30 juli 2015

I'm a bit like the thieving magpie, without all the thieving

I usually try to get new garments photographed and blogged about as soon as possible, since I'll just forget about it otherwise... This was almost one of those. I made this dress in April for another visit to the opera (Don Giovanni!) And only got around to taking decent photos this week. Finding a good spot was proving to be difficult as well:

My reaction to the boyfriend laughing about how small the angle makes me look.
This dress involved a few different techniques! There was sewing (obviously) but also drawing, appliqué and a generous helping of fabric paint. Fun!

The fabric is a red metallic linen I got at Pauli during a blog meet. I scratched my head about what to do with it for a while since it's awesome but also has the potential to look like a Christmas decoration. Not the look I wanted to go for. In the end I decided a giant magpie could help with that.

The pattern is my basic block with a v-neck and a circle skirt. I also lowered the back right to the edge of the skirt, and added a panel in the same fabric as the appliqué (black linen) to keep it bra-friendly. I did lose some weight since April, so now the bodice has gone from very snug to slightly loose. Oh well!

Since the linen is quite drapey I wanted to add some extra poof to the skirt. I was running low on time (opera deadline!) so the finish is less than stellar, but I basically chopped a chunk of the skirt lining off and added a long gathered strip to the hem. Extra fluffy with no added petticoats! The full circle skirt makes for excellent twirling material, but I do have to be careful about flashing my butt. Let's just saya few pretty risqué pictures were taken today.

On to the actual eyecather, the giant magpie! This was relatively easy to do. I laid out my skirt and bodice pattern to get an idea of the scale, sketched the bird I wanted on a big piece of paper and copied it onto the black linen with some tracing paper. Hand-sewing the thing to the dress was the hardest part, with lots of careful pinning to make everything lie nice and flat. I didn't finish the edges at all, since turning them under would disturb the lines a bit too much (and don't even get me started on adding a seam allowance to that) but the slight fraying actually looks really nice!

Here's a closer look at the big bird and all the cat hair all over it. After sewing it in place I used a few different fabric paints to add detail. The most striking parts are just opaque white, applied with a dry brush, but I also added some metallic blue and green for that real magpie look. I wanted to make a real eyecatcher of a dress and think it worked out!

There's more fabric painting in the near future, so I'm going to leave you with my boyfriend doing something he wanted me to do first:

"Lie down on the ground in the fanciest thing I've made in ages? No waaaaay..."

20 juli 2015

My Dungarees still make them Hungry, and then I tell you how to do something.

Remember when I made dungarees before and said I was going to make the short version next? I had envisioned these for colder weather (with tights) but after the success of my playsuit I felt a sudden need for more grown versions of children's clothing, so I here are the Pauline Alice Turia dungarees, part two!

Sadly, I took pictures whilst rushing around a cool museum with friends, so the only shot of the entire thing is this one:

Lesson learned: do one thing at a time.
We went to see an exhibition about Belgian fashion, and I'd definitely recommend it! It was a collection of garments by different designers and from different times with no clear theme, but you could get really close to the garments to take a look. Way nicer than looking at them behind glass!

There were loads of things to covet as well:

That being said, I made some dungarees. These are the short version of the pattern, with no real fitting adjustments. I did change a truckload of things:

I like the first pair I made (where I followed the pattern to the letter) but thought some of the details were a bit too homemade. So I gave the front a waistband, used a button instead of a zipper as a closure and added more of a jeans-style pocket (and even a coin pocket!) instead of patch pockets. This was super easy to do! I even wrote it down in case someone else wants to give it a go:

(Click to enlarge!)
I also lengthened the straps by about 20 cm, which means I can thread them through the clips with plenty to spare and enough room to move. The crossroads demons from a previous post came back at this point, and went at it with their best Britney impressions:

I can't see the difference at all.
I used a pretty heavy dark gray denim for the body of the dungarees, and decided to use something lighter for the facings. I have some treasured scraps of space cotton left, and used them for the inside.

