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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!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Travel Sewing Essentials

The hardest part about downsizing is deciding what to keep. What do you really need? And in this case, what do I really need for sewing? The challenge was to bring as little as possible, without compromising the sewing process. Since this is my work now, I need to be able to do it comfortably even when traveling. Another factor is that there might be longer periods of time where I won't be able to get supplies easily. With these things in mind, here's what I brought with me.

To keep things organized I store it all the 'heavy' stuff in boxes. One is for thread and scissors (fabric, thread and pinking scissors). Thread in the colours I use most, and there's also some extra spools of black thread for backup. The other one is for miscellaneous stuff such as patterns weights, hand sewing needles, hooks & eyes and extra pins. The plastic bag holds stuff for making fabric covered buttons, the little can contains stuff for inserting snap buttons.

This is a standard hardware box you can get at DIY stores. In here are my not regularly used sewing feet, needles (all kinds, and lots of them), walking foot, basting thread, chalk, 4 seamrippers (I always lose them), an extra tape measure and extra bobbins. And some fabric dye (handwash), some magnet closures and other sewing machine accessories.

Then there's stuff for pattern drafting. A pencase with pencils, erasers, magic tape and a pair of compasses. I've found that two rulers is all you need for pattern drafting. I have the french curve ones but I never used them, I prefer to draft curves by hand. And then my favourite pattern paper, 50 metres of it.

These are my most used sewing notions at the moment: zippers and bias tape. Zippers of all lengths, blind and regular, plastic and metal. Bias tape, 3m of each colour, black and white in two different widths and more yardage.

And then there's buttons and my pincushion. I have found that I don't have enough buttons since I've started to make button down shirts (Archers! Need to do some photoshoots...). It helps to plan your projects before you leave to make sure you have enough buttons.

That's it! Three little boxes and some ziplocks, I think I've done rather well :) As for other stuff: I brought my regular sewing machine, my iron and mini ironing board from IKEA. I left my serger because my machine has a pretty good overlock stitch and good stretch stitches. Oh and I also have an A2 sized cardboard fileholder for my patterns. Ok all in all it's not that minimal but it all fits into the truck. Mission accomplished!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pattern Magic Workshop in Amsterdam

For anyone who lives in the Netherlands and who has been enjoying the Pattern Magic series, I have good news for you! Aicha (Lauriana) from Petit Main Sauvage is giving a workshop on Pattern Magic on November 10th and 17th, in Amsterdam.

Pattern Magic Book 1, Musubu

It's a two day course in which you will learn how to draft (day 1) and sew (day 2) your own Pattern Magic garment. Costs are €160,-. Not cheap but worth the money, considering it will give you 12 hours of workshop and the know how to tackle Pattern Magic patterns. Aicha has a lot of experience with pattern drafting and the Pattern Magic principles, so you're in good hands.

Pattern Magic Book 1, Bamboo Shoot
You can sign up here!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where we're at

Well, a month without a post, I think that's a record :) I'm back here to give you a heads up on what's going on. Last month was a very busy month. We packed our stuff, handed in the keys to our house and left the town where we lived for the past 10 years. After a week of getting the necessary truck maintenance and goodbyes, we drove off to Kassel, Germany to meet our good friends. We had a lovely few days with them before driving down to France. We're in the Morvan region now, staying at the house of Stef's parents. It's a 300 year old farm situated on a hill overlooking a green valley, and we have it all to ourselves!

We'll stay here until we've released the Jade skirt. The pattern and instructions are finished, it's down to the new website, shop and blog. During the course of the coming months, this blog will also move to another domain, but I'll let you know when that happens. While Stef works on that, I've begun making samples for the second pattern! I'm really excited about it and I can't wait to share my progress with you. I've already given some hints on what pattern it will be, but let's concentrate on getting that Jade out first, right?

