22 april 2015

There will be tables and chairs, pony rides and dancing bears

The project I'm talking about is quite different from my usual posts, but I thought it was too cool not to share! My boyfriend and have been living in our second (and awesome) appartment for a while now, and we're slowly transforming it into our ideal cozy nest. This basically means surrounding ourselves with prints, books, toys and beautiful things we love. Recently, my boyfriend's cousin told us we could have the matching armchair for our two-seat couch (which used to be hers as well and makes an appearance here). We are planning a little reading nook in one corner of the living room, and wanted a little table to keep books and cups of tea. Enter this one!

The cat wasn't included, but he has confiscated the cardboard...

This is a super basic little table from a surprisingly cheap Swedish designer. It's pretty dull in itself but I picked it because the basic shape was nice and it was untreated wood. This meant it would be easy to paint!

I traced the shapes of the two tabletops (it has a smaller, lower level) onto a big sheet of paper and started sketching. I wanted something floral, in two colours and with a bit of flair. I found a lot of inspiration in a book about haute couture details, especially from the embroidery! A cat's critical eye is essential during this step. (just a disclaimer: I don't intend this as a tutorial, since I'm probably doing loads of things wrong. I just thought it would be nice to show the process instead of just the finished product!)

These were the finished sketches. I wanted it to look complicated, but still doable to paint. After all, I hadn't painted in ages!

I then used yellow tracing paper to copy the drawings onto the wood surface. Yellow was a good choice: it's light enough so it doesn't show through the paint, but it's more visible than white.

Time to get painting! I started with the lighter colour, a metallic gold acrylic paint. This way I could easily fix mistakes later by covering them with the darker colour. These steps took quite some time because I had to use tiny brushes and needed two coats to get enough coverage.

After the gold I spent two days painting all the rest a dark teal. It was really fiddly sometimes and I was unsure about how it would look for a bit (in hindsight I should have sanded the wood down a bit first but shhh...). It's really hard to make acrylic paints look even and opaque when you're doing all these small details! Thankfully my boyfriend said he likes it more when it's a bit blotchy. D'awww!

And here's the finished table! I love how it turned out, and I can't wait to give it a proper place in our reading corner!

Ps: if you are curious about the post title...

19 april 2015

Horace?... Mind if I take this? I do love knitting patterns

This might be one of the most anachronistic garments I've ever posted. Wooly sweaters! In april! But honestly, I'm quite proud of how these turned out and I finally got the chance to take decent pictures, so to hell with such a silly thing as the weather. I knitted two sweaters!

Ah, our family. Me, the boyfriend, and a hairy old baby.
I bought yarn for a traditional lopi sweater when I was in Iceland last year, but only got around to the serious knitting in October or so. Once I started it got me into a sort of knitting kick, so I bravely promised my boyfriend I'd make him one for Christmas! (whilst still not making my dad a hat).

Both patterns came from a book I picked up in Iceland as well, aptly called 'knitting with Icelandic wool'. The pattern for my sweater is available for free here! The men's sweater pattern I used is called Riddari and the model doesn't seem to like woolen garments:

He looks angrier and angrier as the book progresses. It's hilarious.
I had never knitted a sweater before and found this kind a very nice way to start. You basically knit the body from the hem up to the armpits in the round, do the same for the sleeves and join the whole thing in the round to make the shaped yoke. No huge seams to sew together at the end, just a few armpit stitches!

I had only very limited experience with colourwork, but I didn't really encounter any problems. The biggest challenge was to get the tension of my floats even on the DPN's when I was knitting the sleeves on the men's sweater, but that was just a small bit. keeping count of my increases in the sleeves required the most attention, the rest was just easy breezy stocking stitch all the way.

I didn't want to make our sweaters too matchy matchy, although we do lean towards the same colours. They are both blue with red and white accents, but I went for different shades. The Aftur sweater has a more delicate yoke pattern so I went from a dark blue to a very dark grey and added shades of red, white and mustard yellow. I chose a faded blue for his sweater, paired it with heathered black and white and added a darker red for a bright accent.

I got all my additional yarn here (I really wasn't expecting to knit two sweaters!). Both of these sweaters were knit in Lett Lopi, which is a bit scratchy but behaves really well! Colourwork might be one of my favourite knitting techniques: it's not that hard to get the hang of and the results look really impressive. I've been working on and off on a cabled scarf for a while, but that's a sloooow project (as in, I'm taking my time). After that, I have some Brooklyn Tweed patterns lined up!

So, hooray for knitting and thanks to the boyfriend for doing this photo shoot thing! Most of the props were his idea, actually. Although it does paint a pretty clear picture of what our living room looks like.

