I’m moving! Or rather re-assembling myself..

click for the source

Find me now at Monbouton’s Needles

I’m not moving in real life – thank goodness – but leaving this little home of mine. I’ve had a knitting blog for years now and last year, when I started to sew seriously I didn’t want to write my progress on the same blog for some unknown reason. But now I’m starting to become a little schizophrenic and have been thinking a lot about merging the two. I chose the knitting blog because for one I pay for the server and also because there are some knitting pattern translations I did that are posted there – it would be too much work to update all the links and send emails to the designers to let them know the French translation of one of their patterns has moved.

So please update your feed readers or bookmarks, I’m now at Monbouton’s needles (yes, monbouton is me). See you there!

Minoru Jacket: I’m ready for the cold days!

A long time ago (back in march!), I made a muslin for this pattern: you can see it here. At the time, I didn’t know what my final fabric would be – and then I went to the Stoffenspektakel in June with my friend Catherine and decided that a wool Minoru Jacket would be perfect. I bought the wool plus some lining, as well as the elastic and the zipper and everything sat nicely in a box until it was time for them to be sewn. Even though we didn’t have a wonderful summer in this part of Europe, it was still too warm to even think about making a wool coat!

The last few weeks have seen the temperatures falling and autumn is definitely on its way, so I decided it was time! And I realised that it’s great to be able to cut the fabric staight away since I didn’t have to do any modification:everything had been done at the muslin stage! It is so comfortable to work that way, I should alaways make my muslins a few months ahead :D

So here it is:

the last of the sunny days!

Hidden hood

I finally cut a size 14 for everthing and I like the fit. I wanted pockets and on coats, I prefer them to be at the front rather than on the side; I didn’t want patch pockets either, so my only solution was welt pockets! Not the easy route. I tried various techniques and finally settled on the Palmer-Pletsch one (caution it’s a pdf). It does work really well, but needs a little pratice. So before actually slashing through both fronts (considering I did not have spare fabric), I made a little welt pocket musli, it really helped me to understand the process and highlight where I had to be extra careful – because of course you need to be careful all the way! I’m very happy with the results, and doing welt pockets with wool fabric wasn’t as hard on my machine as I thought.

Pockets are lined of course!

Welt pockets


Very annoyingly, the band of the zipper started falling apart only two days after I inserted it. I still have to unpick the zipper and replace the new one. The old one will be sent back to my regular retailer because it is not acceptable!! As he knows me by now, he offered me the new zipper.

My zipper is already falling apart

So all in all my only disappointment is that it’s not cold enough yet!

  • Materials: Sewaholic Patterns Minoru Jacket (14.30 €), wool fabric (20 €), synthetic lining fabric (4.50 €), elastic bands (4 €), zipper (3 €). Total cost: 45.80 €
  • Time to complete (without the muslin): I have absolutely no idea, as I didn’t write it down!

Sewaholic Alma Blouse – no need for a zipper!

First top in my Autumn sewing plan: the Alma Blouse from Sewaholic Patterns! Do you recognize the fabric? Yes, it’s the one from my Cambie dress. Out of the 3 m I had, there was still about 1.20 left. Problem: view A (short sleeves and notched collar) calls for 1.60 m. I had to be imaginative, but it worked and actually managed to make it fit in 1.13 m precisely. Of course it meant that I spent an hour cutting the fabric when there aren’t many pieces to cut: front and back are on the fold, so it should have been easy!

the actual pattern of the fabric is nearly centered: totally unplanned, I was lucky!

I cut a size 12 for the bust and 14 for the rest: next time I sew this pattern I might try a smaller size, I like my tops to be more fitted, we’ll see. But the lazy woman in me thinks it could be a good idea to stick to this size: for some reason, I don’t actually need the zipper! I think it’s due to my proportions, my waist being a size larger than my bust. It’s a pity because me and my invisible zipper foot did a great job on this one:

perfectly inserted invisible zipper :)

I also have a little bunch of fabric at the back: I should either shorten the back or do a swayback adjustment. I made a mistake when cutting the notch on the collar: mine is deeper than the original – the problem was that I didn’t do same mistake on the facing. Thankfully the facing is wide and there was still enough fabric to do a nice and wide topstitching.

