21 juni 2016

I'm covered in ink. It's awesome.

Hi guys! No sewing today! I have one finished dress to photograph and show you, but the truth is that I spent the past few weeks working on a pretty big project!

A while ago a few friends contacted me with an idea. They had wanted to start a little collective for a while, a group of arty people who made fun things and sold them together at markets. I thought this could be the perfect thing to give me a kick in the butt and get me to draw more, so I was in right away. We gave ourselves a deadline and went to work, and a few days ago launched De Veranda.

I had decided I wanted to sell printed tote bags, but the success rate with lino printing isn't that high so it would be a pretty massive investment if I had to take the amount of misprints into account. I looked into getting them digitally printed but again, printing small numbers of anything gets real expensive. So I bought a shitload of blank canvas totes, turned to a friend who is awesome at screenprinting and begged for help.

so fast the camera can't even capture it.
I had done a tiny bit of screenprinting before, but never truly from scratch. Charlotte helped me prepare the frames and got me going. It went super smooth with two people (one printing and one putting away the bags) and we managed to print 70 bags in a few hours!

Screenprinting is a really cool way to get designs onto paper or fabric. You basically turn a very fine screen into a detailed stencil by coating it with a light-sensitive emulsion, covering the parts you want printed, exposing it to light and washing away the unexposed bits.

Ink is spread on the screen and then pressed through onto the paper or fabric. I chose to print my designs in one colour each, but you could make different layers and print in more than one colour!

Now, how did the bags turn out?


I'll be selling these in person in Antwerp on Saturday the 25th (come say hi if you're around)! But if you really want a bat bag (or you understand Dutch but live too far away and want one of the two others) email me at caramin.anneke@gmail.com. Bags are €10 each + postage!

I also made a few magnets! These have a diameter of 37 mm and are €3 each + postage! 

I'm really happy with how these things came out and hope you like them as well! Keep your eyes peeled for more...

09 juni 2016

Cosmic Dalmatian

Quite a few people I know are getting married these days. Which is awesome, because it gives me a reason to sew impractical fancy dresses I'd never get to wear otherwise! And also, you know, love and stuff. That as well.

Joost was sweet enough to invite a few sewing friends to his amazing wedding a while ago, and even though we all knew a long time beforehand there were still a few late nights involved to get our outfits finished! I knew exactly what I wanted to do but just... Didn't get around to it in time. It happens. Here's the result though, and I'm thrilled!

Look, here's a super dramatic photo that doesn't really show any details at all. I call it 'building the tension'.

I made a silk Nicola dress a few years ago (for another wedding) and thought it was a perfect pattern for such an occasion: nice and dressy, a few special details and not too fitted so I can eat lots. Winner! This time I decided to lengthen it into a maxi for extra drama.

With the pattern sorted I started my search for a fabric, but I had a pretty small budget and couldn't really find anything that screamed my name. So of course that small voice in my head started shouting: 'just paint your own fabric! How much time can that take anyway!'


In the end I bought a very budget-friendly navy woven viscose and went to town. The sewing came first, and was pretty uneventful. I tried on my first version of this dress and found it was a bit too large, but this was solved by making the overlap a bit bigger (which also solved the cleavage problem I had before!).

To lengthen the skirt I just measured how long it should be in the back, chopped the skirt pieces in two and lengthened accordingly. Sewing this was really quick, especially once I got past all those darts! I followed the instructions, using a slightly crisper cotton for the facings to help the drapey viscose keep it's shape, and didn't line the skirt for maximum flowiness.

The sleeve hems are finished with a self bias binding that I handstitched in place instead of topstitching. This was going to be a FANCY dress, and topstitching felt too... Easy. Haha! For the hem, I turned it under twice and did even more handstitching. Still not as much work as the painting!

That was basically my face at one in the morning when I realised I had not even done the sleeves yet.

At first I had these ideas of painting stars or florals all over it, but the tiniest hiccup on that would look very amateurish very fast, and I had no time for a backup. So in the end I took a small brush and silver textile paint and just made a stippled gradient from the shoulders to the hem of the dress. It looked a bit dandruffy when I started but the finished effect is really nice! A cosmic dalmatian, thus explaining this post title.

I used two dainty buttons, one for closure and one for symmetry, and made my first thread chain ever. It was super easy and quick to do, but I made it a tiny bit too large I think. I made a sudden movement during my bike ride to the venue and almost flashed a park full of children. True story.

