Closet Case Kalle (and working with cupro)

This is the Kalle shirtdress by Closet Case Patterns. I sewed up View C (dress-length) with the standard collar and regular placket, in a size 8 with no modifications. I used a luxurious black cupro/viscose blend from Blackbird Fabrics.

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my cool-mom coat

I’ve always been pretty over-ambitious. When I caught the sewing bug, I thought, well let’s get started on overhauling my entire wardrobe. When I got pregnant, I started scheming to sew all my own maternity clothes. Coats, jeans, lingerie, I could do it all. Sometimes this overconfidence worked out terribly. Like, hmm, let’s say I don’t quite have a fully me-made wardrobe yet (although in the few years that I’ve been sewing, I’ve learned to cut myself some slack). Sometimes it works out okay, like when I sewed my first coat pretty early into my self-taught sewing journey.

I was so proud of my first coat, a Cascade duffle coat by Grainline Studio that fit my nine-month-belly and beyond. I had made it in a very cheap wool/poly (heavy on the poly) blend that I got for 1 euro per meter at a shop that was going out of business. It was meant to be a low-stakes, “What have I got to lose?” first version of a coat, to get me through my biggest waistline and prepare me for my second, real coat.

Cut to two years later. The coat is too big and the wool is pilling. I’m reminded every time I put it on that I skipped the toggles and badly screwed up the zipper shield. Plus, it doesn’t keep the wind out (even though I interlined it). Time to finally get around to that new coat!

I started planning this last September when I spotted some luscious grey cashmere wool at a fabric store specializing in designer deadstock. I bought the fancy interfacing (from the UK because I haven’t found good interfacing in Belgium yet?!) and a Craftsy class on tailoring to make sure I would do it right. An exhaustive pattern search to find the dream coat led me to the Named Gaia coat pattern.

And all of this is to say, that coat isn’t finished yet. I’m an Obliger at heart and powered by deadlines, so February’s Sew My Style challenge, the Rumana coat from By Hand London, was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to finally replace my maternity coat with a stylish (and warm!) coat.

The fabric is an 80/20 wool/poly blend from I bought 3.5m, and the project nearly ended there after it was delivered to the wrong house and both Bpost and the vendor were terribly unhelpful.

I cut out the US10/UK14 with no alterations. I’m 5’8″ and was smitten with the idea of a long, sweeping coat, so I had no qualms about the length. I referenced the finished measurements and felt like I could get away without any fit adjustments. You could probably squeak out the same size from 3 meters (as long as your fabric doesn’t have a directional print or nap), as I still have a solid scrap piece. I’m thinking a mini-skirt (Shauni’s recent make is inspiring!) would be lovely.

I followed the instructions pretty closely for the interfacing, but added an extra piece of heavier interfacing on the lapel, and a small strip to follow the roll line. I didn’t follow any particular techniques in making this decision, but I think I absorbed some bits and pieces from that Craftsy lesson.

I hand-embroidered a marigold design on the front facings. This was my first time doing embroidery and it was really enjoyable! I also stitched my initials into the back neck facing and added a hanging loop and little buttons on the inside to stabilize the big buttons.

If I could do this over, I would’ve picked a different lining. Don’t get me wrong; it’s beautiful! One side is a shocking pink with fine white pinstripes, and the reverse is stripes in variating widths in navy, white, pink and orange. This mystery fabric cost me A LOT (from same designer fabric store), but the weft is honestly made of hopes and dreams, because it quickly disintegrated in reality. After much internal struggle and Instagram Story polls, I decided to power through, interface all seam allowances (and darts) and give an offering to the Sewing Gods. In the photos below, you can see the threads just fainting away from the fabric, it just can’t bear to hold on as a unified piece.

And here’s the moment where I’m ‘birthing’ the coat through the opening in the hem, you can see how I made use of every.goddamn.scrap. of interfacing to strengthen my seams.

I had some hiccups with the construction and required a lot of Googling to get through. I don’t say this as a negative though; I’m not a very experienced coat-maker. There’s not much about making a coat that hasn’t already been covered in a clear, illustrated/photographed/video-taped tutorial somewhere else on the internet, so use it to your advantage!

I’ve mostly shunned my Cascade since finishing my Rumana, though I am missing the coverage I get from the duffle coat; not having a hood or full closure over my legs/hips has made biking to work even less enjoyable, but I suppose that’s the price of fashion!.

