11 februari 2018

This Is One Of Those Origin Superhero Movies You Might As Well Skip

Those of you who follow what happens with Freesewing know that Joost published a pattern for the coat Benedict Cumberbatch wears in the BBC adaptation of Sherlock. Cosplayers and coat-lovers rejoice! Those of you who have followed me for a while know I've been thinking about making my own Sherlock coat for AGES. I actually got to the point of adapting a Burda pattern, cutting everything out and starting to tailor the front, but then it got put aside (warm weather) and I lost so much weight the coat was going to be too big on me anyway, so that project got ditched.

*my dream*
 (Just a heads up: this is going to be a lot of talking and some really shitty pictures, no big fancy coat reveal! Yet.)

So, I'm not sure exactly how we started talking about it, but Joost and I decided to combine our skills to make a pattern for that coat. And because we both wanted one, it had to be a version for people with and people without boobs. People, this thing has been a LONG time in the making. I got tasked with researching the Coat, and thus spent a lot of time reading threads on cosplay forums. Most of my research meant finding hi-res images of the coat that could give us a clue about shape, size and proportion. I put together a file with my findings that had this as the first page:

Joost might have had second thoughts about working with me at this point, but he didn't show it. I ended up hitting the jackpot on a forum and found someone who owned the actual coat in a men's size large and had taken detailed measurements. This was immensely helpful for the way the freesewing patterns are drafted: they are all written in code and change according to the measurements of the person they are drafted for. This is super cool and saves a lot of time in the long run, but it also means you can't just decide 'these buttons are 10 cm apart' and be done with it. Nope, we (and by that I mean Joost) had to calculate what percentage of the entire waist circumference that distance was, so having measurements taken from a coat (and putting a size chart next to it) was really handy.

At this first stage my role was mainly sitting next to him with my knitting and giving unnecessary comments. There was a lot of debating about the angle of the topstitched triangle at the top of the back pleat or the curve of the lapel, but all in all the drafting went pretty smoothly, and soon the pattern was ready for a first muslin (which is where I got to feel useful!). This muslin was surprisingly ok (apart from a mishap with the collar) and after some tweaking the pattern was pretty much done, way ahead of schedule! Things got a bit busy for Joost at this point though, so the project was abandoned for a month or two, after which we discussed how to tackle the women's version. The conclusion was that most of the changes one would make to turn a men's coat pattern into a women's coat (narrowing the shoulders, waist and sleeves) would be taken care of by the whole custom patterns thing, so all that was left was to create a way to do an FBA. We decided a princess seam would be the most elegant option, and got pretty chuffed about how well this was going.


This is where my muslin-sewing journey started. I literally don't remember how many I've made.

The first version was... Not so great. The side front panel was very curved at the top as well, which made for a shape that could only be filled by someone with literal melon-shaped boobs. After tweaking that things looked better, but we noticed the armhole was really high and tight (I made that very first muslin without sleeves since we only wanted to check that princess seam). At first it seemed like it would be a quick fix, but further research showed that the way the FBA worked did some weird things to the armhole, and things seemed to really fall apart when different measurements were entered. BUMMER. I felt pretty shit about this since it was turning into so much work for Joost, who has plenty other things he wants to do as well. The next version had solved the armhole problem but things had gone a bit too far the other way: it was now so low the whole coat was lifted up if I lifted my arm, also resulting in a sleeve that was about 6 cm too big all around. Joost made ANOTHER version of the pattern to fix that armhole issue and I ended up taking some more width out of the waist, shoulder and sleeve, resulting in a muslin that could be called 'very promising'. Whew!

After all this I gathered all my supplies and started on this coat. I've made some coats and jackets before but never one as tailored as this, and I felt like I should do it right! Cutting all the pieces of fabric, lining and interfacing took an entire day, and I spent the last few days basting and pad stitching. It's all very very new, there are no instructions for this pattern yet and it all kind of makes me feel like this:

Frankly, this is how I feel most of the time
Things are going well though, and for those who sat through that entire story, here are some progress pictures:

I used hair canvas on the center front panels, attaching it with a permanent basting stitch, pad stitching the lapels and taping the front edges and roll line. Silk thread and beeswax were my best friends during this bit!

Most instructions tell you to use hair canvas on the entire front, but I thought things might get too stiff/bulky so I used a lightweight fusible interfacing on the side panel instead. SORRY TAILORING PEOPLE.

