Monday, April 30, 2012

T's Negroni

Finished!! This came together pretty quickly. The instructions were very clear and I actually had fun sewing this. I like the crispness of the collar and the pockets.

Having said that, I didn't 100% follow the instructions. I didn't make a muslin first, I just jumped right in with the fashion fabric. (Wild, I know!) So I didn't do the flat fell seams. I definitely want to try this technique, but not on the final version of something without practicing first. And not when I don't own a flat felling foot.

I also didn't follow the directions for the interior yoke. I tried to, but I kept messing up the rolling part. So I just sewed it by hand and I'm perfectly happy with the results. Overall, I am really happy with this project. I think it's the best work I've done to date, inside and out. The patch pockets aren't totally aligned, but since it's a plain fabric it doesn't show up too egregiously.

I cut a size L (well, I traced it and then cut it) and didn't make any adjustments. I think that size fits him well. A medium would've been too small across the shoulders. When I cut it out, it seemed huge, but when it's worn, I think it looks good. I suppose it could be slimmer along the sides, but T. doesn't like to wear close-fitting shirts, so I'm calling it a win.

Here's a back view:

Now T. just needs to decide what color he wants for the next version! He has already requested that the next one have a collar stand, so I think I'll be using David Page Coffin's Shirtmaking book. In any case, this shirt will have to stay in the closet for a while because it's still rather too cold for it. Spring is very late in making an appearance here.

I better go iron some clothes now and get ready for the Me-Made Challenge of the 2012!! ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jacket Pattern Chosen and Fabric Acquired!

I brought my pile of Burda magazines to class and went through them with my teacher to pick out a jacket pattern. We decided to go with the plus model from the September 2011 issue. I'm probably a French size 42 in a jacket and the sizes start at 44, so we shouldn't have to do that much to adapt it.

I want to lengthen the middle placket so that it extends all the way to the bottom - otherwise it's not very practical as a jacket when it gets cold!

I went up to Paris this weekend to: a) give my friend her blue skirt, and b) buy fabric for the jacket. So I went to the Marché Saint-Pierre for the first time. They have many, many floors of fabric! And yet, I didn't find quite what I wanted. I wanted a loden and they didn't have it. So I also looked at the store across the street - Tissus Reine - but they had even less wool choices. Maybe because it's spring? I spoke with the person in charge of the wool aisle at St Pierre (yes, they have so much fabric there's a person in charge of each section) and I was steered toward another kind of wool that should work, but won't be quite as resistant to water as loden is. I guess I can always break out the umbrella if I'm caught in a downpour. :)

So here's my purchase:

I wanted to find an army/olive green but they only had forest greens, so I changed course and went for this subtly striped red. I'm pretty sure I bought enough to make a pencil skirt (eventually) along with the jacket.

I'm thinking of buying this camel-colored velvet from Ray-Stitch to use for the velvet touches:

What do you think? Would that go well together? I can order a swatch from them to test...

And since I ended up paying much less for the wool than anticipated (sale), I bought this white linen for a skirt that's on my Spring Palette Challenge list:

Speaking of which, I'm taking a break from sewing for me (finally!) because I promised my husband to make him a Negroni this week. So I cut out the fabric yesterday and applied the interfacing. It's so rainy here though that I don't feel much like sewing!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Link to an Obi-Style Belt Tutorial

In case you don't follow the Sew Mama Sew store blog, I thought I'd share something I found over there yesterday. They have a tutorial for making an obi-style belt out of one quilting fat-quarter.

Images from the Sew Mama Sew website:

You can download (for free) a pdf with the pattern piece. Granted, the pattern piece is really basic, so you could also draw it yourself! But I still thought it was a cool tutorial and I'm putting this on my (long) mental list of things to do with my leftover fabric.

They regularly feature fun tutorials on the blog, but they tend to be geared toward crafting and not garment sewing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fashion in Orléans, Plus Some Thoughts on Responsible Buying

I've read some wonderful posts lately regarding wardrobe expectations. I'm thinking of Zoe's blog, for example. I heartily agree that people in general (especially in "developed" nations) need to reexamine and change our consumer habits and expectations. And I cannot express this any better than people already have. I only want to reiterate that every choice we make is an opportunity.

