Saturday, July 31, 2010

self-stitched september

So, ever since I've stumbled across Zoe from 'So, Zo...' and the Me-Made-May crowd, I've been itching to go for an entire month of wearing something me-made every day. Since I haven't actually sewn all that many garments as of yet, the prospect hasn't been so good, which is why I've been hesitant to sign up for Self-Stitched September. However - I really, really want to take part, so I've decided that I will, if I manage to sew at least four or five of the following garments during the month of August:

  • a couple of long-sleeved shirts
  • a couple of everyday, not too summery dresses
  • a couple of basic-but-fun skirts that also work worn with tights or leggins
  • a couple of mix'n'match-friendly tops or blouses
  • undergarments

I guess I'm aiming for SSS light, wearing at least one me-made garment every day. We'll see how it works out, since September is going to be a little hectic for me - I'm leaving for a four-month trip around the world at the beginning of October and almost all of August will be spent at my parents' home... So I guess I'll need to get going! :-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

summer essential additions

With exams over and the weather being a lot cooler the last couple of days, I actually finished up some more Summer Essentials! The black&white peasant blouse turned out very pretty, even though the sleeves still are a little tight. 

It's practically four squares, a little shirring and a tie in the back, so it was very easy to make. I wore it to the performance of a friend last night and got some compliments for it. :-) 

I really like how the fabric looks, although I'm not sure it was a good choice. I discovered darkish stains under my arms this morning... I hope that a couple of washings will help with that, though. The "pattern" is definitely a keeper, although I'll take special care with the sleeves next time and will probably lengthen it by one or two inches.

I've already decided to make it in red&white polka dots and some nice white fabric! :-)

I also finished a sundress/babydoll top that started life as a vintage skirt that my good friend Maike gave me. I did take a picture before taking it apart, but can't seem to find it... anyway, after unpicking all the box pleats, I had two rather large pieces, one of which I used for the top. The other I've planned on turning into an easy skirt. I used a lot of eyeballing for the top and cut it in half (for the front and back) before thinking about it, so in the end I had to insert two triangles at the side to get the right shape. 

I used some shirring at the back, and I think I fell in love with the technique. I also used it on the peasant blouse and I think it looks marvellous!


I guess it could be worn as a sundress at the beach, but I feel more comfortable wearing it with leggins...

I rather like how it turned out!

Not sure if I manage to finish anything else before August 1st (which isn't tomorrow, as I thought for the last couple of days, but on Sunday!) but the pledge said "August-ish" so I'll definitely finish the other items on my list: navy linen sailor trousers and a white sundress!

Monday, July 26, 2010

sewing sunday

I like Sundays, especially at the end of a long semester. Sleeping in, relaxing, sewing, reading... Also, I've got choir practice on Sundays, where I get to sing and see a lot of my friends. :-) Yesterday was very relaxed, with the semester now over, and I got some nice sewing in. I shortened a skirt for one of my friends and she was so happy to get it after choir practice! :-) I also redid the waist of my polka dot skirt. I was really unhappy with it, because that was the part where my seam ripped every couple of inches. So I cut it off on Saturday and spent a nice hour in front of the TV, ripping the fabric off the elastic and yesterday I attached a new waist. I wore it to choir and even got a couple of compliments for it! :-)

I also cut out the fabric for Summer Essential No. 3 - a short-sleeved peasant blouse in a slinky black&white fabric. I didn't use a pattern for it because I have a very similar long-sleeved blouse and the pattern and construction seem ridiculously easy - not much more than some rectangles with a shirred edge, really. I did make one silly mistake, though, and measured by eye instead of with my measuring tape, resulting in a pair of very tight sleeves. I don't have enough fabric to cut them out a second time but inserting a strip of fabric on the underside will probably do it. After sewing it up, I'll have to take a look at Cal Patch's "Design-it-yourself Clothes" for my last two Summer Essentials. And then I'll have to think about a birthday present for my best friend...

So, Happy Monday to everyone!

Friday, July 23, 2010

baby steps

This will probably seem super silly to 99.9% of you, but I found out how my seam ripper worked today! Honestly, nobody ever showed me how to use it (I actually guessed at what it was, the first time I saw one) because the only person who could have - my great grandma, whom I watched sewing sometimes when I was a little kid - used a tiny pair of scissors to unpick her seams. So how in the world should I have known that the little edge inside of it is actually a blade, that can *cut* my seams instead of ripping them??! (Incidentally, people with English as their mother tongue: if you accidentally make a whole into your fabric with a sharp object, like a knife, a pair of scissors or a seam ripper - have you cut the hole into the fabric or have you ripped it? It feels to me as if cutting implies intention - at least regarding to fabric - but I might be totally wrong...)

Anyway, this has made my work of unpicking a whole lot of box pleats from a former skirt, soon to be a babydoll top, so much more easy and fun. I like ripping seams! Also, now all the pleats are gone, there is a lot more fabric there than I thought - I think it'll be enough to make a simple skirt! Yay!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

first summer essential finished!

