Japan Travel Wardrobe – Part 1

It’s official, my husband and I have finally booked our holiday to Japan. We’ve been planning to go for two years now (it was supposed to be sort of our honeymoon) and we finally managed to find a date. We’ll be there from the beginning of April until the beginning of March, travelling around the country. I’m very excited!

So what is the first thing a sewist does when they booked a holiday? Dream up a travel wardrobe of course and make a list of things to sew. This list I’ve sketched out focuses on some key pieces I felt I was missing. Clearly I’m already dreaming of warm weather sewing. No worries I’ll take thermals and jackets too.

This list got me so excited that I’ve already sewn half way through it. Today I’m showing you the Claudia Dress and the Stellan Tee. The leather fanny pack is done too (check out my Instagram for a preview) and I’m currently working on the Raspberry Rucksack.

The Claudia Dress by Tessuti has been on my to-sew list since it came out. I love the neckline, the length, the side slits; basically it’s my dream summer dress. I used a Robert Kaufmann cotton-linen mix that I got from Ray Stitch a while ago. It’s a beautiful fabric but it took me a long time to decide what exactly to make with it. I’m glad I decided to pair it with the Claudia dress. It’s the perfect weight for this dress and the stripes work well with this simple shape.

Talking of stripes, I totally copied the idea of playing with stripe direction from Ellen (@ejc______). I saw her version of the Claudia on Instagram and immediately wanted to make my own. I broke up the front pattern piece into two (actually just at the place where you would stick the two pattern pieces together) and cut one piece on grain, the other one cross-grain. The back stripes are aligned with the ones of the lower part of the front. I made sure to pattern match just above the slit where both sides meet and love this little detail.

In terms of sizing I graded from a size S at the top to a size M in the hips. The amount of ease around the hips is perfect, at the top though I had to take the dress in quite a bit through the side seams. Now it sits close enough to not show any boob but it’s still relatively loose so that I can wear a T-shirt or turtleneck underneath. I tried to be super careful with the armhole stitching to not stretch it out (I stay stitched instead of using tear-away vilene as suggested in the pattern), still it gapes a little. Something to improve on the next version.

For the facings I used the main fabric, but decided to also invert the stripe. I figured rather than trying to match up the stripe I would create a sort of checkered pattern if the fabric was to sheer. And indeed you can see a faint pattern in the right light, which I think is quite fun.

The dress has pockets that are topstitched to the front. While I like the construction and the fact that they are there, I feel the pockets are really tiny, and I don’t even have big hands! Something to keep in mind if you ever make this pattern.

While I like the dress loose as drafted (unfortunately I forgot to take a picture), I also sewed up a tie to cinch in the waist. It breaks up the front bodice and adds a little bit more to the stripe play.

All in all it’s a wonderful pattern. For my next version I might hack it into a top for summer.

Next up is the Stellan Tee by French Navy. It’s a FREE pattern and a great contemporary version of a tee. I love the high neck and the relaxed fit.

The fabric is the ochre merino from The Fabric Store. I don’t really wear yellow/mustard colours, but it suits my husband so I had ordered some to make him a T-shirt. While the fabric was sitting in my stash, I got curious and decided to give this colour a try. So I stole a piece to make the Stellan Tee (don’t worry, there is still enough left for my husband).

It’s a simple tee, nevertheless, the instructions are nice and thorough. I’m not much of a T-shirt sewer, so this was actually the first time that I used the technique to enclose the back neck seam allowance with tape. I love how clean it looks and will definitely add that to any future T-shirts.

I don’t have a coverstitch machine, so I used a small zig zag stitch to finish the neck and hems. I always thought it looked a little bit amateurish though these days I actually really like the look of it.

The sizing for me is spot on. I made a size S based on my bust measurements and there is plenty of room even at the hips.

The hem is drafted as curved, which was a bit fiddly to sew. It’s a cute detail, though I might straighten it out next time to give it an even cleaner look.

Such a quick and satisfying sew and this merino is a dream to wear! My husband only wears merino shirts these days and I can understand why. It’s perfect for any climate and will be great for travelling.

Stay tuned for more holiday sewing!

Persephone and Mandy

Hello there! We are having a couple of warm and sunny weeks here in Germany and I wanted to check in to show you my new spring uniform: the Persephone Pants (by Anna Allen Clothing) and the Mandy Boat Tee (by Tessuti).

I’ve been wanting to make the Mandy Boat Tee for ages, but somehow never really got around to it. Then I was in Berlin in November and visited Siebenblau, a beautiful shop with organic fabrics, where I picked up this striped jersey with the Mandy in mind. I’ve been stalking them online and was very intrigued by their naturally coloured cotton. Shortly after, I came across the new podcast Reverberate by A Verb For Keeping Warm where in Episode 1 they interview Sally Fox who breeds coloured cotton and explains the history behind it. Definitely worth a listen!

In the shop I was warned that the fabric was warped due to the way it was wrapped on the bolt and that I should wash it and then stretch it in place. Unfortunately that didn’t really work. I stretched, I steamed and stretched but the fabric was still far from rectangular. My last resort was to pin it, while damp, to the wood wall of my bedroom and stretch it into submission. That worked reasonably well, not perfectly, but given the loose fit of the Mandy Boat Tee I decided to use it as it was.

The other struggle I had was the fact that I had only purchased one meter of fabric and with the warped ends even had a little bit less than that to use, so it was difficult to fit all the pattern pieces. In the end I had to piece the sleeves and shorten them slightly.

The construction process on the other hand was a breeze, thanks to the jersey being very stable. Another reason for being able to achieve a neat finish was that I finally purchased some flexible seam tape (I used the Vlieseline Nahtband Flexibel T15) that helped immensely with stabilising the neckline and the hem. Why have I not started using this sooner?

