Monday, 5 March 2018

First Cashmerette Ames jeans

The good news is I finished my Ames jeans. The bad news? Siberian temperatures prevented me from modelling them without a coat. Minus 10 ℃ and strong winds, brrr! Well, these jeans go with a lot of other things I've made recently so once The Beast from the East has left the country the Ames will show up as support act in the next few blog posts.

The pattern:

The Ames jeans are a mix-and-match sewing pattern with interchangeable pelvis fits (apple or pear) and leg fits (skinny or straight).  

I'm neither apple nor pear shaped. I'm more of a figure 8, a full hourglass with a high hip curve. 

According to the Cashmerette site:
Apples typically find waistbands too tight, have a flatter bottom, smaller hips, and a larger waist.
Pears typically find waistbands gape at the back, have a larger bottom, larger hips, and a smaller waist. If you’re not sure, I’d suggest starting with the apple pelvis, because that’s most similar to existing Cashmerette drafting (which is for apple/hourglass figures).

I reluctantly declared myself an apple, based on the larger waist part. I liked the look of the skinny legs better than the straight cut so no doubts in the leg department.

I bought 2.5 m of black stretch jeans, with a weight of 10 oz / 280 gram.

I traced the pattern and measured the pattern pieces against a more or less well fitting pair of jeans. Most obvious was the difference in length, which came as a surprise. Cashmerette patterns are drafted for a height of 5'6", I'm 5'7" (173 cm). I always need to add one inch to the bodice of Cashmerette patterns so I figured that if the height difference was in the torso, the legs should be okay.
However, the inseam of the Ames measures 76 cm, while I am wearing 82 cm. 
I've seen a few reviews mentioning the pattern runs short and I agree.

I lengthened the legs with 2''/5 cm above the knee by using the lengthening/shortening line and added an extra inch to the hem for extra insurance. Note: in the pictures you see a temporary hem. I always wash my jeans several times before deciding on the final length. 

Although the pattern description mentions the Ames jeans have a high rise, the pattern envelope clearly shows the apple version does not hit the true waist. For me, as an 8-shape it is essential that it does. When your high hip measurements are almost identical to your full hip measurements it is a good idea to anchor your jeans at the dents of your true waist so they will stay up.
I lengthened the rise by adding 1" at the pelvis lengthening/shortening line.
Of course this meant I also needed to lengthen the pocket facing, pocket lining and zipper shield with the same amount.

I added a little extra width to the high hip and shaved a bit from the low hip and felt that after these various flat pattern adjustments I was good to go. Sewing jeans is so much more fun than fitting them!

The pattern has a pocket stay for smooth shaping. I wanted my jeans to be quite neutral on the outside, black on black topstitching, no rivets. All the more reason to go wild on the inside!

So far, so good. I liked the look of the front and back pockets and the fly front but would they actually fit? At first glance I was pretty happy. The back rise needed a bit of extra length but for a test run it looked allright. That was, until I saw the pictures... 

Wrinkles at the back legs. Ouch!

Apparently I have the same drag lines in my expensive RTW jeans.
I need to go down the rabbit hole to see what these wrinkles tell me. Do I really want to know whether I have a low derriere? Yes I do if it helps me to get the fit right!
I'm not new to jeans sewing but I'm clearly dealing with challenges that didn't exist earlier on in my sewing career!

During the 'All you can watch' Craftsy weekend I watched the Melissa Watson / Pati Palmer class on fitting pants and I checked my fitting books. So far I'm thinking I need to scoop out the back crotch, let the front inseam out by 1/2" and take the back inseam in by 1/2 to 3/4". 
In the class Pati Palmer made the remark that in order to really get the feeling for pant fitting you should make five pair of pants in a row. I like that thought.

I also want to remove some of the bagginess at knee height. 

Now, is this pattern the Holy Grail for curvy jeans sewing? No it isn't, but then I didn't expect it to be. When it comes to fitting pants so many measurements have to be taken into consideration and I don't believe any pattern will miraculously be drafted with exactly the right crotch length, depth and width, hip curve and leg length to fit anyone straight from the envelope. This pattern is a good starting point and with the adjustments I've made so far I think I'm ready to take Pati Palmer's approach and make four more to slowly fine tune the fit.

If you have any thoughts on solving the wrinkle issues, please share!

To be continued......

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Sewing room improvements

Last month a small parcel from Ikea completely changed my sewing life. Below you see the before picture. Can you spot the difference?