A little late in the game - but it isn't August yet! ;-) Still, I finished my first Summer Essential, a slightly swirly polka-dot jersey skirt. This was supposed to be a very quick and easy, instant-gratification project, though it really didn't turn out that way. I actually started with a different Summer Essential project first, a knit tank top and shorts, to get a feel for the type of fabric. I traced all thee garments off of existing clothes I already own and cut them out. Then I put one of my brand-new ballpoint needles and a dark blue thread into the machine and started sewing. Then all hell began.

I won't get into deatils again, suffice to say that my difficulties almost put me off of sewing (or at least sewing with knits) forever. Also, I almost spur-of-the-moment-bought a new used sewing machine from ebay because I thought mine was broken and I wanted to sew, now! Ah well. Luckily, the lovely Ali wrote a post about sewing with knits, which mentioned that universal needles were just as good (or better) for knit fabric as the ballpoint ones. So I put my trusty old needle-that-came-with-the-machine in an - whooohooo! - everything worked perfectly again. Turns out my ballpoint needles seemed to be a fraction longer than the normal ones, resulting in lots of torn thread and lost stitches...

So I finished my skirt, and while it's just about as far from perfect as possible while still being remotely wearable, I like it and it feels very comfy and summery. I'll probably buy some more of this fabric (or some similar one in red or green) and sew this skirt up again - maybe hem it with some nice red satin bias tape, to make it pop a little more.

I did learn some things on this, mainly that I still have a lot to learn about sewing with knits and also not to throw your towel too early. And: always hem a (roughly) circle skirt with bias tape (or are there other options that work well?) (Also: I need to find a nicer location to photograph my me-mades...)

So now I'm back in the sewing game and since I've got my very last end-of-term exam tomorrow, I might just succeed in finishing my summer essentials by the beginning of August... :-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

machine failures

I'm feeling immensely frustrated right now. I've been studying for my end-of-term exams for the past week or so and during my study breaks, I've been trying to get some Summer Essential sewing in. I'm really looking forward to wearing some new me-made summer clothes, especially since it has been so hot during the last couple of weeks! So I started out with the simple, no-pattern outfits: I traced a tank top, a pair of shorts and a half-circle skirt and cut it out from jersey. I put the jersey needle in, selected some thread and started on the first seams (which were, incidentally, side seams on which I used a straight stitch). Awesome, I thought, this is a lot easier than I thought it was, I don't know why I was so afraid of sewing with knits!

Ah well. Now I know. As soon as I started sewing a zigzag seam, my thread started to rip every couple of inches. The bobbin thread bunched up every once in a while and made tangles that sucked the fabric right under the needle plate. Every couple of stitches, the "zag" in the zigzag wouldn't hold and the machine would stitch a couple of straight stitches instead. Also, my bobbin holder seems to be made of plastic, because when I tried to adjust the bobbin thread tension, it kinda broke a little. Not one of the things I did (like, change the thread and the needle, try to eliminate every piece of lint I could find, adjust the upper and lower thread tension etc.) helped even a little. Plus, I can't take the bobbin holder out, because the only way to do that is to take off the needle plate, which is attached by a couple of screws, one of which is located so that not even my shortest screwdriver will fit in the space between plate and the machine's arm. 

So, I guess some of you will say that this is what happens when you buy a AEG machine on sale from Amazon. You may be right, too. I guess I'll be sending it back. The last time I did that (with an mp3-player which stopped working) they just gave me back the money, which would be cool. I'm thinking about buying a used mechanical Pfaff or Bernina on ebay instead. I've thought long and hard about it, and the only stitches I really need are straight and zigzag and maybe a button hole program - so I hope I can find something not too expensive.

So now I'll go back to being frustrated that I can't wear my new polka dot skirt today and go back to studying...

Monday, July 5, 2010

new summer essentials fabrics!

My boyfriend's parents were in Berlin for the weekend, and since they enjoy Turkish culture (they learn the language and spend at least two vacations a year somewhere in Turkey), I took them to see the Maybachufer Market on Friday. It's one of my favorite markets in Berlin, not only have they lots of market stands selling fresh produce, ripe fruit, vegetables, herbs, Mediterranean specialties like olives and sheep cheese spreads and sweet Oriental delicacies for low prices, they also have a lot of fabric stands selling anything from plain cotton fabric to Chinese jacquard, from polka dots to Indian sari prints. It's not the ideal place to look for something specific or outlandish, but browsing is great fun and the prices are really low - usually from 2-5 €/m. 

So since I was still looking for some fabrics for my Summer Essentials, I expanded my fabric stash by 2m of nice white cotton and a navy linen fabric (for the sailor pants), a meter each of a navy jersey with white polka dots (skirt) and two slinky fabrics in black with a white flower print (Carmen blouse?) and a striped burgundy (might become a pair of those cute Colette mini bloomers) as well as half a meter of red cotton with mini polka dots (babydoll top?) and a navy and white striped jersey, which is going to be my first stretch/knit project, producing a tank top and lounge shorts.

I do hope I'll find some time for sewing pretty soon, because I've got exams in two weeks and afterwards, it will be August... Today and tomorrow is full of B-day party organisation, Wednesday I'm on a trip... But Thursday to Monday is all free except for studying for my exams. I should get in some sewing time then. :-) Btw, others have already been way more productive than I, as anybody can see when looking at the Summer Essentials flickr group...