Speaking of bike rides, this dress sadly isn't that bike friendly. I used a safety pin to keep it closed and my underwear hidden, but removed that as soon as I arrived. There were no problems while standing/walking/eating/dancing though!

Hanne, Lieke, Stephanie and me were super stoked to be invited to Joost & Sorcha's wedding, and we all had a blast. Joost made his own wedding shoes! With purple soles! I tried to wish them the best of luck with a handmade card that got a bit out of hand:

Next up is Hanne's wedding! But maybe we should try and finish her actual wedding dress before worrying about our own outfits...

02 juni 2016

Hallo Kevin

(Just a heads up: there's an image at the end of this post that might be considered sliiiightly nsfw. But hey, you shouldn't be reading blogs at work anyway. Unless that's your job of course. Lucky bastard)

I went back to Berlin! And I packed a pair of dungarees that I barely took off since finishing them. Take a look:

That doesn't say too much, I know but we'll get there!

I had bought this stretch jeans from the Sew it Up shop a while before (no link since they sadly closed up) and figured I'd give another pair of dungarees a try, with a different pattern this time. I made the Turia dungarees before and was happy with the fit in general, but thought It needed a lot of tweaking the actual construction before it looked like a 'real' pair of dungarees... So when this pattern popped up in a recent issue of Knipmode I did a little dance.

Now, I don't know about your experiences with these patterns, but they tend to run HUGE on me. I haven't made too many of them since they aren't really my style most of the time, but the previous pattern (a maxi dress) was so large that I ended up chopping the top off to make it a skirt. This pattern was designed for stretch jeans, and when I compared the size I was supposed to cut according to the sizing chart with a pair of stretch jeans I own and like the pattern was almost 10 cm larger all around. There would have been a clown pants situation if I'd just cut the size I needed according to the size chart!

In the end I'm pretty happy with the fit (no muslin, yolo). The closures at the hips have a bit of strain and gape going on, partly because I changed the slanted side pockets to more jeans-style curved pockets and could only use two buttons instead of three. This pattern has loads of topstitching and jeans-y details, like a fake fly I finally understood the instructions for right after doing it wrong. Ah well!

I topstitched with regular thread since, again, sort of wearable muslin, but I'll go through the pain of changing thread all the time next time, promise! The finish on these is pretty clean inside, especially on the top. The front and back bibs are completely lined and there are no raw seams to be seen, unless you take your pants off completely.

I added some rivets because I love hammering away at things, but the jeans buttons really gave me a headache this time. I use these Prym kits that include a little tool to install the buttons and never had a problem before but they seem to have changed the thingy to something way too floppy, so the buttons wouldn't stay in place properly and got crooked and misaligned. I messed up a few times, went looking for the old thingy from a previous kit and bam, problem solved. Better hang on to that.

Now, I wasn't in Berlin just for a vacation! I had an appointment with a German tattoo artist in Amsterdam, but when she had to cancel the trip (and our appointment) I realised that a cheap ticket to Berlin costs about the same as a train ticket to Amsterdam, so I took the trip. And after two and a half hours of pretty intense discomfort (but still not as bad as I expected) Laura Yahna sent me back home with this (look away mom):

It's almost fully healed by now and I LOVE it so much. It looks like it breathes when I take deep breaths!

Anyway, we had two days before my appointment (and one day after but I felt like I had been punched in the ribs by then so couldn't do too much crazy stuff) and we spent most of that time hanging around with our host Miro and other friends. It was a really nice trip, and I already want to go back again!

For those of you who are wondering about the title of this post: my friend Karen gave me the most amazing buttons for my birthday, and these have been on these dungarees since I finished them, but I took them off since I wasn't sure about what security would think about all the pins and didn't want to risk anything! For Dutch-speaking people who still have no idea what this means, look here.

22 mei 2016

For my next birthday I want party hats.

I try to make a dress for my birthday every year. And then I forget to post about it or don't get around to it. WOOPS! Maybe it's for the best, since I wore this for my birthday party and spent the entire day eating. Crumbs and a food baby, not a great look!

I bought this fabric on a whim some time ago and thought a simple silhouette would be best, so I gave my bodice sloper a slightly higher and wider neckline with a v-neck in the back and added a slightly flared gathered skirt. There are some small things that still bother me but overall it's LOVE.