Apart from a few bits and bobs (and way more fabric) the set up is still very much the same as when the room was featured in Love Sewing Magazine two years ago. I absolutely love the two Ikea Melltorp tables. Stable and indestructible with iron legs and a melamine top that is moisture and stain resistant. During projects I write little reminders about seam allowances or top stitching directly on the table top, knowing it's all easily removed when I'm done. So far tracing wheels, scissors or other tools haven't caused a single scratch since I started using the table twins five years ago. Why two identical tables? One is holding my sewing machine and overlocker while the other one is used for everything else.

Planning new projects, pinning, basting, hand sewing, tracing patterns and cutting fabrics.

So far I didn't have a cutting table. What I do have is a herniated disc. Usually it's not causing me much trouble but certain movements can cause severe pain in my left leg. Or worse, numbness and muscular weakness. Tracing patterns and cutting fabrics on a regular height table is certainly a trigger. Sometimes cutting out a coat means walking like an employee of the Ministry of Silly Walks for the rest of the week, battling with a leg that's making unpredictable moves. Luckily I'm not a speedy sewist, so most often there's enough time to recuperate before I reach the point where I have to cut out the next project.

In December I cut out several patterns with only a few days in between. Things were spiraling out of control and I knew I had to find a solution before the pain was killing my sewing joy.

A few years ago I saw a picture of someone using bed risers to raise an existing table. I experimented with cans of beans and tuna to see if that would work, only to find myself limping for the rest of the day. Apparently crawling under a table with canned food was another trigger. I did post a picture on Instagram of my temporarily raised table and Christina, a sewing architect from Norway, suggested to look into Ikea's sit/stand desks. Which I finally did, 110 weeks later. Yes, my wheels turn slowly.

I checked the Ikea desks and really liked the Skarsta, which can be easily adjusted in height by turning a crank handle. It comes with a 120 x 70 cm particle board top, finished with paper and acrylic paint. Bummer. I was not ready to give up my melamine Melltorp top, which was also slightly larger (125 x 75 cm). That may not look like a big difference, but when you're cutting 150 cm wide fabric on the fold it is!

After studying the assembly instructions mounting the Melltorp top on the Skarsta legs seemed possible, although the pre-drilled holes would be useless. Enter Mr Foxgloves, my beloved engineer in residence!

Et voila!

When not in use the crank handle slides under the table top. In a few seconds the height can be adjusted from 70 cm to 120 cm. Even at maximum height the desk is still very stable. This type of desk is also available in a larger size (80 x 160 cm) or with a motor if you prefer to adjust the height electrically. I can see how that's a nice feature in an office setting, where you'd adjust the desk multiple times a day to change between sitting and standing. In my sewing room I'd rather use the crank. Piece of cake, no strength required.

I'm very happy with the new multifunctional desk. Most days it is functioning as a regular table, like in the top picture. When I'm cutting fabric or tracing a pattern I raise the table to a height of around 98 cm. Cutting at an ergonomic working position makes all the difference in the world! I can really recommend the Skarsta desk. When your sewing space is limited it could double as sewing desk/cutting table, while only taking up the floor space of a regular size desk.  Legs and table top are sold separately so when you're willing to do the maths and drill a few extra holes you can mix and match or keep an existing top.

Total cost of this improvement: 169 euro. Result: priceless.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Review Knipmode March 2018

The March issue of Knipmode is the one I'm always looking forward to the most, for a variety of reasons. Firstly it is all about new spring fabrics, prints and colours. Secondly, I find spring collections so versatile. In our Dutch climate we need those 'in between' clothes almost all year round. There may be a few days each winter when we really need to bring out fake fur and heavy wool. If we're lucky there will be days to wear sundresses and shorts during summer. But apart from the extremes our weather is mostly of the 'in between' type and you can't go wrong with jackets or long sleeved tops and dresses.

Pattern overview Knipmode 3/2018

With seven jackets, a cardigan and four long sleeved tops in numbers the March collection is as could be expected. But, what's new? To be honest, nothing much. It's more of the same trends we've seen for a while now: athleisure, ruffles, flounces, statement sleeves. When we zoom in on the fabrics we see flamingos (not again!), bold florals, monstera leaves, black and white, pastels and nudes. Some linen, but also a lot of viscose and polyester. I do hope my daughter returns from Paris this week with more exciting news from the Premiere vision fabric expo!
At the end of the month I'll be visiting the spring fabric market in a nearby town, curious to see the new collection of my favourite fabric sellers.

