16 december 2012

The Cloudy Coat

So... I finished that basic coat I was working on. And even though it's nowhere near perfect, I'm pretty damn proud of myself!

Here it is:

Ok, that doesn't say much. But it's a pretty picture.

Here's a clearer one:

DERP! Oh well. As I said before, this is a coat from the October issue of Burda. I liked it because of its simple lines and thought it would be a good first coat, to get familiar with the techniques before I tackled a more complicated project.

I quickly found out that being lucky before with Burda patterns fitting me really well straight from the pattern wasn't true in this case. I ended up removing a substantial chunk of fabric from the back to avoid that 'I'm wearing my dad's jacket'-look. The shoulders are still too wide. But the thing is damn comfortable.

The instructions actually had you slipstitch the patch pockets on the coat before topstitsching them, something I really liked. If you only topstitch the lining tends to peek out, which isn't a good look...

Now for a List of Things I Did Differently:

- I made bound buttonholes instead of machine-stitched ones. I don't like the ones my machine makes and I'm too lazy to handwork them.
- I cut the under collar in two pieces on the bias, instead of one piece. Really happy I did, because it would have been even harder to make it sit flat.
- I attached the collar and lining mostly by hand.
- I underlined my (silk charmeuse!) lining with flannel for extra warmth. This was a great thing because the coat is now super cuddly, but it also made the lining pieces easier to handle. Slippery fabric bullet dodged!
- I inserted my sleeves using Gertie's method and it was AWESOME, they went in perfectly the first time and I was grinning like an idiot.


Overall, I'd say this project was a success. I was surprised at how much I liked all the handstitching and basting and fiddling, being such an impatient person. But the thing I loved the most was the pressing: the last time I tried using the steam function on my iron the power went out, so now I made do with a bucket of water and a damp press cloth. It felt very old-school and sort of magical, seeing the wool shape and transform like that.


10 december 2012

(Insert Smug Face Here)

Can I just shamelessly gloat for a second?

I've been working on a very basic winter coat, a pattern from Burda Magazine. It seemed like a nice and basic coat, not too fussy to make and a good way to practice coatmaking and get familiar with some techniques before starting the real deal (a coat that's been in the pipeline for a long time, with loads of tailoring and pattern alterations).

Anyway, this coat is double-breasted, and requires three buttonholes. I really don't like the buttonholes my sewing machine makes (and I kinda lost my buttonhole foot), so these weren't an option for this. My hand-worked buttonholes aren't exactly up to the task either, they still look too much like they want to bite the buttons off. So I realised I'd have to have a go at (gasp) bound buttonholes.

Now these require precision, patience and a whole lot of basting. I had seen other bloggers post about them and show off their crooked first efforts. SO last night, I was prepared to spend the whole night cursing and fiddling with tiny pieces of fabric, counting stitches and wondering why the hell I was doing this.

Let's just say, that didn't happen. Here's my first bound buttonhole ever:

Um, ok. That's not too bad, right? There's a bit more of a parallellogram going on than I'd like, but apart from this and the accidental chevron, it's actually quite... good.

So after this one test I marked, cut and sewed all three bound buttonholes immediately. And they came our perfectly fine. Yay!

I used the instructions in the tailoring book by Adele P. Margolis I mentioned here, which uses two narrow strips of fabric instead of a patch, and it all went together without a hitch.

So hooray for learning new skills without too much fussing!

08 december 2012

London Fabric Haul

Ok, this isn't really a fabric haul. And this post is way too late. But for some reason I took the photos and then marked the folder as 'posted', and failed to notice this until a few days ago.

So, I went to London at the end of September, and managed to buy a few sewing-related things! Not a lot of fabric (I was still getting over the Garment District), but I did find a few very nice vintage sewing books:

These were all bought at the same vintage store in Camden. I don't really shop for clothes anymore, and most vintage stores these days seem horribly overpriced, so I simply don't have the patience anymore to browse through them. In this store however, a large bookcase drew my attention, and I noticed they had an extensive selection on costuming and sewing! These three came home with me, for different reasons.

This book is one from a series, and I had another one at home: the only book on tailoring I've ever found in Dutch. The Dutch one came from my stepfather's bookcase, he has loads of books on subjects he was once interested in (it was next to one about keeping chickens).

The techniques described in this one are pretty basic, but I love the wacky illustrations.

Next I found a copy of the Singer Sewing Book from 1961. I bought it because it has loads of nice ideas for trims and decorations, and a few gems when it comes to sewing tips (they say you should always look your best when sewing, because worrying about someone dropping by and seeing you look sloppy is bad for your concentration. Wow.)

I like simple ideas like this one, using topstitching to mimic stripes!

But this is my best find so far: the Complete Book of Tailoring by my dear Adele P. Margolis. It has over four hundred pages of information on tailoring alone! Everything from pretreating wools to finding the right silhouette.

