17 december 2016

Yes, nature. I thoroughly enjoy those tree-things.

Do you guys remember the Colette Hawthorn dress I made a few years ago? I liked it a lot at the time (especially the fabric!) but it never really got that much wear. I gave it some thought and figured out a few things that bothered me:

- The length: I felt it was a bit too long on me and felt frumpy, especially combined with the sleeves and collar.
- The sleeves: I don't like wearing cardigans or hoodies over long sleeves, and I'm usually either too hot to wear longer sleeves or too cold to not wear an extra layer.
- It also got a bit too big, which added to the feelings of frumpiness.

These three things could be fixed. I considered taking the sleeves off, taking the sides in and rehemming the dress, since I loved the fabric so much. And then I had a massive brainfart and threw the thing into the washing machine with a red linen dress. ALL PINK.

So I did what any reasonable person would do: throw the dress in a corner, sulk, track down the fabric, buy it again and make a new one.

Ta daa!

This time I went for simple. I tweaked my usual bodice block a bit and added a short gathered skirt, so the Liberty tana lawn would have the opportunity to shine (I still love how this looks like birch bark or marble from a distance. It's actually a print of glaciers and mountains in Iceland).

I made the neckline scoop on my bodice a bit higher and a bit wider, and like how it looks. I eyeballed the whole thing (as usual) and luckily it still covers my bra straps. The bodice has been lined in a white lightweight cotton for a bit of extra structure and optimal comfort.

The back got a slight v-neck, because I like how that looks. I didn't really try to pattern match along the zipper or seam lines (because not enough fabric, again), just made sure the lines of the print sort of continued.

The skirt it two entire fabric widths, gathered into the waist and hemmed with bias tape. It's super fluffy! Maybe a bit too short to be worn without tights but this feels more like a winter dress anyway (maybe it's the print of the snow-covered mountains that makes it feel wintery. Hm)

I had recently adjusted my bodice block and got a really good fit the last time I used it, but this dress still turned out a bit too wide in the waist, so I'm wearing it with the same belt I wore the previous dress with. Mainly because I don't exactly own many belts. And this works really well.

So that's it, favourite fabric, revisited! I'm happy about the outcome. This final picture is me and the boyfriend testing if my breath showed up on camera as well. It was a cold day!

11 december 2016

But everybody's bones are just holy branches

Here's another music-inspired drawing I did! Me and the boyfriend went to see Radical Face in Brussels a few weeks ago. The concert was surprisingly hilarious, but also really really beautiful.

I decided to make a really simple illustration for one of my favourite songs of theirs. It's called Holy Branches and according to Ben Cooper it's about survivor's guilt. I liked the imagery of the song and came up with this:

I made this the way I make most of my simpler handcut paper drawings, by sketching a mirrored image on the back of the paper in white pencil and then cutting everything out. When I make more complex drawings or something with multiple colours I'll make a sketch on a piece of printer paper and transfer it to the different pieces of paper with carbon paper. Whew, lots of paper!

If you want to listen to the song this was inspired by you can check it out here:

(And check their other stuff as well because it's gorgeous)

01 december 2016

No more star jumps for now

Earlier today Hanne and me were driving back into town from a secret mission when we spotted two people in a bit of shrubbery along the road. One was taking pictures of the other, who was crouched between the greenery. Me and Hanne exchanged a look and just said 'Bloggers!'.

I was doing star jumps in a botanical garden just days before.

Me and a few friends visited Grafixx festival in Antwerp last weekend, and I wanted to get some pictures of a dress I made a while ago. It's wool and stretchy and wide and covered in stars:

This is actually a modified version of the Nettie by Closet Case Files, inspired by Stéphanie. I slashed and spread the front and back pattern pieces to get a swingy shape that was still fitted through the shoulders and lengthened the short sleeves to just above the elbow (finishing them with a band instead of turning and stitching the hem)

My friends Karen and Ed were very helpful. Ed is demonstrating my boyfriend's signature picture-taking stance.

The fabric is an amazing wool jersey I bought at Pauwels stoffen. It's very thin, light and drapey (and not scratchy at all!) but also quite warm! I made the dress and then decided to recreate what I did on this one (now sadly gone from oversized to clownlishly large). I cut some star shaped stencils and spent an evening painting. This caused a major print placement fail which sort of turned into a win:

See that low back? That was supposed to be the front. See that big ass moon there? I painted that on without thinking and it goes right underneath my boob. WOOPS. Thankfully this is not one of those fitted garments with a huge difference between back and front, and I solved the problem by wearing it backwards. I even like it more that way!

There's really not that much more to say about this dress, so I'm just going to post really silly pictures. At one point my friend Karen said 'Hey your dress has stars on it! You should do a star jump!' so this is a picture of me mid-jump, realizing I just kicked into one of the signs in the flowerbeds at the botanical garden:

And here is a more succesful shot, with an enthusiastic audience. The main disadvantage of short, wide dresses in lightweight fabrics is that your underwear is on show when you try this kind of stuff:

... And great fun was had by all.

