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.

31 juli 2018

A Sketchy Post

I kind of disappeared lately, for various reasons! I was working on a few different things I either couldn't show you or aren't finished yet, and it was way too hot to do anything apart from the things I absolutely had to do! There's a sundress waiting to be photographed, but in the meantime I'll show you some of the recent scribbles from my sketchbook. If you follow me on Instagram you might have already seen some (most) of these, I apologise for what is essentially a very lazy blog post!


This was a sort of diary sketch from something that happened in London the last time I was there. We were hanging out in a park on a Monday morning, enjoying the sunshine, slowly waking up and watching all the other accomplished people jog and do yoga. This one shirtless young man seemed to be doing really well with his sun salutations when a very drunk shirtless man walked over and tried to join him. It looked really funny from a distance, but the poor guy seemed so confused!


I released a new postcard a while ago (get it here) and have been thinking about the next one. It's going to be an apology card and it will probably involve bird poop.


When I visited my parents a few weeks ago my mother gave me an old book about the space race and moon landing that I loved as a kid, and I spent an afternoon scribbling astronauts for shits & giggles. It's very different from what I usually draw and I really need to learn how to draw smooth shiny things (fur is easy guys!) but it was a lot of fun. I like tiny details (sometimes).


There has also been some fabric printing lately, and of course I needed stamps for that! These were supposed to go onto the summer dress I recently made but the print did not show up well on the fabric so I used a black sweatshirt jersey instead. This means you'll have to wait a while before it will make an appearance, because black sweatshirts are really low on my list of priorities now.


And lastly I've been drawing these little guys because they were in my head and made me smile. Not sure what will happen with them!

06 juli 2018

Summer In The Front, Drama In The Back

I've been making a lot of basics lately, to replace things that have gotten too big or just too worn out. All very nice and good, but sometimes I just want to sew something special and a bit more challenging than a t-shirt! I had bought the Centaurée pattern a while ago because it really intrigued me, but had not gotten around to making it yet. Well, it finally happened!

Deer and Doe patterns tend to fit me quite well without adjustments, but because of the unusual style lines on this I did make a quick muslin. I ended up taking a little bit out of the waist and not much else! The pattern itself is unlined but a few tips are given for a cleaner finish inside. I went for a bodice underlining in a black cotton voile. After sewing all those front seams and the side seams I basted the two bodices together and treated them as one from that point. Easy!


The main feature that attracted me to this pattern are of course those style lines on the front bodice. They make for some really interesting looking pattern pieces and it's a bit of a puzzle to get everything to fit together, but the result is worth it! The only thing I'm peeved about is how my points don't line up exactly at the center- I unpicked and resewed it a few times but this was the best I could do without the fabric fraying too much.


About that fabric: I bought it at a Dries Van Noten stocksale last year, mostly for the colour and without a specific plan in mind. I'm not sure what it is, my guess is some kind of heavy brushed viscose twill... It didn't melt after I set it on fire, so that's something. It's hard to tell in photos but the colour is great in real life- a very deep burgundy with hints of black in the background. I had enough fabric to cut the high-low skirt so just went for that, even though that makes the dress a bit dramatic for daily wear!

 I really like the shape of the skirt. The fabric is a bit heavier than what was recommended, but I kind of like the body it gives! My only gripe is the lack of pockets. I know it is possible to do inseam pockets with an invisible side zip, but I was afraid it would get too bulky.


Another thing I liked about this pattern was the use of bias tape to create the straps and finish the edges of the bodice at once. I had just enough fabric left to cut a few longer strips, and carefully positioned them so the seams would be in inconspicuous places. I ended up basting the tape in place before topstitching the straps, which made that process a lot smoother than I expected! The fiddliest part was the little v at the front, but that turned out really nice.

