Belladone!

Not only is Belladone the name of a lovely bar a stone’s throw from where I live in Brussels, it’s the name of the Deer and Doe pattern I’ve been admiring beautiful versions of online for what feels like an eternity.

I was almost scared to try Belladone as it looked like my ideal kind of pattern so I knew I’d be really disappointed if it went disastrously wrong. I bought some lovely light pink and white fabric from the Marché Saint-Pierre in Paris a few months ago and it has been earmarked for a Belladone, but I decided to do a test version first.

I definitely favour making muslins but sometimes it can be quite a thought to put all that effort into making something that you won’t wear! I had bought a flowery cotton/poly blend (possibly curtain fabric) on the Belgian/Dutch blogger meetup which I was actually a bit non-fussed about. I was not really sure why I bought it and afterwards I kind of regretted it as I couldn’t really see what I would use it for: so I thought it would be the perfect fabric to use for a muslin. And at only 3 euros a metre (not much more than what you pay for calico toile) I had nothing to lose if it was a disaster.

But now it is all made up I’m actually really pleased with it and I think I’ll wear this dress a lot!

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I cut out the size 34 with no modifications, but I anticipated that it would be too big in the bodice and I was right. So I carried out a sort of improvised post-sewing SBA to remove the excess by making two long darts on the front of the bodice. It works fine for this dress as the fabric is really busy so you don’t notice it but I wouldn’t use that as a method for my special snazzy fabric or anything.

I’ve now carried out an SBA (following this method) on the front bodice pattern and pinched out some of the excess on the back.

Adapted pattern pieces in hand, I’m now ready to tackle the pink and white stripey fabric.

Stay tuned for another Belladone…

Pipe dreams

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Another Violet blouse, this time born out of an oversized shirt I never wore.

I added red piping at the yoke, sandwiched into the French seam. Something very satisfying about sewing piping.
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I decided not to add a peter pan collar this time and finished the neckline with bias binding instead. I used the mid-length sleeve but adapted them to give them a narrow fit.
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The best thing about upcycling a shirt in this way is that you don’t have to sew the buttons or button-holes! Just position your pattern pieces in such a way that they encompass the already-made buttons.

Here is a photo of the original shirt. I can’t even remember where I actually bought it now (probably the flea market or Les Petits Riens), but it had been in a box for a while earmarked for adaption.
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I was half tempted just to wear it as it was but it was really just far too large, and not in a cool ‘oversized’ way. Just in a ‘your shirt is ridiculously too big for you’ way.

Feel quite relieved to have finally found a use it. What I really like about fabric stashing (or in this case old clothing stashing) is that sometimes you can’t make something with it before the time is right: its time will come when the right project comes along – and not beforehand!

A Plantain journey of discovery

I made my first garment in a knit fabric and I survived!!

LESSON: DON’T BE SCARED OF KNITS.

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There seems to be a general consensus among sewers that knit fabrics are a bit scary and confusing at first: I lost count of how many blog posts about knits I read that started similar to this one.

I can’t speak for others, but for me the confusion about knits is probably because I couldn’t envisage how you would draft a pattern for a fabric that stretched. I couldn’t get my head round the relationship between the body, the pattern, and the fabric, if that makes sense. For woven fabric patterns I understand the process by which the pattern was designed, but for knits it confuses me. Do you use ‘normal patterns’ and adapt them? Are there special patterns for knits? Do I need an overlocker?! Argh!

Best way to find out the answers is to have a go, non?

Step in the amazing (free!) Deer and Doe Plantain pattern which seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. I was sold when I saw Anna’s dress adaption tutorial and I quickly bought some white and grey cotton jersey from La Maison des Tissus and printed off the pattern.

Yesterday (Saturday) I spent the whole day on this project (I love sewing in long stretches when you get the chance), from cutting out the pdf pattern and sellotaping the pages together, to cutting out the pieces and carrying out the dress modifications, then cutting out the fabric pieces and finally sewing it all together, it was a day well spent. I did stop for lunch and tea breaks though.

So what did I learn?

-While I’m sure an overlocker is very useful for advancing with knits, for a relatively simple project I don’t think it is essential.
 – Use a special jersey needle!
 – Use a zig-zag stitch as your stitches must stretch with the fabric and with a straight stitch that won’t happen.
– Play around with the tension and stitch length to work out what works best. I was pleasantly surprised how easily the jersey guided through the machine.
 – Twin needles are awesome! I used a twin needle to finish the neckline and the hem. Looks so professional.  You just double thread your machine, set a straight stitch and off you go. You get two lines of stitching on the top and zig-zags on the bottom.

