19 oktober 2019

And Then It Dawned On Me

I have realised something: non-stretch slim fit pants just really aren't for me. I tested the Philippa pants and donated them because they didn't get worn, and I gave my first (tapered) version of the Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans to a friend because they would never get worn either. Why? I need to be able to bend my knees, people! And by that, I don't mean just sitting down on a chair or riding a bike. I'm naturally very flexible, and to be comfortable I need to be able to crouch and kind of roll up... Almost like a frog?

So yeah, I tried the tapered version first, and even though the fit was good I knew it wasn't for me. Those jeans have found a great home with my friend Charlotte though! I decided to give the wide leg a go, and that worked out way better!


I used a navy and white striped denim from Stoff & Stil for these, and I think it worked out pretty well! I went by the measurements and cut a size 10, but could have graded down to an 8 at the waist, since it's a bit too loose there and I definitely need that belt.


Constructing these was a breeze: I've made quite a few pairs of jeans before and the instructions are very clear. I used jeans buttons for the entire button fly because that was what I had around, but next time I might go back to using flat buttons on the fly and one jeans button on the waistband, to reduce some bulk in the front. I did that before on my Persephone pants and it worked a treat!


The waist on these is a bit too big, as I said before, but I feel like I might also need a sway back adjustment. This shouldn't be too hard, I could just take a wedge out of the yoke!

I didn't really try to match stripes, but I did play with stripe direction a bit. The coin pocket has the striped going horizontally, and so do the belt loops. I wanted to keep these jeans as subtle as stripey jeans can be, so decided not to go too crazy.


I've worn these loads of times since I finished them, so that's a good sign! And I can crouch.

Me and Eleonore went to the Dries Van Noten stock sales this week and I found a piece of green shiny jacquard that might look amazing as some shiny 'jeans'. How long before jeans are no longer jeans?

16 september 2019

The Worst Fortune Teller

I seem to have taken a bit of a blogging break! It's been a bit crazy around here, a lot of things were made but not really documented. The biggest thing I made the past few weeks was a project for a drawing festival called Tekenpudding, organized by my amazing friend Charlotte Dumortier. It's a sort of drawing funfair with, apart from the usual talks and zine fair a bunch of attractions. They had an open call for booth ideas so me and my Veranda buddies got together, submitted an idea and then heard we had the all clear to build it!

We wanted to build our own version of the automated fortune telling booths we'd encountered on our US roadtrip last September (Zoltar being the most common one, although we did find an Elvis or two), with a little twist: the fortune teller would only predict bad news. However, our skills are a bit limited when it comes to building robotic wizards. Our solution: make a costume and get into the booth ourselves. Now we only had to build a booth. Easy, right?


Well, it did work out! We ended up having a pretty tight deadline when it turned out that two of the three people involved were a bit too busy to get started already, so I tried to prepare as much as possible by making a costume and sourcing fabric for the decorations. I went through some fabric shops in my area and returned with a bunch of stretch velvet, some golden poly taffeta and a load of poly brocades. I then tried to make a wizard's costume (or at least, the visible top half) in a day and a half.


I don't really have clearer pictures than this, but it was... Quick and dirty! Three different people had to fit into this, so I traced one of Dimitri's sweatshirts (since he was the biggest) to get a basic shape to start from. The under layer is a plain t-shirt with very wide sleeves, with a little robe/jacket on top of it. I cut the collar of the jacket on a single layer to save on fabric and finished the edges with bias tape made from golden taffeta. I also used the same taffeta to add a little decoration to the sleeves and finish the sleeve hems. Sewing this very non-giving taffeta to slinky stretch velvet was an adventure, but it worked!

I ended up attaching the jacket thing to the shirt at the shoulder seams and sewed it together in the front, covering that with two decorative buttons. This turned out to be a good idea because now we wan just pull the costume on over our head without having to pay attention to things laying right! Finally, I made the hat by ironing a heavy interfacing to two cone-shaped pieces of brocade, stitching them together and turning. The edge is finished with more bias tape to tie it together. The hat is a little big (there was wig talk at first) but I might have worn it to a bar afterwards. A cheap costume beard finished the whole look!


With this sorted out, we tackled the actual booth. I think it was a good idea to make the costume first so we could choose our paint colours around that, since it's much easier to source a paint colour than a specific fabric! We sourced a few wooden beams and leftover pieces of plywood, and I made a little sketch of how things could go together. It had to be somewhat sturdy, not too precise, and not too had to take apart and put together again (since we would have to transport it in pieces). We ended with a wooden frame that was the same width all around, with all the wooden crossbeams postitioned so they would be covered with panels or fabric. The back part is open for easy access, and there's a little table at the front for props, cards and dramatic leaning.


The biggest job was painting. We primed everything and then I spent a couple hours putting down the base colours (plain old acrylic paint). After this we went through all our books with old etchings, tarot cards and other magical things and sketched out a bunch of things for inspiration! Me, Hélène and Dimitri then all got thogether and covered all the panels with drawings in gold paint marker. And I mean covered:



We were very happy with things at this point, and relieved it worked out! Our idea was that people would insert a coin into a slot at the front of the booth, and then get a little spoken prediction and a printed card with an illustration and some more wisdom, most of it bad news. At first we were going to have it printed somewhere, but then Hélène got all next level and decided to screenprint the cards. I designed a little tiled pattern with little things we'd drawn (recycling a fabric design I'd made before) and each of us made two small illustrations for the front. We then wrote a few short words of wisdom/horoscope type predictions and all this made for some really cool looking cards to hand out!


We were at the festival all day and had such a blast! People really wanted to hear how their lives would go wrong, and I actually did a few scarily accurate predictions. This is something I definitely want to do more of, all we need is an occasion!

We had a lot of fun working together to make this, especially because it wouldn't have been possible without a few other amazing people. All the love to Heziz for helping us source some materials, and to Viktor for helping out with the heavy machinery and tolerating us in his workspace! And of course, the entire Tekenpudding team for letting us do this!

30 juli 2019

Business In The Front, Party In The Back!

I actually had the fabric (and the idea) for this dress around for a long time. And then I got a new tattoo that would make this dress idea even better and decided to get started! This was an adventure in pattern drafting that ended really well, and I had a lot of fun figuring out construction!


Looks pretty basic so far, right? Sleeveless bodice, waistband, gathered rectangles for a skirt? I drafted the bodice myself, but this isn't all that adventurous, right?


BAM! It's a mullet dress. I wanted to make a bra-friendly cut out in the back so I got out the block I drafted a while ago and tried to figure it out. The block has high necklines, but I marked a few key points when I made it (the lowest points in the front and back before underwear becomes visible) and those turned out pretty helpful. I wanted the back to look a bit like a bow, so I figured it would be the easiest to rotate the back waist dart to the center back seam and turn it into gathers!


The bodice is fully lined, which was the hardest part to figure out (because I wanted a clean finish on the waistband as well). In the end I left the gathered edges open and stitched those together last, since they were going to be covered up with the little tab anyway. That little tab isn't just decorative by the way! Instead of stitching it closed I added a snap fastener and now I can loop it around my bra band to keep things in place. It's a bit fiddly but it works very well! I loved the idea of this back cutout before I got this really cute bat from Lozzybones but now it just makes it ten times better. I'm not sure if you can see it in this picture but HIS FACE.


I wanted an invisible zipper on the side (so the back would look as clean as possible) but I also wanted pockets! I had done this combination of a zipper/inseam pocket before but I rarely sew side zippers so it had been a while. I followed a tutorial online and it turned out fine, not my neatest sewing ever but it'll probably be better the next time!


I'm not sure if my way of finishing the insides was the most logical one, but it worked! There was some hand stitching involved to attach the inside waistband and the lining to the zipper, and I really enjoyed trying to figure it out. That's the thing with drafting your own patterns: you have no instructions to go on, and once you veer away from basic things it's not like you can rely on instructions for similar garments!


This turned out as a perfect little summer dress! I haven't made a quilting cotton dress in a while, and don't really have that kind of fabric in my stash anymore, but I'm happy I could turn this into something that still feels very 'me'.

26 juli 2019

The Quest For Underthings

I dipped my toes into bra-making a while ago, and made a few very successful Watson bras. After this I tried the Harriet, and after a few attempts I managed to make one that fit fairly well, but it wasn't exactly right yet... I didn't feel confident enough to keep tweaking the pattern, so I put the whole project to the side for a while. My underwear drawer was starting to look pretty sad and worn out though (and I couldn't really justify buying new bras with a box full of supplies at the ready) so when Emerald Erin released the Black Beauty bra I didn't really hesitate!


It took some work, and I should revisit this pattern at a later date and work on it some more, but for now I ended up with three brand new and wearable bras! I did make a few changes, as you might be able to see. My first version fit fine in terms of cup volume, but the horizontal seam really didn't work on me- the combination of a seam that didn't stretch and a lightweight cup fabric that still had some give led to some weird bumps. I turned the horizontal seam into a vertical one (aligning the starting point with the power bar) and this solved that issue.


My other main problem was the straps: I loved the idea of the double straps made from the fold-over elastic, but the reality is that my skin is pretty sensitive and the thin elastic straps just felt scratchy. instead I turned the fold-over elastic into a little loop and attached a normal strap. Maybe not as pretty, but way more wearable for me!


