Monday, February 25, 2013

Kids' Clothes Belgian Style week 2: Suburbia Soup

Welcome to week 2 of our Kids' Clothes Belgian Style series! Kristin from Skirt as Top received nothing but Ooooh's and Aaaaah's for her stunning Deer Dress in the opening guest post, and this week, things will be no different. The gorgeous retro dress below is made by Venus from the lovely blog Suburbia Soup. I'm so happy to have Venus guest post here today! Venus is a mom to three beautiful daughters, but it's her youngest one, Lala, who gets away with most of the attention. Anyone who's on Pinterest has undoubtedly come across Venus' cute little Hoodie Scarf, for which she shares a tutorial here. And then there are her sweet little dresses... As if that isn't enough, Venus is also a talented artist - check out her amazing mugs project, for instance.

So if you haven't already - head over to Suburbia Soup and become a follower. Today!


Hi folks!

I'm Venus from Suburbia Soup. Oh I'm just so giddy to be here! When An asked me to take part, I jumped at the invitation. "Oh heck yeah!" I thought, but then I began to wonder, "What is Belgian style?". With a brief description and a link to An's Pinterest board, it all came together. It's a well orchestrated mix of vibrant colors, unique patterns with a vintage vibe.




At first I thought this was gonna be a breeze.

*pish!*throwing hands out*

"No problem!". Oy vey... was I wrong. I went through my whole entire stash of fabrics. It was either too girly or too plain... too busy or "what the heck was I thinking buying this fabric?!", I started to sweat and then...

there it was. Buried deep in my bin of yellow fabrics, shining back at me was THE fabric. I knew this fabric would come in handy and today is the day. It was almost identical to a fabric used by one of Fred & Ginger's dresses (shown below).

Picture by Barbara Decré

*nudging arm*
Right-right?! A dead ringer I say.
Now the next question... what should I make out of it? Dress? Separates? I was limited to what I could do since I had a little less than a yard to work with. I went through all my patterns, pattern books, PDFs and nothing seamed to fit the bill. It wasn't until I hopped over to Rae's blog and found the Geranium dress Pattern.
An had used this pattern and now Kristin. I chuckled when I saw Kristin's post... hey, I'm in great company!

As you can see here, I made a couple of changes to the pattern.

I added a Peter Pan collar 

and extended the bodice a few inches. I would've loved to have added sleeves, but I barely had enough for the collar as it was.

I don't know if it's just me, but I'm having a hard time finding good cardigans in toddler sizes and finding them in colors...HA! Forget about it! Luckily I had an old cardigan I was willing to let go and refashioned it.
The things we do for our kids...

And there you have it... my take on Belgian style. I LOVE it-I really do! I concur with Kristin... and hope Belgian style sweeps the US.
An... thank you so much for having me!

Call for pattern testers - CLOSED

Six months ago I put a free pattern and tutorial for a bubble dress online. While I received many pictures of super cute bubble dresses made with the pattern (check this out), it also became clear that there is room for improvement. The dress needed to be longer for the bigger sizes, and I also became increasingly ashamed over the amateuristic look of the patterns (they were just scans of hand-drawn patterns!). 

In the past few weeks, I finally learned to draw digital patterns, and after making a digital version of the peplum bubble dress patterns, it was time for improving the regular bubble dress patterns as well. Rather than just making a digital version of the same pattern, I started from scratch and drew all-new improved patterns. The differences with the old pattern are the following:

- better sizing (the dress is longer, especially for the higher ages)
- more sizes: instead of 2y - 4y - 6y - 8y, it is now 1y - 18m - 2y - 3y - 4y - 5y - 6y.
- a peter pan collar, which you can choose to leave on or off
- digitally drawn in really pretty colors :-)
- more detailed instructions are also on their way

Improving and digitalizing the patterns took me many more hours than I anticipated. In view of the time I put in it, and also taking into consideration the high quality of the new patterns, after much thought, I decided to no longer give it away for free. Instead, I will sell the pdf-patterns in an online webshop for a small price (probably around $7).

Therefore, I would also like to have the patterns tested properly. Currently, I'm still looking for pattern testers for the following sizes:
- 1 year
- 18 months
- 2 years
- 3 years
- 4 years
- 5 years
- 6 years

Being a pattern tester means that you:

- receive the pattern for free
- make the dress, and send me feedback and some pictures of the dress (worn, not on a hanger) within 3 weeks (2 if possible).