Assembling was quick: 3h30 for the darts, inserting the facing and topstitching, inserting the invisible zipper, sewing the sleeves. Finishing was longer in comparison: 2 hrs for the hem and bias bands around the armholes – all of it by hand in front of the TV, I quite like it :)

I had intended it as a wearable muslin and am happy with the results. For the next one with cap sleeves, I will either use a lighter weight fabric or modify the sleeves as the gathering makes the fabric pop up a lot and I end up with larger shoulders than I have!


  • Materials: printed cotton already used in the Cambie dress (cost: 0 €), invisible zipper (0.80 €), thread, pattern (14.40 € including shipping)
  • Time spent: pattern tracing (30 min), fabric cutting and markings transfers (1h), sewing (5h30).
  • Totals: 15.60 € and 7 hrs

Défi chemise passepoilée – Atout trèfle

Here is my participation in the “Défi chemise passepoilée” organized by Claire at Atout trèfle. It means “the shirt with a cording challenge”. You will be able to see the participants works of art here in the next few days once Claire has gathered all the photos and links.

Défi chemise passepoilée – look Carolyn, I’ve posted a BIG photo :D

Voici ma participation au Défi Chemise Passepoilée organisé par Claire à Atout Trèfle. Vous devriez bientôt voir plein de chemises apparaître, avec surtout plein de passepoil.

The cording part wasn’t hard: some bias tape, a cord and voilà! It took me more time to figure how I was going to insert the cording in my shirt. I wanted to place it on either side of the button band but the pattern used – number 111 of Burda 01/2006 – did not have a cording or a separate button band. I did a little version of it using scraps of fabrics and it worked! I just had to cut 5 cm (2 inches) off both fronts, fold the fabric a number of time, add cording and sew everything on the fronts.

Le passepoil proprement dit ne m’a pas posé de problème : un rouleau de biais, de la ficelle épaisse et zoup. Non, le souci était de savoir comment j’allais l’intégrer à ma bande de boutonnage puisque le modèle choisi (n° 111 du Burda de janvier 2006) ne comportait ni passepoil, ni bande de boutonnage séparée permettant l’insertion d’un passepoil. J’ai donc fait un petit prototype avec des chutes de tissu et ça a marché ! je n’avais donc plus qu’à couper une bande 5 cm de large de chaque devant, plier la bande un certain nombre de fois, insérer le passepoil et coudre le tout aux devants.


The real one!

I think I understand two pieced collars pretty well now – I just have to improve the way the stand is assembled to the body on the inside, it’s not exactly perfect. All visible seams are French seams, so the shirt will also be nice on the inside. With this shirt I did my first cuffs, and there is need for serious improvement. I will work on that later.

Le col ne m’a pas posé de souci particulier, je commence à bien comprendre comment construire un col en deux pièces (col proprement dit et pied de col). En revanche il faut que je travaille sur les finitions du pied de col à l’intérieur, ce n’est pas encore satisfaisant. Toutes les coutures sont des coutures anglaises, comme ça c’est beau aussi à l’intérieur, même s’il n’y a que moi qui le vois. C’était la première fois que je faisais des poignets, j’ai eu un peu de mal à comprendre comment ça marchait, mais j’y suis arrivée. Comme pour le col, il y a des progrès à faire.

The fit is correct, I traced a size 40 everywhere except for the arm part of the sleeves, where I traced a 44. That’s because I have discovered I have big arms compared to the upper body frame and I sometimes end up with very narrow sleeves, extremely incomfortable! The sleeves are also too long, I must admit I didn’t check this when measuring the pattern (too much to think about!). It’s the first time I work with long sleeves in woven fabric, and it did not occur to me. Next time I’ll probably shorten the back a little, it sits properly when I’m sitting down but when standing, the fabrics bunches over my backside. I might also trace a smaller size just for the front: I think it looks a bit large in the upper bust area. What do you think? Should I stick too this size of should I go a size smaller?

