Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sewing Plans

Hello there! :)
As I was telling you the other day, Melissa and James came to visit this week. We had a great time! I was so happy to see Melissa again, and to meet James. P'tite Mignonne was spoiled rotten with treats and lots of cuddles. Melissa has a picture of us that she'll probably post on her blog when they're back from their Tour de France. The funny thing when we took the picture is, Melissa was wearing Jalie jeans and I was wearing a Jalie top, so we matched. ;)

It was exciting to show my sewing room/office to Melissa, and of course to chat about sewing (though I believe we were pretty good at not talking about sewing all the time, so as not to bore the guys too much!). Melissa showed me her embroidery for her upcoming silver and linen dress, and her grey stretch lace hand-basted on pink jersey for her Burda dress - both are going to be stunning. Needless to say, this was all super inspiring.

Also very exciting were the fabrics that Melissa brought me! When she was planning her trip, she asked me whether there was anything I would like brought over from England? - oh yes, I replied. Knit fabric in pretty prints! So I placed an order on an English website and Melissa had it delivered at her home. The fabrics  came wrapped with a big bow, and they are gorgeous!

Yes, P'tite Mignonne is convinced they are part of the treats James and Melissa brought her.

I am so pleased with these fabrics. The recovery is great, the touch is super nice, and the colours and prints are just what I was hoping for. I am simply enamoured with the black, fuchsia and white large floral print. The website they came from is Totally Fabrics.

What do I plan to do with these? Glad you asked :)
  • The black and fuchsia print is going to become my birthday dress! After much debating, I am going to use Simplicity 2369 (view B) for this one. I wanted a largish skirt to get to fully enjoy the fabric ;) but not so much that it is going to take up all of the fabric. I am hoping to have enough leftover to make a top.
  • The blue floral fabric, which is darker IRL than in the picture, is going to be made into a Simplicity 2580 dress, a pattern I've long wanted to make - I find cowl necklines so elegant (which is why I swooned over the Maid of Honour's dress at the Royal Wedding yesterday! More so actually than over the Bride's dress). I'm going to make view D, in the shorter length.
  • I am still undecided as to the fate of the black and red fabric. Maybe the Jalie Empire Dress (see below)? With the stripes going horizontally for the bodice and vertically for the skirt? What do you think? Or maybe a couple of tops. This fabric is super cute, with stylized flowers and cherries that have a retro feel. Feel free to offer more ideas :)

I have lots of work piled up this weekend, but I did cut out the pattern pieces for both Simplicity dresses before going to bed yesterday, and I do hope I'll manage to sew the mock-wrap dress in small increments and finish it in time. I have to get up at 5.30 am for work on my birthday (something that occurs fairly regularly, but that I don't get used to), and the prospect of putting this on should help me start my day on a happy note. ;)

Knitting wise, I made good progress on my Spring Garden Tee (another design by Alana Dakos). I am knitting this in bamboo for the warm months, and it feels like silk. I love working on this project.
Yep - P'tite Mignonne managed yet again to sneak into the picture.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The gift that was hard to part with; and, a prehistorical sewing memory

Here is a shawl I made for my sister Catherine's birthday (Catherine is the older one of my sisters - mommy to Robin and Florian for those who remember :)). 
The Cedar Leaf Shawlette is a very long and narrow shawl, so that it works more like a scarf (more practical for someone not used to shawl) yet retains the romantic shawl look - my sister is super feminine and delicate.
The (K)nitty Gritty:
Design: Cedar Leaf Shawlette, a wonderful design by Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting.
Yarn: Rowan Revive (recycled silk, cotton and viscose) in Pumice (ecru, 1.6 skeins = 205m) and Granite (olive green, just over 1 skein = 137m)
Needle size: 4.5mm (US 7)
Project page on Ravelry

My sister and I share (among lots of other things!) a love for nature and a deep concern for the environment - constantly exchanging tips on leading a greener life; so I felt the leaves motif was fitting. To push the theme further, I chose to work with recycled yarn - the wonderful Revive by Rowan, in gorgeous muted shades of ecru and olive green. Both shades have little flecks of colour throughout. I made the leaves in a contrasting colour to bring out the motif.

I really like Alana’s designs; I am currently knitting her Spring Garden Tee, and loving it too.
I can honestly say that I have never found it so hard to part with something I made! I really love this shawl, and the leaves were quite work intensive, but so worth it. Catherine though is the perfect recipient for such a long-drawn work. She is not the crafty type, but she's always has an immense appreciation for the gifts I made her over time; and she is super meticulous with them. I know this shawl is in good hands :) She loved it, and besides we had such a fabulous family time last weekend that I know she will forever associate this shawl with the memory of this perfect moment.

And I can always make another Cedar Leaf for myself :)

And now a word about the dress. I didn't make it; it predates my sewing years by almost a decade. I was at the countryside in Northern France and hadn't anticipated such a hot summery weather when I packed, so I rummaged through my stuff there and found this dress. It may not be handsewn, but it is special: I bought it when I was 17 (eek - almost 15 years ago!!), and as it was too roomy when I bought it, my Grandma (you know, the professional seamstress whose work inspired me to started sewing) sewed darts and took it in to fit me better. Come to think of it, it was a sewing lesson of sorts - the only one she was ever able to give me! This is why I treasure this dress. (As you can see, I already loved wearing blue when I was 17. :))

Stay tuned for exciting sewing content coming soon - I have to tell you about the visit of a sewing friend, new fabric!! and my projects for spring/summer dresses :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Back to Sewing - a little dress for work

Summer has decided to come early this year, and here in Southern France, summer means business. This means I need some new dresses, and probably a few skirts, too :)

Here's one I made for work - New Look 6643.

I have used this pattern in the past, with great results. I do like this dress - especially the colour, which I really love; but I am disappointed in the fabric, which looked nice, but now that it is sewn up, just hasn't such a great, stable weave to it. Sigh. I paid good money for this fabric.
Finding nice fabrics locally is proving more and more difficult, which largely explains my lack of sewing. I know some of you out here find it frustrating, and believe you me, so do I! Finding decent knits to sew is absolutely impossible, but even good wovens are becoming few and far between. Thankfully, Melissa is coming over from the UK soon, and she's bringing me a few fabulous knits :) It means I can finally dare and use up the last few pieces that I have left! :)
Still, I do like this dress, enjoyed wearing it to work, and even got complimented on it by utter strangers. :)

(the state of the lawn is a long story - basically our landlady decided to hire a gardener to do it months ago, but he never showed up :( we just told the landlady enough was enough, and we're turning over the garden this evening and planting a new lawn ourselves tomorrow!)