Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mad for stripes!

Just as there are "cat" and "dog" people, I believe there are "dots" and "stripes" people, and I am the latter. Although I do occasionally wear clothed with polka dots, stripes occupy a special place in my heart. Slightly more than a metre of stripy fabric and an ultra simple pattern transformed into a super cozy and comfortable dress.

This project start from a Burda pattern. When I first saw the pattern in the magazine, Idid not pay too much attention to it because I was interested in more sophisticated designs. Now the situation has changed slightly; because I am cycling everywhere, I want to combine and elegant look but at the same time feel comfortable. The other day I was leafing through a pile of Burda magazines hunting for a "comfy glamorous cyclist look. And there it is!

The Chill Dres is a V-neck drew which features only two pattern pieces: front and back. I was drawn to the pattern because it curves at the waist and flows along my body without being too tight or baggy. I sewed a size 38 without any changes.

Having read reviews by other seamstresses who had made the same dress, I noticed they expressed frustration with the sleeves. They pointed out that the side seams finish below the bust line, thus causing the wearer to show some skin than they might have intended to! Well, it did not put me off cutting the pattern without modifying the side seam. When I wear this dress, I put a simple skin colour tube top underneath and it resolves the issue. Also, it creates amazing ventilation when I cycle and sweat does not leave any stains on it. And besides, if someone wants to look at my armpits, good luck to them! Who cares!?

I like this dress so much that I have decided to make more versions of it. A couple of cuts of knit fabric from my stash will be happy!

While writing this post, I realized that Heather from Closet Case Files recently came up with a similar look but with the Coco dress. As they say, great minds think alike :) 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Why do we buy so many patterns?

Every time my non-sewing friends come to my apartment and see my pattern collection, they ask: “Why do you have so many? Will you ever have time to use them all?” My answer is no and, in all honesty, I don’t even know why I have so many sewing patterns. I realized the real price of my hobby when, during the move from Japan, at least three of the moving boxes were full of patterns.

When I had just started sewing, I felt overwhelmed by what the pattern world had to offer: Burda Style, Vogue patterns, vintage patterns, and independent pattern designers, which had only started to emerge! The options and possibilities were endless!  So my natural reaction was to buy a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. I did not know back then that each pattern designer, whether industrial or independent, uses different sizing and body standards. Take, for example, Tasia, a designer behind Sewaholic patterns, who clearly states that her patterns are for pear shaped girls. The “Big 4” patterns include big seam allowance and ease while BurdaStyle does not. As a matter of fact, many of these patterns have never ended up on my sewing table and probably never will!

In Japan, I discovered a whole new world of Japanese sewing patterns and books. I would spend hours in book shops leafing through the pages of numerous sewing books and, of course, many of the books followed me home, until one day, I realized that the designs were 95% repeats. I kept on buying Japanese sewing books for their aesthetics and cuteness.

It is very difficult to resist buying a new pattern from an indie designer, especially when, literally, every month a new brand appears on the horizon. New modern designs, very detailed sewing instructions with step-by-step technical drawing, sexy packaging: what’s not to like! I felt equally good giving my money to a small business rather than to an established house.

You can’t neglect the fact that when you see your favourite blogger post about a cute dress or skirt you instantly want to buy the same pattern. Seeing a garment made by a talented blogger immediately makes me cover their pattern. As a result of such compulsive buying, some of the patterns turned out quite nicely while others did. This happened because I did not take into account my body shape and proportions while admiring a finished garment.

Personally, I am a big fan of PDF patterns. Do I have to say more? If a pattern designer offers PDF patterns, the chance that I will buy more than one is super high. The amount of them I use after remains a mystery though.

With this in mind, a few months back, I put myself on a pattern-buying diet. Before buying a pattern or a sewing magazine, I try to answer a number of questions. If the answer is ‘no’ to most of them, I avoid buying. Here they are:

  • Do I like the pattern?
  • Do I want the pattern?
  • Do I need the pattern?
  • If I buy the pattern and spend little time adjusting and modifying it, will I still enjoy working with this pattern?
  • When it comes to buying a magazines: do I like more than 5 patterns from it?
  • Does this pattern suits my body type?
  • Is it a good use of my money?
  • Now, do I really need this pattern?

