Saturday, November 30, 2013


Size: size 3, graded up to a 4 at the waist and hips.
Alterations: shortened the bodice by 2 cm.
Fabric: leopard print jersey, purchased locally.

It's snowing today. I'm home, snuggled against the radiator and I have this dress I made and photographed more than a month ago, and it's about time I blog about it.

I don't know if this pattern needs an introduction, really, but it's the Lady Skater dress by Kitschy Coo, and everyone loves it, me included. After seeing a few gorgeous version out there, I had to give it ago!
I'm so happy with this pattern that I have not only already worn this dress a lot of times, but I've also made a second version, which I'm sure it won't be the last. I mean, knits are so comfy! Once you try them, you can't really live without them.

The pattern instructions for this dress are pretty great as well, and full of tips for newbies or for someone that needs reassurance like me. The only step I didn't like is that instructions have you stitch one shoulder seam, bind the neckline and then stitch the second shoulder. I prefer to bind the neckline in the round, it looks better on the inside and it avoids the risk of a mismatched shoulder seam.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I shortened the bodice by 2 cm so that the waist seam would fall at my natural waist. It looks like it's still too long in these photos, but I actually went back and took in the side seams at waist level by about 3cm, making it really fitted. Result: it looks perfect now. Maybe the excess ease was giving an optical illusion?

The only other modification I did was the sleeve length; the cap sleeve was too short for my taste and I didn't have enough fabric for the 3/4 length, so I cut the sleeve pieces as long as I could and they turned out in this elbow length, which is coincidentally my favorite in RTW. A very lucky incident!

This dress was the final push I needed to conquer my irrational fear of knits. Not only I'm not afraid anymore, I really want to sew more and more with them. My only problem is that I can't find knit fabric locally, or better, I only find either ugly or expensive knits here. I guess it's because sewing hasn't conquered Italy yet, so there isn't a huge request. If you know any European shops (because shipping from the US costs a fortune and takes forever) that carry cute, cheap reasonably priced knits, please help expand my fabric addiction!

Finally, because it's Black Friday Weekend and I enjoy a good sale even though I don't celebrate Thanksgiving, here are a couple links I stumbled upon that may interest you too:

Craftsy is having a HUGE sale for both classes and craft supplies, like fabric and yarn. This would be the perfect chance for me to enroll in a knitting class for beginners and finally get my act together. Although all the sewing classes are pretty tempting as well...

✄ Papercut Patterns is having 15% off all patterns (through Monday 12/2). I want to try one of their patterns so bad it's not even funny.

✄ Christine Haynes is having 20% off everything in the shop (and she's donating 10% of every sale to the LA Regional Food Bank), using code "thanksgiving" (through Monday 12/2). Do yourself a favor and purchase the beautiful Emery dress pattern.

✄ Grainline Studio has 20% off the entire shop, using the code GIVETHANKS20 (through Monday 12/2).

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Navy Peggy skirt

Size: I cut a size 12, but then I removed some excess fabric at the waist, so the end result it's probably more similar to a size 10.
Alterations: removed almost 20cm (8") from the bottom (!)
Fabric: some navy blue wool with extremely subtle pinstripes (that you can barely see in these pictures) from my stash.

When Bluegingerdoll released the  Peggy skirt pattern, Abby (the creator) contacted me to know if I wanted to try it. It's extremely rare that I turn down free patterns (you know, being an addict and all), and this little skirt really intrigued me, so I said heck, yes. 

The Peggy skirt is designed for beginners and it's a flared high-waisted A-line skirt with front tucks. Three waistband options are included in the pattern; I chose view A, a straight waistband with cute buttoned tabs.

One thing I really regret about this project is not reading the instructions properly before starting to sew. The pockets are made in a slightly different way than I'm used to (there's a pocket fuse to reinforce the pocket edge and the pockets themselves hang free from the side seams of the skirt), so I ended up making a few mistakes in construction, but nothing major.

