Wax Skirt by Sewing Tidbits

On my 2017 sewing year and why I don’t plan a #2018Makenine…

Dear readers,

It has only been a week since I last posted here, so this should give you an idea of how much I am boiling inside, waiting for my sewing machines! This year I sewed 23 items, which is a pretty good output for me:

  • 17 garments for myself. I’m happy with that number. I try to keep my wardrobe a manageable size and it wouldn’t make sense for me to aim for more. The big lesson here is that I probably shouldn’t buy sewing patterns anymore… This year, 9 garments were from patterns we released under Just Patterns, 4 were self-drafted, 1 was Burda, 2 from Indie designers (both free) and 1 is an mash-up of indie/Big4/self-drafting.
  • 3 items for the little human: a spring coat, a white special occasion dress and a summer hat. I’m terrible at documenting baby sewing outside of Instagram. Actually, let me rephrase: I’m terrible at baby sewing. I find it really difficult to find  clothes that would be 1/comfortable for Little Tidbits, 2/ are interesting to make and 3/ not too time-consuming because she outgrows them so fast.  Or maybe I’m just a  Selfish Seamstress (TM) and that even motherhood could not change that!
  • 1 Just Patterns sample in our fit model size (to be released next month).
  • 1 fabric basket to gather toys from Sanae’s lovely book: Sew Happiness. I very rarely do home sewing, but this was quick and it looks pretty!
  • 1 unusual item, I made a sample for a friend who runs a gender queer underwear business. She showed me a picture of a lapel to accessorize her line and I made the first sample. You can see it on the Play-Out website!

For the sake of accountability, here are the garments I included in my #2017MakeNine post. I sewed 4 out of the 9 garments below:

7cb446f2-76e7-44ce-97c8-bc3f79e985942 Blazers

I did finish the white Blazer (it’s the pattern mash-up mentioned above). I haven’t managed to blog about it but I have a few pictures I used for Instagram. The Balmain blazer on the other hand saw no progress. It’s in a box and well advanced. I hope to complete it in 2018.

Challenge 10x10 Sewing Tidbits-2

3 Skirts

I made 2 out of 3. The white pencil skirt was my submission for the first round of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee Contest. I also finally got around sewing a Stella Jean inspired skirt from one of the pieces of African wax I have in stash since leaving in Zambia. This one is un-blogged, but you may have seen it on Instagram. I sewed 3 more skirts but not the one included in the Makenine.

2 Dresses

I did sew my own sample of the Linda wrap dress. Actually I sewed 2 more variations. One sleeveless I posted on Instagram and one for Sew News that I will show you next year. I wasn’t sure about the Capital Chic sheath when I made my plan and I didn’t get even close to sewing it.

2 Tops

I sewed 4 tops  and 2 Tshirts this year, but nothing I had mentioned in the 2017Makenine. Oops…

What are the lessons for 2018?

In my last post, I did mention that my realization that I wouldn’t be able to document all my sewing in blog posts but when I counted how many garments I blogged vs sewed, I realized that out of the 17 handmade garments for myself, I only blogged 5. That’s really low in my opinion. Even if 5 of the 12 un-blogged items are samples for Sew News that I  cannot blog them before the issue they are featured gets published, that still leaves 7 garments that could have made it to the blog.  I will try to post some of them in 2018 and I hope it won’t bother you. Let’s just pretend that I’m super professional and I plan my content in advance!

I will not be making a #2018Makenine plan for several reasons. First, i don’t think that the #2017Makenine helped me focus my sewing. I sewed what I already knew I would make and, unsurprisingly, didn’t sew the ones I wasn’t sure about. Just for the sake of making a plan, I tend to include clothes that I’m not 200% excited about. There is no value in doing that. Secondly, in my experience, when moving to a different country, it takes some time to reevaluate what you need and want to wear. So I’m going to take some time thinking and maybe doing some planning. Just like everyone else in the sewing world, I’ve been reading the Curated Closet, and I also did a round of the 10×10 Challenge (you can read about it here and I’ll post more in details about it later). I want explore the intersection personal style and a handmade wardrobe and I will try to document the process.

