Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A golden eyelet Hawthorn

Hello everyone!

I am still catching up on me-made garments I made for the summer. Today will be a little bit more classic.

In May, we attended the phD defence of Mister’s sister. This took place in a beautiful building from the university of Utrecht, NL. I don’t know how these events are organised in other countries, but this is quite prestigious here and you have to dress up a little.

I wanted to make a nice dress with a classic style. I already had the fabric in my stash: a beautiful golden cotton eyelet and I just needed to pick the pattern. I went back and forth between different ideas but I ended up wanting a fitted bust with short sleeves, and a flared skirt. In the end, I decided to use Colette’s Hawthorn. I liked the simple silhouette and the classic details (a flat collar, the button-up front).


I cut a size 18 and graded up to a virtual 20 from the waist down. For more fitted skirts, I would grade up to 22 at the hips but this was not necessary with this semi-circle shape. I also added a little bit of width around the biceps.


I am very happy with the end result! The buttons add a subtle effect that is very flattering. I chose to wear it with a thin contrasting belt. For some reason, the dress looks a little bit too plain without that belt.

Due to the nature of the fabric (eyelet), I had to underline most pattern pieces with a golden rayon. For the top, I lined the front and back pattern pieces, simply copying the shape of the fashion fabric. For the skirt, I did not have enough lining for a semi-circle, so I did a dirndl skirt that I attached at the waist.


The day of the defence was beautiful and we walked around in Utrecht. I felt very special. I must admit that high heels on old fashioned European streets is not the comfiest kind of walking, but sometimes, you just have to get on with it…

We took the pictures in the little patio hidden in the old faculty building where the reception took place. It has beautiful open corridors all around and has an old church feeling to it. 

All in all, I am very pleased with the Hawthorn. I will definitely make it again, after my belly stops growing and (hopefully) shrinking. I would like to try a nice winter version, with longer sleeves and contrasting buttons.

I find it very funny to see these photos taken in June because my boday already changed quite a bit and this dress absolutely does not work with the bump. I am really looking forward to wearing it again because it made me feel so ladylike!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Anemone grading notes

Hello everyone,

After last week’s post on the Anemone skirt, many of you have asked for more details on how I upgraded the pattern. I will try to provide you more information below and document it with pictures. To me, the whole process is quite easy and I do it on a “auto-pilot” mode. This is why I may skip things that you would like to see. If that’s the case, just send me a question and I will reply as quickly as possible.

Before we get started, you can have a look at this post I wrote a while ago. Tanya has also written a very nice article about the same subject. It is very clear.

With every project, I basically follow the same guidelines.

1.       Take my measurements
2.       Write them down next to the size chart of the company I am using
3.       Calculate the amount of virtual sizes I need to add to what they already offer
4.       Transform the pattern pieces accordingly (drawing on the printed version)
5.       If necessary, transfer it onto pattern paper (if the pattern pieces overlap)
6.       Make a muslin if I am not used to the company or if the design is intricate.

What I did with the Anemone

Steps 1 to 3: I have put all the information in the table below. As you can see, I chose to grade only 5 sizes at the hips even if my measurements indicated a “plus 6”. There are a few reasons for that:

-          If you look at the shape of the skirt, it has more ease around the hips
-          I wanted to keep the proportions of the pattern
-          Grading up 6 sizes frightened me a little
-          I carry more weight in the lower tummy area, and if I need more space, I can add a bit of ease along the front seams

Deer&Doe sizes
Bust31 1/23334 1/236 1/437 3/439 1/241
Waist23 1/225 1/426 3/428 1/23031 1/233
Hip33 3/435 1/23738 1/240 1/441 3/443 1/4
Virtual sizesUpgrading info
plus 1plus 2plus 3plus 4plus 5plus 6MEGrading
Bust43 1/24645 1/2plus 2
Waist34 1/23637 1/23941 1/240plus 5
Hip44 3/446 1/447 3/449 1/450 3/452 1/452plus 5?

Step 4: The Deer and Doe patterns come printed on large thick paper sheets. This makes it very easy to draw the alternative lines around the actual pieces. As explained in this post, I measure the distance between two sizes, and add it up, drawing little dots where the pattern line would be if it was graded all the way to the size I need. In other words, I am doing what a pattern software would do if they had to add more sizes.

Disclaimer: this is not the ideal way, in a perfect world, larger sizes would be calculated from another block, with slightly different proportions.
I usually try to go for the grading even if it is not the most accurate version you could have. It worked in most of my past attempts.

Example of grading along the waist.

The best way to go with curves is to measure at small intervals to make sure you capture the actual curvy design.