I used mostly stash materials for this, including the last scraps of my precious birthday bee tulle. Emerald Erin actually had bra kits with this exact fabric, but I had it already! I am going to fray check the hell out of those bees though, one or two were starting to unravel on the dress I made and I don't want that to happen to this bra!


My first version was more of a toile: I had a piece of this tulle around and wouldn't really mind if it didn't turn out great. I saw it as a chance to test out techniques before cutting into the precious stuff. Another change that I made was to line the entire bra. The version I made is for non-stretch fabrics so it could be fine with one layer, but the thought of an unlined tulle seam going straight across my nipple is a big fat nope from me. I cut all the cup and bridge pieces from a very thin bra tulle, assembled the pieces separately and then basted the cups together before finishing/inserting them. It looks super clean and because the bra tulle is so sheer it still looks very lightweight.


My second version is made using some stretchy mesh with flocked dots that I had lying around for a while. I used the same method for lining (which was an absolute necessity with the stretchy outer fabric) and used some glorious velvet fold-over elastic and strapping that I got from the new Small Bobbins webshop (check her out if you're in Belgium and want to sew lingerie: she has really cool stuff and the shipping is reasonable for once!). This one is super comfortable, I can see it become a favourite. The only downside is that the combo of stretchy outer/non-stretch inner makes for some wrinkling here and there.


I actually made my bee version twice. The first one had this gold fold-over elastic that looked really cool but was an absolute bitch to work with (it was super lightweight and just stretched/warped/wiggled all over the place). It looked fine from a distance but up close the top of the cups was gaping and the whole thing looked messy. So I did it again with matte black elastic, and all was well.

I like the shape these have, so I'll probably keep working with this pattern. The three bras that I made are wearable and very welcome in my wardrobe, but I feel there's room for improvement! The main thing is that the bridge doesn't lie as flat against my chest as it should. I was thinking of narrowing it a smidge and adding a bit of width to the cup at the center front. Not much, just enough to give it more room to curve towards my sternum. But that's for a later date. I kind of want to sew some heavyweight denim now.

12 juli 2019

There's A Rat On My Left Shoulder

I made this dress a while ago, but only just got around to photographing it! I came across this pattern when I was making a wrap dress for my mother and used it as a starting point (changing it almost completely, the only parts left of the original were the bodice and the sleeve head). After this I decided to make the real deal for myself!


This is the Highlands Wrap Dress by Allie Olson, made in a linen-viscose mix that I dyed burdgundy (it started out as off white!). I've experimented with dyeing fabrics recently, and so far it's always been successful. It's a great thing to do when you like the texture of a fabric, but not the colour!


I really enjoyed sewing this pattern. The instructions make for a very clean and neat finish, but it's still easy to follow. I had made a muslin for my mother's dress based on this pattern and it fit her really well from the start, so I took the risk and didn't muslin my version (my mother and I are kind of similar in size and shape). It's maybe a smidge too big, but nothing too bad.


I followed the instructions to the letter, except for the finishing of the facings. There is some hand embroidery on the shoulder of this dress, which was done before the pattern piece was cut out or stitched together, and I didn't want any visible topstitching to interfere with that. So instead of topstitching all around the neckline and armholes I sewed the facings down with a blind stitch, and finished the hem in the same way. That hem is where I hit my only snafu by the way, and it's only due to me being an idiot: I had seen in the finished measurements that the pattern was drafted for someone quite a bit taller than me, but somehow thought it would still be fine (on a full length maxi dress). So I went ahead and hemmed the thing with gorgeous mitered corners and some more hand sewing, and of course it was too long. I put it away for a while, then gathered the courage to unpick everything and shorten it.


The real star of this dress is of course the embroidery! I knew I wanted to add some before I started making it, but wasn't sure about what. Then the elections happened in Belgium and it suddenly became really clear that I needed a rat on my left shoulder. This probably won't really make any sense to readers outside of Belgium, but this rat here isn't going to roll up anything!

I traced my pattern piece onto a piece of paper to sketch the rat, and then used yellow carbon paper to put it onto the fabric. I had cut out most of the pattern piece but left a piece of fabric around the area where it would be embroidered, so I could put it in a hoop. I did the majority of the rat like this and then added the tail once the shoulder seam was sewn. It was a really easy way to add something to a solid dress!


I like this dress on me and it will get worn, but I did notice it's not very bike-friendly. We went to a bit of wood nearby to take these pictures and I had to hold the dress closed with one hand to keep things decent. It's not a problem when I'm walking, but I do ride my bike almost every day so I probably won't make another one for this reason. So if you don't frequently ride a bike, don't hesitate to give this pattern a go!

