16 maart 2018

And Now For The Action-Filled Sequel!

As I said in my previous post, I finished my Carlita coat! Joost and I actually had this whole idea for a nice photoshoot in a cool location, but then he got sick and we kind of had to scramble to find a moment before he left on a (well-deserved) vacation. But hey, it all worked out, and here are our coats!

We had to ask a stranger to take our picture.
So at the end of my previous post about this coat I had tailored my coat fronts and back. Next I assembled fronts, inserting a welt pocket into the seam right below the bust. This was way easier (and less scary because no slashing fabric) than a 'proper' welt pocket, since it's basically an inseam pocket with a welt added to it. Pocket pocket pocket. After stitching the princess seam I could attach the patch pockets! Both the pocket and pocket flap are lined in a not-quite-matching lining material to reduce bulk. I often see instructions telling you to trim 1 mm away from the lining edge to make it roll under nicely, but when researching for this project I came across someone who said it was way easier and more accurate to just stretch the lining pieces 1 mm beyond the shell fabric edge. Super simple, but super efficient! I slipstitched my pockets on so there wouldn't be and visible topstitching. It looked great, but wouldn't be the end of that saga yet!

After this came the sleeves. I do have to say here that I had been cautious with transferring my changes from the muslin to the pattern: part of me couldn't believe I had to take out SO MUCH fabric and I was scared that the final coat would end up too small with all the added bulk from a thicker fabric and all that interfacing. So when I inserted the sleeves and tried the thing on for the first time, it was still quite big, and a bit of a bummer. The shoulders were still too wide, and there was still a lot of excess fabric in the sleeves. So I spent a day trying to fix it: I unpicked the sleeves, took some fabric out of the coat side seams and slimmed the sleeves down by the same amount, then tried again.

The size of the sleeve itself was better, but along the way the armhole had gotten a smidge too large, meaning there wasn't enough ease in the sleeve head, making it look a bit sad and droopy. I made my own shoulder pads from hair canvas and cotton wadding (so much fun) and added a strip of wadding to the sleeve head, but had to face that it could look better. So the things came out again, I took some more out of the side seam to make the armhole circumference smaller and tried for a third time. SO MUCH BETTER!

 The fit still isn't perfect, but by that time I felt like I had done everything I could to improve it as much as possible. The entire front is actually a bit too wide across the shoulder, meaning there's some extra fabric bubbling there and I can't quite fill out that princess seam! I do think these are things other people won't really notice when it's being worn, especially not with my giant scarf draped over it.

I then went on to the collar. I had cut my under collar on the bias, and reinforced it with some more canvas and pad stitching to help it keep its shape. After that the under and upper collar were sewn together, pinned to a small tailor's ham and steamed into oblivion.

My favourite part of this coat is the back. I overlapped those belt pieces as far as I could get away with to cinch in the waist a bit more, and I just love the dramatic pleat action going on here! We tried to capture the look of that back in action, and I made some gifs out of that for your entertainment:

I think he scared the shit out of the cyclist in front of him

So by now the body of the coat had been assembled and I tackled the lining. I assembled the front lining pieces and facing first, since I wanted to make an inside pocket and didn't want to maneuver the entire lining under my sewing machine. The lining colour is almost impossible to photograph but it's a very dark aubergine colour, which was the best colour I could find (that wasn't boring navy blue).

Next came putting everything together! I basted the collar in place and attached the lining and facing, using a million pins and loads of basting.  I stitched all around the coat, sandwiching the collar between the two layers, and stitched the facing to the coat at the hem length. This was all carefully trimmed and graded before I turned the whole thing right side out and gave it a good press. Again, I went for no visible topstitching, so I used basting stitched to keep all the layers in place until everything was finished. The rest of the hem was turned up and hand stitched so it would be invisible, then the lining hem was attached by hand. Whew!

Now came one of the scariest parts: buttonholes. My machine does a VERY basic four-step buttonhole, and I knew that would just look terrible after all this work. So instead I tried to make hand worked buttonholes. I spent two days practicing on scraps of wool and canvas (layered to mimic the actual coat), using contrasting thread to see my mistakes. I was also too cheap to pay the shipping for one roll of gimp in a colour I'd likely never use again, so I used my buttonhole twist to make my own. My buttonholes are far from perfect, but I started with the least visible ones in the back and by the time I got to the front they were looking okay (from a distance)!

