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!

23 maart 2018

The Lengths I Go To For A Pun

Some time ago, I tried to find fabric with a hand print. As in, not necessarily hand printed, but with actual hands printed on it. TRY FINDING THAT. So in the end I decided to just do it myself, and go through a great deal of effort to be able to point at my shirt and say 'It's hand printed. Get it? Heh.'

It was also below freezing the day we took these pictures so it's a miracle not all of them look like this:


First things first: the fabric! I picked up this lightweight grey denim in Paris with Hanne last August (don't go to Paris in August btw, everything is closed). In hindsight it was maybe a smidge too heavy for a shirt, but this does make it warmer and I suspect it will soften up in the wash. I carved two hand stamps (a right and left one) and got printing one evening. It didn't take too long to cover the entire length of fabric because I went for a kind of random placement, not even trying to create a repeat. I also left a part of the fabric blank because I thought the smaller parts of the shirt would look better being solid (since the hands were bigger than those parts anyway and would be cut off).



Printing fabric like this really isn't that hard and you don't need a lot of materials. I do make my life easier by using a block printing ink for textiles that fixates by drying for a week at room temperature. Nothing worse than ironing each printed section of a few yards of fabric for five minutes straight.

(If you are interested, I wrote a pretty detailed post about block printing fabric here!)


Now for the actual shirt! I used the Grainline Archer again, but sized down a bit after remeasuring myself and measuring the pattern pieces. My previous plaid version still gets worn loads but I wanted a slightly slimmer fit on this one.


I cut the entire pattern on a single layer to have more control over the print placement. The body, sleeves and pocket have hands on them, but the cuffs, button band and collar are solid. I had plenty of fabric for once so this was smooth sailing!


There's not much I can say about the construction of this shirt that I haven't said before. The only time I looked at the instructions was for the sleeve placket, and I used this method for the collar and cuffs (which I always do by the way, it just seems both easier and more accurate in a way). The yoke was sewn using the burrito method and the side seams are flat-felled, but I have to admit I didn't topstitch the sleeve seam. This was already tricky on my previous version, which is two sizes larger, and this fabric was a lot less flexible. I decided to let that fight pass.


The hem was finished with bias tape to reduce bulk, and then my shirt and I were ready to go hang around with friends and watch them roll their eyes at my joke. Another friend also said it looked like the hand of Saruman, which can only mean that I... Secretly wish I was an Uruk-Hai? No idea.

16 maart 2018

And Now For The Action-Filled Sequel!

As I said in my previous post, I finished my Carlita coat! Joost and I actually had this whole idea for a nice photoshoot in a cool location, but then he got sick and we kind of had to scramble to find a moment before he left on a (well-deserved) vacation. But hey, it all worked out, and here are our coats!

We had to ask a stranger to take our picture.
So at the end of my previous post about this coat I had tailored my coat fronts and back. Next I assembled fronts, inserting a welt pocket into the seam right below the bust. This was way easier (and less scary because no slashing fabric) than a 'proper' welt pocket, since it's basically an inseam pocket with a welt added to it. Pocket pocket pocket. After stitching the princess seam I could attach the patch pockets! Both the pocket and pocket flap are lined in a not-quite-matching lining material to reduce bulk. I often see instructions telling you to trim 1 mm away from the lining edge to make it roll under nicely, but when researching for this project I came across someone who said it was way easier and more accurate to just stretch the lining pieces 1 mm beyond the shell fabric edge. Super simple, but super efficient! I slipstitched my pockets on so there wouldn't be and visible topstitching. It looked great, but wouldn't be the end of that saga yet!


After this came the sleeves. I do have to say here that I had been cautious with transferring my changes from the muslin to the pattern: part of me couldn't believe I had to take out SO MUCH fabric and I was scared that the final coat would end up too small with all the added bulk from a thicker fabric and all that interfacing. So when I inserted the sleeves and tried the thing on for the first time, it was still quite big, and a bit of a bummer. The shoulders were still too wide, and there was still a lot of excess fabric in the sleeves. So I spent a day trying to fix it: I unpicked the sleeves, took some fabric out of the coat side seams and slimmed the sleeves down by the same amount, then tried again.