Challenge 10x10 Sewing Tidbits-1

In order to plan be more mindful of what I sew and what I wear, I need to be realistic about my average sewing productivity. For 2018, my assumption is that I’ll sew between 15 and 20 garments for myself. 6 technically already decided on since I have a commitment with Sew News for 3 samples and we have already made plans for 3 pattern releases with Just Patterns. Ideally, everything I make this year will bring cohesion to my closet and contribute to a decrease in my fabric stash!

I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on a year of selling PDF sewing patterns but in the mean time I would love to hear your thoughts about wardrobe planning and sewing plans! Did you manage to follow-up on your 2017 plans? Are you taking part in the  #2018MakeNine? Happy new year!

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Grey Silk Blouse by Sewing Tidbits

A grey silk blouse

Dear readers,

Greetings from France! Today’s post is my definition of an achievement. I’m showing you the blouse I made for round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee Contest. I’m calling this an achievement because not only am I terrible at sewing on a deadline, I’m even worse at taking pictures and posting them in a timely manner. And with this blouse I managed to make both happen! (smug face).

It’s not the first time that I pass round 1 in the Pattern Review Sewing Bee, but it’s the first time that I managed to complete the project on time for round 2. When I saw that the theme was sleeves I wasn’t terribly inspired. I’m not one to add frills or follow #sleevefest. But I did had a picture of this Chloe Blouse hanging in my sewing space and I figured I could make something wearable/I had exactly 2 days to buy fabric, prepare a pattern and finish my garment before flying out to France but it all worked out.

Grey Silk Blouse by Sewing TidbitsGrey Silk Blouse by Sewing Tidbits

Pattern


Pattern – self-drafted

I drafted the pattern using my TNT shirt as a starting point. You may remember that my TNT pattern started initially as a Grainline Studio Archer shirt but I’m not sure that any pattern piece would be recognizable by now. To create this pattern I joined the shoulder yoke to the back and omitted all waist darts. I created a simple front by removing all pockets, plackets, etc. and lowered the neckline by 2″ at Center Front, widening 1″ at the shoulder tapering to nothing at Center Back.

The sleeves are cut to reach the middle of my forearm. The flounce detail is very simple. I created it by using this technique, but it ends up being a half circle, so with a little bit of math you could draft it directly.

Making


Fabric – Grey Silk Crepe de Chine from Mood NY, contrast ivory crepe de chine from stash.
Notions – Lingerie hook from stash

The construction is very straightfoward, but because the fabric is silk crepe de chine it takes a bit of time to complete each step with care. The fabric is cut on the open (I just learned that this was the proper wording, as opposing to “on the fold”), between 2 layers of paper. All seams are french, the neckline is bound using a strip of bias self fabric. The hem and the back opening are finished with a baby hem using ban-rol. I cannot repeat enough how much i love ban rol for those hems. It produces perfect tiny hems without any wrinkle or stretching.

Grey Silk Blouse by Sewing Tidbits

To follow the Chloe blouse, I used a remnant from this slip dress to bind the inside of the sleeve flounce, but omitted the tying bow. To bind the inner corner neatly, I used something similar to this technique, doing a little bit of origami. When it comes to binding, quilters are the best! Cutting, sewing, folding, they have all the tricks!

Grey Silk Blouse by Sewing Tidbits

I like my finished blouse and I have no doubt that I will wear it because I love the color and the comfortable fit. After checking out the other entries on Pattern Review, I realize that my little sleeves are WAY too understated for the challenge… But even with the sleeve detail being so small, it still somewhat feels outside of my comfort zone. What do you think readers? Are you pro or anti #sleevefest?

White Pencil Skirt by Sewing Tidbits

A white pencil skirt

Dear readers,

 

A few weeks ago I heard myself proclaiming that I was officially sick of seeing exposed metal zippers. I have tendency of making radical statements, about the smallest things, even when I’m not that convinced myself. It’s a French thing and it’s embarrassing. As a result, I often end up in the awkwardly looking at my shoes because I just did what I said I would never ever do. Case in point with this pencil skirt, which most interesting feature is an exposed gold metal double zipper.