There was, however, another minor setback at this point. It was a mistake in the pattern (which has now been fixed) but I could have picked up on it WAY sooner. Basically, the patch pocket placement is indicated on the side front only, which meant that it wasn't immediately obvious that the buttons would overlap the patch pocket. And of course, I never indicated the patch pockets on my muslin. ARGH. I ended up carefully unpicking and reattaching both patch pockets and pocket flaps to move them to the side a bit, and thankfully the earlier stitching and pressing hasn't done too much damage to the fabric. After this I could finally attach my buttons (which I had covered through the shop I work at, 10/10 would recommend) and add the finishing touch:

This was probably one of the most ambitious things I ever did, and a very steep learning curve. I can definitely see myself delving more into tailoring, it was scary as hell but also very fun!

I'm going to end this with a very very big thank you to Joost, for his help with the pattern and his eternal patience with my countless questions/panicky e-mails/crappy muslin pictures. Go follow what he does if you aren't already, because it will definitely be awesome.

10 maart 2018

Pull The Wool Over Your Eyes For A Week Or More

I did not plan to just disappear for an entire month! I finished my coat, which took a lot of work, and Joost and I had planned to take pictures together but he got sick so now we have to reschedule. I promise there will be another novel-like coat post when we get to that, but for now I only have pants to show you!

After years of wearing mostly jeans and t-shirts I wore mostly dresses and skirts for a while, especially after I started sewing. I've incorporated pants back into my wardrobe lately, but finding the right silhouettes is proving to be a bit of a search! Wide leg trousers look good with exactly the right top, otherwise I end up looking very short and stumpy. My skinny jeans have become wardrobe staples, but sometimes you want something different. I had this vision in my head (and the wool fabric in my stash) for some menswear-inspired trousers, not too wide but not tight either. So when I found the Pantalon Gilbert by Republique du Chiffon I thought I'd give that a try.

So... I feel like I might have made clown pants. Or maybe it's just because I'm not sure how to wear these. Or because it's a new silhouette for me and I'll just have to get used to it.

The Gilbert is an older pattern, and the instructions have not yet been translated to English. Not that they would be any more useful, since they are even more basic than the average Burda explanations! This was a tiny bit frustrating, but the hardest parts about these are the fly front and the back welt pocket, and if you've ever made those you should be fine. What bothered me more was that the pattern is hand drawn and then scanned. This is not a problem in itself, but the scanned image hasn't been altered in any way, meaning that you're basically printing 20 full page images. It's not that hard to edit a scan so the background is plain white, and it would save a TON of ink.

(I have my hands in my pockets in almost every picture. Sorry.)
Since this is a new pattern and a new to me pattern company, I made a muslin first, and ended up removing some length from the inside back leg. I then forgot to alter the grainline to the leg seems are kind of twisty, but not bad enough to really bother me. Apart from that, the only adjustment I made was to make the waistband a bit narrower, since I thought it was too wide and I wanted to close it with one button (rebel rebel playing softly in the distance).

The welt pocket is totally funtional (and looks very neat, even on the inside) but knowing myself it's going to remain totally for show. I added two darts in the back since I think they were supposed to be there anyway, but the pattern only shows two vertical lines going down to where the pocket is, like a pleat (and the amount that would be removed would not be nearly enough to make the back the same size as the waistband!). Aside from the two darts, I also ended up taking a bit out of the center back seam.

I'm also wearing one of my Nettie shirts, with elbow length sleeves (finished with cuffs), made in a plain black viscose jersey. It's, you know, a fitted black t-shirt. I make a lot of t-shirts I'll never blog about, since it's JUST SO BORING!

I had also made another Huey hoodie right before I started my coat! It's my third and favourite so far. The fabric is a black merino jersey which makes this a thin but very warm layer. I had a storebought hoodie in wool mix jersey that got worn to bits over the years, so it was looking sad and way too large, so this is a welcome replacement!

