Monday, October 20, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Celina and Ana Sofia

It's Kids' Clothes Week, yaaay! The theme this season is 'Storybook': clothes inspired by children's books. When Suz and I started working on our I [heart] Marcel Marlier series, we had no idea that it would overlap with the KCW theme.
The message for you is, of course: if you are sewing along with our series this week, don't forget to also upload your creation to KCW (as well as to our own sew along link party).

Our guests today come from two countries where Marcel Marlier's books have turned out to be very popular: Canada and Portugal. On the left is the breath-taking creation of Canadian blogger and über-pinner Celina (Petit à Petit & Family). That's right: you're not looking at a pic from an expensive clothing brand catalogue - this is actually a picture Celina took of a home-sewn garment, worn by her beautiful daughter. To most of you, Celina does not need to be introduced. Her creations are not only gorgeous, but they are always so original, and so different from what you will found on other blogs. Petit à Petit is one of those blogs you just have to follow if you love children's clothes!

For the introduction to the equally stunning creation on the right, visit Suz.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Caro and Marta

While our sew-along link party is steadily growing, today we have two new guests in our I [heart] Marcel Marlier series.

The gorgeous outfit on the left was sewn by Caro of the French blog La Cabane d'Elilou. Caro sews gorgeous garments for her two kids Eliette and Louis (Eli & Lou, I presume :-)). She uses very bright and fun colors, which suit her kids beautifully. Caro is also a very talented knitter (check out this cardigan!) and crocheter (swoon at these presents!). In other words, she's a super versatile creative talent, and I'm just smitten with the color combination and the special collar of her Marcel Marlier creation. Read all about it here.

If you would like to learn more about the stunning dresses on the right, visit Suz for the intro and link!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mommy and Me totes: Tutorial (+ GIVE-AWAY)

Norah is crazy about the whole concept of 'twins'. She loves being dressed in similar clothes than Ava's ('We're just like twins!") and can be ecstatic about having things which are (remotely) similar to mine. ("We're both wearing leather boots today! We're practically twins!". Yes dear, we are. Apart from the 29 years which separate us, we totally are.)

And so in the past months, the idea of "Mommy & me" bags started to grow: a simple tote bag in an adult and a kid's size. They are really fast and easy to make, pretty sturdy (as they are lined), and very economical in fabric use. The instructions for the bags are below.

The give-away
I used a fabric from my stash which I bought months ago at Miss Matatabi. This fabric is one my favorite designs ever. I love the color combo, and I love how, from afar, the print looks like triangles, but then when you get closer, you see that some of the triangles are actually polar bears. A truly original and creative fabric! Frances still has it available in double gauze (in pink and blue).

I probably don't need to introduce Miss Matatabi anymore. As you might have noticed on this blog, Miss Matatabi sells an ever growing range of fabrics produced in Japan. Her selection includes household names like Kokka, Nani Iro, Cotton + Steel, Yuwa, Lecien and more, but also a great range of fabrics which you can only find in her store (and which tend to be very affordable too!). Here are some of my own favorites:

Frances is giving away a $40 voucher to one StraightGrain reader. If you'd like to win it, you simply have to use the Rafflecopter widget below to give us some social media love. Good luck!

Monday, October 13, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Isabelle and Stéphanie

Bonjour everyone! Today we have two great guests in our Marcel Marlier series, both hailing from the French speaking region.

The picture on the left is a sneak peak from Isabelle of Le Labo d'Isa. Isabelle is from the French-speaking part of Belgium, just like... Marcel Marlier himself! Isabelle blogs in French, but please don't let that keep you from visiting her blog. Le Labo has been one of my favorite sewing blogs for years now. Isa makes such fresh and modern garments and home decor objects, and takes such beautiful pictures of them, that you can enjoy her blog without reading a single letter of what she writes. As you can probably already tell from the sneak peek, her Marcel Marlier creation is no exception to this. Read all about it here.

For the introduction to our other guest, Stéphanie, please visit Suz!


Friday, October 10, 2014

Tutorial: Napkin rings with a cut-out

Sometimes, I get ideas in my head which I have to give a try, just to see if they are technically possible.
A recent one is a napkin ring with a cut-out. Don't ask me why. I never use napkin rings. Like, never ever.

But maybe some of you do... so here is a tutorial. The tutorial uses a star as an example, but of course you can use whichever shape you prefer. Why not use a fish, for when you're eating fish? (Or celebrating World Fish Migration Day? Partaaaaaay!) Or a heart, for a romantic dinner (as we all know, few things turn a man on more than some home-sewn napkin rings!).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Teresa and Anneliese

Today, we have two more gorgeous Marcel Marlier creations for you! The picture on the left is from the lovely Teresa from Dandelion Drift. When I received her teaser I got really excited, as I'm a huge fan of colorblocking myself too. Teresa makes stunning garments for her two kids and herself, and always manages to find the perfect fabrics for them. She had never heard of Marcel Marlier's books before the series, but managed to translate his style just beautifully. Check it out here!

If you'd like to learn more about the picture on the right, make sure to visit Suz for an introduction to Anneliese's creation. And don't forget that both our guests will give you new chances to win one of the prizes in our $300 prize pool!


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

And the award for the most special fabric I ever worked with goes to...

... this double-sided ponte knit from Miss Matatabi. Read all about it (and check out the close-up!) in my new Miss Matatabi Makers post, here.


Monday, October 6, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Natalie and Maria

It's Monday, it's Marcel Marlier day! Yay! We're in the third week of our series, and it looks like many of you have already started to sew along. Some even already finished their garments and uploaded them in our Sew Along Link Party! Make sure to check it out, because there is some amazing stuff there.

As usual, we have two talented guests. The terribly cute picture on the left was taken by Natalie of the blog La Gang à Nat. Don't let the name of this blog mislead you - bilingual Natalie writes in English, not French. I'm so thrilled to have Natalie as a guest in our series. Not just because she is Canadian (one of the countries where Marcel Marlier's books are very popular), or because she is incredibly kind and funny and witty, but mostly because she makes the most beautiful things for her three daughters. As the sneak peak below shows, her Marcel Marlier garment is no exception to this. If you would like to see more, head this way.


Our other guest, Maria, has also stitched up a gorgeous tribute to Marcel Marlier (picture on the right). Visit Suz to see more.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

I [heart] Marcel Marlier: Rachel and Marte

Today Suz and I can present two new guests in our I [heart] Marcel Marlier series. 

On the left we have an outfit by Rachel. Her blog, Stitched Together, is an incredible source of inspiration for me. Rachel does not only have an impeccable taste in children's clothing, she is also an amazing photographer! Make sure to check out her blog, and swoon over the breathtaking pictures she takes of her five children. I'm in awe not only of Rachel's creative talents, but also of her ability to sew and blog so regularly despite having a newborn (the sweet Hazel) in the house. Thank you so much, Rachel, for taking to time to sew for our series!

I bet you're also curious about the picture on the right! Don't forget to visit Suz for the introduction.


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.

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.

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?