Bunka block: damselfly blouse

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

Bunka is a way of pattern drafting in Japan. They use a different body shape and it fits my body way better than the traditional Western way of pattern drafting. The arm hole makes more sense, as The Fashion Incubator shows here .

With help of some internet research I drew a Bunka block for my arm hole and a Bunka sleeve. I experimented a bit and this is the sleeve I ended up with, put in my damselfly blouse.

I want a sleeve I can move in. Ooh, just found this very interesting blog post: http://overflowingstash.com/2014/07/07/fitted-sleeve-sloper-part-2-built-in-gusset/

I have arrived at the same sleeve a flamenco dancer uses: http://www.flamencodressmaking.com/2010/12/how-to-sew-sleeves-that-let-you-move/

It is placed at a right angle from the bodice, not at a 45 degrees angle. It has a lower shoulder cap, just like men dress shirts have. It can have a gusset at the arm pit for extra wearing ease. Having the arm hole fit close to the body.

The rest of the blouse fits well too. Need a bit more concentration when sewing the princess lines though. Back and front have some folds.

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

Bunka form has an extra princess seam in the front, this fits my curves even better. I wonder if I can incorporate where it hits the arm hole into the front line of the arm hole. Pretty much like this gent’s shirt looks.

I still have a steep bend in the arm hole, due to a secondary bust dart most people with small frames and large bust need there.

Otherwise: nice fit. I can move, I can breathe. Better collar too.

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien


A tricot shirt: neck band doesn’t lie flat.

This is the fabric that I made all previous shirts for:swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Katzentritt by Susanne Bochem/ SUSAlabim for the European brand Lillestoff
Both drafting a pattern and learning to sew with jersey were done just so I could cut into this expensive and quality fabric and make myself something.

This is the shirt and it went all wrong the very end, at the neck band:
sewing self drafted t-shirt tee shirt Katzentritt jersey tricot stretch stitch Janine 425S

Last week, at sewing lessons, my teacher commented that I tend to stretch my jersey bands too much, they should be put in a tad looser. You put together the fabrics, at about 4 fingers width, and then the garment fabric should be loose enough for one finger to poke through.

After preparing the neckband I noticed I once again had made quite a tight band. One could easily put two fingers between the garment fabric and the band. So I opened up the neck band again and put in an extra strip, carefully matching the pattern.
I put it in the neckline, using a stretchy stitch (which sews triple, stitch G on my Janome 425S) and, knowing it would be looser, topstitched immediately. With another stretchy stitch that sews triple, the “straight” stitch A on my machine.
Turns out it was too loose. The band does not lie flat against my skin.

After consulting with textile friends there are at least 3 solutions for a neckband that doesn’t lie flat, apart from ripping it out and cutting a new, longer band:

  1. cut away the band and make the neck opening a little wider. Use same band.
  2. open up the band a bit and put in a bit of elastic which will sit the top.
  3. take the band at the shoulder seams and fold the tops into itself a bit. Making the edge circumference smaller. Secure with thread (or topstitch).

Because I had done a nice bit of pattern matching at the front I opted for the elastic:
sewing self drafted t-shirt tee shirt Katzentritt jersey tricot stretch stitch Janine 425S
Nice! Little ripples are visible but that’s beginner sewing for you: small steps, small mistakes but already nice things are happening and the garment is very wearable.

Trying out how tight the elastic should be:
sewing self drafted t-shirt tee shirt Katzentritt jersey tricot stretch stitch Janine 425S
When I was content I sewed the elastic flat onto itself, making sure it wasn’t twisted anywhere. I put it back in the band and closed the little hole I’d cut into the band with neat little stitches.

Now all that remains is topstitching the sleeve cuffs and grade the seam allowance there. I’m confident to sew tricots now.

finished a thin viscose dress

I’m getting the hang of sewing with tricot jersey fabric.

Over the weekend I sewed a very thin viscose dress, using my self drafted t-shirt pattern with one-piece-sleeves. Because the colour of the fabric is nude I put in red bands at neckline and arm holes. I used 1 m of fabric, bought at Joop’s Modestoffen in Sittard, at Stoffenspektakel.
sewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425Ssewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425S

I learned more about sewing with thin stretch fabric on this instructable page.

I mainly used stretchy stitch G on my Janome 423S, after trying out numerous zig zags on a very small piece of scrap fabric. This is the standard stretchy tricot stitch that’s on every machine and excellent for internal seams, as I learn on this page from Make It Perfect.au.