All you need to know about pressing, hand sewing, three different ways to do bound buttonholes... I squealed when I found this.

Of course, I couldn't help but stop by Liberty. I have a confession to make: I'm not always too fond of their prints (gasp!). It's just that small-scale flower prints look really really dull on me! I love them on other people but I just have to steer clear from them. But then I did see something that struck my fancy.

Ooh yes. bright colours and poppies? Bring it on. I've got three yards of this lawn and it's going to become a summer dress, all the way!

27 november 2012

Dear Burda

Dear Burda,

Even though I sometimes laugh at your attempts at 'edgy fashion', I still appreciate you offering a load of reasonably priced patterns every single month. I love how almost every issue includes at least one classic garment that opens loads of possibilities.

But these pattern sheets really give me a headache.

22 november 2012

Oh For Sock's Sake

I have to say, knitting is still fairly new to me. I usually shied away from it because it's so slow compared to sewing, and because I was sort of intimidated by all the yarns and needles and gauges, plus not being able to make a muslin. I just sort of stuck to foolproof scarves and hats, and never thought of knitting as more than something to do on the train or while watching tv.

But then I took a good hard look at myself and thought I was being ridiculous. What's the point of learning how to knit if you'll be making the same thing over and over again, never learning new tricks? So I made socks.

As soon as my mother heard about my wandering into sockland she replied with 'Ugh my auntie used to knit socks for me and they were awful, always gray or navy with a horrible seam at the toes.' And I wanted to shout back about how my socks were the same color as unicorn puke and had no real seam at the toe, just a perfectly executed Kitchener Stitch, thank you very much. But I kept all this for myself, gave a knowing smirk and went on my way.

I could go on about the Magic Of Heel Turning and the Beauty of Gusset Shaping, but I'm just going to leave you here with a bonus sock puppet shot:

I have enough yarn left for a third sock, and another ball of the same yarn in a different colorway. This could be great since I rarely wear matching socks anyway, so these could become three mismatching pairs. Hmmm...

04 november 2012

Once upon a time, I was a Dead Fox.

One of my friends threw a roadkill-themed party with her housemates. So I bought a few yards of fleece and made a fox costume.

A dead fox costume.

With a tail!

The pattern for the dress was very simple, I just took my basic bodice and turned the darts into seams with some creative slashing, then added skirt portions to every piece. It came together super quickly because fleece doesn't ravel, so no seam finishes!

Of course I had to look like real roadkill. So me and my brother set out with acrylic paint, a sponge and my mother's car to make some tire tracks. I think it worked out pretty well! The rest of the costume are just bits I had lying around: orange tights, kneesocks, black slippers and a black long sleeve t-shirt. I made the ears out of leftover fleece and attached them to a headband.

I finished the job with some facepaint and voilĂ ! Dead fox!

24 oktober 2012

The Ikat Dress

So, as you all know by now, I went on a bit of a shopping spree in the New York garment district. One of the fabrics I got was a white and blue Ikat, which I then turned into a dress:

(On a side note: can you tell where I am? The boyfriend and me went on a long weekend to London at the end of September and took some time to visit the Harry Potter studio tour. It was awesome. These pictures are taken on the wooden bridge that first appears in Prisoner of Azkaban and gets blown up in Deathly Hallows part 2)

It's a self-drafted pattern, starting from my bodice sloper. I lowered the neckline (a bit too much I'm afraid, it's a lot more cleavage than what I'm used to!) and added 3/4-length sleeves and a skirt.

The skirt has eight pleats in total, four in the front and four in the back. I didn't want to go for pleats all over since I didn't have enough fabric and felt like the pattern didn't need all the extra volume.

The fabric was quite nice to work with. it's definitely not too slippery so it doesn't shift at all, but it's quite a loose weave so if you don't handle it quick enough it just frays away right in front of you. I bound all my seams and lined the entire dress in a cotton voile.

(the hem isn't uneven by the way, it's just my bag hiking half of the skirt up a bit)

I love how the hem turned out, it's really quite invisible. Because of the looser weave it wasn't that hard to pick up just one thread from the fabric!

I really like this dress, and maybe if I found something to wear underneath it so the neckline is a bit more modest, it could become a staple!

19 oktober 2012

Anatomy of a Dress

Bodice front and back with unstitched darts / facings.

Skirt front and back with unstitched darts.

Shears / pins  and needles / thread / zipper / seam binding.

The pattern is the sultry sheath from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, which I've dubbed the Breakfast Dress for an unknown reason. (I'll be reviewing the book soon!)

15 oktober 2012

Felt Patches

While in New York, I picked up a load of felt in different colors. For some reason I can't find real wool felt at a reasonable price here, and most large craft stores only sell a synthetic version that looks and feels quite cheap (shiny!)

