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 www.sewwhatyvette.com. 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.
Left: Mom and I in the 80’s. Right: She sewed almost all our clothes while I was growing up.
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.
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.
Fold the top facing around to the bottom wrapping the seam, and re-pin.
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?
Love the dress, what a cheerful print!
Thank you Jay, it’s a joy to wear!
That was an interesting trick with the facings! Lovely way to remember your mum.
Thank you Su!
Such a fun dress! I’m not sure if you know Dutch, so I’ll comment here in English to be safe 😉 I always think it’s fun to read about someone’s family history! My grandma was also coupeuse and a teacher. She might have received her diploma around the same time as your mother as she was in her early twenties in 1947. She sadly passed away earlier this year and I received all her folders from her coupeuse courses. I only started sewing recently, but my grandma had put away her machine years ago by then. Still she’d give advice sometimes 🙂
Thank you Karin, I don’t know much Dutch 🙁 I have my mom’s folders still, many patterns are in small scale, and I love looking at them. I hope you continue your sewing journey, you’re off to a great start!
Thank you! Actually I was wondering about the small scale patterns. I haven’t looked into everything in detail yet, so I don’t know if there’s something like a manual/instruction, but how does that work? Should I scale it to my own size?
I believe the scaling was done to make the drafting job faster, and easier for the instructor to check for accuracy. Perhaps to save paper, too, times were tough. How does the word “coupeuse” translate into English? I’ve checked online and got many definitions.
I did some modevakschool courses a couple of years ago (with another school than your (grand)mothers) and we practiced drafting patterns at a quarter scale. It is quicker, and you have a better overview because it’s not so huge. We used an architect’s ruler, they had quarter and half scale on the one side and fifth and eighth on the other. So you don’t really have to calculate to make the conversion.
Still if I draft a pattern for myself I start at a quarter, writing all the measurements right on the scale pattern and if the pattern looks good to me I copy it in real cm’s
I have been thinking a lot about how where you are from influences your sewing. I learned sewing here in the Netherlands in the early 2000’s using Burda and knip mode, and I think their sparse instructions definitely influenced me in the sense that I usually do not really read the instructions on indy patterns either. Also I need to be able to ride a bike in everything I sew
Thank you for sharing your thoughts Erika. Lifestyle for sure influences our sewing, and yes, if you ride a bike your clothes must be suitable. Me, I’m very casual and active, so no pencil skirts for me, lol.
That makes sense! I think there’s no exact translation for the word coupeuse. It’s a French loan word. I think it means both seamstress and tailor.
Thanks Karin 🙂
Beautiful dress Yvette and what a wonderful memory of your Mom! You inspire me.
thank you Lucie, my sewing sista 🙂
Beautiful story and beautiful dress! I love the fabric (placement) and the facing trick. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Wis, it was a satisfying project.
I like your method of finishing facings as well – much like you would finish the top of a skirt or pants. Because I’m on a jumpers making tear I’m definitely putting that info to good use! That estate fabric of your mom’s was a beautiful birthday gift from your sister and you put it to excellent use 🙂
Thank you Kathleen, I’m happy to share! I’ll be watching for a jumper post by you 🙂
What a lovely tribute! My Mum sews only to mend Dads work overalls-not very inspiring- but she adores when I make and send her things, we live half a world away and I love giving her a virtual hug this way. She is a knitter however, and I have distinct memories of traveling and her needles clicking faster as she got nervous over Dads driving/directions, lol!
ha ha! I can hear those needles, too. Bravo for sharing your creations with your mom, mine’s been gone for 10 years but is with me in spirit most of the time. 🙂
What wonderful fabric!! How blessed you were to be born into so much creativity! Beautiful dress!
My mother hated anything handmade for years! Her Mother, my Grandmother sewed everything she and her sister wore.My Mother hated that. I can almost see why because my Grandmother followed the pattern very very strictly and no one was allowed to suggest changes. I thought it had to be that way then too. Boy was I wrong!
It took me 30 years of sewing to realize there was re-fashioning- alterations AND adapt/design your own patterns!! LOL! I am reading instructions illiterate, so the freedom of not reading the instructions opened up my world!
I am glad to see your blog and hope to learn more from you!! So nice to “meet” you!
Hi Eliz! There is a great freedom in making up your own methods, and maybe that’s why so many children are creative. They “just do it their way”. As adults, we fear “doing it wrong” so we don’t do it. That’s pretty stifling. Keep doing it your way! And most of all, HAVE FUN!
Really enjoyed your post for a variety of reasons.
I too live in a very small town in central Ontario but spend most of the summer on an island and needless-to-say there is no where to purchase sewing supplies with the exception of Walmart or the rare chance I venture into a Fabricland.
I personally have heard of Roseneath, however, a friend recently purchased a house in Baltimore, Ontario which I have visited several times in the past few months and as a result I can actually visualize the area you referred to in your post.
I was not aware of the online store you mentioned (Distinctive Sewing Supplies in Oakville) but I just spent a half an hour checking out their site and I suspect I will be placing an order with them when they reopen in September. I used to be a regular shopper of MacPhee Workshop but I was under the impression that they were no longer in business – so once again thanks for the tip.
I’m glad you enjoyed my post, Buck! I have great memories of the Roseneath and Baltimore areas. I own every pattern that Linda MacPhee came up with, even have doubles of a few :). My favourite this summer has been her wrap pant, I make the version with the front seam. Happy stitching 🙂
Congratulations Yvette! Sew beautifully compiled: the writing, the pictures, the material, the dress, and the memories. May you continue to inspire others. Mom would be sew proud!
Thank you Peggy, your gift is sew appreciated!
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