I'm afraid I don't have much to show you in terms of finished items. I made some Espresso Leggings and although I'm really pleased with them, they're just black leggings so I won't bore you with those :) In the meantime, for smaller updates you can follow us on Facebook (Paprika Patterns and Joep de Zoeperd, our travel page) and Twitter (Paprika and Joep) as well. Talk to you again soon!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Camí-Archer Hybrid

However much I liked my Camí dress, I knew I had to change it into something more wearable if it were to survive the Big Trip Sorting. A cotton shirtdress isn't very practical, but it would be a shame of that nice bodice to just stow it away for a year. I've become much better at altering or throwing away handmades, because you've already learned your lessons from them. It won't give you anything by just sitting in your closet. So then Jen's colourblocked Archer came along and I was triggered. I didn't have the Archer pattern yet, but through some strange coincidence I won the Archer pattern just by participating in #fabricchat, hosted weekly by Leila on Twitter. Excellent! Now I could use the Archer pattern to complement my Camí bodice and make my own colourblocked shirt!

I knew I'd seen the same cotton fabric in black, so I chose to use that one for the bottom half. There's no better way to make sure the fabrics have the same weight. The seam ripper took care of the skirt and the blind zip. To get a more shirt-like fit, I let out the back darts completely, and the front darts as much as I could without losing too much shape. I traced the Archer back and front from the waist down. It was still much larger than the Camí bodice so I had to take it in some more. I replicated the Camí button placket and voilà, turned a shirtdress into a shirt.

I also let out the shoulder seams a bit, to get just that much more room to move around. It's still not a perfect fit, I'd have to remake the entire bodice to get that, but it's good enough for this experiment. I also thought of adding a black pocket, but I sort of forgot about it. Pauline just posted about a pocket template for the Camí dress, so that would have been nice.

I don't really know what the rules are when it comes to colourblocking, where you should put the dividing lines. I had no option but the waist, but I'm not sure if you should cut yourself in half like that. I did notice that you have to be careful with the proportions. At first the hem was 4 cm longer but it looked kind of weird so I shortened it. I'm in that place where you've looked at something too often and can't see it anymore. What do you think, a succesful colourblock?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Firetruck proof skirt

It's been a busy few weeks! Last time I wrote was 3 weeks ago (which I'm not going to apologise for :)), life just got in the way. For those who missed it: we are about to move into our firetruck/campervan and travel Europe. We've got three weeks left in our house, during which we have to get rid of most of our stuff, pack the things we absolutely do not want to part with and oh yeah, we're also still in the process of releasing our first pattern, the Jade Skirt. As if that wasn't enough, I heard a couple of weeks ago that before we leave, I had to have a surgery. Luckily they were able to schedule me very fast, so I could get it this monday. So here I am in the midst of all this, lying on the couch unable to do anything :) But I'm recovering, and at least there's time to blog now! I did have time to photograph some projects last weekend, and first up is a skirt that I think is perfect for our trucklife.

It's the Megan Nielsen Cascade with some alterations. I'm sorry I couldn't get such a stunning location as SewBusyLizzy with hers. The busy pattern does not go well with the busy wallpaper and the busy carpet. The pattern might also be too small for a big skirt like this, I don't know. But it's a wonderful skirt to wear, so soft and swishy. It's a 100% viscose rayon like Liz' Cascade, and I think it's the best type of fabric for this skirt.

My only problem with the pattern was that it has SO MANY 'cascades'. It's basically a huge circle skirt. I don't remember what the original circumference was, but I took out half a yard, equally distributed along the skirt front and back. Not at the waist, just pie-pieces tapered towards the top. And it doesnt even show that much, except that maybe it doesn't hang quite the same at the sides. It was also the only way I could use this fabric because I only had 1,5 metres, while the pattern calls for 2.7 metres. I also had to make the button band option because of this, but I was going to anyway. I used two black snaps, I figured that would hold better than buttons.

I cut XS for the waist and XL for the hem, because I wanted it to be as long as possible and I'm 5 foot 10. This skirt is where I first noticed (AFTER cutting ofcourse) that I've gained some in my waist. The overlap is a few cm's short. It's still decent but I'd have to cut an S next time. Oh, and why it's perfect for truck life - it's a pretty high step up to get into the truck. I've tried with maxi skirts, and it's hard not to step on them. There's no chance of this happening with this skirt! Now let's hope we'll encounter some summery weather on our way. I say this is a 'south of Spain' kind of skirt :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Camí Dress

Well here's something you might not expect from me: a retro shirt dress with a full gathered skirt! I was chosen to pattern test Pauline Alice's first sewing pattern, the Camí Dress. It's not something I would make for myself, but I had lots of fun making it and it was so good to strengthen my skills that come with such a dress. And you know what? I kind of really like how it looks on me!