Jacket 7 (Geesje) + pants 16 (Peppe), sweater 18 (Raja), jumpsuit 14 (Nadien)

I haven't worn athleisure since I lost my beloved red Adidas hoodie from the seventies but the style is once again very popular in our streets. My 70-year-old cousin successfully adopted the style by wearing black trousers with two subtle metallic stripes along the outer leg seam.

Jacket 10 (Jara) + trousers 2 (Bruni), blouse 6 (Fleur) + trousers 2, Jacket 9 (Ilona) + trousers 1 (An)

Knipmode has offered patterns for floral suits for months in a row now, but so far I have not seen any of these out in the wild. Same goes for the pyjama style suit. Interesting to see if these trends will make an appearance in our streets any time soon.

Dress 11 (Klaartje), dress 17 (Qaya), dress 4 (Daan)

Two woven fit and flare dresses and a straight jersey dress. Nothing spectacular but these patterns can all show off a pretty print very well.

Dress 5 (Elize) and top 12 (Liese)

Two of my favourites. Dress 5 is a straight shirtdress with hidden button placket. The use of stripes and the half tie belt create an interesting asymmetric look to an otherwise straightforward dress. The top has cut on sleeves and a peplum.

Dress 23 (Wilma)

This month's designer dress looks very attractive in this flowy fabric with a good drape. With all the flounces along collar, hem and sleeves selecting the right fabric will be crucial to make this dress work. I'm tempted to give this pattern a try with a slightly longer skirt.

Jacket 22 (Vero), jacket 21 (Ursa), coat 20 (Teddi)

Three jackets, all different views from the same pattern. Sadly none of these jackets is lined. The sturdy floral linen is holding up okay but when you look at close-ups of the white linen coat you'll see a very wonky zipper, facings and seams showing through and imagine how wrinkled it will look after a day's wear. With a little extra work these jackets could look and feel so much better!

Coat 20 (Teddi) and McCall's 7730

Actually I quite like the coat in black jacquard. I've had my eyes on McCall's 7730 for a while and I think I still prefer that pattern. It is lined and has set in sleeves, a better look on me than raglan sleeves.

Cardigan 8 (Hana) + skirt 19 (Sandra)

I'm always hoping to find some truly unique patterns in the newest Knipmode collections. This month cardigan 8 was the only one that showed a few surprising details. I'm not into short and boxy cardigans for myself but I do like the use of organza for the ruffles and extra set of lapels, combined with a soft merino jersey. 

All PDF patterns can be found in the Knipmode webshop. I used both pattern names and numbers to make it easier to navigate the site. But, in a new mysterious move, it looks like Knipmode is now back to using only numbers in the shop where last month it was all about the names. Weird!

Traditionally at the beginning of a new season an extra supplement is added to the regular magazine. It is heavily sponsored by fabric company Hilco. The 11 bonus patterns are not available as PDF, but some of them may show up in the coming months as happened before.

Pattern overview and size chart bonus supplement March 2018

Shirtdress 110, blouse 103 and jeans 102

The garments on the right will make a nice outfit for gardening, bike rides and grocery shopping. The shirtdress, another one with a twist, will look great as a casual dress for hanging out with family and friends. 

All in all, although not groundbreaking, a nice bunch of new patterns and I can't wait to start sewing for spring. Well, after I finish that emergency cardigan because it's freezing again!

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own. Photocredits: Knipmode

Friday, 26 January 2018

Simplicity 1563, a pink kimono

Earlier this winter, when I was freezing while preparing breakfast, I felt the sudden urge to make a more comfortable and warmer robe to replace the old frumpy one I'd been wearing for years. I added 'stylish' to the list of required characteristics, and it absolutely needed to be pink. Don't ask me why, sometimes an image pops up in my head and it won't go away. (During the search for fabric that image became a bit of a burden as it made me reject lovely fabrics in fine shades of blue and green) 

The pattern choice was easier. Simplicity 1563, a kimono style robe with a front band, long sleeves and a tie belt. I ordered the pattern a few years ago for the pyjama pants for guys and gals but so far no inspiring images for those popped up in my head.

After searching high and low for the perfect pink fabric I ordered Japanese cotton online. And, as happens so often, I was in for a surprise.