All the pleats on the back are basted closed right now to keep them crisp and out of the way during construction. I added interfacing to the armhole and shoulders and also added a heavy muslin back stay. I decided to support the pleats with a strip of hair canvas (cut on the cross grain since it seems to pleat crisper that way). I'd seen something similar on kilts and from what I can tell now it gives the pleats a nice amount of body! I also figured the waist seam could do with some stabilizing and reinforcement as well, so I cut a selfedge strip of muslin and basted that to the seam allowance. The top edge of that has been attached to the back darts, and after stitching the waist seam I pressed the seam allowance up and cross-stitched it to the muslin strip. No idea if that's a 'proper technique' but it makes for a nice straight seam!

Next on the agenda: assemble the sleeves, collar and front! There's also inseam pockets with a welt coming up. As I said, it's all new and intimidating but I'm having a lot of fun with this! Hopefully I'll have a nice new coat to show you soon.

02 februari 2018

Time For Shameless Self-Promotion

I don't really do New Year's resolutions, but one thing I did want to do was get a bit more serious about my artwork. I've been selling prints of my art for a while now, but it was a bit of a hassle (you had to e-mail me to get a Paypal invoice) so I bit the bullet and opened not one, but two shops!

The first one is an Etsy store, to replace the whole 'e-mail me and we'll work something out' thing I had going on. I'll be using this to sell zines and prints, and I'm planning to add small items like patches and pins in the future, so keep your eyes peeled!

me shilling my wares

Now, I actually have a lot more ideas for things I want to make available, but tedious and boring things like not having the space and budget to make and stock all the t-shirts in all the sizes were holding me back. So instead I opened a store on Society6! I have uploaded a few designs and you can get them on all kinds of stuff, from bath towels to coffee mugs. I know for a fact Hanne already got herself a new phone case.

Another thing I did was create an online portfolio to showcase just my drawings. I felt like I needed something I could show people that would clarify what my artwork is like, without all my usual rambling. So if you want to see what I've made over the past few years, head over to angrygirlsclub.com!

At the moment I'm working on lots of different things: there's the Carlita coat Joost has just made available on freesewing (but that deserves at least two posts on its own) and I've been drawing a lot, like this picture proves:

The friend who took this conveniently cropped out the toddler I was entertaining, but hey!

So yeah, that's what I've been doing. It's been a lot of administration, scanning and editing things and figuring out stuff, but I'm really excited to see how this goes!

21 januari 2018

I Am Not Using The Obvious Title

Although 'Ich möchte ein Eisbär sein' would have been perfect, if not a bit cliché.

Me and a few friends try to have a (themed) Christmas party every year. It's more an excuse to get together and make a costume, so we do it at the end of January (when everyone is kind of free). This year we decided to combine Halloween and Christmas into one, and I just finished my costume:

One thing I always try is to make a costume with things I already have, and keep it low budget (and not too wasteful). I've had loads of white faux fur in my stash for so long, I don't even remember where it came from, so I decided to do something with that. Polar bears are kind of wintery, so how about a killer polar bear cape?

Constructing this was... Interesting. I had never done anything like it before but thought it would be best to have a solid (and lightweight) structure on my head and let that support the shape of the head and bear the weight of the cape. I constructed a very basic shape out of strips of leftover cork leather and paper, and covered that with a thin layer of papier maché.

I wanted the teeth to have a realistic feel to them, so I sculpted them out of this oven-bake polymer clay. I gave them a flat piece at the top and poked holes into that so I could attach them to the base later (which was a good idea since I'm not sure glue alone would have been sturdy enough). I also sculpted and painted eyes!

In the end I sewed the teeth to the base with sturdy thread and used a bit of glue to keep them in place. I attached the eyes in the same way and started thinking about fur!

I draped pieces of fur over the snout portion first, and secured them with pins (this is where the lightweight paper base came in handy). The fur was sewn in place by hand, rather roughly, but the stitches disappear between the hair. I made sure the entire front was covered and cut away some of the fur to make room for the eyes and nose. Then I used the hood pattern piece for the Huey Hoodie to cover the back. I cut it a little larger in the front so I could make a fold and create an eyebrow ridge for added realism. After this I just had to sew on some ears, splash on some paint and the head was done!

The last step was making the rest of the cape. I used more polymer clay to make claws, and drafted two front pieces and a back with legs and a little tail.