There are two versions to sew: Version A has short sleeves, Version B has 3/4 cuffed sleeves. At first I thought I'd take the easier short sleeve route, but then I saw that the cuffs had no placket but a slit. I love that Pauline kept the cuff simple. If a project has too many advanced details it tends to slow me down. Now you can focus on getting the collar and buttonholes perfect, and still have a relatively quick project. I used a lightweight cotton with shiny embroidered dots. The pattern does not require a lining. And it has pockets!

The instructions are clear and straightforward. No room for chitchat, just what you need to know. There are lots of illustrations to accompany the steps. I did read every word though, as I have only made a collar twice (I think?) and a button down shirt once. What I also like is that even with a narrow waist and broad hips, it doesn't make you look big. My waist and hips are three size columns apart, so I was afraid the gathers would make my hips look gigantic. I comtemplated making a fitted skirt (which would be an awesome pattern hack anyway) but stuck to the gathers and I'm glad I did.

I did have some fit issues because I am tall (178cm/5 feet 10") and broadshouldered. If I close the top buttons the shoulders are pulled inwards, but I like it better open anyway. The adjustments I made were lowering the shoulders 1 cm, lowering the front darts 2 cm, and adding 5 cm to the hemline. It's still just a bit above my natural waist. Lowering the shoulders gave me more room in the armholes as well, but it has distorted the fit of the sleeves a bit ofcourse. I made these adjustments after cutting the pieces so this was all I could do. That's why you should always make a muslin, or at least compare your measurements to the pattern's. Because I never sew fitted shirts I didn't know what my fit issues would be.

I am not at all surprised a retro shirtdress is Paulines first pattern, she's such a classy girl! Just look at the Dior coat or the Scartlett O'Hara dress that she drafted herself, astonishing!

If you'd like to make the Camí dress yourself, go get it here!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

3 years of sewing & blogging

I have to admit I totally forgot my own blog anniversary this year. It was actually more than a week ago, but I can still do the roundup, right? It's really nice to look back at least once a year to see what you've accomplished. For one thing, I wear something handmade every single day! I'd like to not only look at this year, but also at what is left of the previous years. Click on the year to see the complete overview, or on the photo to go to the original post. Here we go!

Year 1
Score: 20 items
Still in the closet: 6
Still wearing: 2

These pants still get worn, one by me, one by Stef. The hoodie has big stains but it's still here because it's kind of my signature piece. And it just might be getting made into a pattern. The dress is still here but hasn't been worn in more than a year. I'm just too pale for it. But now that I look at these pics, maybe I should give it another go?

Year 2
Score: 18 items
Still in the closet: 10
Still wearing: 8

That's better! Although some of those 8 are on the verge of getting tossed out, the quality and style definitely got better. Some of them are still in heavy rotation, like these shown.

Year 3
Score: 26 items
Still in the closet: 25
Still wearing: 12 + 4

This year gets a better overall score, but it's also clear that I'm not wearing any of the things I made for Project Pattern Magic. It was fun making them, but I'm just not a cotton dress kind of girl. I'm not tossing them out yet, some of those fabrics could be made into something else. But hey, I made a coat this year! And 4 items for Stef that he's still wearing.

My closet now consists of 41 handmade garments. Even though I'm wearing little more than half of them, that's pretty cool, right? It does mean that maybe I don't need more than about 30 things to wear. The problem is, I'm an addict now, I can't stop sewing. Maybe I should focus on Stefs wardrobe, since those four items are about ALL he wears :)

What also happened this year is ofcourse Paprika Patterns. We're still finalizing the pattern, we just keep coming up with ideas to make it better. I've stopped trying to set a date and decided we should just keep on working, when it's done it's done. Good thing the Jade is also an excellent autumn skirt :)