White Pencil Skirt by Sewing Tidbits

I had initially no plan to participate in this year Sewing Bee contest organized by Pattern Review, but when the pencil skirt theme was announced, I knew I had to. I wear a lot of pencil skirts, I have my own pattern and I can make one relatively quickly. But the twist is that the skirt has to be inspired by music or a musician… I’ve more of an analytical mind than a creative one. So asking me to think of skirt when I listen to song or look at a bridge leaves me completely blank.

I decided to look at celebrities wearing pencil skirts, and Victoria Beckham is a big proponent of them. I know it’s a stretch to call her a musician, since she publicly acknowledged that she actually never sang while part of the Spice Girls. But I was a HUGE Spice Girls fan in my early teens (walls covered in posters type of fan!) so it’s actually a pretty good match for me. I also very much like the way she handles her fashion labels.

Pencil skirts are a basic piece of Victoria Beckham’s main label and she has at least one per season. Since I live a few blocks away from Saks Fifth Avenue, I decided to have a quick look at her skirts. Just like Roland Mouret, she uses a type of thick knit material, something between scuba and Herve Leger Bandage dresses, and leaves the garments unlined. I’m not a fan of the knits, and that exact material is quite hard to come by, so I decided to do a classic lined wool skirt with that distinctive metal double zipper at the center back.

White Pencil Skirt by Sewing TidbitsWhite Pencil Skirt by Sewing TidbitsPattern


Pattern Link – My own free pencil skirt pattern
Size – 00

I removed the waistband and did a faced high waist instead. I extended the waist line straight up by 1″1/4, including the darts, and I drafted a facing.
I used my lining pieces (unfortunately I haven’t been able to make it available as part of the download yet) and remove the CB seam allowance on both the self and the lining to allow for the exposed zipper. In effect, that eliminates the back vent too.

White Pencil Skirt by Sewing TidbitsWhite Pencil Skirt by Sewing TidbitsMaking


Fabric – Wool suiting from Mood Fabric, I believe it was The Row, lining is a lightweight silk twill from my stash.
Notions – Custom made double zip from Botani in  the NY Garment District.

The wool, the silk I used for lining and the interfacing were all from my stash so it was basically a “free” project. Until I decided to splurge big time on the zipper. I know you can get a double zip shortened at Pacific Trimming in NYC, but the day I went their technician was not there. I couldn’t come back any other day and I was on a deadline for the PR challenge, so I went to Botani instead. Their service is great, you can customize any element of a zipper, the tape, the metal color, the size of the teeth, the pull, separating, etc. 20 minutes (and 20 dollars) later you have your perfectly matched zipper!

I’ve made quite a few pencil skirts by now so the construction was very straightforward. I bagged the lining, enclosed the zip between the self layer and the lining and left an opening in one of the lining side seams to turn the skirt over. It’s quick and it looks very clean.

White Pencil Skirt by Sewing Tidbits

The hardest element of this project was managing to take pictures of it before the deadline of the contest. I only managed to get a few decent ones and a little person decided that she needed to be part of the photoshoot. I really like my final skirt, and I’m super happy that it was part of the pieces I had on my #2017MakeNine plan! I hope to do a post soon on how I’m doing with that plan, let’s see if I carve out the time. What about you? Are you following up on your sewing resolutions for 2017?

 

Linda Wrap Dress by Sewing Tidbits

My Just Patterns samples – Linda, Kate and Christy!

Dear readers,

 

First, let me thank you for your reactions on my last post. I received lovely messages in the comments, on Instagram and by email. In addition to people volunteering to become part of the Just Patterns Development Group, I had some great discussions about sewing, patterns and fashion!

With over 70 volunteers for the development group, it has been very difficult to restrict the  selection to 20 but we managed and now everybody is hard at work and already providing great feedback! To offer an alternative to those who want to ask questions while they sew our patterns or post their finished makes we also created a Facebook Community Group. I’m not much of a Facebook person myself but I’m surprised already at the fluidity of conversation it enables…

But let’s talk about today’s topic! This dress is my first version of our latest pattern release, the Linda Wrap Dress. I have been obsessed with this dress since Eira – The Pattern Line – made it. It’s for garments like this that I originally wanted to launch Just Pattern. I am just thrilled that it has finally joined of my closet!

