around. The fit is good, though I might try doing a forward-shoulder adjustment next time. The shoulder seams don’t want to stay put. I didn’t make any modifications in terms of construction and sewed this up as instructed.

The finished dress, is so easy to wear! It’s loose and breezy, just as I like my summer dresses. The pattern has thoughtful details, like the large pockets, the side slits and the gathered back. I’m sure I’ll be making more variations of both the dress and the top. I already cut the top version from a Japanese gingham fabric and am very excited to sew it up!

This was a perfect speedy sew and I managed to finish it just in time for our Italy holiday (back in May). It was ideal for strolling through Bellagio on a super warm day. I’ve also worn this dress quite a bit since. This orange is my happy colour for summer!

Now I’ll leave you with the view from the terrace of our AirBnB at Lake Como. Take me back!

Japan Travel Wardrobe – Part 1

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.

Stay tuned for more holiday sewing!