The claws were sewn onto the plain cotton lining first, and then the lining and fur were sewn together (by hand, at a friend's house one night) and turned right side out. All I had to do then was attach the head/hood to the cape and bam!

I'm not sure if this will become a wardrobe staple, but I had a blast thinking and making this up. I've always wanted to do more elaborate structures in costumes, and this was a promising start!

Now, as a bonus, for those who thought we had gone to some kind of wilderness to take these pictures:

That was on the other side of the camera. There was some honking.

Now I only have to find a suitable name for my new polar bear friend...

01 januari 2018

Year In, Year Out

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a lovely time. I had a nice dinner with friends and watched the fireworks from an attic window in their new house. We also tried to take a family portrait:

I haven't posted much the past month, not because I haven't made anything but just because most of the things I'm working on are long-term projects. So instead of a nice series of photos of a finished thing I now give you some rambing about loads of different things. And a skirt.

I spent a large chunk of my time knitting these past few weeks. The Stonecutter pattern has been on my wishlist for AGES but I was too chicken to go for it, so then I bought the yarn and bullied myself into starting. It took some experimenting with swatches to get my gauge right and I have to stay REALLY focused on the cable charts, but I can proudly say the back is almost done, with only one obvious mistake (which I'm not correcting):

The yarn is Cascade 220 because this is a yarn-eating beast and I have to keep a budget in mind, but it's lovely to work with so far. I was a bit worried about wether or not the cables would show up well enough in a dark colour but I love it!

There's been quite a bit of drawing as well. I made a sticker!

It's something I had in mind for ages and just finally got around to doing. I've been handing these out and putting them up for the past few weeks, and it's exciting to see them pop up in different places!

I've also been sketching for a project that sort of fits this Angry Girls Club theme (and this other Medusa drawing I did earlier this year). It's also a good excuse to draw naked girls on goats.

I usually don't do resolutions, but this upcoming year I want to try and spend more time making things just for the sake of it. A lot of my creating is done with a purpose, either because it's a comission, or I want to make it into something I can sell, or it's an item of clothing I need or want for a specific occasion. Earlier this month me and my friends Hélène and Nena got together to make papier maché Christmas decorations, and it was so much fun. We were using our hands just for the sake of it, without any pressure, and it felt really refreshing! I gave most of mine away, but kept a skull and a unicorn:

Nena was a bit more ambitious and tried to recreate the Koekelberg Basilica. I spent the night at her place after New Year's Eve and we went outside in the rain to try and get a picture that accurately represents how well her project turned out:

We failed.

Which brings us to one of the only finished things I'm going to talk about: a golden skirt. I got this beautiful sparkly fabric at the Dries Van Noten stocksale earlier this year and decided to let it shine by using it for a simple circle skirt. I'm not sure what it is, but it feels like a wool with golden threads woven through on the right side (the wrong side of the fabric is black and soft). I wish my pictures did it justice but alas, the rain made it into a pretty miserable experience.

This is just my basic circle skirt with a straight waistband and an exposed zipper in the back. I added a lining because the wrong side of the fabric is a bit textured, and I didn't want it to catch on my tights too much. The fabric is really really gold in some light, and a bit more subtle at other times.

So. Cold.

I'm going to finish by saying something about a bigger project me and Joost have been working on for... over a year now? We wanted to recreate the coat Sherlock wears in the BBC version, and I can proudly say that the men's version is now available on freesewing.org! There is a women's version in the works and I hope we can get that done soon, because I have some beautiful coating here that's just begging to be made into something...

08 december 2017

Exhibitionist Denim Jacket

I bet that title got your attention!

A week or two ago a friend at Kop vzw got in touch about an exhibition they were organizing, and asked me if I wanted to join in. It would be an art show about jean jackets, where different artists create pieces on the back of a jacket. This had my name all over it, the only problem was that the deadline was... A bit tight. Like, I only had two weeks. And of course I was going to make a jacket from scratch, I mean, was there any other option?

I panicked at some sewing friends who all told me to suck it up and just do it. A trip to the fabric store behind the corner got me some 100% cotton non-stretch denim (yay!) and I knew I was going to use the Hampton Jean Jacket since it looked closest to the shape of my own favourite jacket. The only problem was that the denim looked so... New. And a bit too dark. At first I tried to tell myself that I could fix this by distressing whilst sewing, but deep down inside I knew there would have to be an extra step. So this conversation with my mother followed:

"Mom, can I fill your bathtub with bleach?"

