19 november 2018

Folktaleweek

If you follow me on instagram you've probably already seen these! My friend Laure organized  a drawing challenge along with a bunch of other illustrators, and this one was right up my alley! The challenge was to make seven folktale inspired illustrations, based on a list of prompts. I decided to base my drawings more on local folklore, and had a blast researching tales of witchcraft and ghosts!

Day 1: Forest

I decided to start the challenge with a pretty general subject. This is how most of these tales start: with a traveller walking home through the forest at night. Anything can happen!

Day 2: Magic

I looked into stories told by people who had been bewitched or knew about others who had been victims of witchcraft. Most of the effects seemed to be illness or other types of misfortune, but a few unlucky people got their feet turned backwards.

People would describe being touched by an 'Evil Hand' before suffering the effects of witchcraft. Or maybe they just got sick.

Day 3: Witch

A lot of the stories about people seeing witches are from men walking around at night who then stumble upon a bunch of witches dancing naked somewhere. Sounds like one hell of a party.

Day 4: Ghost

I started this drawing in my usual papercutting style but it looked too much like a shampoo commercial and I didn't have time to start over, so I worked on my sketch a little longer. These are Witte Wieven, the ghosts of witches or fairies who haunt burial places and lure people into swamps. They take the shape of women dressed in white or just plain wisps of fog.

Day 5: Insect

I don't know what the deal is with luring people into swamps, but a lot of creatures seem to enjoy it. This is a bit of a stretch theme-wise but one possible explanation for Dwaallichten (will-o'-the-wisps) are fireflies. So my drawing of a peasant woman sinking into a swamp is still sort of insect themed in a way.

(I just wanted to draw someone in a swamp, really)

Day 6: Mirror

A huge part of being bewitched was finding out who bewitched you, and there are loads of stories about that. Someone got sick, and someone else told him or her to go see someone who 'knows things' and uses magic to show them the face of the bad witch in a mirror. Fixing witchcraft with more witchcraft!


Day 7: Animal

I had something else planned for the last prompt, but then had to say goodbye to Jakkepoes, so I decided to honor him in a way and draw him as a witches' familiar. He would rock that hat.

So these are my drawings! I'm happy with some of them and would be happy with some others after a bit more work. I had planned to prepare this challenge but other things got in the way and I ended up making every drawing the night before. I hope it comes around again next year, because this was nice!

15 november 2018

Bye Buddy

This is going to be a pretty sad post. Some of you may remember that I have a very old cat friend called Jakkepoes who likes to help me out sometimes. On Monday evening we had to take the very sudden decision to have him put down.

Even though he was really old (19!) it came as a bit of a shock. Over the last two years he had slowly gone blind and deaf, and he was definitely getting old, but there were no major health problems. The vet said he could easily reach twenty if he carried on like that.

Sadly enough, something happened (a small stroke or heart attack, it's not sure) that damaged his heart and compromised his circulation. He was fine when I left for work in the morning, and suddenly I found myself rushing out to meet the boyfriend at the vet.

Jakkepoes couldn't walk because his blood couldn't reach his paws anymore. He was cold, exhausted and frustrated about not being able to move. We were told that we could keep him comfortable with medication but that he'd never walk again. He would need help to use the litter box and food put right in front of him. I don't feel like that's a good life for a cat. Even when he was blind and stiff with age, he still liked to walk around and explore.

So I said goodbye to my oldest friend. It's very strange to not have him around after such a long time with him.

Goodbye Jakkepoes, you will be so so missed.


07 november 2018

Jeans As Dark As My Soul

I made some solid black Ginger jeans last year, and basically wore them to death. The fabric was fading weirdly in the wash (even when washing them inside out) and I noticed the butt area was almost transparent. I didn't want to risk tearing through the seat of my pants while I was travelling, so the plan was to make new jeans before my road trip in September!

This plan failed.

I had made the Ginger jeans twice before and was pretty happy with how they fit, but the waist was always a little big and a little low on me. And I'm not a plumber. I could have easily adjusted the rise/waistband size, but instead my attention was drawn by a shiny new pattern: the Megan Nielsen Ash jeans.

Just so you know, the following pictures are my second version of this pattern.


