May 14, 2016

Where I wrap up the first part of MMMy16 and some big personal news

Hello there.

So, almost half of May has passed by (say what?), and I feel it is time to spend a few words on Me Made May.


First thing to say, is that I have spent one week of holidays in Edinburgh and in the amazing Isle of Skye, in Scotland. I am in love with this country and its people. The trip has only confirmed this feeling.
Apart from my rumblings about Scottish people and food and drinks and places, one week of holidays means a compact travel wardrobe. Enter my Ginger jeans.



Second thing to say, is that I have gained a few kilos more. While this is not the first time, I feel that these particular kilos put me on the other side of my personal limit. I am convinced that feeling pretty is quite a personal decision and boundaries are best when self set. One of my gurus on the topic is the character Agrado from the movie All about my Mother (by Almodòvar). I don't remember the exact quotation but the idea is that "we feel authentic when we resemble to the idea we have of ourselves". I believe this is true, and my idea of myself involves me being able to climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath, so something has to change from my current situation. For the first time in my life I feel motivated to actually do something serious about my health, I have spoken about this with a couple of doctors I trust, and both have suggested me to try Weight Watchers. Chéri has been encouraging about this, too, and reminded me that whatever I do to my body I do to our happiness together in terms of health and hopefully long life together (more on that at the end of the post). The same goes for him, of course: we want each other to be healthy and happy together. We had a recent scare about that (everything turned out to be fine) so we are appreciating the idea of just being healthy.
Of course I am not saying a few kilos more means lack of health, far from me to be the judge of that. I am just saying, that my personal idea of myself involves an active body with a few kilos less, and kilos are only an external sign, not the main point of my personal consideration. Anyway, tomorrow I am going to my first WW meeting and let's see what happens.


Sorry for the personal unload, I didn't plan this post this way, but then the words just came out, and I have decided to leave it like that, since it is indeed a reflection on my body, my style, my confidence and my clothes. Perfectly in line with Me Made May rationale.
Speaking of which, more kilos mean that most of my dresses and trousers do not fit anymore. Enter my Ginger jeans.


I have not presented them on the blog yet, but by now you have seen them a lot in my MMMay pictures. You might be wondering if I even own other trousers, and the answer is yes but they don't fit me anymore... These particular jeans are instead very forgiving (I am sure they are one size bigger than necessary) but baggy. If I ever make a blog post on them, you will see what I mean.


So well, the first part of MMMay has been a lot of jeans and tops, and a couple of dresses which still fit me. Also, I have cheated a couple of days, wearing something which was not handmade, and that was a cute but large tunic dress chinched with a waist-tie. It is a really old dress which I have no intention to throw away, even if the neckline is very wide and a bit annoying and un-practical. I guess this means I need to make a sway dress which can be dressed up or down, with or without waist-tie (I am looking at you, Sway dress by Papercut) and more simple dresses for everyday decontracted use (Adelaide by Seamwork, for example).
I am not planning on making new trousers or a pair of better fitting jeans, since I want to wait one month more and see if I can remove those (in)famous kilos we were talking about, just because I don't want to waste time or money in something (hopefully) transitional.


One last note to sum up this first part of May 2016, is that in the magnificent Isle of Skye, Chéri officially proposed to me! Pinch me because I still don't believe it! I keep looking at my beautiful ring and smiling, I am engaged and I don't believe it yet! This has nothing to do with clothes and maybe nothing to do with this blog, but this is important news which has changed my life, so I feel like stopping people in the streets and telling them! Sharing here with you is the minimum I could do!
If you are interested, in the future I can give updates on our wedding plans, but for now let me just enjoy this new-to-me feeling.


Until next time,
ciao!

May 12, 2016

Where I tested one Afternoon (or two)

Hello there!

Back in February, I was lucky enough to be selected by Jennifer Lauren to test her updated Afternoon Blouse and Shift Dress pattern.

I say lucky because this was the first time I ever tested a pattern (yeah), and especially because I got to have in my hands a great pattern, or rather two.
Trust me I am not saying this just because I was a tester, they truly are great patterns.


The Afternoon Blouse has been a classic of independent patterns for a while now, and Jennifer decided to update it to bigger size range and with a complimentary shift dress featuring the same style: choice of two decorative necklines and 1940s-inspired kimono sleeves.
Yes, these are free updates! If you have already bought the blouse pattern, you just have to send Jennifer your Etsy or Paypal receipts and she will send you the updates by email.