The back piece is faced like this up to the waist as well, instead of only just below the straps. I might add some bias tape to the part below the back facing, since it's the only raw seam that's sort of exposed (the instructions have you just fold the edges down and topstitch, which looks nice from the outside but not so nice from the inside). I do love getting a glimpse of space when I take my clothes off!

I also made the back pockets a bit larger (they are the same size for every size and I felt they were swimming around on a vast expanse of fabric in the previous version). I toyed with the idea of adding a label or patch somewhere, but went with a few stencilled silver stars in the end. Heh heh, butt stars!

I love how this turned out,a dn already wore it quite a lot! It's an easy thing to throw on when you have lots of cycling or walking to do. It was perfect for this day in Brussels as well! After the exhibition we did a little workshop where you could recycle old clothes into something new. The results were surprising!

There is video footage of me running around in the cape my friend Maarten has made. Good luck finding it.

12 juli 2015

I'll take that cute little playsuit. In black, please.

People, it has been hot as balls lately. I don't cope well with heat, and it has led to some emergency sewing (one time when 'I don't have anything to wear!' is actually true!). With predicted temperatures up to 40° celcius and air conditioning at work that's less than reliable, I needed something loose and comfy.

Enter the Salme patterns playsuit. I've had this pattern for YEARS but something kept me from making it (mostly the combination of not being too fond of my thighs but not liking longer length shorts either. No idea why I bought it in the first place.)

Balancing is though.
Just a word of warning: The instructions are brief. They're literally one page with a few diagrams (which is, admittedly, more than what you can say about Burda). They weren't always clear either, by the way. I don't think I would have figured out the pockets when I first bought the pattern!

As you can see here, I omitted the waistband. That's because this thing is apparently drafted for people who are a lot taller than me! It's weird, I've never really had to adjust patterns when it comes to torso length, and now this is the second time in a month I come across something that is at least ten cm too long! As a quick fix I decided to just skip the waistband and make the casing in the waist seam. (Another thing that wasn't very clear in the instructions: they tell you to cut a rectangle of a certain size for the waistband but omit to mention that you actually need two! One for a lining.)

I had lengthened the shorts a bit to make sure I didn't end with buttcheeks hanging out (there's only so much I can get away with at work) and I ended up chopping it all off again because the shorts hang a bit lower now! The good thing is I can easily bend over now without worrying about bursting out of my clothes. I also added a button to the pockets to keep them from hanging too much.

The fabric is a nice and drapey black viscose I've had in my stash for a while. Nothing much to say here, it's like most of this type of viscose I've worked with: sews and presses well, awesome to wear.

The little kimono sleeves are pretty awesome! I get sunburned really quickly, so covering my shoulders (and loads of sunscreen) is always a plus, but nobody wants to wear sleeves in the heat... So something light and flappy that just about covers them works well enough.

If I make this again i'd definitely take some length out of the bodice. The reason that I didn't do that on this make is mainly because the excess length is more in the shoulder/neckline area: it's way too low to wear without a top underneath it. Apart from the weird pocket instructions (which only really make sense if you use a pocket lining with an entirely different colour) and the slight fit issues I really like this pattern, and might even make a second one!

28 juni 2015

If you make deals with crossroads demons they will photobomb you

A question: what do you do with two yards of drapey black viscose that has been in your stash since forever and an interestingly-shaped appliqué? Why, make a potato sack dress with huge sleeves and a collar of course! This pattern is mostly self-drafted but I refuse to pat myself on the back for it because it's basically two rectangles with quarter circles at the shoulders. Hah!

Sewing this was pretty straightforward. I sewed the shouder seams, Finished the sleeves wih self bias tape, sewed up the side seams, made a tie belt and hemmed. It's maybe not the most flattering thing ever (I drafted this by taking my bodice block, extending the side seams in a slight flare to the wanted length and adding the sleeves) but it's perfect for the kind of weather we were having: not ridiculously hot yet but warm enough to not want to wear too many layers!