Getting to these jeans was a SAGA. After my stretch jeans debacle with a Belgian online fabric store I ordered some black stretch denim from the Fabric Godmother. It arrived quickly, the quality was beautiful and it looked like I was going to get on my plane with some shiny new jeans on. I went for a size 27 based on my measurements, spent an evening and a day sewing and... They were too small. Not by much, but the waistband needed about 1,5 extra cm to be comfortable. They are wearable, but not on days with a lot of eating. So definitely not appropriate for a three week trip to the US. I wasn't going to pass on those pancakes.


So, bummer! I packed overalls instead and reordered the same fabric when I got home (because it was really awesome). And then they e-mailed me to say it was out of stock and would take about two weeks to come back in. They were perfectly nice about it, giving me the option of getting a full refund if I didn't want to wait, and replying very quickly when I had questions. A+ customer service, unlike during the stretch jeans debate from earlier.


Anyway, my fabric arrived on Monday (right before the Belgian post went on strike, finally caught a lucky break!) so I prewashed it and got started. This time I cut a size 28, hoping that would be enough room to make these comfortable.

Brand new- already dusty.

I followed the instructions, but did change the fly construction a tiny bit. The instructions tell you to stitch the zipper to the fly shield, attach the separate fly piece (which I like, I feel like the seam makes it more sturdy than a cut-on fly), baste the crotch seam, stitch zipper to fly, unpick the crotch seam and fold it out of the way, topstitch the fly, restitch the crotch seam and add bartacks and topstitching to keep the fly shield in place. I did this the first time and found it was very hard to get nice-looking topstitching with all the bulky fabric folded away (it seemed to still be in the way, no matter what), and stitching the crotch seam wasn't that easy either. So what I did: don't baste the crotch seam, just stitch it, fold the fly shield out of the way for the straight part of the topstitching and stop just before the curve, fold the fly extension into position and continue topstitching. I pulled all my threads to the back and made sure my stitching lines lined up, and you can't really tell I did it in two steps. That, and it also catches and secures the fly extension. Neat!


I used some of my precious Freesewing hardware, even if it's not a freesewing pattern. I am wearing a Huey hoodie in some of these pictures though!

The pattern offers two pocket sizes, which is awesome. I used a cotton lawn and went for the largest size. You can kind of see them through the fabric but I CAN FIT MY ENTIRE HAND IN.


Here's the obligatory butt shot! I like the rise on these, they stay up without a belt and I don't feel like my buttcheeks will be on show if I bend over. I never really liked the look of really high waisted skinny jeans, so these feel well-balanced.

This fabric feels like it's higher quality than the last pair, so I'm hoping these will last a while! In any case, they are stretchy enough to do this kind of stuff:

28 oktober 2018

Bikinis And Equal Rights

So, I made a new bikini. Because I wanted one.

And I also read this post, which got me thinking for a bit. I definitely identify as a feminist, but on the surface the act of sewing your own clothes and then posing in them for a blog doesn't really seem to match with that. OR DOES IT.

I am privileged enough to have the means to make my own clothes. This means that I have a lot more control over what I wear than most women. I'll still be a bit limited by the fabrics and patterns available, but sewing gives me the chance to completely ignore what the media/fashion designers/anyone want me to wear and just do my own thing. (Of course I'll often be inspired by what's around, but if I want sparkly dungaree shorts I can just make that happen). I also have the privilege of being a very average shape and size: buying clothes that fit me is not really a challenge. I just choose not to.

To me, sewing my own clothes no longer has anything to do with what the housewives from the past did: instead of a necessity and a chore it is now a luxury and a choice. In a way, for me at least, oppression has turned into empowerment.

Because sewing does make me feel empowered. Take this bikini for instance: swimwear can be quite expensive, and the things within my budget often don't fit right at all. I want to actually swim instead of lie down next to a pool and not move, so I need something that will stay on my body and allow me to move without boobs falling out all over the place. Sewing my own has given me that, for a price I can afford. Win!