Well, onto the dress now!
The pictures you see here are of the tested garments, and you can see everything is already pretty much great in terms of fitting and style, Jennifer is so talented. The final product shouldn't be much different for my size range.
Speaking of size, these patterns are designed for a D cup, so I have skipped my usual FBA (hurray!) and went directly with grading: 14 at the shoulders, 16 at bust, 18 at waist, 16 at the hips. I think it worked quite well, what do you think?
Let me tell you she has put much effort in larger size grading so expect this dress to fit you like a glove and grace your curves.


The pattern takes its name by the time you need to actually make it, and this is totally true: in one afternoon I have made one dress and one blouse, and wore the blouse to dinner with friends!
I can assure you a beginner can tackle this pattern: there are few pattern pieces and it comes with thorough instructions. As a tester I can assure Jennifer put a huge effort to make the instructions clear, with schematics and explanations.


There are no sleeves to set, and the only tricky points are the pivot point at the centre bust (which I kind of messed up in the blouse, but it's my fault 'cause I was sewing polka dots in the dark, you do the math), and the back boxpleat or elastic casing for the dress. Both those steps are explained in their every detail and everyone can easily follow and make something beautiful.


The dress is in a medium weight polyester from Toto Tissus in Toulouse, and the blouse in a light weight cotton, from Fabric Land in Bristol, present from Chéri, already used here.



I love the simple plain style of this pattern, I have been wearing both garments since I have made them, at work and during the weekends. They are comfortable (no waistband, I tell you!), but super cute. All my friends are in love with them! Even Chéri approved, and by now you know that his approval is not granted for whatever garment I sew.


Wearing these garments for almost three months now, I am impressed by their flattering shape: you should know by now that I fear shapeless silhouettes, but this pattern checks all the boxes by being extremely well drafted, comfortable, cute and quick to sew. I wear it and I feel instantly pretty, and this is something to cherish, n'est pas?


As you can imagine I will make more of them: the Afternoon blouse and shift dress is a great opportunity to showcase fabric, and to make something instantly rewarding.
As for the central button, in both garments I have decided to omit it because I couldn't decide which style I wanted for it. I ended up using decorative broaches which I remove before washing and I can change easily to match with my outfit.


Thank you Jennifer for giving me the opportunity to test such great patterns, and for being patient with me blogging about them 3 months later, sorry!


April 28, 2016

Where I talk about working wardrobe and MMMay 16

Hello there,

today it is going to be a bit more talkative post, but fear you not: pictures of handmade clothes are still going to be here!
If I recall correctly you guys enjoyed my previous posts on "what was in my suitcase", so you might enjoy this as well.

As I told you in my last post, I have started a new job. Who says life change, says new wardrobe.
Let's explore together the requirements and possibilities of this new phase of my life (only in terms of handmade wardrobe, of course).

You will hear more about this dress and see it better, promise!


Looking polished/smart
This job is in the space industry. There is no specific dress code (please do not imagine us all wearing astronauts' suits), but generally I have to look polished and smart dressed.
This means nothing too clingy, no cute/girly outfits, nothing over the knee, no bare armpits and shoulders, foresee medium-height heels.



Sitting comfortably
I spend most of my days sitting at my desk.
This means no super tight waistbands, possibly not too wrinkly fabrics.



Meetings
I also attend meetings, where I usually play 'the bad cop', so I want to dress a little bit extra-smart in these occasions, especially since I am usually younger than the average attendees. Not to be cliché here, but no one will easily be convinced by a curly blonde with brown eyes and little experience. We can call this the Mindy Lahiri effect, if you might.
This means vast use of blazers and proper formal clothes.



Business trips
I am expected to travel quite a bit, all over Europe.
This means capsule clothes: a few items should be capable to cover several business days with different combinations, and provide me with comfortable smart appearance, and adaptability to different countries with different business codes, and different temperatures.



Weekends
After three years in PhD captivity, and one year in unemployment paralysis, I am re-discovering the weekends just now (who ever completed a PhD or ever been long time unemployed will understand what I mean).
I have a full range of activities I enjoy doing and of chores I can't escape. Usually on Saturday mornings I wear the comfiest trousers I find around and go grocery shopping, and I don't quit them until Monday morning. Well, I don't like this, beacuse I feel sloppy and this reflects on my mood over the weekend. I also wouldn't like to make many efforts, those days are for rest!
Also, I am becoming more serious about sports, and my sport clothes are worn out and honestly ugly.
This means effortlessly chic clothes for chores and drinks with friends, and new sport garments.