The sleeves are kind of awesome. Not exactly batwing sleeves, more like little skirts hanging off my shoulders. If you look along my stretched out arm you can see straight into the dress. It doesn't really matter though, since there's usually so much volume around you can't see anything.

I just managed to squeeze this out of my two yards. It's a front and a back on the fold, and there really wasn't anything left but some scraps for self-bias! I wore this for a day in Brussels with my old classmates, and my boyfriend commented on how I looked 'sort of Amish'. He then proceeded to be amazed when almost everyone else who showed up was in black as well.

Speaking of other people, we were about to go to the restaurant we always go to on this day (the graduation show of the art school we went to) and while we were taking pictures Karen and Hélène suddenly showed up and announced they were going to photobomb me.

And so they did.

The most eyecatching feature of this dress is obviously the lace at the neckline. It's an appliqué I bought from this Etsy shop a while ago (there are tons more there!) and I wasn't sure what to use it on at first. This dress proved to be the perfect candidate because it would have been just black otherwise and I couldn't let that happen.

(I knew what they were doing but didn't see them, so I'm just cracking up with the idea of it here).

I had placed the applique around the neckline while I was drafting the pattern, and finished the back neckline (with bias tape) only, leaving the front raw. The initial plan was to sew it on and cut the fabric behind away, but I was worried about how stable it would be and how I probably wouldn't be able to wear it without a top underneath, so I left it like this.

I positioned the piece after the whole dress was finished and used a lot of fine pins to ensure it waid flat. I then handsewed around it in matching thread. For the neckline, I basted the two layers together at first, then trimmed the neckline close to the lace and used a very small overcast stitch to finish it all and prevent fraying. So far it's holding up in the wash!

The verdict: comfortable, I can wear it to work, possibly Amish, works for summoning crossroads demons. I like it.

21 juni 2015

Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Seaside

Today I'm sharing a project I made quite some time ago, but never got around to documenting. I made it to wear on my birthday, which was almost two months ago! Today I went to see the two giants who were going around Antwerp (an amazing show by Royal de Luxe), and right before that we quickly took a few pictures in the park.

I had this fabric in my stash for a while before I figured out what to do with it. It's a digitally printed cotton sateen from a painting by Josef Israëls, and because the panel was so big it was hard to find a pattern that would work with it. I didn't feel like chopping up innocent children!

We recently had a few patterns by La Maison Victor go on sale in the shop, so I picked up the gig dress and went to town. At first sight it seemed like this would be a quick and easy dress to put together, but there were some hiccups along the way, partly due to my fabric choice. I glanced over the instructions and quickly decided to ignore them completely, since they had you gather everything with elastic, even though none of the gathered bits need to be able to stretch.

I will threateningly walk towards instructions that make no sense
This dress is basically made up from a front and back with gathers at the bust and center back, connected by shoulder pieces that. These shoulder bits have a facing, sort of like a shirt yoke, and this was another part where the instructions seemed needlessly fussy. They have you attach the front and back to the shoulder yokes, sew the yoke facings on one side and then turn the whole thing partly inside out to sew the other side. I chose to sew the yokes to the front, attach the facings with right sides together (stopping before the seam allowance at the back), turn everything, sew the yokes to the back, tuck the facing seam allowance in and handstitch it closed.

There were gathers on top of the sleeves as well but they looked so puffy I took it all apart and removed them. I also removed the gathers in the back, taking out almost 20 cm of width and sadly slicing off part of a child's face.

It sounds like I'm not very happy with this dress, but I think it's a good example of how you can try and work through fitting issues. I hated the dress straight out of the envelope, partly due to fabric choice but also because it really wasn't working on me. Thankfully it turned out all right in the end! It was perfect for a day like this.

