17 maart 2019

Intergalactic Mechanic

I've seen boiler suits pop up all over the place recently, and thought that was a trend I could get behind! I don't think I've ever made a jumpsuit before (dungarees don't really count) apart from a romper that has long been gone because of being too big. I liked the idea of all the possible details on a boiler suit, and went looking through my stash of Burda magazines (I try to look at those first before falling for a shiny new pattern since I feel like I don't sew from them often enough... The problem is that it takes a while to leaf through all of them before I - maybe - find what I'm looking for). Burda didn't disappoint, and I found a pattern in the February 2016 issue that ticked all the boxes: sleeves with little tabs to soll them up, shoulder tab things, a collar, lots of buttons, a fitted waistband (for some shape) and pockets. I made a muslin and then dove into my fabric, which resulted in this:

Burda patterns tend to fit me really well, although the back tends to be a little too wide for me. I chose a size based on my waist and hip measurement since there seemed to be enough ease around the bust, and the muslin fit almost perfectly! There was just a little excess fabric in the back of the shirt part, and I fixed that by removing some of it and making the back pleat a little less deep.

My fabric is a plain black linen/viscose, but you might have noticed that I added a few details. I've done almost the exact same thing to two other garments before, but none of those get worn that often anymore (the first one had become way too big, the second one indecently short after a washing incident... I should hem that and make it into a top). I cut out my pattern pieces and then used stencils and some fabric paint to add the stars. This seemed like a good way to not end up with stars in awkward places! After constructing I added more smaller dots to tie everything together, and make a sort of Milky Way across the body.

Sewing this was a lot of fun! I enjoy patterns with lots of small details, and this had loads of that and some topstitching to keep me busy. Burda instructions are notorious for assuming you know everything already and don't need any actual explanations, but this was pretty smooth sailing (maybe because none of the techniques were that new, I've made both shirts and pants before... The only step that had me stumped were the sleeve plackets, and I think there might even be a few mistakes in there, actually. I read that part ten times, still couldn't make sense of it, looked up a few tutorials and figured it out on my own. Boom.

I didn't really change anything about the pattern, apart from leaving off the waist ties (I thought it would look too busy and I didn't have enough fabric anyway) and slightly tapering the leg instead of adding an elastic cuff. I think I could have done a bit more tapering since the hem is still pretty wide, but it looks fine rolled up.

This was also the day I discovered the edgestitching foot that came with my machine, and OMG. My old machine had a similar foot but it was less sturdy and not as neat, so I usually didn't bother. But this thing makes topstitching both fast AND accurate, and it has resulted in what might be my best cuffs ever. On a garment I'll usually wear with the sleeves rolled up.

I wore this for a day in Charleroi, at the Papier Carbone festival. Was it way too cold for a linen jumpsuit? Admittedly, yes. Did I wear leggings and my warmest undershirt hidden underneath all this? You bet. I loved wearing this and even got a big thumbs up from a girl working there who asked me if I'd made it myself.

I'm not sure if there is room for another boiler suit in my wardrobe, but this one can stay.

27 februari 2019

Tell Me A Story

I've been a bit quiet lately, mostly because I've been working on a larger project! And I might need your help. I had the idea a while ago to make comics about things I did as a child and never told my parents about- partly because some of these things were quite funny and also so I could finally come clean to them. I made a few quick storyboards and thought a collection of stories like these would make a great book. The only problem was that I was a pretty good kid, and I don't nearly have enough material!

So that's where you come in. Did you do something naughty/silly/stupid and managed to hide it from your parents until now? This can range from stealing a doll to setting a house on fire, so please don't think your story is too small/insignificant. If you think of something and would like to see it as a short comic, please let me know! You can e-mail me at caramin.anneke(at)gmail.com

05 februari 2019

Bowie Goes To Hogwarts

Sometimes I get these ideas in my head. Ideas for things that aren't necessarily wearable on a daily basis, or things I just want to make without a clear reason or occasion. Like a suit/waistcoat combination in a slightly extravagant fabric. I knew I was probably going to look like a sofa, but still couldn't help looking at jacquards and velvets. And then I noticed this piece of burgundy/purple velvet I brought with me from my latest trip to London.

What kicked me into gear was the Sewcialists and their menswear month. I wanted this outfit to be inspired by menswear, but with a few feminine accents. The result just looks very seventies, which goes to show that those labels of 'masculine' and 'feminine' really don't mean much anymore.

I used the Palazzo pants by Kommatia because I made these before and like them a lot. They are very wide but don't actually use that much fabric: I cut these trousers (with added length so I could wear them with heels) and the waistcoat from 2 yards of fabric! I did cut the waistband in two pieces (inside and outside) instead of one folded piece because I thought a double layer of velvet would get too bulky.

For the waistcoat I looked through my stash of Burda magazines, and found what I was looking for in a bohemian hippie collection. The magazine version was lined in shearling with the lining peeking out at the edges, so I ignored these instructions and figured out my own way. I sewed the shoulder seams on both the shell and the lining, pinned these together with the right sides together and then sewed around the armholes and neckline, leaving a part of the bottom open. I turned everything to the right side, sewed the side seams in one go (shell and lining) and pressed the bottom hem up to attach the lining by hand. I also added a black sparkly trim because I can.