09 april 2015

How to turn sewing into a louder hobby and not die in the process

When I was a kid my father told me horror stories about pins and needles. He said that if I swallowed one my ears would start bleeding and I'd be in pain for the rest of my life (any medical professionals who can verify this?). His words did make a lasting impression, and I still think about them whenever I mindlessly keep pins in my mouth! It's a pretty unsafe thing to do, and some time ago Hanne and I found out that we have the same strategy to keep us from dying doing something that could potentially be dangerous. We sing! Hanne made a post with her favourite sewing tunes, and I asked her if she minded me sharing some of mine as well.

I'll mention a few songs here, but I actually made a youtube playlist with tons more, if you're interested!

David Bowie - Life on Mars

Here's the thing: I'm not an exceptional singer or anything. There is some footage of me doing a Britney impersonation in a karaoke bar in Reykjavik and I hope for all of you it never finds its way online. I just like to belt out tunes that I love. Life on Mars is definitely among them (I could have included basically everything by Bowie but that could become a bit overwhelming). Nothing beats setting in sleeves at two in the morning whilst going 'is there life on MAAAAAAAARS!'. My neighbours love me.

Andrew Bird - Pulaski at Night

 Again, with Andrew Bird, it's really hard for me to pick one song. This guy goes from swing jazz to old timey simple songs to something really unique. Both me and my boyfriend have been fans for ages, and I strongly urge anyone to go see him do his thing if you get the chance. There's lots of wordplay in the lyrics and whistling in the songs, so it's really fun to sing along!

St. Vincent - Cheerleader

St. Vincent is another one of my favourite artists. I've been lucky enough to see her play twice and meet her once and she is really awesome. Most of her songs are way out of my league to sing well, but it's just too much fun not to. Cheerleader is in that Life on Mars-category of songs, and it just makes you go 'I I I I IIIIII don't want to be a cheeeerleader no moooooooore!' I swear my neighbours don't hate me.

Flight of the Conchords - Rambling through the avenues of Time

If you have been paying attention to the titles I've given some of my previous posts, you'd know that I love Flight of the Conchords. It's not just that their songs are super funny (I discover new lines every time) but they are actually good as well! 'Hurt Feelings' has become a classic in my house, and this one would make the top five just for Jemaine's commentary. I sadly couldn't find a version of this song that would let me embed the video but you can listen to it here!

Sigur Rós - Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

Ok, I'll admit I don't exactly sing along to the words when it comes to Sigur Rós. It's mostly some kind of mumbling that vaguely sounds nothing like Icelandic. But I love their music like crazy, and different albums seem to suit different sewing moods. Sometimes I need something relaxing for accurate and focused work, or something uplifting to keep me going, and they always deliver. Even if I have no idea what they're talking about. Apparently this song title means 'Inside me a lunatic sings'. Couldn't be more right.

I hope you enjoyed this insight in my music collection! And maybe this little tip will save a life (or destroy someone else's ears) someday. Do feel free to share your own sewing jams!

04 april 2015

Yeah, I've turned them into a rather smart casual jacket.

Sewing time! This is something I made and photographed a while ago, but never got round to posting. It's another Rigel bomber! I had already made two, both of which got worn loads during the summer and early autumn. Now I felt it was time for a jacket I could wear during these chilly weeks when a winter coat is just too much, but it's still too nippy for lighter jackets!

There's not that much to say that I haven't said before about this pattern. It's a surprisingly quick sew, with the welt pockets being the most time-consuming step. I cut this jacket out during a visit to Caroline's amazing sewing space and it took me two evenings to sew it all (mostly due to procrastination on my part and some added hand-sewing)

I used a lightweight wool from Pauli for the shell and a bit of gold (!) acetate lining fabric. I'm wearing this jacket with long-sleeved shirts and sweaters as opposed to tops or short-sleeved dresses, so being able to just slide my arms in is nice! I used plain black ribbing for the neckline, hem and cuffs and it works fine, but I'd like something a bit more substantial the next time. Any good sources for thicker ribbing in Belgium?

I wouldn't call this jacket mine if it was completely blank, so I added a patch to one of the sleeves. It's this amazing one from Maiden Voyage Clothing. Since then, I've added some of my own badges and a badge I got from this guy:

It's a laser-cut character from his latest graphic novel. I kind of want to play with a laser cutting thing now. How amazing would a dress or jacket with a cutout design be? This picture also shows the lining, which isn't part of the pattern. I added it the same was as before, by cutting the body and sleeves in lining fabric, assembling the lining and shell separately and then basting them together before attaching the zipper, ribbing and facing. I turned the edges of the facing under and handstitched it to the jacket. Bam!

I have another project lined up to photograph (eagle-eyed people can already spot it on the Sew it Up website). I'm not posting these pictures here yet because I think the actual blog post and dress deserve a nicer setting than my living room. Sadly, my boyfriend (and photographer) got pretty sick at the beginning of the week and we took him to hospital on Thursday because he had a massive fever that wouldn't go down. It turned out to be pneumonia so he'll have to take it easy for a bit! He's doing a lot better now though, and I got to kill time in the emergency room by drawing this amazing portrait:

PS: for those wondering about the title: watch this. You won't regret it.