Emily@BelgianSeams

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I know what you sewed this summer

I spent some lovely days this summer sewing another version of the Myosotis dress from Deer and Doe! After making two shorter versions during the lockdown sans ruffles, I was curious to make a dress version that fully embraces the ruffle trend that seems to be big both in and out of the sewing world at the moment!

I didn’t have that much of this fabric so I spent a long time deciding how to best place the pattern pieces and how big to make the skirt pieces and the sleeve and skirt ruffles. It’s so fun when you only have a limited amount of fabric as it forces you to be creative and methodical and flex those problem solving muscles. It’s also interesting when design choices – in this case the length and width of the ruffles, and the length of the skirt – are determined by what is possible – so you end up with something you might not have chosen if you had had more fabric to play with! I used nearly every last inch of the fabric, with just enough left over to make a face mask and a handful of tiny pieces to add to the ‘don’t know what to do with these but don’t want to bin them’ pile.

In any case, I’m really pleased with how this dress turned out – and I’m keeping with my waist tie theme. It’s quite a crisp cotton so it gives it quite a structured feel – would be interesting to make this dress in a floatier fabric too. The fabric was bought on a pre-lockdown trip to Goldhawk Road in February – it was one of those ‘ok, now this is actually the last piece of fabric I’m buying today’ purchases.

An unashamedly cheerful summer dress I’m also looking forward to wearing with tights come colder days!

 

 

Snap Happy

Let me introduce you to my industrial hand press for setting snaps!

After a few frustrating adventures with hand held snap pliers and good-for-nothing cheapo plastic snaps, I started researching different ways of snap setting. This incredibly useful blog post from Closet Core Patterns on how to install snaps and the different types of snaps spurred me on to buy my own hand press and some good quality spring snaps.

I found it really hard to find where to buy one from though! I wanted to find a seller as close to Belgium as possible but in the end I bought one from the Laughing Lizard Store on Etsy which ships from Ukraine – going by the box I think the press itself is manufactured in Turkey. I definitely recommend this seller. It was about 100 euro including the delivery – certainly an investment but I can’t see why I wouldn’t keep it forever, so worth the money!

Here are some recent projects I’ve added my lovely brass spring snaps to!

Firstly, this is a yellow tote bag I made using some fabric I bought in the sale at Dille and Kamille – couldn’t believe they were selling a decent amount of this lovely embroidered mustard yellow fabric for only 5 euros! It was sold as a tablecloth but I’ve given it a more exciting life as a tote bag with three snap closures at the opening.

Its previous life as a tablecloth….

 

Snaps are of course incredibly useful for sewing child and baby clothes! I recently made this dress for one of my favourite little people using the Madrid Dress/Playsuit pattern from Ikatee Patterns. I think this is such a lovely pattern and with so many mix and match options that you could make a whole wardrobe for a baby/young child with just this pattern! And making baby clothes is great for using up those small leftover pieces of fabric.

A good skirt pattern can be hard to find – but I really recommend the Fiore skirt from Closet Core Patterns. It is described as a ‘chic, high-waisted A-line skirt with just the right amount of flare and volume’ and I have to agree. This version is just ever so slightly too big for me but it is perfect with a t-shirt or top tucked in, so is great for the colder months. I used a really nice denim twill that I think comes from Passion Tissu in Saint-Gilles but I couldn’t be 100% certain – oh how I wish I had kept a log of where all the fabric I have bought over the years came from!

Love the brass snaps on dark blue!

The press in action!

Wrap it up and start again

I seem to have officially fallen for tie-around wrap styles of late, and banished buttons and zips from my stitching répertoire – at least temporarily. Here are four things I’ve made in the last few months with ties and/or wrap-around styles as closures.

I made this in early June and I looove it – it is a lovely cool red linen I bought at La Maison Dorée in Brussels (not a fabric shop I go to that often but I will definitely go back to see if I can get some more of this linen). It is basically a quick self -drafted loose-fitting front and back bodice with a gathered skirt, and some ruffles on the straps to jazz it up. Perfect for heatwaves.

    

Next is a top made from fabric I’ve had in my stash for a long time and I have no idea where it came from! (I wonder how many blog posts I’ve started with that sentence…) I didn’t have very much of it though but I managed to eeek out this top.

I used the Deer and Doe Myosotis dress bodice pattern as a base. I cut the bodice on the fold and changed the neckline to this square-ish style with a pleat at the front, and I added a gathered peplum and waist ties. I love this top so much and it fills a gap in my wardrobe in the category of ‘tops to throw on with shorts in the summer’.

