22 mei 2016

For my next birthday I want party hats.

I try to make a dress for my birthday every year. And then I forget to post about it or don't get around to it. WOOPS! Maybe it's for the best, since I wore this for my birthday party and spent the entire day eating. Crumbs and a food baby, not a great look!

I bought this fabric on a whim some time ago and thought a simple silhouette would be best, so I gave my bodice sloper a slightly higher and wider neckline with a v-neck in the back and added a slightly flared gathered skirt. There are some small things that still bother me but overall it's LOVE.

The fabric was a bit of a beast to work with. (And I only had a small piece to begin with) It's a viscose with a bit of wool (!!) thrown in, and it's loosely woven and super shifty. It also grows if you so much as look at it, so I decided almost immediately after cutting that a normal lining would never work (by the time I'd get to attaching shell and lining the shell would be two sizes bigger than the much more stable lining), so I decided to underline the bodice only and left the skirt and sleeves unlined.

Look at my glaring pattern repeat, my glaring pattern repeat is amazing!

Doing this also made sure the dress would remain fitted through the waist and bust. After washing the shell fabric has stretched and warped a bit, but I actually like the wrinkles it created. It sort of suits the fabric!

Hemming was a bit of a beast. The fabric is very lightweight so finishing the hem with bias binding would be too heavy, but just doing a rolled hem would have been way too unstable. In the end I stitched lightweight seam binding to the hem edge at the right side, turned it up once and hand-stitched it in place. I used the same method for the sleeves, and managed to keep everything under control.

The back seemed to have stretched out while I was sewing (or even before since I did stabilize those edges) so it was gaping a bit at first. The neckline was finished last with a bias facing and I was debating unpicking that so I could take something out of the back shoulder and try to fix the gaping, but washing the dress fixed the problem for me. Yay!

Remember how I mentioned falling down in a trampoline park in my previous post? This was two days later, and the bruise was really coming in by then. I got a lot of 'what the hell did you do' type questions during the following week.

I wore this dress again to see Andrew Bird in concert, which was amazing, as expected. The boyfriend and me made it to the fleamarket at the Vossenplein before the show, and the boyfriend found us a new pet:

'Go stand in front of that pixellated meat, it'll be hilarious!'
If I manage to take care of this super fine and fragile fabric I expect to wear this dress loads of times. Love love love.

19 mei 2016

What to wear when you visit the King.

... Not really though.

Every year the royal conservatories are opened to the public for a few days, and this year we didn't forget about it, so me and a few friends spent a morning strolling around looking at plants and architecture. Very rock 'n' roll.

(But seriously, it's very cool)

Anyway, I was wearing a new dress and we took some pictures in the park!

(Disclaimer: these pictures aren't the best. I fell down trying to do tightrope walking in a trampoline park the night before- really- and my right arm and leg were developing bruises at this moment. All better now though!)

This is a Butterick pattern, B6168 to be exact. I hadn't sewn a Big 4 pattern in AGES, not necessarily because I don't like them, it's just that there's so many of them. I rarely ever buy patterns these days, except when something really catches my eye. I have a well-fitting bodice block and a decent stash of patterns and Burda magazines I can change things about!

This picture was taken right after the first one. Born to model.
 I liked the details of this dress (the neckline, midriff pieces and sash ties) and cut a straight size 12 in a cotton from the stash. I won't make it again anytime soon though, and that's because it's a fabric-eating monster! I used my full three yards of cotton, cut the ties from a plain black viscose peachskin and still had to chop 20 centimeters off the skirt pieces to make them fit. I'm trying to sew from the stash as much as possible and I just don't have that many 4-metre cuts of suitable fabric around...

This might be one of the most awkward pictures I've ever posted, but it shows the details quite well. The fronts close in a faux wrap, with tucks for shapins and a little tab to keep everything together. There's a midriff with two gathered ties that can be tied in the back. They can also be left off since the dress is fitted on its own, without any need for cinching!

People often complain about the ridiculous sizing on Big 4 patterns, but I personally never had an issue with this. I'll always check my own measurements and compare them with the finished garment measurements, which has always worked out. If there are no finished garment measurements I'll just measure the pattern pieces and make a muslin (or in this case, cut a straight size and cross my fingers). I do seem to have a very average body shape, so huge alterations are rarely needed. Sorry (not sorry).

I had this print lying around for a while, and really like it. It's all globes and pieces of different types of maps, but some of them almost look like slides under a microscope, so it makes me think all these super deep thoughts about seeing both details and the bigger picture. Or maybe I should get more sleep.

I like this dress, but I have to be in the right mood to wear it. Maybe it's because it's more fitted and has more cleavage than what I've been making lately, but it's not a dress I'll grab for just any day. It will get a lot of wear though, and maybe I'll make a second version of this pattern if another long piece of fabric comes my way again! It was a lot of fun sewing the thing.

