February 27, 2010

Purple dress, purple dress

I told you I was getting into colour. Allow me to introduce: exhibit nr. 3, the purple dress.

I bought this fabric a few month ago, having fallen in love with the colour. In my mind, this is quite a vintage or retro shade of purple. Too intense and too blue to be a recent fashion colour. Considering the market stall I bought it from (which is forever selling weird fabrics which seem to be very old leftovers from somewhere, at a ridiculously low price) it may well be quite an old fabric. The guy selling it wasn't even prepared to start discussing the fibre content. So, all I can tell you is that I love the colour, it's a crepe weave, and a mystery fibre. From sewing with it, I know there's something quite synthetic in it (it gets slightly static) and some wool (I smelled that when pressing it).

I had bought two meters, and straight away I knew it just had to be some kind of vaguely sixties inspired dress. For a while, I was making other things, shying away from this vibrant colour, but last week, it was time.
I drafted this pattern myself, considering it a bit of an experiment. Usually, I don't make dresses without waist shaping and not a lot of mini things. This one had to be both. I didn't just eliminate waist darts, it also has a back pleat opening up right under the sleeve-line.
Because this fabric was cheaper than the stuff I usually use for muslins, I didn't make one of those.

I first tried it on when I had sewn the body pieces together, and was pleasantly surprised. The fabric turned out to drape a lot more than expected, making the loose shape rather flattering. Originally, I planned to make a fairly high standing collar, but I realised that would make it too strict, so I opted for a fold-over one instead.
The dress has a short placket, using sew-on snaps as the real closure and buttons from gran's stash, covered with fabric, for show.

I still have some of this fabric left, so there will be a skirt as well, fairly soon...

February 26, 2010

Weekly outfit nr.19

Back to regular posting. This is my outfit picture for this week. It seems that ever since making the green skirt and orange top, I keep thinking colour. I have been sewing a colourful dress (more about that tomorrow) and looking at colourful fabrics.

Here, I'm wearing the brightest not-summer skirt I had before the green one. It's bright red wide wale corduroy and I made it about two years ago from a pattern I made myself. With it, I'm wearing a cardigan, which is one of only two succesfull attemps at knitting I've ever made. I kind of made it last year, but at a gauge of 3,5 mm, it took me forever and it lived for quite some time as a UFO with the body pieces and one sleeve done. I am happy with the result though, and have been wearing it quite a bit on warmer days this winter. The t-shirt I wear underneath was recycled from an old plain t-shirt of my boyfriend's and painted with white fabric paint (two years ago)

From pattern to garment - the tiny shrug

In a comment to my last post, Isaspacey asked for more information on how the pieces go together. Well, this post is for you (and for anyone else thinking the same, but not asking. Which, by the way, you should. In sewing there are no stupid questions and I just love getting comments)

1. Fabric placement: put the two new pieces on the fold, choose you sleeve length.

2. Cutting. These are your pieces.

3. Start sewing. Set in the sleeves. Setting them in flat (before sewing the side seam and sleeve seams) tends to be a bit easier. When pinning the sleeves, the notches for the shoulder on the body and sleeve are really useful, but they don't in this fabric.

4. Sew side seams.

5. Sew short end of edging.

6. Fold in half right side out.

7. Pin to body. Put the seam at the center back of the neckline and stretch the edging evenly to fit the body. Sew.

8. Voila! Your shrug is finished! (Ok, the sleeves still need hemming, but I trust no one needs me to tell them how that is done...)

Any knit or jersey can be used for this pattern, however the amount of stretch and/or drape can vary enormously with each fabric, which is something you should always keep in mind when considering the combination pattern and fabric. For this project, it's Ok if the fabric is a bit bulky, but it shouldn't be too drapy.
Also, I used a serger here but of course you could also make it on a sewing machine, using a stitch appropriate for stretch (if you don't have 'official' stretch stitches, use a small zigzag). Jersey won't ravel but more open knits, like this one, will.
Once again, good luck sewing!

February 21, 2010

Belofte maakt schuld (as the Dutch would say)

If there's an English expression saying the same thing, I'm not familiar with it. Literally translated this Dutch expression means 'Promise creates debt', so, in effect, it cautions us to live up to our promises.
Which is exactly what I plan on doing, despite being a bit late. Early in January, I promised to try and do more tutorials. And to do a tutorial of one of the Giveaway-patterns. I knew I wouldn't have time for it that month, but by now, we're half-way through February.