This page was very informative too: https://doitbetteryourself.club/best-stretch-stitches-sewing-machine/

Stitch G is not so neat for topstitching but I read that the triple stretch stitch (A) was:
sewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425S
At least it’s sufficiently stretchy.

I did not have a lot of fabric and wanted the smallest hem possible. Just turn over and sew down with the triple stretch stitch (A). Not so neat.
sewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425S

learned to sew a tricot jersey shirt

First time sewing with thin tricot/jersey. Self drafted pattern for a one-piece-shirt (meaning sleeves are part of the front panel and back panel).

I learned at sewing lesson and I used the overlocker there:

I finished at home at my Janome 245S with a zig zag stitch:

Folded strips at the arm and neck holes. My teacher said to press them RS tog first, then overlock, then pin them to the hole with a bit of stretch, figure out how long they should be, sew the tube shut while the tube is pinned to the hole, sew tube to hole with overlocker.

I felt there was a lot of use of the overlocker while this fabric does not fray and does not need to be locked. It does lay the fabric flat though, stops it from curling. At home, with the zig zag, I soon found out that the zig zag should not be wide as it shows on the RS.

My second attempt I did with a small zig zag. My teacher also said to use a triple (stretch) stitch for the side seams. With only one thread you run the risk of exposure when the seam pops.

Steaming or pressing works very well for this fabric. Especially after sewing. It relaxes the stitches and further pinning and sewing is far easier.

This self drafted pattern had too tight sleeves so I cut them off. My next pattern has a bit longer sleeves but still not long enough.

the next day I made this:
tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleevestricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Back panel is less wide than front panel. This suits my sway back very well. The broad border at the bottom enhances this. It draws attention to my back, leaving room at the front, my belly, to breathe.

Learning to add the strip at the neckline and use the right amount of stretch:

tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Using my zigzag and topstitching with a very shallow zig zag, after pressing:
tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Inside of the neckband:

tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves
My nifty little handheld steaming iron: tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves
it’s from the Lidl

Sideseams were sewn twice and graded:
tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Now onto the next tee: adjust pattern:

  • take out the curve at the top of the shoulderseam
  • make sleeves a bit longer

practice practice

princess dress shirt: honing in on a good fit

Shirt with princess seams in the front and back. More room at the upper arms. Nice thick buttons (3 mm, diameter 11 mm) and learning the bypass the button-hole-in-one function on my Janome 245S because that’s too sensitive at times.

The pattern is from the shirt in the previous post: the bunnies shirt.
Alterations I did to that pattern:

  • different curve at the apex, for a bit more breathing space
  • more room at the back, at shoulder blade height, for more room of movement for the arms
  • shortened the shoulder seam by a cm. I thought by bringing the sleeve (cap) closer to the body and upward I’d get more range of movement, Which indeed I got.
  • wider sleeve cap, more room at the upper biceps
  • little tucks/folds in the sleeve at the shoulder point.
  • lowered the shoulder slope. I have square shoulders.
  • put the neck line in the front higher
  • adjusted collar stand but not collar (awkward collar now but looks alright when I put the back up, like a polo shirt)
  • lengthened sleeves a bit but had to shorten them at first fit, causing the sleeve placket to be not long enough.
  • gave cuffs a bit more room
  • cut the zero-ease block with 1,5 cm SA and sewed it with variable SA: none at the waist and shoulders, 1 cm at the bust. Only at the princess seam, btw, the side seams where sewn with SA 1,5 cm.

With the bunnies-shirt I noticed how fast the insides of my cuffs get visually dirty. (I apply cream to my wrists and hands a lot).

So for this shirt I played with the placement of the fabric pattern. The insides have trees, just like the outside of the collar. I placed some details at the ends of the sleeves too (but they got cut a lot when I had to shorten the sleeves):

It’s a nice shirt. I’ve already worn it. Is has more arm movement than the previous shirt. But still not enough. My sewing instructor wants me to enlarge the arm hole but I’m partial to make it smaller, closer to the body so I do not drag up the whole shirt when I raise my arm.