The next question was: what do I wear under this? I felt like it would have to be a shirt, but I didn't want things to get too overwhelming. I bought this very lightweight cotton voile at a Dries Van Noten stock sale last year and decided to adapt the Grainline Archer for my purposes. I left off the collar and sewed the stand as a band collar, and slashed and spread the sleeves to make them gathered (and more dramatic). This fabric was a bit shifty while cutting but surprisingly easy to sew, and I took care with my finishing, using french seams all over the place.

This was one of those projects that ended up going a lot smoother than expected. I find that some velvets are absolute hell to work with and need two lines of hand basting and a thousand pins just to stay in place, while others are just like 'yeah fine, sew me bitch'. This one only protested when I tried to attach slippery lining fabric (for the pockets and the inside of the waistcoat) to it, but nothing that basting thread couldn't help with.

So there you go! I wanted to try this and I'm happy to say it worked out. I feel like it's sometimes tempting to make 'safe' choices when you're sewing, especially with more complex projects. After all, if I'm putting so much time into my clothes, I kind of want to be sure that I'll actually want to wear them! But maybe I should go by my impulses a little bit more often.

29 januari 2019

It Has Come To This

A few years ago I said that making my own underwear was not on the horizon. I have a pretty standard size, and finding bras that fit me was never a problem. But recently I started thinking that it could save me some money (bras are maybe the only thing that are cheaper to make than to buy) and allow me to make things that look the way I want them to (I'm very picky about prints, lace and the way things feel!). And if it didn't work out I could always get something from Hanne.

The downside is that Belgium might be one of the worst places to look for lingerie supplies, so while I was waiting for my underwires to arrive in the mail I decided to get started with something easy and try the Watson bra. I liked the longline band and thought it could be supportive enough to wear under looser tees and sweaters, and the end result is even better than expected!

It took me two versions and some pattern adjustments to get to this version, made from a very thin (and stretchy) black and gold mesh. I was between band sizes and went for the smaller size first (32D), which was a mistake: it was uncomfortably tight in the band, but the cup size seemed ok. I tried again with a 34D and while the fit of the band was spot on this time the cups were gaping at the center and at the side. I took a wedge out of the bottom of the cup at both sides and out of the side of the cradle, making the bottom curve of the cup more exaggerated and the cradle a bit wider. This glitter version was the third one, and it fit really well!

I had been using plush back elastic for the bottom of the two first versions, but found this golden elastic in my stash and thought it matched the mesh too well to pass up. All I did was align the elastic with the bottom of the bra (with the wrong side of the elastic on the right side of the bra) and stitch it down at the top with a triple zig zag stitch. After that I trimmed the mesh underneath away, since this elastic has a very soft back and I wanted that on my skin.

I like the way the straps are attached and noticed my favourite bras have them sewn on the same way. Not entirely sure about having the sliders in front, I'm a little worried it might show through/look weird under some shirts.

After that little victory (and wearing it for an entire day) I steamed ahead and used the last scraps of my precious glitter scale fabric to make a second version. I had to throw print matching out the window, but feel like this looks pretty cool!

I pretty much constructed all these as per the instructions, with one major change: I lined the entire bra with powernet for support (especially in this stretchy mesh). At first I was a bit worried that this would be too firm for a pattern designed for pretty stretchy material, but as it turns out this resulted in something super comfortable that still looks good enough to wear as a proper bra (and not just for inside the house). 

Using a lining also makes the insides look very neat and tidy, except for that cup seam of course. I was a little worried that could get irritating, but it hasn't so far. I could probably figure out a way to cover that seam up but... who is going to inspect the insides of my underwear?

Now let's see what happens once those underwires get there...

25 januari 2019

My Inner Grandfather Is Wide Awake

I seem to have a subconscious goal in life to be able to dress myself head to toe in my hair colour. That would explain why I keep making things in different shades of dark green/teal. Or maybe I dye my hair that way because I like the colour?

We had this yarn in the shop for a while, and while I loved the colour (obviously) I never really paid it much attention. Until I realised how well the slighly fluffy mohair mix would work for a textured sweater, like the Brooklyn Tweed Cascades. And then we had a sale on yarn, with my employee discount added to that, so I caved and got it.

Now, I seem to still have a fear of knitting fitted things. I'll check the measurements, knit a swatch, measure it and then conclude that the size I should be making will be impossibly small, so then I'll size up. And then it usually turns out on the large size. I fought this instinct with my Stonecutter (with great results) but gave in on this one. The result is pretty baggy, but it's so nice and warm I don't even care anymore!

The sweater is knit in the round from the bottom, which gives a nice seamless finish, but makes checking the fit a bit tricky. I might also have been a bit enthusiastic while I was knitting the body and a bit tired during the sleeves, because this thing is quite long (and the sleeves are a bit short). It's a very nice stitch pattern though, after a few repeats I knew it by heart and didn't need the chart anymore, which made it a bit more relaxing to knit than the Stonecutter.