I read sometimes that people feel powerless in the face of global manufacturing processes, the fact that everything seems to be made in China (or Taiwan, Bangladesh, etc.) under sub-par environmental and working conditions, and we can't escape it. But we are not powerless. Every single purchase we make is important and gives feedback to companies regarding our expectations for quality, manufacturing processes, etc.

I absolutely do not write this to judge people on their decisions. Everybody has budget and time constraints and desires! I only want to encourage people to look at every purchase as an opportunity. Do I want to shop local this time or do I want to favor environmentally friendly? Can I do both? Can I support local businesses on my budget? What about fair-trade products, etc? I certainly shop at big-box stores and buy non-environmentally friendly products sometimes...maybe even most of the time. That's something I need to examine!

But I try to make a special effort when it comes to sewing because I view this as a good opportunity to break out of my typical cycle. It's already different because I'm making the finished product myself! Often, I can't have it all, and I have to order my fair-trade, environmentally fabric from England, or pay out the nose in Paris. But at least I take those things into consideration before deciding.

And, I have to say, I think we do have a variety of options out there in terms of fabric. Not necessarily cheap options (and not necessarily locally but the internet is wonderful for that), but price is another element that we should be questioning - what is the reasonable price of something? (See The Slapdash Sewist on what a wedding dress is worth). And if I'm going to keep (and wear) this garment for 3 to 5 years (or longer), is it excessive to spend 30$ or 30 euros per yard/meter? I say, no, this is a good price, if I'm getting what I want out of the fabric. Moreover, I think we should be keeping our clothes this long and not changing them every year or every season.

Anyways, all of this is really a reminder to me that I should look at what I CAN do rather than what I CAN'T do. Feel free to chime in though! :)

OK, here's the part of the blog post about fashion in Orléans. I thought it might be fun to share with you the recent fashion spread that our free local "feminine" magazine published. All photos are taken from Edith magazine and you can leaf through the entire magazine at their website; you just need to click on the front cover of the magazine (on the right-hand side).

Their fashion spread was supposed to give ideas about what 30-something-women wear in the springtime. My favorite outfit was definitely the one on the cover, although I'm not sure I'd wear the flashy pink tights myself. Maybe...

I like the skirt and blazer combo. I also like the pink and brown together, but my version of the pink would be toned down a smidge.

Here's an overview of all the looks:

I'm not sure why these outfits are only for thirty-somethings. To me, they seem perfectly appropriate for twenty-year-olds too! Maybe even teenagers, if they don't wear heels. I only like kids (and I include teens in this category until they are in college) to wear heels on special occasions.

Here's my second favorite look:

I definitely like women's clothing that is inspired by menswear. But again, I wouldn't wear such dramatic heels with it! I'm a wussy when it comes to heels.

So, what do you think? Do these styles seem especially "French" to you?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yellow Polka Dots

The wind is fierce today so I opted to take photos inside. Here's my happy yellow spring/summer shirt that I sewed for my Fall Essentials Challenge (whoops!) ;) In any case, the weather is still rather autumnal here, so this shirt will have to wait a bit.

I used Simplicity 3887, combining various views. For this time, I chose the tunic length, but I will definitely use this pattern again and make the shorter length with the hip band.

I was originally going for long sleeves, but my fabric ended up being too narrow to fit the sleeves. I suppose I could've pieced together the sleeves, but I just went with the 3/4 length instead. The fabric is really too light to be appropriate for fall/winter, so long sleeves aren't necessary.

Back view, goofing around. You can see here that I have to wear a cami underneath, otherwise it's too see-through!

A close-up on the sleeve. I ran out of lace, so I couldn't do the double stripe as on the pattern envelope:

I sewed by hand the sleeve hems so as not to distract from the lace.

