Monday, 16 April 2018

Two Blackwood cardigans

I don't know why it took me so long but I finally made my first Blackwood cardigan, immediately followed by the second version.

For those of you not familiar with the pattern, it's a PDF pattern, designed by Helen Wilkinson of Canadian pattern company Helen's Closet, and can be found here.

Blackwood cardigan
The Blackwood Cardigan is a cozy and versatile addition to your wardrobe. Designed with layering in mind, it has minimal excess fabric in the front and a close fit around the neck and shoulders. Its fitted shape and extra long sleeves make it perfect for wearing under jackets and vests, while also looking stylish over tank tops and dresses. View B ends at the hips, while View A extends down to the mid-thigh and includes patch pockets at hand level.  The Blackwood is intended to be worn open and is not designed to close at the front.

Actually now that I'm writing this blog post I can suddenly see why I wasn't convinced by the looks of this cardigan when it first came out. I don't like those extra long sleeves (reminds me of ill fitting RTW) and I hate pockets in knitwear. When the Blackwood first popped up on blogs and Instagram everyone seemed to be raving about the features that I knew would make me look frumpy.

After a few less than stellar results with the popular M6844 cardigan pattern (not yet blogged) I took another look at the Blackwood and decided to give it a go. Without pockets of course, and with considerably shorter sleeves.

I had an end-of-the-bolt piece of  wool knit, just enough for the shorter version (view B). It's a good thing I shortened the sleeves by 6 cm, otherwise I would have ran out of fabric.

I love how this pattern came together. The shoulder fit was so much better straight out of the envelope than I ever achieved with the McCall's pattern, despite making several adjustments. I like the overall length of the cardigan and the cuffs are a nice way to finish the sleeves.

The only thing I will change when I make this view again is the width of the hem band. I'm just not fond of that horizontal line across the high hip, which unfortunately highlights my widest part.  I'll make the hem band the same width as the front band and add extra length to the bodice to compensate.

While the pattern was still on my sewing table I decided to have a go at view A as well.

This time the fabric was a rather lightweight wool/rayon knit. I kept the hem band at the original width, thinking the hang would benefit from the extra weight. In fact I do like the wide band on the longer version.

Now that's my kind of outfit! Ames jeans, Concord Tee and a colourful cardigan.

I equally love both lengths of this pattern but I prefer the look of a plain cardigan/print tee over the print cardigan/plain tee. It took me a while to find my perfect cardigan pattern but nothing will keep me from sewing a rainbow of Blackwoods now!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Review Knipmode May 2018

Bamm! Another 25 sewing patterns and 1 knitting pattern just landed on my doormat. I can hardly keep up writing these reviews, let alone keep up with the sewing! Although Knipmode made the latter easier by producing a few boring issues in a row. Let's see what this magazine brings.

Pattern overview Knipmode May 2018

For a mid- to late spring collection again a lot of long sleeves. And just like last month, many drawstrings and belts to suggest shape in otherwise shapeless patterns. But the overall vibe is certainly less depressing and a wider range of colours, prints and shapes makes this edition definitely more interesting than its predecessor.

Dress 7, Jacket 1 and pants 3, tunic 15 (a long shirt with attached wrap)

Three versions of the same easy pattern, (22, 21 and 20) 
Quite different looks and styles. I like how the belts completely hide the elasticized waists.

Dress 23

May's designer dress is a flowy knit dress with piping along the yokes and belt.

Coat 17, culottes 10, maxi dress 8

I hope I'm not offending anyone with plans to sew is this yellow coat, but it's a strong contender for the 'Monstrosity of the Month' title. Please prove me wrong!

Coat 17, jacket 18, pants 4

Nope. Not getting any better in close-up, and imagine how long it takes to dry after a spring shower with all those pleats! It does look much better as a short jacket. It's not just the shorter length that improves the proportions. The neckline and cuffed sleeves also create a more polished look that goes  well will the slim capri pants.

Skirt 19

I had to blink a few times when I first noticed the plaid skirt. Really, Knipmode? 'Let's turn the bottom part of that yellow coat into a skirt! It would be a shame to only use those awesome pockets once!' But okay, if you're into the style I can see how it works in satin with a good drape.

Four versions of blouse 24

From crispy white cotton to drapey olive green rayon, these pictures highlight the effect of the fabric on the overall look. A nice and versatile shirt pattern. I'll put this on my to-sew list to compare this to the M6436 shirt I posted last week. I like the slimmer sleeves and it's interesting to see if my usual FBA ends up with a less gigantic dart.

Dress 5

Interesting seam lines! Six darts in the bodice, four in the skirt and one in the sleeve cap. Nice!

Dress 6

Same bodice with a pleated skirt in a lovely mix of fabrics. The pleating looks different from the line drawing, check the unfortunate placement of that pleat on top of the models hip! 

Well, overall not an earth shaking collection, but at least a few patterns that I consider making.