And yes, taking photographs of what I make helps me too. I actually started this blog to document the things that I made because I'm proud of them and the process of making them. Writing about it to an audience gave me a reason to take some decent pictures, just like I will scan and save my drawings if I like them. I have to admit that this is the part that I struggle with the most, since I do have some issues with body image (as a lot of people do) but again, I have full control over what pictures appear online and how (or at least, initially. Once they're out there you kind of give up on that control). Anyway, I chose to take pictures of myself in a bikini and post them on the internet, as I've done before. Because it's not about my body and looking attractive or sexy to an audience, it's about me sewing a bikini that I like to swim in and talking about it. So let's do that:


Yes, I did take these pictures today. It was about 7° celcius with a cold wind. My mother suggested I wear some nude pantyhose, but it wasn't too bad! I can feel my toes again.

This is the Sophie swimsuit, which I've made before, and... I didn't really change anything. The previous one is still perfectly fine but I had this fabric in my stash for so long and I thought it would be fun to have a bit more choice in my swimwear! Hanne actually made me a bathing suit in this fabric for her lingerie sewing class but it doesn't get as much wear as I'd like: it looks great when I'm standing up or just lounging (perfect fit!) but when I stretch out whilst swimming the underwires slide down a bit and press into my ribcage, making it a bit uncomfortable. See what I mean when I say I want to be able to move in my clothes (not just swimwear!)?

(To be clear: this is not at all a dig at Hanne, she just had to make this exact swimsuit for her class! She's amazing and talented and you should all check her out if you haven't already.)


I used a different foam for the padding in these cups, and it's a lot stiffer than the foam I used before, which means these keep their shape a lot better! I still fully lined the cups with bra lining for a bit of extra support, and while this probably wasn't necessary it does look good on the inside!

Those tiny people in the background were clapping at some point
Tha biggest change I made was to only topstitch the outer edge of the underwire channeling down. The instructions have you topstitch once close to the seamline of the cup and then again a bit further to anchor the channeling, but I remembered how tricky it was to keep these two lines parallel (and how my channeling got a bit too narrow for the underwire in places, due to wonky stitching) so instead I stitched the channeling to the seam allowance and topstitched it in place. Which was a very lengthy explanation for something very simple.


Again, I did not use the bikini bottom from the pattern. I made it the first time I made this swimsuit, but I just don't like how those low cut legs look on me, so I used the pattern I had rubbed off from a well-fitting bottom the last time. I did copy the paneled look of the original!

I already swam in this once and it didn't fall off of me, so I guess that's a winner! That, and I feel like a speedy fish now.

So, what do you readers think about my new swimwear? Or about my rambling on sewing and feminism?

12 oktober 2018

How To Disappear Completely

Here is the second garment I made for our roadtrip, and also the least practical! I took one backpack for three weeks of travel and didn't want to do laundry all the time, so I packed a sort of capsule wardrobe with mostly basic tops and bottoms that would easily mix and match. And one exception: a cheery tropical print dungaree dress! Can you even see me in this beautiful palm tree beach background?


I've made this exact same dress before, in black velvet. It's really just the Grainline Moss skirt with my usual side closure adaptation and an added bib and straps! I only had 1 m of this fabric (from Stoff & Stil) because I had bought it with shorts on my mind, so there was some creative pattern cutting to make this happen (this really seems to be a trend in my sewing, it would save me a tremendous amount of stress if I either bought more fabric or didn't change my mind about what to make with it all the time).


One of the things I did not have enough fabric for was cutting the strap piece twice, so the bottom of those has been cut from some white cotton (I used the same fabric to line the bib and for the inside waistband pieces). This works well, but in hindsight the cotton was a bit too lightweight and it makes the straps a bit too thin for the buckles to stay in place. I resorted to keeping them at the same length with a pin while on holiday and will probably add a few stitches now I'm back.


There was absolutely no way I was going to pattern match this print with that amount of fabric, but it doesn't bother me for once. I like the print a lot, it's a bit more colourful than what I usually wear these days (almost feels like a throwback to cuter times!) and it's perfect for walking around by the beach in California. Not that that's going to happen again anytime soon.

I also added about ten cm of length to this skirt and hemmed it with the narrowest bias tape hem I could muster, by the way. The Moss skirt as drafted is VERY SHORT.