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Lots of advice out there online on sewing with knits. Lladybird is a good place to start.

All in all I’m pleased with how it came together relatively easily, despite some problems sewing on the elastic which involved a bit of unpicking.

This is what the inside looks like at the waist, should it look something like this? Wasn’t sure whether I could neaten up the finish by somehow containing the elastic and the open seam in someway. Any tips on this are most welcome. For a first attempt I think it is fine like this but would be good to have a more professional finish next time on the inside.

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I omitted the elbow pads as I didn’t think they were necessary I was too lazy to add them. It’s funny because if I saw this dress in a shop I’d probably walk past it as I’m a bit of a magpie; always attracted to the brightest and loudest garments. But it is great to have made something I will actually wear day-to-day, teamed with bright tights. I’ve worn it all day today and it is so comfortable!

I really like this version of the Plantain by Irbis. I’d love to make a similar sweatshirt one day.

So from now on I won’t be skipping past the jersey section when I’m out fabric hunting. Upon finishing this project in a flurry of excitement I even ordered Sew U Home Stretch.

This project was also my official Coco training project. Very very eager for Tilly’s pattern release 🙂

A Hybrid dress

What do you get if you cross the Colette patterns Truffle dress bodice with modified Anna dress-style sleeves and a half circle skirt?

This dress…ta da!

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I knew that the Truffle dress bodice was a good fit and I loved the simplicity of the kimono-style Anna dress sleeves; both in terms of sewing and wearing.

I was also amazed and incredibly impressed when I saw the By Hand London circle skirt app so I thought a good way to try it out would be to make a simple skirt pattern for a dress that combined the two aforementioned bodices. The skirt is a half circle and it is the midi length.

You could make a similar dress by using any bodice that fits well and modifying the sleeves in the same way and then drafting a circle skirt to match.

There is no doubt a more accurate way of adapting an armhole into a short kimono-style capped sleeve but I just winged it and loosely traced the shape of the Anna bodice in this area.

Order of construction:

1. Sew bodice darts, sew shoulder seams (French seams), then sew sleeve/armhole seams.
2. Sew bodice side seams (French seams).
3. Sew bodice to skirt (French seams).
4. Sew in invisible zip at centre back.
5. Finish centre back seam.
6. Hem skirt – This BHL post was very useful.
7. Apply bias binding to neckline. I realise I’m often a bit slapdash by the time I get to the bias binding stage so I tried to take my time with it by closely following this Grainline studio tutorial intently.

The fabric was leftover cotton lawn from when I tried out the Licorice dress.

Here is to more hybrid garment construction in the future!

Beignet blues

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The Beignet skirt from Colette patterns had been on my ‘to make’ list for a while, and I finally got round to cutting out and sewing over the Christmas holidays. And after a pause in proceedings the Beignet was finally finished off this week.

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I’d been inspired by Tilly’s love of the Beignet but sadly I have to say I’m not as enamoured with it as she was. But I think this is mainly down to the fabric I chose: some thick textured cotton I had left over from when I made the Truffle dress, also a Colette patterns number.

Also, I’m not sure this shape of skirt suits my body type, which is no bad thing, not all patterns and styles will suit everyone.

But it would be interesting to try it again with a different fabric and some further modifications to the length and the closure – a side zip instead of the centre front buttons, perhaps? I actually unpicked the pockets and stitched up the side seams fully as they really made the skirt stick out. A shame because pockets are always useful!

In terms of construction this has been one of my favourite ever projects. Getting my head around the shell lining and putting it in place was really fun and I had a real sense of achievement when it all came together.

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The buttons were also a bit of a marathon to complete. However, I made the hand sewing more pleasurable by watching the Sofia Coppola film ‘Lost in Translation’ at the same time. Which made for not a bad January evening at all.

And finally…
Last Saturday was the Belgian/Dutch sewing blogger meetup, and it was brilliant! So nice to meet people in real life and talk about sewing! Here is a roundup from Anneke and some photos from Caroline.
Bedankt to Lieke, Anneke, Hanne, and Ilse for organising! I really had a great day!
Will definitely be coming to Antwerp for a visit soon, although maybe I should dust off my Dutch textbook first…