That's it for now. I have some unexpected time off and loads of plans after that coat marathon, so there should be some more posts soon! I also finally joined the Instagram crowd, so if you want to you can find me here. I'll probably be posting progress pictures and other stuff on there!

11 februari 2018

This Is One Of Those Origin Superhero Movies You Might As Well Skip

Those of you who follow what happens with Freesewing know that Joost published a pattern for the coat Benedict Cumberbatch wears in the BBC adaptation of Sherlock. Cosplayers and coat-lovers rejoice! Those of you who have followed me for a while know I've been thinking about making my own Sherlock coat for AGES. I actually got to the point of adapting a Burda pattern, cutting everything out and starting to tailor the front, but then it got put aside (warm weather) and I lost so much weight the coat was going to be too big on me anyway, so that project got ditched.

*my dream*
 (Just a heads up: this is going to be a lot of talking and some really shitty pictures, no big fancy coat reveal! Yet.)

So, I'm not sure exactly how we started talking about it, but Joost and I decided to combine our skills to make a pattern for that coat. And because we both wanted one, it had to be a version for people with and people without boobs. People, this thing has been a LONG time in the making. I got tasked with researching the Coat, and thus spent a lot of time reading threads on cosplay forums. Most of my research meant finding hi-res images of the coat that could give us a clue about shape, size and proportion. I put together a file with my findings that had this as the first page:

Joost might have had second thoughts about working with me at this point, but he didn't show it. I ended up hitting the jackpot on a forum and found someone who owned the actual coat in a men's size large and had taken detailed measurements. This was immensely helpful for the way the freesewing patterns are drafted: they are all written in code and change according to the measurements of the person they are drafted for. This is super cool and saves a lot of time in the long run, but it also means you can't just decide 'these buttons are 10 cm apart' and be done with it. Nope, we (and by that I mean Joost) had to calculate what percentage of the entire waist circumference that distance was, so having measurements taken from a coat (and putting a size chart next to it) was really handy.

At this first stage my role was mainly sitting next to him with my knitting and giving unnecessary comments. There was a lot of debating about the angle of the topstitched triangle at the top of the back pleat or the curve of the lapel, but all in all the drafting went pretty smoothly, and soon the pattern was ready for a first muslin (which is where I got to feel useful!). This muslin was surprisingly ok (apart from a mishap with the collar) and after some tweaking the pattern was pretty much done, way ahead of schedule! Things got a bit busy for Joost at this point though, so the project was abandoned for a month or two, after which we discussed how to tackle the women's version. The conclusion was that most of the changes one would make to turn a men's coat pattern into a women's coat (narrowing the shoulders, waist and sleeves) would be taken care of by the whole custom patterns thing, so all that was left was to create a way to do an FBA. We decided a princess seam would be the most elegant option, and got pretty chuffed about how well this was going.


This is where my muslin-sewing journey started. I literally don't remember how many I've made.

The first version was... Not so great. The side front panel was very curved at the top as well, which made for a shape that could only be filled by someone with literal melon-shaped boobs. After tweaking that things looked better, but we noticed the armhole was really high and tight (I made that very first muslin without sleeves since we only wanted to check that princess seam). At first it seemed like it would be a quick fix, but further research showed that the way the FBA worked did some weird things to the armhole, and things seemed to really fall apart when different measurements were entered. BUMMER. I felt pretty shit about this since it was turning into so much work for Joost, who has plenty other things he wants to do as well. The next version had solved the armhole problem but things had gone a bit too far the other way: it was now so low the whole coat was lifted up if I lifted my arm, also resulting in a sleeve that was about 6 cm too big all around. Joost made ANOTHER version of the pattern to fix that armhole issue and I ended up taking some more width out of the waist, shoulder and sleeve, resulting in a muslin that could be called 'very promising'. Whew!

After all this I gathered all my supplies and started on this coat. I've made some coats and jackets before but never one as tailored as this, and I felt like I should do it right! Cutting all the pieces of fabric, lining and interfacing took an entire day, and I spent the last few days basting and pad stitching. It's all very very new, there are no instructions for this pattern yet and it all kind of makes me feel like this:

Frankly, this is how I feel most of the time
Things are going well though, and for those who sat through that entire story, here are some progress pictures:

I used hair canvas on the center front panels, attaching it with a permanent basting stitch, pad stitching the lapels and taping the front edges and roll line. Silk thread and beeswax were my best friends during this bit!

