07 september 2017

Who Needs Armholes Anyway

This project has been a long time in the making. The shop I work at got this really fancy yarn, an alpaca/merino blend that was just the right amount of slightly fluffy and kind of had me drooling. I eyeballed it for a year or so and then it went on sale! Combined with my employee discount this made the whole thing way more affordable, so instead of my usual buy-just-enough-to-make-a-hat-tactic I splurged and got enough for a shawl. I had this one in mind, in black and white. Super stoked, I looked up how to do intarsia and got started right away!

I hated how it looked. The wrong side of the shawl shows so it has to be super tidy, and even though it didn't look awful I knew I was never going to like it. Frog, sulk and think.

I then decided a scarf or shawl wasn't the way to go. I got moar yarn and decided on a sweater. A black sweater with a ribcage on the front. Because what goes better with fancy yarn than pictures of bones?


BAM!

Finding this (free!) skeleton chart wasn't the end of the saga though. The chart itself was really low quality, so I copied it in Stitch Fiddle to get a larger version (I'll post it at the bottom but beware, there's a mistake somewhere in the ribs so it's not entirely symmetrical and I can't be bothered to fix it). Chart problem solved, I found out that I did not like the pattern that came with the chart (by which I mean I didn't understand it very well) so I looked for a pattern for a super basic sweater and used that instead. This bit about using two different patterns and files is going to be important later on.


I got started, and quickly decided to carry my yarn along at the back to avoid having to weave in ten million ends later. This made the skeleton pucker a bit because my tension wasn't always awesome but I don't care because I didn't have to weave in ten million ends. After a while I got worried the sweater was going to be too small. When holding it in front of me it looked like it was going to be really fitted, which would look... Strange. So I started over and chose a size large.


From then on, it was smooth sailing. I worked on this every once in a while for a couple of months, and it was fun to see the skeleton grow. I finished the last rows of the chart and proudly held my work up in front of me. The following ensued:

'This is great. This might be the coolest thing I've ever made.'

'I forgot to make armholes.'

Yep, because I was so focused on the chart I completely forgot there was another file with an actual pattern I had to follow. BUMMER. At this point there were three options: rip everything back to the point where the armholes should have started (urgghh), keep it the way it was and modify the sleeve pattern so it would be a dropped shoulder (so trendy) or cry.

I chose the second option and knit the back the same way as the front, meaning I had two rectangles with a neckhole. This also meant I had to eliminate the sleeve cap shaping (what a shame) and kind of guess how long the sleeves had to be (I got a bit too cautious, thinking too long would be better than too short, and they cover my hands now. They are also super wide so I can easily get super muscular now. YAY!).


After finishing all the separate pieces I blocked them, and realised things were looking... Big. I either overestimated my own size or everything grew during the blocking process, but this definitely went from 'slouchy' to 'I can smuggle an entire candy store into the movie theatre'.

But you know what? I love it. It's warm and soft and cuddly and just the right amount of fluffy, and I'm going to be the spookiest skeleton all winter.

PS: If you're wondering why I'm standing in this weird room with all the smoke and lipstick and stuff... I was helping Hanne with something for her next lingerie collection. It's going to be awesome, so you should all keep an eye on what she's up to! I mean, SMOKE MACHINE!

PPS: My version of the skeleton chart, for those who also want to be a spooky skeleton:


01 september 2017

I Made Stuff You Can Own!

Remember how I participated in 24-hour comics day and made an alphabet of death in 24 hours?

Yeah, it's still a bit of a blur here as well.

I can happily announce that I published the entire alphabet as a zine!



These are printed in black and white on recycled paper, and have some fancier coloured paper as a cover. I'll give you a peek of the inside as well:






The best thing is that you can own this! Did you always want to teach your child the alphabet and traumatize them for life? Or do you just want this for any reason you can think of? It's yours for 8 euros + shipping. Send an e-mail to caramin.anneke@gmail.com and we'll work something out!

I also have a new illustration available as a print. This is part of a series I've been working on for AGES and it's finally coming together!





Your own bad hair days are nothing compared to hers, believe me. This is a print of an original illustration I hand cut out of black paper.

This is an A3 print on 200 gsm paper, and it's 10 euros + shipping!

I have some more ideas for prints, postcards and zines, so stay tuned!


21 augustus 2017

I Am Sorry To Report Dear Paris Is Burning After All

I recently returned from a short trip to Paris with Hanne, and have some pictures to show you! They are not the best ever since I forgot my camera so these were taken with Hanne's phone, and we were a bit too busy having fun to really put a lot of time into them... But hey!


It seems I had to get some basics sewing out of my system. It was also a necessity: my size has changed over the past few years and a lot of my wardrobe staples just don't fit me anymore, so I actually needed a few things (hence the recent solid jeans/tank tops/t-shirts on this blog). I had a small piece of black linen and felt like a pair of black shorts would be a great addition to my summer wardrobe. Last year I discovered I do feel comfortable in short shorts, but the ones I made then are all too big by now.


I liked the fit of the wide legged Kommatia pants I made earlier a lot, so I decided to just shorten that and call it a day. I like my short legs a bit wider (so they're not tight across the leg when I sit down or anything) and simply chopping off the pattern pieces at the right length did the trick! These are wide and comfortable, but not poofy.


Sewing these was really straightforward and even quicker than the long version (no long side seams, obviously). I decided to topstitch the pocket openings this time because even with bar tacks the pockets on my first version want to peek out! The hem on these is also topstitched, and so short it catches the bottom of the pocket bags, helping to keep them in place. The top is another Ogden cami (I made three of those by now, and brought some silver cotton voile that might become a fourth one, hoho) made from the leftovers from this dress. This time I made the original length! It's already been worn loads and even made an appearance during the birthday celebration of legendary Belgian singer Willy Sommers:

Don't ask me how I ended up there.
Anyway, back to the shorts! I thought just the black was a tiiiny but plain and felt like it could use a secret something something to make it more FUN, so I copied an idea I saw on the internet sometime and embroidered something on the fly shield:


Sorry to all international readers who will have no idea what this says, but it's kind of hard to translate. Me and a few friends have been saying this for years and Dutch-speaking people might understand why it's funny to put it there. This was embroidered on before the fly shield was stiched closed so it looks clean and tidy! Also: yes, I'm standing with my fly open in public. Guess where.


That's right! The things we do for blogging.

I had a blast in Paris. We were really lucky with the weather (the weather forecast was very pessimistic about the amount of rain we were going to get) and we spent most of our time walking around, meeting Lieke and shopping for fabric (I dipped into my tattoo fund and got some amazing stuff) and eating everything on our path. We also found some time to visit one of my favourite places in the world:


I'll have to start preparing my next trip soon, because me and the boyfriend are spending two weeks in Toronto and Montreal next month! If you have any recommendations (fabric stores or, you know, fun things to do) or want to meet up, let me know!

07 augustus 2017

I Will Let You Know As Soon As I Fall On My Face

This post title will make sense at some point, I promise.

So, I've had pants on my mind for a while. Wide-legged ones, especially. It's a silhouette I haven't worn in a long time, mostly because I wasn't sure if it looked good on me- a lot of high-waisted pants seemed to make my upper body look short and stumpy in a way high-waisted skirts don't (does that make any sense?). I also noticed that most patterns for wide-legged pants have pleats in the front, while I prefer the look of a flat-front trouser. And then I spotted Eleonore wearing something that was exactly what I had in mind! She told me she had used this pattern by new-to-me Kommatia patterns. I then dove straight in!


Well, not really. I had never made anything from this pattern company before and PANTS so I made a muslin first. My measurements put me pretty much straight into a size small and the fit was pretty spot on straight out of the package. I took a few extra cm out of the back to make it a bit more fitted, especially because I was making this in linen, which has a tendency to relax a lot with wear (which has happened. I would have taken it in more but it's very comfy now, so yay?). I also had what Eleonore called 'poofy crotch' which was sort of solved by lengthening the front darts a bit.


I have no pictures of the back of this because my photographer (Hélène) couldn't stop laughing when I told her to take pictures of my butt. Ah well! The instructions were very clear, although the fly front had me scratching my head for a bit. I just followed all the steps exactly and it turned out fine (and very nicely finished) but I feel like it might have been unnecessarily fiddly. The instructions also have you add a few bar tacks on the pockets after installing them, which I skipped because I wanted clean lines so I laugh in the face of bar tacks and topstitching, but I ended up adding them anyway because my pocket lining kept peeking out. Woops.

This might be my favourite blog picture ever. That kid is just thinking 'bloggers!'
Can we talk about the fabric? This is some really nice Merchant & Mills linen in a colour that's not black or grey or green, more like something in between. It's very smooth and soft and I was worried it would be too light and transparent for pants, but it worked out fine. I might add some belt loops to these to deal with the relaxing waistband, but these might just become a wardrobe staple!



Oh, and did you notice the top? It's a (cropped) Ogden cami made out of some black viscose I had around (technically it was a dress that rarely got worn so I took it apart to salvage the fabric). It's a very nice shape: loose and flowy, but the low back and front neckline make it be not-frumpy. I cut this out one evening, sewed it up the next morning and promptly made two more. This one is a straight size 8 (based on my bust measurement) and I did everything according to the instructions, apart from pinking the bottom of the partial lining instead of hemming it (I was afraid a hem would show through on the outside in this super drapey fabric) and hemming it by hand (no visible stitches on the outside!). It's a nice pattern that's really quick to sew and would make an excellent gift for others, since the fit is so forgiving.

Me and Hélène were taking these pictures while waiting for Laure to show up, and when she came by in the middle of our little shoot she thought it was hilarious and started to document the entire thing. So here's a rare behind-the-scenes look at blogging:























































We had ice cream afterwards, so I forgave her.

Oh, and that title? I was making these and realised one of the main reasons I stopped wearing pants with wide legs: there have been at least ten occasions where one of my feet got caught in the other pant leg and I'd fall over. I'll never be a graceful swan.

31 juli 2017

Learn Your ABCs Or Die

(Just a heads up: this post contains references and images related to death, murder and suicide. They're all illustrations and not very graphic, but I'm posting a warning because you might not expect this on a sewing/drawing blog!)

A few weeks ago my old classmate Wouter Goudswaard organized a 24 hour comics day in his hometown Bergen op Zoom. For those who have no idea what that means: it's a challenge (the worldwide one is at the end of October) where artists gather together in a space and each try to finish a 24-page comic in 24 hours. I had done it once before and remembered the experience as gruelling but awesome, so I signed up!

There was some really good company there. Wouter, of course, but also Jangojim (aka the Boyfriend), Charlotte Dumortier, Wasco, Jeroen Funke and Boris Peeters from Lamelos, Ben Vranken and me.

Part of the challenge is that you have to be unprepared, meaning that you can have an idea of what you want to do, but you're not supposed to make any sketches or storyboards beforehand. I decided I wanted to illustrate an alphabet, which is maybe cheating because it's not a comic... But on the other hand, I made 26 pages instead of 24! I settles on an alphabet of death. As in, causes of death. My self-imposed restrictions were that I could not use any reference photos and work only in black on white paper. After 24 hours I was exhausted and my fingers were incredibly sore, but I finished my alphabet! Here are some of the illustrations:

It was fun to work on this with so many other great artists in the same space! Everyone kind of tried to help each other out when it was needed. I had finished 21 drawings at half past three in the morning, so I decided to curl up into a corner and rest for a while, since the hours between four and six are the toughest- you've been awake for so long but there's still a long way to go!

I'll probably print this slightly morbid abc as a zine, if I get around to drawing a cover for it!

23 juli 2017

Running In Slow Motion: Surprisingly Difficult

I tackled swimwear and won.

Well, I tried to make a bikini and ended up with something wearable and functional that I like!

super cliché jumping picture: check

I'm not particularly interested in sewing my own lingerie. I'm a pretty standard size and have no problem finding bras that I like within my budget. Swimwear is a different story though! I want to be able to actually swim without worrying about flashing everyone. I want to feel comfortable, not like I have to adjust my swimsuit every time I move. And I want something I like the look of.


Enter the Sophie swimsuit! I had looked at lots of different swimsuit patterns and settled on this one because it has an underwire, which reminded me of a great bikini I owned ten years ago and never found a replacement for. Hanne recently made me a great one piece (thanks again!) so I decided to go for the bikini version. It took me a while to get going because I had only a tiny bit of experience sewing swimwear (a half-finished Ohhh Lulu swimsuit that was just too revealing at the time- I might finish it though since I don't fill it out quite as much anymore) and no experience at all sewing lingerie.


The whole cup size thing scared me a bit as well. I bought the pattern without really looking at the size chart and only noticed later that I was about one cup size bigger than what the pattern is drafted for. Heather provides some excellent instructions for sizing up and finding the right underwires, but it still gave me a headache. In the end I had printed out the size 8, compared the cradle pattern pieces to an underwire from an old bra that fit me well in the cup, and decided to risk it. I can happily say that it fits pretty damn well, and a larger cup would definitely have been too big!