"Yeah sure, what are you making?"

I can be a clumsy idiot at times and I have really bad airways, so my denim-bleaching outfit ended up looking like this:

I'm happy to say that I managed to bleach two and a half meters of fabric without completely ruining my clothes, lungs or eyes. It was very much worth it in the end, since it gave the fabric a way more worn-in feel. So how did the jacket turn out?

Well enough, I'd say! I was really impressed by the finishing techniques used in this pattern, it resulted in a very professional look, including some of the cleanest welt pockets I've ever seen on an unlined jacket. (the pocket openings seem weirdly tiny though, I forgot to check them but as you can see I can't really fit my hands inside) I was sewing on a deadline but still tried to take my time to get things right, especially since the jacket will be up for sale. I used sandpaper to distress every seam before topstitching, but decided not to overdo it, since the back of the jacket was going to be the real showstopper. This is also why I chose to go for a matching thread colour for the topstitching.

But what about that backpiece?

I don't know if the linguistic subtleties can translate to a different language, but you might be able to deduce that this says 'Fuck Everything'. To be honest, I was incredibly excited about creating a piece for this exhibition, but I didn't really have an idea about what exactly I was going to do. Until I woke the boyfriend one morning saying "what if I just make all these pretty and happy flowers with felt and embroidery and then just add a banner that says 'fuck everything'?"

"Yes. Do it." was the answer.

This took longer that making the jacket itself. I traced the back on pattern paper for size and sketched my flowers and banner, then decided on a colour scheme. After this I traced the drawing onto the back of the jacket (to have a reference for placement) and cut all individual pieces out of felt. At first I wanted to cut the letters out of felt as well but thought the tiny details would get too messy and inaccurate, so I used a satin stitch to embroider them on. All other felt pieces had details added and were then sewn onto the jacket. I finished by adding the stems of the flowers and breathed a sigh of relief!

If you look closely you can see my blood, sweat and tears.
Seriously, I'm really happy this worked out. It's pretty much exactly what I had imagined, and it's a rare and happy occasion when projects just turn out the way you want them to!

If you want to see this jacket in real life: the exhibition opens on Friday the 15th of December! You can find more information here.

27 november 2017

The Velvet Cat Hair Magnet

Those of you who have been here for a while know that I like me some dungarees. They're like the pants equivalent of a dress, being almost an entire outfit by themselves, which appeals to my lazy side. I have wanted to make a dungaree dress for a while now, since that would solve the only huge problem I have with the pants version: if I'm wearing a hoodie or cardigan as a top layer I have to take all that off before I can go to the bathroom and that's fucking cold. Also: it seemed like it could look cute. Behold!

As for a pattern, I started with the Grainline Moss skirt and added a bib and straps. People have been raving about the Cleo since Tilly released it but while I'm not at all opposed to the occasional potato sack of a dress I thought that one would make me look too much like a giant toddler. I think it's because it's all one straight piece instead of a skirt with a waistband and added bib?

I had made the Moss skirt before when I was just a baby blogger, and always meant to get back to the pattern (but somehow never did). Both of those old skirts are way too big on me now and the green one is long gone, but I salvaged the floral one by shortening it and wearing it lower on my hips. My measurements put me between a 4 and a 6 so I played safe and went with the larger size, and I'm glad I did! It might be because this velvet has no give at all, but this thing shouldn't be smaller than it is.

Eagle-eyed people might notice that I added back pockets: I thought this would make it look more like a denim dungaree dress (in velvet). Less eagle-eyed people might see that I totally messed up the placement of the straps: they were supposed to cross in the back but my brain obviously wasn't working and by the time I noticed the seam had been trimmed and I couldn't be arsed to unpick everything.

I didn't want any topstitching since I don't really like how that looks on velvet, so I hand-hemmed everything and sewed the front and back pockets on by hand. I wore this to a brunch with dear friends so I accessorized with a brooch that says 'leave me alone', as you do. (the brooch is no longer available but you can get the same text on a snazzy hat)

Here's me acting all tough and then posing like a twee fucking sparklecupcake
One thing I had forgotten about this skirt: IT IS SHORT! I thought the pattern pieces looked tiny so I traced the longest length (from the size 18) but even with a tiny bias-faced hem it's still barely decent (and completely undecent on a bicycle. Coat-closed skirt, this one).

Do I have room for another dungaree dress in my life? Surprisingly, maybe not. But another Moss skirt might fit in there.