Other things I have changed to the block after fitting this princess shirt:

  • took out the curve at the side seam which would be easily identified as “side boob”. I had put it in because I reasoned that if one needs more breathing space at the front, such a curve at the side might help. It does not.
  • lowered the shoulder slope even more.
  • took out 2 cm at the back, at the neck line
  • gave neck line 1 cm SA
  • trued the four pattern pieces around the shoulder seam
  • fiddled with the arm hole. Still fiddling.
  • took away 5 cm of width from the sleeves.
  • took away 4 cm of length from the sleeves
  • made the collar stand higher
  • made the collar fit the stand

still to do:

  • make the cuffs a smidge wider so they overlap more neatly.
  • adjust collar to new neckline
  • change the curvature of the collar stand so the top part is less lengthy and the stand will lay more flat against my body (it now stands away from my body)
  • adjust collar accordingly
  • if I bring the arm hole closer to the body I’ll need to give the sleeve extra length.

No more adjustable SA sewing. Just give it the SA it needs so I can cut precisely.

As soon as I have a good body fit I want to draft some french cuffs and sew a stylish shirt and wear it with cuff links. But first another wearable try out shirt in cheap, funny fabric.

finished a dress shirt: bunnies shirt

My basic self drafted block. Princess seams at front and back.

It has been altered after this blouse was finished: new neck line, lowered shoulder seam at the neck, little tweaking of the sleeve cap (move it 1 cm up the shoulder seam, widen it a bit), remove flare at bottom of the side seams. Wider cuffs, slightly longer sleeve.

My block has a seam allowance (SA) of 1,5 cm and I cut the block precisely. I then add wearing ease by placing the sewing line in the SA. For this blouse I gave the princess seams an SA of 1,25 cm. Adding a total of 2 cm wearing ease. Which is enough.

For the next blouse I will vary the SA within the princess seams: 1 cm at the apex front, 1,5 at the shoulder seams, 1,25 at the waist.

Princess seams were sewn, folded to one side, topstitched and then pinked. One sleeve cap was a felled seam following instructions from Page Coffin but that did not work very well for me. I just did the other like I did the princess seams.

No ironed interfacing, all regular cotton (old sheet) sewn into place. My sewing instructor warns me that things might bundle up when the shirt is washed. I will wash an learn.

I like how the shirt fits my body shape. Not too much dragging lines at the front. I can move my arms reasonably comfortable. I’m glad I had a professional fit me half way through. It is not something you can do by yourself, not for sleeve caps. It all comes down to half a centimetre here or there. 1.8th of an inch.

First time sewing button holes and buttons with my sewing machine. It took a while (you really have to put all the dials on the Janome 245S into the right position) but then it wens swimmingly.

Tips for sewing a button hole with the button hole foot on the Janome 245S:

  • attach foot
  • put stitch width on 5
  • put stitch length on the button hole image. If you put it a bit to the left stitches will be closer together
  • lower lever on the left side of your needle, it needs to touch the foot
  • put button in foot
  • the hole will start at the front, then go backwards.
  • it does not like to encounter multiple layers of fabric. Sometimes you better turn the fabric and start the hole from the other side.
  • do a trial hole on pieces of scrap fabric
  • put the stitch dial onto “reset” in between every hole


Sewing on a button without a button foot:

  • remove foot
  • remove under pressure on the dog feeders
  • choose zigzag stitch
  • put pin in fabric
  • place button on pin (need some space between button and fabric)
  • put foot down
  • crank needle with hand and aim for one hole
  • crank further and adjust stitch width until the needle finds the second hole
  • start sewing a few times
  • for a 4 hole button: don’t break yarn, lift foot, turn fabric, put foot down and aim for the other holes


Finished: good basic skirt pattern for my body shape

My body shape is that of a goblet:

handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vesthandsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest
The under carriage of a goblet has “a case of the no’s”: no waist, no buttocks, no hips, no thighs. So a straight shape suits best, with a flare at the bottom to match the “flare” a goblet has at the top (yes, I mean breasts/shoulders):

handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vesthandsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest

The lower back is very swayed. I put in a yoke, in double fabric: handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest

Only the back has these flaring pattern parts. The front is one piece, straight down. With pockets. The flare of the back facilitates walking: handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vesthandsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest

Some details: pockets. In this one I made one continuous pocket running from one side to the other:

handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest The inner side is not from the shell fabric but from an old pillow case. The underside of the pocket is shell fabric. The skirt has a zipper. My sewing teacher taught me the blind zipper. It went all very well until the very last, when I folded down the waist band to sew in the ditch from the right side. I was afraid I would not catch the inner side of it so I took a larger SA on the outside then the inside. I forgot I had already determined where the SA from the outside should be when I attached the zipper. Secondly I did not match the folding of the waist band from the front panel to the back panel, around the zipper: handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest
Oh well. It really was the last 30 minutes of sewing when I made these mistakes. The rest is good, both inside and out.

