Thursday, 13 October 2016

Review Knipmode November 2016

Knipmode delivery day is always a happy day Chez Foxgloves. The magazine usually arrives around 10 am on a Saturday. Perfect time to curl up in a chair with a cup of coffee and do some daydreaming about new additions to the sewing queue. Not this Saturday though. When the mailman passed our home without stopping by I felt like a three year old whose balloon just popped.

Late in the afternoon a neighbour made my day by handing me the Knipmode that was wrongly delivered at her house. Maybe it was all for the best, cause ending up by the first wood fire of the season with a glass of wine put me in the perfect mindset for a magazine filled with loungewear, jackets and warm coats!

Over summer I didn't review all issues, but by popular request I will resume this series. So grab a drink and let's see!

Pattern overview Knipmode November 2016

The magazine opens with a collection in lace styled for everyday wear as well as party wear. Lace bomberjacket #8 is clearly a versatile piece as it  looks good with  jeans as well as over dress #25.
I'm not completely sold on the white top with the bell-ish sleeves. Just not bold enough. Elsewhere this top is pictured made in tweed with teeny tiny 1 cm fringe along the hem and sleeves. You can see the potential, but again, not enough design detail to make an impact. Exaggerate the sleeves and go wild on the fringe and you'll have a pretty party top.

The loungewear collection contains hooded cardigans, jogging pants, sweatshirts an asymmetric skirt and a onesie.

By the way, did you all read this great article by Mary Danielson Perry at the Curvy Sewing Collective blog? Mary classifies Knipmode patterns as Love them, Like them, Meh and WTF. For me a onesie falls definitely in the latter category, although in the past I had to adjust my initial reaction to a pattern more than once. Well, at least when I suddenly feel the urge to sew a onesie I will know where to find a pattern. Or not, as it will be a clear sign I've lost my marbles.
But, to each her own!

I write these reviews from my personal point of view and I'm well aware of the fact that Knipmode's designers have to come up with monthly collections that appeal to 42000 readers of different ages and sizes. A big no for me can be the dream pattern for one of my daughters, or my mom!

Here's another version of the lace bomberjacket in a double faced knit with faux leather sleeves.

What more have we got?

 A trendy collection with interesting use of geometric fabrics.

Lovely degrade print fabric for a shirt dress (#12), based on the same pattern as button down shirt #13

Love the use of colour, but those princess seams with release pleats at the bust look a bit odd. Not a flattering fit for the model either.

In the new monthly feature Readers Request a fun fur coat in the style of designer Dries van Noten is designed for a 20 year old student of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.

The same coat is translated to a more classic look and made in a beautiful boucle with a plaid pattern in faux fur.

Looking at the line drawing it's not hard to imagine how a more conservative dresser could make this coat in camel or navy and wear it with a classic scarf.

New patterns added as pdf to the webshop:

Finally, I just mentioned the new Reader Request feature. In fact, it's the return of a popular feature from the past. In 1998 my twelve year old daughter wrote a letter to Knipmode, asking for extra tall teen patterns. Knipmode designed a jacket and a pair of pants for her. She had a wonderful time at the photoshoot and wore her jacket day and night until she outgrew it. Cute, right?

Speaking of teens. If there's a teen in your life interested in sewing, take a look at the new platform where girls aged 8-15 show DIY tutorials. Also on Instagram: @knipgirls

Well, other than last year this November issue did not contain many party dresses for the holiday season. The December sneak peek promises iconic little black dresses, so I'm already looking forward to the next issue. I 'll keep a close eye on the mailman's moves!

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

Sunday, 9 October 2016

A Concord tee nightgown

Do you know the feeling? A to-sew list as long as your arm and not knowing where to start?

After finishing my butterfly dress we got an unexpectedly warm and sunny September and I enjoyed every minute of it. Fall sewing seemed so far away! Planning wasn't helped by the fact that my favourite fabric sellers were struggling with our weird summer as well. During the cold and rainy months of June, July and most of August fabric sales dropped dramatically and sellers got stuck with way too much stock. So instead of bringing their autumn fabric collection after the holidays they prolonged the summer sale. Long story short, I ended up buying summer fabrics in October.

One of those fabrics was a very soft viscose jersey. Just perfect for sleepwear! I had just tossed a very cozy nightgown and wanted to make something similar. When you're not inspired to sew anything seasonal sewing loungewear is always an option!

