28 september 2016

Oh hi. I'm on a temple. In shorts.

Anyone still here?

We got back from our three-week adventure in Mexico with a backpack full of souvenirs, sand and some awesome new memories. Basically, we travelled from Mexico City to Oaxaca, on to San Cristobal de las Casas, to Palenque, to Mérida, to Chichen Itza and then to Tulum. Then back to Mexico City and home! It was quite a lot to do in three weeks but we never really felt rushed and saw some amazing things (if anyone's interested I can write a post about it, it's just too much to add to this one. WE SAW SEA TURTLES)

Anyway, I'm now going to post the most unflattering pictures I have ever taken for this blog.

Here's the deal: we were staying in San Cristobal and wanted to travel on to Palenque to visit the ruins, then stay there for the night and take a bus to Mérida in the morning. However, the tour we booked (and got up BEFORE 5 IN THE MORNING FOR) never showed. So after waiting for two hours we decided to try and get there by colectivo (a shared taxi). It worked! After a long ride through tiny mountain villages we arrived in Palenque. And it was TROPICAL. So here's me, trying to enjoy temples while being the sweatiest, stickiest mess I've ever been in my life. And wearing Teva sandals.

Thank god for my new pair of short overalls. And a few friends to help me take pictures.

I made a pair of dungaree shorts a while ago, but they were pretty roomy even then and since I got smaller they started to look almost clownish. So when I found a nice blue denim at Pauwels Stoffen (sadly no longer open) I decided it was time for take two.

I started with the Burda shorts I posted about here and changed just about everything. The original pattern was a bit too large so I removed about ten cm from the waist all around. I also removed the pleats in the front and omitted the cuffs. Then I redrafted the pockets to be more of a curved jeans-style pocket, hacked up the waistband so the shorts had splits at the sides instead of a fly front and added a bib and suspender straps. Whew!

This is the closest view you'll ever get (and want) of my sweaty butt. Also: hi, fellow tourist!

One thing I really paid attention to was to angle the point where the straps attach to the back bib thing. I don't know why but every dungaree pattern I've tried so far (two, haha) had the straps going up in a straight line, causing them to look all twisted and weird when I put them over my shoulders (does that make sense?). It works a lot better this way.

The only thing I would change is to make the front bib a bit smaller, I was scared it would be too small so I went overboard and now it gapes a bit. I dont really mind, and added one of my favourite patches ever to the front. It was a nice contrast with how bloody happy we all were to be on our trip!

Next up: even more shorts, also in Mexico, and maybe pictures and stories of what we did if anyone wants to read that!

04 september 2016

I packed all the essentials. Bug spray, sunglasses, my entire library.

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to let you know that I'm leaving for Mexico tomorrow and since we'll be travelling around for three weeks I don't think there will be a lot of blogging going on!

I have packed a few new handmade items and hope to get some nice pictures of those... I won't post them until I get back, but here's a sneak peek:

Dun dun dunnnn!

I also got a snazzy new sketchbook:

I've already started sketching some things for a little project I've had in mind for a while, but I really hope to do some drawing in Mexico as well! Maybe between all the eating and walking and looking at stuff we've planned.

If this works out it's going to be FUN
See you all in three weeks! I'm in good company, and I'm sure it will be awesome as long as the trip doesn't turn out like this.

24 augustus 2016

I feel like a fancy snake.

The third (and so far final) wedding of this year was a pretty massive one! My dear friend Hanne got married, which is awesome already, but six sewing friends got together to make her wedding dress for her, so to say I was stoked is an understatement. I used the opportunity to dive deep into the stash and cut into a piece of fabric I've been hoarding for a long time! Lieke and I took some time between the wedding ceremony and the party to take some pictures, so I wouldn't have to dress up all over again at a later date:

I have had this linen hoarded for years. It's loosely woven from a rather thick yarn, and super drapey. The base fabric is dark blue, but it has gold brushed over it to give it an amazing texture and loads of shine. It doesn't quite show up on camera so you'll have to take my word for it, but it looks really good in motion!

It's wrinkled because it's linen and I sat down to eat cupcakes. Deal with it.

I had a few ideas in mind for the dress and then changed my mind loads of times. I decided to draft my own pattern, starting from my bodice block, and made no less than five (five!) muslins before I settled on a design. It wasn't that hard to get the fit right, I just kept changing my mind about necklines! The low back is about the only thing that remained the same throughout the process. I experimented with cowl necklines (nope) and pleats (ok but boring) before settling on a pieced bodice front and a faux wrap back.

In the end, the bodice was super easy to draft. All it took was some dart rotation and some slicing! I'm posting a sort-of tutorial at the end of this post.

Construction was very straightforward as well. I inserted some boning in the slanted seams to give the drapey linen a bit more structure, and used stay tape on every single diagonal seam to prevent stretching. This step was very needed since thos loosely woven fabric wanted to change shape as soon as it was touched! I did notice some gaping at the back after fully constructing the thing, not sure if this was something I missed in the muslin stage or some stretching (despite my precautions). This was solved by cutting the shoulder seams open (argh!), taking them up a bit and hand-sewing the lining in place again.