If you would like to be a pattern tester, please send an email to straightgrainblog [at], indicating which size you plan to make. Please rely on the table below to choose the right size, not just on the age of your child. Keep in mind that these are the dimensions of the finished dress, not of the child who should be wearing it ;-) So the easiest way of working is to take a well-fitting dress from your child's wardrobe, measure it up, and compare to the measures in the table.

Dimensions of the finished dress:

1 year
18 months
2 years
3 years
4 years
5 years
6 years
length (back neck to hem)  [in cm]
chest (circ.) 
[in cm]
length (back neck to hem)  [in inch]
chest (circ.)
[in inch]

Thank you in advance! :-)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Clever Charlotte's Olivine Dress (pattern review)

When Erin from Clever Charlotte asked me to review one of the patterns in their Autumn/Winter line, I didn't have a hard time choosing. Picking the Olivine Dress, with its gorgeous pleating in the bodice, and original contrasting pleats in the skirt, was a no-brainer.

I went for one of my favorite color combinations (grey + chartreuse). The solid fabric is Kona Coal (bought at SewMamaSew), and the contrasting fabric is Squirrel Run from Birch's breath-taking Camp Sur line (bought at SewFreshFabrics).

Having previously made their Chickadee Blouse, my expectations for this pattern were high. Would it have the same perfect patterns, and excellent instructions?
Well, it does. The patterns are as clear as patterns can get, spaced out well over the entire surface of the paper - a real luxury for those of us who often work with Japanese pattern books ;-)

The patterns are a real feast for anyone interested in pattern making (and origami, for that matter): the structure of the bodice is highly ingeneous, yet a lot easier to assemble than one might fear at first sight. The instructional video is very helpful here, but not even absolutely necessary.

As complicated as this dress may look; anyone who can make a basic dress, can make this Olivine. While it is not difficult to assemble, this is not a quick project, though. Merely cutting pattern and fabric pieces takes quite some time, as the outside of the dress alone is made out of 16 different pieces. To this, you have to add the pieces for the lining for bodice and skirt. I myself decided not to use lining, as with Kona cotton, I already chose a very heavy fabric. So instead, I just cut a facing for the neck line. I finished the hem of the skirt with fusible interfacing ('dubbelzijdige Vlieseline' for the Dutch readers) instead of stitching it. I also shortened the skirt by a few inches, as I like dresses to be no longer than the knee (just my personal taste).

I estimate that the dress took me somewhere between 5 and 6 hours to make. So this is obviously not a pattern for an everyday play dress; this is one for special occasions. But on those occasions, what an head-turner it is!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Kids' Clothes Belgian Style week 1: Skirt As Top

Today, the Kids' Clothes Belgian Style series kicks off! And I couldn't dream of a better opening guest than Kristin from Skirt As Top. Everyone knows Kristin from the gorgeous clothes she sews for her two kids. Always whimsical, colorful, and original, without ever looking over-the-top or cheap. The Film Petit series she co-organizes is the coolest project ever, and everyone loves her many tutorials. Make sure to visit her blog if you haven't already!

Kristen has had a more important role in this series than she probably realizes herself. I had been having the idea for a Belgian style inspired series in my head for months, but I was very insecure about it. I was convinced no international blogger on earth would be interested in it. But when Kristin commented on my blog that she loved the Belgian style, and that she had some "pastoral horses fabric" ready to be sewn into a dress, I finally found the confidence to ask her and all the other great bloggers to participate. Only 1 person didn't respond; all the others were in immediately. So thank you for that, Kristin!

