Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tutorial: Colorblocked sleeves

Last week, I showed my dress for the I [heart] Marcel Marlier series. Since then, requests to explain how I created the color blocked sleeves have been pouring in by the dozens*. So here is my Colorblocked Sleeves Tutorial.


Step 1. Take your sleeve pattern, and mark the seam allowance and hem allowances on your pattern.
Note: Do you work with a pattern in which seam allowances are not included? Add them to your pattern now (also at the underarm edges).

Step 2. Mark the middle on the underarm edges and on the center of your sleeve, in both cases excluding the seam and hem allowance.
Note: using a longer sleeve? You might want to change the position of the marks (e.g. higher up on the sleeve)

Step 3. Connect the marks you just made with a sloping line.

Step 4. Write "Seam allowance!" along both sides of the sloping line, so that you do not forget to add SA in step 5. Cut your sleeve pattern in two along the sloping line. 

Step 5. Put your pattern pieces on two double folded pieces of fabric (so that you have a mirrored pair of each). Cut out, adding seam allowance along both sides of the sloping line.
Note: How much seam allowance you add depends on how you decide to finish off the sleeve in step 6. For option A, add 0,7 cm (1/4"); for option B, add 1,2 cm (3/8").

You should end up with something like this:

Step 6. Now we just have to assemble the sleeves. Two options here:
Option A: Fast and easy. Serge or zigzag the sloping edge of both piece. Stitch them together with right sides together, using a 0,7 cm (1/4") allowance. Press seams open.

Option B: Nice and neat. For a cleaner finish, you can use a french seam. The outside of the sleeve will look exactly the same as in option B, but the inside (which is sometimes exposed when you lift your arm) will look much cleaner. The steps below expain how to do this.

*Yeah I totally made that up. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Sara and Ines

Today Suz and I are introducing the first two guests of our I [heart] Marcel Marlier series. And it'll be all about Anita rather than Tiny or Debbie, as our guests are both Portuguese!

Make sure to read all about the creation on the left, by visiting Ines' blog, La Folie Sewing Booth. This talented former architect makes gorgeous clothes for her two beautiful daughters (and sometimes for herself), and I'm completely smitten with the outfit she created for the series. And of course, she's also offering you an additional chance to win that $150 fabric voucher or one of the other 5 prizes!

Visit Suz if you would like to learn more about the creation on the right :-)


Friday, September 26, 2014

Join the I [heart] Marcel Marlier Sew Along!

Two days ago, Suz and announced our sewing series I [heart] Marcel Marlier. We've been overwhelmed with the enthusiastic responses, and couldn't help but notice how many of you wanted to sew along.

So by popular demand, we're launching the I [heart] Marcel Marlier Sew Along! Sewing along is really simple: just upload your finished creations via the link party below. The party ends on November 11 (noon Brussels time) and on the 12th we will do a wrap up post. If you're planning to join us, you can include the button below in your sidebar (but this is not an obligation).

Are you sharing pictures of your plans, creations, or maybe of your stack of Martine/Tiny/Debbie/Anita books via Instagram or Facebook? If you use the hashtag #iheartmarcelmarlier other sew-alongers will more easily find you.

We're really looking forward to all your creations. Have fun!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Modern Tiny (+ give-away)

Today, our series I [heart] Marcel Marlier kicks off for real, starting with Suz' and my own creations. We've been planning this series for months, and I knew from the beginning which type of dress I wanted to make: a classic, vintage style semi-knock off from one of my Marcel Marlier books.

However, as I was flipping through them, I started to realise that so many of my previous creations over the past years had been influenced by Tiny's dress code, and that I would have a hard time to come up with something new. I already made the striped dresses (here and here), the vintage flower frocks, the solids-with-piping-details, the classic coats, and pretty much everything else which drew my attention in the books.

I really didn't want to repeat myself, so I decided to go for something completely different: a modern version of Tiny. What would she be wearing if she was 8 years today? The peter pan collar had to be included of course. And those cute gathered skirts which she wears on almost each of her adventures too. To make it more contemporary, I decided to go for some color blocking. A contrasting peter pan and hem, and I also wanted to do something special with the sleeves. Tomorrow, I'll be sharing a little tutorial on how I made them.
The dress looks a bit big for now (especially at the shoulders) but it will fit perfectly with a long sleeve tee underneath this Autumn.

The fabrics are something really special. Next month, Cloud 9 Fabrics is releasing their new line of solids, called Cirrus Solids, and a few weeks ago they generously sent me some yardage. These fabrics have a bit of a rougher weave, but at the same time, they are incredibly soft. And the 21 different colors work so well together. I went for a combination of Amber, Coral, and Rain.

