The One with a Word of Warning

I love sewing, but sometimes it’s a hobby which can get a little expensive. Especially when you need (read: want) all the available notions. Who can say no to gorgeous buttons and pretty ribbons… I for sure can’t. So I try to save on each one if I can by looking for a cheaper replacement.

But sometimes, sewing karma comes back to bite you in the ass.

One of the things I frequently use is fusible hemming tape (or fusible web). I use it in all widths because I find it practical when hemming. The hem just doesn’t shift while sewing and it often adds just that little touch of stability that makes everything sit nicer.

However, these things are difficult to come by in Belgium, not every store has them. I’ve actually only found one store which stocks it but it’s a 30 minute drive (for us Belgians, that’s a lot) and it was quite expensive (10m for 11 euro) so I looked for something cheaper online.

The bad stuff

I finally found some on Amazon and since it was about a quarter of what I would normally pay, I ordered it. Biggest waste of money ever!

bad tape

 

How it should work:

  • Iron on
  • Peel off paper
  • Fold over
  • Iron hem

What was wrong with it?

  • It wasn’t nice thin webbing, it looked more like the netting used to pack oranges (pic 3)
  • 40 cm into my seam suddenly it didn’t stick anymore.
  • When I tried to go back I noticed that the web and paper got separated and instead of the webbing being underneath the paper, it was suddenly above the paper. (pic 2)
  • When I tried to turn it around, it stuck to my ironing board and my iron but not to my fabric.
  • It made the entire room smell like burned rubber.

So somehow the glue (of the webbing) got stuck to the wrong side of the paper so when I tried to iron it, it got stuck to the paper instead of the fabric and then I couldn’t peel the paper off anymore.

Seriously, don’t ever buy this. It’s a cheap, China produced replacement for better stuff.

The good stuff

So I drove down to the store anyway to get some decent fusible web and I bought every packet they had (they had only 3 of them). I’m never ever using anything else ever again. Β If you want to buy some of your own, you can find it here.

good tape

 

It was slightly cheaper than last time, so that made me happy and since it’s a very good store which sells quality sewing machines and quality (mostly quilting) notions, I had a look around for other nice stuff. I finally left not only with the fusible web but also with tailor’s chalk which comes in the shape of a very fine refillable pencil (My other refillable chalk pencil is quite thick so not very accurate) and some Wonder clips to hold down binding or thick layers of fabric. I hope they all give me great sewing joy!

Do you have any bad experiences with cheap notions? Any cheap notions I should absolutely avoid?Β 

The One with The Perfect Fleece Cardigan

Every girl or woman is guilty of wearing her husband’s/boyfriend’s fleece sweater at least once. We all know it, they’re comfy, they’re warm, they’re even a bit comforting. However, what they are not is flattering or attractive.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a fleece that’s just as warm, just as comfy but flattering at the same time…

I found the perfect fleece cardigan! (This is a word heavy post so for pictures, scroll down)

I finally gave in and ordered a bunch of Style Arc patterns. Not just one, I ordered 11! It was totally justified because shipping rates are insane so it was better to bulk order. (I’m trying hard not to think about the fact that they lowered their rates two days after my order)

Anyway, I ordered only post maternity patterns. Knit dresses, button up tops etc. One of the patterns I ordered was the Nina Cardigan. I just wanted a real cardigan pattern so I could use one of my gazillion sweater knits. I loved the shape and the fact that I would be able to wear it before giving birth.

NINA-CARDI

I’m very lucky that the only thing that got bigger while being pregnant is my belly so I could just order my regular size. For those of you who don’t know, Style Arc works with single size patterns. It scared me at first, but then I thought “what the hell, just order it already”.

Review:

The packaging: +/-
The pattern comes in a clear plastic envelop, I didn’t care for it because it had creased the papers. It is ‘re-sealable’ though, so that’s a plus. They insert a swatch of recommended fabric which I find a great help especially since English and Dutch names for fabric are so different.

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Packaging and recommended fabric

The instructions: +/-
I wouldn’t advice Style Arc to an absolute beginner as the instructions are quite limited, but since this is such an easy piece, it could work. There are however some helpful diagrams to clarify the more difficult parts in construction so even if I’m not that experienced yet (I would call myself intermediate) I’m confident I could tackle their patterns.