Definitely the toughest parts were:
– Deciding on materials and parting with so much money on quality fabric
– Taping together and cutting out 96 pages of non-layered PDFs (why isn’t everybody making PDF patterns layered yet?!)
– Cutting all the fabric
– Interfacing all the fabric
– To a much lesser extent, the construction of the vent and lining, and the hemming process were also difficult, but came together way more quickly than all of the above-listed steps.

(Very glad this shoddy hem job is locked away inside the lining, hidden forever.)

Sensing a theme? Prepping the coat was WAY more difficult than sewing the coat itself. Plus, wool is L-O-V-E-L-Y to sew. Zero seam ripping with the sleeves, collar, etc. Everything just eased in beautifully and without puckers.

A couple more full-length shots for the full effect.

Parting thoughts? I love how it turned out! I might not make another one, at least not for a while, because my coat pattern stash overflows with other great designs and I should really finish up the Gaia. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy waltzing around like someone who’s chic and put-together and maybe not hoarding crackers and small toys and wadded up tissues in her pockets.

Everything I made in 2017

Let’s just get last year out of the way in one fell swoop, shall we? Here’s (mostly) everything I made in 2017 (photographed in a single nap-time, hence the same hair and repetitive poses!).
— Four Neenahs (from Seamwork): the red is truest to the pattern (with some length removed at the hem), the grey ribbed version has a shortened collar and sleeves, and the yellow one has no sleeves, a gathered skirt, and pockets(!!!).

I also shortened one into a shirt and added ruffles to the sleeves (it’s too short though, so I usually only wear it tucked into a high-waisted skirt).

— Four Nettie bodysuits (from Closet Case Patterns): my favorite versions are these two that I added a turtleneck to (borrowing some of the shoulder shape and neckline from the Neenah pattern), worn with a Colette Phoebe (love! this! so! much!) and an as-yet-unreleased pattern from Just Patterns that I tested (the black one above is the same skirt). These are winter staples for me!

I also made a high-neck/scooped-back version in black & white checks, and a scooped-neck/scooped-back version in white ribbing and contrast grey neck and sleeve bands. Both shown here with Flint pants from Megan Nielsen (which I’ve unfortunately over-fit and they’re a bit tight, but I have another pair on the way!).

— Two Astorias (from Seamwork): the striped one is a straight Medium and the black one is a heavily altered Large (SBA, etc.) that made me realize that the Medium is perfectly fine after all. I love both of these, since this silhouette is basically my cool-weather work uniform.
Grainline Alder (shortened to shirt length): the fabric is a bit to heavy, so everything feels a bit stiff, but it’s fine to wear underneath sweaters. I also have a habit of making buttonholes too small (I’m constantly worried about making them too big) and this one is difficult to button because of it.
— In the Folds Peplum Top, free from Peppermint Magazine. Love love love this top! Warning to any fellow tall gals (I’m 5’8″/168cm), I added a decent amount of length and it still feels quite short, but also beware of simply extending the A-shape when you’re lengthening it, or you might look like you’re wearing a tent. I love the V-shape of the back and the construction techniques.
— Linda wrap dress from Just Patterns: I got to test this pattern, I’m looking forward to warmer weather to bring this out again!
— Reversible bomber jacket, a free pattern from Mood Fabrics. I had an idea for this whole ensemble for a 70’s themed beach party last August. It’s still Belgium, so the weather was quite chilly once the sun set, and the jacket and longer bottoms were perfect. I hit some snags following the instructions on this pattern, there is not much hand-holding to get you through that square corner! But I managed and the result is true to my vision. Not sure how much everyday wear this will get though, as it’s a bit costume-y. It took me forever to find iron-on letter patches though! These were from
— A pair of red plaid flannel pajamas using the Kate bias top from Just Patterns (another pattern I tested), and the free Julio pants pattern from Make My Lemonade.
— I made two Orla dresses (free pattern from French Navy Patterns), one of them was balled up in a fit of frustration and never finished, so I only I have photos of this one. It’s such an easy dress to wear though, really looking forward to wearing it again!
— This is technically a refashion, but it has resulted in something that works so much better for my wardrobe that I’m including it here. It was a dress, but as a dress it was too short and made it look like I was wearing a kid’s dress. I re-hemmed it into a peplum and wear it much more often.
— A basic white jersey Agnes top from Tilly and the Buttons, not much more to say about this except it just works well in my wardrobe!
— A Mesa dress (from Seamwork), a great simple summer staple. The fabric was a nice find from Girl Charlee UK, a really soft cotton jersey that unfortunately seems out of stock.
— And, rounding out with things that didn’t get photographed: One bra (Sierra from Madalynne) two panties (Celeste from OhhhLulu and Maxine from Evie la Luve), a onesie for Tilda, a t-shirt (traced from an existing one) and pair of pants (the Jim Jogging from Ikatee) for Darwin, a Toaster sweater (Sew House 7), two (“self drafted” aka, rectangles) skirts out of the same lovely material that didn’t work and are awaiting new life in the refashion pile, a Named Sointu that has been perpetually sitting in my ‘in progress’ pile, oven mitts for Darwin and Tilda for their play kitchen, and another Kate bias top.
In total, I made 36 things last year! I’m pretty impressed with myself. Summer was especially productive; those dresses can get sewn up in snap! Not all of them have turned out to be winners, but I can tell that I’m really improving my sewing and figuring out my rhythm with planning and executing projects.
What about you, did you total up your makes from last year? Share your numbers with me and let’s swap virtual high-fives!

2018 Make Nine

Maybe it’s cheating a bit, but my 2018 Make Nine (it’s essentially a very loosely enforced year-long challenge to sew nine garments, started by Rochelle at Lucky Lucille) is mostly made up of pieces that I totally intended to sew in 2017. I already own most of the patterns, I already have most of the fabrics, and I even partially cut out one of them already.

  1. Amsterdam blazer by Orageuse Patterns: When this pattern was released, I was obsessed. I didn’t buy it right away because I’m trying to buy fewer patterns (eye-roll, I know), but I thought about it for weeks and weeks. I’ve wanted to copy a loose-fitting, straight-cut RTW blazer for the longest time, but it seemed like such an undertaking that I never got around to it. (The original blazer had a busted lining.) Finally, the pattern went on sale and I took the plunge. I even printed out the PDF and stuck it together already, which was no small feat at 41 pages. I bought some cheap striped suiting to do the first version. Orageuse rates it as a 5/5 Advanced pattern (eek!) so I don’t want to botch my first version on an expensive fabric!
    Maisa Denim Jacket - Named 2018-01-07 12-38-04
  2. Maisa denim jacket by Named Patterns: I’ve already had two pairs of Farrell’s old jeans set aside for this for nearly a year. I think what has been stopping me so far is I’m worried that I won’t have enough denim. The easy solution (since the pattern is already printed and prepared) is to just check the dang thing, but so far it’s been a friction point, you know?
  3. Mona moto jacket by Make My Lemonade: I managed to get my hands on this pattern when the monthly patterns were still free (Does anybody else remember that!?). It’s been stewing in my mind since then and I feel like this is the year for it. I’m debating between making an unlined version in a stable knit (she recommends that the fabric have a bit of stretch) or sizing up and making a quilted wool version with a lining (which would be good, since linings are one of my reSEWlutions for 2018).
  4. Karri dress by Megan Nielsen Patterns: I’m going to try to rip off a dress I’ve had on Pinterest for a while now, with a greyscale Liberty print and some neon yellow piping.
  5. Ginger jeans by Closet Case Patterns: I’ve had these partially cut out for, yeah… over a year. In my defense, I started a different jeans pattern while I was pregnant (what was I thinking?), then I bought the Ginger jeans and got through cutting a single leg before putting it to the side. My body was still very much changing size and, maybe you know how it goes, pregnancy, newborn, infant, and NO time. Now I’m back in a good rhythm and looking forward to getting back to this project! I’m starting with stretch denim that’s dark indigo on one side and a beautiful burgundy on the other, I’m not sure which side I’ll use!
  6. Dahlia dress by Colette Patterns: I have an amazing dark navy wool set aside for this, but just like the Maisa, I’m not totally positive I have enough fabric for this pattern, but otherwise I can easily swap another one. I can totally spare some of the four meters of this blue plaid I have.
  7. Men’s button-up: This will be the year that I make a garment for my husband. I’ll probably use a pattern from Free Sewing because, uh, hello? Free patterns made to your measurements. He has already claimed a pink plaid that I had mentally put aside for a 90s-style mini skirt, so we will really test my selfless sewing limits. He wants a cowboy shirt with pearl snaps.
    The Chelsea Collection – Simple Sew 2018-01-07 13-20-26
  8. Denim mini with jeans buttons: These were everywhere last year and I got my hands on this Simple Sew pattern through a destash sale, but I don’t quite have a denim in my stash that will work for it. A miniskirt won’t take much fabric, so maybe once I get the Gingers settled,  I’ll use leftovers from one of those to make a skirt.
  9. Pretty lingerie: I am super into the idea of making lingerie, but I’ve had a tough time getting over a couple obstacles: finding supplies is hard, and fitting my very small bobbins (wink!) to the pattern designers’ blocks has been frustrating. Plus, I want to make show-stoppers. Pretty, lacy, cut-outs, sheer, and all that. I want to be one of those girls that wears fantastic undergarments all the time. I am convinced that it’s attainable, but I may need to go down the drafting-it-myself route and research, learn, try, fail, and repeat times a billion until I get there. (inspiration photos from: Suzy Black NYC, Ledabynight wearing Urban Bird, Aniela Parys, shared by Telio Fashion but source unknown, amorzeberlin wearing Don’t Look lingerieEvgenia LingeriePetra Lingerie, Thistle and Spire, Sacha Kimmes)