Speaking of the instructions, because this pattern is aimed at beginners, I was expecting a little more guidance from them. There are a couple generic steps, namely the lapped zipper insertion (which refers you to the Bluegingerdoll blog) and the waistband construction at the center back (it's not very clear where and how the two sides of the waistband overlap). Thankfully, Abby did a very extensive Peggy sewalong, which is a huge help to those who need more visual aid (although the waistband thing is still not explained clearly).

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I shortened this skirt by A LOT. Luckily, Abby included the finished skirt measurements on the pattern envelope, and the finished length is 68,5cm (27"), whereas I hem my skirts between 50 and 55cm (between 20" and 22") down my natural waist. Unless you're incredibly tall or you really want that vintage length, be aware of this!

Eek! Sorry about the wrinkled mess! Shouldn't have sat down before shooting!
I already mentioned the topic of my favorite skirt patterns for beginners here and here, and Peggy goes straight to join that list. I love that this skirt has more flare than an usual A-line, I like it much more on a pear-shape like myself. The pattern has also a very reasonable price, especially considering that it comes with three variations and free worldwide shipping!

Now, if you like this pattern, you have the chance to win one copy for yourself. Abby was kind enough to sponsor a giveaway for my readers!
The giveaway widget is below, you need to sign in with Facebook or with your name + email. You can enter four times; just follow the instructions, I promise it's very easy.
This is my first time trying out Rafflecopter, so fingers crossed everything works out!
You have one week to enter. Good luck, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

An old Beignet skirt and a new pair of glasses

Size: size 10.

Alterations: omitted the fabric belt.

Fabric: the same black cotton canvas I used for my first Kelly skirt and some flowery lining material , both from my stash.

Last week I found this UFO skirt under a pile of muslins and stuff to throw away in a corner of my room. I'm ashamed to say I didn't even remember of its existence. I'm not usually an UFO kind of girl: when I start a project, I always try to finish it before I start another one.

But the reason why this Beignet defeated me is because it features one of my greatest sewing enemies: buttonholes, and 12 of them nonetheless. Just the word "buttonholes" makes me instantly lazy. It's completely irrational, since I include them in my favorite projects (like my Bleuet dresses) and my machine even has a "memory" function for buttonholes that makes sewing multiple one much easier.

Sweater: ASOS - Shoes: Pimkie (old) - Glasses: c/o Bonlook
Anyway, when I found this skirt everything else was finished except for buttons and buttonholes, so I just sat down, grinned my teeth and half an hour later I had a perfectly wearable skirt.

The combination of black and Beignet means lots of wearability for me. I made this skirt two more times (appearances here and here) and they're still the most worn separates in my wardrobe. This skirt will join them soon.

I'm wearing the Peacock frame in Dark Chocolate.
And because I didn't have a lot to say about this skirt, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and show off my new glasses.
I was contacted by Bonlook a while ago to try one of their frames and to offer a pair to my readers, and as much as I try to keep this blog strictly sewing-related, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.
I mean, if I could afford it, I would probably own at least a dozen pairs of frames; I've been wearing glasses since I was 8 and have learnt to appreciate them as style accessories, so why deprive myself and one of you guys of this chance?
Moreover, Bonlook offers some awesome looking frames, and I had the pleasure to experience they are great quality and come with excellent customer service.

I hope you'll appreciate this giveaway even though it's not sewing related.

To win one pair of BonLook glasses of your choosing (prescription, non-prescription, sunglasses... anything!) valued at $99 (shipping is not included) just click here.
The giveaway is open to everyone for a week.

Good luck!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Burdastyle Magazine 12/2013

Burda decided to end 2013 with a bang, releasing one of the best issues of the year. Maybe I'm exaggerating, but for once, I'm overall happy with everything in this issue: the designs, the fabric choices, the styling... Well, not so much with the photography, but that day is still far away, I'm afraid. 

Coup de coeur of the month! A simple sheath dress with some lovely details. Easy to make, easy to fit, beginner-proof... I love it!

Aand... second crush of the month! I LOVE the 40s vibe of this dress, so feminine and elegant! You need to be careful about the point on your crotch, but the rest is absolutely stunning.