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Instructions and diagrams

The pattern: ++
The pattern is just one very long piece of paper. The weight is somewhere between tissue paper and regular printer paper and what’s more, is that it is neatly folded so it’s super easy to fold back up. That is a very definite win in my book. Since it’s a single size pattern you could opt to just cut all the pieces since they aren’t printed on top of each other but I decided to trace anyway since I’m afraid I might lose pattern pieces in my mess of a house (construction going on and all) The markings and notches are very clear on the pattern and it even included some extra instructions. Since this was such an easy pattern I didn’t transfer the notches. (and guess what: I messed up)

This particular pattern only comes with a 6mm seam allowance, which is fine by me because I sew all my knits on a serger and this way I didn’t have to trim them down. It could be a bit tricky to do this on a regular sewing machine though. I, for one, am not going to try.

The construction: ++
I’ve never come across a pattern that was this well drafted. Every seam aligned perfectly. Seriously, I almost never pin knits and this didn’t need it either. I just pinned the places where seams had to match (which is where I messed up). This was probably the fastest make ever (even with the messing up part) and it’s due to the fact that it’s such a great pattern. It took me about two hours (including tracing and cutting) to get this done, so next time it’ll be even faster. And yes, there will be a next time.

The alterations: ++
I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern, the size was perfect and the fit as well.

Overall conclusion:
I would give this pattern an 8/10. But the 2 points lost are due to the Style Arc packaging and instruction style, so have in fact nothing to do with the pattern or make itself.

The actual cardigan:

As I said before, I wanted to try this in a fleece. I have been wearing my hubby’s fleece sweaters but it’s cold and he needs them as well. What’s more is that those sweaters date back to the days he was 15kgs heavier, so they are even on the large side for him. At first I didn’t mind all the room for my expanding belly, but with each kg I gained I felt less and less attractive and the oversized sweater wasn’t helping.

I’ve had this fleece in my stash for a while. I initially bought it to make a hoodie for a Craftsy class but when it arrived it turned out the be regular fleece and not sweatshirt fleece, so it was banned to the corner of my sewing room. Then I wanted to use it as interlining for my maternity coat, but that took too long so I bought a coat and still hadn’t used the fleece. I came across this pattern and it felt like a match made in heaven.

It was very easy to cut and it didn’t fray or shed all over the place. I like the green colour and it goes with a lot of my stuff. I knew it wasn’t as stretchy as the recommended fabric but I wanted to give it a try anyway. I cut this using my rotary cutter and I must say that this is probably for the best as to not mess up the 6mm SA.

Every seam went smoothly through the serger until I arrived at the neckband. I had glanced at the instructions so I knew what to do. I decided to pin the neckband to the rest of the cardigan as the keep the center back seam aligned. But somehow the end of the neckband didn’t match the end of the bottom pieces. Whatever I did, it wouldn’t fit. I thought it might have to do with lack of stretch so I tried to stretch it as far as I could and pin along the way. This is were the drunken monkey messed up my mind even more. I pinned the neckband and couldn’t help thinking that it was weird that on side the neckband was too short and on the other side it was too long. I could’t figure out why since these were all identical pieces. I stretched my fabric as well as I could to get it even. When it was finished and I opened everything up, I realised my very very very stupid mistake (I blame the backache, the lack of sewing these last few weeks and the kicking baby inside of me). Can you spot the mistake in the top picture?

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Top: Mistake
Left: Finished Front
Right: Finished Back

Yep, that’s right. Instead of matching the center back seam on the neckband with the center back seam on the bodice, I match the center back seam on the neckband to the freaking shoulder seam! I still don’t know how that happened. I didn’t bother with unpicking (unpicking serger seams are HELL) but just cut the seam off and sewed it on again and suddenly it fit perfectly… Go figure.

In the end I just finished everything off with a rolled hem (or my attempt at one at least) to keep things nice and tidy. It wasn’t really necessary but this way all the seams were locked in place.

