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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Want a free mini skirt pattern?

Just popping by to ask you some questions! Would you be so kind as to fill out this survey about the folded mini skirt for me? Thanks a lot!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Occupied With The Future

Still no finished garment to show you, but there's some other things I want to share with you. For the last couple of months, we've been making plans for the future, and talking a lot about what we want our life to look like, what kind of job we want, where our passion lies and how to combine all these things. One thing we both really love is travelling. Enter:

Our new baby
We bought a campervan! I can't tell you how happy and lucky we were to find this gem. It's a 25 year old German-army-ambulance-turned-into-a Dutch-army-firetruck-Mercedes Benz 508D. Wow that's a mouthful. But isn't it gorgeous?

It seems completely sewing unrelated, but it's not and I'll tell you why soon. No, not because I'll sew new cushion covers. Something much more awesome.

Lookee, I'm a truckster! A very happy one, indeed :) Buying this van has occupied us for the past month or so, one of the reasons it was a bit quiet over here. This quiet time has also made me think about this blog and where I want to take it. I think it's time for:

A little break
I'm taking a month off blogging to prepare myself (and the blog) for the next step. I've been talking about a redesign and new blog name, and this will happen but also so much more. I'm very excited about it all but I don't want to spoil it yet. But I will tell you that I will need all of your help accomplishing my goals for 2013! Even more so, you will become the center of attention around here. So, it would be really cool if you'd stick around to see what we have in store. (In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter.)

For now, I'll leave you with a pic of our courtyard yesterday morning to get in the mood for the holidays. I wish you a very merry Christmas and I hope to see you in a few weeks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Block Fusing Method

I wish I had clothing of some sort to show you, but unfortunately I don't. Sewing time has been none existent and progress on my coat is slow. I'm thinking of taking a week off just to sew. How nice would that be? On the other hand I've been meaning to visit a friend at Cyprus, the beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea. Also a very good idea... Anyway, what I wanted to show you today is a block fusing method I used on my coat. Someone has probably invented this already, but I haven't come across it.

As far as I know, there are two common methods for fusing patterns pieces. One is where you cut a piece of interfacing that's the same as your pattern piece. You then lay them on top of eachother and press them together. The other method is block fusing, where you first fuse a big piece of fabric together and then cut your pattern pieces. Personally, I think both have their downsides. With the first method, you have to pin and cut twice. On top of that, it's not always easy to make them match exactly. Block fusing is easier, but you have to fuse a lot more fabric, and I have a tiny iron so the less I have to iron, the better. Plus it can also be a bit of a waste of fashion fabric. So, when I had to fuse quite some pieces for my coat, I thought of an in-between method that works really well. The gif below shows the four layers you need to create.

  1. Lay out a big towel on your cutting table
  2. Cover it with  a piece of pattern paper. This prevents the fusible from sticking to the towel.
  3. Lay out your pattern pieces. Put them close together.
  4. Spread out your fusible over your pattern pieces
  5. Iron on the fusible interfacing. Be sure you get the edges, it's allright if you fuse the interfacing to the pattern paper. In fact, this makes it easier to cut out later.

After fusing, it'll be really easy to cut out the pieces. Poke your scissors through the interfacing, between the pattern paper and the fabric and keep them flat. This is important, as it prevents you from cutting into your fused fabric. Now cut around the edge. If you've fused the edges well, and your scissors are sharp enough, you can even slide them through without cutting. (This pic also shows the beautiful sheen this wool has. Can't wait for this coat to be finished!)

The only thing you waste here is a little bit of fusible and the piece of pattern paper. This is the cheap flimsy kind, so I'd rather waste this than pieces of my fabric.

So there you have it, neatly cut, fused pattern pieces! What do you think, was this helpful? Have you seen this before? What is your favourite fusing method?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pattern yes, magic no

I don't think there are many garments I instantly label as a NO. In fact, this could be the first one. I participated in Marianna's Pattern Magic Challenge, to get myself to make time for some pattern drafting. I won Pattern Magic vol.3 through theperfectnose's giveaway. I selected a piece I thought was interesting, but normal enough to actually wear in case it turned out well. I like the apple peel pants but thought the'd be too easy, so I chose the Stopper. Normally, the book says, things that twist needs something to hold them, or they will twist back into shape. This is called adding a stopper. Now I am still not quite sure what it is exactly that stops this top from twisting: explanation is minimal to non existent with this book.

So, seen the pretty woman on the right gracefully modelling the Stopper? Now lo and behold, for here is my version.