More gorgeousness! I like this dress better with long sleeves (shown in the photo above with the pink dress) and the chiffon here looks pretty cheap, but it's beautiful. I love the contrast of the narrow skirt of the slip with a fuller skirt on top.

This is not exactly a dress I'd associate with December, but it's really beautiful nonetheless. I love the gathering at the center front and the huge sleeves, although I would skip the sleeve ties. There's also a shorter variation of this pattern, but I think the longer one is much more striking.

You know I have a soft spot for Burda's outerwear, and this trench coat is no exception. I'm not a huge fan of the paper bag sleeves and I would probably make the pockets smaller, but the collar and the little cape-like detail beautiful.

And of course I also love this menswear inspired tuxedo jacket. It reminds me a lot of this jacket from 2 years ago, but that's ok.

Next, two relatively simple patterns that I like quite a bit, especially paired together. Love the asymmetry and the zipper of the skirt.

Another couple of pieces that are not earth-shattering, but very wearable, especially the top. That draped neck is quite beautiful.

Next, the designer pattern of the month. The length of the skirt looks a bit ridiculous to me, but shortened, this would make a really cute little dress. I especially like that the design makes it look like separates.

And finally, a cute plus-size pattern. Do you remember what I said about the photography at the beginning of the post? This is a perfect example...
Anyway, this top is similar to the one in last month's issue: it looks like a blouse with a draped piece at the neckline, but it's really a rectangle of the fabric that it's not part of the blouse itself. What I don't understand is, if the fabric they used here is a woven, how is this thing supposed to sit on your shoulders? Wouldn't it be crazy uncomfortable to wear?

So, was I right or was I right? Are you going to get this one?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Minerva Blogger Network: The "Dog Lover" Pajamas

Size: size 8.
Alterations: I only used elastic at the waist and no fabric tie belt; I added a bow at the center front.
Fabric: quilting cotton from Minerva Crafts (momentarily out of stock)

These PJs went live on Friday on Minerva, but I couldn't bring myself to blog about them until today.
You see, in a cruelly ironic turn of events, my dog passed away on Friday, which wasn't just the scheduled day to blog these pants, but also the day she had a vet appointment because she hadn't been feeling great lately.
I don't believe in coincidences, so I wonder what the F was up with that day...

Anyway, thank you SO MUCH to anyone who shared some kind words with me on social media, it really meant a lot. In my real life, not everyone understands how devastating it can be to lose a pet (lots of people thinking "it's just an animal"), so I was quite moved by how sweet you guys were.

Now, the pants. This is my November project for Minerva Blogger Network. I wanted something cozy and snuggly for the incoming cold weather, so I settled on PJs. And because I love quirky prints and I love dogs, this fabric was the perfect choice! The only problem is, I didn't notice this quilting cotton was sold by fat quarter, so the 2,5m of fabric you need for this project add up to quite the price.
If you want to make yourself a pair of PJs pants, I would recommend browsing the immense polycotton range at Minerva, there are some extremely cute, more affordable choices.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Strawberries - 2. Cupcakes - 3. Stars - 4. Polka dots
The pattern I used is once again from Sewaholic, the Tofino pants. It's a rather pricey pattern for PJs, but it's a good investment in my opinion, especially if you're not very experienced, as the instructions are really great. Not much else to say about it, as Pjs don't really require fitting at all.

I'm trying to convince the rest of the family to adopt a new dog as soon as possible... Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chataigne shorts

Size: size 40 at the waist, grading up to a 44 at the hips
Alterations: Lengthened the legs by about 3cm and did a rolled hem (instead of the scalloped or cuffed version), omitted the pocket flaps in the back, used a regular zipper instead of an invisible one.
Fabric: Lightweight wool suiting from my stash (it's the same I used for my Rooibos dress two years ago)

Did you see this new little pearl from Deer&Doe? The Chataigne shorts have inverted box pleats and two variations: regular waist and cuffs (version A), or high waist and scalloped hem (version B). They were released yesterday and I once again was lucky enough to be one of the testers.
The testing process was more interesting than usual for me. My thighs are the area of my body I'm most self conscious about, so I'm quite scared of wearing shorts, even in winter, with tights. But the design of Chataigne was so freakin' cute I had to try them.
I started the process as someone who doesn't like shorts one bit and I ended up quite enamored with my finished product. Yay for conquering our sewing fears!