I absolutely love how this turned out. It’s the perfect size, it has slight shaping in the back and it drapes nicely. I initially meant to only wear this at home but it looked so good I just wore it to work today. It’s warm but not too warm and it doesn’t get all sweaty and clingy like some fleece sweater can. It’s roomy enough so I can close it over my expanding belly, but it’s not meant as a maternity pattern so I’ll get a lot of wear out of it afterwards as well. I can use a belt if I want to close it or I can just let it hang open. Because of the shaping in the back, it doesn’t look like a potato sack and actually gives you a waist πŸ™‚

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Look at how big the belly has gotten… 9 more weeks to go πŸ™‚

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Tried the tripod and remote for the first time πŸ™‚

My famous last words for this cardigan: If you ever decide to buy just one pattern for a cardigan, get this one. Seriously, you won’t need any others. This one fits ever need you’ll ever have πŸ™‚

PS The entire outfit was Me-Made: A Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity T-shirt + Sew Liberated Simple Skinny Jeans

The One with All the Maternity sewing

So, I’m back and I need to get some posts out of the way. I’ve decided to stop waiting for good pictures before I blog about all my past makes. Winter is coming and we still have no central heating so changing clothes once a day is painful enough, let alone go through it several times to pose for pictures. I do have a remote and a tripod by now, but I feel guilty using them for new pictures before I’ve blogged about everything else.

Overthinking it much?

Before I start showing you all the pictures I feel pretty confident in saying that I’m totally over maternity sewing. It SUCKS! It’s great when you need a new dress for a party, but basically you end up sewing a whole lot of stuff that won’t even fit you after a few weeks. And I know that I told myself that I would be wearing them after I gave birth but that’s one option I got over quickly.

Second of all, when I sew something I want people to be able to see. And it’s so freaking cold that I have to layer it with not one but multiple items so I end up wearing my home made garment but with nothing to show for.

So I decided that I would just try to get through the rest of my pregnancy with the clothes I already had. This includes my giant stash of sweater dresses which made me look chubby before, but now make me look pregnant. And that’s a win in my book.

Last of all is that I just looked at some pre-pregnancy shots and I can honestly say that my body wasn’t all that bad before, I just hope to get it back. I can’t really complain as the extra weight is only on my belly. Which doesn’t make me look pregnant from the back, but does make me look (and feel) like a whale when I look at myself from the side or the front.

So here goes…

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All made using Megan Nielsen’s Ruched Maternity Shirt pattern

All Washi dresses (hacks) - I made the yellow one this summer and finally decided to shorten it to a tunic.

All Washi dresses (hacks) – I made the yellow one this summer and finally decided to shorten it to a tunic.

The skirts I made with a wide knit band and an outfit I was able to wear before it got cold.

The skirts I made with a wide knit band and an outfit I was able to wear before it got cold.

Before you say “you don’t look like a whale”… These pics were all taken a few weeks ago.. You should see me now.

I’m not saying I won’t make anymore maternity clothes but I’ve given in to buying a coat and buying some long camis and some pants. With everything going on I just didn’t have the time to make all of them and I really needed them because it’s that cold.

I’m already planning my new post-maternity wardrobe, I’ve got lots of patterns and fabric at the ready. I might have to stick to knit dresses and nursing friendly tops for a while. But at least, it’ll be (almost) normal sized me again πŸ™‚

That being said, I love my little baby so much!

(Unless it kicks my stomach or ribs, which makes me nauseous)

The One with the Outfits

So, I’ve been working on putting together outfits with the clothes that still fit me so it’ll be easier to see what I’m still missing and what I have to make. Dresses have never been a problem, so I’ll be concentrating on seperates only in this post. This is what I came up with so far seeing I lack a lot of tops/tshirts to make the other pieces work πŸ™‚ Just a cardi and a skirt just isn’t enough apparently.

I’ve created two sets and the good thing is that out of all these clothes I only bought 2 of them. I made everything else so I’m pretty proud! Ofcourse all of these go with regular jeans just as well, but I haven’t photographed my jeans yet πŸ™‚

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The One with the Fall Essential Sew-Along 2013 – Maternity Edition

sew along

I’m an Autumn colour type so naturally it’s my favourite season. So naturally when I came by the “Fall Essentials Sew-Along 2013” I had to join in. Mine will be the “Maternity edition” obviously πŸ™‚

So what is this sew-along about?

(I’m copying this directly from Rhinestones & Telephones blog)

“Fall is often a very busy season for many of us, filled with activities that often have us running hither and yon. Making your items should be a form of relaxation; a time to slow down and enjoy the creative process.Β You can make as many items as you like. Some participants create from each category and others from only one or two.

Goal: Stock your wardrobe with quality pieces that you will wear again and again.

Benefit: A group of creative people who will encourage and inspire you, not to mention talk you off the ledge when you need it!”

Categories

There are seven categories and you can choose how mant items you make out of whichever number of categories you’d like. For the explanation on the categories I refer you to the original blogpost.