Ai. Not quite the same, is it? This just looks like a top sewn by someone who's just seen a sewing machine for the first time. There's several things wrong with it, and most of them are ofcourse my own fault.
  • Fabric. I used fabric from my stash, but I should have bought some lightweight jersey. This is a medium weight knit. It just doesn't drape that well.
  • Too small in the shoulders. It really pulls around my right shoulder, making the armcuffs stand out and pulling on the diagonal twist. This also makes it not comfortable to wear.
  • Using the fabric instead of ribbed band. It doesn't have enough stretch. I had to make the neckband 10 cm longer to get it over my head.
Not all can be blamed on me, though.
  • As I said, minimal instructions. It says 'stretch and sew' and the drawing shows which parts to stretch, but it doesn't say how much. As far as you can? Just as much as the length of the other side? 3,5 cm? Is this obvious to more experienced sewists?
  • This model probably would look good in anything. But that's also sort of her job, so I can't really complain. I'm just wondering if this would look weird on me anyway.

Allright, this one looks slightly better, but that's just the angle. There also seems to be a lot of excess fabric at my waist on the right side. Although the outcome is not really wearable (main reason being that it's uncomfortable), I really enjoyed drawing the pattern. I've put in Roman numbers for those of you who want to give it a try. The book just says 'draw up from the waist'. I do feel like my pattern drawing lessons have helped me here, I would've been clueless otherwise. I started with the first half, then cut it out and traced it on another piece to add the other half. Mainly because my pattern paper wasn't wide enough, but it also gives you an advantage. When you have to move the armhole, just use the cut out as a mall instead of drafting it again.

This failed experiment has not discouraged me. On the contrary, the other PM books are on my wishlist for Christmas. These patterns are a challenge for my newly found love for pattern drawing so I'd be happy to try a few other even if I don't sew them up in the end. Thank you Marianna for hosting this challenge! I hope the others have fared better :) View them all here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm a Maker

This may come as no surprise to you, but it sort of does to me. With a masters in philosophy, I've thought for a long time that I'm mainly a Thinker. It could be that this has changes over the years, but now I find myself to be more and more of a Maker.

Last weekend I attended Startup Weekend here in my hometown. Startup Weekend is an event for entrepreneurs or people who want to become an entrepreneur. In one weekend you work on one idea with your team, going through the whole process of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. That may sound a bit boring, but it is in fact truly inspiring and amazing. The weekend starts with everyone pitching their idea for a startup (mostly web-based, but it could also be a product). Then everyone votes, the ideas with most votes are picked and then you form teams. After that, you've got until sunday evening to build your business. My reason for going was for learning a bit on how to start a business, and get some ideas on what I might need to get there. What I got was a crazy amount of energy, a team full of enthusiastic and creative people, great food, and also some ideas on how to build a business. It felt like a grown up camp, where everyone is temporarily living together, having lots of fun and working together. For three days, I lived in a paralell universe where the only thing that mattered was our startup. I did not know that working on a great idea with great people can give you that much energy. I felt like bouncing and shouting all weekend.

Anyway, on this team I was a Maker, too. We built a real scale prototype of a modular urban farming system we developed. I had taken monday off for some chilling and sewing, but I couldn't stop building. So I made something I bet every sewist would like to have: a little rack to hold my thread spools.

Pretty neat, eh? I made it to fit my new sewing cabinet (which is the former Xbox games cabinet). To complete the collection, I also got myself some french curves and a big case for storing drawings, for my pattern pieces.

Whether you're a Thinker or a Maker, if you're interested, check the StartupWeekend website. With 313 events planned all over the world, there is bound to be one near you! I hope you go and get as much energy and inspiration as I did.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thrift Store Treasures #7

I bought this skirt for 3 euros last month in Antwerp, Belgium. There was a matching shirt, but although I like the print, that would have been a bit too much. The thing that fascinates me about this skirt is the split in the middle. Why on earth would you want a split there? That center front seam made the refashion process a bit more difficult.
I had a different skirt in mind, based on a RTW skirt I owned. I loved that skirt, but unfortunatey the mice that we have in our walls tend come out at night. And I happened to have left the skirt lying on the ground, withdog treats in the pockets. Instead of just looking for an easy way to get to the treats the mice just ate right through the fabric. They did the same to two pairs of jeans, including the mustard one. (In case you are reading this, mice, WAR IS ON. Please leave my house or I'll gently catch you in animal friendly traps and put you outside in the cold.) The skirt couldn't be saved, which was sad, but also a good opportunity to take it apart to see how it was constructed. Thank you Sewing for providing a silver lining!