I think I'm done with dungaree dresses for now, but am considering turning this skirt pattern into a button-front skirt. Maybe in velvet.

05 oktober 2018

Monumental Shorts

I'm back!We spent an amazing three weeks in the USA. It was crazy and a little bit hectic, but we saw so much and had a blast! I did a little bit of sewing before the trip, and managed to photograph two new garments. This is the first one, a very boring basic pair of shorts against a not-so-basic background:

Welcome to my blog, man on the right.
This is the shorts version of the Named Alexandria peg trousers, with a few modifications. I had a small piece of this textured linen in my stash and wanted something breezy with an elastic waist to take on this trip, since I knew it was going to get really warm (and there was going to be FOOD).


This is a very simple pattern that reminds me of those sporty shorts with the curved hem, but with a few special details. There are a few pleats in the front, one of which sort of hides the pocket openings (it's hard to explain but it looks interesting).


I made a few changes to the length and shape of these. When I tried them on before hemming the high-low hem was so pronounced it looked ridiculous on me, with the back almost reaching my kneew (not a good length!). I shortened the entire thing and made the difference between the front and back a bit more pronounced. This is not a garment that can be considered 'flattering' with all the extra fabric around my butt, but it was exactly what I needed for this occasion!


The waist is finished with elastic inserted into a channel and an added drawstring. I later used this to tie a rock to my towel to try and fish my hat out of a ravine. It has since been reinserted.


The pattern has you finish the hem with facings and I did cut them out, but after changing up the hemline (and eyeballing it) I opted to finish it with a bias tape facing.

I'm not sure if I'd make the long version of these, I think there is room for a looser-fitting pair of lightweight trousers in my life, but I'm not sure if I like the shape of these enough... I might make the shorts again in jersey to replace some pyjama shorts that have gotten too big/worn out!

These will be packed away until next summer now, sadly enough. I have one more really summery garment coming up!

02 september 2018

Professional Pictures With a Beautiful Background

I apologize for the quality of the pictures in this post. I was getting together with my friends Karen and Hélène to plan some things for our upcoming holiday, and by the time we got around to taking these I had gone through some terrible sleep, a very long and busy workday and loads of falafel. It was also dark already. SORRY.

(About that holiday: I'll be on a roadtrip on the West Coast of the USA between september 9th and 28th! We'll be in LA, Las Vegas and San Francisco so if you're in any of those cities and want to meet up, let me know! This blog will probably be a bit quiet but I'll try to get some pictures posted on my Instagram.)

Anyway, here is my version of the super popular Persephone pants pattern!


The story of these started with a need for a new pair of skinny jeans. These are the only jeans that still fit me, and I noticed they are almost see-through in the butt area and probably wouldn't survive my trip (wearing them feels like a bit of russian roulette at the moment). The fabric shop closest to me is on vacation, so I ordered two pieces sold as 'stretch jeans' from this place and thought I'd be good to go (it's where I bought the fabric for those other jeans). Those pieces arrived and... One had no stretch at all (or very little), the other one was not nearly stretchy enough. They were on sale and I could use them for other things, but I did decide to e-mail them suggesting they get a bit more clarity in their fabric descriptions (the way it is now on the site it seems it's all the same quality, but in different colours).

I got a bit of a snotty e-mail back saying I should have e-mailed them before ordering so they could have advised me on what fabric to get. I replied to this saying that maybe adding the stretch percentage to the fabric description would mean that people could figure this out for themselves, and got another reply telling me 'there's a picture of the fabric content with the percentage of spandex in the listing'.

Not the same thing, but I got pretty cranky about it so I didn't reply anymore.

After all this I had a cheap piece of fabric with no stretch and some time to kill before my second attempt at ordering jeans arrived (from the Fabric Godmother, who do post stretch percentages), so I gave the Persephone pants a go!


Everyone and their mother is making these or has made these, and I gave them a chance because they seemed to work on a variety of body shapes and sizes. I wasn't too worried about fitting since my measurements put me into a straight size 6 and I'm not crazy picky on the fit of my pants, but I wasn't sure if the style would suit me! So I treated it as a good occasion to practise some techniques, and when it turned out they fit really well after a first try-on I made an effort to finish them well!