And here's a view of the shirt with the belt, which is probably how I'll wear it most of the time, although not necessarily tied in a bow like that:

I quite like the touches of lace. This was my first project using lace and I have at least two other shirts planned with lace now!

I broke some "rules" regarding my figure and coloring with this project. According to my 'color chart' yellow isn't supposed to flatter my skin tone, but I think it looks okay. Maybe it depends on the shade of yellow.

Also, having gathers on the shoulder is a no-no because that emphasizes my broad shoulders, but I think that the dipping front neckline and back help balance it out. Or maybe I'm just telling myself that 'cuz I like the shirt. ;)

I cut a size 12 originally and it was huge, so I took out probably 4 centimeters from the side seams. I used French seams to sew those up. And then just pinked the rest of the seams. However, I did apply bias binding for the inside neck band because it was pretty ugly just leaving those gathers out in the open like that. This shirt was so easy to put together - no buttons, no zippers - that I didn't mind adding that teensy detail to make it sturdier.

The fabric was on sale when I bought it because it has some permanent stains. I managed to cut around most of the stains, but there is a little bit that shows up on one sleeve. You have to look pretty close though to see it. I didn't take a photo of it. :)

So now I only have one project left for my FESA - Simplicity 2339 - and the fabric is ironed and ready to go.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Me-Made-May and Such Like

It goes without saying (for me) that I'm joining in Me-Made-May next month, but I've been mulling over I can do for my challenge. And, to tell the truth, I'm not really upping the ante since the last challenge, despite Zoe's rousing encouragement! I only started sewing maybe a year and a half ago, so my earliest creations don't quite make the mark anymore. So I still don't have enough me-made to do entire outfits every day for a month. BUT, I will for sure wear something every day and try to whole outfits when I can.

I think that, like Roobeedoo, I want to try to step it up another level as far as really trying to put together some nice outfits. I am generally not someone who dresses up, but I would like to work on refining my style and this is the best opportunity. Since I started sewing I've had to spend more time thinking about how I dress and how various styles look on my body than I have in my entire life previously!

So, I am officially joining Me-Made-May and will endeavor to wear one me-made article every day for the duration, and I will try to wear entire me-made outfits as often as possible.


In other news, the Colette Spring Palette Challenge 2012 has begun. I already made myself a spring palette and I won't be changing it, but I will be joining in the challenge.

Colette Patterns Fall Palette Challenge

I did make one addition to my spring/summer sewing plan: a dress made using a polyester (I assume) I found in my husband's grandmother's attic. The fabric fits right in with my palette. So here's the updated collage:

I have yet to start working on anything though because I'm still finishing up my Fall/Winter list. Since I'm still wearing a sweater as I type this, I don't feel that behind, but in any case, I'm nearly finished! I have only one shirt left to do and I plan on starting it this weekend. As far as challenges go, the Fall/Winter one has been the most successful for me in that I've completed (nearly) everything I set out to do, and as originally planned. I think this is because I thought it through better and I stuck with fabrics and patterns already in my stash. My first Colette Spring Palette Challenge was a disaster from the point of view of completion, so hopefully this one will be better.

Oh wait, I have been working on the knitting project, but only just barely:

Speaking of Colette patterns, the new spring/summer line-up was released on the 10th, and it's brought home to me even more than my style isn't really centered in the 50's, which is where I think Colette gets its primary inspiration. I love the patterns and I love looking at what people sew up, but a lot of the styles just don't call to me personally. I want to look at them, but not to wear them. For example, I like the new Lily dress, but for the life of me, I don't know where I'd wear it. And I'd probably feel out of place in it.

In any case, I need to get cracking on the Colette patterns that I have already and I've never made up: the Beignet, the Crepe wrap dress, the Chantilly, and the Negroni. I feel like those patterns do fit into my style zone, and yet, I keep passing them over. I will be taking a crack at Negroni the end of this month though, I owe my husband!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Burda Pants Fashion Shoot

OK, so it wasn't really a fashion shoot, but it was as close as it gets around here! We changed location and took some photos in the courtyard at the house in Jebsheim. We were there over Easter weekend, so I took advantage :)

These trousers were made from the April 2011 Burda magazine, pattern #131.