Then I think about my existing pattern library and try to remember whether I have similar pattern. Maybe, I can modify a pattern instead of buying a new one? Can I combine different elements of patterns to make it look like this pattern? Would I be able to draft this pattern myself?

This little exercise has worked pretty well for me. Since I started being more pattern-conscious, I have spared my apartment from new wave of pattern hoarding and I’ve saved a couple hundred euros.   

Quite often I go back to my BurdaStyle collection (I own approximately 20 issues) and I find a lot of inspiration there. I think about the possibilities of combining different patterns, mixing and matching various elements of different designs to make it work for my body or drafting my own patterns. Since leaving Japan, I have not been drafting patterns due to the lack of space, but this is something I’d like to change.

Let to tell you why I decided to write this post. The straw that broke the camel’s back was this flounce top by Salme patterns which I purchased on a whim, mainly because it’s a PDF pattern. Once the top was ready and I put it on, I looked absolutely hideous in it.

Have you ever felt like this?

When a peasant dress pattern meets Ruby Star Spring by Melody Miller

Since mid-spring I have been trying to sew using only my fabric stash. Sometimes I get a clear idea of what I want to sew just by looking at fabric, as in the case of the Dotty blouse. It took me much longer to decide what to do with this beautiful fabric, Ruby Star Spring, designed by Melody Miller.

I bought this cut ages ago -  in December 2011, to be more precise - in Miss Matatabi's Etsy shop.    Made from 85% of cotton and 15% of linen, Ruby Star Spring feels nice against the body and doesn't wrinkle so fast as 100% linen. 

I fell in love with the print but could not decide how to use the fabric in order to showcase it, until one evening, I had an epiphany: Nani Iro sewing book! The Nani Iro book was released with the exact purpose I had in my mind for my Ruby Star Spring: to show off the fabric! therefore, as you might expect, most of the designs in the book are large and baggy. Do yo think this dress looks more like a tablecloth or a bag?

By the way, you can read the full review of this book on

The pattern I decided on is a peasant-looking dress with a gathered front and back yokes. The yokes are sewn to the right side of the garment exposing the raw edges. 

I sewed a size L and added 30 cm to the skirt and 10cm to sleeves. The book suggest to line the dress but I did not.  The only difficulty I experienced while sewing was with the neckline. I tried my best to be as neat as possible!

On the inside, all of the seam allowance are bound with self-fabric bias tape. 

I am not quite sure whether this dress suits me or not but I have to say that I feel very comfortable in it and with another 6 metres of Melody Miller Kokka fabric in my stash, expect more baggy garments from the Nani Iro sewing book! 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Red Dotty Blouse

At long last, here is the Dotty Blouse. It took me more than three weeks to finis it but, hey, I am a busy girl.

What I liked most about the blouse is its front. It consists of only one piece of fabric, creating an illusion of a wrap top tucked in; I think it kind of suits me.

Style Arc suggests to sew the Dotty from any light weight and drapey fabric. The only requirement your fabric needs to fulfill is to be two sided because of the way the front pattern piece is drafted. I used some crêpe-de-Chine from Mood bought two years ago. Do I have to tell you how much I love to wear silks? The only downfall of this gorgeous fabric is its ability to wrinkle in a matter of seconds.

After I'd dolled myself up for a photo shoot, it started to rain. Following the amazing summer that we had this year in Ireland, the rain felt almost like an insult. But I absolutely wanted to show the Dotty off! I took some pics on my balcony; not very glamorous though.

I paired the blouse with my favorite pair of the Jamie Jeans
But, as often happens in Ireland, the rain stopped as suddenly as it had began and a few minutes later I went to the park in front of my building.

Half of the blouse is hand stitched. As I explained in the previous post, I chose to hand stitched the hem. The back collar and the cuffs were also sewn by hand. I'd say that hand-stitching silk is my #1 sewing-related activity. If you have done it at least once, you know what I am talking about.

While researching whether other bloggers made the same blouse, I came across a cool Pinterest board featuring RTW clothes which could be sewn with Style Arc patterns. Worth having a look for inspiration!

Would I sew this blouse again? Yes! But I'd like to work on other projects from my endless sewing list before ^.^