I made a bow for Norah's hair from some left-overs of the rain and amber fabrics. A bit of a vintage touch after all :-) Norah loved that part of her outfit particularly. As I shared on this blog before, Norah loves impersonating Tinny, and the bow made her feel like a 'real' Tiny even more, she said.

Norah is such a huge Tiny-fan. Every night, she can pick three stories we read to her, and while she has over 200 books, her selection almost always includes at least one Tiny book. Sometimes, there are weeks when we have to read three Tiny books to her - night after night after night. 

Needless to say, she is super happy with her new dress! 

Make sure to also visit Suz' blog to see her creation for the series. As I'm writing this post, I haven't seen the finished dresses in full yet, but judging by the teaser pic below, they are stunning!

The give-away
As Suz and I explained yesterday in our announcement of this series, the series includes a major give-away. If you'd like to win one of our six fabulous prizes, take your chance with the widget below. 

Enter the giveaway here

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Sewing Series!

I am very excited today to introduce to you an upcoming sewing series hosted by myself and my blogging buddy, Suz from sewpony.  The series is called I [heart] Marcel Marlier and is dedicated to the late children's book illustrator Marcel Marlier.

The tiny first seeds for this series were planted over a year ago, when Suz sent me an invitation for a blog series with this button attached. I immediately recognized the picture from one of the Tiny books I owned, and wondered how an Aussie could ever end up with a picture from a Belgian book. Suz told me that it was an illustration from one of her favourite childhood books, Debbie's birthday party. Debbie? Tiny has an Anglophone alias?

And so I found out that Tiny books had been translated from French to other languages besides Dutch. Moreover, it turned out that Suz was working on a Debbie-inspired pattern, right at the same time when I was working on my Tiny-inspired pattern. Over a year later, Suz and I agreed that we should really do something with our shared love for Marlier's illustrations. 

Above is an illustrated picture of Marcel Marlier with Tiny/Debbie and her loyal companion Puffie. Marlier was born in Belgium in 1930. He entered a drawing competition in his young teens, which he won. This propelled his super productive career as one of the world's most famous and recognisable children's books illustrators. He illustrated works written by Gilbert Delahaye (aka Gijs Haag) for decades. The books Marlier illustrated were translated into over 20 languages and are still sold around the world. The names of the characters were changed to suit the country of translation, so you may be familiar with Tiny, Debbie, Anita, or Martine, depending on where you live in the world. Marcel Marlier died in 2011 at the age of 81.

He had such an incredible eye for details on children's garments, and the vintage style of his early books is just stunning. These are some of my favorite Marlier illustrations/fashion designs.

Don't they have "sewing project!" written all over them? Here is some more eye candy:

To pay tribute to this extremely talented artist who has given us much inspiration, we are very excited to have talented bloggers from all over the world who will be sharing what they have sewn inspired by Marcel Marlier. Check out this incredible line-up:

We can't wait! In addition, we are also organising a huge give-away. Two generous sponsors provided us with $300 dollar in prizes! There will be six winners, with one of them winning no less than $150 in fabric vouchers. Suz and I are also giving way three vintage Marcel Marlier books to one lucky winner.

How can you win these fabulous prizes? Make sure to visit the different participants in the next couple of weeks. They will each include a personalized Rafflecopter widget in their I [heart] Marcel Marlier post. From the entries in all these widgets, we will randomly draw the 6 winners. You can enter multiple Rafflecopters to increase your chances, so make sure not to miss a post :-)

We'd like to already thank our two sponsors, Pink Chalk Fabrics and Fat Quarter Shop, for their support and generosity! Many of you will already know these fabulous shops, but we'd like to present them to you anyway.

The Fat Quarter Shop was founded in 2003 by Kimberly Jolly. An avid quilter, Kimberly began her shop as a side business while still working a corporate position, but as The Fat Quarter Shop grew, she decided to make it a full-time operation. Kimberly's shop offers fabrics from top brands such as Cotton + Steel, Dear Stella, Bernatex, Cloud 9, Art Gallery, Free Spirit, and many more. But you can also find a great range of books and patterns (e.g., Indigo Junction, V and Co, Blackbird Designs) and threads and notions in their shop. If you like Marcel Marlier style clothes, you will surely appreciate their extensive range of designer solids (e.g., Cotton Couture Solids, American Made Brand, Moda Bella, Kona). The Fat Quarter Shop ships internationally.

