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My aqua pleated skirt

10 August 2011, 13:34

I’ve been talking about making this skirt for months now – I really liked it when it first appeared in the September 2010 issue of La Mia Boutique (#26), and then I thought I’d make it this winter, but my chosen fabric seemed too summery… But finally, its day has come and I’ve made it a reality!

It’s hard to see in the magazine photo, but there are pockets integrated into two of those pleats, too, which I really like!

And then someone on Pattern Review was asking for a pattern suggestion to knockoff this Karen Millen skirt, and I realised that my LMB pattern was really very fashionable indeed!

My pattern has more pleats, plus the added pockets, so I think it’s a better design, but I still appreciate seeing similar clothes in high end RTW, especially if I already liked the design anyway!


Lucky Me

8 August 2011, 13:32

Well, aren’t I a lucky girl recently? First of all, I won interfacing and a metal seam gauge from Pam’s giveaway at Off the Cuff!

I’ve won Pro-Sheer Elegance and Pro-Woven Shirt Crisp interfacings, to be precise. Coincidentally, both kinds were the few I didn’t buy on my interfacing binge a few month ago! So now I’ve got an even greater biodiversity in my interfacing bag…

Then, hot on the heels of winning that – I may have lost Karen’s draw, but I ended up winning a copy of the novel “Laura’s Handmade Life” from craftycrafty.tv, too! A novel where the heroine bounces back from life crises through sewing? Yes, I think I’ll enjoy this… So now I’ve got three books in my reading queue, aahh!

And it was time again for another Google Adsense payout, so I thought this time I’d spend your hard-earned funds on something a great majority of you will want to see: the new DKNY Vogue pattern (1259), and 3m of this gorgeous mushroom-coloured viscose/cotton/lycra from Tia Knight aka “In Fashion Fabrics” on ebay. It’s ridiculously soft, lightweight, and drapey and just perfect for the gajillion gathers on this pattern, so when both arrived within a day of each other late last week, I set to work!


Idées Couture magazine May 2011

17 May 2011, 13:03

While we were in Toulouse during our French road trip, not only did the lovely Marie-Christine put us up for the night and cook us a wonderful dinner, but she had a gift for me, too – the latest edition of Idées Couture magazine!

If you’re not familiar with Idées Couture, it’s a monthly magazine that usually has a mix of knitting, crochet, and other crafts, and then one issue per year is a full translation of La Mia Boutique magazine. So even though this issue is the May 2011 Idées Couture, the designs and photos are all from the March 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine. Handily, this was just before my LMB subscription started, so these are all new designs to me!

To complicate matters, last year it was looking as though there was going to be a monthly French LMB translation, titled Ma Boutique, but now it appears that was just a one-off issue and they’re back to doing the yearly Idées Couture magazine instead. Confusing, I know!

The first feature was full of nautical styles that I can never really feel I can wear (for, err, obvious reasons). But I love this short, sailor-style jacket with the contrast topstitching. Clearly I wasn’t the only one, either, as I found out this was the cover image for the equivalent La Mia Boutique issue…


Silver silk jersey tunic

14 March 2011, 12:10

Cast your mind back a year ago, when I totally raved over a certain Plus-sized La Mia Boutique tunic pattern (La Mia Boutique 12-2009 #19)…

This pattern was SO in the style of my sister-in-law, Aileen, that I proposed it to her right away, and even made the muslin for her almost exactly a year ago! Thankfully I made all the changes to the pattern as soon as I got home from the fitting session, and I even bought the silver silk jersey she wanted from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road… But then I totally lost momentum and the altered pattern pieces have been hanging on my pattern rack making me feel guilty ever since!

So about 3 weeks ago, I finally sucked it up and made this for her (rather belated) birthday gift. All in all, it only took an afternoon from fabric cutting to completion – why didn’t I just do this months ago! We finally visited Aileen yesterday to give this to her, so I can now post about it. I didn’t get to see her in it since she had her hands full with her 6 year old’s birthday party, but she texted later last night to say it fits well and she loves it, so hopefully I’ll get to see it at some later family gathering!

Until then, you’ll have to make do with Susan modelling:


Sewing pending photoshoots

8 March 2011, 13:06

You wouldn’t know it from the lack of sewing photos, but I’ve actually been fairly productive over the past two weeks.

I was a terrible auntie this year and failed to make anything nice for my niece and nephew this Christmas, and my sister-in-law said I should just send them something when I get around to it, seeing as how they’re both so overwhelmed at Christmas anyhow. So before I got started on my March Mini Wardrobe stuff, I took an afternoon to make these, which are currently in transit:

I made a fluffy pink zebra minkee bolero for my 7 year old niece, and an adapted (ie: no hood) monsters and red jersey tee for my 8 year old nephew. You’ll see more about these when they try them on, with any luck…

And while I was clearing the sewing guilt decks, I finally also made the silver silk jersey dress I’d promised (and muslined) for James’s sister over a year ago!


Post-coat winter sewing plans

12 January 2011, 13:48

Now that I’ve got my big winter coat sewing out of the way, I can turn my attentions to filling in a few gaps in my winter wardrobe. Sewing these things now means I can get another good 3-4 months of wear out of them before moving on to short sleeves and lighter jackets (no really, for the past few years we’ve had flurries and hard frosts in April or May).

So I’ve gathered together the patterns I’d most like to sew along with fabrics I’ve got in my stash that would help fill my wardrobe voids…

Starting at the top of this collage, we’ve got:


Happy 2011!

1 January 2011, 00:15

My favourites of 2010:

Standout moments in sewing land:


The Best Pattern Magazines of 2010 - Nominations

15 December 2010, 13:02

I always look forward to Pattern Review’s Best Patterns of the year, but this year the nominations don’t have a single pattern magazine included. This is really disappointing as I do 99% of my sewing from them, and I feel the shortlist really doesn’t reflect my own personal sewing in the slightest. (And don’t even get me started about the inclusion of some patterns that were just Big 4’s stumbling, mediocre versions of great patterns previously printed in pattern mags!)

So I thought it might be fun to have our own nominations for the Best Pattern Magazines of 2010!

I think it’ll be easier to vote for whole issues rather than specific patterns inside, and also give people a better idea of which back issues to hunt for. If there’s enough nominations, I’ll set up a proper vote in a bit so we can see what’s crowned the winner when I do my own personal roundup of the year on New Year’s Day.


La Mia Boutique November 2010

18 November 2010, 12:48

With KnipMode pulling out all the stops for their fantastic new December issue, would La Mia Boutique rise to the challenge and present an issue full of wonderful, glitzy holiday wear?

Err, sadly, no. But let’s have a look anyway…

This minidress has some interesting pleating going on at the centre front, but it’s a detail I’ve seen countless times in RTW, and one that Burda published patterns for at least two years ago. But it’s still a nice, very wearable look, and hems can always be lengthened.

This knit cowl dress with shoulder yokes would look great in a luxe, drapey fabric like silk jersey…


La Mia Boutique Oct 2010

2 November 2010, 11:42

This is going to be old news to fellow subscribers since this issue arrived while I was on honeymoon a few weeks ago, but I hope it’s helpful for those of you who use these posts to determine whether to buy the issues on eBay or not!

This issue of La Mia Boutique was really focused on jackets and light coats, so the cover image was pretty representative!

I think this coat was my favourite of the whole issue – I absolutely love that collar! I think the button placement is really “off” on this, though (that bottom set just looks far too low down), but I never pay attention to button markings on patterns anyway, so that’d be trivial to change.

I don’t normally go for tunic length OR billowy shapes, but I really like that this is made in a linen-y fabric, and the back technical drawing absolutely intrigues me. This is where I really wish I could speak Italian to figure out what’s being done on that back yoke. Without a back view photo, it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s there – contrast fabric? Lace? Pleating? Embroidery?


La Mia Boutique Sept 2010

4 October 2010, 23:05

I’m still away on my honeymoon for a few more days, but in the meantime please enjoy my pre-prepared rundown of the latest La Mia Boutique magazine!

I love this casual, raglan sleeved minidress:

There are quite a few nice trench coats in this issue, but single-breasted ones like these are quite difficult to find:

While this reminds me of a knit tunic Burda did a few years ago, I like that this A line dress is for silks and lightweight crepes, and doesn’t require any zippers.


La Mia Boutique August 2010

27 August 2010, 12:41

After quite a few great issues of La Mia Boutique, it pains me to admit that this issue seems to be a throwback of the weird, not wonderful, old days of LMB. In fact, there’s not really any “Must Sews” for me in here at all, though a few of the designs have interesting pattern shapes when you take a closer look.


First up, an oddly-shaped maxi dress for those of us with really uneven hips… Even that ruffle shape is strange.

Here’s a rather nice tunic top with a large patch pocket, paired with a knit cardigan.

Seriously, WTF is this? An enormous maxi jumpsuit with windows for your navel and a neckline down past your waist? Really, who would wear this besides this model getting paid to wear it?


La Mia Boutique July 2010

20 July 2010, 13:51

No, you didn’t miss it – the June issue never arrived and is presumed missing in the post by now (so Magazine Cafe extended my subscription by a month to compensate). But that’s okay because June didn’t look that great in the online preview, and July is a fantastic issue!

I utterly love this bolero – mostly for its sleeves! You can see more easily in the layout diagram, but there’s a strip of fabric down the centre of the sleeve, with gathering on either side. I’d so take these sleeves and try them out on a shirt or other style of jacket, too.

This is actually a dress that just looks like a skirt and top – it’d be great for short lengths of stash fabrics with a nice belt…


Quick & easy tie-front teeshirt

3 June 2010, 12:50

I was so excited when I saw this tie-front teeshirt (#2) in the May 2010 La Mia Boutique!

It just ticks so many boxes – flattering neckline (check!), coordinating knits (check!), cute Daisy Duke-style tie (check!), and most importantly, it uses up those awkward leftover lengths of fabrics that are too big to chuck away but at less than 1m, are really too small to make much of anything from.

The other great thing is that this teeshirt was seriously quick to sew – I cut out the fabric when I got home from work on Friday evening, and in amongst making dinner and doing some reading, I had finished this before I went to bed, and without particularly rushing or staying up late, either. In fact, I liked it so much I wore it out to lunch and the cinema (to see Four Lions) the next day, and then again at Crafternoon!


Summer sewing shortlist

24 May 2010, 15:36

Last week you got to see the newest Patrones that Aisling sent over, but you all have been far too good to me, because last week I also got a surprise parcel from Daisy!

She did some awesome detective work and worked out my size and style and picked out Simplicity 2754 and Butterick 5317 for me! And she did a great job, because I really like them both! I always have a hard time seeing the potential with the Project Runway patterns because the pattern covers are so horribly done that you can’t see any details at all, and Simplicity’s site makes it really awkward to browse by technical drawing (what I do as a general rule with Burda magazine previews). Anyway, as it turns out, I really like the details of this one, and doing some research myself, I remembered that Trena made it a few months back and I absolutely loved it! And she’s so got the right idea with those back view enhancements! And the Butterick Maggy London dress is just screaming out for a border print, as far as I’m concerned – the skirt is just a rectangle with pleating, so anything with a border or lace at the edge would go perfectly as you don’t have any cut, curved hem or side seams. So it actually is as easy as it’s labelled, seeing as how you’re really just making the bodice…

These patterns all came at the perfect time, because not only did I finish the second bridesmaid dress this weekend (photos coming later this week), but London has stumbled into a mini-heatwave which always gets me raring to sew! After spending the last two months solid on these dresses for my girls, I’m more than ready to sew for myself now, and I’m not scheduled to start on my wedding dress muslin until July.

Sooooo, how much can I cram into the next month, eh? Granted, I’ll still want to make a few things here or there while I’m working on my gown, but I thought it’d be a good idea to get all the things I want to sew together in one place. I’m not calling it a wardrobe or SWAP since they don’t all go together, and I don’t want to commit myself to ALL of these since I tend to get bored easily, so let’s just call this a shortlist so I can choose from these at will…

The FehrTrade Summer 2010 Sewing Shortlist!

From the top:


Double take!

13 May 2010, 15:15

Fashion has always been cyclical – we reinvent ideas from decades past and give them a new twist. But with everyone playing off similar influences, sometimes two designers independently come up with very similar ideas. So it’s really not a surprise that you can sometimes find very similar pattern designs across companies, too.

As I found out, once you start looking for “pattern twins”, suddenly you start seeing them everywhere!

Patrones vs Knip tops

It all started when reader Hilde pointed out in my Patrones 289 review that this Plus top looks an awful lot like an older KnipMode design, so I decided to investigate further by comparing the shapes of the pattern pieces side-by-side:

(This KnipMode top was previously neglected because it was in the same issue as the fabulous swimsuit pattern…)

While the tech drawings look different, when you look at the pattern pieces you can see that most of that is just down to artistic interpretation and the pieces are very similar indeed!

Knip vs Burda blouses

Then I noticed in my review of the March 2010 KnipMode that their ruffle-collared blouse was incredibly similar to one Burda released last year!


La Mia Boutique May 2010

7 May 2010, 14:58

Hooray! The first issue from my 6 month gift subscription from Magazine Cafe has arrived!!

The first feature of the magazine is nautical-themed (and not terribly subtly at that!). I absolutely love this tie-front teeshirt – I’ve got a ton of annoying “too short for a shirt yet too small for scraps” knit yardages so I’m quite keen to mix those up like they did here. That gajillion-gored skirt just scares me, though (yeah, those are all individually pieced!!).

I fell in love with this navy blue top from its tech drawing, but I’m actually less keen on it in real life. I think it’d look better without the central pleating, as it seems a bit over-designed. One thing to note, though, is that there are no shoulder seams – the top portion of the front actually wraps over from the back.


Which Sewing Pattern Magazine?

21 April 2010, 15:56

There have been quite a lot of people wondering about the various sewing pattern magazines out there and which they should buy or subscribe to. Since I’ve been primarily sewing with pattern magazines over the last few years, I thought some of you might appreciate my opinions on the major pattern magazines (and no, I’m not getting any kickbacks or referral money from any of these links, if it wasn’t obvious!).

For all of these magazines, you receive a glossy magazine with lots of nice photos of models wearing the various designs, and there will be a section containing the technical drawings, instructions, and fabric layout for each design. Patterns are included in a special folded bunch of papers (usually stapled in the centre so you can pull them out easily without damaging the rest of the magazine). The patterns come in a variety of sizes, but none of these contain seam allowances and you need to trace them off the sheets provided.

I trace my patterns using a serrated tracing wheel and brown kraft paper, but many others prefer to use tracing paper and pencils. I add my seam allowances when I cut out my fabric by simply cutting 5/8”/1.5cm away from the edge of my paper pattern, but there are double tracing wheels available to do this for you.


The LMB draped birthday dress

25 March 2010, 11:36

Today is my birthday! Every year I like to make myself something new to celebrate in, and this year I’ve paired some luscious teal silk jersey from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road (at £16/m) with a gorgeous draped dress from the Feb 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine, #6:

We thought we’d make the extra effort here to give you all a show of our neighbourhood with the dress…


The LMB draped dress - muslin

18 March 2010, 13:03

As good as my word, I sewed up a muslin for my birthday dress (next week, birthday fans!), which will be the draped jersey dress from the Feb 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine, #6:

I sewed up the muslin in a viscose jersey, chosen for its very similar draping to silk jersey (with the bridesmaids’ dresses also in silk jersey, I bought TONS of this!), but it is pretty thin and see-through so it’s really only ever going to be good for muslins. After sewing a size 44 in the turtleneck and finding it quite roomy, I decided to go with a 44 here, too, even though I should be a 46 according to their size charts. This is sewn up exactly as per their paper pattern, with no alterations.

Here’s the front, side, and back views of the muslin:


Mentally sewing the LMB draped dress

15 March 2010, 12:44

I’ve gotten as far as I can on my secret other project while I wait for supplies (mostly new labels – can you believe I’ve sewn through the last lot of 120-odd Fehr Trade labels in the past two years??), so I cut out my muslin pieces for my birthday dress. If you’ve got a good memory, it’s this luuuurrrrrvely draped number from the Feb 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine, #6:

What I normally do for foreign language patterns (La Mia Boutique is in Italian) is look at the pieces and get a brief order of construction in my head. Usually I work from the top down, starting with assembling the front bodice pieces then join to the back at the shoulders, then finish the neckline, then if it’s a knit, attach the sleeves at the armscye and sew up the side seams, or if it’s a woven, do the side seams first them attach the sleeve in the round. After sewing for a while, you begin to see that most pattern instructions have you sew things in roughly the same order, so you can just do those here to suit this particular pattern.

But for more complicated patterns like this one, I like to sit down with a pen and paper and mentally go through the whole process, visualising how the different pieces interact and the pros and cons of doing which seams in which order (like “if I do this first, is it going to make it awkward to serge that?”). It’s a great mental exercise in spatial thinking, and one of the most pleasurable aspects of sewing for me.

And it means I don’t have to type in every single word of the foreign instructions and figure out what the translator’s trying to tell me (sewing terms are not the best translated! )!

So since I was writing these out anyway, I thought my order of construction might help others who were eyeing up this pattern.


La Mia Boutique turtleneck

21 February 2010, 13:01

Before I tackle the Vogue sheath dress that will marry happily with my tweed jacket, I made a quick diversion in the form of a simple wintry knit top from the February 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine:

It’s a classic turtleneck pattern with a little bit of neckline gathering at the centre front, so there were only four pieces to trace (front, back, sleeve, and collar) and it was ridiculously quick to sew on the overlocker/serger and coverstitch. We’re talking a single evening in between preparing dinner here, folks!

Turning to the back…


La Mia Boutique Dec & Feb

2 February 2010, 13:39

It’s been a while since I’ve bought or sewn from a La Mia Boutique magazine. It wasn’t any sort of conscious decision, but it’s a bit difficult for me to get ahold of since the newsagent that used to stock it is no longer a newsagent, and RD Franks sells out of it within hours of getting any instore… The styles were also usually a bit too “out there” for me, in the way that Italian fashion can sometimes be – always vibrant and interesting, but not necessarily something I’d want to wear myself.

In any case, I’d been hearing reports and seeing scans from others that La Mia Boutique was getting a lot more wearable these days, so I jumped on two recent issues when they came up for sale from a UK ebay seller (afer having a previous order with a UK magazine shop mysteriously cancelled weeks later with no explanation).

December 2009

I absolutely knew I wanted to grab this issue since littlejazzbird gave a pretty comprehensive rundown of the best patterns in it (seriously, go see the scans on her site! She’s sewn up a lot of LMB patterns recently, too), but there were a few more I wanted to highlight…


Copying the Rick Owens top

18 February 2009, 13:46

A few months ago there was a Pattern review thread highlighting this amazing top by designer Rick Owens that seemed like a great pattern drafting challenge!

The original top is here but I think Sigrid’s analysis of it is more interesting. There are obviously the folds to contend with, but there’s also a hidden seam at the shoulder, and frankly, just trying to visualise what a pattern piece for this would look like is rather far beyond my limited drafting skills.


Pattern magazine bonanza

10 July 2008, 12:23

I’ve suddenly become inundated with pattern magazines, which is an excellent position to be in, especially since the Big 4’s recent offerings have been dull, dull, dull (really, how many times can they restyle the exact same sack dress?).

First up is the Italian pattern magazine La Mia Boutique, given to me by the lovely Anwen, who’s soon going to guide me around a few London fabric shops I haven’t been to yet! She’s clearly a very good lady to know!


Lemon and raspberry La Mia Boutique dress

4 June 2008, 13:19

When I bought my first La Mia Boutique magazine a few months ago I was instantly drawn to dress #31 in that April 2008 issue:

I loved the duality of the buttoned, tight, and sleeveless bodice with the pleated A-line skirt, and I wanted to accentuate that with contrasting fabric (and, err, leave out the weird knee-highs!). I happened to have about a half metre of lemon-yellow linen/tencel blend leftover from James’s dress shirt, and it was just too soft to let languish in my scraps box! So I decided to use it for the bodice (and lining) of this day dress and pair it with some raspberry-coloured tablecloths for the bottom. I think I may possibly be channelling Spring colours, or perhaps I’m just craving sorbet!


Hands in many pots

21 May 2008, 11:22

I’ve got my hands in so many different projects right, it’s almost hard to keep up with myself!

My first priority was re-creating my piece for the upcoming book, which (as I’ve seen it talked about elsewhere online) I believe I can now reveal is tentatively titled “Pillowcase Challenge” and is all about recycling vintage pillowcases into other items. You’re going to have to wait until next spring to see my creation in the flesh (along with a few other pillowcase-related tutorials I’ve got tucked away), but here’s a teaser of my sample ready to be posted:


La Mia Boutique

3 April 2008, 11:53

I had an optician’s appointment which brought me into the center of town last evening, so I took the opportunity to see if Borders or Oxford News had the April issue of Burda World Of Fashion magazine yet. It turned out I was a bit too early, but Oxford News did have one copy of the Italian pattern magazine La Mia Boutique left, and since it’s one of the few pattern magazines I haven’t tried yet, I couldn’t say no!

I’ve already compared Burda WOF vs KnipMode vs Patrones magazines so I thought I’d give you a peek of La Mia Boutique, since there’s not much information online about it, and I can’t even find an official site anywhere!