We didn't get a clear picture of my crotch so I took this one on the floor.
The pants close with a button fly which came together without a hitch. I put a classic jean button on the waistband but went for flat buttons on the inside of the fly to reduce the bulk somewhat. They are a bit visible at times, especially when I sit down, but not enough to bother me! I liked the way the pockets are inserted, even though they are not exactly functional:


I wore these for an entire day and they are a lot more comfortable than I expected for high-waisted non-stretch pants. The pattern as drafted were not exactly cropped on me, but I thought full length was boring so I cut them shorter.

All in all, this was a pleasant surprise and unexpected good result from a mildly crappy situation! I'll definitely pack these for my trip!

I will leave you with this picture of my beautiful friend Hélène, providing moral support in the background:


15 augustus 2018

Garbage Dragon

So, I don't know if you noticed, but more and more women's patterns are appearing on freesewing.org! I didn't have anything to do with any of them (apart from the Carlita coat of course) but I was keen to try the Sandy skirt because circle skirts are pretty high on my list of things I like to wear!


I have drafted a full circle skirt for myself so I set the circle percentage to 75%, making this slightly less dramatic. My own pattern has a straight waistband which works reasonably well because it sits on the natural waist, but I had been thinking about drafting a curved waistband instead. Now I can just be lazy!


I did make some extra modifications, the biggest one adding side seams so I could have pockets! I had set the waistband position at 50% because I thought trying something that doesn't sit at my natural waist could make for a nice change (and it would be a good way to test the effectiveness of the curved waistband), but I quickly gave up on that. It might just be in my head but I feel like skirts that sit lower on my hips make it look like I have this really long body and no legs. I couldn't just take in the back seam because that would move the pockets back too much, so I had to add a center front seam.


I had a cotton canvas with a tropical leaf print in mind for this, but even my pattern tetris skills were no match for the (small) amount of fabric I had. All in all that turned out to be a good thing, because the extra front seam would have been very jarring in that print! Instead I used a sort of coated bouclé I'd had in my stash for a while, making it more of a winter skirt (hence the tights, which came off as soon as the last picture was taken). The texture reminds me both of dragon skin and garbage bags. Both are fine.


I inserted a good old exposed zipper in the back because that's what I had around and exposed zips look cool. I'll definitely use this waistband again, since it fits really well! It's basically a reminder that I should have stopped being lazy and drafted a curved waistband ages ago.

Yay for all these new patterns! I'm curious to see what else is coming up in terms of women's stuff (or men's clothes I can wear as well, because it's not like women are very well represented in the sewing world or anything).

12 augustus 2018

I Almost Fell Off This Tiny Wall

So, it's been pretty warm these past few weeks. And most of the clothes I have that are suitable for these temperatures are either shorts and tank tops or old and too large. I had bought some pretty cotton-linen fabric on my recent trip to Brighton and thought it would be perfect for a summer dress!

Now, I had some plans for this fabric at first. My initial vision was a grey linen dress covered in golden beetles, so I carved a few stamps and got ready to print. Alas, I forgot that these kind of yarn dyed, slightly textured or two-toned fabrics don't play well with block printing, so I had to abandon that idea and go for something more basic instead! (I did end up using the beetle stamps on some black sweatshirt jersey)


So, no beetles, but not a bad result after all! I decided to try the Ariana dress by Style Arc, a pattern company I haven't used before. There are a few of these button-front strappy sundresses around at the moment, but I liked the comfort of the shirred back and the overall shape of this one the most!


My measurements put me between sizes, which meant there were some alterations involved. With Style Arc you buy one size and get the one below and the one above along with it, but they aren't nested, so grading between them isn't really an option. My bust circumference put me in a size 10 but my waist was a 6, so in the end I decided to go for the size 8 (hoping that the elastic back would provide enough ease in the bust area) and removed a bit from the side seams at the waist. For a while  I was a little worried it would be too small (and the seam allowances are tiny, so no letting out) but things turned out fine in the end, and the fit was pretty bang on right away.