The fabric was a bit of a beast to work with. (And I only had a small piece to begin with) It's a viscose with a bit of wool (!!) thrown in, and it's loosely woven and super shifty. It also grows if you so much as look at it, so I decided almost immediately after cutting that a normal lining would never work (by the time I'd get to attaching shell and lining the shell would be two sizes bigger than the much more stable lining), so I decided to underline the bodice only and left the skirt and sleeves unlined.

Look at my glaring pattern repeat, my glaring pattern repeat is amazing!

Doing this also made sure the dress would remain fitted through the waist and bust. After washing the shell fabric has stretched and warped a bit, but I actually like the wrinkles it created. It sort of suits the fabric!

Hemming was a bit of a beast. The fabric is very lightweight so finishing the hem with bias binding would be too heavy, but just doing a rolled hem would have been way too unstable. In the end I stitched lightweight seam binding to the hem edge at the right side, turned it up once and hand-stitched it in place. I used the same method for the sleeves, and managed to keep everything under control.

The back seemed to have stretched out while I was sewing (or even before since I did stabilize those edges) so it was gaping a bit at first. The neckline was finished last with a bias facing and I was debating unpicking that so I could take something out of the back shoulder and try to fix the gaping, but washing the dress fixed the problem for me. Yay!

Remember how I mentioned falling down in a trampoline park in my previous post? This was two days later, and the bruise was really coming in by then. I got a lot of 'what the hell did you do' type questions during the following week.

I wore this dress again to see Andrew Bird in concert, which was amazing, as expected. The boyfriend and me made it to the fleamarket at the Vossenplein before the show, and the boyfriend found us a new pet:

'Go stand in front of that pixellated meat, it'll be hilarious!'
If I manage to take care of this super fine and fragile fabric I expect to wear this dress loads of times. Love love love.

19 mei 2016

What to wear when you visit the King.

... Not really though.

Every year the royal conservatories are opened to the public for a few days, and this year we didn't forget about it, so me and a few friends spent a morning strolling around looking at plants and architecture. Very rock 'n' roll.

(But seriously, it's very cool)

Anyway, I was wearing a new dress and we took some pictures in the park!

(Disclaimer: these pictures aren't the best. I fell down trying to do tightrope walking in a trampoline park the night before- really- and my right arm and leg were developing bruises at this moment. All better now though!)

This is a Butterick pattern, B6168 to be exact. I hadn't sewn a Big 4 pattern in AGES, not necessarily because I don't like them, it's just that there's so many of them. I rarely ever buy patterns these days, except when something really catches my eye. I have a well-fitting bodice block and a decent stash of patterns and Burda magazines I can change things about!

This picture was taken right after the first one. Born to model.
 I liked the details of this dress (the neckline, midriff pieces and sash ties) and cut a straight size 12 in a cotton from the stash. I won't make it again anytime soon though, and that's because it's a fabric-eating monster! I used my full three yards of cotton, cut the ties from a plain black viscose peachskin and still had to chop 20 centimeters off the skirt pieces to make them fit. I'm trying to sew from the stash as much as possible and I just don't have that many 4-metre cuts of suitable fabric around...

This might be one of the most awkward pictures I've ever posted, but it shows the details quite well. The fronts close in a faux wrap, with tucks for shapins and a little tab to keep everything together. There's a midriff with two gathered ties that can be tied in the back. They can also be left off since the dress is fitted on its own, without any need for cinching!

People often complain about the ridiculous sizing on Big 4 patterns, but I personally never had an issue with this. I'll always check my own measurements and compare them with the finished garment measurements, which has always worked out. If there are no finished garment measurements I'll just measure the pattern pieces and make a muslin (or in this case, cut a straight size and cross my fingers). I do seem to have a very average body shape, so huge alterations are rarely needed. Sorry (not sorry).

I had this print lying around for a while, and really like it. It's all globes and pieces of different types of maps, but some of them almost look like slides under a microscope, so it makes me think all these super deep thoughts about seeing both details and the bigger picture. Or maybe I should get more sleep.

I like this dress, but I have to be in the right mood to wear it. Maybe it's because it's more fitted and has more cleavage than what I've been making lately, but it's not a dress I'll grab for just any day. It will get a lot of wear though, and maybe I'll make a second version of this pattern if another long piece of fabric comes my way again! It was a lot of fun sewing the thing.

I will now leave you with pictures of plants and architecture:

Now these guys are born to model <3

(Oh and a PS: today at work I got recognized by a reader! I'm so sorry if I was a little weird or grumpy, I had returned home the night before from an awesome but exhausting trip to Berlin, and with a fresh tattoo (heads up: may be a bit nsfw) covering the left side of my ribcage. I'll be nicer and less awkward the next time!)