I will now leave you with pictures of plants and architecture:

Now these guys are born to model <3

(Oh and a PS: today at work I got recognized by a reader! I'm so sorry if I was a little weird or grumpy, I had returned home the night before from an awesome but exhausting trip to Berlin, and with a fresh tattoo (heads up: may be a bit nsfw) covering the left side of my ribcage. I'll be nicer and less awkward the next time!)

09 mei 2016

Brick walls actually have quite a few stories to tell

Some of you might know that I have a parttime job at a Belgian chain store that sells sewing supplies, accessories and hosiery. I'm responsible for the creative corner and quite enjoy it, since I can spend about 20 hours every week talking about sewing or knitting. My main annoyance is that salespeople are required encouraged to wear hosiery, jewelry or other accessories from the shop. I don't mind the hosiery part since I live in black tights for about 8 months of the year (free tights!) but I'm not crazy about the jewelry selection (too many rhinestones, not enough skulls or eyes) and my part of the store gets super hot, so scarves are out of the question.

This small issue kept coming back, but I think we found a solution! The store carried a small selection of cotton prints before, but has recently started to focus more on dress fabrics as well. The latest offerings aren't even all poly! So I managed to arrange a little trade: if something catches my eye I can take it home and make something out of it, for free, as long as I wear it while I work. This is one of those makes:

Eagle-eyed people among you might notice that I have made this pattern before, in red lace. It's essentially a lengthened top with two bust darts and wide sleeves, and I like it as much as the first one!

The drape of this dress is a bit different since both fabrics used here are a lot lighter than the red ones. The lace is nylon instead of cotton (and a bit stretchier) and the underlining is a plain viscose. I did exactly the same thing as before: sewing the shell and underlining separately and basting them together before inserting the sleeves and finishing the neckline.

The neckline is finished with a narrow bias facing, which was handstitched in place. I actually prickstitched through all layers since I was worried the viscose wouldn't be sturdy enough to stay flat. It worked out well and the texture of the lace makes for an invisible finish.

This lace had a very clear repeat and doesn't fray, so it was perfect for a scalloped hem. It's been washed a few times now and still holds up fine! I just made sore the lace motifs matched up at the seams and carefully cut away the fabric to create the scallops.

I really like the drapiness of the wide sleeves! It makes a plain shift dress a bit more interesting. It will go into the closet for a while now though, since it's definitely too short to wear without tights! Funny how a thin layer of skintight nylon makes such a difference.

I like this dress a lot and get quite a few compliments on it, but I don't think I would have made it if I hadn't gotten the materials for free, honestly. Both me and my coworkers feel that the fabrics we sell tend to be quite overpriced... Fine maybe if you live far away from any real fabric stores, but if you're used to a way larger selection and lower prices it's a bit silly! Anyway, I'm just happy it's not all polyester anymore. Now please rerelease that amazing digital mountain landscape fabric on a cotton sateen instead of that stuff that looked like bathing suit fabric but wasn't. I'd even pay full price for that one.

29 april 2016

Here to help.

I have a small confession to make: I don't do it all on my own. There's a helper. He's called Jakkepoes and even though he looks legitimately pissed off all the time, he's the biggest old sweetheart there is. You have to earn his trust since he's a bit shy, but when he's at ease he'll charm the pants off anyone (even reducing a vet to giggles about 'those little toe fluffs!')

And it's this helper's birthday! So I thought I'd put him in the spotlight.

This little guy was born two days before my 10th birthday, meaning that he's now been a part of my life for seventeen years already! He's still very strong and healthy, a bit calmer and stiffer than he used to be of course, but I did see him run around the appartment after a ball of paper just yesterday...

No matter what I'm working on, he's always there to lend a helping hand. Here he is, watching the scraps of my master's project:

He will also happily guard my sewing notions, even though sitting on small metal things really isn't that comfortable:

One of his biggest skills is drafting patterns. I'm not sure how exactly he does what he does, but it involves sitting on the paper as soon as it's unrolled.

Sometimes his activities are so secret I'm not even allowed to watch.
When things get more complicated, rolling around is often the solution.

After pattern drafting or tracing it's on to cutting the fabric! Again, I'm getting more help here.

We do sometimes have artistic differences. These mostly involve me picking him up and putting him somewhere else, and him returning immediately. These discussions can get a bit frustrating.

Guess who won this argument.
I usually solve situations like that by giving him his own piece of fabric to do with as he wishes. It works for the both of us.

I think we make a really good team, even if he lacks opposable thumbs. Happy birthday little buddy, and keep up the good work!

He's not helping me here but I'm posting it anyway because OMG CUTE FLOOFBALL!

16 april 2016

Please do dance on my grave. Have a party there.