I really like how the stars look on this dress. I liked the shape and fit but it felt a little plain without them, and the print livens it up a little without being too crazy. I used Setacolor metallic textile paints in silver and gold, and ironed the whole thing for a few minutes to set it. So far it's lasted well!

We had a great time at the zine fest (so many books!) but one of the highlights was being drawn by Benjamin Demeyere with a Mickey Mouse mask on my head:

I think he nailed it.

26 november 2016

Do your bones glow at night?

A lot of the drawings I used to make were inspired by music and songs I liked (see here, here, here or here). There's loads more of that in my teenage sketchbooks! The last few years most of my drawing has been 'functional' in a way, either work for other people or things I intended to sell. I recently got the urge to draw some things just for fun, and went back to one of my favourite subject!

The Veils recently released a new (great) album, and one of the songs immediately resonated, so I made this:
It's entirely hand cut out of black paper (by drawing the mirrored image on the back in white pencil and then cutting all the unnecessary bits away).

Here is the song, for those of you who want to hear it:

I saw them play live at Botanique in Brussels last night, it was a great show and fun was had by everyone, even my slightly sick boyfriend. I got to give the drawing to the band in person afterwards which was awesome!

Would you like to see more of these? If so, I'll keep posting them every once in a while!

13 november 2016

You just watch me jump in my stretchy pants.

I have made a proper pair of jeans!

There have been some forays into sewing pants or sewing with denim in the past, but I had never made a simple, basic pair of jeans before, mostly because I rarely wanted to wear one. However, my single pair of black skinny jeans (an impulse buy from a few years ago when I thought I needed maybe one pair of pants that wasn't paint-splattered) was getting a lot more wear recently, even though it's getting a bit too large. So I decided to give the Ginger jeans a try!

My boyfriend told me to try and look tougher.
According to the chart I am between a size 8 and 10, and decided to go for the size 8 since the denim I was using is pretty stretchy and doesn't have the greatest recovery. (I used it before to make these dungarees). This was intended as a wearable muslin so I didn't make any alterations. They fit pretty well straight out of the envelope, but I'm not sure if I want to be super nitpicky about the fit on a thing like jeans.

Sewing this was quite straightforward, and the instructions were very clear. I decided to go for view A, a low-rise jean with a stovepipe leg. I like my skirts and dresses to hit me at the natural waist but I don't really like how it looks on pants (especially with a contrasting top).

Making these without making a proper muslin first was a bit of a gamble since you can't really try them on until pretty late into the process. There aren't any huge fit issues though, so I could breathe a sigh of relief there. The rise is maybe a bit lower than I expected, but the waist fits snugly which rarely happens with storebought jeans.

I did mess up somewhere along the way, and it was while installing the front fly. I don't really understand how I can install a fly front zip perfectly fine using only Burda instructions and black magic, but manage to do so many things wrong when I have clear instructions and a great tutorial at my disposal. I screwed up the topstitching and had to unpick and start over (the fact that I was using a triple stitch instead of changing my regular thread to topstitching thread every five minutes made this unpicking even more fun) so the fabric looks a bit... chewed up in places. I also feel like the interfacing I used was a bit too lightweight for the tight fit of these jeans, and there's some pulling. I checked my storebought pair (which is a similar fit and made from similar fabric) and it feels like there's some kind of tape along the edge of the fly to keep things stabilized. I decided to not let it bother me enough to not wear these, especially since the majority of tops I'd wear with this hide the issues anyway.

So stretchy!
I also had to shorten the zipper by a considerable amount (the pattern tells you to get a 13 cm zipper and even a 12 cm one was way too long, I think the final zip is more like 10 cm) and of course managed to pull the slider off after assembling everything and attaching the waistband, so I had to do even more zipper surgery to avoid taking EVERYTHING apart or something. It worked.

This was not at all related to the above picture but I'm not going to keep posting close-up pictures of my crotch. Here's one of my butt instead:

I'm pretty pleased with the topstitching on this. The triple stitch stands out nicely and since it's slower than a normal straight stitch it almost forced me to be more accurate. I stuck with the pattern markings for the back pocket placement, mostly because the idea of pinning these onto my butt and stitching them on accurately after the whole thing was assembled gave me a headache.

So yeah, I might be getting back into wearing pants. I have some stretch jeans with a faux-leather coating around that might look snazzy. But for now I'm going to leave you with this:

Boyfriend: 'Do something cool!'
Me: '...'
Boyfriend: 'No, not that.'

03 november 2016

I'll call this business casual.

Me, unpacking fashionable Halloween accessories at work:

'Hey boss, can I dress up for halloween?'

Boss, looking at cute bat-shaped hair clips and dainty fascinators:

'Sure, that could be nice!'

Surprise surprise, this was what was behind the cash register on Saturday 29th:

(Sorry for the horrendous quality but by the time I got around to taking this picture I'd been wearing facepaint for ten hours and was too desperate to wash it off to wait for the boyfriend to come home)

(at least there's a cat in the picture)

So yeah, I didn't do cute or subtle. I got this gold foil-printed fabric at the shop and used 50 cm to make a simple skirt. It's a self-drafted pattern with four slightly flared gores, a very narrow waistband (no fabric left) and an exposed zip in the back. I paired it with a lace bodysuit and spent the entire day annoyed about the snap crotch. I also scared some kids. Win!