So, here it is. This is how you make your very own 'tiny shrug' pattern.

1. Start out with a pattern for a basic fitted t-shirt. This is Burdastyle's Lydia, but any other one will do as well (if it has bust darts, don't pay attention to them, this pattern doesn't reach down that low). Because I'm using a Burdastyle pattern here, I explain the whole thing for a pattern which includes 1,5 cm seam allowance. Just skip all the parts about compensating for that if you use a pattern without seam allowance.

2. Trace the back body piece onto a sheet of paper.

3. Mark a point at the side seam 3 cm below the armhole (to compensate for the included seam allowance).

4. Draw a help line at a 90 degree angle from center back to the point you marked at the side. Then, go down 1 cm more at center back and create a gently curved bottom to your back piece.

5. Mark a line 3 cm below the shoulder line, to compensate for seam allowances.

6. Trace the front pattern piece with its shoulder line along the line you just made. For you final pattern, make sure to mark where the shoulder seam would have been (this is the top of the shoulder, knowing where that is makes setting the sleeves easier).

7. Mark a point 3 cm below the armhole (seam allowence).

8. Draw a gentle curve from the neckline to the point you've just marked. Take care never to get closer than 3 cm to any of the original pattern's lines.

9. This is your finished body piece. Now, mark the actual stitching lines along bottom and neckline and measure these.

10. At a 90 degree angle from the papers edge, draw a straight line. The length should be the measurement made above minus about 20 percent (in my case, the measurement was 55,7 and I went with a 44 cm line, plus 1,5 cm seam allowance, makes 45,5 cm in total)

11. At the paper's edge, this pattern piece is 15 cm wide, at the other end just 6 cm (this is including seam allowance, substract 1,5 cm for without). Draw a gentle curve from one end to the other, making sure to start and finish at a 90 degree angle.

12. Fold the paper in half along the straight line of your new pattern piece, tack it in place and cut. Now, you have these two pattern pieces. Both have a single straight line which is the center back and should be cut on the fold.

Cutting and sewing:
As mentioned above, cut the pieces you made on the fold and use the normal sleeve pattern piece, at any length you like.
Set the sleeves into the body piece.
Sew sleeve seam and (tiny) side seam.
Sew short ends of the new pattern piece together.
Fold it in half, right side out.
Pin it to the rest of the shrug. The seam should be at the center back of the neck, the center back should be at the body piece's center back bottom.
Stitch it in place stretching the new piece to fit as you go.

Good luck, and if you make the tiny shrug, I'd love to see the result!

February 20, 2010

Outfits, outfits, outfits

Finally some proper light today! I took advantage of it by taking some pictures of some fairly recent creations as worn by me (some of those I've never worn combined like this, but I'm sure I will). Click on the pictures to make them bigger (yes, these are a bit bigger). My apologies for all the similar poses and self-timer faces.
It seems that contrary to what I thought, blogger does not enlarge the pictures when clicked (I'd swear I've seen and used that feature on other blogger-blogs...) so I have uploaded them a size bigger.

First up: flared trousers and jacket in charcoal grey wool, here worn as a suit with a ruffly top underneath. The top was made of fabric left over from my flowy white shirt. It's a simple sleeveless number, decorated with three rows of circular ruffles.

Then: the same jacket with the belt pleated trousers and the heart t-shirt for a very different looking suit.

Number three: the last item I made in the charcoal grey wool, the skirt, worn with the grey jersey cardigan and a very old refashioned t-shirt (it used to be a band t-shirt belonging to my boyfriend, but he let me have it and cut it to my size two years ago. I like it's faded look and love to wear it with neat tailored pieces)

Four: Karin asked for it, and I had been thinking about it myself as well. The green skirt with the orange top. It actually looks fine in the picture, but in reality, it doesn't really work. The green is really eye-poppingly bright (the camera's sensors don't seem to be able to cope with that) and the orange is a bit muted in comparison.

And finally, this is something I'm not so sure about. I've made this skirt two years ago, and I still love it. The top, however is a different story. I bought the fabric at the spring fabric market last year, having fallen in love with that flowy, almost art nouveau style, print. However, it is also quite shiny, which always scared me a bit. The size of the print (and the weight of the fabric) meant it had to be made into something unstructured.
I made this about a month ago and it has been on my ironing board ever since, unable to leave the sewing room. Originally, I put elastic at the bottom, thinking it would be nice as one of those loose fitting tops I could wear with fitted trousers. But that just made the whole thing look like a tracksuit top... Not a good look at all. Playing around with it, I realized it might look a lot better tucked in. I am actually fairly happy with this look and it might also work with my high waisted tweed skirt, although I'm not sure it would work with trousers...