The bodice has a waistband (basically a rectangle) to give a bit of stability at the waist, and the entire thing is lined in a black cotton voile. I'm wearing one of those bra band things you wrap around your waist to keep everything hidden, and this worked a treat!

The skirt is unlined (because warm) and it's a very simple flared skirt, but I inserted a godet at the back to add a bit more interest. It doesn't add any volume (the back skirt is just pieced instead of extra volume added) but I like how it reflects the lines of the bodice!

I was bang on schedule with this dress, only needing a hem and some hand-sewing on the lining the evening before the wedding, but then the aforementioned back gaping happened. And when I had fixed that and tried the dress on, the hem was about ten cm longer in the front than in the back. ARGH! So yeah, I spent some time unpicking a bias hem facing and redoing a lot of handsewing, and finished this at half past one in the morning. WOOPS! I managed to stay awake the entire day, danced and ate my butt off and had tons of fun. All the love for sewing friends!

I'm cracking up in the top picture because Joost was way too close to the camera.

And here, as promised, a sort of tutorial for this bodice. It's wayyyy easier to do this with a pattern without seam allowances, and I shortened the mine to account for the waistband before making these changes! You'll also need to know how to rotate a dart.

(click to see a larger version)

15 augustus 2016

"What is it?" "Salt!" "No, that's too salty!"

Looks like I took an involuntary blogging break there! There's an even longer one coming up soon because I'm going to Mexico for three weeks in September! I'm sewing some things to pack though, so expect some... pictures of sturdy and simple easy-to-care-for clothes. Ahem. Photographed in Mexico!

Anyway, today I went to see my mother for Mother's day (which we crazy Antwerp people celebrate in August, suck on that) and dragged my brother away from his studying to take pictures of me on the rooftop garden. Mom, if he fails his exam IT'S MY FAULT OKAY?

I have made the Sewaholic Saltspring ages ago and wore that dress to bits (literally-  one of the straps has come loose and it's patiently waiting for me to feel like doing some mending) so when I got this handprinted cotton at Pauwels I thought it was meant to be! (Pauwels is sadly closing by the way, but EVERYTHING is 40% off so go take a look if you haven't already!)

I still love how cleverly this dress is constructed. The lining is a bit shorter than the outer fabric so you get the blousy effect without the dress moving around too much. I made the shorter version due to Not Enough Fabric (not my own fault for once, it was the end of the bolt) and it's basically a perfect summer dress. Even my mother likes it!

This is what happens when my brother starts directing my poses. I also (finally) got a haircut and new color. There's so much blue now!

I made no modifications at all, except for changing the straps a bit (which I also did on the first version). Instead of having a strap in the front and one in the back and tying them on my shoulders I put two straps on the back and a loop on the front. No bows stuck under backpack straps!

The double straps also give a tiny bit more bra strap coverage. Constructing this dress went really smoothly thanks to the great instructions, but I would have changed one thing if I had thought about it earlier: the lining sometimes peeks out at the back (where the zipper is) because the shell isn't attached all the way. If you sew the dress according to the instructions it's the wrong side of the lining that's on show, which is fine in a solid fabric but looks a bit weird with a print. Something to keep in mind for the next one!

PS: I like to think I'm getting better at coming up with post titles. Here's where this one came from!

26 juli 2016

Very nice. Very basic. Very military - the Boyfriend

Guess what! I'm going to Mexico in September!

We had been thinking about this trip for a while but didn't get around to booking tickets until recently. We are flying to and from Mexico City and have about three weeks time to see things! We're not sure yet about how adventurous our trip is going to be, but we'll be travelling light, so bringing three weeks' worth of dresses isn't an option. I decided I wanted to make some shorts and bring those along with a few tops, a skirt and maybe some very light dresses. I finished some shorts last night so when I went to Ghent to talk business with this guy and go for a swim I took them for a test run!

I also found a jar of hair dye in a cupboard so now I'm bright blue again, yay!
The top is a simple copy of a top I already owned, made in a viscose jersey with a Vermeer painting on it. I like the idea of these paintings-printed-on-fabric but finding a pattern for them really isn't easy! This panel wasn't too massive though, just enough for a long tank. The fit is fine (since it's a copy) but I seem to have been a bit too generous with seam allowances on the armholes, since they're a bit tight. Not tight enough to want to redo them, though!

Here's a better picture of the shorts. I went through my collection of Burda magazines and went for this pattern. Burda patterns tend to fit me really well most of the time but for some reason these turned out a bit big. I went for a size 40 after taking my measurements again to be sure and had to take about 8 cm out of the waist and butt to make them fit, and they're still a bit loose. Taking more out of the center back seam would move the side seams too far back though, so I just call these my eating shorts.

Here's a jumping picture that doesn't really show anything! It just indicated the point in time when there were no more people around and our photoshoot became less stiff.

I used a khaki green linen that had been in my stash FOREVER. I'm not even 100% sure it's linen, it frays and presses like linen but it doesn't seem to wrinkle as much.

My photographer then convinced me to channel my sexy side. Little did she know this is an impossible task. I really tried.

