Saturday, 7 November 2009

Almost missed another Mrs!

For whatever reason Blogger won't allow me to post a picture of the Electric Blue Wedding dress I made, but there it is.

My friend got married to her lovely fiance in early October, and - after seeing my dress in August - asked me if I was willing to make her wedding dress. Well, how could I say no to that incredibly honouring request? We spent some time on picking a pattern, chose another one, and another one, and finally decided it had to be a mix of all of them. I sketched and drafted, made a muslin, but we still weren't 100% happy with it. Then, after seeing the muslin, and even when seeing how the actual fabric behaved during the fitting process, we chose to go yet another way at the last moment. The end result is this electric blue wedding dress for my gorgeously curvy friend.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Note from the Mrs

And another few months have gone without posting. It's not even as if my husband (still getting used to that) and I went away on a honeymoon! My Wonderful Man and I had a truly fabulous wedding, and of course it is time to show you the pictures of my dress making.
This is a picture of me with my dad on the steps of Marylebone Town Hall before the ceremony: look at the train on that dress! The pattern I used is Vogue 2883, with minor alterations: I inserted a zip in the left side seam instead of buttons down the back (strangely enough I couldn't find buttons in the right colour...), and I closed the center back neck instead of using a button there: I just didn't think that made any sense. The fabric I used was a beautiful silk dupioni, and it was great to work with: easy to cut and sew, an supereasy to iron once I figured out the correct setting! Even though the dress consists of an enormous amount of fabric (I used about 18 meters), the fact that the silk was lightweight made it feel like I was wearing a little summer dress. Although never before did I wear a summer dress with a petticoat underneath. In this picture you can see my friend Esther helping me into my dress. She is wearing a stunning backless dress we made from KnipMode November 2007 (nr. 14). My family all came over from Holland and the US and our friends from near and far were there to celebrate with us. My husband (see, getting easier already) had arranged for all of the men to wear morning suits with different coloured ties, and when we left Town Hall the men all put on sunglasses and acted like Men in Black for the picture...
Added: In the evening we danced our behinds off, and in order for people not to trip over my train, I had sewn a little piece of ribbon on the inside of the center back seam that I tied to a piece of ribbon slightly higher up. I'll have to take a picture of that to show you.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Here we go!

Tomorrow I'm finally starting on my wedding dress. I can honestly tell you I'm getting quite nervous by now. Even though I've made plenty of gorgeous (gala- and even wedding-) dresses before. Even though I have enough fabric to make my dress TWICE if I have to. Even though there's enough time to make another 2 muslins before I start on the real project. I'm just getting nervous. But I'll call it excited, shall I?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Sew Houkje Doin' Houkje?

Gosh, I haven't posted in nearly 6 months! I wish that I had loads of garments to show to make up for my absence, but even that is not the case...

It's been busy in our little household though! My WM and I have decided to get married this year, and on the 8th of August our big day will take place. I will be making my own wedding dress from a gorgeous orange dupioni silk (impossible to photograph), and have set aside 6 days for the sewing in early July. I know that doesn't sound a lot, but it's not going to be a very complicated dress, and I've already made the muslin(s). I've chosen Vogue 2883 because a halterneck dress is one of the very few dresses I can wear without looking too "matronly". I guess I just don't have a "dress form" ha ha!

I am also looking forward to making a coat from "Patrones" magazine in the mini coat sew along with Melissa and Zoe. Zoe let me borrow her Patrones Extra magazine, and I must have traced over 20 patterns of jackets, trousers, skirts, and more jackets. And of course the coat that we will be sewing.

I seem to have a few problems with my posting, but as soon as I have solved that, I will upload pictures and links.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Als je begrijpt wat ik bedoel...

I read on Trena's blog that she made the Knipmode Wrap Top that Melissa has been raving about for a while now. I just have to say that I am so very impressed with the fact that so many of you use sewing magazines in a language that is not your own! I assume most of you (very successfully) just rely on your sewing experience when tracing and putting the garments together, but thought I should offer the following anyway.

One English-Dutch sewing dictionary and another English-Dutch sewing dictionary; both dictionaries can also to be used Dutch-English by using Ctrl+F and entering your search term.

An English sewing dictionary (if not for you then for me!) , another English sewing dictionary, and lastly, an English sewing glossary.

And of course there is the sometimes very funny BabelFish translation site to help, but if you have any other ones that you can recommend, please let me know!