I knew the fabric had an ombre border print, grading from dark to light and back to dark again. When the fabric arrived the light band in the middle was almost white and looked horribly faded and the dark was a really dark wine red. Those colours didn't qualify as pink!! There also was a silver print on top which I didn't expect but I like the subtle sparkle it adds to the overall look (top right). On the selvedge, bottom right, you see the seven shades of pink/red used in the print. To make my kimono as pink as possible I cut the fabric in single layers, trying to avoid the darkest and lightest colours as much as I could. That worked quite well, the only concession I had to make was adding a centre seam to the back.

 You may have noticed this pattern is a 2 hour one. Those two hours were spent on cutting out alone!
I like the effect of the lengthwise colour gradient though and I managed to cut identical sleeves that match the bodice at the lowered armhole seam.
By the time I finished cutting it started snowing so as an after thought I added a few extra hours to the production process by cutting and sewing a slippery satin lining.


The only thing that didn't quite work out as planned was the belt. I only had a light strip of fabric left and I did not like how it interrupted the carefully created colour placement.

I found pink nail polish to paint large snaps and also looked for cord to make a knot closure like this one

And then I discovered I didn't need a closure after all. Miraculously this robe stays closed even when I raise my arms.

All hems are hand stitched, as well as the front band. By then this had turned into a 2 weeks rather than a 2 hour project but I think it was worth the effort for a garment that is worn every day.
I can definitely recommend this pattern, at least for a winter robe.  Due to a generous overlap of the fronts this robe has a rather high neckline, which is much appreciated during chilly mornings. For summer I'd prefer a lower cut and shorter sleeves.

One bonus picture to show more of the Cashmerette Concord T nightgown that is underneath. It matches so nicely!

Wishing you all a happy weekend! 

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Review Knipmode February 2018

What type of sewing month is February for you? I'm usually finishing the last winter garments, or make a few basics like jeans, cardigans or a blouse. When it comes to coat making I feel it's too late to start another winter coat and a little early to start a spring coat as not all new fabric collections have yet arrived. In the February magazine Knipmode is keeping all options open with a mix & match coat pattern that allows you to design a coat for any season.

Coat 12 (Lana) in boiled wool

Spring coat 13 (Marlou), biker jacket 14 (Nella) and trenchcoat 10 (Jadi)

In the basics the pattern is the same for all of these coats. There are different collar options,  a hood, you can choose several pockets, a variety of closures and different sleeve types.

Parka 11 (Kee)

This parka is a must have for many of us Dutch people cycling to work since we won't be surprised to see four seasons in one day. It's made from windproof scuba and has a detachable inner coat. All five coats shown above are included in a single PDF file.

Pattern overview Knipmode February 2018

Line drawings Knipmode February 2018

Much to my surprise one of the themes mentioned on the cover was  'patterns for plus sizes in knit fabrics'. Did I miss anything? Since the restyle of Knipmode in 2015 and the change to an all-inclusive size range all patterns come in European sizes 34-54. Apparently in the eyes of the editors some patterns are more plus size than others?? That's ridiculous.
Those 'special' patterns are shown elsewhere in the magazine on different body types so I thought I'd put them side by side in the next two collages. Looking good on everyone!

Top 18 (Rivka)

Jacket 25 (Yasmijn)

Another surprise, this time a pleasant one, was seeing the photography of these skirts:

Skirt 3 (Carla), skirt 20 (Tirza), skirt 7 (Geertje)

Don't you love it when the focus is all on the garment? And nobody is sitting, twisting or otherwise hiding seam lines and pretty details! Such a nice change from the usual fashion style photo shoots.

Of course fashion style photo shoots can hide a multitude of sins. If you want to see the true colours of a pattern you can always check the pictures at the PDF page. Let's for instance check the green jacket from the cover.

Jacket 16 (Pam)

In the magazine picture the forward bending makes it less obvious that the waistline is rather high and the pocket placement is a bit odd. The model's hair hides the collar and you could get the impression that the twisting of the sleeves is caused by her posture alone. While I first liked the look of this jacket I now think the proportions are off. When in doubt, check the PDF pics!

Let's try another one!

Cardigan 17 (Quin)

Cute cardigan......or Monstrosity of the Month?

I was firmly in camp Monstrosity when a really nice version of the same pattern showed up in my Instagram feed. A timely reminder that there are a lot of factors that have to be considered when judging magazine pictures of sewing patterns. For starters the patterns are not custom fit. Maybe the model is taller, has a different shoulder slope, cup size or back length than what the pattern is drafted for. Maybe the colour or fabric choice for the sample is putting you off.  Nothing a few adjustments or a different fabric couldn't fix. Anyways, I like the option to see more and different pictures of the patterns. They may be less glamourous but they're definitely more informative!