My list

Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather

Burda 7165 + Self drafted jumpsuit

Burda 7165 + Self drafted jumpsuit

Chic Chemises for Cool Climates

Megan Nielsen Briar + Ruched Maternity Shirt

Megan Nielsen Briar + Ruched Maternity Shirt

Fabulous Frocks

Moxiepatterns Verity Dress + Ruched Maternity Mash-Up

Moxiepatterns Verity Dress + Ruched Maternity Mash-Up

Underneath It All

Self drafted Maternity undies

Self drafted Maternity undies

Those Cozy Nights

Megan Nielsen Maternity Lingerie Set

Megan Nielsen Maternity Lingerie Set

I will probably only make one of these seeing I like to be toasty warm when I sleep and because I need something ‘sexy’ for my wedding night πŸ™‚ Regular sleepwear will be leggings and tshirt… Which then will double as house wear.

Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity Shirt + Virginia Leggings

Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity Shirt + Virginia Leggings

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Burda 7024

Burda 7024

 

So this is my list. I’m already working on some of them and I’ve got fabric for all of them πŸ™‚

Are you entering ‘Fall Essentials Sew-Along 2013?’ You really should! Just check out the Flickr pool and try to resist. Resistance is futile.

The One with the Autumn Coat (2)

The ‘making of the coat’ is going slower than I thought. But that’s mainly due to life getting in the way. But it gave me time to treat my outer shell fabric to become waterproof and to reconsider the pattern I was about to use. I had bought the Amy Butler pattern when I just started sewing and I had cut out the pattern. Somehow it turned out a tad too small, well, wearable in a thin spring/summer fabric, but not in a winter appropriate fabric. I wanted to do some adjustments to make it a bit bigger and then adjust it to the growing bump, but in the end it would have meant so many alterations that it was crazy even thinking about it.

So with the help of some Sewcialists I found a new pattern. The lucky pattern is Burda 7024 and the only alteration it needs is that I need to add a hoodie. But I can use the Amy Butler pattern for that. I’ll keep you posted!

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The One with the Maternity Mash-Up

This is kind of a special post. Why? Because it’s the first garment made in my new house, in my new sewingroom and the first pictures taken in my own backyard!

But on to more important stuff!

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I wanted to recreate the dress on the right, but seriously… $159 for a jersey dress!!! No way I was going to pay that amount of money. But I think my $10 version on the left worked out perfectly!

So how did I do it?

I went through my pattern stash and pulled out these two lovely Megan Nielsen patterns. (I love her patterns!)

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I decided to line up the two ruched parts and blend them together. Funny thing was that both patterns called for me to make a size M, but the shirt patternpiece ended up 5cm wider than the skirt. So I took a drastic decision and decided to cut the size closest to the skirt size, which was a size XS.

The dress came together fairly easy. I basted the gathers so the front and back side seam of the dress were the same length. I pinned it all together to keep the gathers from shifting. That’s were I made a mistake. Normally I wouldn’t use pins when sewing knits on an overlock and it was late at night so to my horror I got my blade stuck on a pin. It was horrible! Luckily, I stopped my serger right on time so my blade seems a bit chipped but still cuts smoothly.

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To finish it off, I decided on a neckline band to keep it from gaping. It’s not gaping, but next time I’ll pull it even more flush. I even hemmed the bottom and the sleeves! I never do this on knits, but I wanted it to be finished nicely this time. So I used fusible webbing on the hems and then stitched it down with a twinneedle.

Overall I’m super happy with this dress and size wise it’s even a little loose. Fortunately it’s not too loose and I’m just going to keep it this way so that it still fits when I get bigger.

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I’m already getting quite big even if I haven’t gained any actual weight. I’ve already picked out fabric for a next dress and I might even add a cowl.

What do you think? Did I nail it by recreating the expensive dress or not?

The One with the Autumn Coat (1)

It turned cold really fast, well not cold perse, but a lot cooler… And a lot wetter. It’s too hot for a real winter coat but my raincoat is getting too tight πŸ™‚

So I went through my stash, matched my favorite coat pattern with lovely stash fabric and tomorrow I’ll be good to go. Should be finished by the end of the week πŸ™‚ And since everything came out of my stash, I consider this a freebie!