My bra band isn't usually visible in this, and the boyfriend didn't notice. Bummer.
I think it's due to my bulkier fabric, but the straps did not want to lie as shown by the pattern, so I let them do what they wanted, which was crossing over and doing something else in the back. I hand sewed them to the inside of the bias edging and the lining, which looks clean on the outside and sort of clean on the inside!


I'm not sure if I need many of these in my life, but it was a really fun pattern to put together and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

02 juli 2018

Money Can Be Exchanged For Goods And Services

One of the things I wanted to do this year was to get more serious about my drawing, and selling my work. I've been trying to create a lot more and opened an Etsy store in February! Since then I've been updating it regularly, but never really posted about the things I've listed in there so far. So yeah, this post is sort of an ad. For my own work.

(I also want to mention that I am available for commissioned work, so if you want a custom illustration you can always e-mail me and we can work something out!)

So far I have a few larger prints and posters available, which you might have seen on this blog before:


I'm also trying to print a new postcard every once in a while! So far I have listed two and they're both (sort of) jokes in Dutch, but the next one will make sense to a wider audience, I swear!



And lastly, I have a few hand embroidered brooches for sale. These are fun to make, but take a lot of time, so I'm not sure how often they will be available!


I'm currently working on some new ideas and things, so keep an eye out! If you want to see more in-progress pictures you can always follow me on Instagram by the way, it's where I post smaller things that don't always warrant a blog post!

28 juni 2018

And Then My Friend Got Attacked By A Seagull

Last year the boyfriend and I went to London for Elcaf, a yearly comics and arts festival. There's always great stuff to be found and a lot of our drawing friends in the UK are there as well, which means lots of opportunities for catching up and hanging around (mostly in parks). This year my friend Charlotte Dumortier designed the poster (and just about everything else) so we went over with an entire Belgian delegation, handed out beer and chocolates and convinced people to come visit us. Charlotte decided to stick around with us a little longer, and to get a rest after the craziness that was Elcaf (Jayde won a prize!) we decided to go to Brighton for a day. I wore some clothes I made:


Both the top and skirt are my own patterns in a way, which doesn't mean much when we're talking about the skirt (it's all rectangles). I've been trying to create my perfect tank top pattern by rubbing off an old one I like and tweaking it every time I make it. This version is made from a viscose jersey with a very fine black and white stripe, and instead of using bands for the armholes and neckline I finished them with storebought viscose jersey bias binding. This worked really well, and saved me the hassle of cutting narrow bindings in viscose jersey. I might use this stuff on lighter weight knits more often!


The skirt is a gathered skirt with a front button closure. I simply started from my waist measurement, added a bit of ease and some extra for the overlap and cut three rectangles for the front and sides, using twice the width of the (narrow) fabric. The front edges were interfaced, folded over and topstitched down to form a placket. I also added pockets because there was no reason not to and apparently that's what I do now.


The fabric for this skirt is a poly-viscose crepe, which makes it perfect for travelling since it doesn't wrinkle as much, but the viscose content made it easier to press. I did give myself a bit too much ease in the waist (or the crepe relaxes too much) so this sits a bit lower than I'd like, even after all the food we had on this trip! I think I might open the waistband up (it's hand stitched closed on the inside) and add some elastic in the back to snug things up a little.

I found this at Snooper's paradise and loved it too much to leave it.
All in all, none of these garments are perfect in any way, but they are perfectly fine for days like this:


This little holiday was very needed and I came back with a lot of inspiration, so expect some stuff soon!

(And yes, Charlotte did get attacked by a seagull. Some ice cream was lost but no one got hurt)

18 juni 2018

Only Bring Essentials And Then Everything Else

Handbags aren't really my thing. I tend to carry a lot of stuff around so I usually have a backpack or tote bag on me, and sewing my own isn't really something I'm interested in! However, I felt like I could use something bigger than a backpack for short trips, and decided to give the Portside Duffel bag a try!


