Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Velvet Knipmode designer birthday dress

When you're celebrating a significant birthday you need a new dress, right? And when you're going to spend your birthday in a castle it needs to be a posh dress!

After going through my pattern collection I decided this was the perfect occasion for one of the Knipmode designer dresses by Dutch designer Janice. It's from the October 2017 magazine, #26

KM 1710-26

I chose a matte stretch velvet in a deep shade of emerald. The colour is very hard to capture and it doesn't help that most pictures were taken by candlelight. Although the pictures are a bit blurry, I hope their festive character will make up for that!

In the wine cellar

Now let's talk about construction details first before all that wine will distract us. Over the last few months I've been struggling with the fit of the Knipmode bodice block. Although I was making progress, I was not ready to cut that pretty velvet without making a toile first.

When I was looking for fabrics with a similar amount of stretch I found a loud mix that resulted in a Pippi Longstocking / Ikea employee type of dress.

On second thoughts, I probably would have been arrested for indecent dressing when entering Ikea in this prototype. That neckline was scarily deep! I raised the neckline (4 cm), thus creating a cheater FBA by adding length where it was needed.
 The rest of the dress was fine once I did my usual  adjustments: taking out 2 cm at the neck base and correcting the hip curve. Knipmode patterns are drafted for a X-shape while I'm 8-shaped with a higher hip curve. I shave a bit off at the lower hip and the same amount to the high hip. This is such a standard procedure I'm thinking of creating a cardboard hip curve template.
One other thing I should mention is that, although the line drawing suggests otherwise, the pattern has no darts in the back bodice. The center back seam provides subtle shaping, resulting in a nice overall fit.

Since I hadn't been sewing stretch velvet in ages I did a few test runs to decide on the finishes. The biggest challenge was formed by the front neckline. Instructions told to just foldover and stitch down, but to be on the safe side I added fusible seam tape first.

After fusing and topstitching I measured both bodice pieces against the pattern. No stretching had occurred so all was good! The skirt has three diagonal pleats, the bodice two. The lower bodice pleat is folded over the waist seam before the side seam is stitched.

When I put on the dress to decide on the length I found the skirt too straight to my liking and I tapered it to obtain more of a pencil shape, taking out a total of 10 cm of the circumference. I catch stitched the hems because I prefer the clean look over a twin needle or coverstitch finish.

I'm really happy with how this dress turned out and I will most likely make this pattern again.

I'll add some extra pictures, just because....partydress in action! I had the most wonderful time celebrating my 60th birthday with our family. Excellent company, great food, ample wine and whisky. All that, and a dress that was made to party!


With the knight in shining armor

And with the real deal 💘

Bring on the next decade. Cheers!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Review Knipmode December 2017

Sometimes I wonder if  Knipmode's copywriters play those silly word games where you take random syllables out of a box and make a sentence with what you've got. How else can you explain Pink Christmas (Roze Kerst) on the cover of an issue that neither contains visual references to Christmas nor many pink garments?

Pattern overview Knipmode 12/2017

What's new? By popular demand all patterns are back on the pattern sheets. For the last few months some of the patterns in the magazine had to be downloaded as pdf. This caused a major uproar in The Lowlands, also known as The Kingdom of Tracers. May the dust settle soon.

The first collection in the magazine is all about the new trend colour grenadine:

Clockwise dress 17dress 7, and blouse 4

Dress 7 is the exact copy of a dress that first appeared in the October supplement. I know because I've made it. (Still to be blogged). I like the blouse but I'm not sure about the combi of volants and my ample bosom.

Next up is a 10-piece capsule wardrobe, consisting of a skirt, blouse, coat, cardigan, culottes, a top, sweater, pair of jeans and two dresses.

From left to right: cardigan 14 + top8 (variation of dress 7) + jeans 15, top 8+culottes 10, coat 13 (missing in the shop)

 Blouse 20 + skirt 24 (not yet available in the shop), sweater 12dress 17

I'm not known for limiting myself to a capsule wardrobe and am not tempted by any of the individual pieces, which is good with my mile long to-sew list in mind.

 Designer dress 22

This month's designer dress is a maxi, made in a graphic print silky twill. The flutter sleeves add a summery feel. Must remember this one in June, lovely for a garden party.

Boho chic in mini dress 21 and vest 25

This one made me smile. I swear she robbed my 1973 wardrobe! The boots, hat, self drafted mini dress with vest, even the embroidered velvet band around her neck, I had them all. Soundtrack: Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin.

In the mean time we've reached page 64 and not a single pink item in sight!

Dress 3skirt 19jacket 1 and skirt 5

At last! The pink Christmas dress on page 68! And it's a beauty with a high waist, statement sleeves and a lovely deep v-neck with volants. The straight skirt on the right is made in jacquard fabric. I'll keep this one in mind for when I find time to watch Susan Khalje's Couture lace skirt class on Craftsy. Maybe it will work in guipure lace. 
Jacket #1 may be the solution for a 'Year of the Sleeve' conundrum: what to do with those statement sleeves now that it's time to put on extra layers? The sleeves of my white concord tee tend to bunch up the moment I throw on a jacket, which I often do. I'm always looking forward to fall because I love wearing jackets.

