Tuesday, May 18, 2010

polkadot delight

I'm thinking - is it strange to take inspiration from companies like H&M or Vero Moda? I know a lot of seamstresses don't like companies like these, because they produce "throw away" clothing. It's cheap, you wear it for a while and when the first ripped seam appears or when you don't like it anymore, you throw it away. I agree that it's not sustainable and that child-labor is atrocious, but I think about 80% of my clothing is from H&M. I'm a student on a low budget and they sell clothing I like - sometimes, anyway. So it's only logical I buy there, right? I also don't like to throw clothing out. Some of my wardrobe is 6-8 years old (which I think is a feat, at the age of not-yet-24), so I do think I made the most of it.

(There also is a big box of clothing I don't wear anymore on the top of my dresser. I'm planning on holding a swap-the-stuff-you-don't-wear-anymore event with all my girlfriends sometime soon, the rest is going to the red cross although I've been thinking if I could use some of the fabric to sew something new...)

Anyway, I got distracted. I've been noticing in the last couple of weeks that both H&M and Vero Moda have introduced some really nice retro-style items. Lots of polka dots on dresses and tops, summery rompers, swirly skirts, cardigans with doily applications... The items don't seem to have made it into the online shop yet, or I would have posted pictures.

Is it silly to think about sewing my own versions, similar in style to what I've seen in the stores? I can totally understand making your own versions of Anthropologie-clothing, seeing the price difference between the original and the me-made item. But with H&M-clothing, the price difference is minimal at best. It might be possible to argue for fit and quality (yes, I have tried on some of the tops and dresses in question and wasn't quite happy with the fit of some of them) although as a beginner seamstress, I'm not sure I'd do any better... What do you think, my nonexistent readers?

I think I'm looking forward to the Holland fabric market that's coming to Potsdam in two and a half weeks. I'll buy lots of fabric for some of those projects I've been thinking about! Yay!

my sewing history

I've been having a look around some of the Me-Made-May blogs, and it has really fueled my desire to sew some more wearable clothing. I got into sewing last year, because I wanted a multi-layered petticoat and a couple of swirly skirts for a slightly 50s look. The petticoat actually worked pretty well, as did the swirl-skirts - no pattern needed and if they fit better a couple of centimeters more towards the waist or hip, it doesn't matter. After that, I had some ideas for cute dresses and sketched them out, some 50s and 60s-inspired, some more modern, and I prowled the Internet for inspiration. I found this site had some gorgeous dresses: 


I hadn't ever sewn with patterns, though, and couldn't abstract the shapes well enough to find similar ones. Also, it was winter and I really wanted a black woolen everyday sheath dress... so I tried drafting it without a pattern. I won't go into detail, but it was very frustrating and did most certainly not work out. So I bought a pattern, labeled "easy" by Burda, made the skirt more A-line to get a slightly 60s, more fun and less elegant feel and actually got a wearable dress out of it (apart from not reading the instructions right, forgetting the interfacing thus having to top-stitch the armholes and neckline to get the facings to lie even remotely flat. Also, I probably picked out the black wool fabric with the highest affinity to cat hair, dust and other light clingy stuff...) Anyway, it was wearable and I decided to make another version, out of a nice green and pink woven fabric with the cutest green and pink plaid lining. I go overconfident, though, and made more mistakes than the last time. Apart from the neckline not being quite symmetrical, the fabric was very stretchy, which made fitting an lining veeeery difficult. I cut it out a little short, too, and tried to hem it with the lining - bad idea. When I had finished it and tried it on, my boyfriend called it a green potato sack. Yay. I wore it exactly two times for a little while before stuffing it in the back of my closet.

Version number three in a nice black and white checkered fabric actually worked pretty well. I didn't line it but used facing and interfacing, fitting was complicated but ok in the end (since I don't have a dress dummy and try to do it on myself in front of the mirror)... I forgot how to attatch the facing to the shoulder seams, though, and with all the sewing, picking stitches and resewing, the straps/sleeves got too short, resulting in the back zipper sticking away from my neck. Hmpf. (I might try to put in a couple of darts to remedy that sometime in the future.) I vowed to myself not to start another dress/fitted project before I got myself a dress dummy to my body measurements and to read all the instructions carefully the next time.

That was in February. I spent a good two months at home without a sewing machine and the start of uni was enough work to forget about sewing for a while, but Me Made May put me into the spirit again! I've got ideas for a couple of skirts, I'd really like some summery Carmen-blouses and Zoe from 'So, Zo...' has inspired me to try my hand at some knitted fabric for sleepwear or undies. I'm thinking of green and white polka-dotted jersey... Also, her sailor trousers (in the second to last picture) are really cute. The buttons!

So yes, I'm going to work on the me-made dress dummy pretty soon, and think about what kind of projekts I can do well without one until that. Me Made May has really inspired me to broaden my wardrobe and maybe be able to participate in the next similar event (or the one after that). :-)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

button madness

I've been spending a lot of time on ebay recently... So many buttons! And some are so beautiful! Yesterday and today, my purchases have been coming in. Look at my current stash:

Aren't they wonderful? I especially like the blue and green ones with the golden high lights!


And the red ones of course.

I've also been making some more necklaces. The one for my sister (hush, don't tell her yet, I'm taking it to the post-office on monday) and a red one for my blue-and-white outfit yesterday:


I got a comment from a friend that the nylon thread that links the buttons doesn't seem elegant enough for the necklaces. At first I wanted to use a metal thread, which looks nicer but although it is a lot more bendy than wire, it is not nearly bendy enough for the button-holes. And if I use only one thread, so most of it is behind the buttons, they might turn around and not stay aligned. I guess come Monday, I'll try finding a thinner and thus maybe less visible nylon thread and see if it looks nicer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

button-y necklaces

I've got a huge fascination with buttons. Especially with cute, colorful, vintage buttons. A little while ago, I spent six weeks at home for a medical clerkship, and while I was there, I mentioned my button-obsession to my grandma - who promptly bequeathed me my great-grandma's button box. Yay! My aunt heard about it and let me take some of her buttons as well. I was really happy about that, but since my bag was already rather heavy when I left home, I had to leave them there. Mom sent me a package, though, and I recieved them last week!

I thought about things I could make with beautiful buttons, and apart from sewing them on clothes, this is what I came up with:

The white one I gave to a friend for her birthday. Since I really liked it, I made another one for myself:

My sister already told me she'd also like a button necklace, one in black and gold, and I think I could use one or two more in different color schemes. :-) I've already decimated my button stash rather drastically, so I spent some time on ebay the last couple of days to replenish it. There are a lot of buttons on ebay, it's a button-lover's paradise! 

I'm thinking of creating a DaWanda-account and try to sell them. I'm not sure anybody would buy them... I do think they're cute, in a quaint way. What do you think?

Hello world!

So. I'm finally entering the creative blogosphere. Funny, I wouldn't have thought it even six months ago. I've been doing photography for years and posted it on the net, but never as a blogger. I've been blogging (intermittently) since I was a schoolgirl, but never in a particularly creative fashion. But I started sewing last year and also found out that my fascination with vintage/retro clothing went deeper than I originally thought - and now there is a whole list of sewing and fashion blogs I regularly read, and I've started to actually give into my creative urges whenever they take me. Sewing clothes and bags and making jewelry...

And now I'm starting a blog about it. Why? Because I'm still a beginner, and I would really like feedback. I see that there is a whole community of creative people out there, and I want to be a part of it.

Let the games begin!