Project Sewn, Final Week – ‘Signature Style’ – Simple with a sprinkle of sparkle!

So it’s the fourth and last week of Project Sewn and what a competition it’s been! The finalists outfits this week are out of this world! I absolutely love the wearability and effortless chic-ness of Alida’s outfit – I want all of it including her fabulous hair! The creative tour-de-force that is Oona just blew me away again –  her dress and coat left me speechless! Uber cool! And finally only a statuesque Brazilian beauty such as Rachel could pull off that amazing sculpted dress with all its fasinating design details! How inspiring it’s all been and what a pity it’s about to end!

As in the previous weeks, the general sewing public are invited to get involved by posting a pic of their ‘signature style’, an outfit that reflects their personal style and sewing ability.

Republique du Chiffon Viviane dress

Republique du Chiffon Viviane dress

This challenge got me thinking about my own personal style and how I express this with my sewing. My sewing skills are still somewhat rudimentary and with two small children to take care of and a dog, I don’t have endless time for sewing. So I definitely prefer sewing simple designs that are comfortable and practical to wear for my active lifestyle, aren’t too taxing and time consuming to make and which I can choose to enhance either with fancy fabrics or with embellishments. My latest make is a prime example of this.

Viviane dress by Republique du Chiffon

Viviane dress by Republique du Chiffon

This is the Viviane dress pattern from French independent pattern company, Republique du Chiffon. It’s a simple style that is easy to sew up. It pulls on over the head so there’s no need to worry about zips or buttonholes, it just has a simple loop and button at the back of the neck. You can choose to make either a top or a dress from this pattern, which you buy as a PDF download and print out.

Scalloped quilted yoke

Scalloped quilted yoke

I think this dress has many endearing features such as the elbow length sleeves and the dropped waist but it was the quilted yoke that attracted me to this pattern. I love the scalloped quilting lines and wanted to emphasise them in my dress.

Sequins!

Sequins!

I’m blaming my daughters for the sequins! It’s carnival time here in Germany and I’ve been working on costumes for my girls which involved lots of hand sewing of sequins and well, I got a bit carried away!

Quilted yoke and bust darts

Quilted yoke and bust darts

I don’t know yet if I’m happy with the result but I don’t really mind because I had a lot of fun trying this out and I enjoy experimenting – nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Plus that yoke isn’t just decorative, it’s functional too! Oh yes, it’s this dress’s secret weapon, it’s a Trojan horse, if you will. You see this baby is working double duty because it’s stuffed with this:

Organic wool!

Organic wool!

Wool! – pure and unadulterated complete with bits of straw, fresh from the German organic sheep farm it came from. And boy does this make a difference to the warmth of this dress! It’s toasty! I may have to work a bit of this insulation into all my winter garments!

Dress fully lined with viscose lining fabric

Dress fully lined with viscose lining fabric that needs pressing!

The dress is fully lined with a viscose lining fabric. I actually treated the top of the dress and the lining as one to sew up because it all got too complicated with the yoke attachment and the sleeves.

P1300102If you’re unfamiliar with Republique du Chiffon, then go and check them out, they’ve got some great French chic patterns and have just released a free dress pattern to kick off the launch of their 2014 pattern collection.

For oodles more French inspiration, also stop by the Republique du Chiffon fan blog, where you can see the wonderful creations that have been made by fans of the Republique du Chiffon patterns.

Pattern recap

Pattern used – Viviane dress by Republique du Chiffon PDF download. Made in Size 36

Fabric used – Wool suiting, linen for the yoke, organic wool batting for the quilting, viscose lining and sequins – all from stash!

Pattern Difficulty Rating – Easy

Don’t forget to exercise your democratic right and cast your vote for your favourite outfit over at Project Sewn!

Have you added any secret details to any of your hand sewn garments? How would you describe your personal style?  What’s the most experimental thing you’ve made? I’d love to hear about it, so please leave a comment below.

Project Sewn Week Three – ‘If the shoe fits’

It’s week three of Project Sewn and this week’s theme is ‘If the shoe fits’.

The designer contestants have come up with knock-out clothes and images again! It’s so inspiring to see their interpretations of the themes and how expertly they put their looks together. They truly are a talented bunch of ladies!

For the rest of us mere mortals, I think it’s great that we get to join in with the fun. This week though, I thought I’d have to bow out because I’m busy making for my children and haven’t had time to make something for this challenge.

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Sparkly ballet flats

Then, just as luck would have it, a trawl through my archives unearthed these photos taken in Italy last summer of an outfit not yet blogged about, which also happens to showcase this sparkly pair of ballet flats quite nicely.

So I thought, ‘if the shoe fits’……!

Grainline Studio Scout tee and Simplicity skirt

Grainline Studio Scout tee and Simplicity skirt and unknown furry friend!

This outfit is made up of a Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 2215 skirt and Grainline Studio woven Scout tee topped off with a Smedley knit.

P1260252The Simplicity 2215 skirt is a pleated skirt pattern with uneven pleats on the front and back pieces and pockets in the side seams.