Pink Chalk Fabrics was launched in 2008 with the mission to provide the best cloth, pattern, and tools available for modern sewists. Shop owner Kathy Mack's motto is Do What You Like, Like What You Do. Pink Chalk Fabrics sells fabrics from some of the top designer brands (e.g. Michael Miller, Cotton + Steel, Alexander Henry, Cloud 9, Echino, Moda, Riley Blake, Liberty of London) as well as patterns (e.g., Oliver + s, Amy Butler, April Rhodes, Sew Caroline) and tools. Pink Chalk Fabrics too sells a great collection of designer solids (e.g., Cotton Couture Solids, Kona, Moda Bella, Robert Kaufman Essex Linen). Pink Chalk Fabrics ships internationally.

Are you guys as excited as we are about this series?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Seal with a kiss (+GIVE-AWAY)

Let's start this post with a confession. Up until last week, I had never sewn a toy before. I had thought about it, I had been curious about it, but never actually tried it.
Then, I got an invitation to be part of the blog tour for a new book by Melanie McNeice. It is called Fun of The Fair, published by F+W publications, and contains patterns and instructions for some super cute stuffed toys. What a great occasion to make my first plush toy!

Confession number two: The name Melanie McNeice didn't immediately ring a bell to me, nor did her alias Melly & Me. Even though confession #2 can of course be explained by confession #1, I still feel profoundly ashamed, as I found out that Melanie is nothing short of an institution in the sewing world! She currently has five books to her name (she also wrote Kaleidoscope, Sewn Toy Tales, Snug as a Bug, and Sew Cute to Carry), made over 100 patterns, and designed 5 fabric lines for Riley Blake. In eight years time. (And yes, she has kids!)

I was really eager to stitch up one of Melanie's plush toys, and let Norah do the picking. To my surprise, she didn't choose the pony, but the sea lion. That left me relieved, as it seemed like the fastest and easiest of the five projects.

I used up the very last scraps of my beloved Cloud 9 Straws in Minty fabric (from Georgette), and combined it with some Cotton Couture solids (peach, creamsicle, and gold). Stitching the toy was a piece of cake. Melanie's instructions are really clear and detailed, with diagrams added where needed.

Moreover, it was really fun! Seeing a plush toy grow from a few flat pieces of fabric into a 3D thing is quite something special. And Norah loves her new buddy :-)

If you'd like to see more projects from this book, make sure to check out the other participants in the blog tour:

I used the electronic version of the book to make the toy (available here), but I can give away a copy of the printed book (available here) to one of you! Simply use the Rafflecopter widget below enter, by leaving a comment and/or following me on social media. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 19, 2014

Win Echino (sateens!) and Birch fabrics (GIVE-AWAY)

Let's start the weekend with a great give-away! The Hong Kong-based fabric webshop Modes4u is generously offering another pack of fabrics to StraightGrain readers.

After the previous give-aways we hosted together, I probably don't have to introduce Modes4u to you anymore. They sell some of my favorite fabric brands (Kokka, Cloud 9, Birch, Monaluna ...) and are known for their excellent service.

As usual, Maggie and I tried to selected a collection of fabrics which caters to the taste of the average StraightGrain reader. The give-away is slightly Christmas-themed, but we tried to think outside of the stereotypical Santa-Clause-and-Christmas-trees-fabrics box by offering some of the most stylish fabrics available.

The give-away includes 3 meters in total. One lucky winner will receive two deer fabrics (1/2 meter of Echino Buck canvas and 1/2 meter of Birch's deer stag fabric) AND two gorgeous fabrics from Echino's new sateen line (1 meter of each). From what I've heard, these sateens feel amazing! 

Winning is easy. Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to leave a comment, and you can get some additional entries via Modes4u's and my own social media. Good luck!

Enter the giveaway here

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Three is (not really) the charm

Today, I'm blogging a dress which I finished weeks ago already. So why only write about it now?

Let's just say that my two previous attempts at taking pictures were not entirely successful. As in: they were a disaster. Ava has become incredibly difficult to photograph. Not only can she not sit, stand or lie still for a second...

... she also refuses to wear a bandana or clip which tame her wild curls into an acceptable hairdo.

This third attempt yielded a full three more or less acceptable pictures. That is three more than the previous two attempts.

Anyway, let's talk about the dress. It's another version of my one-day-to-be-launched Akiko pattern, this time with elasticized sleeves (which need to be lengthened a bit, I learned). 


