Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jacket and dress III (Jacket pattern)

After deciding I need a bit more time to think over the dress - thanks for your tips, btw! -, I got going on the jacket. I decided on BWOF 2005-01, pattern no. 105.

The pattern is for a leather garment, but the (vaguely) Chanel style jacket will be made according to various Chanel-style instructions (and a few personal shortcuts) anyway, so it doesn't matter. It may have a few too many seams for the work-intensive style, the back also having four panels. But I didn't quite get my head around how to do darts on the quilted parts, so panels may be better.

I traced and cut the paper pattern in size 36, which is a bit smaller than normal, after flat-pattern-measuring according to my bust measurement, plus what is presumed to be appropriate for a fitted jacket. I want this to be really fitted to be worn cardigan-style over close-fitting tops (or the dress). In the end, I will baste-fit after quilting the parts. I really hope the quilting will work on my ancient, never-messed-with-the-tension, no-walking-foot sewing machine. Also, I hope the quilting won't eat too much width of the fabric since I wasn't able to sqeeze the recommended 4-in-seam allowances out of my fabric piece.

I still have no idea where I will get the trim. My trusty department store really has no selection beyond black, white and shiny satin. Grosgrain in the lining's color, a light green, might be nice. I don't think I'll go overboard on the Chanel-isms, such as braided trim or gold buttons, but keep it a little more subdued.

The trimming question brings me to a small Burda rant. In the May issue they plugged the website of supposedly one of Germany's biggest makers of trimmings. When going there, the website is not much more than an advertisement of their real-life store (which is not near me). Just like the online fabric store that hasn't been able to fully process my order for, oh, eight weeks or so, and will only tell me the state of things when I contact them (my customer profile shows the order "has been delivered" - right), allegedly due to lack of staff, but keeps big advertisements in Burda. I'm pretty happy with the way Burda is going, with more information on suppliers and such included, but some of that had better be useful!

As it is, I may have to make the round of fabric stores in Cologne and hope that some have a better trim selection. I'm half afraid I'll come back with more fabric, but no trim!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jacket and dress II (Dress Patterns)

First, the dress as I feel on firmer ground here!
All this talk of TNTs has really got to me, and I thought I might as well start looking for a potential TNT in my pattern search. What suits me is a higher neck, sleeveless but not strappy, knee length or so, slight A-line or straight skirt, fitted waist. As for seam lines, an empire line is nice for breaking up my long torso, but vertical lines are slimming on my lower body, so both would be o.k.
(BTW, has anyone out there discovered the golden rule on flattering a pear shape with a long torso/short legs? One set of advice always seems to contradict the other!)
Given that a flower print is always at risk of looking girlish, which is fine but not my goal in this outfit, I want the pattern to have a sleek and grown-up feel. I've been thinking of adding contrasting trim (where? how?) or, my favorite idea so far, a band of pintucks or something similar running the length of the dress. This dress from BWOF 2005-11 illustrates what I mean, although it has folds which would work on a thinner fabric but probably not on linen.
I don't particularly want the yoke either, unless it might look funny to just start the tucks at the neck?!

I have found two other suitable dress patterns that I could modify with the cut-and-spread-method.

One is BWOF 2005-3 Pattern no. 113/114. 113 is sleeveless, 114 is non-tiered. They have a sewn-on belt and drawstring waist, but the front and back pattern pieces are cut as one (no interruption at the waist). I like the high neck and the otherwise very simple cut.

Last of my prospective patterns is BWOF 2004-1, no. 111/112. 111 has epaulettes I don't want, 112 has ruching at the bottom - ditto. Other than that it is a nice, simple pattern. I'm not sure whether the vertical lines would go well with my idea of full-length vertical pintucks.
Needless to say, this clueless sewer will appreciate any input on which pattern to choose. I thought I'd also give an overview of the jacket candidates, but seeing how long this is getting I think I'll call it a night. Good night!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jacket and dress I

I have decided to return to grown-up garment sewing for a while.