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I could go on and on about this design because I love everything about it! I think it has great details, such as the collar, the metal buckle  and the big pockets. It also has a kind of uniform vibe that makes me feel extra confident on days I have to attend important meetings. A little like a man suit, but more interesting that its traditional female counter part, the sheath dress.

In case you are wondering, the only closure is at the waist. I recommend wearing a slip underneath unless you like to live dangerously! The skirt overlap does generally a good job at revealing only an attractive yet appropriate amount of leg. But I’ve been caught in some crazy NYC winds and luckily I was prepared!

 

Pattern


Pattern Link – Linda Wrap Dress by Just Patterns
Size – We ended up not releasing this size, equivalent to a 32 in our size chart.

The biggest disclaimer of this post is that I did not sew the pattern as is. As you know, I’m petite and I deliberately wanted to try a more fitted look than the one intended. I used the size we initially planned to release as a 34, I removed 1″ to the skirt length and 2″ to the sleeves length.

I think sizing down works  great for the bodice and the waistband, but I could have done with the extra ease in the hips area. For future samples I will also skip shortening the skirt and remove only 1″ of the sleeve length.

When we reviewed the fit and measurements of the final garment, we decided that it would be too small on most people. We moved all of our grading up one size as a result. But in case you are not into the relaxed look, sizing down is a great option.

 

Making


Fabric – Wool from Mood Fabric, I believe it was Rag&Bone
Notions – The 35mm buckle, eyelets and snaps (inside the belt) are from Botani in the NY Garment District.
Helpful resources – a list of useful resources for this pattern is available at Just Patterns.

Of course I am biased, but I find the construction of this dress very straightforward. I love that using french seams and sandwiching the bodice and the skirt between the 2 layers of the belt provides clean finish on the inside, no serging or binding required!

You may have seen on Instagram that I bought a Dual Compensating Raising Foot for my industrial machine and it really made the double topstitching easier. Since buying it I keep looking for excuses to double topstitch ALL THE THINGS!

The belt buckle is probably the only unusual part of the construction but I posted some pictures of the process and if you take your time it shouldn’t be hard to figure out.

Just Patterns Bias Slip dress by Sewing TidbitsJust Patterns Bias Slip dress by Sewing Tidbits

Pattern


Pattern Link – Christy Slip Dress and Kate Bias Top by Just Patterns
Size – 34

I used our bias slip dress pattern to create a lingerie style slip. I needed a V neck to match the wrap dress plunging neckline,  so I used the neckline of our bias top pattern. And since I was going to cut some silk I decided that I may as well make a lingerie tank too!

Making


Fabric – Nude Silk Charmeuse from Mood Fabric
Notions – Gold lingerie strap hardware from Botani.
Helpful resources – a list of useful resources for this pattern is available at Just Patterns.

I used a single layer of fabric instead of 2, finished the edges with bias binding and made adjustable lingerie straps instead of spaghetti ones. I wouldn’t say that it is a very quick sew because of the time it takes to cut properly but the construction is relatively fast. I always find my slip/tank projects very rewarding. The garments feel luxurious and get worn a lot (including just to sleep!!) and the time involved is reasonable.

 

I really love those 3 additions to my handmade wardrobe and I can predict that the wrap dress is going to remain a favorite for the years to come. After all, isn’t creating pieces that will last longer than some cheap fast-fashion option what we try to achieve as sewers? Which of your handmade garment(s) has endured the test of time? I would love to hear your thoughts on creating a wardrobe that lasts!

Things I made, Episode 3

Dear readers,

For the third edition of Things I made, I am showing you what ended up being a final sample for Just Patterns (you know, that project I keep promising to write more about and never do…). So far I only saw the version of Leisa at A Challenging Sew popping up on social media but I’m expecting more soon. Her bold floral version looked so great that we instantly had more sales after she published her post!

Full midi skirts is a look I’ve tried before, but I am falling in love with it all over again. I’ve been experimenting with this skirt quite a bit these days and I’m surprised that I keep coming up with different combinations with other items in my closet and many of my shoes. A few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for me to pair it with flat shoes or with a loose sweater but this time it was a success. This is how much I love this skirt! I’m even thinking of a very casual look with white Adidas sneakers [insert gasp emoji]…

SewingTidbits-Pleated Skirt-5

SewingTidbits-Pleated Skirt-3

Pattern


Pattern – Just Patterns #1101 – Pleated Skirt
Size – 34

This is the final sample for the pattern, so it’s sewn as-is. I didn’t make any modifications. I just want to point out that this is not a pleated rectangle but rather a flared skirt with inverted box pleats. The flare is better distributed and the overall movement of the garment is nicer.