Totally ambitious? Yes. I’m not holding myself to definitely get all of these done, but I feel like something finally shifted this year that allowed me to get into a better rhythm with sewing (it’s called: house renovations calmed down, and my youngest is now two years old!), so I do feel realistic about getting these projects completed. Plus, I want to do this, so the only challenge is making the time for it.

Are you coming up with a Make Nine for this year, or will you wing it for 2018?

2018 reSEWlutions

Well, hi there. It’s December (Merry Christmas!) and I’m finally revisiting this space. I’ve managed to get in a better rhythm with my sewing routine and have probably had my most productive year since I started sewing. But with a full-time job and two small kids and work travel and family travel, I knew that if I wanted to have sewing time, it meant cutting out nearly everything else that wasn’t as important to me. I even swore off of Netflix for a whole month!

All of that is to say that I’ve been sewing, but not blogging, because blogging required time that I did not have. But it’s December, which, for me, means that I will be hopelessly romanticizing the coming year and all of the raw potential it holds for accomplishing the things that I did not do during 2017. (You should see the notebook I filled up last December with the plans for the specialty fabric and notions shop that I was going to like, for sure launch this year.)

I’ve thought about a couple of sewing goals that I have for the coming year. Some are pretty specific and attainable, some are more vague and aspirational:

1. V-necks

I have not attempted many v-necks, but they’re one of my favorite necklines to wear. I have a cami pattern that I love, with a slight v-neck, but whenever I’ve made it, I’ve felt it comes out wrinkly. I want to conquer v-necks once and for all.

2. Linings

Maybe it’s kind of like second-sock syndrome with knitting, but whenever I’m making a lined garment, the fact that I have sewn the entire shell and then have to (in most cases) sew the entire thing again in a more delicate, shifty fabric, and then attach the two pieces in a very precise way so that the lining isn’t poking out or causing the garment to hang incorrectly…? It drives me bonkers. I’ve sewn a few linings and whenever I’m done I reflect on the garment and always think, “Man, I kinda wish the lining wasn’t there to f**k this thing up.” But I will win this fight, dammit. I have a lot more coats in my future.

3. A well-fitting bra

I am practically flat-chested. No, really, my high bust is about 89cm and my full bust is around 90cm (on a good day). In terms of self-esteem, I’m really quite okay with this, but I just want a bra that fits me well. Self-drafted might be the way to go!

4. Embellishments and details

(6) Pinterest 2017-12-17 21-16-24

I have a Pinterest board called “sewing details” (I bet you have a similar one, too) where I collect images of cute, fun, unique details on clothes that I would want to copy some day. An embroidered collar. A contrast placket. An asymmetrical yoke. Enough pinning them, time to start doing them. The way to do this is through planning; I’ll have to think about the finished garment and the steps involved for these quirky details before I cut into my fabric.

5. Getting more involved with the sewing community

I’m already taking a first step with this one. I’m a total Instagram creeper, but I want to be more involved with the sewing community! I’m taking on a billion+1 sewing challenges, I’m pattern testing, I’d like to get back into blogging, and maybe (this is a bit of a stretch) even venture into vlogging. *gulp!* And can I even tell you a secret? This one is the ultimate stretch goal, but I’d love to vlog in Dutch. (Hey, Kirstin, how is your Dutch anyway? Totally abysmal, even after living for 4 years in a Dutch-speaking country.)

What about you, what are your sewing goals for 2018?