09 mei 2016

Brick walls actually have quite a few stories to tell

Some of you might know that I have a parttime job at a Belgian chain store that sells sewing supplies, accessories and hosiery. I'm responsible for the creative corner and quite enjoy it, since I can spend about 20 hours every week talking about sewing or knitting. My main annoyance is that salespeople are required encouraged to wear hosiery, jewelry or other accessories from the shop. I don't mind the hosiery part since I live in black tights for about 8 months of the year (free tights!) but I'm not crazy about the jewelry selection (too many rhinestones, not enough skulls or eyes) and my part of the store gets super hot, so scarves are out of the question.

This small issue kept coming back, but I think we found a solution! The store carried a small selection of cotton prints before, but has recently started to focus more on dress fabrics as well. The latest offerings aren't even all poly! So I managed to arrange a little trade: if something catches my eye I can take it home and make something out of it, for free, as long as I wear it while I work. This is one of those makes:

Eagle-eyed people among you might notice that I have made this pattern before, in red lace. It's essentially a lengthened top with two bust darts and wide sleeves, and I like it as much as the first one!

The drape of this dress is a bit different since both fabrics used here are a lot lighter than the red ones. The lace is nylon instead of cotton (and a bit stretchier) and the underlining is a plain viscose. I did exactly the same thing as before: sewing the shell and underlining separately and basting them together before inserting the sleeves and finishing the neckline.

The neckline is finished with a narrow bias facing, which was handstitched in place. I actually prickstitched through all layers since I was worried the viscose wouldn't be sturdy enough to stay flat. It worked out well and the texture of the lace makes for an invisible finish.

This lace had a very clear repeat and doesn't fray, so it was perfect for a scalloped hem. It's been washed a few times now and still holds up fine! I just made sore the lace motifs matched up at the seams and carefully cut away the fabric to create the scallops.

I really like the drapiness of the wide sleeves! It makes a plain shift dress a bit more interesting. It will go into the closet for a while now though, since it's definitely too short to wear without tights! Funny how a thin layer of skintight nylon makes such a difference.

I like this dress a lot and get quite a few compliments on it, but I don't think I would have made it if I hadn't gotten the materials for free, honestly. Both me and my coworkers feel that the fabrics we sell tend to be quite overpriced... Fine maybe if you live far away from any real fabric stores, but if you're used to a way larger selection and lower prices it's a bit silly! Anyway, I'm just happy it's not all polyester anymore. Now please rerelease that amazing digital mountain landscape fabric on a cotton sateen instead of that stuff that looked like bathing suit fabric but wasn't. I'd even pay full price for that one.

29 april 2016

Here to help.

I have a small confession to make: I don't do it all on my own. There's a helper. He's called Jakkepoes and even though he looks legitimately pissed off all the time, he's the biggest old sweetheart there is. You have to earn his trust since he's a bit shy, but when he's at ease he'll charm the pants off anyone (even reducing a vet to giggles about 'those little toe fluffs!')

And it's this helper's birthday! So I thought I'd put him in the spotlight.

This little guy was born two days before my 10th birthday, meaning that he's now been a part of my life for seventeen years already! He's still very strong and healthy, a bit calmer and stiffer than he used to be of course, but I did see him run around the appartment after a ball of paper just yesterday...

No matter what I'm working on, he's always there to lend a helping hand. Here he is, watching the scraps of my master's project:

He will also happily guard my sewing notions, even though sitting on small metal things really isn't that comfortable:

One of his biggest skills is drafting patterns. I'm not sure how exactly he does what he does, but it involves sitting on the paper as soon as it's unrolled.

Sometimes his activities are so secret I'm not even allowed to watch.
When things get more complicated, rolling around is often the solution.

After pattern drafting or tracing it's on to cutting the fabric! Again, I'm getting more help here.

We do sometimes have artistic differences. These mostly involve me picking him up and putting him somewhere else, and him returning immediately. These discussions can get a bit frustrating.

Guess who won this argument.
I usually solve situations like that by giving him his own piece of fabric to do with as he wishes. It works for the both of us.

I think we make a really good team, even if he lacks opposable thumbs. Happy birthday little buddy, and keep up the good work!

He's not helping me here but I'm posting it anyway because OMG CUTE FLOOFBALL!