I'm going back to sewing now. So many plans, so little time. I'm working on a Chanel-like jacket, but I'll have to put that on hold for now untill I can get the right notions for it. So I'll go and make a pattern for another knit top. Or a skirt. Or a dress...

February 17, 2010

Weekly outfit is back! Eh, nr. 18 right?

I actually planned to do several outfit-pictures today, showing off various recent creations. However, I managed to have my eyes closed on all but one picture, and by the time I noticed, it was too dark for new once.
So, just one for now, and I'll try again on Friday.

Here I'm wearing (they just go with everything) my lightly flared charcoal grey trousers with my latest creation, a top with a draped neckline. What makes this one quite different in my wardrobe is, of course, the colour. I found this fabric on sale and it was just so woolly and soft and drapey that I just had to buy it. I figured I could always dye it if the colour was really no good. But it's kind of a burnt orange which actually goes surprisingly well with my hair colour and skin tone (at least, I think so...).
I bought all the fabric left on the bolt (about 3m, the sellers at the market always start making offers you can't refuse when they get to the last 4m on a bolt), so there will be one or two more pieces made from it.

February 12, 2010

'New' skirt

Let me start this post with an apology. I know some of you like my 'weekly outfit' posts, but I won't do one now. I've been feeling a little under the weather all week and right now I neither look nor feel very stylish. I'll make up for it as soon as I feel better though.

Despite the annoyingly low energy level that comes with having a cold, I have managed to get some sewing done. And something that has been on my mental to-do-list for months, no less.
Way back in October, a friend of a friend paid me to make this dress fit her. She had bought it at a vintage shop, loving the colour.
No idea how old the dress was. I would guess at early 70's but if anyone has a better idea, I'd love to hear it.

Whatever the dress was, it was at least two sizes too big for her, and quite a lot longer than she wanted (that dress would have been ankle length for an average sized women, but this lady is definately on the short side). I altered the dress for her, and while doing that I noticed it had to have been homemade originally. It had wide, irregular seam allowances, trimmed with zigzag stitching and the thread colour of that changed halfway through. And those bust darts had been poorly stitched and pressed, resulting in too much of a pointy shape. I fixed that too.
The final result looked great on her and I hope she has enjoyed wearing it since.

Of course, I got to keep the bit of skirt I cut off. The outer fabric is certainly 100% synthetic, probably polyesther. I would never buy that from the bolt, but the colour is great and it has this interesting abstract textured pattern. I also had a piece of lining left, which was rather nice, as lining fabrics go (= it doesn't cling)

The dress's skirt had 7 gores, so I didn't have a great deal of options for the design of my skirt. I knew I wanted pockets though, and no bound ones this time. This is the end result (the actual length is about 10 cm above the knee, but my dummy misses a bit and is therefore stuck at its lowest setting). I'm really happy with it and looking forward to wearing it out.

February 9, 2010

Welcome! And on to more.

If you are new here, just coming in from a visit to the selfish seamstress: welcome! I really hope I can live up to the image she drafted of me ;)
The promise of this excellent piece by that blogger, Elaine (great seamstress, blogger, and, as it turns out, comedian) was one of the very flattering things I mentioned in my last post. The other one being the fact that Carolyn (the lovely lady behind handmade by Carolyn) nominated me for the Kreativ blogger award.
Of course, I had no choice but to humbly accept the honour.

Now, according to the rules, I have to tell you 7 things about myself, and nominate 7 other people (although, like Carolyn, I'll stick to 3). So, here we go:

1. If there is such a thing as a sewing gene, that might go a long way to dispelling the selfish seamstress's accusations of my using black magic.
Two of my great grandmothers were professional seamstresses until motherhood forced them to give up work. Both my grandmothers and my mother used to sew for their children when they were young, although they all claim they never aimed for a professional level of craftsmanship. But hey, such a trait can skip a generation or two, can't it?

2. I have no sense of rythm whatsoever. I'm the girl who will get out of tune by the third clap when clapping along with the music among two thousand other people.