Personal style
One might ask when do I get to wear my beloved polka dots, my fuchsia everything, my over the knee dresses?
Apart from showing skin, I believe all the rest can be easily integrated into everyday business apparel: no need to go fuchsia head-to-toe, but I am happy to add a little touch here and there in accessories and details.
I feel grateful and lucky to be able to sew my wardrobe, because in this particular wardrobe transition I am not obliged to buy whatever the high street offers, but I can truly tune what I wear to the required dress code, and still make it more personal than ever.

After these considerations, I have decided to take Me Made May 2016 as a time to further develop these ideas and here comes my pledge:

I, Sara of Harmony through Imperfection, will take part of Me Made May 2016, and endeavor to wear at least one handmade garment each day. I will also take the opportunity to analyse my working wardrobe and my weekend wardrobe and make them functional and reflective of my personal style. 

Last note, the pictures you see in this post are from a three-week long business trip, where I (mostly) managed to combine and rotate a few items and feel dressed up every day and still coherent to my personal taste.

April 27, 2016

Where I went to the Netherlands

Hello there!
I hope everyone is doing fine. I am adjusting to my new life and still finding time to do all I like doing.

Yes, I have a new life to talk about: I got a job! It is an amazing position (like the one of my dreams) and I am so glad all my research has paid out and I am now happy-super happy from a working point of view.
The new job is in Toulouse, so I'll stay here for as long as it takes, and Chéri is doing his best to get a position at least in the same country. From this point of view life is still a bit challenging, but we are not going to be stopped by these "details": we have goals together and we will reach them!


The title of this post comes from a one-week business trip I made to the Netherlands in mid-February: I went to Leiden and took advantage of the Saturday market to buy some fabric, of course!
They have a couple of fabric and haberdashery shops in the market and I was impressed by the choice available and the good prices! Needless to say, I bought *a lot* of fabric...

So here I am showing a very simple but cute blouse.


It is from the book "Fashion with Fabric" by TGBSB authors.
I have made this pattern before so nothing special to add: size 14 at the shoulders, with 10 cm FBA. With respect to the last time, in this sturdier cotton the final result is not too big but correct. Yuppy!


This time I made no back buttons, only a tiny tie in the back, and shortened the back hem, to make it wearable under jackets.
Also, no bias finishing but neck and armholes facing, and double rolled hem.


The main point of this simple blouse is of course the amazing fabric: nothing says more Netherlands than a Delft blue variation in a quality cotton. I think this would have also made a cute tablecloth (and Chéri agrees with me), but hey, I sew my clothes so I can choose to wear a tablecloth and do it in style!


I had fun matching the print as much as I could with one meter fabric, and I managed to do it also for the facing, but not perfectly on centre-back seam. So proud anyway!


I have been wearing it a lot at work, with a simple cardigan on top, or dressed up under a jacket, and I like to look away from the screen and see this joyful print and be reminded that I got a marvelous chance to start a new life and I'd better make the most out of it!

January 18, 2016

Where 2015 comes to an end

Hello there,
today I am sharing my very last makes of 2015!

First up a drapey dress included in the book Fashion with Fabric, by the authors of The Great British Sewing Bee.

 

I fell in love with this dress since it appeared in the book blog tour, and have been hunting the perfect fabric for a long time. Finally I found the exact grey Ponte di Roma I was looking for. It was in Toto Tissus in Toulouse and the price was affordable.

 

I cut a size M and made no modifications. The fit on the model was quite generous and I was ever so afraid of the potato sack effect. We all know boxy designs don't compliment my silhouette (or lack thereof).


I now think I should have graded to an L at the hips in order to make the fit more fluid on me, cause looking at the pictures I have the impression that the dress stops at the hips and a lot of fabric is kept at the waist, giving a not so nice pregnant lady effect, especially when you are not pregnant. 


Oddly enough I don't hate the back view, which almost never happens to me. It was my first time sewing Ponte di Roma and I truly enjoyed it!

  

The two main features of the dress are the generous inseam pockets and the asymmetric front design. They don't show in this fabric and in these pictures, but you have to trust me that in real life they are amazing features and I have received a lot of compliments.


I made this dress at the beginning of November and it has been ever since in constant rotation, with brogues or boots, under a cardigan or directly under the coat, given the mild autumn and winter here in Toulouse. I brought it to Italy for Christmas holidays and I have enjoyed it a lot!