That brings me to my absolute favourite outfit in this magazine:

Jacket 2 and trousers 9

Jacket #2 was love at first sight. I love the styling with wide legged pants, however I don't think a paper bag waist is the best choice for me. I'll be tracing the jacket tonight and I have a lovely piece of  crepe waiting. The colour? Magenta. So who knows, I may have a pink-ish Christmas after all!

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

Friday, 20 October 2017

Concord tee with statement sleeves

Hi everyone! Can you believe I completely forgot to write a post about my most worn garment of late summer / early autumn? Like always, it started with the fabric.

I found this wonderful eyelet jersey during an early summer sale at the fabric market. At first I wanted to make a sleeveless top but quickly decided this fabric was too good to use for a garment I could only wear incidentally during our chilly summer.

I went through my sewing magazines and although I liked the look of all patterns with statement sleeves most of them had rather high necklines. That's when I brought out my favourite v-neck version of the Cashmerette Patterns Concord t-shirt. I measured the circumference of the sleeve hem and drafted a full circle extension.
Well, maybe it had to do with the white eyelet but everytime I looked down I felt I was wearing my grandmother's lampshades.
When I redrafted the flounce to a half circle the proportions were much better.

I opted for a catch stitched hem for the bodice and narrow hand-rolled hems for the sleeves.

Apparently a white top was just what was missing in my closet as I've been wearing it as often as I could!

During our holiday in Belgium.....(best hotel carpet ever!)

While at work, interviewing the owner of a shoe shop for the local newspaper......

Partying with Joliet Jake Blues....

Getting ready for a walk in the beautiful city of Leuven....

And after said walk. Happy smile caused by the contents of that bag next to me.
Y'all guessed right. Fabrics!

Happy weekend!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Review Knipmode November 2017

I know, I know. I promised to keep up with the Knipmode reviews. Let's just say life got in the way. I did miss a few, although I managed to sew something from the October supplement while it was still September. Will show that in one of my next posts.
Anyway, with chaotic sewists like me in mind Knipmode decided to make the November issue the party special, giving us plenty of time to work on that Christmas outfit. Or plenty of time to procrastinate and get distracted by other shiny patterns of course.

Pattern overview

Looking at the pattern overview I was a little underwhelmed, feeling that this collection of dresses, jackets and pants could easily have been a regular collection for any month of the year. Apparently it's all about the fabric choices.

Lots of shiny jaquards, here used for a bomber jack and matching skirt. On the right the festive looking suit from the cover. Although at first sight the jacket appears to have lapels it is in fact a jacket with asymmetrical closure worn open.

On the left another version of the same jacket, now in velvet. Wrap dress with a slight a-line skirt in velours de panne, a straight skirt version of the same dress in embroidered stretch velours and a kimono style dress. I haven't seen the new fabric collections in real life so I'm really looking forward to finally do some fabric shopping tomorrow. I absolutely love velvet and I'm glad it's back!

Don't you think that jumpsuit looks stunning? Been there, done that in the 80s but I can so see my daughters in this outfit! Not sure about the dress. I think it will look lovely as a summer dress in a floral print but it's looking a rather plain in this silver stretch lamé.

This formal evening dress was a plus size reader's request. Once again Knipmode failed to use a plus size model while so many readers are begging them to do so.

Lovely use of fabrics for a jumpsuit and top in tulle with little golden polka dots and a party dress in sparkly golden jersey with a black print.

This month's designer dress is again very simple and not standing out from the rest of the collection but I do like the style. I may be tempted to make it if I can find a pretty silk.

So far my top choice from this issue is the wrap dress.

I have a, ahem, significant birthday coming up in a few weeks time. Isn't that the best excuse to make a new dress?

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

Thursday, 5 October 2017

The last of summer sewing?

During a brief sunny spell I finally managed to take a few pictures of my latest sewing endeavours. Warning: haste makes waste. Just remember that when you watch this blurry pics it's not your eyesight that's letting you down, it's mine. The sun caused reflections in my glasses, so I took them off. And then when I checked these pictures they looked perfectly fine to me. Gah!

See what happened? My camera focused on the roses instead of my new top.

I bought this gauzy knit fabric a few years ago because I loved the royal blue colour, but didn't really know what to do with it. It is transparent and rather clingy. Then I saw swing tops popping up all summer and I decided to hack the Cahmerette Concord pattern and add a bit of swing.
I used the midlength with my favourite elbow length sleeves, like I did in this earlier version. For that extra summery feel I changed to a double v-neck.

 I adjusted the neckband in order to make mitered v's instead of folding one end over the other.

I think I could have added a bit more width for more swing, but at least my jeans button is not poking through my top as it would have done with a regular shaped tee.