Monday, 1 December 2008

How fitting

The dress form (Miss Patty) fit in the drum bag and she is now set up in my front room (we have a temporary lodger, so my sewing room is occupied). Miss Patty (short for Patience; she has to wait around a lot when I'm sewing) is currently dressed in a white T-shirt with the pin stripe skirt that I made over the weekend, but don't have a picture of yet. I'm quite happy with the end result, and the pinstripe wasn't too much of a challenge.
Now, what Miss Patty has, I lack: Patience. I only measured the paper patternpieces at what I thought would be the most important bit (my hips are quite wide), started cutting my pin stripe, and the sewing could begin! Everything went like clockwork until I tried to put the skirt on, and found that my waist has grown to a size that I can't even find on Miss Patty... Time for some drastic weight loss action!

Anyway, after taking out the two outer darts from the back I was able to squeeze myself into the skirt, and was actually quite happy with the results. I think it was really smart to start with the skirt before moving on to the jacket and/or trousers: a nice easy piece to get used to the pin stripe, and to remind myself to measure, measure, measure. Pics to follow!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Tried and True it is!

My WM and I are off to Holland for a very short weekend break tonight, so I will not have time to sew this weekend. I was at McCulloch & Wallis for about 20 minutes this week, and managed to pick up a shedload of thread, shoulder pads, invisible zippers, buttons, fusable interfacing and even a few patterns, so I'm ready to sew next week! Now that I have the thread I can finally make the button holes in my linen jacket, even though I'm not going to wear it anytime soon...

My pin stripe project will start off on Monday, and I will be making the trousers from the Tried and True Burda pattern, because I didn't win the Jalie pattern. I'm sure I'll try that one sometime soon though, as it seems like a great pattern for both leisure and "business" wear.

I've also had my eye on the Vogue 8543 for a while now and was very happy to find it at McC&W. I've never used an "envelope pattern" before so I have to remember that the seam allowance is already added, but if I manage to that: I think it will look great in the cashmere wool I bought a few months ago.

I'll be bringing back my dress form from Holland (I'm hoping it will fit in the bag that we bought for the drum we brought back from the Gambia) and hopefully some more pattern paper as well, and maybe even a Burda or two, if I can find time to shop (it's my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, so there will be a big party). More news next week!

Monday, 17 November 2008


Ah, so this is what happens when I say I won’t post for a while: I start sewing! Good news, I started on a few different projects last weekend (why can't I just do one at a time?). Remember the gorgeous fabrics I bought a few months ago? Well, I decided to finally start cutting, and found I have enough of the pinstripe for a complete work outfit of a jacket (KNIPmode October 2008) and a skirt (an old KNIPmode) ├índ a pair of trousers (an old Burda, pattern numbers to follow). Unfortunately the pin stripe doesn’t marry up over the full length of the fabric, so I have cut the fabric into manageable pieces (no, I don’t pre-treat my fabrics, I start cutting and sewing right away: goes with my impatient nature), and will now face the challenge of matching the stripes and not go mad (again, my impatience...).

Anyway, I was looking at the TNT trouser pattern that I was planning to use, and found that I was really quite bored with it. However, I had not been able to find a new pattern that excited me enough to try it. Until this morning, when I read Stacy’s blog and found that not only did she show a pair of trousers that I really liked, but also: she decided to give the pattern away! Must be karma: I entered in the prize draw, and will let you know the result when it comes in: I will either be sewing my usual trousers (which you haven’t seen yet), or I will be using the newly discovered Jalie 2561.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Sew sorry

After having been back from our brilliant trip to The Gambia for well over a month now, and still not back to blogging, I think it's only fair to let you know that I probably will not be posting much in the near future either, unless spectacular things happen in my life.

At the moment, blogging does not seem to be a priority, so I'm "allowing" myself to sign off for a while. I'm sure I'll be back, I just don't know when. And don't be mistaken: I'm still reading all of yours!

Take care,

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Button up, love

Okay, so I finally finished my garments. Well, finished? I still had to do the buttonholes and ran out of thread; how silly is that? I've had no time this week to buy any, so I'm off to the Gambia with RTW stuff instead of any of the things I was working on. Too bad, that's what you get when you plan too many things to do in a week...

My WM and I are off for two weeks of bliss in a small family-run hotel, and with the malaria pills we have stacked, I'm hoping to report back to you early October! Take care and talk to you soon! X

Friday, 12 September 2008

Simply Supreme!

As I've mentioned before, the Victoria & Albert museum is currently hosting the exhibition "Fashion V Sport", and I thought I should check that one out. First, there was an entrance fee of GBP 5 for this exhibition - I'm not used to paying because practically all museums here are free - and then the lady at the counter was friendly enough to also point out the "Supremes" exhibition that is currently showing (for another 5). Oh what the hey, let's do them both!

Fashion V Sport did not give a lot of background information, and although (some) the models on show were interesting, there's only a certain amount of time I can look at a pair of sweatpants with only the designer's name and "jersey" on the descripion panel, when there must be so much more to tell about the actual design. I think in total there were 30 to 40 outfits on show in quite a small area, but I was not allowed to take pictures (I did manage to snap one), so you're just going to have to see for yourself. I then went on to the Supremes exhibition. Oh! The sparkles! The sequins! Sleeves so long you could trip over them, great music in the background, and: a bit of information about politics and racism in the 60s to put the success these ladies had in perspective. All in all a more interesting exhibition (in my eyes), and: I was allowed to take pictures!

After seeing that next door at the Natural History Museum they're getting ready for London Fashion Week, I went on a walk to Chelsea Harbour to have a look at the shops in the Design Centre. According to the online phone book that I used to create my map of London fabric shops, there should be loads of fabric shops there. And there were! All interior design though, and all of them only showrooms, so no chance of bringing anything home. I did see some beautiful fabrics and got a few ideas for future use, but was afraid to ask how much they would cost me...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Measure twice, cut once

Fabric Widths
Originally uploaded by Houkje London
One of the challenges I faced when I moved to the UK, was figuring out how inches converted into centimeters and the other way round. Rule of thumb: 1 inch = 2,5 centimetres. Brilliant, I knew that! However, when I asked the guy at the fabric shop last weekend how wide the fabric was and he told me it was 59 inches, I drew a blank. It was probably the excitement of looking at the gorgeous fabric that left me at a complete loss as to how much that was in centimetres. When he told me he didn't know either, I was a bit surprised.

If only I had remembered the conversion table that I had in my bag, it would have been a lot easier (especially since even though he had no idea how many centimeters we were talking about when we were discussing the width, when I asked him to cut off 4 metres for me, he did so without hesitation). Makes you wonder. Well, me anyway.

So I thought I'd better share the following information with you, although I don't know if there are more people out there suffering from brain freeze as soon as numbers come up in the fabric shop (I always feel a slight black-out at the check-out counter, for example...)

Let's have a look at the yellow example in the top line. Suppose you want to make a skirt, and because you're used to buying 150cm wide fabric, you knew you would need 1 metre (= 100 centimetres, I LOVE metric!) for that. Now you're in the fabric shop, and you see the most gorgeous fabric, but it's only 90cm wide. Before you let panic take over, a quick look at the conversion table would tell you that you would need 160cm (=1.6mtr) for your skirt! Cool eh?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue!

Last weekend I managed to "inspire" my friend Vanessa to join me in a ridiculous weekend plan. Friday night: Dinner and a few drinks, Saturday: go to New Covent Garden Market very early in the morning, and then see what else we want to do later on in the day (maybe check out the new exhibitions at the V&A?). The market's website stated they were open from 3am until 10am, so we were smart and went to sleep reasonable early to be able to get up at 7 and be at the market on time. Normally I'm not one to get up early if I don't have to, but the prospect of visiting the largest fresh produce market in the UK somehow got me excited (I miss the farmer's markets from home). After drinking quite a lot of coffee (and me finally realising that Vanessa's clock was 20 minutes early, not just 2), we walked to the market. When we got there it was around 8 and very quiet; a few people were cleaning up...and one of them told us they had finished "half an hour ago". The market starts at 1 am and finishes at 8 (!!). This obviously hadn't been altered on their website yet. Duh! And a good morning to you too!

We decided to make the most of the fact that we had got up so early, and went home for another coffee before setting off to Brixton Market: Meat and fish stalls, fruits and vegetables like I'd never seen before (I actually had to ask what some of the stuff on display was!). In Electric Avenue and Atlantic Road we found not only the market stalls, but also a few fabric shops (see my map here). Of course I couldn't resist to go in, and in the second shop, S&S Textiles, I found some gorgeous suiting: a wool navy pinstripe, and a brown cashmere. Yes I did. And at £10,00 per meter I couldn't leave it there, now could I? Now all I have to do is finish the Irish linen set (trousers done, jacket almost done, skirt cut), and I'll be ready for some Autumn sewing. That is, if I completely overlook the two tops I still have to make that will go with the linen set, but who would blame me for wanting to get my scissors into that cashmere?

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

KNIPmode monthly overviews

I'm still trying to get my KNIPmode delivered in London, but for the moment it's still being sent to my parents in Holland. They were visiting last weekend, and brought me the September copy.
I was not very impressed with most of the patterns, although I did like the felt jacket (#1). But maybe that's just because you don't need to finish the seams...

Have a look trough the overview pages that I have so far. I will be adding more as I receive them. Should anyone have a July '08 issue available: I would like to buy it from you, if you let me!

EDIT: I was made aware of possible copyright problems, so I have had to remove the link to the files. Apologies for any inconvenience caused!