I had all the fabrics in my stash already, and only had to source the hardware. The black fabric is a basic black cotton twill reinforced with some heavy interfacing, and I used some heavy upholstery-type stuff I once found in a second hand shop for the contrast. It kind of looks like a grandma's couch, so... I guess that means I'm into making things that look like sofas now?


I didn't really change anything about the pattern, apart from adding zippers to the side pockets. I thought these would be more useful if I could close them and it turned out to be an easy change: I cut the pocket piece in two parts where I wanted the zipper to be and added some seam allowance. The zippers were sewn into the pockets, the top seam allowance was folded over and topstitched in place onto the bag and the rest of the pocket basted in place. I also added a little patch because it was perfect for this!


My zipper was a fraction too short so I added little pieces of folded fabric at the end to make it look a bit neater. I also made sure to hand baste the entire thing before stitching to make sure nothing moved around. It's a pretty large piece to manoeuver underneath the machine so I wanted to avoid the layers shifting.

The instructions were generally very clear, but the marking for the strap placement on the end pieces seem to be missing on my version of the pattern. This wasn't hard to figure out, but I can imagine it would be confusing for a beginner!

All classy with the chalk marks and street dust.
I didn't interface the contrast portions of the bag because I was worried it would get too stiff and the interfacing wouldn't stick well to the textured fabric. This makes the top a little floppy, but it also made the bag easier to work with! Constructing this isn't hard at all (it's mostly rectangles and precise stitching) but the sheer size of it makes it a bit challenging at times! The hardest part was attaching the bottom, which I did in four steps instead of one single pass. I also stitched it twice for a bit of extra sturdiness.

The lining was hand sewn in because I couldn't face the thought of putting all that stuff under the machine all over again!


I'll be testing this bag next week on a short trip! I'll be in London and Brighton, so definitely let me know if you want to meet up! I don't bite.

08 juni 2018

Draw Me Like One Of Your Ektorps

This is the most effort I've ever put into a picture background. Like, this literally took more time than making the actual dress! My friend Karen found an appartment in a really cool building dating back to the 1930s, and when I went over to help her paint everything white it turned into a sort of archaeological dig/restoration project! I liked the original wallpaper we'd dug up, so on another day we took the chance to take some pictures of a dress I made!


I'd had this really pretty stretch linen-viscose around for a while, but wasn't sure about what to make with it. It's a pretty heavy fabric with a rougher weave, and I was worried it would look like upholstery (and that the wrong pattern choice would make me look like a sofa). I then found a pattern for a bustier jumpsuit in a Burda issue and figured it could work with a circle skirt!

Taking pictures with Karen starts like this and ends even worse.
I made a quick muslin to check the fit and didn't have to change much, except for taking a bit of width out of the waist and flattening those horizontal bust seams a bit. They were very pointy! Smoothing this line a bit has helped, but I didn't want to remove too much since that would decrease cup volume. I was working on a deadline this time but I'd like to revisit this pattern and see if I can improve things.

I changed out of my work clothes really quick and failed to notice my bra was on show. SORRY
The bodice is lined in black cotton voile, and I added strips of boning to all the vertical seams for some structure. I also chose to attach the straps by hand after the bodice was assempled. This means the raw edges are visible on the inside, which isn't as pretty, but it did give my full control over the length and placement!


After assembling the dress I noticed the neckline was gaping a bit. My hurried ass scoffed at staystitching and I had probably stretched it during construction. I kind of fixed it with a trick I picked up from Fit for a Queen: cut a length of twill tape slightly shorter than the neckline and handsew it in place, easing in the extra fabric, to snug things up. It's the same as taping a roll line!

90% of my blog pictures look like this. It's a challenge sometimes.
So, is this perfect? No, but neither am I. It's pretty low cut and I'm not really used to that anymore (I seem to gravitate to higher necklines since working in a shop), but I like the shape of the bustier top and would like to revisit the fit issues at some point! Until then I'll just keep scraping wallpaper:

Maybe not the most realistic representation.