Back home I decided to turn some of this felt into patches, by cutting out shapes and adding details with embroidery floss. This is the result:

I really like how they came out and immediately made a little fox to be my autumn mascot:

After posting these on facebook a few people asked me if they were for sale. So now I have decided to make them available! The patches are between 7 and 8 centimeters at their widest point and cost 8 euros + shipping. I can make a custom design for you if you want. Contact me at annekecaramin(at)hotmail.com for more information!

10 oktober 2012

Clothesline on the Highline

I thought about buying the fabric for this dress for a long time. My main concern was that I'd be too old to get away with it. But then I looked at the print again and thought "oh hell no, 23 is definitely not too old to wear a clothesline print!"

So I bought it. And made it into a shirtwaist dress with a pleated skirt using this pattern:

And then I took the dress with me to New York and took a few pictures at the Highline Park:

The verdict? I love it. The fit on the bodice could have been a bit better in the shoulder area, but everything else about it is great. I did have some issues with the pattern though, the facings just wouldn't lie flat on the inside, but I'm not sure if that's because of a mistake I've made or because of a mistake in the pattern...

The dress is unlined and the fabric is pretty lightweight with some body to it, so it's perfect for warmer days, even if it had sleeves. I'm planning to make a second version of this in a lightweight chambray and give it a gored skirt instead of a pleated one.

Let's face it: you're never too old for clotheslines and underwear-stealing owls.

07 oktober 2012

the Graphic Skirt

This is the first clothing item we photographed in New York, and sadly, we completely forgot to take any close-ups. You'll just have to believe me when I describe the details to you!

I found the fabric for this skirt at my usual fabric place ( a factory outlet outside town, they mostly stock boring/ugly prints and loads of synthetics but sometimes a few gems pop up). It's a rather drapey cotton with a black and white graphic print, and I loved it immediately.

(this is a close-up of the print I took at home, when I realised this was going to be a one-picture post)

I underlined the fabric with a navy cotton to give it some body, and drafted a very quick waistband pattern. The waistband has a slight curve, making it a bit higher in the front, and the skirt itself is just your average gathered skirt.

It's a very comfortable piece, but the waistband has that old wrinkling problem lots of waistbands interfaced with the regular iron-on interfacing seem to have... It develops these deep wrinkles during wear, and I usually press the waistband of this skirt before I wear it. I've started to interface my waistbands with hair canvas and this seems to work better.

04 oktober 2012

New York Fabric Shopping

As soon as I knew we were going to New York, I made a mental note to visit this one magical place I'd heard so many stories about: the garment district. Gertie and Peter have talked about it and its many shops countless of times, and I have to say I mainly relied on their judgment when it came to choosing what stores to visit. For those who don't know: there are a few streets in Manhattan loaded with fabric and notion stores. You'll find the Mood store there, well-known from Project Runway, and many more amazing fabric shops.

The first store I went to was B&J Fabrics, and being used to a large but slightly underwhelming source for fabric if you're looking for unusual things, my jaw dropped. It took me a while before I was confident enough to really browse all the gorgeous stuff they had to offer, but I did manage to select two pretty cotton Ikats:

The blue one has already been turned into a dress, which I'll post about later. The black and white fabric will probably become another dress, perhaps something slightly smarter for the upcoming holiday season. I really enjoyed sewing the blue Ikat dress: the fabric barely shifted and pressed beautifully.

After this visit I took off to Paron Fabrics, who are supposedly well-known for their wool. The store surely didn't disappoint, and I left with a few yards of this beauty:

The wool has a gorgeous drape, and I'll probably turn it into a wide and flowy winter skirt (it would work as a dress as well but I'm just a bit too sensitive to wool to want it so close to my skin on my upper body...). The sales assistant was very friendly, he seemed genuinely interested in what I was going to make and even gave me a small discount!

After this I went to a store called Fabrics for Less (they don't seem to have a website) which was cluttered and very cheap. I bought some of this:

This is going to become a longer-sleeved dress, with rather simple lines. I didn't want anything to bread up the scenery too much. The fabric looks like it's meant for upholstery, but it's definitely not as heavy as the fabric I used for my All over the World dress. Again, the owner was very friendly, even though I almost knocked over half of the store.

On a different day I returned with my boyfriend and visited AK Fabrics, because a little bird once told me they sold really good cotton flannel and I'm supposed to make my man a shirt. We had to do some digging but it really paid off, he found something we both liked and there was just enough left on the bolt. We kept petting the flannel during the rest of the day, it felt so amazing!

Also pictured: a lightweight chambray I got at B&J that same day. I think I have enough for a shirtwaist dress and a shirt for me. It's so soft, I just can't wait to wear it!