Looking at these photos, I don't feel self-conscious about my body at all, quite the contrary! I think these shorts are really flattering on my curves and the high-waist really helps my proportions. I've already worn these shorts while sitting most of the day and they weren't uncomfortable at all, but it must be noted I'm used to wearing high-waisted, cinched-in garments. If you prefer a more relaxed fit, try the regular waist variation.

One thing must be said, though. These shorts are SHORT. Poor Eléonore must have heard it quite a few times from me and other girls while testing, but her intention was to make winter shorts to be worn with tights, so you can get away with a shorter length.
Because of my own issues with my thighs, I still felt more comfortable lengthening them a bit; if you feel the same, don't worry, because it's the easiest alteration ever.

I also did a rolled hem because I was afraid the scalloped hem would have made these shorts too short for me and I didn't do the cuffs because I don't like them too much on me (my thighs touch when I walk and the cuffs can get annoying). And to avoid attracting too much attention on my behind, I skipped the pocket flaps in the back, which are not functional anyway.
You can see that my shorts have some horizontal lines at the crotch, and that's because I mistakingly cut a size too small at the crotch seam, silly me! Otherwise, I was blown away as usual by the fit, especially the corseted waist: just perfect!

This pattern is marked for beginners, and I think that's right. The zipper and the pointy part of the waistband in the center front are the only tricky parts, other than that it's perfectly doable by someone who has a little bit of experience.

I found these tights with a faux garter effect a while ago and I love how they look with my Chataigne shorts! They could easily look tacky with a skirt, but I think shorts take away some of their sultriness and make them look much more playful.

Another version is already in the works: black, with high waist and scalloped hem. But I'm also tempted to make a more comfortable pair with the regular waist... Should I make both? 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

La Mia Boutique 11/2013

Are you ready for a new issue of LMB? Once again, this review is a collaboration with Silvia of Sewing Princess, so you can read about the rest of the issue on her blog.

I was quite disappointed this month. Apart from a couple patterns I feel tepid about (but probably won't end up making), all the things that I tend not to like from LMB were concentrated in this issue: questionable styling, terrible photography and outdated garments.
Let's see.

Anna: Let’s begin with this very nice coat with princess seams and clean lines;  it’s very elegant and it would probably look good on a variety of sizes. I was afraid that it didn’t have pockets (outerwear with no pockets is an heresy for me), but after checking the drawing, I saw that it does.

Silvia: I love this coat. I would love to make it actually. Realistically I won’t get to it this winter but it’s a timeless pattern. I am actually lazy and have skipped pocket design on a coat I made… but it’s not a big issue for me… I always carry a bag with me.

Anna: I really really like this dress, although I’m not sure how it would look on a pear shaped girl like me. All those pleats probably wouldn’t go along too great with wide hips. Sigh.

Silvia: When I saw this pattern I thought: this would be great for Anna!  The pleats are cleverly designed as they are flat at the top so they should create less volume where we won’t need it. In fact the skirt design reminds me of Colette’s Zinnia’s design. And you could always lengthen the skirt if you wish.

Anna: LMB seems to include a shift dress pattern in every issue, and I personally think it’s a good idea. A shift dress is a must have for beginners, so if you’re a sporadic buyer, you’ll be sure to have at least one easy, basic pattern to work on.
I don’t like the trim on the blue version, but I really like this pattern overall. The princess seams make this easier to fit and the fact that there’s no waist seam gives the illusion of a longer body. 

Silvia: The back opening and boat neck really make this pattern unique… to be honest I have seen and made a similar design earlier this year. But as I was on the lookout for an armhole princess seam dress my quest seems to be over. And you can embellish it at will. 