Simplicity skirt

Simplicity 2215 skirt with uneven pleating and side seam pockets

Once you’ve marked out and basted down the pleating, this skirt comes together really quickly and easily – with just one catch! I found putting the zip and the pocket into the side seam a little perplexing. I managed to put them all in in the end by attaching the zip to the side of the pocket but it wasn’t the neatest of zip insertions!

Organic cotton batiste lining

Organic cotton batiste lining

The main body of the skirt is made from linen from the Hollander Stoff market and I lined the skirt with organic cotton batiste from Lebenskleidung.  I added a fabric covered button to close the waistband and zip fastening and hand stitched the hem for a neater finish.

Grainline Studio Scout tee in cotton eyelet batiste

Grainline Studio Scout tee in cotton eyelet batiste

The Grainline Studio Scout woven tee is one of my all-time favourite staple patterns! It’s so versatile and easy and can be squeezed out of just one metre of fabric – always a bonus IMO! I’ve made several of these now but this white one and my Breton striped one are the most worn.

Body of Scout tee underlined with white cotton batiste and all French seams

Body of Scout tee underlined with white cotton batiste and all French seams

For this tee, I used cotton eyelet batiste and underlined the main body pieces with cotton batiste – both from Anita Pavani Stoffe and did French seams on all seams including the armholes.

This cotton eyelet batiste is the same as I used to make my first Anna dress in black. I really love this fabric, which is why I was so pleased when I saw a blouse recently, made from the same fabric in a boutique in my town by Italian brand 0039 Italy for 150 euros! Mine cost a fraction of that to make! Isn’t it great when that happens!

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Don’t forget to cast your vote for your favourite outfit over at Project Sewn.

I’m so looking forward to the finale of the competition next week. What will the contestants pull out of the bag for that one, I wonder?

Project Sewn Week Two: ‘Make it Pink’ Challenge – The Lady Skater Dress

I’ve just finished this coral pink and red dress, it’s literally hot off the press, so I’m including it for the Project Sewn ‘Make it Pink’ challenge.

Ichy Coo Lady Skater dress

Ichy Coo Lady Skater dress

I’d seen this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress (see below) and fallen hard for the tonal colours and simple shape and thought that the Lady Skater dress pattern by independent pattern company Kitschy Coo would be a good match to replicate this fit and flare dress design.

Marc by Marc Jacobs tonal dress

Marc by Marc Jacobs tonal dress

Here’s my version!

Coral organic single cotton jersey and red organic sweater knit

Coral organic single cotton jersey and red organic sweater knit 

I thought this coral colour teamed with the red gives the dress a vibrant flair. The bodice is made from coral pink organic cotton jersey, with coral pink organic cotton rib cuffs and the skirt is made from red organic sweater knit jersey all from Lebenskleidung.

When you make this PDF download dress pattern, you choose your size based on your body measurements. I was between sizes for the skirt so graded the bodice out to the waistline. I cut a size two for the bodice and sleeves and between a three and four for the skirt pieces.

I would describe the fit of the finished bodice as – ‘swimsuit -like’ which I wasn’t happy with at first but I’m getting used to now! The pattern instructions did suggest sizing up the bodice to the next size if your fabric isn’t very stretchy, which being 100% cotton, mine isn’t but for some unknown reason, I chose to ignore this useful piece of advice!

The sewing up of this is really quick and easy – this was a ‘one evening’ make for me. The pattern comes with extremely helpful and thorough making instructions – you really couldn’t want for more! I sewed the whole thing up on my overlock machine, including the neck-band which was probably a bit reckless for a first attempt but luckily worked out ok-ish!

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Yes, that is Olive Oyl on my scarf!

I haven’t hemmed the dress yet, this is the unfinished length, but I’m thinking I’m just going to overlock it because I don’t want it too short.

I put the dress on today to take these photos, with every intention to change back into my jeans as soon as I finished because it’s was such a yucky cold and stormy day. But these colours made me feel so happy and spring-like that I ended up keeping it on! I layered it up with one of my favourite John Smedley cardigans and a scarf and I was toasty and warm all day.

With John Smedley cardigan

With John Smedley cardigan

This dress feels like a departure from my usual style – not sure exactly what my usual style is, but this seems out of it. However I’m growing to like it. I feel like I’m wearing something too young for me, which it probably is, but it’s nice to wear something a bit girly for a change!

All in all, this was a joy to make (although I didn’t enjoy attaching the neck-band!) and the dress is a cute style.

Again, don’t forget, if you haven’t done so already, go over to Project Sewn and cast your vote for your favourite outfit!

Project Sewn Week Two: ‘Make it Pink’ – McCall’s M6553

It’s week two of Project Sewn, the online sewing bloggers knockout sewing competition and this week’s challenge is ‘Make it Pink’. It’s really nice that us voters get to join in the fun by posting our makes too!

McCall's M6553 dress in pink cotton gabardine on my dress-form Beatrice

McCall’s M6553 dress in pink cotton gabardine on my dress-form Beatrice

I made this McCall’s M6553 dress, one of the Fashion Star pattern series, last summer but didn’t get round to blogging about it. This Project Sewn pink theme has given me the perfect opportunity to clear some of the back log from my blogging in-tray and slip this unseasonal make into my winter posts!

