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!

2016 Sewing Plans

I love reading other people’s year reviews and sewing plans. Given that I started this blog in September, a full 2015 review would be too much but I want to take the opportunity to reflect on my sewing progress.

Overall I had a very productive sewing year with a lot of firsts: jeans making, quilting, bra making (yet to be blogged) and men’s wear. The biggest lesson was that nothing is really scary and can be achieved with patience and good research.

I am also really happy to have joined the online sewing world with this blog and Instagram after years of only “consuming”. I started this blog on a whim, without a concrete vision or goal but it’s been great so far. I haven’t had the time to be very active online (with little free time sewing always wins over blogging/networking/commenting) but I am not really bothered about it. As long as I have my little corner to document my sewing projects I am happy. Surprisingly I am really enjoying the writing part of blogging and writing a blog post is always fun and never a chore. I really hope it stays that way.

For 2016 my main goal is to consciously set aside time for sewing. With my desk-based and often rather stressful job sewing is the best activity to help me unwind and recharge.

It’s the first time that I write down my sewing plans (normally I make random sketches and lists in my note book) and at first I thought that the list would be super short. But when I started to write the projects down I realised that my head is full of ideas for the next year. Here my sewing plans for 2016:

Dressy trousers: Now that I have the perfect jeans pattern (the Gingers) I want to work on a trousers pattern for my work wardrobe. This is really a gap in my wardrobe. I have made a pair of dressy trousers before but I am not really in love with it. I wear trousers most of the time and just can’t find any that fit in the shops (either they are too short or I am in between sizes). It will thus be worth spending some time on the fit to develop a perfect trousers pattern. As a starting point I will use these Burda Slim Fit Trousers.burda-6750-slim-fit-trouser-pants

Linen biker jacket: I have a lovely cream herringbone linen in my stash which would be perfect for a light summer jacket. I love cropped biker style jackets and after making one in black denim two years ago I want to make another one in a lighter colour. For the pattern I would like to try out the jacket on the cover of the May 2015 Patrones magazine (sadly I can’t find a technical drawing online). A friend brought me back the magazine from Spain and I was amazed by how many great patterns were in this one issue. I have never made anything from that magazine before and the instructions are very short (similar to the BurdaStyle patterns). I am not too worried though as I have made a similar jacket before and I am sure I will be able to put the pieces together in a logical order. For contrast I would love to add a colourful lining.

Patrones_Biker jacket_Linen

Fancy summer dress: This year I am attending at least two summer weddings and it’s time to sew a new dress. I don’t wear a lot of dresses in my daily life and am always happy when I have an occasion to sew one. Both weddings will probably be rather casual so I’m aiming for something pretty but laid back. My favourite idea so far is to pair the Named Inari Dress with some Nani Iro fabric. If this combination sounds familiar, I totally stole this idea from Ingrid, I loved her dress so much!

Named_Inari_dress_Nani Iro

Sleeveless shirt: When I started working I was in desperate need of blouses and tops to wear for work. I have made several tops that I really like but one thing I realised was that tops with short sleeves just don’t work under blazers and cardigans. I hate that they bunch up at the neckline and that every time I go to the bathroom I have to make sure they sit properly. The solution? Sleeveless shirts. I bought a Liberty lawn at Shaukat (it doesn’t seem to be available online) when I was in London a couple of months ago without a specific project in mind. After contemplating for a while what to do with it I suddenly realised that the fabric and a sleeveless shirt would be a perfect match (at least in my head). For the pattern I have already traced a ready-to-wear shirt, quite similar to the Vogue 8772 pattern shown below.

Vogue_Sleeveless blouse_Liberty print

Swim suit / bikini: For the first time in ages I have booked a beach vacation. I can’t wait for the two weeks in Southern France this summer! This also means that I finally have a good reason to sew swim wear (not a priority in the British summer), which I have never done before. I am contemplating to try the Cloth Habit Watson Bikini, the Lily Sage & Co Splash Swimsuit or the Reno Bikini Top from Seamwork Magazine.

SwimwearWinter coat: I originally wanted to make a coat this winter but I didn’t find the time nor the right fabric. I would like to make a wool coat with a simple silhouette; something like the Sézane coat below (I don’t think it is available online anymore). I will keep my eyes open for the right fabric and I will probably use a BurdaEasy pattern. Hopefully I can start the project in fall to get excited about winter. For now I don’t mind moving the project to the end of my sewing queue.

Burda_CoatThat’s all of my concrete sewing plans for 2016. I am sure that I will do a lot of spontaneous sewing on top of that. It will be interesting to see how many of these projects I will actually sew up.

I hope you all have a creative year 2016!