Anna: I don’t really care for this jacket at all. Presentation has a lot to do with it, because I don’t like the fabric, I hate the buttons, the model’s awkward posing and, surprise surprise, the styling. Overall, I think it looks quite boxy and outdated… Would not consider this for myself.

Silvia: Ooops… I actually like the jacket design and it doesn’t look boxy to me at all. I would actually consider this pattern. And I love that Anna and I have different opinions on patterns at times… let’s not be afraid to voice our likes and dislikes.  I totally agree with Anna on the model… it looks as if her head is huge while the body is tiny. Must be the camera angle and the possibly the lens.

Anna: Once again I cringed at the presentation here… The pose and the styling really killed this dress for me, and I probably might have liked it otherwise. When I saw this photo in the preview at the end of last issue (there’s always a tiny preview in the last page of LMB) I thought I was going to love this, but there’s something in the proportions here I don’t seem to get my head around. Pity.

Silvia: Probably I am still recovering from the shock of the previous photo because this one looks much better… or I am looking at a different magazine ;)
I have to admit I don’t particularly like the model (she would be out of work if it were for me… but maybe the world likes her and I am certainly no model myself). Anyway back to the dress. To me it looks very similar to number 3… except for the sleeves. Verdict: I like it. 

The following page of the magazine includes a tutorial to recreate the makeup the model wears in these photos… PASS. NO THANK YOU.

Anna: What a gorgeous coat! I love the wide collar and the round bottom edge. I would probably just skip the pocket flap (one element too many). This pattern is from Italian designer Patrizia Pepe, whose work I generally quite like.

Silvia: The wide collar is what I like the most about this coat. Other than that I prefer a more fitted look at the waist. Certainly it’s a nice pattern if you want to take your skills up a notch.

Anna: Eep… I don’t like the color nor the shape of this skirt. I won’t add anything else, ‘cause the styling of this photo just left me speechless.

Silvia: I love orange so I am probably biased and I don’t see that it’s a hard color to pair up. The design seems to be slightly outdated. Apparently Genny brand was big in the 60s up to the 80s… I dug some info as I never heard of the brand before.

Anna: I wouldn’t necessarily make this for me, but I think this coat would be very cute on a more mature woman. Those wide sleeves could be a bit impractical for everyday, but they look really lovely. 

Silvia: There you have me! I’m your mature woman ;) There’s something about this coat I like. Not sure I would feel at ease with the bell sleeves. By the way, I like this model and the photo.

Anna: I’m actually surprised at how much I like this skirt. I’ve been toying with the idea of a maxi skirt for winter (probably inspired by the Rene maxi skirt pattern by Named) and I like this one quite a bit, with the front draping. Silvia, I need your opinion.

Silvia: I like maxi skirts. I would probably move the draping to the side though… when I look at the photo it kinds of triggers the thought: ‘what’s that flap doing there’… maybe I am wrong.

Anna: These pants are so cute! They almost make me want to venture into the scary world of fitting pants, a notion that still terrorizes me. I really love the pocket flaps and the details at the hem. There’s also a simple variation (no photos available) for the less daring.

Silvia: Give it a go Anna! You can do it! Those details are adorable. It’s true the shape could be a make or break at least for me. And I would probably lengthen them. But the again sewing should also be about daring to make garments to see how they fit on you… says the woman who recently bought wild printed skinny pants!
Let’s hear it from the readers! 

Anna: Another GORGEOUS wide-collared coat, this time from Max Mara, a brand I really love. The trim along the collar is leather… swoon!
The shawl collar variation is also really lovely.

Silvia: Another great coat… I like them all in this issue! Anna, both of us should probably sew this one up… it’s wide so there should be less fitting needed… or will you go for the pants in the end?

I realized I never include the pictures of all the technical drawings, so from this month on, here they are (bigger size here). Hope they're appreciated :)

They also give you an idea on what you can see on Silvia's blog, where she's also having a poll, as usual!