A few months ago I made this free wrap top pattern by In the Folds which is available as part of the Peppermint Mag Sewing School. Such a great (and free!) pattern! The fabric I used is a bit of a cheap and nasty viscose so I’m not mad about the finished result (and I certainly will not be wearing it when it is really hot!), but it was good to use up this fabric as a more-or-less wearable muslin to test out this pattern.

And lastly, I hacked the above Peppermint Mag free wrap top pattern into this dress. I was really pleased with the outcome and my hacking/drafting. Both the outer fabric and the lining come from Passion Tissus on Chaussée de Waterloo – the best fabric shop ever!

That’s a wrap (sorry).

Myosotis in May for couture in confinement

   

I’ve had such mixed feelings about volunteering to sew masks during the COVID-19 pandemic – how much value do we (as a society) place on work when it is done for free? (For insightful reading on the politics of mask sewing I recommend these articles.) But my main thought about it all is that I’d much rather be sewing dresses that bring me joy, test my skills, and that I will wear again and again to potter around beautiful Brussels.

Here are two versions of the popular Deer and Doe Myosotis dress pattern which I had been curious to try for a while! I think this is a great pattern for hacking as there are so many ways you can adapt it to get it how you would like.

I omitted the collar pieces in both versions, and on my yellow one I changed the neckline shape to be a straight v-neck. I didn’t have enough fabric for the lower ruffle pieces but that worked out ok as I wanted some dresses for hot days so I quite like the shorter style. I’m not usually a fan of gathered skirts but I love them on this dress – perhaps it is also down to me taking more care over the gathers to make sure they are evenly spaced out, something I’ve definitely rushed in the past. I added waist ties too – I don’t think I’ll ever go back to zips, waist ties are the way to go! And I modified the sleeve into a bell sleeve using the tutorial in Winifred Aldrich’s pattern making book which is super easy.

Both of these dresses will get a lot of wear – especially the yellow one which I love! The fabric is some linen I bought on Goldhawk Road when I was in London in late January (when that kind of expedition was possible!). The paisley-print dress is the last of some fabric I bought metres of circa 2016 – I’ve now made three dresses from it – here are the previous two! And thanks to my previous blog posts I know that the fabric comes from a shop beside the canal in Anderlecht called GoTex – I would definitely not have remembered where I bought it otherwise!

How do like my plants?

 

 

Get your (Yates) coat

I finished off 2019 (and the decade!) with a monster sewing project, the Yates Coat pattern from Grainline Studio. And I’m really happy with it! I’ve been dreaming of a long coat like this for ages and I bought the pattern months ago. Making a coat is definitely an involved project as you need to make time to source the right materials and make adjustments, and of course cut out all the pieces.

Fabric: a tartan brushed wool from Passion Tissus in Saint-Gilles (such a good shop) – 5 euro a metre.
Lining: black satiny-viscose also from Passion Tissus – 5 euro a metre.

Changes I made to the pattern pieces: I lengthened the coat and the lining quite a bit as I knew I wanted a long coat to keep me warm and I redrafted the two-piece sleeve so the armhole is lower and did a bicep enlargement as I knew I wanted to have enough room for a big jumper under the coat. My redrafted sleeve cap is puffier than the original design – this wasn’t my intention but I like how it turned out!

I also just used a sew-on snap button – I do intend to give it proper bound button holes at some point but 1) I’m a bit scared to ruin it, and 2) the snap button is actually fine!

I finished this just before Christmas, it’s really cosy and I have worn it non-stop!

The thing that is really important when it comes to coat making is interfacing and underlining! I did quite a bit of research into this but in the end I just used calico toile to underline parts of the coat – when I mentioned this to the woman that works in the haberdashery near my house she looked horrified though. So for my next coat I need to make sure I use the ‘correct’ interfacing and underlining for the fabric I’m using. But while it might not be the perfect finish in terms of supporting the structure of the wool, I’m still really happy with this coat and how it turned out, and that’s the most important thing.

An in progress shot and a ‘time to bag the lining’ shot – the best part when it all comes together!

My previous adventures in sewing outerwear: in 2016 I had a go at making a raincoat using the free (at the time anyway) Rita pattern from Make my Lemonade, I loved how it turned out but the fabric I used is such poor quality and the armholes are so tight so I very rarely wear it;  I previously made a coat in 2015 using a self-drafted pattern – I love that coat as it is very far from done properly but when I look at it I just see all the energy and enthusiasm I had to work out how to do it and it reminds me of that time in my life so I love it; and in 2014 I made the République du Chiffon Gérard coat which I still wear and love too. Now I’m really happy to add this Yates coat to the gang!