Most instructions tell you to use hair canvas on the entire front, but I thought things might get too stiff/bulky so I used a lightweight fusible interfacing on the side panel instead. SORRY TAILORING PEOPLE.

All the pleats on the back are basted closed right now to keep them crisp and out of the way during construction. I added interfacing to the armhole and shoulders and also added a heavy muslin back stay. I decided to support the pleats with a strip of hair canvas (cut on the cross grain since it seems to pleat crisper that way). I'd seen something similar on kilts and from what I can tell now it gives the pleats a nice amount of body! I also figured the waist seam could do with some stabilizing and reinforcement as well, so I cut a selfedge strip of muslin and basted that to the seam allowance. The top edge of that has been attached to the back darts, and after stitching the waist seam I pressed the seam allowance up and cross-stitched it to the muslin strip. No idea if that's a 'proper technique' but it makes for a nice straight seam!

Next on the agenda: assemble the sleeves, collar and front! There's also inseam pockets with a welt coming up. As I said, it's all new and intimidating but I'm having a lot of fun with this! Hopefully I'll have a nice new coat to show you soon.

02 februari 2018

Time For Shameless Self-Promotion

I don't really do New Year's resolutions, but one thing I did want to do was get a bit more serious about my artwork. I've been selling prints of my art for a while now, but it was a bit of a hassle (you had to e-mail me to get a Paypal invoice) so I bit the bullet and opened not one, but two shops!

The first one is an Etsy store, to replace the whole 'e-mail me and we'll work something out' thing I had going on. I'll be using this to sell zines and prints, and I'm planning to add small items like patches and pins in the future, so keep your eyes peeled!

me shilling my wares

Now, I actually have a lot more ideas for things I want to make available, but tedious and boring things like not having the space and budget to make and stock all the t-shirts in all the sizes were holding me back. So instead I opened a store on Society6! I have uploaded a few designs and you can get them on all kinds of stuff, from bath towels to coffee mugs. I know for a fact Hanne already got herself a new phone case.

Another thing I did was create an online portfolio to showcase just my drawings. I felt like I needed something I could show people that would clarify what my artwork is like, without all my usual rambling. So if you want to see what I've made over the past few years, head over to angrygirlsclub.com!

At the moment I'm working on lots of different things: there's the Carlita coat Joost has just made available on freesewing (but that deserves at least two posts on its own) and I've been drawing a lot, like this picture proves:

The friend who took this conveniently cropped out the toddler I was entertaining, but hey!

So yeah, that's what I've been doing. It's been a lot of administration, scanning and editing things and figuring out stuff, but I'm really excited to see how this goes!

21 januari 2018

I Am Not Using The Obvious Title

Although 'Ich möchte ein Eisbär sein' would have been perfect, if not a bit cliché.

Me and a few friends try to have a (themed) Christmas party every year. It's more an excuse to get together and make a costume, so we do it at the end of January (when everyone is kind of free). This year we decided to combine Halloween and Christmas into one, and I just finished my costume:

One thing I always try is to make a costume with things I already have, and keep it low budget (and not too wasteful). I've had loads of white faux fur in my stash for so long, I don't even remember where it came from, so I decided to do something with that. Polar bears are kind of wintery, so how about a killer polar bear cape?

Constructing this was... Interesting. I had never done anything like it before but thought it would be best to have a solid (and lightweight) structure on my head and let that support the shape of the head and bear the weight of the cape. I constructed a very basic shape out of strips of leftover cork leather and paper, and covered that with a thin layer of papier maché.

I wanted the teeth to have a realistic feel to them, so I sculpted them out of this oven-bake polymer clay. I gave them a flat piece at the top and poked holes into that so I could attach them to the base later (which was a good idea since I'm not sure glue alone would have been sturdy enough). I also sculpted and painted eyes!

In the end I sewed the teeth to the base with sturdy thread and used a bit of glue to keep them in place. I attached the eyes in the same way and started thinking about fur!