In some cases, the piece of paper is too small, I usually finish that small part when I draw onto Swedish paper.

Step 5: As you can see on the first general picture, a few pieces overlapped after I added sizes. The best you can do is to copy them onto Swedish paper.

Step 6: In this case, I made a muslin. I have not taken any picture of it (I feel silly now). It worked for me so I went ahead and cut my fashion fabric. I am super happy with the end result!

As I explained in last week’s post, I added a couple of features to the instructions: a lining and boning. Both steps were quite easy.
For the lining, I simply used the same pattern pieces (excluding peplums) as for the fashion fabric. I just shortened them by a few inches.

Sorry for this non-ironed-version :)

For the boning, I have cut 6x 4 inches of Rigilene boning pieces. All I had to do is sew it with the machine within the seam allowances of the fashion fabric
The seams were pinked after that...

And there you go! That’s how I worked around the size chart limitations :)
Not too hard heh?

Was this post helpful to you? If so, what type of info helped you the most? Let me know so I can try to include it in the future.
If you feel that some information is missing, what would you like me to include?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A spring Anemone

HI everyone,

Before indulging in my maternity wardrobe planning, I want to show my me-made-summer pretty things (at the moment, there is only one of them that still fits my little bump). I want to start with one of my favourite skirts ever: my Anemone!

As you may know, I fell in love with the beautiful patterns from ElĂ©onore at Dear&Doe. It all started when I used their free Plantain back in January and March. Since then, I have finished 4 versions of it! But that’s another story… When you look at the patterns, they all really appeal to me because they look very flattering, cute and pretty.

I have however pondered about ordering (or not) to D&D for a long time because their size chart is not very large. Their larger size is 41in at the bust, 33 at the waist, and 43 at the hips. This means I would need to upgrade 3 sizes at the bust, 4 or 5 at the waist, and 5 or 6 at the hips (depending on patterns). Even after my many adventures in the upgrading world, I wondered if  wanted to invest into Indie patterns (and the price that goes with them) for woven fabrics with such a high risk of oopsies.

Well, one day, I just decided to try and I ordered the Anemone skirt pattern. I simply love the side peplums and the high waist, I thought it would really work for me. A colleague of mine also convinced me. That’s a funny story actually. I was checking patterns during my lunch break and I had the Anemone website window open. My colleague arrived behind me and said “Oh, that one is really something you would wear!”. I guess my colleagues see me as a peplum kind of girl…

Anyway, I ordered the pattern and I really enjoyed the packaging. It comes with two instructions booklets, one in French, one in English. It felt very odd, because if I am a native French Speaker, most of my sewing vocabulary is in English… The pattern is printed on a very large thick white paper that makes it really easy to measure and play around with upgrades. Would you guys be interested in seeing pictures of the pattern + the grading annotations I made?

I graded up 5 sizes at the waist and at the hips, to try out because I wanted to try and keep similar proportions to the ones of the original pattern. The muslin was quite nice (I forgot to document it) so I adopted these adjustments. My first idea was to sew a white skirt that I would be able to  use during spring and summer. I had the perfect fabric in my stash but I was afraid to use it directly because I wanted to use a few tricks I had not done with the muslin: add a lining, and add some boning along the seams around the high-waist. I feared that that portion of the dress would roll down and plastic boning would be a very simple solution for that. I decided to use some old cotton my grand ma gave me. She bought it 20 years ago for something like 2 EUROS a meter. What happened next is very funny. I fell in love with the end product! What I thought would barely become a wearable muslin became one of my favourite skirts ever! I love all the colours you can combine this skirt with, and there are some really pretty golden lines hidden in the pattern of the fabric.

I really like the way this pattern cheats and makes me look like I have a much narrower waistline! And oddly enough a flatter belly...

To make the lining, I just used the basic pieces of the skirt and shortened them. I really needed a lining because the waist is very adjusted and I wanted to make sure I could slip this on easier. I was also planning to wear it on colder days with tights.

We took the pictures back in May when we went to spend a week end with my family in Belgium. We were in a cute little town called Durbuy where you can still walk amongst medieval little streets and beautiful grey stone houses. They also do yummy ice creams in the summer and tasty warm wine in the winter if you are around!

Have you ever been to Belgium or Durbuy?
What is the largest grading you ever made?
Do you want to see the grading notes on the pattern? 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Happy news!

Hello Earth, here I am !

This post is going to be about happy news.
As you may have seen, I have been out of the blogosphere for a few months now. So much has happened since then !

Headline ! 

The Curvy Sewing Collective website was launched and it is getting a wonderful response ! I hope you have all visited it !

More news ! 