Finally a few of this month's dresses:

Designer dress 22 (Vivien), dress 5 (Elena) and dress 19 (Saar)

I'm pleased to see the return of the midi skirt. Dress 19 is firmly on my wishlist!
What do you think of the February patterns?

Happy sewing!

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own. Photocredits: Knipmode

Wednesday, 10 January 2018


In the style of Janus, thought to be the titular deity of January, it's time to put on two faces - one looking backward to the past, the other one looking forward to the future. I always feel it's good to take a moment to contemplate successes, failures and road blocks of the previous year in order to come up with realistic plans for the next.

Last year I finished 12 items. Six of them were Knipmode patterns, three Cashmerette, two Vogue and one Deer & Doe. You can find them all under Finished projects on top of this page.

Last January I started the KnipmodeChallenge2017, with the main goal to use my magazines more often and to get a set of standard adjustments in order to nail the fit. Since half of what I made comes from the magazines I consider the first part a success. I made progress on the fit but it's still a bit hit and miss. My favourite Knipmode garments were the winter coat (most worn) and my velvet birthday dress.

Knipmode coat and Knipmode designer dress

Another two Knipmode patterns are still in the toile stage. One, a potentially fabulous red skirt, looked completely different in the larger block due to weird grading decisions. I'll pick that one up again in spring. The second one is a lovely top that will look good in fabric with more stretch. If only Knipmode would be more specific when it comes to fabric recommendations: a pattern is either for a woven or a fabric 'with stretch'. The latter can be anything from cotton sateen to spandex. In this round of fabric roulette I guessed wrong. Will try again!

Many thanks to everyone who joined me during this challenge, on blogs, Instagram and Pattern Review. It's been fun!

In 2017 I finally finished the French jacket that I started three years earlier. I loved the process so much! From selecting the fabrics, the quilting, hand sewing, planning the trim to sewing on the chain, I loved every minute of it. The jacket turned out a bit large and the colour isn't my best but despite these flaws I've been wearing it a lot. So soft, so easy to pack and it goes with everything.

Vogue 7975

Other favourites are the Cashmerette Concord T-shirt variations, especially the white one with statement sleeves and the royal blue swing top with v-neck front and back.

Cashmerette Patterns Concord T-shirt

Now what are my sewing plans for 2018? Honestly, I don't know. I sew what I wear, and what I wear depends on the adventures that lie ahead. Will we drive north or fly south for the summer holidays? Any formal events to attend? We'll see what comes up.
I need a few work appropiate jackets, practical outfits for gardening, walking the dog and cycling in the rain and some tops and dresses for fun events like going to festivals and concerts. And perhaps a party dress or two.

I'm always tempted to join a few challenges at the beginning of a new year but when you're sewing at my pace you have to pick your battles carefully. I like seeing everyone's #2018makenine plans on Instagram but really, that possibly means planning ahead my total output for the year right now!

The challenge that really made me want to jump in was #januaryjacket, hosted on Instagram by @lonestarcouture and @julie_starr. Dorcas and Julie have the awesome tradition of sewing French jackets together each January by long distance. This year they invited everyone to join, which I happily did. It's a challenge with very loose rules and my only condition was I could finish my jacket by January 2019, which was accepted. It's wonderful to follow the progress of these experienced French jacket sewists! I've already started planning my jacket and I'm considering buying Susan Khalje's online Classic French Jacket class. Any thoughts about that class?

Potential fabric combination

I was also seriously tempted to join the #2018RTW fast hosted by Sarah of the Goodbye Valentino blog. During  Christmas break I came to the conclusion that I already kind of completed a RTW fast in 2017. (I only bought a pair of jeans that I have not yet worn)
I decided against joining because due to not buying and slow sewing last year I probably need to fill more wardrobe gaps than I can handle with sewing alone. That's okay. I'm not aiming for a 100% handmade wardrobe, 90% will do.
Instead I'll be cheering for the over 1000 participants and give my own twist on this fast by starting with sewing jeans to make up for that one buy.
I'll also be buying sustainable fabrics from Enschede Textielstad and sew garments with fabrics woven from recycled or locally sourced yarns.

Well for someone without sewing plans that's already a lot of commitment! This means that I'll only join other challenges like Make a Garment a Month (#magamsewalong hosted by @sarahlizsewstyle ) or #curvyyearofsewing when the monthly themes coincide with my own plans.

Did you join any challenges? If so, good luck and happy sewing!