29 augustus 2015

I am the Bad Wolf. I create myself.

This was a very simple project. Should have been a quick make. But today I will tell you the tale of how sewing a hoodie took me four days.

I have a few H&M (gasp!) hoodies I like to wear as jackets, and decided to try and make my own a few weeks ago. The pattern is so simple I could just trace it from one of them (two front pieces, a back, a sleeve, a hood and an optional pocket) and I already had my fabric (an interesting textured black-and-white knit). What could go wrong?

Not too much since I finished it.
 Well, for one, the fabric frayed like a motherfucker. it unraveled if you pointed at it, so I realised I'd probably have to bind the seams (guess what got chosen when I had to decide between a printing press and an overlocker- definitely no regrets there though, expect some printing love in the near future- but back to the point). I also wanted this thing to be a bit hard-wearing, so I underlined every piece with a thin viscose jersey.

Except the jersey was very drapey, so to prevent sagging added rows of hand-basting on the inside, catching small bits of the outer fabric. This took a few Doctor Who episodes.

I then sewed the thing up, stitching bias binding to every seam allowance and hand-stitching them to the underlining. This took another few Doctor Who episodes.

I watched the entire first season whilst hand-stitching in the end. And because that got me in the mood, I made a matching patch:

I just started season 4 and gah, I remember why I love this show so much! Realistich characters with backgrounds and real personalities and just really nice stories (take note, Moffat)... But this is a sewing blog.

I used a black sweater knit to make cuffs and a hem band, and finished it with a metal zipper. The end result does feel nice and sturdy, and it has the fit I liked from the storebought hoodies with the added bonus of cool fabric (and hours of hand-stitching).

Super amazing superhero team, the Scarf and the Chin

These pictures were taken during Lieke's birthday party, by the way. Stephanie, Caroline and I are such professional bloggers, we'd even leave an amazing picknick (with CAKE!) to take pictures. And photobomb each other. And then we jumped into a fountain.

Running for my LIFE
Later that day I joined Lieke to the pool and got to pretend I was a mermaid. We also won a diving competition. Not even kidding!

And of course, thanks again to Caroline for making my handiwork look so pretty!

23 augustus 2015

The Hobbits the Hobbits the Hobbits the Hobbits...

It's no secret that I love themed parties. Love, love, love them. I love coming up with an idea for a costume and then doing the best I can to make it come to life (usually as cheap as possible). One of my friends had been planning a movie party for a long time but I wasn't going to be able to make it at first because of work... Until the schedule changed. I suddenly found myself with an unexpected day off and three days to make a movie-themed costume!

I got an idea really quickly though. I reread the Lord of the Rings trilogy about a month ago (and saw the movies again for good measure) so my head was kind of full of hobbits and elves, and when I came across this classic my mind was made up. Inspired by the genius of Cation Designs I went for a Party Legolas look!

Now, it was going to be a hot Saturday, so I decided to forego total screen accuracy. I found a green top and a jersey skirt and set to work to add some Elvish touches:

The lettering and the brooch took the most time, but in the end everything was done in an evening and a morning. I cut a stencil out of a heavier paper and used silver fabric paint to get the text on the top. This is a super easy way to transform t-shirts, and if your printer can handle the heavier paper you don't even have to do hand-lettering!

The brooch is made out of felt and embroidery thread. I wasn't sure how to do the silver wire bits that go around it at first since it's a bit too fragile to do in felt, but in the end I decided to add a background layer and just embroider on that. The result is clear enough! Both the t-shirt and the brooch will get some wear after this (but maybe not together). I love it when parts of a costume become part of my wardrobe (and it happens more often than you'd think).

I decided to make a bow and arrow on the morning before the party, and challenged myself to only use things I already had because I didn't have time to go to the shops wanted to push my creativity. The bow is entirely non-functional, it's basically rolled up paper wrapped with masking tape and string. I added a coat of acrylic paint in three colours to make it look pretty. The quiver was made from a plastic water bottle wrapped with paper and masking tape and painted again. I used my long double-pointed knitting needles as arrows and gave them masking tape fletchings. I finished the look with an Elvish-inspired hairdo (tiny braids, that's the secret) and some green eyeshadow.

Sadly enough the party was too much fun to bother with outfit shots, so you'll have to imagine what it looked like! We did manage to take some photobooth pictures. If you look closely you can spot one or two other celebrity guests:

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 say a 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!