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: