18 juni 2018

Only Bring Essentials And Then Everything Else

Handbags aren't really my thing. I tend to carry a lot of stuff around so I usually have a backpack or tote bag on me, and sewing my own isn't really something I'm interested in! However, I felt like I could use something bigger than a backpack for short trips, and decided to give the Portside Duffel bag a try!

I had all the fabrics in my stash already, and only had to source the hardware. The black fabric is a basic black cotton twill reinforced with some heavy interfacing, and I used some heavy upholstery-type stuff I once found in a second hand shop for the contrast. It kind of looks like a grandma's couch, so... I guess that means I'm into making things that look like sofas now?

I didn't really change anything about the pattern, apart from adding zippers to the side pockets. I thought these would be more useful if I could close them and it turned out to be an easy change: I cut the pocket piece in two parts where I wanted the zipper to be and added some seam allowance. The zippers were sewn into the pockets, the top seam allowance was folded over and topstitched in place onto the bag and the rest of the pocket basted in place. I also added a little patch because it was perfect for this!

My zipper was a fraction too short so I added little pieces of folded fabric at the end to make it look a bit neater. I also made sure to hand baste the entire thing before stitching to make sure nothing moved around. It's a pretty large piece to manoeuver underneath the machine so I wanted to avoid the layers shifting.

The instructions were generally very clear, but the marking for the strap placement on the end pieces seem to be missing on my version of the pattern. This wasn't hard to figure out, but I can imagine it would be confusing for a beginner!

All classy with the chalk marks and street dust.
I didn't interface the contrast portions of the bag because I was worried it would get too stiff and the interfacing wouldn't stick well to the textured fabric. This makes the top a little floppy, but it also made the bag easier to work with! Constructing this isn't hard at all (it's mostly rectangles and precise stitching) but the sheer size of it makes it a bit challenging at times! The hardest part was attaching the bottom, which I did in four steps instead of one single pass. I also stitched it twice for a bit of extra sturdiness.

The lining was hand sewn in because I couldn't face the thought of putting all that stuff under the machine all over again!

I'll be testing this bag next week on a short trip! I'll be in London and Brighton, so definitely let me know if you want to meet up! I don't bite.

08 juni 2018

Draw Me Like One Of Your Ektorps

This is the most effort I've ever put into a picture background. Like, this literally took more time than making the actual dress! My friend Karen found an appartment in a really cool building dating back to the 1930s, and when I went over to help her paint everything white it turned into a sort of archaeological dig/restoration project! I liked the original wallpaper we'd dug up, so on another day we took the chance to take some pictures of a dress I made!

I'd had this really pretty stretch linen-viscose around for a while, but wasn't sure about what to make with it. It's a pretty heavy fabric with a rougher weave, and I was worried it would look like upholstery (and that the wrong pattern choice would make me look like a sofa). I then found a pattern for a bustier jumpsuit in a Burda issue and figured it could work with a circle skirt!

Taking pictures with Karen starts like this and ends even worse.
I made a quick muslin to check the fit and didn't have to change much, except for taking a bit of width out of the waist and flattening those horizontal bust seams a bit. They were very pointy! Smoothing this line a bit has helped, but I didn't want to remove too much since that would decrease cup volume. I was working on a deadline this time but I'd like to revisit this pattern and see if I can improve things.

I changed out of my work clothes really quick and failed to notice my bra was on show. SORRY
The bodice is lined in black cotton voile, and I added strips of boning to all the vertical seams for some structure. I also chose to attach the straps by hand after the bodice was assempled. This means the raw edges are visible on the inside, which isn't as pretty, but it did give my full control over the length and placement!

After assembling the dress I noticed the neckline was gaping a bit. My hurried ass scoffed at staystitching and I had probably stretched it during construction. I kind of fixed it with a trick I picked up from Fit for a Queen: cut a length of twill tape slightly shorter than the neckline and handsew it in place, easing in the extra fabric, to snug things up. It's the same as taping a roll line!