I draped pieces of fur over the snout portion first, and secured them with pins (this is where the lightweight paper base came in handy). The fur was sewn in place by hand, rather roughly, but the stitches disappear between the hair. I made sure the entire front was covered and cut away some of the fur to make room for the eyes and nose. Then I used the hood pattern piece for the Huey Hoodie to cover the back. I cut it a little larger in the front so I could make a fold and create an eyebrow ridge for added realism. After this I just had to sew on some ears, splash on some paint and the head was done!

The last step was making the rest of the cape. I used more polymer clay to make claws, and drafted two front pieces and a back with legs and a little tail.

The claws were sewn onto the plain cotton lining first, and then the lining and fur were sewn together (by hand, at a friend's house one night) and turned right side out. All I had to do then was attach the head/hood to the cape and bam!

I'm not sure if this will become a wardrobe staple, but I had a blast thinking and making this up. I've always wanted to do more elaborate structures in costumes, and this was a promising start!

Now, as a bonus, for those who thought we had gone to some kind of wilderness to take these pictures:

That was on the other side of the camera. There was some honking.

Now I only have to find a suitable name for my new polar bear friend...

01 januari 2018

Year In, Year Out

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a lovely time. I had a nice dinner with friends and watched the fireworks from an attic window in their new house. We also tried to take a family portrait:

I haven't posted much the past month, not because I haven't made anything but just because most of the things I'm working on are long-term projects. So instead of a nice series of photos of a finished thing I now give you some rambing about loads of different things. And a skirt.

I spent a large chunk of my time knitting these past few weeks. The Stonecutter pattern has been on my wishlist for AGES but I was too chicken to go for it, so then I bought the yarn and bullied myself into starting. It took some experimenting with swatches to get my gauge right and I have to stay REALLY focused on the cable charts, but I can proudly say the back is almost done, with only one obvious mistake (which I'm not correcting):

The yarn is Cascade 220 because this is a yarn-eating beast and I have to keep a budget in mind, but it's lovely to work with so far. I was a bit worried about wether or not the cables would show up well enough in a dark colour but I love it!

There's been quite a bit of drawing as well. I made a sticker!

It's something I had in mind for ages and just finally got around to doing. I've been handing these out and putting them up for the past few weeks, and it's exciting to see them pop up in different places!

I've also been sketching for a project that sort of fits this Angry Girls Club theme (and this other Medusa drawing I did earlier this year). It's also a good excuse to draw naked girls on goats.

I usually don't do resolutions, but this upcoming year I want to try and spend more time making things just for the sake of it. A lot of my creating is done with a purpose, either because it's a comission, or I want to make it into something I can sell, or it's an item of clothing I need or want for a specific occasion. Earlier this month me and my friends Hélène and Nena got together to make papier maché Christmas decorations, and it was so much fun. We were using our hands just for the sake of it, without any pressure, and it felt really refreshing! I gave most of mine away, but kept a skull and a unicorn:

Nena was a bit more ambitious and tried to recreate the Koekelberg Basilica. I spent the night at her place after New Year's Eve and we went outside in the rain to try and get a picture that accurately represents how well her project turned out:

We failed.

Which brings us to one of the only finished things I'm going to talk about: a golden skirt. I got this beautiful sparkly fabric at the Dries Van Noten stocksale earlier this year and decided to let it shine by using it for a simple circle skirt. I'm not sure what it is, but it feels like a wool with golden threads woven through on the right side (the wrong side of the fabric is black and soft). I wish my pictures did it justice but alas, the rain made it into a pretty miserable experience.

This is just my basic circle skirt with a straight waistband and an exposed zipper in the back. I added a lining because the wrong side of the fabric is a bit textured, and I didn't want it to catch on my tights too much. The fabric is really really gold in some light, and a bit more subtle at other times.

So. Cold.

I'm going to finish by saying something about a bigger project me and Joost have been working on for... over a year now? We wanted to recreate the coat Sherlock wears in the BBC version, and I can proudly say that the men's version is now available on freesewing.org! There is a women's version in the works and I hope we can get that done soon, because I have some beautiful coating here that's just begging to be made into something...