The fabric is from one of my favorite designers: Eloise Renouf for Cloud 9. It is called Spring Sampler and is part of her Shape of Spring line. I love the colors and the print. It is fun, but not childish. I bought it at Noeks. The contrasting strip is Cotton Couture Solids in Gold. 

Now I have just 2 more finished dresses for Ava which I still have to take pictures of. So that means ... six more photoshoots?

Monday, September 8, 2014

The skirt formerly known as dance skirt

For some reason, both of my daughters love dancing. Ava is the most extreme case (I'll get to that later in this post) but Norah too has a severe and chronic case of dancing fever. And from this year on, she'll be taking dance classes every week. A dance skirt was due, and of course, it had to be a circle skirt. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

High-low gift baskets, and a question

A new month, a new Miss Matatabi Makers post! Today, you can find me over at Miss M's place with two creations in a cute Lecien fabric. Click here to see more.

A question for you: if I were to turn this into a free pattern one day, would any of you be making it, or would it be pearls before swine? :-p. Please be honest!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mary Darling collar: Free tutorial and awesome GIVE-AWAY

If there is one thing I cannot deny, it is that I have soft spot for peter pan collars. Last week I've been experimenting a bit, and stitched up a little variation on the peter pan collar.

The collar is made from 3 different pieces, and it disappears into the shoulder seams. If you scroll down, you can find detailed instructions for drawing such a collar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pears, farts, and Christmas trees

Today, you can find me over at the blog Naeh Connection. Annika has been organising a great series called 'Sew Fantastic', in which she is interviewing sewing bloggers. Today is my turn, so if you would like to find out more about the relationship between sewing and Christmas trees, between pears and farts, and between sewing and abdominal injuries, click here.

Make sure to also explore Annika's blog further! She's a super nice lady who makes really pretty things, so she's definitely worth a visit.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Matryoshka bins: Free patterns

A few weeks ago, I made this bread basket for my MMM post. It was ridiculously oversized, but precisely that sparked some new ideas. 'It would also make a nice project bag for knitters and crocheters', reader Marjolijn commented. And I thought: yes, or for storing diapers! Or toys! Or to be used as a gift bag! And a smaller version could be used as a pen holder! Or a flower pot!

Well, long story short: here are the pdf-patterns for the baskets in 3 sizes. They are really quick and easy to make, and a nice reason to hold onto fabric left-overs in all sizes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Something old, something new, something blue

A friend of mine is due to have a baby any day now, so it was time to stitch up a little present. My first idea was to make a Lua sleep sack, but I'm not sure she uses sleep sacks. Then I thought, maybe a dress? But she sews herself, and if she's anything like me, she's pretty picky when it comes to kids' clothes.

Finally I decided to go for bibs. Everyone uses them, and even if you think they are plain ugly, at least they are still useful. And you simply cannot have too many of them.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Saudade Sundress: FREE pattern release and GIVE-AWAY

Do you remember this little dress? In the past few weeks, I've been working hard on drawing a free pattern in sizes 1-10 years for this dress. Today, it is finally online, more specifically over at Sew Mama Sew.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Stitched together for Rachel: A moon

With some bloggers you talk about more than just sewing. Rachel from Stitched Together is one such blogger. Motherhood, education, politics, religion, just life in general; there is not topic on which you can not have an interesting conversation with Rachel.
When she told me she was pregnant, I was really excited for her. She has such a beautiful family already, and it is great that she'll be welcoming another little member.

So when Victoria invited me together with a bunch of Rachel's other blogging friends to create something for her newborn, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Victoria's idea was that she would create a mobile for the baby, and each one of us would stitch up something to hang in it. You can see Victoria's beautiful mobile here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fabric bread basket

I hope you're all having a great Kid's Clothes Week? I'm enjoying a vacation in sunny Malta at the moment, so no sewing for me this week. And to say that I am a sponsor of this edition of Kid's Clothes Week!

What's worse: the only committed post I have this week is about a non-garment. Timing is not my biggest strength, it turns out. Nevertheless, I hope you will enjoy reading about the bread basket I made for this month's Miss Matatabi Makers, here!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bohemian Babydoll Tour (+ fabric GIVE-AWAY)

Today, I'm part of the Bohemian Babydoll Tour. When Heidi from Elegance and Elephants asked me to participate, I didn't hesitate. I know that Heidi makes great patterns - the E&E Ruffle Top I made for Norah over a year ago is still one of my all-time favorite creations. In addition, the Bohemian Babydoll dress has a great vintage touch to it.