The deciding factor on what to sew was this:

Yesterday I prewashed my dark linen fabrics, thinking I'd start with a skirt or pants from my tentative summer sewing plan. I love it when the weather finally gets warm enough for outside line drying again! Isn't this a sight after every fabric lover's heart?

Ironically, while the dark linens were drying outside in the sun, I shifted around some of my unwashed stash and happened upon a fabric combination I'd never thought of so far:

The boucle fabric has been bought with, well, not even the plan, but the wish to someday make a chanel-style jacket. The flowery linen print was bought for a long, flowing linen dress. Seeing the two together in these, for me, perfect spring colors, has crystallized my plan as follows:

Make a chanel-style jacket, not allowing myself to be held back by perfectionism and lack of experience, as well as I'm able to at this moment. Make a sheath dress to go with the jacket. Hopefully, finish both before spring turns into summer.

As somebody said on their blog: Challenge yourself. There's always more fabric if it doesn't work out.

In order to motivate myself, I'll document my process here in detail. I've given some thought to choosing patterns and style; more on that to come.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bunny shirt II

Without further ado, here's my son's bunny shirt:
With what we call a "kangaroo pocket" on the front. (I'm not sure, but I might have gotten carried away a little with the decoration.)

For some reason, although (or because?) I took more time and care with this than with my daughter's shirt, it went together quite wonky - the sleeves didn't fit right, the neck is a bit tight, the seams are a bit crooked.
Oh well. He likes it and wears it. (Yes, I know Easter is over. I'm not sure he does, though. DD and DS sang Christmas songs well into February.)

The fabric's a wonderful cotton jersey, thick and stretchy and colorful, called "Campan jersey" by the fabric brand Hilco. The borders, as usual, by Farbenmix. No pattern, just copied and altered one of his RTW shirts. Made the pocket big enough for his favorite soft toy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ludwig Leichhardt

This is a completely off-topic post for my Australian readers. I know there are a couple of you out there from your comments...

(Leichhardt's bust; there are two - the other is in Australia)

This Easter, were visited my brother and his family in the federal state of Brandenburg, eastern Germany (former GDR), in the little village of Trebatsch.
(Church documentation of Leichhardt's birth)
Now I'd bet that no German blog reading sewer has ever heard of this tiny spot on the map, but it appears to be quite famous in Australia due to the fact that it is the birth place of Ludwig Leichhardt, who was one of the great discoverers on the Australian continent 1842-1848 (
(Findings and documentation from his first expedition)
Thursday evening we shared a spot by the Easter bonfire with the former mayor who is also a member of the local Leichhardt Society. He gave us an exclusive tour of the Leichhardt museum and told us of this fascinating man.

Another example of how small the world really is. I hope you enjoy the detour and the pictures. Oh, and whether you spent the holidays sewing or visiting - I hope you had a Happy Easter!
(Between the 1930's and '40's Trebatsch was for a short while named "Leichhardt".
The picture shows the Leichhardt family)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dutch fabric markets

Sunday afternoon, we went to the fabric market. DH and the kids went for ice cream, I went for fabric. Luckily, fabric markets are usually held in the town squares, where there are ice cream cafés nearby!

I was a little disappointed. Having mentioned the fabric markets before, I wanted to bring you really nice pictures that capture all the fabric goodness. Not quite.

One, I had the impression there wasn't as much fabric goodness at this market than at other markets I've been to. This might have something to do with the fact that I went with a budget in mind and had hoped to find good deals on staples such as cotton prints, denim, linen, jerseys. Lots and lots of prints in cotton and jersey, yes, at a price, but very few solids and none of the fabric market stalls I'd met elsewhere, with jerseys in all colors of the rainbow (and cottons, linens, woollens...) at cut-rate prices.

Second, it was hard to capture the size and atmosphere of the place in photos without climbing a tree (there were none) (not that I would have)... or being a really good photographer, I guess.

Still, these fabric markets are a great invention, Dutch as far as I know (roughly 2/3 of the dealers are from Holland), and I know of regions in Germany that don't have them and envy us greatly! I'd guess that there are about 30-40 stalls in all, between 2 and 10 yards long, and packed with fabric. A lot of these are "trendy" prints and brands, and I did not see competitive prices here - they were all more or less the same.

