29 december 2018

Swishy Fish

I made these wide-legged trousers a while ago, and since they only made me stumble once (despite regular wear) I thought it would be safe to make a winter version. The idea of swishing around in shiny wool seemed like a good one, and I pulled out a fabric I'd bought in Toronto during my vacation there. The pieces were cut during an evening of work/play at my friend Karen's appartment, and we took some pictures when I visited her at work!

These are the Kommatia Palazzo pants, which I've made before in linen. This wool has a lot more body (although it's still quite drapey) and I really like how the shape gets more pronounced! Sewing these was very quick (the most time-consuming step is the fly front and even that is not such a big deal), these were done in two evenings!

I didn't topstitch the pockets on my first version and regretted that ever since because the pocket lining kept peeking out (it has been fixed with some hand stitching) so I made sure not to skip that step on these. It still shows a bit (which is what tends to happen with this type of pockets and bright contrast linings) but not nearly enough to bother me.

I also noticed in my previous versions that the waistband tended to grow and relax too much, even with interfacing. I had a leftover piece of an interfacing with rows of stitches running through it, which is usually used in jackets, and I used that for the waistband. The stitching runs parallel to the length of the waistband and acts as a kind of staystitching, so this thing does not give. They won't be my eating pants, but they won't fall down either!

I did forget that I had added length to my summer version (after a warning from Eleonore) and didn't do that for this one, so these are finished with the tiniest bias faced hem. I'm not exceptionally tall and having something come out short (when it's not intended to be short) is a rare occurence!

I like how these are both basic (dark wool herringbone fabric) and dramatic (there's some silver woven through the fabric and of course those wide legs! A heads up about fabric quantity: The pattern says you need 2,40 meters but I had 1,5 yards and got them cut out without puzzling. I'm not sure if this still applies to larger sizes, but you don't need as much fabric if you're making a size small!

The t-shirt I'm wearing with it is another slightly modified Renfrew (neckline raised, side seams straightened for a boxier fit). I made this to wear to our latest elections so cut out the word 'Lies!' in white flock foil stuff and ironed it on. It's gotten a lot of wear since then, and caused some confusion!

08 december 2018

You Have A Bug On You Heh Heh Heh

Life hasn't all been velvet coats and luxury lately. I also made some time to sew a few basics! Another thing that had been on my mind was a simple straight button-front skirt, sort of like a jean skirt. I was about to start searching for a pattern when I remembered I could mess with the Moss skirt and make it happen!

This was an easy alteration: I indicated the center front on the pattern pieces and added some width to create a cut on placket. These were then folded over and topstitched in place before constructing everything else. This worked out really well, but next time I would construct the pockets first so the edges are caught in the placket! I kind of forgot about that.

I had recently used this pattern for this dungaree dress and thought I'd be fine size-wise, but when I tried the skirt on before attaching the waistband it was too big in the waist. It's not such a big deal when you have straps holding it up (and I even prefer it a bit looser then) but no good on its own! I took the waist in by about five cm all around. It's still a little loose but at least it stays up! I traced a size 6 and according to the Grainline size chart I could use a size 4, but this felt like it was more than one size too big. Maybe I should write down the size I traced on my pattern pieces. Live and learn!

Have a wrinkly butt picture! I like how this skirt is a bit of a blank canvas, so I can let the corduroy do the talking. It's maybe a smidge too lightweight for this, but I loved the colour. I also felt a bit lazy so used jeans buttons down the front instead of hand-sewing all of them.

Did you notice the sweater? It's a fabric I printed a few months ago, and finally got around to using it! I used three hand-carved beetle stamps and silver block printing ink to stamp a random pattern on a length of cotton sweatshirting fabric. The fabric had a faded spot so the amount I could use was a bit limited, but it was just enough for a heavily modified Renfrew!