SewingTidbits-Pleated Skirt-4

Making


Fabric – “brocade” from Mood in NYC, unidentified fiber
Notions – Invisible zip, hook and eye closure.
Helpful resources – Just Patterns come with limited information on construction but we compile useful links from around the web on a dedicated resource page for each pattern. #1101 – Pleated Skirt resource page.

Because black is difficult to photograph, the fabric doesn’t show very well but it’s  medium to heavy weight with an interesting texture. It’s most likely some kind of polyester blend but it also looks like it was entirely block fused. The final result has both body and drape and this is something to keep in mind when you just can’t find fabric with the right weight. I found it in the brocade corner of Mood (main floor on the left when you enter, after the lace). This section has many other intriguing options, not necessarily what you imagine when thinking “brocade”. I recommend checking it out if you wander by New York’s garment district!

SewingTidbits-Pleated Skirt-7

I don’t have a lot to say about the construction, when you drafted the pattern yourself, sewing is very straight forward. My main time waster was trying to use horsehair braid. Since reading Gertie’s blog years ago, I’ve had it in my stash. So yes, for 6 years I’ve been carrying horsehair braid around the world and I never found a use for it. I thought this would be the perfect occasion but I was completely wrong.  I couldn’t get to my seam ripper fast enough! Which means that I didn’t take a picture of the mess first and you will have to take my word for it. I’m not sure if it’s because of the flared hem but it made it wave in a super weird and unflattering way… So I removed it, and hand sewed the hem while watching Netflix. Horsehair Braid is back in the stash for the next 6 years unless one of you come up with a recommendation of what to do with it.

The plaid scarf is also an obsession from last winter. You can blame it on nesting instinct but I was smitten with the idea of wearing a plaid blanket around my neck. So that’st what I did. I went to mood, found some plaid wool, cut it so that it would be a square and frayed the edges. It also doubled as a couch blanket when the weather was chilly…

SewingTidbits-Pleated Skirt-1

SewingTidbits-Pleated Skirt-6

I love the final skirt. It’s extremely versatile and I keep thinking that I need at least a white and a navy version. I’m obsessed with navy. We are finally approaching summer in New York City, millennial pink and other sorbet colors are trending. And all I can think about is navy. Something is wrong with me…

Over to you readers, let me know what you think about the full midi skirts, horsehair braid or about your latest color obsession!!

Things I made, Episode 2

Dear readers,

 

Welcome back for the second edition of Things I made! In my mind, the dress I’m showing you today is closely associated with finding out I was pregnant. I cut it before I knew, sewed it anyway right after I took the test, put it to hang and left it there without a hem because I wasn’t even sure I would ever be able to wear it (insert sad face). So I was thrilled this November when I realized I would be able to wear it for Christmas!SewingTidbits-Black Slip dress-3SewingTidbits-Black Slip dress-7

Pattern


Slipdress Pattern –  my own (based on this previous version). If you are looking for a bias slip dress pattern with spaghetti strap, I am selling one through Just Patterns
Knit top Pattern – Nettie by Closet Case Patterns.

I made this slip dress before so I don’t have much to add this time. For the top, I used the Nettie. I made it twice as a dress (here and there). This time I used the high front and back neckline, and the long sleeves. When using this pattern as a t-shirt the key is to make sure it’s long enough. My previous attempt ended up a bit short and I removed it my wardrobe. I was annoyed at having to constantly pull it down, and accidental drip of bleach on a navy stripe (deliberate mistake?) did not help its case. I really like this pattern for a skin tight look. Note to self, look for striped knit to make another one!SewingTidbits-Black Slip dress-2SewingTidbits-Black Slip dress-6

Construction


Fabric – the silk for the slip dress is from Moods and was gifted by Eira from The Pattern Line. The knit top is a merino wool jersey also from Moods!
Notions – N/A
Resources – I compiled the best sources of information I know of to for our Just Patterns slip. I has links for cutting silk, spaghetti straps, baby hems, etc. Let me know if you think anything is missing or if you have a favorite tutorial you would like to recommend.