I ripped every seam to get the most out of the fabric. And although it looks as not much has been altered, I barely had enough fabric for the design I wanted. My mom thought I should make the skirt really short, but with winter coming, I went with knee length again.

The original skirt already had in-seam pockets, but I wanted big pockets that stand out from the skirt. The colours of the lining and the ribbed waistband matched perfectly so I recycled them. There's no zipper, the back of the skirt is sewn to a stretched waistband. The front of the skirt is smooth, but the back looks gathered and has the elasticity so you can get it over your hips.

Above pic shows my hip and a pocket. I really like the finish of this skirt. You sew the waistband and skirt together with the seams on the outside, and then sew a horizontal strip over the seam. This way you don't have to finish any seams. There's a lot more to show and tell on this skirt actually, but I'll wait with that for later. It's enough to say I'm happy with this refashion, and it made me discover the joy of wearing fluttery skirts in cold weather!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Knit Sweater For ... Erm... year? Yes, I did it again: making something for summer when it's basically almost winter. I so love this sweater though! I'm planning to sew up some Renfrews to wear underneath. I've already shown you the pattern I used, from the 1980 July edition of Ariadne.

I can't really say how long it took me in hours. I just know I started knitting in May or something. It's not that the pattern is difficult, it's just that I tend to get bored halfway. The consequence being the I now have a sweater with lots of holes and knit in cotton to keep me warm this winter. I'd better get started on those longsleeves :)

In short, the pattern goes like this:

1: Number of stitches must be divisible by 18 + 2 stitches on each side
2: Knit 4 rows in st st
3, 5 & 7: sl 1, k2tog 3x, *yo k1 (6x) k2tog (6x)* rep. between *, end with yo k1 (x6), k2tog (3x), k1
4 & 6: Purl
8-12: Knit

That's it! Could be nice for a slouchy beret, too. I'll stick to socks and mittens for a while now, I don't think I'll be needing a thick sweater next summer. What's on you're needles? Do you knit as I do, or do you knit one season ahead?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

New Stash

The biannual fabric market was in town again, and I just had to go. I'm still looking for fabric for my winter coat after all, and now that I've used up most of my stash this summer it's time to get some new stuff. There were about 160 stalls, and to be a bit more focused than last time, I made a list of what I needed. I am proud to tell you I stuck to it for the most part! It wasn't even that hard, I know by now that if I were to get more than 4 or 5 different fabrics half of it will just not get sewn this winter. And then who knows what my taste will be like next year?

I came upon two fabrics that seemed familiar. I know I've seen Karen make a skirt out of the dinosaur camouflage, and I think I've seen the galaxy fabric somewhere too. Isn't it awesome? This one's silk by the way. You can start drooling now. Check out Spoonflower if you want some of your own.

There was one stall that had lots of gorgeous silks. And you know what? I've decided to treat myself to the one with the feathers. I've been drafting a blouse pattern in my weekly class, based on the blouse I bought. This silk would be perfect for it! It's a great opportunity to learn how to sew with delicate fabrics. And a great opportunity to wear something beautiful :)

These are the fabrics I got. If you follow Delightfully Tacky, you might recognize the cat fabric. She recently posted about a dress from Modcloth, by designers duo Dear Creatures. The one from Modcloth has mustard cats, the one from Dear Creatures' website has red cats. And now I'll have them in rust!  I recognized the fabric and snatched it away immediately. Not exactly on the list, but hey, who can resist at €7,50/yard? It sure beats getting the dress for 103 dollars... The second fabric is a soft knit jersey. Both of these are destined to be Renfrew-like tops. The forest green knit will be a cardigan, and the coarse Norwegian knit has already been turned into a big loop scarf. All in all, I spent only 38 euros for 5.5 metres! Not bad, eh? I didn't buy fabric for my coat, but I did find it. It's just that I found the exact same fabric the day before at the regular market for 3 euros/metre less, so I'll have to wait until next tuesday. Can you guess what colour it is? I'll surprise you, I promise :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another Mustard Hoodie

This time made for Stef! The second (and last) piece for Steftember was finished about a week ago. Judging by the amount of wear it already got, I did a good job. I used a German pattern called Fehmarn. It came with the instructions translated in Dutch, which was nice. The fabric is the same as my mustard hoodie, they restocked it. It was basically the only option we had (other than colours like beige and mint green). I wanted to get a darker fabric for the lining of the hood and the pockets because I was afraid this yellow would make Stef look pale, too. We have about the same skintone, pale with freckles. He chose this navy jersey, and it was his idea to do the zipper in blue too. I wasn't quite sure, I thought the contrast would be too big, but it turned out great!

