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!

Everyone’s favourite – The Zadie Jumpsuit

Hello everyone, it’s been a while! As some of you may have noticed, we’ve had some issues with the website over the last few weeks. It’s all fixed now and the blog should be running like usual again.

A lot has happened since my last post! In April we spent a month travelling in Japan which was amazing! Then within a month after getting back to Germany I had a job interview, got an offer and moved to Karlsruhe. We’ve been here for two months now and we love it. Karlsruhe is a great place to live, with a very active sewing scene. I’ve already met some wonderful sewing people!

Now that we have found a flat and I have set up my sewing space, I’m finally working on sewing projects again. This make though I already completed back in May and we took the photos on a quick trip to Lake Como just before our move.

By now, everyone active in the online sewing community will be familiar with this pattern; it’s the Paper Theory Zadie Jumpsuit and it has taken the sewing community by storm. I don’t think I have ever seen a pattern get that popular that quickly! And rightly so, it’s a wonderful pattern that looks amazing on everyone.

When it came out, I immediately planned to make one and bought some navy linen for it. I didn’t manage to make it before we left for Japan though and I had to wait a whole month before I could get started.

The pattern is fairly simple and super quick to sew. Based on a few comments that it was running large, I chose to make a size 10 based on my bust measurements and did not grade out to a size 14 in the hips. It worked out perfectly; it’s not too over-sized and I have plenty of room in the hips.

As flat pattern adjustment I decided to shorten the bodice by 2 cm and lengthen the legs by 5 cm. I have a short torso, and proportionally long legs. I’m glad I did, the bodice fits nicely and the legs are just about long enough (my pet peeve are wide legged trousers that are too short and hit me too far above my ankle).

Construction-wise I swapped the bias binding for a facing, which is my preferred method and gives the neckline a bit more stability.

All in all, a quick sew with a great result!

I love wearing this jumpsuit! It’s the first jumpsuit, which I made that I’m wearing on a regular basis! The linen is perfect for summer and the longer sleeves provide good coverage. It’s cycle-friendly and I can even wear it to work. A winner all around!

If you haven’t made a Zadie yet, what are you waiting for? It’s such a great pattern and will even convert jumpsuit skeptics (ok, the bathroom situation is indeed less than ideal ;) any tips?).

I’ll leave you with some impressions of our wonderful Italy trip. I just love the colours and textures of Italian buildings!

Japan Travel Wardrobe – Part 2: The Raspberry Rucksack

For our Japan trip I wanted a light backpack that could be folded up easily when not in use, so when I saw that Sarah Kirsten was working on the Raspberry Rucksack I knew it would be a great fit. Luckily the pattern was released just in time and I finished my Raspberry last week.

I’ve sewn all sorts of things over the last few years but somehow I’ve never made a backpack before. My main issue is sourcing all the notions without any good shops nearby. I was really intrigued by this design though and decided to bite the bullet and order online. The trickiest bit was to find an o-zipper (with the two pulls in the middle) but I found some metal zips at Schneidereibedarf Werner. They offer zips in 1 cm increments, which was super handy in this case. The zip though is a little bit heavy and a clear white, whereas I would have preferred a cream colour. However, since the zipper isn’t that visible when the backpack is closed it’s not such an issue.

I also got the rectangle rings and slide adjusters from the same shop. The webbing that I had ordered there too, turned out to be too flimsy so I had to get a different option from Amazon. Since I could only order 12 meters I decided to order a plain white figuring that since it was cotton I could dye it in the right colour for each project. When it arrived it was clear that the contrast of the white against the dark brown fabric was too stark so I quickly tea dyed it to get more of an off white. Two bags of Earl Grey made a strong enough brew to dye all the webbing. I love an easy natural dyeing solution!

Speaking of fabric, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use the leftovers from my Persephone pants to make the backpack (#sewingleftovers). The fabric is sturdy but still relatively thin and I just love the brown colour. To make it more weather resistant I decided to wax it myself using a Merchant & Mills re-proofing bar from Juni Design. Applying it was really easy, you just have to rub it on and then iron between two sheets of baking paper. Just be aware that an untreated fabric like this will soak up a lot of wax. I used up a little bit over one bar to wax all pieces. Still it’s an easy and affordable way to create your own oilskin fabric.

The Raspberry Rucksack comes in two sizes, Little and Big. I went for the Big version and think the size is just right.

As this was my first backpack ever, I was glad that the instructions were so thorough. It’s clear that Sarah has put a lot of effort into figuring out the best construction and the diagrams are super clear. Nevertheless, this is not an easy project. It really requires you to pay close attention to the instructions and be very accurate. Also in some places, especially the corners, your machine might struggle to get through all the layers. My machine is quite powerful but still I had some issues, especially when it came to attaching the pop-up pocket. Luckily my topstitching thread was a perfect match so any wonky seams are not really visible. My main recommendation for the trickier topstitching parts is to use a glue stick to attach the pieces first. That gives you much more control and nothing moves around.

Despite these struggles, it was a really enjoyable sew. I like when I have to be super focused and can learn some new techniques. The construction of the fully lined pop-up pocket, for example, was really mind boggling but really fun (make sure to check out the sew along on Sarah’s blog if you are having issues).

The one change I made to the pattern was to add a pocket on the side for a small water bottle. I always have water with me when I travel and prefer to have easy access to it. To do that I just cut a piece of fabric with the width of the middle panel, lined it and topstitched it on.

Construction-wise I followed the instructions in most parts. One thing I had to change was the order of attaching the back panel. The instructions tell you to first attach the top and the bottom and afterwards the sides. However, if you are like me and are not the most exact sewer, then your side seams might not match. I had to unpick the top seam and shorten the back piece a little bit to make it all work.

As for the inside of the backpack, I decided to line it with this fun duck print from the flea market (which somehow reminds me of my childhood in the 90s). Again the finish is super clean as the inside seams are bound with bias tape. I decided to make my own bias tape in the lining fabric. While it’s always a bit of a pain to make, it’s so worth it. To not disturb the clean finish on the inside I even decided to stitch the bias tape down by hand (I love a bit of hand sewing).

As you might be able to tell from the pictures, this little backpack makes me very happy. It’s a perfect size and still very light-weight. Obviously it’s not super ergonomic but I’ve used it a couple of times now and it’s surprisingly comfortable to carry. I love that the front flap opens all the way so it’s really easy to pack. In a next version (I’m sure there will be one) I’ll further round the top corners at the zip as it’s quite difficult to open the zip without folding back the zipper flap. I read beforehand that others had the same issues so I already rounded them more than I would have based on the instructions, still the curve is a little bit too tight. Next time I would also try a plastic zipper that opens more easily.

Despite these struggles, this backpack turned out great. It’s cute and should be perfect for our trip. I’ll report back once I’ve lugged it around Japan for a month.

If you are interested in making a backpack, I’d definitely recommend this pattern. Be prepared to unpick a few times and make your machine work hard (which I guess is true for any backpack pattern). But Sarah really has you covered every step of the way and the result is clearly worth it. I’m glad I gave backpack making a go, it’s such a useful skill!