3. Both in highschool and in college, some of the people I hang out with (not the same people, by the way, no one from my old highschool went to art college with me) used to call me 'Miss Walking Encyclopedia'.
Oh yes, I'm a know-it-all and often, I can't help showing it. Sometimes I get a little embarrassed about it myself, but it has served me well on many occasions, too.

4. I don't eat eggs. I'm not allergic and so I don't might them as an ingredient you don't taste, as in cake or in meatballs, but I really hate them on their own.
When I was about twelve, the sight of my little brother, sitting across from me at the breakfast table, almost literally digging in to his soft boiled egg (the smell of which all seamed to be coming in my direction) would make me want to flee from the room.

5. I never wear jewelry, except a ring with a large stone on each ring finger (I used to wear just one, on my left hand). And I have developed a superstition about them.
Whenever there's a big change in my life, I have to change my ring. I can never find a new ring when nothing has changed or will change and the old ring has a tendency to get badly damaged or lost when change is about. I stick to silver rings, set with semi-precious stones (amber, on the one I wear now).

6. Do you ever wonder how people will read your blog posts? With me, there's a big chance I'll be nodding at the computer screen, mumbling in agreement, laughing out loud or making surprised or disagreeing noises. Yes, I talk to my computer, and to those annoying pre-recorded phone messages which you have to listen to when called the bank or the insurance company. Fortunately we don't have satnav in the car, because I just might drive myself and my poor boyfriend crazy (SN: go left in 200 m
L: 200 m? How do I know when I've driven 200? Oh yeah, I know, I know, you'll tell me!
SN: turn left now
L: Ok, ok
SN: proceed along A4
L: I don't need you to tell me to go on on the road I'm on, you stupid thing! Just tell me when I need to change direction. And anyway, whose voice did they record for you? Who can't pronounce the letter 'A' normally??
.....and so on and so on)

7. I'm a last generation analog person.
When studying photography, I was the last woman standing in the black and white darkroom and I was the last student to produce graduation work on the old-fashioned 4by5 inch film.
Maybe it's also why I love sewing. There's no way to make a piece of fabric into a garment by computer.. yet.
Although I can use computers (well, I can even keep a blog) I still find it easier to gather information in a library than on the internet, and I'm not present on MSN, facebook, twitter, hyves, myspace, linkedin, flicker, youtube or any other 'social network' or other place for sharing which I haven't even heard of yet.

Well, that's it. Because of point nr. 7, I guess it shouldn't surprise anyone that I don't actually follow that many blogs, so I don't think I could come close to nominating 7 people (a lot of other people I was thinking about, have recently received the kreativ blogger award already).

So I would like the award to go to these three:

1. Melissa, whose blog is always a joy read. I don't think I would be blogging if I hadn't been reading her blog for quite a while.

2. Natron, who blogs in German and is one of the founding forces of tutorial site natronundsoda.net

3. Elaine, who may blog as the selfish seamstress, but has been responsible for Burdastyle's most popular member-made pattern ever.

February 5, 2010

Quick update

It's been a very busy week here. I picked up E after a week-long trip for his work on Saturday, attended (and took pictures at) a party for my grandmother on Sunday (oh no, I still have to look at those pictures and send a selection to my family...). Went back to work with M on Monday and every day until today, visited the open day (evening) of the local fashion craft school, wrote no less than three job applications (working with M is great, but a volunteer thing), did loads of laundry and reorginised my grocery-shopping routine to compensate for a busy weekend to come.

Now, I have a moment for a quick post. Because of the things I described above, I didn't get any sewing done. Still got tons of ideas though. Including sewing from stash in bright colours. And two fellow seamstresses/bloggers devoted some rather flattering attention to yours truly (watch this spot for more about that, it wouldn't be fair to spoil the surprise).

I was going to take a 'weekly outfit'-picture but the weather is drab and rainy, so I think I'll wait to see whether the afternoon will bring some better light.
First, however, I will eat my lunch and go fabric shopping.
I promised a friend to make her a dress (promissed way back in November) and I still haven't managed to find the right fabric. Even though her second choice of fabric would be as simple as black stretch twill... Ah, those fabric stores of today!! So, I'll be of to try another one.

I will still be very busy this weekend, but I am really planning to finally do that how-to I promised.
There is one thing I promised which I did do this week. Because I still haven't heard from Cashew, I have picked a new winner to the New Year's Giveaway. Congratulations go to: sophie
If you are reading this, sophie, please email me at aichahockxAThotmailDOTcom to discuss things like size and the pattern of your choice.