A sight to behold: the big notions stall. You almost get vertigo trying to tell which side is up in there!
Oh, and these are my fabric market stash additions.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kids' fabric loot and pants

First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone who has commented on my blog so far (and thank you for the especially nice comments on the girl's dress!). There are so many great blogs to read and comment on and only so many hours in a day, so I appreciate everyone who takes time to respond to a newbie blogger like me!

Yesterday, I chose to spend the spare hours in my day not blog reading, but sewing - again - girls' stuff - again. Will I be able to stop when fabric runs out? No, wait, I ordered more, so it won't. Oh well!

My dd is growing out of everything at the moment, plus with the weather warming up she needs lots more playground clothes, so I decided to sew up a quick pair of pants. It really isn't quite as crooked as it looks in the pictures, but it's a quick little number, having traced off an existing pair, altered for the simplest elastic waist, and only putting on some topstitching, back pockets, borders and appliqués for interest (without it I'd have finished in half the time, though, but where's the fun in that?).

My ds is getting jealous, so I ordered some more jersey in boy colors for a promised bunny shirt. Happily, he isn't at 5yo tuned into what's "cool" or "manly" yet, so I'll let him wear bunnies for as long as it lasts!

I might use the green/pink flowered buttons for last post's dress; I don't know what I'll do with the iron-on angel yet, and the borders... well, I just order them every chance I get.

All of it from

("Herzilein" means little heart)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

TNT? Ottobre Girl's dress

Well, I may have to work on the TNT concept a little bit. I had sewn this pattern exactly one year ago ( It's actually a baby-sized pattern, but I loved the nostalgic look and, with slight modification, fit it for my DD, then 2 years old. My pattern parts are marked "width 80", which is 1yo size, and "length 92", for a 2yo. Since children mostly put on length not width after the baby years, this worked fine. DD wore it first as a knee-length dress. She still fits into it, but wears it more as a top over pants now, a look I also adore on little girls (and a lot more playground-friendly than a dress alone).
Such a lengthy intro. All to say that altering patterns and then blindly further altering may go against the whole TNT idea which is to cut down on trial and error. I altered last year's pattern by ca. 2 inches in width (I know, what was I thinking? But 2 in. width is only 1/2 in. on every pattern part when cut on the fold, which is where I went wrong). Also, about 2 in. in length. The length was fine, but it was much too wide. I had, of course, constructed most of the dress and the lining at the point that I noticed this, so I took it in at the side seams as much as possible, and that's that. It is a little billowy now in a charming early 1900's way (or so tell myself). On the other hand, DD has decided to go all diva on me and doesn't want to wear just any lovingly constructed garment made for her anymore. Oh well. On to new shores.

A few cold, hard facts:
Ottobre kids fashion 1/2008 pattern no. 3 "Baby Deer Apron Top"

  • Soft small-whale corduroy from the Dutch fabric market (I just found out I missed this year's first fabric markets in my area, and almost cried!) for ca. 5 € per metre
  • Poly lining remnant from another project I never managed to sew up
  • Cotton mermaid lining fabric: Mendocino by Heather Ross quilting fabric. I love these quilting cottons and not being a quilter (so far) have to think up ways to use them so I have an excuse for buying, especially since they are so expensive in Germany (around 15-18€ per metre)!
  • Scraps and double-sided iron-on interfacing for the birds (drawn freehand) and flowers; border by Farbenmix .
What I did differently:
The pattern has you line only the bodice which ends in the middle of the armhole, and on the rest of the armhole turn under the SA and stitch. I did this last time, and it looked very untidy, so I added binding after having the dress constructed which is a pain on tiny armholes. So this time around, and since I mean for DD to wear this as a dress, I decided on a full lining, which really facilitated a tidy construction.

As you can see in the pictures, I have not yet added buttons since I am undecided: Apricot? Blue? Or hunt for more whimsical buttons?


Blog Widget by LinkWithin