October 17, 2016

Where it's all about the layering

Hello there!

How is everyone adjusting to autumn?
On my side I am extremely happy as usual in this time of the year, because my birthday is approaching and in the morning I feel more energized and ready to jump into work.

Today I'm showing a dress I particularly like: the Ivy pinafore by Jennifer Lauren Handmade.

I was lucky enough to be a pattern tester for this dress, and this has been a great opportunity to explore such a peculiar silhouette.

As you might know if you are not new around here, I usually don't wear tent dresses, because they make me feel shapeless. So imagine my face when I saw the technical drawing! Then I sewed the dress, and I was pleasantly surprised. 

Yes, it's a tent dress, but it is super feminine, and I don't feel at all shapeless into it. Look:

Jennifer Lauren patterns are drafted for a D cup, so if you are a different cup please consider leveling the hem. Other than that, let me assure you that the pattern fits like a glove with no darts to adjust. I've made a size 14 with no alterations.

The pinafore is designed for heavy fabrics, and I picked something like a chambray, which is thin but heavy and very drape-y. It is supposed to be fully lined, but I have decided to make it unlined to get more wearability. Looking at the pictures, now I just regret I didn't interface both sides of the collars because of the lightweight fabric.

As you can see the Ivy pinafore is perfect for autumn layering and transitioning weather, with or without tights, long or short sleeves, and the overall look can change so much accordingly to what you pair it with. I can't wait to wear it with boots!

It has inseam pockets, which are a blessing and are totally hidden in the overall flowing of the dress.

One of the main features is the collar, which is very cute, other than easy to sew. It has the typical pinafore looks, with a very feminine touch, as usual with Jennifer Lauren patterns. 

I've been wearing a lot the Ivy these days, because it makes me feel comfortable and put together, very feminine but playful.

I'll talk soon about the other version I have made, for a totally different look.

October 14, 2016

Where I needed a quick fix

Hello there.
I hope you are all doing fine and adjusting to the changing weather of this lovely October. Today it's the first day of autumn rain in Toulouse, so it seems about right to present the last of my summer makes.

It has rapidly become on of my favourite dresses. It's the Rumi Tank by Christine Haynes.
She recently released this dress as the first of the collection "Chop chop make it today": it is supposed to be a series of quick to make PDF patterns.

This one was quick indeed! Let's start by saying that I have bought it immediately as I saw it, already with a fabric in mind from my stash, and the association has worked perfectly. Sewing time has been very little and satisfation quite big, so a great deal altogether.

Rumi is a tank dress with gracious fit and feminine shape, designed for lightweight knits. Neckline and armholes are finished by bias binding. It features the typical racerback tank shape at the back, which sits nicely on the shoulder blades, and a scoop neckline at the front, very feminine but not too revealing.

The shape and look can change a lot accordingly to the choosen fabric. In my mind I saw it as the perfect project to finish up some fabric leftovers from my first (and last) online fabric shopping. It has not been a very successful one, since the weight of this brown fabric turned out to be too thin for the sportswaear I intended to sew. On the other hand, it is great for a swishing dress with simple style lines.

The dress has an optional wide hem band, which you can make in contrast fabric. I wanted an all brown look but could not fit the long pattern pieces on my fabric leftovers, so I pieced it anyway and I am happy with the result: I think it adds interest to the hem band, which is something I usually appreciate.

I have made a straight size 14 (thanks to my new measurements, yay) with no patterns adjustments (yay), and I am happy about the final fit (yay yay). The pattern is designed to have negative ease at the shoulders and bust, and positive ease at the waist and hips, great combination if you ask me!

I have been wearing the Rumi dress ever since I made it, because it is comfortable and easy to layer under a cardigan or a scarf. It can be dressed up or down with high heels or ballerinas, and I am sure I will make more of it. It also is the perfect travel dress: as you can see I have made good use of it while sightseeing in Basel one month ago with Chéri.

I like a lot the tank shape, and will make for sure the top version, which is also included in the pattern.

September 9, 2016

Where pajamas keep me awake

Hello there!
It's been almost four months I don't write here.

The last time you left me before my first WeightWatchers meeting, and rest assured this is the main reason I have not written anymore.
WeightWatchers works, and I now have roughly 10 kg less! I am not out of breath anymore and my lifestyle is more active and healthy in general.
Speaking of sewing my own clothes, my body measurements have changed a lot of course: my body now has totally different proportions and shape than it used to have before. Still, my weight loss journey is not over: I am still overweight and my body will change again, both in measurements and general shape.

As you can imagine, all my clothes are quite big for me right now, but I don't feel like sewing new ones, because it is a lot of effort for something that will not necessarily fit in a few months more. I've tried to buy, but well let's just say I am not used to be in RTW clothes anymore.

Have I been sewing these past months? Yes of course! I have had some dull moments because of intense workload, but sewing is still my passion.

Among other things, I have been sewing for Chéri, and that is what I am going to show you today: a man pajamas top.

It is the Eugene henley by Seamwork Magazine. It is not necessarily sleepwear, but that's what I have chosen to do with it.

I particularly liked the small details which make it precious, like the button placket, the side vents, the back neckline reinforcement.

As you can see, I had quite a lot of fun playing with stripes and colours. Fabric is a priceworthy find in the remnants bin in Toto Tissus in Toulouse. I still have some left, let's see what I can make with it.

You might notice that pattern matching is not perfect, and I am sorry to do so but I blame my sewing machine which is not capable anymore to deal with very thin and stretchy fabric without overstretching it.

I have made no alterations, but next time I will make wider shoulders, according to Chéri's feedback. I still haven't seen him wearing it so I'll have to trust his judgement, you know the joys of long distance relationships...

It was my first button placket and my first time installing snaps. It all went well, instructions are clear and it's a quick and gratifying make.
It has definitely kept my sewing skills awake in this awkward transition period of my sewing life.

In case you want to join the Seamwork Magazine, you can earn have 1/2 off your first month, and I'll get one free month if you follow my referral link.

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,

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.

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.

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.