I topstitched the edge of the hood to prevent the lining from peeking out, but maybe I should've understitched it. Stef likes it this way, so I guess it's fine. I tried to work as precise as I could, thinking of lining up seams and all that stuff before sewing. I love this about sewing, I'm improving wih every garment I make but there is still sooo much to get better at!

I like that this hood has a high collar, it makes a bit more warm and cosy. I cut out size L because that was best for his other shirt which is from the same pattern maker. But this time L was too big on the shoulders, so I had to take them in again. I also altered the sleeves, taking them in around the armholes. I also found the pocket entrance to be a bit shallow, so I deepened them to make it easier to get his hands into them. And to show off the lining.

All in all I can really recommend this men's pattern! You get a lot of options (collar/hood, different pocket options) and it's just a nice contemporary men's pattern. You can use it like I did, but you could also make a sleeveless version, or a fleece jacket. There's some more examples over here. The whole package is not as fancy as Colette's or Sewaholics patterns: printed on regular paper and packed in a ziplock bag, no extra explanatory pictures. But it does it's job just the same.

Don't let Stefs serious face fool you by the way, he's happy with his hoodie! The proof is below.

I guess I'll interpret this as some sort of happy ninja dance. What do you think, would you make this for your man or would you rather go with a classic shirt?

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Treat For Me

Maybe you know I've been working as a freelance algaefarm startup consultant for the past couple of months. Well, my employers are satisfied and have offered me a new contract! I'll be working as a project manager at one of the locations. This also means working more hours and less time for sewing, but I like my job and that's what's most important! To celebrate my new contract I treated myself to a new bag. Not self-made, but handmade by someone I know. Megan makes beautiful bags and other accessories under the name of Frank and Gertrude, as well as paper goods and jewellery under the name of F&G Forest.

The bag I treated myself to is a rust coloured vegan suede 3-in-1 clutch/purse/wallet. I had set my mind on this one a month ago, all the while crossing my fingers it wouldn't sell. I love the autumn colour, the batik lining, and the tassels Megan added just for me!

A friend of mine also just got a contract renewal, and she told me she celebrated by buying herself a new dress. This sunday we'll be celebrating some more together, treating ourselves to coffee and cake :) Aren't we typical women! Do you treat yourself if you've accomplished something, too? Is there something you have your eye on at the moment?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Winter Coats

I know, Autumn has only just officially begun, but I thought if I start later I'll probably finish in Spring. I haven't bought a winter coat for 2 or 3 years now, and I want my next one to be perfect. Or at least close. I'm ready to tackle a big project like this! Here's what I want in a winter coat:

A big collar or hood
No matter how warm your coat is, if it leaves your neck bare you'll still get the chills when it's windy. Brrr I get chills just thinking about it. Yes you could use a big scarf, but I don't want that to be absolutely necessary.

A zipper
Buttons look pretty, but again, the wind will blow right through. Especially when you're cycling, and you know how cycling is part of our cultural genes. Even a zipper can be a weak spot in your warm cocoon. Preferably, I'd like a zipper with a facing behind it.

Some length
The coat I have right now is pretty cool, but it leaves an open spot right at my belly. This is the second most important place you'd want to keep warm, so the jacket has to at least fall below the belt. Even better would be mid thigh.

So what patterns would fulfill these criteria? To my surprise, I found nothing on BurdaStyle that came close. And then I spotted this magazine, Ottobre, that had not one but three candidates in it. Ottobre is a Finnish magazine translated in Dutch, German, English and Swedish. This is the autumn/winter issue, it only comes out twice a year. It has 19 patterns with a big size range, from 34 to 52 (6-24 in US sizes). As you can see they use models in al sizes and ages to show the patterns on. They have only a meagre website, but they also have a blog on which you can find more information about the patterns. They also sell fabric on Etsy.

This jacket attracted me mainly because of the colour. I has no real closing, except for an oversized safety pin. This doesn't make sense to me. What use is a winter coat if it has no proper closing? I do like the overall style though.

This one is a nice and simple jacket, with a cosy collar and raglan sleeves. It has no facing behind the zipper. I guess you could add one if you wanted.

Looking at the pattern, this seems to be the same pattern as the first one, only shorter and with a zipper. I like the asymmetrical zipper. This coat is simple and yet a bit different. I'd change the hood into a regular one though, pointy hoods are a bit too odd for me. Otherwise, I think this is my no. 1 choice! What is up with this fabric btw, isn't it hiddeous?