I was complaining to myself about how I didn't have anything to blog about, and then I realised we photographed a dress in London and I forgot to post it. WOOPS.

We stayed with our friends Steven and Willemien in Stoke Newington, and on our first day Steven took us to see the cemetery at Abney Park. It was really beautiful, if you're into that sort of thing! I wore a dress I'd made some time before, from a self-drafted pattern.

I started with my basic bodice block and rotated the darts to the center front so they would form a V. I then just extended the dart leg closest to the center to get a princess-seamed bodice and did the exact same thing for the back!

The fabric was pretty stiff and heavy, a polycotton jacquard in black and white. I drafted a sort of semi-circle skirt to go along with it. It has a lot of body, which looks pretty snazzy if I do say so myself! The black contrast panels are just plain linen from the stash.

The hem is finished with a bias facing which I handstitched in place. The dress closes with a handpicked side zipper and was a surprisingly quick make, all in all! I drafted the pattern and cut the fabric one afternoon and sewed the dress in one day. I made a few alterations to my bodice block since it was getting roomy, and now it fits really nicely (as long as I stay away from that one Indian vegetarian all-you-can-eat buffet, hmm).

I think this will get lots of wear. It's smart enough with decent shoes and some jewelry, but I can easily dress it down with a hoodie and sneakers. Win!

Next up, if I don't crash and burn on the way there: bathing suits!

30 maart 2016

Screw waistlines, I'm on vacation.

The final stop in our short trip was Bristol, another entirely new city to us. We stayed with Edward Cheverton and Aisling Marray, and had loads of fun exploring the city (and eating places and pubs) with them!

I had bought this graphic french terry sweater fabric from the Sew it Up shop before we left, and thought it would be perfect for a dress to wear on a trip like this. The wrong side of the fabric is super soft, so more secret pyjamas were in order:

This is another version of the Magena fringe jumper by Named patterns, and it's a dress version again! I made this before in a way drapier fabric, so this time I narrowed the skirt part a bit (and also traced a smaller size all over). Making this any more of an a-line would make me look like a trumpet. No no no.

We found this wall on our first day in the city. This is what happens when I try to take blog pictures with people watching.

I cut and sewed this dress in one afternoon and evening. It looks pretty impressive but apart from the pointed yoke insertion it's really straightforward.

I used a black cotton jersey for the yoke and omitted the fringe since the print was already busy enough. Tracing a smaller size was a good idea as well: the previous one is quite roomy by now but it doesn't bother me because of the drapiness. This fabric is way stiffer so it would have looked like a potato sack.

I used the cuff pattern pieces on the sleeves but decided not to use a hem band, just folding the fabric over and topstitching with a zig-zag stitch instead. This makes for less of a cocoon shape.

This dress turned out super cozy, and I'm secretly hoping it will stay cold for a little while longer so I can get a few more wears out of it! It's also perfect for eating lots, which we did. All the cake.

Here's a bonus shot of what our photoshoots look like to an outsider:

Not entirely true: Ed was telling us to 'go full fashion' or something.

26 maart 2016

One Birthday Surprise, coming up!

My week-long vacation is (sadly) over, and in spite of the dreadful news from Brussels, we had a good time. We were in London for the boyfriend's birthday, and I got to give him the present I'd secretly been working on: a flannel shirt!

I had bought this fabric during our first trip to New York, which was ages ago, to make him a shirt; which never happened. I guess it was a combination of not having the right pattern or trust about my own skill set, combined with being a selfish ass. So this year I finally got my act together!

The biggest problem was making this without him knowing what was going on. So after I finished my own flannel check shirt I decided to just lie to his face and tell him I didn't have enough fabric to cut a shirt for him, and that I'd just make a second shirt for me. He took it pretty well, even telling me he was 'getting over plaid shirts anyway'. Crap. (I have since been told that he only said this so I wouldn't feel bad about using the fabric for me. Awww.)

The only sneaking around needed for this present was tracing one of his existing shirts while he was out one day. After this I just cut and sewed the entire thing right in front of him, and he had no idea. Muahahaha!

It's a pretty basic shirt, collar with stand, yoke, two pleats in the back, you name it. I did my best with the plaid matching but somehow the sleeves came out a bit off!

I managed to finish the shirt before we left on our trip, and we're both pretty happy with the outcome! It fits him well since I based it on one of his actual shirts, and he still likes the fabric after all this time.

He was also more than eager to pose for pictures. I would make him more stuff just to get shots like this.

We spent the first two days of our trip in London with our friends Steven Kraan and Willemien Rust, and had a blast wandering around new neighbourhoods, seeing new museums and playing sille boardgames in pubs. Steven was assistent supervisor during our little photoshoot:

He later decided to intervene and make everything more interesting:

I think it worked.