90% of my blog pictures look like this. It's a challenge sometimes.
So, is this perfect? No, but neither am I. It's pretty low cut and I'm not really used to that anymore (I seem to gravitate to higher necklines since working in a shop), but I like the shape of the bustier top and would like to revisit the fit issues at some point! Until then I'll just keep scraping wallpaper:

Maybe not the most realistic representation.

21 mei 2018

We All Know Black Lace Is Very Summery

The chain of stores I work for has a pretty sweet deal going on: employees have a monthly budget to use on accessories to wear while they're working. The particular location I work at doesn't sell any accessories, so I can use that budget on fabric! I had taken this black lace home in November, but since the heating wasn't working all winter it didn't make sense to use it then (since it would have been covered in sweaters anyway). Recently my boss reminded me that I still had it, so I set out to make a nice spring/summer outfit! In black lace.

 I wanted to play with transparency a bit, and flipped through the Burda catalog to see if I found anything inspiring. Burda 6438 had an interesting bodice going on, with raglan sleeves and curved inset pieces that reminded me of the Colette Rue (which is a dress that I like in theory but read so many horror stories about I'm not even going to bother trying to make it work). The pattern comes with a straight skirt which isn't at all my jam, so I added a circle skirt instead.

 The entire dress is underlined in a thin cotton, apart from the sleeves. Initially I wanted to leave the side panels transparent as well (as shown in one of the views of this pattern) but after trying the dress on before adding the lining it just looked... weird. Maybe it's because the detail doesn't continue on the back, or because my bra band would always be visible, or maybe because I'm just not used to drawing attention to that part of me. After some laughing at myself in the mirror I just added the side panels to the lining and solved that issue.

 I didn't make a muslin because Burda patterns tend to fit me really well, and just cut my size based on my waist measurement. According to their size chart I'm a 40 in the bust and 38 everywhere else, but I find that a straight 38 usually fits fine in the bust department. I usualle do have to remove some width from the back, which is a common alteration for me!

An invisible zipper would break instantly with this bulky lace/underlining combination, so I used a regular one and hand picked it. I think this finish is somewhere between an invisible and a topstitched lapped zipper in terms of niceness. Also, hand sewing is relaxing. Deal with it.

I don't think anyone would associate this dress with summer, but that's definitely not going to stop me from wearing it! And in winter as well, of course. I think our heating has been fixed by now.

10 mei 2018

Childhood Dream Come True

If there is one pattern that can be considered a TNT (tried and true) for me it's the Ogden cami by True bias. I've made four of them now, in different fabrics and lengths, and they are perfect for warmer days when I want to look a bit more put together than when I'm just wearing a tank or t-shirt. I really like the shape of the neckline, so when Hanne gifted me some jersey and I thought of making a maxi dress out of it, I didn't have to think for long!

This was really easy to make. I measured where I wanted the waistline to sit (a little lower than my natural waist measurement so it would blouse a bit) and cut the Ogden at that shorter length, with a large seam allowance (to make the casing for the waist elastic).

Also in this picture: my birthday present to myself
I cut two of the front and back instead of cutting a facing, because facings and lightweight jersey don't really mix in my book. The self lining gives the bodice some extra structure and makes for a nice finish on the inside!

Construction was really simple! I assembled the bodice according to the instructions, using a straight stitch for the straps so they wouldn't stretch with wear. I also chose not to understitch the lining since it would be caught in the waist seam anyway and wouldn't flip to the outside too much. After the bodice was assembled I sewed the waist seam with a wide seam allowance, pressed it down and topstitched it to make a casing.

The skirt is made out of two rectangles, with a split at both sides. The stripes on this fabric are a bit irregular, but I managed to match the side seams pretty well!

I really like this fabric, especially the print. It reminds me of rows of pointy teeth, which is a good thing in my book. This also meant that it was the perfect dress to wear to my birthday party! I turned 29 and thought it would be a good idea to have people dress up as what they wanted to be when they grew up. In my case, that was a vegetarian werewolf:

I didn't have that much time to make my costume and didn't think it would be a good idea to cover myself in fur since it was going to be warm, so I kept things simple. I had some grey faux fur around that was made into ears and a tail, which were attached to a headband and a belt.