 I started with the pattern pieces of the Cashmerette Concord t-shirt as I knew the fit was just right at the shoulders and bust.

I used the traced pattern pieces of  this v-neck shirt. I cut the front and back bodice at 11 cm below the armscye and drafted an A-line skirt of 65 cm long and approximately 75 cm width at the hem. The sleeves were lengthened by 12 cm. 

The bodice of the nightie is self lined and instead of a neckband I used pink lingerie elastic to get a pretty finish. 

Hand basted to check the fit before adding the lining

The simple design element added to this nightgown consists of two ties at center front, one on the inside and one the outside, sandwiched in while sewing the empire waist seam.

When tied they immediately take the v-neck into va-va-voom territory!

Just as well this last picture is a bit blurry. No need to embarrass the internet ;)

Good night!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Butterfly ball Cashmerette Upton dress

Alternative title: the 40-darts project. More on that later, let's start at the beginning!
I've been wanting to recreate my all time favourite sundress for ages. Here it is, 25 years ago during a holiday in Germany.

Back then I used a Knipmode pattern. Sleeveless, scooped neckline, fit-and-flare. The fabric was black rayon with a lovely butterfly print.

Two years ago I found this Robert Kaufman cotton. Colourful butterflies with subtle golden details, even the selvedge was pretty.
I kept an eye out for a suitable pattern. The bodice had to be fitted, but I wanted to avoid princess seams for fear of beheading too many butterflies. When the Cashmerette Upton dress was launched it ticked all the boxes. And more, due to the different cup sizes!

Finding the right size was a bit of a challenge. The size charts indicated 1/4 inch of wearing ease at the bust. I don't know about you, but that didn't sound very comfortable to me. Instructions tell you if your full bust could fit into two sizes, choose the size closest to your waist. Nowadays there is no correlation between my waist size and the size of any other body parts but you have to start somewhere, right?

I started with a 20 E/F muslin and it looked horrible. Gaping neckline, wobbly armscyes, pulling at the bust and riding up at the front. All indicating that I should go down a size and up a cup size.

The second muslin (18 G/H) left me puzzled. The neckline was fine, the armscyes couldn't be better, the side seams were hanging straight, yet the overall look was off. What happened?
With my brain already switched to holiday mode it took me a few days away from the muslin to figure it out. I've known for a while now that generic FBA's don't work for me. More often than not it means adding fabric where I don't need it and vice versa, thus adding to the problem instead of solving it. Now what are the odds the built-in FBA of Cashmerette patterns would do the trick for me? Exactly!

I went back to the flat pattern and made some changes using the quadrant method from Joi Mahon's book Create the perfect fit. I shortened the bust darts so that they would end 2 inches away from the apex. I moved the underbust darts 1 inch outwards and shortened them as well. Muslin #3 looked good, except for the shape of the underbust darts. I changed them to a triangular shape and was ready to cut my fabric. The Upton bodice has 8 darts, so by this time I had already sewn 24 darts. Plus 8 for the final garment and 8 for the lining and you see why this was a 40 darts-project!

Next hurdle: I only had 3 meters of 110 cm wide fabric and I needed 4.10 m.  By comparing the cutting diagrams for various fabric widths I noticed folding out some of the pleat depth would enable me to cut the front skirt on fold and back skirt pieces next to each other. Suddenly I had enough fabric.

Still wide enough!

I lined the bodice with black cotton batiste. The skirt is unlined as per the pattern instructions and I finished the hemline with hand stitched satin bias tape.

Too pretty to keep to myself!

When the last stitch was done I put on the dress and...surprise! It was way too big at the waist. Apparently  making a muslin for the bodice and a quick quarter skirt to check length and pleat depth wasn't enough. The weight of the skirt changed the fit. Back to the sewing room as of course a well fitted waist is crucial to the success of the fit-and-flare style.

I'm pretty happy about the fit now. The only thing I will change next time is to remove another wedge from the upper back. It's my experience that Cashmerette patterns are wide at the upper back and short in the bodice. I already made adjustments but as you can see there's still extra fabric round the top of the zipper and the back neckline is not completely flat.

For the sake of a fair pattern review and for future reference I will distinguish different types of changes I've made.