Anyway, a good friend was celebrating her birthday at a costume party nearby, and she promised anyone who came dressed as a saying or expression a drink. Challenge accepted!

The first important element are the two dead birds on my head.

The second important thing to notice is the bloodied rock around my neck. To kill two birds with one stone! Get it? Haha!

I decided not to buy anything for this costume and work with stuff I had around the house (or, as was the case with the rock, found in the park). I drafted a pattern for a stuffed bird and roughly sewed two out of black canvas. The wings and tails got some structure with metal wire, and then I generously splattered them with acrylic paint. Put them on a headband and bam! The rock is a painted rock on a string. I paired it with my velvet beekeeper's dress and did a really poor job of washing the black skeleton paint away around my eyes.

One more because I like the smiley face thing in the background. It's a hat the boyfriend made to go celebrate Vastenavond in Krabbegatje last year. GOOD TIMES.

I remember how much I love making costumes every time I have to make one. Adding the challenge of not buying anything to make it with makes it even more fun! I'm sure this dead bird headband will get worn loads more times.

24 oktober 2016

The rare Flea Market Leopard has been spotted (haha, get it?)

It's funny how I'm doing loads of things but didn't really have anything to post about. I'm working on a Kelly anorak and another, MASSIVE project, but those are still literally small bits and pieces. I did finish a quick sweater dress in time for a trip to London, and proceeded with the most awkward photo shoot I've ever done.

Yep, that's right, we were at a flea market near Brick Lane and just decided to take pictures there. With lots of PEOPLE around. I felt a tiny bit silly but hey!

The dress is a Linden from Grainline, with 30 cm extra length added. I had done this before but decided to trace a smaller size this time. The previous version was quite large already and I'm swimming in it now. For this one I went with my bust measurement and made sure the bottom part would fit my hips.

The fabric is a sweater knit I got from the shop I work at (in exchange for making something out of it and wearing it at work). I forgot what it's made from but it seems quite synthetic! This is also the first leopard-printed thing I've ever worn. I blame Hanne and the fact that this is sparkly.

I lengthened the pattern by eyeballing how much longer I wanted the dress to be and adding this to the pattern pieces, minus the hem band. Totally legit, guys. Instead of trying to find matching ribbing I just used the wrong side of the fabric for the bands, and think it works really well to break up all the glittery leopard!

I also had an assistant for this photo shoot:

That's right, Roisin from Dolly Clackett happened to be in town that day so we went for pizza and a stroll. It was great to see her again and catch up! We also got a cheesy picture together as definite proof:

We were in London for just two days, to see the Welcome to Night Vale live show at the Palladium (it was AWESOME!). Our friends Ed and Aisling were going to the same show (and Aisling's parents kindly let us stay at their house and made us an amazing breakfast) so we met up on Saturday for huge burgers and fun:

It was a really nice day so we took some time to visit the new Tate and admire the view (and the neighbouring appartments.)

And that was our weekend, basically! Hope yours was just as nice!

05 oktober 2016

Please, just stop it with the shorts already.

After this, no more shorts for a while. Promise!

I found the fabric for this pair of shorts on a trip to a fabric outlet in the suburbs, and it was a really unexpected find. I sometimes go there because they have super cheap light cottons that are still nice quality (good for lining!) and was pleasantly surprised when instead of the usual poly horrors they had loads of other fabric I actually wanted!

I picked up a few pieces, including this roughly woven fabric, and used it to make some more shorts for the summer. The pattern is the same Burda pattern I used for these and my dungarees. Versatility! This time I omitted the pleats and cuffs, added back pockets and changed the front pockets to curved jeans-style pockets.

And this is how they got worn: on the streets of Mérida, feeling slow and overheated, with remnants of a sunburn gotten at Teotihuacan on my back.

My crotch was also eating my shorts. I have to teach the photographer boyfriend to notice things like that.

These are pretty short, but I felt fine in them. I find that there jsut aren't many lengths of shorts that I like, anything longer than the first Burda pair I made just looks super awkward on me. Skirt lengths seem a lot more forgiving! Or is that just me?

Sewing these was pretty uneventful. The pockets are lined with quilting cotton and the waistband is faced with a heavier blue cotton to avoid bulk. I used a bias facing for the hem for the same reason. The fly-front zipper went in without a hitch (still relying solely on Burda instructions, yay) and I used a jeans button and hand-sewn buttonhole (this fabric FRAYS and I wanted buttonhole stitched all around the edges) to finish it!

Here's a close-up picture of my butt so you can see how carefully I matched the pattern on the back pockets. The side seams were equally well matched but then I decided the legs were still too wide (the fabric has no drape so it looked like my legs were wearing individual skirts or something) and fixing that messed with the stripes a bit. Ah well!

That's it for projects photographed in Mexico! Since I got back I've been doing a lot of knitting (and sleeping) but after some major cleaning in my workroom I'd like to get back to sewing because SO MANY IDEAS!

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)