I learned how to attach a lining:
handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest (again, the only thing not so nice here is how the waist band is folded down and sewed)

So gorgeous:

handsewn skirt flare goblet shape handknitted vest

I’m very glad to have a good basic pattern now. I’ll trace the parts on sturdy carton and it will be a go to pattern.

This one is in sturdy canvas so I can use it a lot and use it hard.

Forging an iron seam stiletto sewing help.

Yesterday I forged an iron knive and a tool to help with sewing:
Mes smeden ijzersmeden workshop Veghel Phoenix Cultuur NoordkadeMes smeden ijzersmeden workshop Veghel Phoenix Cultuur Noordkade
It was a one day workshop with a real black smith.

In a well equiped black smith forgery in Veghel. It’s situated in an old factory that’s repurposed to dozens of studios, skilled craft working places, food courts, cinema and the best chips/fries of the country. Phoenix Cultuur offers many courses and workshops there.

The smith is Niek Eikelenboom from Black Oak forgery in Schijndel:

In the Netherland you’re not allowed to carry a knive in the street. That’s why sewing a leather holder is part of the workshop. Again natural materials: leather, waxed thread, steel needles. Love it!

Blacksmithing is amazing! You can make your own tools, exactly to your own requirements! The knive is made to the width of your own hand which makes it ergonomic. The forgery was fool of tools that were customized. My hand got twitchy just thinking about the possibilities! Scissors, pliers, grabby tools, stabby tools, melting pots, cooking tools, poking tools. Useful things!

That’s why yesterday, for our extra project, I made a sewing tool, a seam stiletto or rather a tool to help with keeping the fabric and threads at the right place while I sew over them. It’s the part I use my seam ripper most for during a sewing project:

handforged iron sewing tool

All beginners were deemed good enough to make a bottle opener, with two slightly curved flat bits at the end and a round twisty bit in the middle. I just changed one end into a sharp and flat end and now I’ve got a new sewing tool:
handforged iron sewing tool
handforged iron sewing tool

It’s called a seam stiletto I believe. It’s a good orifice hook for spinning too. And I can probably also open bottles with it.

emerging love for quilting with a disappearing nine patch block of love.

We were making a comfort blanket for my friend and I decided to do my first quilt thing ever. It was a disappearing nine patch block because I saw a whole quilt of it at her home this Summer and I loved her work instantly.
quilt strip for comfort blanket
I chose to quilt inside each square because that’s what she had done, instead of in the seam/ditch, and I love this look myself too.

When sewing the initial block I had to pay attention to contrast and to direction of the plant swirls:
quilt dissapearing 9 nine block

These are the tutorials I used:

I played around with the placement of the blocks:
quilt dissapearing 9 nine blockquilt dissapearing 9 nine blockquilt dissapearing 9 nine blockquilt dissapearing 9 nine block

I chose one and sewed it onto the backing, effectively quilting for the first time ever. I thought myself clever by tying the threads from the inside while quilting this block:
quilt strip for comfort blanket
It only works partially though because you have to quilt the pieces furthest apart first and you can’t get into tight spaces. It breaks the flow of working. Not so clever haha

A second block was made with the linen my friend Lieneke from Wolop.nl handdyed with me. This fabric is scrap-put-together, as I learned from 15minutesplay.com when I made that needle case.
I put all blocks on one continiously piece of backing: ecological cotton handdyed by yet another friend of ours: Moonwise.
Here I am quilting the indigo linen block onto the back, again within each piece instead of stitching in the ditch:
scrap quilt first quilt ever
I’m using different coloured thread for the front and the back. The front is done with white thread for the white parts and indigo dyed thread for the blue parts. The indigo thread is the thread I used to bind the fabric shibori style for dyeing:
scrap quilt first quilt ever

The back is light pink because I did not have enough indigo thread and the white was too much contrast. This cotton has pink and purple tints so I think it worked:
scrap quilt first quilt ever

My strip was going to be part of a blanket made from several strips including some knitted ones. I needed to add a border so the friend sewing the blanket together could pick up stitches and knit the strips together:
quilt strip for comfort blanket
I attached a cotton yarn to a piece of non-stretching satin band, using the zig zag stitch on my machine for the first time.
This is my third block with the border attached and already stitches picked up because that was quite a job that I didn’t want to burden my knitter friend with.