I bought myself a remote control!

J’ai choisi la taille 40 partout sauf pour le haut des manches pour lesquelles j’ai tracé un 44 (je suis toujours un peu à l’étroit dans les manches). Les manches sont un peu longues, j’avoue que je n’ai pas pensé à vérifier la longueur. La prochaine fois, je raccourcirai un peu le dos, ça va quand je suis assise, mais dès que je suis debout ça bouchonne un peu dans le bas du dos. Je me demande si je ne devrais pas tracer une taille plus petit pour le devant, ça m’a l’air un peu grand au-dessus de la poitrine. Vous en pensez quoi ?

Of course all these French seams (sew, press, cut, sew again), buttons and buttonholes took ages! 1h to trace the pattern – 1h to cut the fabric and transfer the markings – 6h to sew

Pattern: Burda 111 january 2006 0 € as already used for a pair of trousers

Fabric: 1.40 m cotton from the Stoffenspektakel 5€

Buttons: thrifted from old shirts

Bias band: gift from my colleague

Total cost: 5 € and 8 hours




My Summer with Lisette part 1: Portfolio Tunic

Yep, I spent my Summer with Lisette! I started with number 2245 aka the Portfolio Tunic. A few months ago, I made an attempt at making the dress, as I had seen some beautiful versions by bloggers. But seriously, my shape is not the same as the one on the pattern envelope. And it did not suit me at all, despite a very nice print of little circles. So did not finish it, basting the sides was enough to figure out that I should do something else with the fabric. Unfortunately, you cannot recover a lot from this pattern once it’s been cut and sewn. So I used the rest of it to make a little drawstring bag for my knitting and left the pattern in my pattern box.

Lisette 2245

J’ai passé l’été avec Lisette, enfin une partie du mois de juillet et août. J’ai commencé par le numéro 2245, autrement appelé la robe Portfolio. J’avais essayé de faire la robe il y a quelques mois avec un joli tissu à motifs de cercles, mais je ne l’ai même pas fini : ça ne m’allait pas du tout. D’un autre côté , si j’avais réfléchi un peu, je n’aurais même pas commandé ce patron : ce type de robe n’est pas tellement fait pour les fesses proéminentes. Avec en plus le risque, vu de profil, qu’on vous demande tout le temps si vous êtes enceinte ! Bref, échec. J’ai mis le tout de côté et juste récupéré un peu de tissu pour faire un petit sac à tricot de voyage.

Then in August, I found it slightly stupid to not give it a try again, especially as I had paid some money for this pattern and the shipping. I had found a nice yellow cotton voile from Sacrés Coupons on my latest trip to Paris; it was rather cheap though I don’t remember the exact price (around 8-10 € for 1.50 m). I made the tunic, view C. I traced a size 16 and it took me 3h30 – it’s a quick project.

Hum, not too sure about this

Puis en août, je me suis dit que c’était quand même un peu bête d’avoir payé ce patron si cher (sans compter les frais de port), pour ne pas au moins essayer d’en faire quelque chose. J’ai jeté mon dévolu sur la tunique, faite avec un coupon de voile de coton jaune de chez Sacrés Coupons. Pas trop cher : environ 8-10 € pour 1 m 50. Le tout réalisé en 3h30, il faut dire que j’vais déjà découpé le patron.

it does look like the pattern enveloppe illustration though!

I’m still not convinced by the result, it feels shapeless, and the cotton voile is see-through so I have to wear a camisole underneath, but I like the colour and part of me is glad to have used this pattern! I might one day, if I happen to have plenty of time to experiment, try the trousers – but I’m really dubious about the results on me. I know many women with a consistent, ahem, backside are able to make and wear beautifully thin-legged trousers, but I’m not sure at all it would suit me. We’ll see!

