Jeltje, My SewStyleHero

SewStyleHero?  There are sew many!


Here’s what I made for this post, more on that in a minute……

First, a bit about me.

I’m Yvette and I share my loves at  My loves include my family, my 2 cats, sewing, machine knitting, cooking, gardening, travelling, and what-ever else catches my attention at the moment.  Distraction comes easily,  inspiration is everywhere, and one of my children described me as a “grazer”.

I started a business in the 1980’s teaching and selling knitting machines out of my home near Roseneath, Ontario while raising my 3 children.  The business went “store-front” in the small town of Baltimore, and Husqvarna sewing machines soon joined the line-up. During that time in my life my mom was a tremendous help, both in the store and with my children.  We spent a lot of quality time together.   The years went by, the children grew up, the business moved to Trenton where it thrived.  I sold it to my oldest daughter in February 2014.

Working on this post helped me appreciate how much inspiration my late mom has provided, in all aspects of my life, not only the sewing.

My mom; Jeltje Matthys (de Boer) was already an accomplished needlewoman before she came to Canada with my father and me, expecting her second of eventually 3 daughters.

Jeltje's diplomas

These are her diplomas.



Left: Mom and I in the 80’s. Right: She sewed almost all our clothes while I was growing up. 

linen fabric bought in Cuba by Jeltje

I had my birthday in July, and my youngest sister gifted me this piece of fabric. It had been my mom’s, bought in Cuba many years ago, 3 yards of 36 inch wide, fairly stiff linen.  What you see is the full width. Not a very large piece, and that bold print dictated a simple garment choice which I thought about for weeks!

I finally decided on a sheath dress from Ottobre magazine.  My mom loved fashion pattern magazines and her mother would occasionally send a Knipmode or a Burda in the mail to her from Holland.  We spent many happy hours studying them together.



Here’s the pattern I chose; it has a one-piece front, with bust darts, a back key-hole closure with a button, and back neck darts.  The neck is a little high, but that’s an easy fix.  My mom would have approved.

Next steps, locate the pattern pieces on the sheets, trace the size according to my body measurements, add seam allowance, pin, cut out and sew.



I was nervous cutting into my precious piece of fabric so decided to sew up a sample in a similar fabric just hip length to wear as a top using the size 44.  (I’m 5 ft 10″ [178 cm], bust 39″ [99 cm] waist 32″ [81.5 cm], hip 39″ [99 cm])I added 2 inches to the body length at the waist right off the bat, and lowered the front neckline by 1 inch.

It was far too large, so no photos, sorry.  The neckline was still much too high, it was choking me.  I took the sides in, hoping to make it wearable… ummmmm, we’ll see! Back to the pattern sheet, to trace off size 42 this time.  Again I added 2 inches at the waist, and this time lowered the front neckline by 3 inches, reshaping the front facing as well.

alterations I made to the original for my Jeltje dress

The original is the grey pencil, my changes are in red.

Cutting it out was a challenge, but after positioning the front pattern piece exactly, the back went onto the remaining large piece.  The facings were a problem, and I ended up adding a center front seam and not worrying about placing the pieces on the grain line. After all, I was interfacing the pieces so they’d be stable regardless. I only had a small pile of scraps left – my mom would have been proud!



Ottobre instructions are very clear and easy to follow.  The only change I made in the sewing method was in how I folded the facings at the side seams and center back seams. Instead of having to go back and hand tack the facings to the seam allowance, I pinned the seam with right sides together through 3 layers, making sure the seams were directly on top of one another.  The top facing is kept free.

Jeltje dress facing step 1

Fold the top facing around to the bottom wrapping the seam, and re-pin.

facing step 2 for my Jeltje dress

step 3 for facing on my Jeltje dress

Sew, check by unfolding the wrapped facing, then serge.



That facing will never be able to pop into view!



I showed the finished dress “Jeltje” to my “sewing sistas”- my local sewing group! I’m “sew” glad I took this challenge on, and I loved the process.



In closing, I’d like to recognize a few other people who inspire my sewing;

  • my children, when they were young, they loved my home sewn garments.
  • Catherine of Distinctive Sewing Supplies in Oakville, for giving my passion for sewing a purpose at a time in my life where there seemed to be none.  Thank you.
  • My “Sewing Sistas”, a group of wonderful women!  We sew together weekly and support each other with positive encouragement and heartfelt love.
  • Linda MacPhee, of MacPhee Workshop. for when I want fun, fast and easy.

Did your Mom inspire your sewing? If so, how?