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!

29 mei 2015

Wake up cousin! We're going to the zoo!

Well hello there! I'm here! With a garment post! Isn't that exciting? I've actually finished three other things that should be photographed, but other stuff just keeps happening. Last weekend Tasia and her husband were in town, and I basically spent three days with them having a blast and getting a slight sunburn (first one of the year!). It was really nice to meet them both, and I think they had fun as well:

Just saying: they were trying not to hit kids, no matter what this picture looks like!
We really enjoyed showing them around Antwerp, introducing Tasia to a few museums, fabric shops and of course the wild swarms of bees that regularly roam town:

This was really cool though. People were having drinks two tables over. Surreal.

(In all seriousness, I hope they got a beekeeper there instead of just exterminating them. We need all the bees we can get, people!)

Anyway, today my boyfriend, Lieke and me went over to Planckendael to look at cute animals and I took the chance to photograph a new thing between some huge plants. It's an Alder and I love it.

I'm feeling like sewing summer things (even though I was freezing my butt off when we arrived back home) and this is definitely summery. I used a super lightweight cotton gauze, which means I have to wear a top and bike shorts underneath it unless I want my underwear on display.

As usual with Grainline patterns, this came together really well. Any hitches I encountered had more to do with the fabric! It was very shifty, and I had to press very carefully to avoid warping it. Some pieces also grew a lot after cutting. I ended up using my walking foot for most of the construction, and that definitely helped.

One big booboo: I barely had enough fabric to cut this dress, and could only make it if I cut the front skirt panels on the crossgrain. Sadly enough, they now wrinkle in a different direction than the rest of the dress. It doesn't show as much in real life, but I'll definitely have to remember it the next time!

I'm also tempted to rip out the topstitching on the collar stand because it's a bit too wonky for my liking. But then again, this fabric is pretty fragile so it might not be a great idea (but obviously running and climbing through playgrounds is). This silhouette is pretty different from what I usually go for, but I really like it. I cut my size according to my bust measurement because I didn't mind a relaxed fit around the waist. The result is a number that might get a sequel or two!

After this little shoot we went ahead to see everything on offer. There were loris you could feed nectar to:

We also got to see a very grumpy fox right after waking up, and before his lunch. Too cute.

It was a pretty intense day, and we managed to see the entire park. We learned tons of things about bonobos and I managed to identify a tawny frogmouth and some banded mongooses. Good times!

11 mei 2015

A quilt a day won't keep your backache away

Hi guys! Don't fear, I'm not turning this place into a home decor blog, but I do have a few progress shots of a pretty massive project!

One of our living room walls still has an empty spot, right above a small cabinet. It's still empty for a reason: I wanted to put something big on that wall! Some time ago I spotted the amazing map quilt kits Haptic lab sells. The idea is super simple: you get a template printed on a sort of tear-away stabilizer, make your quilt sandwich (backing fabric, batting, top fabric), pin the template to it and follow the lines. I have never done anyhting quilt before but I think it's a nice introduction: the focus is on the quilted design, you don't have to cut or stitch small pieces and it's easy to customize (add embroidery or even appliqué). I'm nowhere near finished, but here are some progress shots!

I chose the constellation quilt because space, and have finished the main outlines of the map so far. At first I toyed with the idea of embroidering drawings of the constellations as well, but I decided to keep it a little simpler to stop this from becoming a truly massive project I'll never finish. 

After finishing this corner I decided I couldn't wait to see what the final thing looks like, so here's a peek! It's pretty exciting to see and feel how things are working out. Haptic Lab provides some basic intructions on how to put things together and what stitches to use, which worked out fine. Since this is going to be a wall decoration I'm not bothering with making the back look nice or hiding my thread ends, but some instructions on that would have been nice since you have a lot of small separate shapes. Hopefully this will continue to go well!

There should be some garment posts up here soon by the way! I made a fancy dress I still haven't properly photographed and something for my birthday, which was last week. I turned 26 and decided to celebrate with a hands-free spaghetti party. It looked like this:

22 april 2015

There will be tables and chairs, pony rides and dancing bears

The project I'm talking about is quite different from my usual posts, but I thought it was too cool not to share! My boyfriend and have been living in our second (and awesome) appartment for a while now, and we're slowly transforming it into our ideal cozy nest. This basically means surrounding ourselves with prints, books, toys and beautiful things we love. Recently, my boyfriend's cousin told us we could have the matching armchair for our two-seat couch (which used to be hers as well and makes an appearance here). We are planning a little reading nook in one corner of the living room, and wanted a little table to keep books and cups of tea. Enter this one!

The cat wasn't included, but he has confiscated the cardboard...

This is a super basic little table from a surprisingly cheap Swedish designer. It's pretty dull in itself but I picked it because the basic shape was nice and it was untreated wood. This meant it would be easy to paint!

I traced the shapes of the two tabletops (it has a smaller, lower level) onto a big sheet of paper and started sketching. I wanted something floral, in two colours and with a bit of flair. I found a lot of inspiration in a book about haute couture details, especially from the embroidery! A cat's critical eye is essential during this step. (just a disclaimer: I don't intend this as a tutorial, since I'm probably doing loads of things wrong. I just thought it would be nice to show the process instead of just the finished product!)

These were the finished sketches. I wanted it to look complicated, but still doable to paint. After all, I hadn't painted in ages!

I then used yellow tracing paper to copy the drawings onto the wood surface. Yellow was a good choice: it's light enough so it doesn't show through the paint, but it's more visible than white.

Time to get painting! I started with the lighter colour, a metallic gold acrylic paint. This way I could easily fix mistakes later by covering them with the darker colour. These steps took quite some time because I had to use tiny brushes and needed two coats to get enough coverage.

After the gold I spent two days painting all the rest a dark teal. It was really fiddly sometimes and I was unsure about how it would look for a bit (in hindsight I should have sanded the wood down a bit first but shhh...). It's really hard to make acrylic paints look even and opaque when you're doing all these small details! Thankfully my boyfriend said he likes it more when it's a bit blotchy. D'awww!

And here's the finished table! I love how it turned out, and I can't wait to give it a proper place in our reading corner!

Ps: if you are curious about the post title...