Despite the fitting issue I love it and I might make it again!
A nice side note is that all the pictures of this dress were taken by Anne Lise and Magalie. Thanks girls! 

Now for the very last make of 2015, you have some awful bathroom selfies. Sorry but this is a present and I finished it quite last minute, so I definitely had no time for proper pictures.
Well, it is a snood/cowl I made for my friend Manu. She can wear it all folded, over the head or over the shoulders. 
Construction-wise is quite simple, just endless 1x1 ribbing and a few augmentations towards the end. The pattern is free on Ravelry
When she opened the present she loved it and the look on her face made me so happy!

January 12, 2016

2015 *sewing* recap and 2016 goals

Hello there and a very happy new year!
May 2016 be filled with joy, love, peace, friends, good food, laughs, drinks and challenges to conquer for you!

I have been enjoying reading all the recap posts these days, and I wanted to recap 2015 in sewing for me. It has been a grand year: I counted 36 finished sewing projects all together, including garments, presents, underwear and small objects. A few of them are not blogged (yet).


It has also been the year this little blog grew and I became more regular in publishing my makes and my thoughts.


In 2015 I have entered the Curvy Sewing Collective and regularly shared my makes on their Flickr group. I took part in one Instagram game, in Me Made May, in Sundress-sew-a-long, in the Made Up initiative, in the Vintage Pattern Pledge and in the Blogger Secret Santa.


I have knitted three garments, one of which was a long time due WIP I finally finished.


I have improved my confidence in front of the camera, and I became one to mostly enjoy posing and showing my makes.

From this
to this


My sewing goals for 2015 were:

Improve my sewing skills: underwear, outerwear, better fabrics, fitting

The fact that I am still unemployed determined a huge cut in my sewing budget, thus limiting the purchase of outerwear and underwear fabrics and notions. Anyway, I have purchased better fabric, whatever that means, and improved a lot my fitting skills. All in all, I am satisfied!


My best make of 2015 is this wedding outfit (Kim dress, petticoat, Victoria blazer and Red velvet clutch):


My worst make is this skirt (Syrah skirt):


I have been thinking of a few sewing goals for 2016 and they are:

  1. become more social, in real life and taking part in more sewalongs, interesting social games and swaps;
  2. outerwear is still something I want to sew, mostly because of the new (to me) techniques involved and the fact that I need a new raincoat;
  3. the same goes for underwear, especially on the bra side;
  4. improve fitting, because it is a journey and I still have a long way to go;
  5. tackle jeans: I already have fabric and pattern, maybe I'll give it a go soon;
  6. sew at least one man shirt, because of the techniques involved and I can think of a couple of men in my life who would benefit from this;
  7. sew a tailored jacket for me;
  8. buy a couple of interesting sewing and tailoring books I have been eyeing for a while;
  9. keep growing my handmade wardrobe, replacing old RTW with new makes, balancing what I need and want I fancy sewing.
That should be all for 2016, I hope I can make it happen and share my progress with you.
Thanks for tagging along in 2015 and once again my best wishes of a happy and inspiring 2016!

Sara

December 23, 2015

Where it's not enough

Hello there,
I'm back to blogging after a long silence. No particular reason for that, just a lack of inspiration in sewing and writing about it. A few pictures were taken before the silence, though, and this top is among them. It is the Sophia top which was included in the Love Sewing Magazine issue 19.


I made it in a voile I scored at the local Toto Tissus in Touluse. It is a cute cotton in marsala colour with beige diamonds which look like polka dots from a distance. I paid 1€ for it. 
When I went home I noticed that the printed diamonds were faded in several places, so I realized I could only cut something quite small out if it in order to only use the good print.


The Sophia top appealed to me for the simple lines and the quick make, and in order to make it quicker I made no toile and no FBA (gasp!). In the end, for 1€ fabric I could have lived with a non perfect fitting.


As usual with Simple Sews patterns, I made a size 12 at the shoulders, 18 at the waist and this time graded to 14 at the bust.


It turns out the fitting is not completely bad across the bust, but it pulls the top up at the waistline. This is a major problem for the pattern, which already features a cropped length and now looks way too short on me as soon as I move, let alone rise my arms.


So, the fit here is a major no, but I like top in general and the fabric. I enjoyed making French seams all around and self made bias for neckline and arms. I am now thinking to maybe add a length at the waist and make it more every-day and easy to wear. But I am always reluctant in changing something I have just made and I don't know if I'll do it or not. Only time will tell, I guess. As for now, I enjoy wearing it under v-neck pulls.