I went on a great vacation and I have lots of photos to share with you : what I wore, the mini-capsule I have put together and even some pretty sights. You can expect more finished projects in the coming weeks.

Chania harbour

Gossip Page ! 

I actually have a pretty good reason for vacating the sewing web world. It is now 18 weeks old and kicking...

Echo at 12 weeks

Saturday, May 17, 2014

An Olive in Red Roses

Hello everyone ! I am back today with another great blogtour !

A few weeks ago, Amity from Lolita patterns contacted some members of the Curvy Sewing Collective to see if we would be interested in trying her brand new pattern: the Olive . I, of course, volunteered !

First, let's talk a little bit about Lolita patterns. Amity's designs are directed for a professional wardrobe. They are also super cute and girly. Now, they are pioneers in catering for us curvy ladies with patterns up to a 24 ! Their latest creation, the Olive is a beautiful blouse with two views. The bust piece is shaped with princess seams, a waistband and a pleated peplum is added below. There are also 3/4 sleeves.

Now, as you know, I am trying to focus on certain fabric colors for the summer. I promised Mister I would not buy anything extra but I really needed another fabric for this project. I directly thought of some pieces of a beautiful Liberty fabric I had in my stash. For the little story, I had made a maxi dress with it but I was quite disappointed with the end look (I never blogged about it). This blouse was the perfect time to finally use it !

I cut a size 16 at the shoulders and bust and graded up to a 18 at the waist. I kept the 18 for the peplum as it has quite some ease. I did not have to change anything to the fit. The princess seams fell just right and the ease in the peplum was enough to accomodate my wider lower stomach/hip line.

I chose View B because I did not have enough of my beautiful fabric for view A. And the busy print of the roses would not show the flouncy details well enough. I also added some piping along the seams of the waistband to mark the line a little bit more.

I really like this blouse. Here, I wear it with black trousers but it also works great with a pencil skirt. I wore the Olive tucked in a maxi skirt the other day and it is a great option too ! I love the hourglass shape it gives me !

My favorite details are the sleeve caps. They are very girly. I also really like the neckline facing. I made mine in a skin color lining fabric.

We took the pictures in our garden. It is now full with beautiful roses everywhere !

I will probably make the Olive again, but this time with short sleeves for the summer. I would also add a couple of centimeters to the bust pieces.

Now, if you want to see more creations, please check out the other blog tour participants ! And if you feel that this pattern is something for you, Amity offers a 15% discount during Sewing Indie Month !

Leila 13th
Carolyn 14th
Maria 15th
Ping 16th and 24th
Hannah 19th
Laurie 21st
Katrina 22nd
T 23rd

Who is planning on making an Olive?
Have you ever salvaged the fabric from a failed project?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Making it work, Mabel edition !

Hi everyone !

The Curvy Colette blog tour is finished and Jenny wrote a wonderful round up post. I had a lot of fun in the process of sewing my Mabel and Moneta. It has been a great experience and it is only the start of something much bigger that will come to you very very soon !

Now ! Time for a little behind the scenes oopsy. My first attempt at the Mabel went slightly wrong. I do not have any photo to document the « before » stage, mainly because it was hurting my vanity. Now, as you saw on our posts, we all used a pretty thick knit to smoothe the curves and lumps. Well, I got a bad start, completely ignoring the idea. See, my approach was to go for a print that would take the eye where I would want the eye to go. I thought I found the perfect print : a beautiful pannel with amazing colours. Well no...

It went very wrong. The fabric was way too thin to wrap smoothly around my curves. It clung to them instead. Even if I had cut a size larger. You must already understand how sad I was... I loved that fabric but it was amost impossible to salvage anything or rip out the stitches. Due to the pannelled nature of the print, I only had barely enough for the skirt, and no leftover. I racked my brains and tried to remember if I had a pattern that would fit within the leftover parts. Nothing...

Then I started thinking that I really liked the waist peices, with the lining. Would there be any possible way to keep it ? Than I flipped it over and I had a eureka moment !

What if it became a top ! What if I did not have to rip any stitches ! Yes Yes Yes ! It could actually work ! What if I stitched my former hem on the sides, to create shoulder seems... And what if I cut armholes on my former side seems ???

It took me 15 minutes to flip this skirt into a top ! And you know what ? It worked magically... The pannel print work beautifully as a blouse. The fabric that was the source of the skirt clinginess became the reason why this top has a beautiful drape. The waist stayed a waist. The stripes along the form hem became a great shoulder line. I am so happy about this mishap turned success !

A shoe parting shot :)

What about you lovely ladies (and gents?), have you ever had a "make it work" moment? If so, it would be great if you could link it, I would love to see where your imagination led you!

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