I find it pretty hard to decide on a pattern. It's different from anything else because you only make one. With dresses, you have plenty of choice and you can sew as many as you like. I guess you could sew more than one coat, but seeing that I've never made one before, let's just start with one. (Actually I did make one, about 6 years ago. It went reasonably well considering my skill level, but I couldn't figure out the lining so I had that part done by a professional seamstress.)

For those of you wondering about the other patterns, here's an overview. I like how they give their drawings some texture, it makes them look more alive. I haven't sewn anyhting from it so I don't know about the instructions. It's all text, no drawings.

Nothing too spectacular (except for that evening dress, which looks spectacularly awful), but those jeans look interesting. They look good in the pictures, although not one picture in the magazine shows them completely. They do have some up on the blog.

What about you, have you ever sewn from this magazine? And are you planning to sew a winter coat this year? Have you found a pattern yet? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wanna Trade?

OK, so here's the deal. I really want to get my hands on this months Threads issue. I can't pick it up in the store because I don't know any store in Holland that sells it. I don't want a subscription, just this one issue. I've looked into the Insiders subscription: a free online trial period of 14 days, but it doesn't say anywhere how to cancel if you don't actually want to subscribe. I generally don't trust these kind of magazine subscribing tricks, so I figured it'd be safer and more fun to do it this way! So the question is:

Is there anyone out there willing to trade with me?

What I have to offer in return is a yard of fabric and the September (or October if you already have September) issue of Knipmode!

The green one (the first picture depicts the true colour) is a stretch jersey with retro ladies looking sultry, perfect for a T-shirt or top. The grey one is a light cotton-poly blend eyelet with cute embroidered flowers. Both are 65" wide. If you're willing to trade, let me know in the comments which fabric you'd like, and which months Knipmode, and we'll make a deal! If there's more than one trader, I'll use the random number generator. This trade offer will end on Sunday 0:00 CEST. Cheers!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Giveaway Follow-up

Both the giveaway packages have arrived at their new owners, and it makes me very happy they were recieved with love! Me.anna did a post about it, and Kate has already used the fabric! I really didn't know what to do with this fabric, but she knew immediately and got not one, but two projects out of it.

You might recognize this skirt pattern: it's Tilly's Picknick Blanket Skirt. An excellent choice! Kate used this tutorial for gathering fabric.

She even managed to squeeze another project out of it: a loop scarf. Seeing how well she used the fabric that had been in my stash for over a year, I'm thinking I should give away fabric more often! A dangerous thought, because this could justify buying more fabric without having any plans for it...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Baby Blue for Real Men

The most surprising result of this project is not a reasonably well-fitting shirt, but the following: if you sew for others, you get to look at what you made all the time. Not just when you happen to look in the mirror. This is an aspect I hadn't thought of! Ofcourse this is only a good thing when you're satisfied with what you made. But otherwise, it's an extra advantage over sewing for yourself. Anyway, moving on to the long awaited shirt! The fabric is a medium weight knit jersey. Stef was a bit surprised it was he who picked this colour last year, but I think it suits him well.

First I tried making my own pattern from an existing shirt but failed miserably. So I used the Föhr pattern from Farbenmix (thanks for the tip, me.anna!) because I liked the shoulder patches (or how do you call these) and the different options you have with sleeves, neckline and pockets. I already knew what fitting issues I needed to tackle. This is what most of Stef's RTW shirts look like:

On fitting the Föhr pattern, I noticed the same problem: pulling at the armholes. I lowered the armholes by a good inch (meaning I also had to re-cut the sleeves). Other than that, the fit was pretty good. I didn't notice the folds hanging down from his chest though, come to think of it it could be due to the fact that I just enlarged the armhole, instead of also lowering the shoulder at the same time. Judging by this post, that could be it anyway. What do you think?

I went for the V neck because these suit him best. I spied the best technique over at Male Pattern Boldness: making the bias strip overlap seemed to be the easiest method, and I agree it looks more elegant.

I'm really pleased with this first attempt at a men's pattern! And, not unimportant, Stef is too. It's even his new favourite shirt! And I liked sewing for him much more than I thought I would. I felt confident with my skills and I felt I could handle potential criticism from my 'customer'. Both these things are the reason why I postponed this for a year. I knew Stef wasn't going to wear it just to please me. An honest customer is better in the end, so I think it was right for me to wait untill I could handle it. And now, to my own surprise, I'm already looking forward to the next Steftember project!