Although technically summer is over and the garden is already starting to show those beautiful autumn colours I'm still in denial. Luckily the 'no white after Labor Day'-rule doesn't apply here since our Labour Day is on May 1st!

Whatever your season looks like, happy sewing!

Edited to add that the white jeans were refashioned. They had been hanging in the back of my closet for years because the waistband was a bit tight and the legs were somewhere in between flared and straight. I slimmed the legs below the knee and used the extra fabric to insert tiny triangles in the waistband. I'm very pleased with the result, well worth the effort!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Review Knipmode August 2017

The August issue of Knipmode can best be described as the pre-fall collection. Brrr, fall? It feels like summer still hasn't started properly in The Netherlands. It's been a strange season so far!

What's new? All patterns shown in the magazine used to be included on the tracing sheets. But not anymore. Three patterns, the ones marked with the red and and purple dot, have to be downloaded as pdf, free with a code included in the magazine.

It looks like Knipmode is hoping to spark more interest in their pdf patterns, which I can understand. But it's my opinion that by doing it via the magazine they're barking up the wrong tree.

Traditionally Dutch sewists are tracers. My grandmother traced, my mom traced and now my daughters also trace their patterns. Pattern magazines are available in most supermarkets and bookshops and they're cheap. A single copy of Knipmode will set you back 7,99 euro for about 25 new patterns. My subscription costs only 3 euro per magazine. Even when there's nothing in the magazine that I want to make I consider that 3 euro money well spent as I like to read about trends, look at new fabric collections and accessories.
The price of a single pdf pattern is 4,95 euro. Very reasonable, compared to the prices of other pattern companies. But compared to the price of the magazine it is steep.
I have never bought a Knipmode pdf and it's not likely I will do so as long as the magazine is around.

I do buy pdf patterns from companies in Australia and the US. No postage and instant gratification makes it worth my while to go through the tedious printing and taping process. I can absolutely see how that could work the other way around and sewists from other parts of the world would love to buy Knipmode pdf's instead of waiting for the magazine to arrive.
 I contacted Knipmode two years ago to inform them about the growing amount of messages I got from sewing friends all over the world who couldn't find their way around the Knipmode website. It is rather difficult to order a subscription or pattern when you don't speak Dutch. Wouldn't it be wise to make an English version of the website? I never got an answer to this email. Typical. Lately Knipmode is spending money on nondescript vlogs in Dutch, excluding foreign sewists even more.
The recent launch and blogtour of the English edition of Belgian pattern magazine La Maison Victor got a lot of attention in the online sewing world. Maybe it's time for Knipmode to reconsider the navel gazing and start making the site and shop more user friendly for those of you that would love to try the patterns but are discouraged by the Dutch language.

In the meantime Dutch readers are not impressed by Knipmode's move. I've seen comments by readers saying they don't have access to a printer, others don't consider the pdf's free because of the cost of toner and paper. The editoral staff insists the free pdf's are extra patterns that couldn't be placed on the tracing papers. Fact checking: the August 2016 magazine contained 26 patterns. August 2017: 25 patterns + 3 pdf + 1 knitting pattern, At first glance there are indeed more patterns, however, some are just different views of the same model. Obviously top 2 is a shorter version of dress 1 and as far as I can see the only difference between trousers 3 and 4 are the pockets, to name a few.
We'll see how this evolves.

On to the collections!

A classic collection in ivory and camel. From left to right cardigan 13, dress 15 and and jacket 7, skirt 12 and top 24. I do like the seam lines of dress 15, although the details are hard to see.

Another version of dress 15, skirt 20 and top 2 and dress 18. More on top 2 later on.

Jacket 5 (left) has an interesting collar and asymmetric zipper. As much as I like the look, I do have some reservations about this pattern. The jacket is unlined, which I don't find very comfortable to wear considering it's made of faux leather. When you take a close look at the dress in the middle you can see that it's made from the same pattern. I don't know about you, but I like my jackets to have more wearing ease than my dresses! Trousers 10 (on the right) are on my shortlist.

This month's designer dress looks nice and trendy, but again very simple.

I've seen some lovely versions of dress 23 pop up on social media. I expect this dress to show up soon on the blog of my Bavarian sewing pal Chris at https://handmadebychris.wordpress.com/

At the beginning of the year I set myself a challenge to sew more Knipmode patterns. At the moment I'm experimenting to improve the bodice fit. Knipmode drafts for a B-cup, which means I need a serious FBA as I'm wearing a H-cup. I'm considering making pattern adjustments to these three tops, from left to right top 2, top 17 and top 24. The first one is a knit pattern, the other two are for woven fabric. With horizontal darts, diagonal seams and shoulder pleats these patterns all need a different FBA approach.

So far I finished a muslin of top 2. Not too bad, but a little snug. I'll check again when I've had more time to deal with the inevitable extra pounds I took home from my culinary Belgian holiday.

To be continued!

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