Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fun Repairwork With Embroidery

I hear you thinking - how can repair work be fun?? It seems that mending clothes is one of the things a sewist dreads the most. Mending for others? Even worse! I am no exception, my repair pile is usually quite high. For me this has to do with aesthetics and the satisfaction of creating something beautiful. The thing that makes repair work so annoying for me is that you are usually not creating something pretty. Yes, it is wearable again, but does it look as good as before the tear? Even with a well done patch it's usually a compromise at best.

So when my favourite jeans started to tear at the knee, I really wanted to find a way to repair them in the best way. They're skinny jeans and the tear was at the knee, it would be hard to mend with the machine. So since I had to do it by hand anyway, I decided not to try and make it look invisible, but instead to make it into an interesting detail.

I cut out a cotton patch and pinned it to the inside, covering the tear. I didn't have embroidery floss so I created some by doubling up sewing thread, twisting it and then let it twist in on itself, creating a 4 strand thread. I did this for every new line, but you could also make one long strand of each colour. I then started with the red chevron line, to make sure the tear was held in place. Since the whole area was wearing thin I extended above and below the tear to make sure it won't tear in some other place close by. I made the pattern up as I went along, creating a rectangular patch. After finishing I trimmed the patch at the back and finished the edges with a serger-like stitch I have on my machine.

Embroidery is by no means something I'm good at or do regularly, but it really was fun to do. The best way to go at it is probably to draw the pattern on the fabric first. And depending on the size of the tear, maybe also stitch it closed in a matching thread, and then embroider over that. If you like I can do a little tutorial, also on how to make the embroidery floss out of sewing thread. My other pants  also have a tear anyway :) Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sloppy Jo & What We're Up To

This blogpost is coming to you from within the cosy walls of a Mongolian yurt! We're not in Mongolia though, but in the hills of la Marche, Italy. We're alternating short periods of travelling with one month stays at organic farms (wwoofing). We've been travelling for five months now, and it seems we've figured out the right balance between travelling and working. The travel periods allow us to see different places and give the travel experience. The wwoofing gives us temporary homes where we learn a broad range of new skills, and also have a comfortable place (with internet!) to work on Paprika Patterns. So far we've stayed on a back-to-basics donkey farm in Sardegna, a high-end Agriturismo with cashmere goats and now we're experiencing the yurt-life. If you’d like to follow our travels, you can find us on Facebook.

Needless to say, travelling has slowed down our work a good deal. We've discovered that full time travel and full time work just doesn't go together. Instead of getting away from everyday life you end up feeling more stressed! Looking for a place to safely park your truck for the night and drafting patterns in Illustrator is just too much for one day. It was a good lesson in acceptance and patience on my part, as I'm so excited about getting Paprika up and running. I just had to let go if I wanted to be able to actually enjoy our travels. It sounds a bit ridiculous, right, with the life I lead now, what more could I wish for? But, we're still making steady progress! Somewhere in the (hopefully near) future, there will be a nice website where you can get the Jade :)

I do manage to squeeze in some sewing time here and there. I feel a big urge at the moment so I'm hoping to sew up a nice wool flannel Archer in the next days. But first, here's an easy basic make, because that's just what I need most right now. I modified the Sloppy Josephine pattern I made earlier. It's turning out to be my go-to Tshirt pattern. This time I lengthened the sleeves to 3/4. Jen has a tutorial on how to do this, it's really easy. I also lengthened the bodice a bit, and added an inch to the neckline so it's a bit higher. I got into trouble with the neck band, it was a bit too tight. Instead of unpicking I crossed my fingers and tossed the finished shirt into the washing machine, and that took care most of the wrinkles. You can still see them a bit, but not enough to bother me.

I wanted the neckline to be a bit less wide so next to heightening the front I also traced the XS lines at the neckline at front, back and sleeves, and then graded out to S at the waist and M at the hips. This works quite well and is easy to do. The fabric is a lightweight jersey from Cousette, designer Aime Comme Marie. They still have it in mustard, grey and blue. It's wonderful stuff, very drapey but not too thin. I just keep ordering from Cousette, they have such nice quality fabrics.

This shirt gives me the option to layer and combine different outfits with a minimum amount of clothes. The colour is basic but the feathers make it a bit more interesting. It could be easy to make this pattern yourself with some stamps too, maybe I'll try that in the future. If I find the time between planting olive trees, building compost toilets and drafting new patterns :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Espresso Leggings on the Rocks

I've mentioned my leggings before, but thought they were not interesting enough to show you. Now that I've used them for climbing and got some pretty pictures, it might be nice to show them anyway! I made these at the end of the summer. I chose them because I'd been wanting to try Cake Patterns and the interesting draft-your-own-size system but the other designs are not my style. I don't even wear leggings usually, I prefer tights. I'm glad I brought these with me on the trip though, leggings are perfect for rock climbing.

The size system is simple: take some measurements, find the associated dots and draft lines between them. It's also really easy to draft in between dots. When I took my measurements I discovered that the front crotch line wasn't curved at all, rather just a straight line. I asked Steph about this, and she told me to leave it as is. So I did, and the leggings fit perfectly in the front. She also wrote a post about this phenomenon if you want to read about it. I kept the legs a bit long, I like them to scrunch a bit around the ankles.