There isn’t much to say about the slip dress, don’t let the bias scare you. With silk and such a simple shape, the longest task is usually cutting rather than the actual sewing. As long as you take your time, nothing is particularly difficult. I’ll just stress that stabilizing the neckline really makes a difference. You can choose to fuse with a stripe of thin interfacing (like I do) or stay stitch, but it’s the one step I would recommend not skipping!

The t-shirt is very simple too. To make things even easier I didn’t finish the sleeves and bottom edges. The knit is very thin, there is no with I could have done a good job without a coverstitch machine, plus I like how it just rolls.SewingTidbits-Black Slip dress-5SewingTidbits-Black Slip dress-1SewingTidbits-Black Slip dress-8

I love these 2 pieces (and the 2 in my previous post). And I particularly like that they all work together as well as with many other items in my wardrobe. Sewing garments without frills, in nice fabric and in a core “color” of your closet can be very rewarding. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can wear the slip with a chunky sweater as in the picture above!

As you may have realized, I’m experimenting with a new format. My sewing blogroll counts around 300 blogs and I can divide them roughly into two categories. The ones that I read for the sewing and  the words (like Sanae Ishida, Sunnygal Studio, Sewing on the edge and many more) and the ones where I admire the pictures and try to skim through to find pattern/fabric information. Surprisingly, it’s often not that easy to find. Even more surprisingly (to me, and probably not to you) I looked at my own blogposts and realized I was completely guilty. I kept burying the most useful pieces of information in the middle of my ramblings (and typos…). So here it is, let me know what you think in the comments.

Things I made, episode 1

Dear readers,

Exactly a year ago, I was sleeping all the time and outgrowing every single piece of clothing I owned. Morning sickness, elasticated pants, it was a bad baaad time… In addition, I just had sewn garments I really liked and couldn’t wear even once. The good news in this story, is that 1/ the most wonderful little human now lives with me and 2/ I can wear those clothes now! I’m going to play catch up and show you my early 2016 sewing.

lined pencil skirt Sewing TidbitsSo first on the list is very classic pencil skirt made in black wool twill from Moods in New York City. I always mean to invest more time (and nice fabric) in wardrobe workhorses and this time I did it! I didn’t get distracted by a cute print or a pattern release! I used my own pattern, available for free here if you sign up for the mailing list. Don’t worry, there is no risk of receiving too many emails from me. I’m even worse at newsletters than I am at blogging…

linedpencilskirt-3linedpencilskirt-2

I drafted a lining for this version, which I keep hoping to also make available but time has been flying. Basically everything is ready but I should really proof it (ie. sew another skirt from it) before I spend time laying it out in Illustrator. If you are a risk taker, know how to bag a lining and want to help, email me!

I’m very happy with this garment and I’ve been wearing it several time already since I went back to work. I’m afraid there is not that much to say about this skirt, except that trying to show the vent leads to pretty awkward poses… So let’s move on to the next item!

linedpencilskirt-6

This one is a bias silk tank top. It’s unlined and I finished the edges with a narrow bias binding (about 1/8″ finished width). It was my first time using a bias tape maker and I did a bad job. Hopefully no one will come close enough to notice… The fabric is a lovely silk that Eira from The Pattern Line bought for me at Moods when she came to Haiti for a sew-cation. Sewing friends are the best friends!!

The pattern for this one is also my own, based it on my white slip dress. But if you are looking for a pattern to make something similar, we just released a bias tank top pattern through Just-Patterns. It features the same techniques (french seams, spaghetti straps and a baby hem). I know, I know, it’s one more shameless plug and I still haven’t taken the time to explain why this project is so important for me.I’m working on it, I promise!

That’s it for today, next time I will be back with another slip dress which you may have already seen on Instagram. I’m still debating if I should post about the maternity sewing, I haven’t been very successful apart from the 2 shirts I posted last year, we will see. It looks like I’m back to blogging more regularly. Oops, did I just jinx it by writing that? But I’m actually enjoying it again. Let me know what you think in the comments!!