I like the combination of tiny cables and moss stitch, even if I did mess up the moss stitch in two places (and these rounds are LONG so going back 400 (cabled) stitches in this fluffy yarn to fix it was too much to bother with). The rows of cables give some interesting lines to a plain raglan sleeves sweater. There are a lot of twisted stitches in here, which give a subtle but interesting extra bit of texture.

I lovingly call this my grandpa sweater because, um, it kind of reminds me of a grandpa sweater. Which can be a great thing. It's cold and miserable in Belgium right now, and I'm happy to have a few handknit sweaters to wear on days like this!

11 januari 2019

Camouflage For The Urban Jungle

About a year and a half ago, I tried drafting a bodice block for the first time. It worked out all right, got a lot of use and still fit me reasonably well, but I had drafted it without sleeves, adapting the armscyes for a sleeveless body from the start. Recently I thought it would be a good idea to at least have the option of sleeves (and I wanted to know if I could draft them) so it was back to the drawing board!

I started from scratch instead of trying to reverse engineer the armscye, and a few days of scribbling and sewing muslins followed. The main problem was trying to find the perfect balance between the sleevecap height and the size of the armhole, but after a few tries (and some advice from sewing friends, thanks guys) I landed on something I was happy with (it looks like it fits AND I can lift my arms!).

So what does one do after going through all that? Why, make a sleeveless dress of course!

Look at this great picture from really far away so you don't see any details.
I bought this cotton lawn along with the fabric for my black jeans because it was pretty, and fully intended to make a floofy dress out of it. All I had to do was make my brand new block into a sleeveless bodice, scoop out the neckline and add two giant gathered rectangles for a skirt!

I'm quite pleased with how the fit on this bodice turned out! The instructions in the book I used were a bit... random at times. They don't tell you to go by measurements to place the bust point, but just say something like 'this much down and this much to the left'. I did it their way first and corrected this after the first muslin. I also changed the dart placement a bit and rotated the shoulder dart into the side seam.

The shoulder darts on the back were tiny so I just rotated them out entirely. I'd rather put that shoulder dart action into a back seam, especially on a print! I went with a v-neck in the back for this one, since that's nice when it's warmer. One thing I did make sure to do is mark the 'lowest' points on my block pattern, meaning te lowest a neckline can go before my bra shows/things get indecent. Same for how wide a neckline can get before I need extra action to keep bra straps in check.

I lined the bodice in cotton voile and used some leftover Venezia for the skirt lining. I did make sure to make the lining about half the size of the outer skirt since that was already poofy as hell and I didn't want to go too crazy! It gives a nice amount of volume now, and makes sure the cotton skirt doesn't stick to my tights.

I tried SO HARD to make the print match across the back, but the repeat was too big and I didn't have enough fabric. Boo! Thankfully it's not too obvious in this busy print, but it was still frustrating (because I know I can do it!). I do like how my poppy tattoo kind of looks like an extension of the dress. In black and white then.

All in all it's a pretty good first result from this new block. It fits well and I still have room for food. Maybe the next thing I use this for will have (gasp!) sleeves!

29 december 2018

Swishy Fish

I made these wide-legged trousers a while ago, and since they only made me stumble once (despite regular wear) I thought it would be safe to make a winter version. The idea of swishing around in shiny wool seemed like a good one, and I pulled out a fabric I'd bought in Toronto during my vacation there. The pieces were cut during an evening of work/play at my friend Karen's appartment, and we took some pictures when I visited her at work!

These are the Kommatia Palazzo pants, which I've made before in linen. This wool has a lot more body (although it's still quite drapey) and I really like how the shape gets more pronounced! Sewing these was very quick (the most time-consuming step is the fly front and even that is not such a big deal), these were done in two evenings!

I didn't topstitch the pockets on my first version and regretted that ever since because the pocket lining kept peeking out (it has been fixed with some hand stitching) so I made sure not to skip that step on these. It still shows a bit (which is what tends to happen with this type of pockets and bright contrast linings) but not nearly enough to bother me.

I also noticed in my previous versions that the waistband tended to grow and relax too much, even with interfacing. I had a leftover piece of an interfacing with rows of stitches running through it, which is usually used in jackets, and I used that for the waistband. The stitching runs parallel to the length of the waistband and acts as a kind of staystitching, so this thing does not give. They won't be my eating pants, but they won't fall down either!

I did forget that I had added length to my summer version (after a warning from Eleonore) and didn't do that for this one, so these are finished with the tiniest bias faced hem. I'm not exceptionally tall and having something come out short (when it's not intended to be short) is a rare occurence!

I like how these are both basic (dark wool herringbone fabric) and dramatic (there's some silver woven through the fabric and of course those wide legs! A heads up about fabric quantity: The pattern says you need 2,40 meters but I had 1,5 yards and got them cut out without puzzling. I'm not sure if this still applies to larger sizes, but you don't need as much fabric if you're making a size small!

The t-shirt I'm wearing with it is another slightly modified Renfrew (neckline raised, side seams straightened for a boxier fit). I made this to wear to our latest elections so cut out the word 'Lies!' in white flock foil stuff and ironed it on. It's gotten a lot of wear since then, and caused some confusion!