Hello StraightGrain readers! I'm especially excited that An invited me to be a guest in this series - why? Because I had actually made this dress a couple days before she even emailed me, inspired by An herself! I laughed out loud when I got her invitation to participate, it was so perfectly-timed. Talk about serendipity.

deer for days geranium dress

When I saw An's deer dress, I thought it was pretty much genius. And then she made her cow dress and it was immediately elevated to "must make" status for me. I LOVED it.

deer for days geranium dress

Honestly, this type of pastoral/photographic print is in the section of the fabric store I tended to give a wide berth, assuming it was for hunters and people looking to make curtains for their cabins in the woods. Never in a million years would I have had the foresight to gravitate toward a print with deer all over it to make a dress for my little gal, but BEHOLD! An had me doing just that. It's not the type of look you see in America too often, but I'm hoping we can change that because it's fantastic.

deer for days geranium dress

I have the same philosophy as An where I think a loud print pairs best with a simple silhouette, so I used the Made by Rae Geranium Dress (such a great and versatile pattern). I made it in a 3T with a 4T skirt - options are scoop neck, faux cap sleeve, pleated skirt. My daughter loves it.

deer for days geranium dress

As I browsed An's Kid's Clothes Belgian Style Pinterest board, I noticed a few trends in styling - colorful belts, rain boots, brightly colored tights, white backgrounds. I had no idea that Belgians had such a specific style, but it's so inspirational to me - I love the playfulness and lighthearted attitude of the outfits, which have very classic silhouettes. I want to make more!

deer for days geranium dress

Living in a pretty gray and rainy place (Portland, Oregon, USA), people tend to layer up around here a lot, so it's especially fun to add bright pops of color to the mix. I made the belt in golden shot cotton, left over from my daughter's Sunshine Dress. It has sunshiny buttons, too.

deer for days geranium dress

I got my fabric locally, and the selvedge says "Sanctuary by Wade Butler for Wilmington Prints."

deer for days geranium dress

To play with the forest-y theme even more, I lined it with a woodgrain print (Tina Givens for Free Spirit). I think kid's clothes should have an element of fun to them, which is why I'm falling so hard for Belgian style.

deer for days geranium dress

Feel free to visit me over at skirt as top anytime! Thanks so much for having me, An!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Announcing… Kids’ Clothes Belgian Style series!

Starting next week, this blog will host its very first guest series!
Beginning on Monday, at least 16 bloggers will present creations inspired by Belgian children’s fashion. What? Belgian fashion? So Belgium produces more than delicious chocolate, beer, and waffles? Oh yes it does!


Left to right: Anne Kurris, Dominique Ver Eecke, Morley, Aymara

Belgian brands like Dominique Ver Eecke, Atelier Assemblé, Anne Kurris, and Inge Van den Broeck may not sound as familiar as Benetton or J Crew, but everyone who is on Pinterest has undoubtedly come across creations from these designers.
Belgian children’s clothing can be characterised as very playful, colorful, often with a vintage touch, and with a love for special prints. No pink +  purple here ;-) Generally, patterns are very simple and minimalistic – forget abundant ruffles or campy embellishments. In order to give a sense of what the Belgian style looks like, I’ve created a special Pinterest board:

In the coming months, at least 16 amazingly talented bloggers will present their interpretations of the Belgian style. Take a deep breath before you look at the amazing list of participants:

Feb 11: Kristen from Skirt As Top
Feb 25: Venus from Suburbia Soup
March 4: Adriana from Crafterhours
March 11: Trine from Groovy Baby... and Mama
March 18: Heidi from Elegance andElephants
March 25: Caila from CailaMade
April 1: María from La Inglesita
April 8: Vanessa from LBG Studio
April 15: Griet from Emma & Mona
April 22: Ana Sofia from S is for Sewing
May 2: Jess from Craftiness Is Not Optional
May 6: Sanae from SanaeIshida
May 13: Jessica from Me Sew Crazy
June 3: Rachael from Imagine Gnats
June 10: Suz from Sewpony
June 17: Celina from Petit à Petit & Family
June 24: Rachel from Nest Full of Eggs
July 1: Yifarn from Japanese Sewing Books
July 8: Jessica from A Little Gray
July 15: Jen from iCandy
Can you believe this list?

For now: hope to see you next Monday for our first guest blogger, Kristin!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thank you Martha Stewart

In Belgium, not Halloween but Carnival is the costume event of the year. I never really saw the appeal in spending time on making something to be worn only once per year. Until I saw this awesome tutorial.

And so I spent the past three evenings cutting, pasting and sewing a set of giant butterfly wings. The entire outside is made of felt; the inside is some kind of mattress foam I bought at Rotterdam market.

Norah is thrilled with her costume. 

Martha you're my hero.