The size of the sleeve itself was better, but along the way the armhole had gotten a smidge too large, meaning there wasn't enough ease in the sleeve head, making it look a bit sad and droopy. I made my own shoulder pads from hair canvas and cotton wadding (so much fun) and added a strip of wadding to the sleeve head, but had to face that it could look better. So the things came out again, I took some more out of the side seam to make the armhole circumference smaller and tried for a third time. SO MUCH BETTER!

 The fit still isn't perfect, but by that time I felt like I had done everything I could to improve it as much as possible. The entire front is actually a bit too wide across the shoulder, meaning there's some extra fabric bubbling there and I can't quite fill out that princess seam! I do think these are things other people won't really notice when it's being worn, especially not with my giant scarf draped over it.

I then went on to the collar. I had cut my under collar on the bias, and reinforced it with some more canvas and pad stitching to help it keep its shape. After that the under and upper collar were sewn together, pinned to a small tailor's ham and steamed into oblivion.

My favourite part of this coat is the back. I overlapped those belt pieces as far as I could get away with to cinch in the waist a bit more, and I just love the dramatic pleat action going on here! We tried to capture the look of that back in action, and I made some gifs out of that for your entertainment:

I think he scared the shit out of the cyclist in front of him






So by now the body of the coat had been assembled and I tackled the lining. I assembled the front lining pieces and facing first, since I wanted to make an inside pocket and didn't want to maneuver the entire lining under my sewing machine. The lining colour is almost impossible to photograph but it's a very dark aubergine colour, which was the best colour I could find (that wasn't boring navy blue).



Next came putting everything together! I basted the collar in place and attached the lining and facing, using a million pins and loads of basting.  I stitched all around the coat, sandwiching the collar between the two layers, and stitched the facing to the coat at the hem length. This was all carefully trimmed and graded before I turned the whole thing right side out and gave it a good press. Again, I went for no visible topstitching, so I used basting stitched to keep all the layers in place until everything was finished. The rest of the hem was turned up and hand stitched so it would be invisible, then the lining hem was attached by hand. Whew!

Now came one of the scariest parts: buttonholes. My machine does a VERY basic four-step buttonhole, and I knew that would just look terrible after all this work. So instead I tried to make hand worked buttonholes. I spent two days practicing on scraps of wool and canvas (layered to mimic the actual coat), using contrasting thread to see my mistakes. I was also too cheap to pay the shipping for one roll of gimp in a colour I'd likely never use again, so I used my buttonhole twist to make my own. My buttonholes are far from perfect, but I started with the least visible ones in the back and by the time I got to the front they were looking okay (from a distance)!

There was, however, another minor setback at this point. It was a mistake in the pattern (which has now been fixed) but I could have picked up on it WAY sooner. Basically, the patch pocket placement is indicated on the side front only, which meant that it wasn't immediately obvious that the buttons would overlap the patch pocket. And of course, I never indicated the patch pockets on my muslin. ARGH. I ended up carefully unpicking and reattaching both patch pockets and pocket flaps to move them to the side a bit, and thankfully the earlier stitching and pressing hasn't done too much damage to the fabric. After this I could finally attach my buttons (which I had covered through the shop I work at, 10/10 would recommend) and add the finishing touch:


This was probably one of the most ambitious things I ever did, and a very steep learning curve. I can definitely see myself delving more into tailoring, it was scary as hell but also very fun!





I'm going to end this with a very very big thank you to Joost, for his help with the pattern and his eternal patience with my countless questions/panicky e-mails/crappy muslin pictures. Go follow what he does if you aren't already, because it will definitely be awesome.