And now for the latest Knipmode news: remember how back in January the editors announced changing the pattern nomenclature from unique number code to female names? And we wondered how long this silliness would last? Now we know: four months. Back to numbers it is.

In other news, chief editor Peggy Weyergang will retire in July. It will be interesting to see whether the new editor has a background in fashion, publishing or marketing and whether or not she/he has affinity with sewing. More on that later when the new chief editor is announced.

Disclaimer: this review contains no affiliate links. I paid for my copy and all opinions are my own. All patterns are available as PDF over at the Knipmode shop  Photocredits: Knipmode.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

McCall's 6436 shirt in rayon crepe

A while ago I found this pretty rayon crepe fabric. Birds and flowers against a black backdrop, I just couldn't resist. I wanted to make a blouse that would showcase the lovely drape of this fabric and ordered M6436 during an online sale. It's a loose fitting shirt with front and back darts, front band, pleated two-piece sleeve with cuffs and a collar with collar stand.

I made view D and used the DDD cup size. Although I like the idea of different cup sizes I'm not too keen on the way it's executed in this pattern.

 That dart is gigantic! And it's also ending way too close to the bust point. Shortening the dart of course changes the angle of the dart legs, making it even more challenging to sew a decent looking non-pointy dart. It worked out fine with some careful pressing and of course those birds are a big help when it comes to cover up any less than perfect stitching. If I sew this pattern again I will definitely split these darts!

I used lightweight fusible interfacing for the collar to keep that soft look.

This shirt runs very long. I shortened it considerably but can't find the exact amount as my construction notes are missing. Another reminder to blog my projects as soon as they're finished!

Sleeve construction is simple. No placket, just leaving an opening in one of the sleeve seams will do. The perks of a two-pieced sleeve.

The back of this shirt is more fitted than the front. The darts provide nice shaping which of course looks more streamlined when there's not an extra layer bunching up underneath because you're freezing during a misty, moisty morning photoshoot.

The sleeves have a lot of volume, which works nicely with this drapey fabric.

One last picture of the blouse in action.

Can you tell there's a loved one behind the camera? That silly tripod on the other hand never provokes a genuine smile. Oh, and my Ames jeans, as seen in the top pictures, is no longer in one piece. Serious surgery under way! Whether surgery will be successful or not remains to be seen, update soon.

Final thoughts: 
It's a dream to wear, mainly due to the lovely fabric. This pattern absolutely needs a lightweight fabric like crepe, lace or silk to gently skim the body. The pattern runs large (and long). If I sew this again I will change that oversized dart and probably adjust the shoulders or add shoulder pads. But these are minor issues as I'm very happy with how this blouse turned out!

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Review Knipmode April 2018

Spoiler alert! We all know pattern magazines can be hit or miss. This month's Knipmode is so boring, I completely forgot to post a review. So please skip this if you've got better things to do, like sewing a pretty pattern!

Pattern overview Knipmode 4/2018

The first thing you'll notice is that the patterns don't look very seasonal appropriate. So much so that the thought occurred to me that this was a bunch of leftover patterns of any sort. We may not have the warmest of climates, but we're certainly looking forward to catching some rays of sunshine in April and we're all hoping for glorious weather on King's Day!

The fabrics and (lack of) colours add to the autumnal vibe. (Maybe the text editor missed the briefing as the text on the cover mentions "Ready for colour')

The second thing that caught my eye were the slapdash designs with heavy leaning on elastics and drawstrings for adding shape to simple rectangles.

Or how about these skirts?

Maybe the design budget was tight. Someone clever got really creative by merging jacket 13 and pants 12 into a jumpsuit. Check, another pattern done!

1 + 1 = ?

Oi, maybe the budget for sample sewing was a little tight as well!
I double checked the technical drawing to see if the wavy hem was part of the design, but nope.

It will come as no surprise that this issue was not received very well by the readers. When subscribers showed their disappointment on social media Knipmode's staff replied by asking which specific garment would make the complainers happy. I don't think it's as simple as that. When I speak for myself I can really enjoy a magazine that doesn't offer a pattern I want to make, as long as I can look at interesting seam lines, pretty details or beautiful fabrics. For me this issue fails on all aspects.

In an attempt to end at a positive note I tried to give the cover dress the benefit of the doubt.

On closer look I find this dress lacks refinement. Is it the front curve of the collar that looks off? The sleeves? The odd spacing of the buttons? Nice idea, clunky execution.
I've made a Knipmode jacket with a similar collar in 1990. It had two tiny release pleats in the collar, just above the top button, giving the front neckline a subtle curve. How I would love to see that focus on detail return!

So, no. This issue isn't for me. Fingers crossed for a better one in May because I really want to get started on sewing my spring collection!

Disclaimer (just in case anyone thinks I was sponsored to write this review ;))
This post contains no affiliate links, I paid for my copy of Knipmode and all opinions are my own.

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