Sewing this wasn't difficult (the instructions are really clear and all in all it's pretty logical how things come together) but it was fiddly. There are lots of small pieces and tiny seam allowances (which get bulky at time!) and you have to be precise. I found hand-basting worked really well to keep things in place before stitching (cough cough underwire casing) but I also have to admit that part of the topstitching has been hand-embroidered because there was no way I was getting it exactly right by machine. Ahem.


I made a test version in a different fabric before cutting into my precious grey cloud print (how perfect is that) and found a few things I wanted to change. I used this spacer fabric I got in New York on our last trip there to construct the cups, and while it works great (it adds structure but it's not too stiff and still moves along with my body) it's probably a bit stretchier than the foam that would typically be used. The pattern instructions have you use a bit of bra lining to stabilize the cradle, but I noticed how on my (unpadded) bras the cups were also lined in this material, and thought it would give the spacer cups a bit more support. I underlined the foam cup pieces with the bra lining and covered the seams with strips of swimsuit lining. It totally worked! The cups are still supple, but there's just a bit more lift in them.

Baywatching the hell in there!

As you might have noticed, I also went for a different bottom. I made the bikini bottom as drafted (high waist and all) but don't really like the high-waisted look on me. At first I 'fixed' it by removing some of that height, but I realised I also don't really like the shape of the leg openings. I guess some people want to feel a bit more covered at the beach but I just felt like the shape made my legs look really short and stumpy, so instead I copied a bikini bottom I already owned, and added the colour blocking to match the top. It's similar to the type of underwear I prefer, so that's a win!

Another thing I noticed with the original pattern: the elastic lengths given for my size were TIGHT. And by that I mean that the leg openings gave me an extra pair of buttcheeks. In the end I just stitched the elastic on directly, stretching it as I went, and this worked way better.

So that's all fine and dandy for the sewing and fitting and stuff, but can I swim in it without the whole thing falling apart?


Yes, I can! For like, two seconds, and then I baywatched the hell out of there again. It was a bit cold.

My friend Karen took these pictures for me while I visited her at work at the seaside. I was scared I'd be uncomfortable taking these pictures and actually got pretty nervous beforehand, but she's good at making me laugh and forgetting about how little I'm wearing. Thanks Karen!


So hooray for swimsuits, hooray for swimming and hooray for summer! Will I make this again? Maybe when this one wears out.

16 juli 2017

Stretch, Stretch, Stretchy Stretch

One of the main things on my list of things I wanted to sew was a new pair of black skinny jeans. I wear my dark blue Ginger jeans all the time but black is more of a base colour to me than blue, and my only (storebought) pair of skinnies is way too big on me in the waist.

Hanne, Eleonore and me visited Stéphanie a few weeks ago and visited De Stoffenstraat (when in Rome...). I stumbled upon the perfect black stretch jeans and went for it!


So yeah, these are the Closet Case Ginger jeans, in a straight size 8, just like the first time. I tried them on before attaching the waistband and took the sides in a tiny bit at the waist, but apart from that I made no alterations. We also took some really weird photos for this, and none of them show the details very well. Sorry!


Sewing these was a breeze, it just takes a while because of all the small details and topstitching. The front fly gave me grief again though, and I did discover a mistake in the instructions: at the beginning of construction of the fly front it says to finish the fly extension on the right leg only, while this should be the left leg. The pictures in the instructions actually show the left leg, but with a coin pocket. It went better than last time, but I will probably try a different method if I make another front fly.

This was also super relevant underneath a picture of the back of the jeans.


All of our detail shots turned out blurry or way too dark, except for this one of my butt and some bits of the wall that stuck to it. I think I should have altered the waistband a bit since it gapes at the top, but I always wear a belt anyway so it doesn't bother me too much. I also think I stretched the waistband a bit whilst topstitching.


This fabric is super stretch and has great recovery (I've worn these a few times now and there's no bagging out). In fact, it's so stretchy it's almost creepy. As in, I feel like I'm not supposed to be this mobile in jeans. I can put my leg in my neck in these. For real.

"Do something."
Apart from making this wardrobe staple, I think I finally managed to perfect my tank top pattern. I copied an existing top that I like to wear and took a bit out of the sides to make it more fitted. This works well worn like this, tucked in or layered. The fabric for this version also came from De Stoffenstraat, and I have a few other jerseys from them to be made into tops, including one that was described by Stéphanie as 'only you can make that look cool'. No pressure there, then!