I'm also glad I brought some long shirts, after all, leggings are not pants :) Now that I started climbing again I have a good reason to make more leggings, and because they are only used for sports, I could choose the wildest fabrics. I'd love to have me some galaxy print leggings!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy New Year!

2013 is coming to an end! This has been a wonderful year with lots of big changes. We have turned our life around and are now living it exactly the way we want. Without a house and only a truck, seeing different parts of Europe, doing the jobs we love most and generally living life at a slower pace. The first half of the year was mostly about preparation, the second half mostly about adjusting to our new life. Paprika Patterns had its start, although we haven’t been able to get the first pattern out yet. It was difficult to get a good overview of all the work that needed to be done, and thus difficult to do some realistic planning. Alongside our lifestyle changes, the months just flew by.

A big part of it is the fact that we are travelling now, and we need the right circumstances to be able to work. A place where we can stay for a few days in a row, have access to the internet and preferably can also get electricity. Our way of travelling knows different phases in which we alternate between periods of travelling and periods of staying in one place. We’re in the travelling phase now, discovering the island of Sardinia with friends. Soon we’ll get to the other phase and then work can continue. It’s been hard for me to accept the fact that we can’t work all the time. I needed to let go of this idea to be able to enjoy the travelling phases. It’s how we envisioned our life to be, but I’m just super impatient to get that Jade out :). We just don’t want to take any shortcuts in either the pattern or the online space we’re building, so we need to give it the time it needs. Although the endresult is starting to look pretty much the way we want it to, we still can’t give a release date yet. In the future, I’ll be sure not to talk about a new pattern before we’re 100% certain of the release date.

In terms of sewing, this has been a year in which I learned yet more. I feel like I’ve become more precise in all areas, from cutting to sewing. I can appreciate a neat seam more now that I’ve gotten past the ‘OMG I made something!’ phase. I also started the Pattern Magic Project to get into new ways of pattern manipulation. I had to put it on hold after working on the Jade took up more time, but I hope to continue it sometime next year. My favourite makes of this year are already listed in the post I wrote in august, and not a lot has been made since then. I hope to show you some more after we've settled down. For now, we wish you all the best for the new year! That you may you find beautiful fabrics, sew perfect seams and make new lots of sewing friends!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Archer shirt

I finally made something I can blog about! I have been making lots of stuff but they're all prototypes for Paprika Patterns next pattern, so I want to wait with those for a bit. This make was born both because I really wanted to make a button down and because I needed something nice to wear to my grandfathers funeral. He passed a couple of weeks ago and we went back to the Netherlands for a few days to attend. My grandfather was known for his jokes and the funny little things he did, but also for always dressing like a gentleman. I didn't bring any clothes with me that would be suitable so I decided to make myself an Archer for the occasion.

I ordered this fabric from Cousette, a French online fabric shop with the most gorgeous fabrics. The longer I browse through them, the more I want. This one is now sold out but was called 'Souffle le vent' and is a Japanese double gauze. I had never seen or touched this kind of fabric before so I was curious and I really loved the print. The pattern is weaved in on one layer, the other layer is the same colour but plain. It's nicely displayed in the pocket, made using Jen's alternate pocket tutorial. It is the most beautiful cotton I have seen; it's kind of heavy but it still has some drape, and it hardly creases the way you'd expect from a 100% cotton. If you ever doubt, take a double gauze. They're not cheap but you'll love touching and wearing it. Cutting it out was a puzzle though, I ordered the amount of fabric for 60" width, but I discovered it was 45". It took me quite a while but now you know that it is possible if you cut size 8 or under.

If I would have followed the size chart, I'd have cut B/W/H as 4/2/10. I wasn't sure about the bust and decided to play it safe with a 6. Not because of my actual bust, but I have broad shoulders. Drafting between sizes from 6 to 2 to 10 would result in a ridiculously hourglass shirt, so for the waist I went with 4. I checked the ease on the hips and figured I could go with 8 instead of 10. Although I am happy with those choices, there's clearly some problems. I am too tall and my shoulders are too square. It might look like the shirt is too tight at the shoulders looking at those draglines, but they're fine in terms of movement. I think the problem is that the slope of my shoulders is less than what the pattern is drafted for.

The other problem is my length. I am 5 ft 10" and that length is equally divided between body parts. That means that the shirt is on the short side at my hips, but my waist is also lower than the shirt's. I hemmed the shirt with bias tape to lose as little seam allowance as I could. It makes for a pretty neat seam finish anyway. The sleeves were on the short side too. I made good use of the seam allowances on the sleeves and cuffs to get some length, and they're just about right. Overall the shirt looks fine, I just would have liked it like, 2 inches longer.

Seeing those problems it's kind of a muslin, but a very wearable one in an expensive fabric :) It was perfect for the occasion, and I could not have done it differently anyway because I barely had enough fabric as it was. I loved making it, I really tried my hardest to sew it super neat. I love how a button down sort of shows your skill level in that way, with all the topstitching and buttonholes. I've adapted the pattern and my next Archer is waiting to be cut out in a wool flannel. The quest for the perfect Archer continues!

P.S. Have you read about Archer Appreciation month? Join Rochelle and Erin in a celebration of this pattern!