I'm checking out how my cuffs are falling:

Here are my cuffs. I decided to do a machine hem because I wanted to finish up already!

I'm standing in front of the old water trough. There's no more big animals around to use it now.

Here's the waist band. I decided to go with an internal clasp. We'll see if it holds up; my teacher was skeptical. You can also see here where my teacher had me add front pleats to take in some of the looseness in the waist. We had already taken in 4 centimeters in the center back seam.

And a back view:

The fabric is a stiff twill (sergé in French) and does rather 'stand at attention' rather than drape. :)

It was a cold weekend. We even had snow on Sunday, although it melted as soon as it hit the ground. We did have beautiful sunlight though :) Today, back in Orléans, it's raining...and I'm thinking of wearing my navy pants today.

Here's one last parting shot :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Which One?

I'm trying to pick out my next sewing class project. This week I finished my pants (hopefully I'll take some photos this weekend) so I need to decide. The other class members suggested I make a blazer to go with the pants, like a suit ensemble. And while I don't want to do that (my workplace is not that formal) the idea of a jacket is enticing. But should I do an outside jacket or an inside/outside jacket, like a blazer? I'm leaning toward the outside jacket but that may be too complicated. We'll see how my teacher feels about it.

I'm sticking with Burda magazine patterns because that seems to work well for my teacher. And for me too, since the versions I have are in French, and I'm too much of a scaredy cat to try to follow the French directions on my own.

So here's the issues in my library that have interesting patterns: Jan. 2011, Aug. 2011, Sept. 2011 and Dec. 2011. I really only started buying these in 2011, as you might have guessed!

I love these military style jackets and I've been wanting one to replace a green one I used to have. These are from the August 2011 issue:

There's another military jacket from that same issue which I also like. It's a cropped style:

I like this cropped jacket from the September issue also:

The drawback with that one is that it's a plus-size pattern. So we'd have to resize it. That seems a bit silly when there's other lovely patterns out there. I often fall for the Burda plus-size patterns though!

And then there's these two patterns, which are more like blazers.

This one from January 2011:

And this one from December 2011:

If I go with the military jacket, I'm thinking olive green. If I go with the blazer, I'm thinking navy. Classic choices on both hands and choices that will work with my existing wardrobe.

The other elements I'm controlling for: no wide lapels and no epaulets. I know there are epaulets on some of those examples, but I'd just leave them off my version. And the lapels on the blazers are not particularly narrow, but nor are they large...and on the second example, the fact that the lapels end below the bust draws the eye downward. My goal is to draw attention away from my shoulders.

What you do you think? Have you already sewn a jacket or a blazer? Any pattern recommendations?

Monday, April 2, 2012


I went to my local bioladen (for some reason this word always comes to me in German, so I just go with it) to check out the organic cat food prices, and while I was there, I stumbled upon some lovely tea in lovely tea tins! I think I've spoken previously of my love of tins, so I couldn't resist getting this:

I had trouble choosing the tin; they were all so tempting. There must have been a dozen to pick from. I suppose I could've chosen by the type of tea, but that didn't even occur to me! Once we finish this tea, I'll have an excuse to go back. ;)

And I make good use of tins too, storing bits and bobs in them. This one has become my lace and ribbon tin:

You can see the fabric from my new project underneath the tin. I started work on a top from my Fall Palette Challenge. I'm using yellow polka dots (polka dots, Alessa!) to make Simplicity 3887.

I was originally planning on making view A, with the long sleeves, but my fabric ended up being too narrow to cut those sleeves out of it. Plus I was a bit worried about doing the elastic wristband...I thought the sleeves might end up a bit too piratey. So I'm using the mid-length sleeves now.

I suppose this makes the shirt more one for spring than for fall, but the fabric is rather thin in any case. So I think it was destined for spring and summer wear.

Here's an in-progress photo with the lace: