Mission Uninspired Garment accomplished!

So as you might remember, my first attempt to just make a really quick dress to fill Norah’s Winter wardrobe failed miserably, as I ended up with an experiment and a tutorial on top of it.

My second attempt, however, was successful. The key was to pick a gorgeous fabric with a big print – the kind of fabric which just screams from a minimalist approach. I had this Anna Maria Horner linen in my stash for about a year. When I saw Olga’s beautiful Ghost Wing dress a few weeks ago, my desire to use it finally won from my fear of putting my scissors into this stunning cloth.

With Ava asleep exceptionally early (half past 8! Woohoow!) and Mr. StraightGrain off to play soccer a few nights ago, I had some hours of guilt-free sewing to spend. Before I knew it, the dress was finished (kudos to the inventor of the invisible zip!), and my mission to create a quick and uninspired garment finally accomplished.

So, there’s actually nothing interesting to say about this dress. The fabric is amazing. The End.


Of the fluffiest fluffiness

Even before I started cutting the mint green fabric of my flipped pea coat, I knew that the coat wouldn’t live long if I would have Norah go to school with it. The school’s playground is, for the most part, a giant sandbox, filled not with white bright private-beach-on-Aruba type of sand, but rather with brown is-this-a-sand-box-or-a-construction-site kind of sand. The yellow coat I made last year, never really got perfectly clean after being worn for a week.

To my own surprise, after spending many, many, many hours on the Mint & Mustangs coat, I still felt like making a second jacket. To save time, I decided to make the exact same coat again, just in a fabric which is easier to keep clean. I found this dark blue speckled, roughly woven fabric at a creative fair which was organized a few months ago in Hasselt. It came from a shop of which I had never heard, but which turned out to be not far from my door: Obade Naailabo in Antwerp.

I combined it with gold piping , and used the same buttons as I used for my mint version.

The batting I used is Quiters’ Dream Wool, a 100% wool batting which is softer than soft, and super light. For the lining, I went for Stamped Grove Knit, a gorgeous fabric designed by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics (bought here). It was a bit of a risk to join knits with non-knits, but it actually turned out not to be difficult at all. And I had half a yard left, just enough to make a matching infinity scarf. In the sleeves, I used Venezia lining fabric, so that the coat is easy to put on and off.

The combination of the wool and knit gives a super light yet really warm coat, fluffier than fluffy! Like I already said in my post about the Mint and Mustangs coat, using a natural batting rather the cheap synthetic ones I used in the previous years, makes SUCH a difference. It’s really worth the extra expense. And I might just use knits as coat lining all the time from now on – it gives such a soft and sweet touch to the jacket. Art Gallery’s tagline, ‘Feel the difference’ applies to their knits even more than to their wovens.

While I feared that Norah would insist on wearing her first coat all the time, she actually said she likes the blue one better. Say what? A four-year-old girl who likes blue and trees better than pink and horses? Should I consult a doctor?

I’m getting started on my next Miss Matatabi Makers project today. Hope you all have a great weekend! You can still vote for your favorite Flip This Pattern coat, here.

Flip That Pattern: Voting has opened

Remember the Winter coat I made for the Flip This Pattern contest? Well, voting had opened! I’m up against three incredibly strong co-contestants, so choosing will be tough…
You can vote for your favorite here, today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday). Below is my full post again.

Let me start off with expressing my love for the Trendy Unisex Pea Coat pattern. The fit is perfect, the instructions very clear, and it’s a great project for beginning seamstresses. The simple design also makes it the perfect flip project: you can easily make changes or add details without things getting too complicated.

So how did I flip this pattern? I made changes to both the exterior and interior of the coat. Let’s start with the outside. The pattern is for a unisex coat, and so it is inevitably not very feminine. I decided to make a few changes to make it more suitable for my 5-year old daughter (and wannabe princess!) Norah.

I started by making the bottom of the coat more narrow for a more elegant silhouette. I also rounded off the collar piece and the cuff details, and I added mustard piping which I made from bias tape. I used that same bias tape to make a little loop.

I added princess seams in both the front and the back of the pattern. In the back, I added little belt detail which mimics the details on the cuffs.

I’ve developed a bit of an interest in doing interesting things with princess seams lately, resulting in a first experiment in this dress. I also wanted to try something original with the princess seams in the coat, so I redirected them towards the side seam, and integrated a pocket with piping in them.

Let’s discuss the changes to the inside then. The coat has no facings, which makes it such an easy and fast project. The downside is, of course, that the lining can be visible on the outside, which is not very pretty. I decided to add facings for a professional looking finish. I simply retraced the front and back pattern pieces on a new sheet of paper, and drew the lines for the facings. I cut out the pattern pieces, put them on fabrics, and added seam allowance as I was cutting. It takes a bit of extra time, but it is really worth it. For the sleeves, this was even easier: I extended the main with a centimeter (3/8″), while cutting off a centimeter from the lining. This simple step relocates the seam between main and lining deeper into the sleeve.

Let’s talk fabrics. The main fabric is a gorgeous herringbone wool which I bought from the excellent Belgian webshop Bellelien. The fabric comes in three colors (pink, blue, and green), and I went for the blue one (which actually looks more like mint). Then the lining. I made a lot of coats in the past years, and I usually pick something from my stash which I kind of regret buying (it’s just the inside, right?). But for this coat, I really wanted to do something special, something I knew Norah would LOVE.

So I bought a half meter of Cotton+Steel Mustang fabric at Miss Matatabi. I used it before in my Matryoshka bins, so I knew that it looked even prettier in real life than in pictures 🙂
I quilted the lining onto the batting with a few quick lines of stitches. I used to use very cheap synthetic batting for Norah’s coats, but through making baby blankets and sleep sacks for her baby sister Ava, I got to know Quilter’s Dream battings. The difference is gigantic! While I use 100% wool for baby products, I went for a synthetic batting here: Quilter’s Dream Puff. It is amazing: super soft, light, and breathable. I’ve decided that I will never buy cheap batting again.
I lined the sleeves with Venezia lining, so that the coat would be easy to put on and off.

The buttons are from the Belgian chain store Veritas. I just love wooden buttons because they combine well with anything. I really hate sewing on buttons, and I used 10 in this coat. I would really appreciate it if I could get some special award for that or something. Ashley? Emily? Anyone?

I really loved flipping this coat. If it wasn’t for this contest, I would have just bought Norah a coat for the first time in 4 years, because the past months and weeks have been so busy. But now, I am so glad I didn’t! In fact, I enjoyed making this coat so much that I immediately made a second one, using the same flipped pattern. I went for a fabric which would wash up more easily, so now Norah has a ‘good’ coat, and a ‘play’ coat. You can read more about it on my blog tomorrow.

Thank you so much, Ashley and Emily for inviting me to participate!

Sew + Show #6

Thank you so much for linking up to Sew + Show last week!

The most clicked item this week was a stunning dress with pleating by Kathleen from Les Jardins d’ Elysse. You know that I’m a sucker for pleating details, so it’s with great pleasure that I’m featuring this dress.

Kathleen, this week’s prize was a free Lua pattern, but as you already won one last week in a give-away, we’ll have to agree on a different prize. Some people have all the luck! 😉
The second most clicked item was a magnificent dress by Teri from Climbing the Willow. I love the Nani Iro double gauze fabric, the matching buttons in the front, and the gathered sleeves!
And then in third place, we have a tie. You were equally curious about Miestaflet‘s super cool hoodie, as about Daisies and Dresses‘ beautiful Holiday dress.

On to the next link party!  

Here is how it works again:
– A new party opens each Wednesday. Add a link to whatever you have sewn in the past 7 days.

– The link party closes on Friday (around midnight CET).
– The next Wednesday, I will feature the most clicked creations, and open a new party.
– On an irregular basis, I will also throw in a little prize for the most clicked creation.
– If you link up to your blog, include the Sew+Show button in either your post or your sidebar. This is a condition for being featured.
– You cannot link up to a shop. Links to items for sale will be deleted.
– Have fun!

Flip This Pattern: Mint & Mustangs

Several months ago, I was asked by the lovely Ashley and Emily of FrancesSuzanne to be a contestant in their Flip This Pattern challenge. I really love that contest, so I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

I finished this coat a few weeks ago (Norah really needed a warm coat) and I’m so glad to finally be able to show it. If you head over to FrancesSuzanne, you can see the complete coat.

Make sure to also check out the entries of my super talented co-contestants, Laura (yesterday), Angie (tomorrow), and Chelise (Thursday). On Friday and Saturday, you can vote for your favorite flip.


New features of StraightGrain patterns (layers! swiping! A0!) and a GIVE-AWAY

The past months have been incredibly busy. There are many reasons for this: classes to teach, papers to grade (ugh), sewing book contributions to write, an hyperactive toddler to mind, and so on. Since a week or two, my teaching and grading had ended for a while, and so I’m finally focusing on developing new patterns again.

At the same time, however, I’m also making a few changes to my four existing patterns. To name a few:
– the Tinny and Bubble dress will get more sizes
– all patterns will get layers (which means you will be able to print just 1 size, if you like)
– all patterns will come in A0 format, so you can have them printed on big sheets in your local print shop.
– all patterns will include a list with creative ideas for making your garment unique. The list will also include a number of links to inspiring examples.
– all patterns will include a special ‘swipeable’ version of the instructions for those of you who, like me, do not print the instructions, but read them of a mobile device like an iPad.

I’m especially giddy about the last feature. Each pattern will come with a complementary pdf file which you can open in your pdf reader (e.g., iBooks). It will generally contain just one step per ‘page’, and so you will be able to “swipe” your way through the instructions, rather than having to scroll. I have been planning this addition for over a year now, and I’m so happy to have finally found the time to give it a try. As far as I know of (?), there are no other pattern designers who offer it.

This feature is not only very convenient; it also adds to my continuous efforts to make sewing with my patterns as eco-friendly as possible. My patterns already came with a printing table, so that you only print those pages which you will actually use. And they already came with very precise yardage tables (using 1/8″ and 10 cm increments) so that you only buy the fabric you need. With the additional swipeable pdf, I hope to make not printing the instructions more attractive.

The new Lua
I started with updating the English version of the Lua pattern. Nothing changed to the patterns or sizing themselves, but the new version also includes the A0 version, a separate file with instructions for your mobile device, and a list with creative ideas for making your Lua sleep sack truly unique. Those of you who already bought the English pattern will get the updated version in your mailboxes soon.

In the coming months, I’ll also be releasing new versions of my other patterns, one at a time.

The discount code
You can now buy the new Lua pattern with a 20% discount with the code SWIPE. It expires on Dec 1.

The give-away
I’m so happy to finally have a bit more time to sew and make new (versions of) patterns. Let’s celebrate with a give-away… and do some de-stashing at the same time! I need to slim down my stash, and get rid of some fabrics I know I won’t be using.

Three winners will receive the new version of the English Lua pattern, and one of them will also receive 3 yards of designer fabrics from my stash (one from Lotta Jansdotter, one from Amy Butler, and one from Art Gallery Fabrics). Just use the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

Enter the giveaway

Luafication (+ tutorial)

Norah has been growing strongly in the past months, and desperately needs some new clothes for the coming Winter. So I set out to make some quick dresses for her: just a pretty fabric, and a super simple bodice + gathered skirt design. No pleating, no peter pan collars, no sleeves, no experiments, no nothing.

That was the plan. As I was going through my stash, however, new ideas quickly started bubbling up, and before I knew it, I got carried away by another experiment.

The idea came when I saw the Atelier Brunette fabrics I had been eagerly waiting to make something with. I won them this Summer in a give-away by the splendid Belgian fabric shop Liesellove. I’m the type of person who hardly ever enters give-aways “because I never win anyway”. So I was over the moon when Lies mailed me that I won shop credit to spend at Liesellove. Picking fabrics wasn’t easy – Liesellove carries so many pretty fabrics – but eventually I picked three Atelier Brunette fabrics. And I haven’t regretted it. Gorgeous prints, great quality, and as finely woven as voile.

I have a soft spot for the combination of (dark) yellow and black & white prints, so I knew I wanted to combine Bye Bye Birdie and Hirondelle in one dress. And that brings me back to my experiment.  I wanted to luafy the dress bodice.

Luafytransitive verb \ˈlü-ə-ˌfī\  v.  to include the shape of the piping detail of the Lua sleepsack into another sewing project.

In the back, I opted for a different shape. Just adding a little hunchback of Notre Dame touch.

Luafication is really easy! You start from a basic bodice pattern and then you… Well, let’s turn this into a little tutorial, shall we?


1. Draw a scallop shape on your front bodice pattern piece. Make sure that the beginning and end of the scallop are perpendicular to the fold – otherwise, you will end up with a pointy shape. 
Note: for a perfectly symmetrical shape, fold the pattern piece in half (excl. the seam allowance) and draw half a scallop.

2. Cut the line you just drew.

3. Put the pattern pieces on the fabrics, and add seam allowance to the new edges as you cut.

4. Now you can stitch the top and bottom parts with right sides together. Notch the seam allowance in the curve parts, and press it towards the darkest of the two fabrics. Finish the dress as you normally would.

Thank you, Lies, for the lovely fabrics!

Fabrics: Atelier Brunette
Dress pattern: adapted Hanami