We had a small picknick in the park and then joined the crowds to see the giants. There were SO MANY PEOPLE but it was so beautiful! I didn't take any pictures at all, so I'm stealing some from my friend Karen, who stayed for the weekend and got even closer with our cat:

We were joined by a few other friends, and at first it looked like we weren't going to see much. The park and surrounding streets were just crammed and it was hard to move through the crowds with all the bikes and strollers. It felt a bit like this at times:

But then we managed a few shortcuts and got a lot closer to the grandmother giant! This theatre company has been in Antwerp a few times now, but it still amazes me. The puppets are obviously puppets, and even though you see the people controlling them at all times they are incredibly alive somehow. I can't wait until they come back!

10 juni 2015

All over the world, all over again

It's time for a massive throwback! Anyone remember the third post I ever wrote? It was about a dress I made in 2012, after sewing for maybe a year and a half. I LOVED that thing even though it was made from upholstery fabric and I didn't know about a thing called 'give' at the time so it was like wearing a corset. There is no way I can put this on now without busting the (invisible) zip and I was pretty bummed about that, because WORLD MAP PRINT.

And then Lieke came to the rescue! I was at her house and noticed she had pillows made from the same fabric, in a darker colourway. 'Oh that's lovely. I have a dress made from that. It doesn't fit anymore. Whine whine.' Lieke is awesome, so of course she told me she had some pieces left, and it wasn't her colour, and I could have it. Yay for second chances!

I though about making a different dress, but this is a pretty heavy canvas that doesn't really lend itself to a lot of frills. In the end I decided to do a remake of the original dress, andhopefully improve a few things! I used the basic block I always use these days, with just two waist darts and no bust dart, and cut a bit of extra ease all around to account for the fact of No Give At All. It's quite roomy around the waist now, but that means it's so much more comfortable than the first version. And I can eat something when I'm wearing it.

The fit in the bodice is a lot nicer, and the pattern placement worked out better as well (my previous version had Australia plastered right across my boobs, which is not a great look, no offence Aussies!). The pattern I used for the bodice on my first version had a weirder neckline and straps that sat too wide on my shoulders. All better now!

I had to cut the skirt a good deal shorter than before due to the limited amount of fabric I had (but as one of my regular customers likes to say: as long as you've got the legs you should just go for it). The original was box-pleated (and not very well, I had not discovered basting yet so there are pretty big gaps between the pleats) but I chose for simple knife-pleats for this one. It gives a ton of volume but still looks a bit lighter!

this is me any time it's windy btw.
As for the zipper, I've learnt that invisible zippers and heavyweight fabrics just don't get along, especially not when you throw in some strain. In this case I went for a good old-fashioned centered zipper and hand-picked it for funsies. It does the job and looks pretty decent!

It's sort of funny to revisit a project like this and see how I've improved over the years! Apart from better sewing, nothing much has changed. I have a few extra holes in my body (and one tattoo!), my hair is a few shades lighter due to no longer using henna (the ends are bluer!) and I rarely ever wear heels anymore. I'm still uncomfortable in front of a camera though.

In other news, I made a bag!

I read about the Simple Way kits on Pendle Stitches and immediately took a liking to the Men's Reporter bag. It's advertised as a men's bag but it's the perfect size for to to carry my practical stuff + a sketchbook and novel!

The kit came with all the pieces cut out and the holes punched. The strap and buckle pieces were already assembled and attached, which saves you some hammering of rivets in the end. The instructions were really clear and in the end I had a lovely new bag in a day! I finished it in one day because I was dead set on using it the next, but I wouldn't recommend it since my fingers were really sore the day after from pulling the thick needle and thread through. If you want to enjoy a nice introduction to working with leather with a truly impressive result, you should take a look!

09 juni 2015

I scream, you scream, we all scream for guest posts!

Just a quick note to let you know I wrote a short guest post for Sewaholic about an experiment I'm doing! I have made a weekly schedule with set days for sewing, knitting and drawing, and you can read about the reasoning behind it here!