Je ne suis toujours pas convaincue du résultat, je ne suis pas certaine que ça me mette vraiment en valeur. De plus, le tissu est transparent et nécessite de porter quelque chose en dessous. Mais je l’aime bien, surtout pour la couleur je pense. Un jour, peut-être, si j’ai beaucoup de temps devant moi, j’essaierai de faire le pantalon. Mais j’ai aussi un sérieux doute là-dessus : les jambes resserées pour moi qui ait déjà la partie inférieure du corps en triangle, je ne suis pas certaine que ça marche. Pourtant, j’ai vu plein de couturières-blogueuses qui ont en ont cousu et qui le portent très bien. A voir !

I’m not the only one: Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing

I too pre-ordered the book and received it about two weeks ago! You will probably have seen it everywhere on the Internet so I thought I’d follow the herd and give you a quick review of what I like in this book. To start with – as you might have guessed – I’m not too much into vintage patterns: I do find most of them very elegant, stunning sometimes and a great way to show off your sewing skills. But let’s be honest, I don’t think I have any room in my life at the moment for these beautifully fitted bodices and full skirts (with a petticoat of course). It might change over time, or I could have a special occasion one day that would require me to sew from a vintage pattern.

Gertie’s book – you’re probably familiar with the cover by now

So I’m not using any vintage pattern but I love learning new things and skills and my education in history results in a high interest in history of techniques and what it shows of the society they were implemented in. I’m also always amazed that human beings managed to discover over time so many techniques in assembling a garment and pattern drafting.
Anyway, on to the book: it’s divided into two parts, skills and wardrobe. I’m halfway through the skills part and have already learned a lot on vintage patterns and vintage techniques applied to sewing. I like the emphasis on hand sewing – as Karen, I’ve discovered I like hand sewing, it’s a great (rather) mindless activity to be done in front of the television (competing with knitting, spinning and embroidery..). Gertie explains different hand and machine stitches and their purpose.

hand stitching

There are also a few pages on seam finishes, including Hong Kong seams and bound seams. Next are zippers (lapped, centered and invisible) and buttonholes with, of course a few pages on bound buttonholes (hey, what did you expect?).

Hong Kong Seams

Bound buttonholes

Then on to hemming, where I discovered that you can gather the hem of flared of circular skirt – I hadn’t thought about that!

Hemming a flared skirt

Faced horsehair

She shows faced horsehair for adding structure to circle skirts and other shaped hems. It looks great, but I’m wondering what the hell it’s called in French and where am I going to find any! Same goes for some material shown in the next chapter “Stabilizing and tailoring”: hair canvas, weft, fusible hair interfacing. This might be my quest one day. Gertie explains here interfacing, interlining, boning and tailoring: heaps of useful information and detailed illustrations. At the end of this chapter you have a vintage to modern dictionary which can be of use for those of you who sew vintage.

Sewing is dangerous

Chapter five is Patternmaking where she details different ways to customize your patterns. I’ve seen more in-depth books on this, but it’s a very good start if you’re a beginner in altering patterns for something other than fitting.

The Infamous Peter Pan Collar

Fitting checklist

Keep in mind it’s not a drafting book! Next there’s a whole chapter on fitting, the nemesis of many seamstresses. There are many tips on how to check the fit before, during and after the process, as well as fixing common fit problems. She says “common” problems, so don’t expect extremely detailed explanations of every wrinkle you will find on your muslin. You will find the usual suspects: swayback, small and full bust adjustments, forward and sloping shoulders, etc. The fitting checklist on p. 119 is particularly helpful, go and have a look!

One of many alterations that can be done

We then reach the second part of the book, probably the one you’ve heard most about: the wardrobe. Starting as usual with a skirt, Gertie offers also two blouses, another skirt, five dress and a jacket. Considering what I said above about vintage style, I would not make any of the patterns above straight out of the envelope, apart maybe from the Portrait Blouse. However, and this is what I most enjoyed about this book, she shows other versions of 8 out of the 10 patterns and some even have two. These other versions are not simply a change of fabric with a shortened hem, there are real alterations: for example, the Pencil Skirt is modified into an A-line skirt with Pintucks (this is more my style than the pencil skirt). This part is not only a catalogue of patterns with instructions, it also has some techniques: 3 ways to secure darts – the last one is so clever! adding boning to your waistband, hemming sleeves, finishing your neckline with bias strip.