I also got a few pieces of silk to use as a lining in two big projects I'm planning. (Does anyone know a good source for cheaper silks suitable for coat and jacket linings in Belgium? I can only find the cheap poly stuff or ridiculously expensive fabrics meant for evening wear). The upper one is a navy silk twill I got at Mood, the bottom one a dark blue silk charmeuse I bought at Fabrics for Less. I'm a bit scared of using the charmeuse, since it's so slippery! It feels like trying to fold water.

I also visited a few of the notions stores to stock up on seam binding and interfacing, and just spent a whole lot of money in general. But it was great fun, and I already miss all those stores...

02 oktober 2012

Handmade in Manhattan: the Bicycle Dress

First I want to apologize for the long silence. I went on a two-week vacation to New York and left for a long weekend in London almost immediately afterwards, so there was little time for writing blog posts! I felt terribly spoiled for spending so much time travelling, but I truly enjoyed every single minute of it.

We had around twelve days in New York, and could really take our time exploring the city. It was my first time here and I loved it, even though it was very overwhelming the first few days. On our second day we took a train to Coney Island to visit Marie Roberts, an amazing artist and overall great person whose family history has been tied to Coney Island since forever. She showed us around in her studio and took some time to chat, after which we went out to enjoy the great weather and see some sights.

I happened to be wearing an undocumented dress at the time, so when we reached the boardwalk we decided to take a few pictures. The wind was blowing like crazy, but a few pictures did come out ok!

This dress is a bit special to me, as I made it with one of my own fabric prints! The design is available on Spoonflower and is one of my personal favourites so far. Both the dress and the print are very simple: the dress has a basic bodice with a gathered skirt and a heart-shaped cutout in the back:

The print started with a small pencil drawing of a bike. I edited it in Photoshop to make it white on a bright green background and voilĂ ! Pretty fabric. It's a very comfortable summer dress, and the wide skirt makes it perfect for riding a bicycle.

By now this dress has gone back into the closet, waiting for the return of summer. You will get to see a whole lot of summer outfits over the next few days, but I'll definitely mix in some autumn and winter-related topics- there's a big project on the way!

01 september 2012

Denim Devotion

This is what yesterday's sneak peek was all about: I made a denim jumpsuit! And wore it to a party dedicated to denim. But that's not really why i made it.

The idea for this jumpsuit had been lingering in my head for a while now. I had been a bit sceptical about the so-called return of the jumpsuit, since I kept thinking about this:

Source: thefashionpolice.net

But then i stumbled upon the Anthropologie version of a denim jumpsuit, and things took a turn for the better:

I loved the lines and the seventies-vibe on this, and thought it could be a very flattering wardrobe addition. So with this denim party coming up, I started to piece a pattern together. Remember the muslin I was working on earlier? I slightly altered the bodice of this dress:

I lengthened it and drafted a waist piece to connect the bodice to the pants, a basic wide-legged pants pattern from Burda Style Magazine.

I also added patch pockets and used some scraps from my Festival dress for the pocket lining and facings.

All in all I'm quite happy with how it turned out. The denim has a slight stretch to it so it's super comfortable to wear, and I feel really good in the whole thing!

There are still a few fitting issues I'd like to resolve one day though. The crotch is still a bit too low for my liking, shortening the bodice a bit more could help this. There is quite a bit of excess fabric in the back as well. If I ever feel like it I'd rip out the zipper and waist seam and restitch them for a better fit. But for now I'm pretty pleased! The zipper could do with an extra two centimeters as well, right now I have to actually hold my butt in to get the thing on.

The biggest problem I encountered was one I still don't quite understand. When making my muslins I made sure all seamlines matched up well enough, but somehow on the final garment they managed to het all mismatched. Is there some kind of denim sewing seam matching magic I'm missing? It's not super obvious since the whole thing is dark blue, but it still bugs me a bit.

This was my first time ever working with denim, and I've listed some things I noticed on the way:

- The fabric was easy to cut and sew, it doesn't shift too much and although there is some stretch, it didn't stretch while sewing.
- I was a bit scared of how my sewing machine would handle denim, but this proved to be no real issue. I used a denim needle and even though the bulkier seams were a bit more difficult, the machine itself did a great job.
- Denim (or at least, this denim) ravels like CRAZY. I zig-zagged every edge and topstitched most of them down. I know flat-felled seams are recommended for garments like these but i've never done one of them and didn't want to risk running late with this because of a new technique.
- It also left a lot of fluff and lint in my machine. I had cleaned the bottom part (where the bobbin is) before starting it and opened it up halfway through, only to find it fluffier than after three regular sewing projects.
- This thing is HEAVY! I didn't notice it at first but near the end, when all pieced together, my arms got tired quite fast from lugging this heap of fabric around.

And the Denim Party? It turned out to be pretty awesome...