Pleated back

Pleated back

It’s a case of – ‘here’s one I made earlier!’

McCall's M6553 Fashion Star

McCall’s M6553 Fashion Star

I was attracted to this dress pattern by the relaxed fit of the pull-on-over-your-head style, the princess seam shaping, the pleated back and the shaped hemline. The combination of these features make this dress shape quite unusual and unique IMO.

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I particularly like the contrast between the feminine bow of the belt in the front and the box pleated, loosely draping back. I think the overall shape of the dress is body skimming and flattering. Well at least Beatrice, my dress-form looks good in it!

Pleated back

Pleated back

There isn’t a zip to deal with or buttonholes or anything else that you could imagine to be complicated, it’s just an easy to sew-up loose fitting dress that gets it shape from the waist cinching belt that threads behind the back piece and ties in a bow at the front. Plus it has side-seam pockets so you can slouch like me!

Belt threads through openings in the side seams

Belt threads through openings in the side seams

There is a neck slit on the back bodice piece that closes with a button and thread loop. I’d never done a thread loop before this dress, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do.

Neck opening with button and button loop

Neck opening with button and button loop

One word of warning about this dress – it is quite short. I’d read many online pattern reviews of this before I made it so I knew this. To compensate, I added five centimetres to the length.

However, I still found the dress short, so ended up doing a hand-stitched lace hem finish because I didn’t want to lose anymore length. The finished length is still above my knees and I’m only 162cm tall!

As a bonus though, I like the way the lace peaks out on the uneven hem of the back of the dress. It’s added another cute detail to the finished dress.

Lace hem

Lace hem

Another word of warning – this pattern is very loose fitting! I made the smallest size six, which is a smaller size than I would normally choose from the big four pattern companies.

I made this dress out of pale pink cotton gabardine bought from Anita Pavani online.  It’s a firm fabric that holds the shape of the pleat and bow quite nicely.

Gratuitous holiday pic!

Gratuitous holiday pic!

All in all this pattern got my thumbs up! It hasn’t become one of my summer staples, but it is a fun dress to wear occasionally!

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And more gratuity!

The Project Sewn contestants have made another stellar effort this week with this week’s theme- there are some really knockout clothes and images, so if you haven’t voted for your favourite pink outfit yet, then I suggest you go and do it right away young lady!

Happy voting!

Project Sewn – Challenge One: Style Icon – Vivienne Westwood Anglomania

For the week one ‘Style Icon’ challenge of this season’s Project Sewn, I want to pay homage to fellow Brit, Vivienne Westwood and her Anglomania collection. P1290750_2

I’m not a follower of fashion but I am a fan of Dame Westwood, who has been the UK’s culturally most significant fashion designer for as long as I’ve been alive!

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania!

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania!

She personifies the potent and subversive originality of British fashion and her expansive body of work traces the socio-economic and cultural climate of Britain for the past four decades – my whole life time!

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She’s won British designer of the Year twice, in 1990 and 1991 and was honoured with the Order of the British Empire in 1992 and made Dame Vivienne Westwood in 2006.

Bias cut front with drape neck

Bias cut front with drape neck

Dame Vivienne Westwood is the same age as my parents and she continues to sustain the ultimate design contradiction: producing the unexpected while defining the spirit of the decade.

P1290747_2I love that Vivienne uses very traditional British fabrics in her Anglomania collections such as tartan (a woven wool check fabric) and makes them modern and fashionable. I also love her drape neck dresses and decided to combine these two elements – the drape neck dress with side waist-shaping rushing and tartan to make this dress.

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I used BurdaStyle pattern 10/2012 #118A for this cowl neck dress in size 36. I made this pattern when the magazine first came out in 2012, in a green herringbone tweed woven wool fabric so I knew that the fit and pattern were fine for me. For my first version, I left the dress unlined and used a Hong Kong finish for the seams and hand stitched the hems. For this version I used this very fine merino wool tartan and decided to line it with a very fine viscose lining fabric.

Merino wool tartan

Merino wool tartan

This did present some extra challenges and made making it much slower – I actually still need to hand sew the hem and the sleeve hems because I didn’t have time to do this before I could get some photos of it in daylight to put on the Project Sewn site!

Darts in back pieces

Darts in back pieces

Inside of the front piece

Inside of the front piece

The dress is simple to make. It has an invisible zipper in the back and back darts, gathering at one side of the front piece and the cowl top.

I’m not sure that the bias cut tartan was a success but it was fun to experiment with the fabric pattern! I only left myself two days to make this because I was in Munich this week at Munich Fabric Start.

I wore my Ralph Pink jumpsuit to the fabric trade fair and I’m so glad that I did! It was comfortable to wear all day.

Ralph Pink jumpsuit at Munich Fabric Start

Ralph Pink jumpsuit at Munich Fabric Start

I’ve cast my vote over at Project Sewn but boy was that a tough decision! How fab are all of those outfits! I don’t want to see any of those ladies leave the competition! I wish them all luck!

And to pass on the textile trend setting motto from Munich Fabric Start for Spring, Summer 2015:

Carpe Diem!

Let yourself be inspired!

Have a great weekend,

Christine