The fabric is from a small vendor at the market in Doetinchem, near my cabin, who specializes in African wax prints.
quilt strip for comfort blanket
The blue band on the top is a ready made band with loops for easy picking up stitches.  I used it in my first summer dresses. Here I am attaching it, it’s easy bias band. So much easier than that self made satin band!
quilt strip for comfort blanket
My sewing accessory is a fast make-shift pincushion that I needed asap when I started this quilt. It’s just a piece of felted pullover rolled up and stitched together, with lush silk handspun because I may be thrifty and efficient, I’m also snobby when it comes to materials.

Using my new glass head pins, all white, which are extra long. Glass. Like.

This is the fourth block, a piece of a silk scarf that is very dear to me and that I have never used apart from sewing a little WIP bag for ChristaV:
quilt strip for comfort blanket
I quilted this one sparcely, just through the flower stem:
quilt strip for comfort blanket

Because I found out I like things quilted with a bit of room between them, so the resulting blanket remains pliable and souple and the batting gets a chance to fluff up a bit and be warm. The first blocks are quilted much more dense:
quilt strip for comfort blanket

The flowery block has my favourite ratio I think.
quilt strip for comfort blanket

It was difficult to make these shapes with a regular sewing foot. A free motion foot was recommended but they are crazy expensive and you need to guide the fabric for speed (length stitch) too and that is just a bit too much. I don’t have those skills yet. Also I don’t love quilts with little scribbles and rounds particularly so have not invested in this.

I do have bought a walking foot but it seems to have gone missing between here and China.

Here’s my whole strip:
quilt strip for comfort blanket

Here’s the whole blanket:

We went visit my friend and delivered it at the facility where’s she’s healing. She likes it 🙂
In fact she loves it! And we love her. And now she has a tactical reminder of that love.

(And I have started my first full size quilt yesterday. Which has all begun at her home, with that lovely disappearing nine patch quilt.)

finished: gnome dress

Self drafted, with plenty of ease so it can be slipped on without a zipper and can be worn over winter underwear.

Made from sturdy rasberry coloured cotton canvas with a slight stretch. Still I cut the pattern pieces with about 0,5 cm extra width for wearing ease. This is too much. Should have done only at the side seams, not the princess seams. Or not so much. 0,5 cm at the side seams, 0,2 mm at the princess seams.

Accent fabric is a thin cotton with print of gnomes in vans:
gnome dress volkswagen van<
I've bought this combination years ago, to put together.

Lined it with cupro or Bremsilk which nearly cotton, I think?

Pockets in the sideseam. Lined with gnome fabric.

I put in some irregular knives pleats for walking ease:
gnome dress volkswagen van

I have been wanting to make this dress for years now. A block dress with the gnomes-in-vans down the middle. I didn’t know how to sew a square neckline though. With lining. And princess seams. I made muslins through the years but lacked the sewing skills to pull it off.

Now I did, thanks to my sewing lessons.

Regrettably I have not reinforced the centre panel enough, even though the gnome cotton is interfaced. I will adjust it. It also thought me I like firm fabrics, with not a lot of drape. Where shaping comes from the seams and pattern pieces. Will investigate that road further.

And the princess seams are a bit too pointy and roomy at the apex. Will resew that seam.

It sits really comfortably. The wearing ease makes it nice to wear, over maillot and long sleeves. So happy with the pockets!
Will use this pattern again. I have already amended it to a round neckline. Love a square neck though…. problem is the front panel cannot be a rectangle as it rises above my bust and needs to come in a bit. Shoulder straps move away from CF. They can’t be less wide because I like my back to be covered for the whole width. Ahh it’s a puzzle.

Love the bow at the back. It’s from Bleuet dress from Deer & Doe.

After these pictures I made some amendments.

  • the front panel collapses at the top. I have inserted fortifying rows of stitching in the lining and underlining.
  • made the curve at the apex (bust points) less curvy. I had room to spare there.
  • added topstitching at the front princess seams. They help tack down the seam allowance and make the seam sit pretty from the right side. Edge was treated with pinking scissors.
  • made the sideseams more curvy. But not too much so I still can put this dress over my head.

hand sewn dress
hand sewn dresshand sewn dress
hand sewn dress