By the way, check my fly-front zip! I challenged myself to only use the instructions provided by Burda to see if I could do it, and it was... Surprisingly easy. No problems, really. I had done a fly front before on my Moss skirts, so I kind of remembered how they worked, and suddenly everything made sense.

These shorts are a really good basic, and I like the length (not so long that they make me look like I'm on a jungle expedition, not so short my ass cheeks are hanging out). I'll probably make a second pair in a textured woven cotton, but remove the front pleat and use jeans-style pockets instead of the slanted ones here. Maybe even back pockets if I have enough fabric!

I'm going to leave you with what might be the most awkward blog picture I have ever taken. This is what you get when your photographer has never done this before and you're both super hyper and hungry:

'We need a picture of the back!' 'YES'

18 juli 2016

I heard you like ravens...

I got to release my inner party animal this weekend when my friend Maarten hosted an animal-themed birthday party! Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while (or knows me in real life) knows I'll take any chance to show up in a costume, but on this occasion I didn't have a lot of time so I had to work with my closet. Thankfully there are floor-length black flocked velvet dresses in there, so I only needed a mask to make me a raven. Or something. The Ravenclaw jacket I had made earlier was the perfect finishing touch for when the evening got cooler, so we headed to the field next door for a photoshoot.

I had this dark blue velvet in my stash for a while (as you do) and I wasn't really sure about what to do with it, since velvet can get really cheesy real fast (coming from someone who is dreaming of a green velvet trenchcoat...). In the end I went for a real tried and true pattern: the Rigel bomber by Papercut patterns.

This was the fourth Rigel I've made, and I still love it (one, two and three here). It's a remarkably quick pattern to sew, and it works for SO MANY fabrics. I made the size medium with no modifications and added a lining.

But the real surprise is in the back! I wanted to add a few Ravenclaw touches without being totally obvious, so I cut a raven silhouette and some moon shapes out of silver pleather and hand-stitched them on. As you do. It might be a bit much but I like it a lot!

At this point my friend Hélène decided to help me take my pictures. We both only wore our masks for a short while during the actual party, they look cool but it's hard to stuff your face with a beak of fox face. I made mine by trimming a store-bought papier maché mask until it fit my face better, adding a paper beak and feathers and then painting the entire thing.

She really liked that field.

I've made this jacket three times before, so I can't really tell you anything new about the construction. This velvet seemed to be way easier to work with than the black stuff I used for my Beekeeper's dress back in the day, it didn't slip around nearly as much... The only thing I had to baste was the zipper, and I noticed it turned out a bit asymmetrical. I might rip it out and do it again sometime (probably not).

At this point my friend Nena and the birthday boy also joined the fun, and any hope for serious pictures was lost forever. Maarten managed a few jumps on his bare (!!) feet and the rest of the pictures is mostly everyone laughing like crazy. It was a pretty good weekend!

10 juli 2016

I've never felt so trendy. Witness the glory of the midriff.

Finally! I have been sewing like crazy these past few weeks but my photographer was absent most of the time so we never really had an opportunity to photograph anything. Yesterday was an amazingly nice summer day so when a friend invited us over for lunch I put on my new skirt + crop top set and snuck some pictures in her garden.

Hang on, crop top? Yep! I took a page out of Hanne's book and made my own matchy outfit. Check it out, almost looks like a dress, right?


This was a pretty easy make. I used this Burda pattern as a base because it fit me well and it didn't need closures, and just eliminated the sleeves. And then chopped quite a bit off the length. The skirt is just rectangles and a waistband. Short rectangles since I didn't have that much fabric (I feel like I've been saying that a lot, maybe I should get over my delusion that I can make anything out of 1,5 metres of narrow fabric)! I like the proportions in the end though, a longer skirt would have made it less playful.

The fabric is a yarn-dyed hand-woven cotton that I bought at Bolt in Portland on our trip over there. It was a dream to work with, and is perfect for this in my opinion: enough body to make it look structured but still soft and breathable. I completely abandoned any pattern matching on this though, especially on the back. I couldn't cut it on the fold because not enough fabric so there's a seam, and I ended up taking a chunk out of the waist because it was just too wide so now there's an eyesore of a mismatched seam. Look away, Sewing Bee judges! I did finish all the edges and hems with bias facings, which have been hand-stitched down. Can I get some points back for that?

I did my first ever exposed zipper using this Megan Nielsen tutorial. It's not perfect, but I'll definitely do one of these again (I'm actually planning to sew this exact outfit again in a lightweight denim... And paint it of course). The only problem I have with exposed zippers like these is that the metal teeth are right next to my skin, which can both get hot or cold depending on the weather.

I also painted eyes on the backs of my shoes so I can always spot my enemies. Or something.

I wore this to a friend's garden for lunch first since this is a pretty new silhouette for me, and I wasn't sure how comfortable I would feel with a short skirt and a top that shows skin where I'm definitely not used to showing skin (I haven't even worn a bikini in years). In the end I felt all right in it, so this is an experiment that went well!

Bonus picture of Morris, my friend's awesome cat. The only reason he's not desperately trying to escape my arms here is that there was a bird outside.