I cropped the top a bit so I could wear it with high-waisted things without tucking it in, straightened the side seams for a more relaxed fit and raised the neckline a bit. The cuffs, hem and neckline are finished with plain black ribbing. This thing has already had a ton of wear, and has resulted in a few jokes (hence the title of this post)!

I'm thinking of making another one of these skirts in plain black, that might become a true workhorse. I also have some glitter french terry around that would make another good sweater. Time for a winter uniform!

30 november 2018

The Velvet Dreamcoat

I had this idea in my head for about a year or two. You might have noticed over the years that I love me a good coat, and part of me really wanted an ankle-length velvet trench coat. But good quality velvet can be expensive, and I really couldn't justify spending that much on something as frivolous and impractical.

Enter Ikea, and the Sew Frosting challenge hosted by True Bias and Closet Case Patterns.

Me and Hanne took a trip to Ikea a while ago, and after finding our responsible and needed items (and lunch) we took a look at the sales corner before leaving. I stumbled upon a velvet curtain panel, in a gorgeous shade of green. I assumed it was going to be something gross and synthetic, but the label said 100% cotton. It was about 3 meters, and 20 euros.

The Named Isla Trench Coat has been on my list for a while, but I was waiting for the perfect fabric (since this is a bit of a fabric hog). And now I suddenly had an entire curtain!

I wasn't planning on entering the Sew Frosting Challenge when it was announced, since I had plans for some practical garments that I actually need, and none of them fit the bill. And then I got a brand new sewing machine, and this fabric!

I was going to try and get the full length version of this coat out of my 3 meters, but was willing to shorten it a bit if necessary. Using velvet meant that I had to place every piece in the same direction, which can useeven more fabric. I did find a few bits of black velvet in my stash that I used for the collar, pocket welts and sleeve strap details. This and a bit of pattern tetris meant I actually had enough!

Tracing the pattern and cutting all the pieces took ages, but sewing was very straightforward, apart from the 'working with velvet' part. I only used fusible interfacing to reinforce the pocket area, but basted a lightweight black cotton to all other pieces instead. My new machine (more on that later!) handles velvet pretty well but I did baste the longer seams before sewing to avoid shifting.

I wanted to take my time and finish this well, and since I was going for silver buttons I decided to include silver piping between the lining and the facing. The kind we sold in the shop was too silvery, bulky and scratchy for my liking, but I had a piece of lightweight silver fabric so I made my own. To make matters easier I changed the order of construction a bit, attaching the lining to the facing first and thenvsewing that to the rest of the coat. I also opted to finish the hem by hand. The instructions for the vent finish were completely ignored as well, because my brain just couldn't make sense of them anymore.

As I said before, I got a new sewing machine. My old one was almost ten years old, and still the mechanical beginner's model that started me sewing. I never had any problems with it until last year, when it ran smoothly again after some tlc. However, the same problem came back not even a year later, and I just had to face that it just wasn't good enough anymore for the amount of sewing I do. So I used the profits from my freelance work and invested in a major upgrade. Which also means: ten different kinds of automatic buttonholes! I actually had fun sewing all the buttonholes on this coat, which means a LOT.

In the end I'm really happy with the contrasting fabric. It started as a necessity, but it also gives the coat a bit more interest. That, and I feel like I walked out of Hogwarts, which is a bit of a style goal.

I did decide to go for single rows of topstitching instead of double, since velvet and topstitching don't always match. It doesn't look too bad on these fabrics because the pile is pretty short, but I didn't feel like the coat needed any more of it.

I didn't make a muslin (Named patterns fit me pretty well in the past) and the fit on this is pretty spot on! I made shoulder pads and sleeve heads out of cotton batting, and they give just the right amount of structure to this not-too-structured coat.

Did I need this coat? Not really. Is it going to make me feel like I'll be pulling a wand out of my pocket any second? Hell yeah. So definitely worth it.

19 november 2018


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 knees (not a good length!). I shortened the entire thing and made the difference between the front and back a bit less obvious. 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!