Chantilly Lace Blouse

The Sultry Sheath does not appeal to me as is, though I like the colour, but I could definitely wear it if I changed the neckline as well as the shoulders (too far apart, I need to wear a bra and hide it!). Is it just me or do the armholes fit bizarrely?

This is not my photo, as my camera does not manage red very well – (c) Happy Together – clic for source

The Bow-Tied Blouse is shown with two other variations, one with a Peter Pan collar (I’m sorry I don’t get Peter Pan collars) and the other with a keyhole neckline and shirring at the shoulders. This one won’t work for me either as it’s buttoned at the back – and I’m just not into back buttons. The keyhole neckline (without shirring, I don’t like it either – I know, I’m picky) would be great with a side zipper!

Keyhole neckline – I like!

I love the bodice of the Wiggle Dress, though you can’t really call it a bodice, because it’s not separated from the skirt part. Princess seams, kimono sleeves with an underarm gusset, boatneck front – I’m in! I would definitely cut at the waistline and change the skirt to an A-line one, but this dress will be part of my wardrobe in the next few months – regardless of my Autumn sewing plans (I knew something would get in the way!).

Wiggle Dress

Shirtwaist Dress, no thanks, for me it’s either a shirt or a dress but not both! The Suit Jacket looks really cute, though.

Cat is helping me with this review!

And finally the Coat Dress, I would rather make it as a coat with a straighter “skirt” part, buttons not on the center line: brilliant!

Coat Dress

In the wardrobe part, I really liked that she also showed the inside of the garments, something you rarely see in books; maybe a little more in sewing blogs – I know Carolyn does that often.

The inside of the Coat Dress

I can’t say anything about the patterns themselves, because obviously I haven’t had time to make any! Overall I like the very relaxed tone of the book, it feels like you’re in a conversation with Gertie and she’s just by your side helping you get better at sewing.

Autumn 2012 sewing plan

Various thoughts on what’s in your wardrobe have been popping up recently, Sunni wrote thoroughly about it in her Everyday Wardrobe posts. StephC has been helping us choosing fabric to prepare for this wardrobe (part 1 and part 2). All this is extremely inspiring! SewBrunswick is also responsible for my reflexions on wardrobe planning with her own plans for upcoming spring and summer.

So I checked the contents of my wardrobe and here’s what I need:

# 2 pairs of trousers in dark colours (1 Thurlow with some adjustments ; 1 from Burda 01/2006)

# 2 skirts for autumn, so probably darker colours too (patterns TBD, maybe frankenpatterned from the cambie dress)

# 2 woven blouses (1 alma blouse and maybe more if it works ; 1 shirt from the défi chemise passepoilée)

# 2 t-shirts (mine are old ; Renfrews, 1 with V neck and other with scoop neck, sleeve length TBD)

# 1 sweater: taupe with very deep neckline

# 1 Minoru jacket everything’s ready, I just need to cut the fabric

I would also like to make:

# a Pastille dress

# a slip with teal crepe

# maybe later a Rooibos dress – but I don’t have the pattern yet

That’s around 13 garments. If I sew 1 garment per weekend, all this can be done before the winter holidays. I know some weekends will be sewing-free (family gathering or other), but on the other hand, I do some preparation during the week (tracing pattern, cutting fabric) and a few of these garments will be rather quick (Renfrew pattern is already cut and adjustments have been made).

I’m not considering this as a strict schedule but more as a guideline: other needs or inspirations might pop up (I just remembered that I need to plan a winter coat – mine is old and shabby and that needs to be done before the beginning of december). For now I have been sewing without a plan just following patterns I liked and not according to gaps in my wardrobe and it has been making me uncomfortable. I also need to think about a colour palette for all these garments and then order the fabrics and patterns!