03 juli 2019

I'm Going On An Adventure!

So I'll need a nice backpack!

Not really. But I wanted to make a backpack for a while. I'd been looking at patterns, but everything I found looked very... homemade? I wanted something really sturdy and functional, something I could really carry around all day, even with my terrible shoulders. There are some patterns for roll-top backpacks out there but I don't really like the look of those. I toyed with the idea of drafting my own but got a bit overwhelmed with having to figure the whole construction out and sourcing the materials as well. Then I stumbled upon Niizo bags. They had patterns for bags that looked very professional, and they sold kits that included everything! I thought it wouldn't hurt to have some extra handholding when dipping my toes into something new, so I bought the Be Strong backpack kit in black. And here it is:


I was pretty impressed with the kit when it arrived. Everything was nicely packaged and labeled, so there was no confusion. I had already downloaded and printed the pattern, and cut everything out in one evening. The instructions tell you to mind your fabric layout since the quantity you get is only just enough, and they were definitely right! I cut everything on a single layer and paid very close attention to how many pieces I needed of each pattern piece. I did goof up once when I forgot to cut a second lining piece for the body of the bag, but that was easily remedied by piecing two pieces together.


This whole thing came together much quicker than expected! I basically put it together in two afternoons/evenings. I did follow the instructions word for word. Bag construction is really new for me and while the techniques themselves are not complicated I had to pay close attention so things didn't go together the wrong way! The finish on this bag is pretty impressive. It's fully lined (with loads of interior pockets) and the only seam that's on show is enclosed in a binding (which I attached by hand because the thought of putting the whole thing under the machine again and stitching that binding neatly was too much)

Hanne took some nice action shots for me. So much action.

I was a bit worried about how my sewing machine would handle the heavy canvas, but it wasn't that big of a deal. There was a bit of protest on the very bulky parts, but I didn't break a single needle! The trickiest bit was sewing the body of the bag together, when the entire thing has to move underneath the machine. The canvas was so easy to work with, it's a waxed fabric so you can actually finger press it in place and it holds a crease so well.


I made one change to the bag, as you can see here. The kit came with a red and white polka dot fabric as a contrast for the bottom of the straps and the inside of the pocket flaps, but that didn't really feel like 'me'. So instead I dug out this kitten print canvas I once got in Leipzig and used that instead! If I'd make this again (probably not anytime soon) I would either use a matching fabric for the bottom of the straps or make the top pattern piece a bit wider so the contrast edges don't really show, but that's just me being nitpicky.


My favourite part might just be the back. The foam makes it nice and sturdy and very professional looking, and the small zipper pocket in the side is so handy and neat-looking.

I took this bag with me on a daytrip to Amsterdam and it did great! I'm curious to see how it will hold up, but I'm having high hopes!

19 juni 2019

A Jumpsuit On A Bandwagon

To be completely honest, I'm not easily tempted by indie patterns these days. A lot of new releases feel like more of the same thing, or just way too simple to spend money on... And then the Zadie jumpsuit exploded all over the internet. I liked the shape and how it seemed to flatter a host of body shapes, so I decided to give it a go!


I got this plain black linen-viscose blend especially for this on a recent trip to Pauli, and it worked really well for the pattern. There's a good combination of drape and body, so you end up with something soft and flowy that doesn't show every lump and bump!


I noticed that a lot of people size down on this pattern, and after checking the finished measurements I decided to do the same. It turned out really well, and I'm happy I did! I think this would overwhelm my frame if it was larger. I took a risk and didn't make a muslin, and when I quickly tried the pants on (before attaching the top) I was a bit worried it would look like a clown suit, but once the bodice and waist ties were on it looked so much better!


For your information, I'm around 1,65 m (with a short upper torso) and the proportions are fine on me. The waist is in the right place and the rise is low enough to keep me mobile (no wedgies!). There is a bit of extra fabric in the back that suggests I might need a sway back adjustment, but I also feel like there is always going to be excess fabric there because these are wide pants being tied together with a belt... Any thoughts? On the other hand, it's not like I can see my butt, so should I let it bother me?


I followed the instructions for the most part, but I did have a little brain fart and put the tie opening on the wrong side. Woops! It doesn't really matter, but the wrap feels a bit counterintuitive. I also attached the neck binding in two steps instead of one and hand-sewed the inside of the binding and all the hems so I wouldn't have any visible stitches on the outside.


I'll end this with an obligatory jumping jumpsuit picture, because I was feeling cheesy.

The verdict: the hype for this pattern feels justified! It came together very quickly (an afternoon and an evening), the instructions are excellent and I'm very happy with the final product. I won't be making the sleeved version anytime soon (this just screams summer to me) but I do have a length of burgundy linen earmarked for a short version...