Changes I always make:
-lowered the bust dart by 3/8 "
-3/8 " low neck base adjustment

Changes by personal preference:
-omitted the pockets (don't like pockets in a dress)
-added 4 inches to the length of the skirt (I like the proportions of the dress better this way)

Changes I always make for Cashmerette patterns:
-add one inch to the front and back bodice at lengthen/shorten line
-take a wedge out of the upper back

Changes I expect to make for all woven Cashmerette patterns:
-shorten the bust darts
-check the placement of other darts

Changes I made for construction:
-reinforced center back with a strip of fusible interfacing before installing the 22" invisible zipper
-instead of trimming 1/16" of the lining front and back bodices around the neckline and armholes I understitched and clipped all curved seams

Quite a list for a simple dress. Was it worth the trouble? Definitely!
When you ignore the changes I always make and the personal preferences all adjustments are quick and easy to make. What's more, drafting appears to be very consistent so you know what to expect.
And think of all adjustments I did NOT have to make!

For me this pattern is worth its weight in gold for the beautifully drafted armscyes alone. No gaping, no bra showing, yet absolutely not restrictive. Makes me look forward to the next Cashmerette release. Woven with sleeves? Yes, please!

This pattern will be put away till next spring, together with a piece of pink Liberty Carline. For now I'm going to wear this dress to the max as we have some glorious summer weather. At last!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Be careful what you wish for!

Last year, somewhere in the middle of series 3 of The Great British Sewing Bee, mr Foxgloves developed a sudden interest in the show. We watched the next episodes together, sometimes replaying a part or pausing for explanation of technical matters. This year we were going to watch all episodes together. Nice, isn't it?
Well, it looks like this plan is backfiring! Mr Foxgloves is now a self proclaimed expert and very opinionated about my sewing, tsssss.

A few days ago I was working on a cushion cover and I was pretty pleased with my pattern matching.

Can you spot the seam?

Enter *Paddy* Foxgloves. In his best Patrick Grant-voice: "I think I spot a liiiiiittle bit of unevenness there, but overall, a big well done!"
"O, and I forgot to mention you did a great job on that invisible zipper. No bubble at the end!"
Uhhh.... I used a regular zipper.
"No you didn't! I know what an invisible zipper looks like so you can't fool me!"

Spot the difference:

Well, okay. He's got the beard, the dreamy brown eyes, and on a good day he even has the dress sense. The backdrop may be a hint. One of these guys knows his haberdashery, one of them obviously doesn't. Yet.

I did mention the dress sense on a good day. Needless to say not all days are good days.
One day I found this in my sewing room:

The remains of mr F's favourite jeans

"Can you please mend this for me?"
Noooooo. What was he thinking?
"Maybe you can do something like they do in the Sewing Bee alterations challenge."

I offered to cut them off so he would have a shiny new pair of shorts.
"You're disappointing me, dear. That's not a very creative approach! You can make coats, and jackets, but you can't fix this?"
Now he had me cornered. He knows I can't say no to a challenge so that's how these beyond-repair-jeans ended on my sewing table. Not sure what to do with it, suggestions (especially creative(!) suggestions) are welcome. (I already told him that people are paying money for this fashionable distressed look, but he didn't buy it)

The cushion cover is finished. Now I'll struggle my way through 30 meters of curtain fabric and then I'm done with home dec sewing for a while.

Meanwhile Mr Foxgloves has redeemed himself by printing the pdf of my next project, the Cashmerette Upton dress. One more inappropriate remark about my sewing and I'll make him tape all 70 pages together. An allround sewing judge must be introduced to all the joys of sewing, right?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Review Knipmode August 2016 (and Knipmode July 2016's highlights)

The cover of Knipmode's August issue is all about sun and sea. Perhaps the endless weeks of heavy rainfall and the fact that I'm shivering in my long sleeved shirt right now isn't helping much but this theme feels a bit.... unseasonal? School's out for summer, holiday suitcases are already packed and summer sale started weeks ago. My overly ambitious summer sewing plans were made months ago!
Well, you can't judge a sewing magazine by its cover, right?

Surprise! No swimsuits, just one pair of shorts and also a bunch of long sleeved jackets, cardigans, dresses and sweaters! 

A black and white capsule collection consisting of dress #15 with interesting seam lines, a nicely shaped fitted dress (#24), skirt #13, loose and boxy top #8 and, not shown, cardigan #12 and trousers #11. Combining items from this capsule will make outfits suitable for all types of weather. 