The only thing new (to me) about this pattern was the shirring. I read a few tutorials and wasn't really looking forward to it since most people said it would take a lot of trial and error and tension adjustments to get this right. In the end, it pretty much worked out immediately. I wound my bobbin by hand and lowered the tension a bit, and that did the trick. The biggest challenge was keeping parallel lines (not always succesful) and making sure the elastic didn't disappear into the bobbin after cutting it. I like how comfortable the panel feels, but I do feel like it adds some bulk.


There is a pattern piece provided for the interfacing on the front bodice edge, but not for the skirt. The instructions briefly mention to interface the front skirt edges as well, and I definitely wouldn't skip that, especially on a lightweight fabric!

The main change I made was to shorten the skirt considerably. I cut the original length because it's a style I don't usually wear and I was curious to see if I could make it work, but it ended up feeling very frumpy, especially combined with the colour and texture of the fabric. I kind of felt like I should be wearing clogs and hauling pails of fresh milk, and while that does sound pretty cool it wasn't the look I was going for. So out came the scissors and up went the hem!


After finishing, it did feel a little bit plain, so I added a beaded bee I still had around (its little sister is hanging out on this shirt!). I'm still not entirely sure about the placement, but it works for now!

I did not follow the order of construction as given by Style Arc, inspired by this blog post. It just seemed a lot cleaner/less fussy/more logical! The given instructions are really minimal anyway, and I didn't really look at them, just gave them a quick glance to make sure I didn't miss anything important.


I did enjoy my first experience with a Style Arc pattern, it was really well drafted and easy to put together (if you have some sewing experience). I've had the Ziggi biker jacket waiting for a while now, just have to find the right fabric! Until then I'll just keep exploring slightly industrial backgrounds in a sundress and sandals. Or something.

04 augustus 2018

Practical Hiking Gear Is Overrated

As I said in my previous post, I've been sewing a bit, but haven't found the time or opportunity to document things! So when I wore this dress to Hanne's baby shower I grabbed my chance and asked Lieke to take some pictures while I was pretending to be a forest goblin.


This is McCalls 7591, and a rare foray into Big 4 territory for me. I often tend to dismiss these patterns and it's not necessarily because of the sizing issues (measure your pattern pieces people!) but mostly because these aren't readily available in stores here... Burda is a bit more common so you can browse a catalog (but the catalog styles are often a bit too boring and conservative for me) but the only way to get these patterns is by looking at tiny pictures of them on a website, and I sometimes feel like I'm missing out on some gems that way.

I know my bra straps are on show but I honestly don't see the point of making something that feels like pyjamas and then wearing a strapless bra with it.
Eleonore alerted me and some others of a sale on McCall's patterns, so I made the effort to take a look and thought this would make a really good slightly fancy summer dress. I was determined to make the maxi length in some black viscose twill from the stash and did not let the 40 cm I lacked according to the pattern envelope deter me! It took some INSANE pattern tetris but I made it work.

I had measured the pattern pieces beforehand and thought it would be fine (since the fit is very forgiving) but when I tried on the bodice after it was almost entirely assembled I noticed something weird: the fit in the back and across the bust was really good, but there was so much extra fabric in the sides the underarms drooped down and my entire bra was on show. This was easy to fix by taking some out of the side seams, but I wonder who this was drafted for. Very flat and very wide people?


Sewing was pretty uneventful after this minor adjustment. I added inseam pockets because I hate myself if I don't, and hemmed everything by hand for a clean finish. The instructions tell you to sew the waist seam and sew a second line of stitching near the edge to create a casing for the elastic, but I though it would get bulky and weird if the casing could just move around so I sewed the waist seam and topstitched it down instead. If I make this again I'd definitely increase the seam allowance and make a wider casing, since the very narrow elastic the pattern tells you to use doesn't feel substantial enough to really cinch in the waist.


I managed to cut every piece, including the self fabric tie, and I'm really happy I did because it makes everything look way nicer. I still have to add a snap on the wrap part in the front to keep it from gaping, but a safety pin keeps things decent for now!

I like this dress a lot but I'm not sure if I'll sew it again anytime soon, there's not really a suitable fabric in my stash right now and I have a lot of other projects planned! There are quite a few new patterns in my life at the moment and it's all very exciting.