I combined those with a full moon necklace I already owned and embroidered some felt brooches to show my veggie werewolf feelings. Most people thought I was a rabbit of dog, but I can't blame them for that!

I think this will get worn a lot this summer, maybe without the ears and tail. I have some gorgeous linen jersey lying around, so I could even make a second one!

25 april 2018

All Hail The Yarn-Eating Beast

I finished this sweater just as the weather got warmer, which means that I'll have to wait a few months before it will get worn.

No big deal, since this project has been four years in the making!

I bought the pattern for the Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter in 2014, it took me three years to even buy the yarn for it and another year to gather my courage and get started. And in hindsight that was a very good thing. Because four years ago I never would have been able to do this:

I'm a very firm believer in learning new skills by challenging yourself, but at that time I had only knit some scarves and hats. These days I have a few sweaters (very simple ones) under my belt, and more experience with cables and reading cable charts. I was ready!

This pattern has one gigantic chart for the section with the diagonal ribbing/cabling, after that the back and front are repeats of four different charts (one large one for the center cables and a few smaller repeats). I had the gigantic chart printed on A3 sized sheets of paper since I don't like knitting from a screen and it was way too small on A4! Being able to mark the rows I'd already done helped tremendously. I had to stay focused the whole time to make sure I got all the cables to cross in the right direction, and I can proudly say there are only a few tiny mistakes! All those were done when I was knitting during an evening with friends. FOCUS, remember?

I learned how to do a tubular cast on for this! Part of me wanted to be lazy and just do a long-tail and get it over with, but then I gave myself a stern talking to about 'putting in the extra effort' and 'you're already going to spend ages on this what difference is this little delay going to make'. The instructions in the pattern didn't really make sense to me at the time, but I found this tutorial really clear and helpful. After all I'm stoked I went the extra mile, the edges are so pretty!

I did the front and back first, since those were the most daunting parts. The entire thing was knitted on these really fancy interchangeable circular needles I got at the shop when there was a huge sale (+ my employee discount) and after finishing the back I noticed I had forgotten to change one of them after switching needle sizes when the ribbing was done, meaning that the entire back was done with one row in one size and the other a half size smaller. WOOPS. After finishing the front no one could tell the difference though, so I decided against frogging.

After this it was down to the sleeves, which were a breeze after that huge chart. All I had to do was keep track of my increased. One of my colleagues once gave me the tip of knitting both sleeves at once so they're exactly the same and I've been doing that ever since- it also feels like it goes faster.

This pattern requires a lot of yarn, so I went for Cascade 220 since it's a very budget friendly option and I liked the quality, having used it for a scarf before. I also managed to get the right gauge, which rarely happens! While knitting I was a bit worried the sweater would be too small after all, but it stretched a bit with blocking and the result is exactly what I wanted: not too oversized because the bulk of it would overwhelm me, but not tight either. Even the shoulders are in the right place! As you can see, I'm very comfortable and mobile in it.

It's also VERY warm.

I'm actually proud of myself for finishing this. This thing was on my list for so long, and I think I made it at the right time (but maybe not the right season).

Now it's time to get back into sewing and finish some drawings!

06 april 2018

On The Inside Of This Marble House I Grow

I like blogging. It's a great way for me to document the things I create. I try to take nice pictures, because if you're taking pictures anyway, why not make them nice? But that sometimes means standing outside in the cold while people look at you funny.

So, yeah. That's a bit of a downside, and a reason why most of my old posts were photographed in deserted industrial landscapes! But hey, I made a two piece set to wear, and wore it when it was not nearly warm enough for a trip to Brussels to meet with Laure.

This is another Deer & Doe pattern, the Zephyr dress (or in this case, the crop top and skirt). I'd been eyeing this one for a while but knowing that I could probably figure out something similar myself always held me back from buying it. But then the lazy side of me won and I remembered Deer & Doe patterns tend to fit me really well, so I got the pdf! It is a very simple pattern, and I like how all the different versions are split in different files (with two separate files for the skirt and top!) so they make it even easier for lazy me to print only the pages I need.