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Pattern: Amy Butler Rainy Days Hooded Raincoat
Fabric: Floral velours – Polytex / green fleece for bodice lining / green acetate for sleeve lining

The One with All the Outfit planning

I was reading Tilly’s latest post and it hit me! Having ideas about my wardrobe isn’t enough. I’ve started colour coordinating, but I fell short when it comes to outfit coordinating. I usually like quick instant gratification when it comes to sewing (remember the August challenge I set myself and clearly failed), but that results in single garments without an actual outfit to complete them and make them all special and truly wearable. This needs fixing.

So I started thinking about my own style. What type of clothing do I actually like and wear?
My favourite season would be somewhere between summer and winter. Let’s call it autumn, for argument’s sake. I like the fact that it calls for layers but without making you feel like a trifle.

If I look at what I like I would say ‘almost everything’. As long as it is feminine. Too bad I can’t go round looking like a Mad Men character 24/7. Outfits like Joan’s in Mad Men are (for me) ‘cake’ outfits. Those are outfits which will only get worn on special occassions because those are not the clothes I feel comfortable in while teaching. It has mostly to do with the fact that I don’t feel like a grown-up yet, so each time I wear high heels and fancy dresses, I kind of feel like I’m in disguise.

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I totally admire (read: daydream) about people who aren’t afraid to pull off the Joan look. I would consider the best example the ever lovely Julia. I’m so not going to show her pictures to my boyfriend, because he’ll want me to look the same. Heck, even I want to look like her. But it wouldn’t be me. She graciously allowed me to show you her pictures to stake my argument πŸ™‚

julia

So now that you know which style I wish I was, let’s talk about the things I tend to reach for.

I like ‘short’ dresses but I hate that my legs are always pasty white so I only wear them at times that I can pair them with tights or leggings. That’s why you’ll see me wear skirts and dresses in winter, but pants in summer. I’m weird like that. (This summer was a bit of an exception as it was sweltering hot!) So I normally go for short dresses (short for me is above the knee) or longer tunics with tights or leggings. I like slouchy boots with a little heel because they are comfy but add some much needed height. To top it all off I just put on a cardi, preferably a long knitted one and a scarf.

outfits
Due to my changing condition – the little thing inside me grows a little bit each day – I’m not able to wear the dresses I was wearing last year.

So now that I had decided what my style is and what I want to wear, it was time to go through my wardrobe and see what was lurking there.
We are still in the middle of doing construction work in our house. Part of that is waiting for the new windows to arrive, so while we’re doing that I can’t set up my large wardrobe yet. Which means my entire stack of clothing is packed into boxes. Because I can’t really unpack all the boxes yet, I decided to just take out the clothes I can still fit into (being pregnant and all) This has been an overwhelming disappointment. If it starts freezing tomorrow, I’ll be good to go… But until then, I’ve got a serious problem… My first plan was to work with what I’ve got and add the necessary garments to make everything work, but after reading the blog post by Jenny about ‘Sewing a Wardrobe and defeating the monster in the closet‘ I realised that making it work with stuff I don’t like to wear isn’t going to give me a great wardrobe, it’s going to give me a shitty wardrobe filled with things I’ll never wear outside my pregnancy and it won’t make me feel good about my pregnancy.

So I’m very much looking forward to Jenny’s next post because believe me, reading the first post in the series was like someone writing down exactly what was in my mind. Kinda scary πŸ™‚

Lots of people keep telling me that they went through their whole pregnancy with only a few items. That’s nice for them, but that’s not me. I love clothes, I can make my own clothes, why not feel pretty for the next 4,5 months! Besides, I’m working with a very though crowd each day… Teenagers… I seriously could not and would not get away with only three outfits for the rest of my pregnancy.
Luckily for me, I already loved wearing dresses which give my belly room to breathe, so if I do this the smart way, I’ll still be able to wear most of those clothes next winter or next pregnancy (or at least that’s what I keep telling myself)

So for the first time in my sewing ‘career’ I took the time for planning. Now that I have my iPad it’s a lot easier. I use the OneNote App (the only good thing Microsoft ever made) to plan my garments. I use it as a scrapbook for inspiration, possible patterns to match, alterations I need to make etc. It feels good to have it out of my head and into writing because now I can just take the right page and do as it says πŸ™‚ This keeps my sewing time open for actual sewing stuff instead of wasting it on thinking stuff πŸ™‚ I ordered swatches, am planning time to make muslins… Yes, yes, I’m turning over a new leaf!

And now that my sewing room is finally set up I’m good to go.Β (it’s temporarily in the future nursery, but still, it’s a room and there will be sewing…)

Sneak peek at what I'm planning

Sneak peek at what I’m planning

too damn high