Excited about adding a new staple to my wardrobe I put it on but immediately realised that the sleeves were far too tight. Apparently the sleeve is drafted with a lot of negative ease and my fabric did not have a ton of stretch. Since I didn’t have any fabric left over to re-cut the sleeves I could only let out the seams a little bit. Now it’s wearable but still on the tight side. So next time I’ll definitely widen the sleeves. In terms of sizing, I used the new graded version of the pattern and chose a size 2 (S-M).

Despite all the struggles, I’m really happy with the final tee. The fabric is beautiful and lovely to wear. Now I finally understand why everyone loves the Mandy Boat Tee. It’s so easy to wear and I love the boxy fit. Once I have sorted out the sleeves I’m sure I will make more.

This pair of Persephones has been a long time coming. After I had finished my first pairs last summer I knew immediately that I wanted to make a denim pair. However, somehow I just couldn’t find a good heavy-weight denim neither in shops nor online. Then The Fabric Store had their sale at the beginning of the year and in addition to the merino jersey that I came for, I added a length of a 12 oz denim in Indigo to my cart. The fabric is actually perfect for the Persephones. The 12 oz weight is heavy enough to give them the needed structure but still thin enough so that my domestic sewing machine could handle it.

In terms of fit adjustments I made the same as for my first full-length pair (here the blog post with all the details). In summary, I sized down to a 10, shortened the front crotch, deepened the back darts and added a curved waistband with a centre back seam. When I basted them together to check the fit they came out bigger than expected. This was due to a combination of two factors. First, I had lost a little bit of weight after changes to my diet and second this denim, while being non-stretch, has some give whereas the fabric on my previous pair had none. To make them sit a little bit tighter I took them in through the inseam of the leg and some further through the back darts. They still sit a little bit looser than my other pair but they keep their shape nicely and are super comfortable to wear.

While I loved the construction of the original button fly, I do think a zip fly is a little bit more practical to wear. I could have probably figured out how to convert the button fly but decided to purchase the Zipper Expansion Pack that Anna just released. The construction is slightly different to what I normally do (which is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans method) but it came out beautifully. I love learning new techniques!

I also added some length to the legs. With a generous 5 cm double hem they finish just at my ankle. This makes them a little bit more practical to wear in cold weather, without the need for knee-high socks all the time.

Since I went with denim, I decided to go all out with the top stitching details. I chose an orange colour and loved adding all the details. I also incorporated the pretty selvage by using it as the belt loops. To top it all off I used a white bone button from Fringe Supply Co. The white button with the orange stitching makes me so happy!

So, another pair of Persephones down and I think I’m still not done with the pattern. I might make an off-white pair or one in khaki. I’m constantly inspired by the all the great versions popping up in my Instagram feed (just check out the hashtag).

Hope you are all getting some sunshine, wherever you are!

Ogden and Ginger

Hi everyone. I can’t believe we still had snow when we took the pictures for my last post. Since then we’ve already had two heat waves and spring is finally and truly here. I’m so excited! My sewing list for spring and summer is super long and I have already 4 projects cut out and ready to go. Now to find the time to sew them.

Before diving into frivolous summer sewing I made sure to fit a sensible project in first. One of the things in my wardrobe that I wear to death are black skinny jeans. The two that I own are not black anymore and I’m just waiting for them to fall apart. I have been looking for a new pair in the shops for ages, but I can’t find anything that works with my hip/waist ratio. True black stretch denim, however, isn’t easy to find either. So when I saw that Fabric Godmother offered some Super Black Super Stretch Denim I immediately ordered some. The fabric when it arrived was not as stretchy as expected, though still suitable for skinny jeans. For the pattern I went with my trusted Closet Case Pattern Ginger Jeans in a medium to high rise (I amended the rise for my second pair and have stuck with it for my third and fourth). As in my previous versions I used the pocket stay version, which keeps everything nicely together. The legs are slimmed down from the straight leg version as much as comfortable, making sure I would be able to still get the leg opening over my foot. Most of the construction was straight forward (by now I’m very familiar with all the steps) the only hick-up were the back pockets. With this stretchy fabric I made sure to pin the back pockets over a tailor’s ham but when I tried them on, they were still too tight and digging in. The second attempt then was too loose and they were sticking out. I finally managed to get them right on the third go but I’m wondering if there is an easier way of doing it. Any tips?

The final jeans definitely fill a gap in my wardrobe, though they are not quite perfect. There is some pulling/wrinkling at the front pockets and the back yoke and the jeans zip that I used is super chunky so the front doesn’t lie flat properly. Then there is the twisting of the leg, which I wasn’t able to get rid of by alternating the direction of the front and the back leg (which I thought I did). Finally, though not surprising with black fabric, these jeans attract lint like crazy (and are impossible to photograph). Still, I’m sure they will prove very useful and I’m glad that I ticked them off my list.

I’ve paired the jeans here with my espadrilles (a summer favourite, though I almost ruined them in a swamp excursion to see snake’s head frittilaria) and a new Ogden Cami. This cami started out as an 80s jumpsuit that I picked up at a flea market maybe 7 years ago. It was a double breasted jumpsuit in shorts length, which I could not pull off (I wish I had photos!) so I turned it into a slightly more wearable shirt dress. That got worn a couple of times but was still a bit too retro for my taste. It then recently ended up in the donation pile but got rescued in the last minute since I could not let go of this perfect sand-washed cupro. To squeeze it out I had to be creative with the centre front and back seams; also the length is slightly shorter than the original pattern but that actually works better for my short torso. The hem is preserved from the original garment. I made a straight size 6, as for my last version of that pattern, and it turned out really nicely. It’s the perfect little summer top.

I can’t wait to sew some more summer things. I’m super inspired by all the recent Me Made May posts!