The fabric suggestions for this are medium-weight knits 'such as ponte or scuba' with at least 40% stretch. I tend to ignore stretch percentages, measuring the pattern pieces instead and maybe sizing up if I'm afraid my fabric isn't stretchy enough, and I wasn't too worried since the suggested fabrics are ponte and scuba, and those aren't that stretchy, right?

Well, you better find that unicorn super stretchy ponte if you want to make this pattern as drafted!

At first I had cut the waistband, arm- and neckbands from self fabric, and quickly realised that wasn't going to work. The waistband especially is tiny (it's ten cm smaller than my waist and actually fits my head pretty well) and even cut from a stretchier fabric it would have created a spectacular muffin top, so I ditched the self fabric and cut everything from black cotton ribbing, with a bit of extra length in that waist. Instead of relying on the ribbing to keep everything up I inserted some elastic into the waist. Solved!

I also deepened the armholes a bit since I wanted those bands on the outside like the neckline, and not turned to the inside and topstitched as per the instructions. This fabric is a poly/viscose mix and didn't like to be pressed, so I topstitched all the bands down to keep things smooth.

The top is pretty short as drafted, so I turned under the tiniest baby hem I could and stitched it down. I briefly considered finishing that with a band as well, but thought it would look weird with the waistband. The skirt hem is finished with a bias tape facing, thankfully the fabric was stable enough for that!

I was a bit worried about using this dark fabric for something more suitable for warmer weather, but I thing I'll even wear this without tights. Or, as Eleonore said, you're going to look pale as hell but it will be fine! (Not an exact quote, but you get the gist)

27 maart 2018

Birds Are So Last Year

I went to London for the weekend! And managed to take some pictures of a new shirt! We did take these on our last day, very early in the morning, so you'll just have to forgive my bed head and sleepy face. I had a hard time actually having my eyes open in these.

This is the Mélilot shirt by Deer & Doe, a pattern that had caught my attention a while ago. I've been looking for a few tops that would work with a variety of bottoms, and this one fit the bill! Deer & Doe patterns tend to fit me really well out of the packet, and this was no exception. I did make a muslin first because I liked the fabric I had set aside for this and didn't want to mess it up!

This is a loose-fitting shirt with a cut on sleeve, finished with a little cuff. There's a long-sleeved version as well and I'll probably try that in the future! The fit is loose and relaxed, but the side seams are actually very curved and there is a bust dart, so it's not shapeless at all. I used a lightweight linen-viscose mix from the shop I work at, and I like how light and drapey it is.

There are some wrinkles in the back, but this seems like a necessary evil with this type of sleeve... I moved around a bit in my muslin and fet like I shouldn't remove any fabric there, since that might impair my mobility, and we definitely don't want that!

(You don't exactly need eagle eyes to spot it but if you look closely you might see the reason I went to London and why I was tired when we took these pictures)

I liked the construction techniques used in this pattern a lot, they made for a very clean finish! My fabric is quite loosely woven and tended to shif around a bit, so I basted the pockets and sleeve cuffs in place before topstitching them. Even then it feels like my topstitching could be a lot better, but I don't think it will be super obvious.

I'm kind of sad I didn't document the impressive size my arm had swollen to the night before.

I really hate sewing curved hems by turning them under twice, and this hem had a really significant curve at the side, so I made things easier and used bias tape. I did make about 20 meters of bias tape out of a lightweight cotton in one go since I thought the storebought kind would be too heavy and decided to just make a lot of it to use on other things! It was... Boring.

After all that I thought the perfect finishing touch for this shirt would be a little beaded bee. Because bees make everything better.

I have a bit of a complicated relationship with shirts and shirt dresses... Collared dresses seem to make me feel like I'm in a uniform or something, and shirts have to be loose-fitting, since fitted shirts remind me too much of the ones I would wear to school in 2005. It's hard to explain. This is definitely a winner though, and I already have a second version in mind!