It's easy to imagine the dress on the left worn with tights. Not sure about maxi dress #1 for summer. The model is showing a lot of leg when seated but the line drawing looks like an awful lot of fabric. It will make pretty autumn lounge wear though.

The 'Oh boy' collection mixes mini skirts and masculine blazers, bow blouses and oversized cardigans. Whoever did the text editing for the cover certainly put me on the wrong track!

A floral collection, love the neckline of the dress on the left!

Some of the patterns are now also shown by models wearing size 46 by request of many Knipmode readers. 

Overview of Knipmode 8/2016  pdf patterns

All in all there's nothing in this issue that will end up in my summer sewing queue, but it's not too bad either.

Last month I skipped the review of Knipmode July 2016. However, that issue contained two patterns deserving an honouroble mention.  For over a decade now Knipmode collaborates with Dutch designer Mart Visser.  Once in a while the Mart Visser original designer patterns make an appearance in the magazine. These are my most treasured issues as the design details are often intriguing and challenging. For the July issue he designed a party dress and a kaftan, both are available as pdf pattern on in European sizes 34-54. Not as remarkable as some of his earlier evening wear patterns, but still really pretty!

Have a nice weekend!

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

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Silent stitching

Last month, on Father's Day, we lost my father-in-law. While the funeral arrangements were being made I decided to make a dress. Not that I needed the dress, I just needed the stitching.

It felt like the right thing to do. My father-in-law was a fan of handmade garments and he always encouraged me to sew. There was so much on my mind and I had trouble thinking straight. Whatever I was going to make needed to be simple and without fitting issues. There was no time for fabric shopping either so I was looking for a trusted pattern and fabric from the stash. I settled for a black double knit and V8379, a dress I could make on automatic pilot.

When I was sitting in my sewing room the only sound was coming from the birds in the tree next to the window. I hardly remember cutting, stitching or finishing the seams. Sewing helped, like it always does. By the time I was silently hand stitching the hem good memories started to replace the images of his difficult last weeks. My dress was finished in time for the funeral which took place one week before his 97th birthday. He will be missed dearly by all of us.

Today I bought a large bunch of Dad's favourite flowers. He used to grow them on his allotment. Thinking about the gardening lessons he taught me over the years and looking at the sunflowers is cheering me up. And although we are still busy emptying the house I will try to start sewing again soon. Cause it helps.

Friday, 10 June 2016

A floral v-neck Concord tee

It's the time of year when my lunch break sewing is often replaced by lunch break mowing. So here I am in my summer habitat. In the ongoing battle between garden and sewing room the score must be something like Foxgloves:20 vs Thimbles:1. It's a lucky coincidence that the garments I wear while gardening are not very time consuming to make! Enter my third Cashmerette Concord t-shirt.

Ha! Does that happen to you too? I swear I changed my unsightly garden shoes for matchy matchy ones in an attempt to look presentable!


The fabric is a very soft cotton jersey with a leopard meets roses print on a light grey background. I made view B with the v-neck and elbow length sleeves. I like it when my v-necks form a defined v and I noticed that the sample v-neck Concords had a tendency to show a more rounded shape. I could think of a variety of causes and decided to tackle them one by one.

-Shoulder seams: the seams are so narrow compared to the total back width, they need all the help they can get to stay in shape. I stabilized them even more than I did for the scoop neck tees.
- Back neckline: to prevent gaping at the back I took out a some of the width.
- Neckband: I changed the original overlapping neckband for a mitered v. When there's strain on the overlap (and there certainly is strain on the point of the v with larger cup sizes) the overlap can easily spread out of shape.

Quite happy with the front! Maybe I'll scoop out the back neckline a bit more next time. There's not much more to tell that I haven't told yet in the posts about Concord #1 and Concord #2 so I'll make room for my favourite furry photobomber who claims her minute of blog fame.

Well, didn't we all want the be the star on our 4th birthday? Go on, shine!

I hope I can find time to sew a few summer dresses soon. I'm working on a wrap dress, have plans for a maxi dress and there's a pretty butterfly print waiting to become a sundress. The weird thing is those sundresses will only get sewn during rainy weekends.... Be careful what you wish for?

I hope you'll all have a wonderful weekend with plenty of time for your favourite pastimes!