12 juli 2019

There's A Rat On My Left Shoulder

I made this dress a while ago, but only just got around to photographing it! I came across this pattern when I was making a wrap dress for my mother and used it as a starting point (changing it almost completely, the only parts left of the original were the bodice and the sleeve head). After this I decided to make the real deal for myself!


This is the Highlands Wrap Dress by Allie Olson, made in a linen-viscose mix that I dyed burdgundy (it started out as off white!). I've experimented with dyeing fabrics recently, and so far it's always been successful. It's a great thing to do when you like the texture of a fabric, but not the colour!


I really enjoyed sewing this pattern. The instructions make for a very clean and neat finish, but it's still easy to follow. I had made a muslin for my mother's dress based on this pattern and it fit her really well from the start, so I took the risk and didn't muslin my version (my mother and I are kind of similar in size and shape). It's maybe a smidge too big, but nothing too bad.


I followed the instructions to the letter, except for the finishing of the facings. There is some hand embroidery on the shoulder of this dress, which was done before the pattern piece was cut out or stitched together, and I didn't want any visible topstitching to interfere with that. So instead of topstitching all around the neckline and armholes I sewed the facings down with a blind stitch, and finished the hem in the same way. That hem is where I hit my only snafu by the way, and it's only due to me being an idiot: I had seen in the finished measurements that the pattern was drafted for someone quite a bit taller than me, but somehow thought it would still be fine (on a full length maxi dress). So I went ahead and hemmed the thing with gorgeous mitered corners and some more hand sewing, and of course it was too long. I put it away for a while, then gathered the courage to unpick everything and shorten it.


The real star of this dress is of course the embroidery! I knew I wanted to add some before I started making it, but wasn't sure about what. Then the elections happened in Belgium and it suddenly became really clear that I needed a rat on my left shoulder. This probably won't really make any sense to readers outside of Belgium, but this rat here isn't going to roll up anything!

I traced my pattern piece onto a piece of paper to sketch the rat, and then used yellow carbon paper to put it onto the fabric. I had cut out most of the pattern piece but left a piece of fabric around the area where it would be embroidered, so I could put it in a hoop. I did the majority of the rat like this and then added the tail once the shoulder seam was sewn. It was a really easy way to add something to a solid dress!


I like this dress on me and it will get worn, but I did notice it's not very bike-friendly. We went to a bit of wood nearby to take these pictures and I had to hold the dress closed with one hand to keep things decent. It's not a problem when I'm walking, but I do ride my bike almost every day so I probably won't make another one for this reason. So if you don't frequently ride a bike, don't hesitate to give this pattern a go!

03 juli 2019

I'm Going On An Adventure!

So I'll need a nice backpack!

Not really. But I wanted to make a backpack for a while. I'd been looking at patterns, but everything I found looked very... homemade? I wanted something really sturdy and functional, something I could really carry around all day, even with my terrible shoulders. There are some patterns for roll-top backpacks out there but I don't really like the look of those. I toyed with the idea of drafting my own but got a bit overwhelmed with having to figure the whole construction out and sourcing the materials as well. Then I stumbled upon Niizo bags. They had patterns for bags that looked very professional, and they sold kits that included everything! I thought it wouldn't hurt to have some extra handholding when dipping my toes into something new, so I bought the Be Strong backpack kit in black. And here it is:


I was pretty impressed with the kit when it arrived. Everything was nicely packaged and labeled, so there was no confusion. I had already downloaded and printed the pattern, and cut everything out in one evening. The instructions tell you to mind your fabric layout since the quantity you get is only just enough, and they were definitely right! I cut everything on a single layer and paid very close attention to how many pieces I needed of each pattern piece. I did goof up once when I forgot to cut a second lining piece for the body of the bag, but that was easily remedied by piecing two pieces together.


This whole thing came together much quicker than expected! I basically put it together in two afternoons/evenings. I did follow the instructions word for word. Bag construction is really new for me and while the techniques themselves are not complicated I had to pay close attention so things didn't go together the wrong way! The finish on this bag is pretty impressive. It's fully lined (with loads of interior pockets) and the only seam that's on show is enclosed in a binding (which I attached by hand because the thought of putting the whole thing under the machine again and stitching that binding neatly was too much)

Hanne took some nice action shots for me. So much action.

I was a bit worried about how my sewing machine would handle the heavy canvas, but it wasn't that big of a deal. There was a bit of protest on the very bulky parts, but I didn't break a single needle! The trickiest bit was sewing the body of the bag together, when the entire thing has to move underneath the machine. The canvas was so easy to work with, it's a waxed fabric so you can actually finger press it in place and it holds a crease so well.


I made one change to the bag, as you can see here. The kit came with a red and white polka dot fabric as a contrast for the bottom of the straps and the inside of the pocket flaps, but that didn't really feel like 'me'. So instead I dug out this kitten print canvas I once got in Leipzig and used that instead! If I'd make this again (probably not anytime soon) I would either use a matching fabric for the bottom of the straps or make the top pattern piece a bit wider so the contrast edges don't really show, but that's just me being nitpicky.


My favourite part might just be the back. The foam makes it nice and sturdy and very professional looking, and the small zipper pocket in the side is so handy and neat-looking.

I took this bag with me on a daytrip to Amsterdam and it did great! I'm curious to see how it will hold up, but I'm having high hopes!