Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking back on 2012

Hi everyone! :) Did you have good Holidays? Mine were lovely, if - as always - packed with visiting various parts of the extended family. I did enjoy a veritable mount of delicious food and wine, and the opportunity to see people I hadn't met in a while, both family and old friends and acquaintances from school. I also got to see my four-month-old little half-sister for the first time!

And I finished my Christmas dress just in time to wear on Christmas Eve, hand-stitching the hem an hour before dinner started. Better photos and more details soon!
the christmas dress: a parfait in red corduroy. it's still missing the pockets.
So I took some time today to look back on my sewing this year, and I have to say, I did way better than I thought in review. :) I thought I worked so much, I hardly had time for either sewing or blogging, but I actually sewed twenty garments, twelve of them dresses, one of them refashioned, and one bag and also knitted six items (two pairs of socks, one cardi and three hats). And I finished at least one project, either knitted or sewn, every month!
winter rooibos made in january - one of my favorite winter dresses
long-sleeved macaron made in january - truly comfy and worn lots
I also averaged a blog post every 8.7 days, and while I would prefer about 1-2 per week, that's nothing to sneeze at. (I'm very impressed that some of you blog 4-6 times a week, even while being mothers and/or working fulltime jobs - how do you do that, ladies?!)
polka-dot jersey dress made in march

strawberry-and-jersey macaron made in may - I love it!
I do regret that I didn't have a lot of time to take part in the community that is us fabulous sewing ladies, though. While I did participate in OWOP, the Pyjama Party and Me-Made May on my blog, I didn't take part in the respective buzz on flickr, I totally missed all of the Colette sew-alongs and others I'd have liked to take part in, and I'm very conscious of the fact that I have let my reader get to 400+ blog posts time and again, and have been really bad at commenting and answering my comments. Oh well, that's life sometimes, right?
striped jersey dress, made in may - my most worn summer dress!
My resolutions for the new year definitely include trying to find a way to better include both sewing and blogging/reading into a workday. The first will definitely be easier, as I now have a dedicated sewing space! I also want to try and break down my sewing process into little chunks before I start, as right now I'm more likely to sew a dress in three to four sittings of 3-4h each (1. tracing, 2. cutting, 3. sewing, 4. the-little-things a.k.a zipper, buttons, hem etc.).
minnie dress, made in august - colorful and comfy!
I'd also like to take a shot a finishing my countless UFOs (there's at least four dresses, two skirts and a top already partly cut out) and continue chipping away at my stash. I love and am excited by new fabric, but all the unrealized potential hidden in my stash almost makes me sad sometimes! Plus, with our new (bigger and more expensive) apartment, there will be less spending money until I've completed my education and found a job (hopefully in August), so using my stash for most of my projects will be essential.
striped top made in september - a wardrobe gap filler :)
For now, I will have to cope with organizing my days into study-time and breaks. I finished my last day of surgical internship before Christmas (woohoo!), so now it's revising everything I've ever learned (and everything I've missed until now) for written board exams in April, and orals in June. I'm partly excited and partly full of dread! - but I'll be sure to schedule breaks for sewing and outdoor-time and sports and friends and healthy eating, to survive all that cramming-knowledge-into-my-head. *g*

So how did the holidays treat you? Did you have a good time? What's your view on the last year? Are you also heading for great changes in the new one?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

December Days

Oh how lovely, a Sunday with nothing much to do. :) I already had a wonderful breakfast with my parents, who came to Berlin over the weekend to listen to my choir concert last Thursday. We also had a Christmas party with our combined friends (drinking yummy Feuerzangenbowle, which by the way I wrote a guest post about over at Rhinestones&Telephones!). And the best thing: it's still light outside, and will be for a few more hours, so I may finally be able to sew a bit, which I haven't done in weeks, even though I had three garments on my to-sew-for-Christmas list.
fabric for Holiday garments: red and green corduroy and torquoise cotton sateen

I even already traced the pattern. Yay!

I also finally caved in and bought a rotary cutter and cutting mat for more efficient cutting. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm soo looking forward to less hassle while cutting lining fabrics! I may be able to cut them on grain for the first time! Yay!
I haven't done much knitting either - I'm kinda missing the long commute to my last internship, which made for much productive knitting, even though I'm very happy about being home earlier! I started something new, though, a cute pattern in colourwork. My first.
I've already made a few beginner's mistakes: I think it would have been smart to use a larger needle size than recommended on the yarn, because I have the tendency to not stretch the stitches enough when changing colours. I also didn't  know about keeping the background colour in the back (yarn dominance) for the first half of it. And another singer from my choir showed me how to knit with one colour on each of my hands, which still feels very awkward but is kinda cool! I'll tell you more about my adventures in colourwork knitting soon. :)

I hope you have a lovely Holiday time!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Settling in

My calender tells me that today is the 1st of December. I've opened the first little door on my advent calender and eaten the little piece of chocolate. There was even a bit of snow on the rooftops when I woke up. It'll be Christmas in no time, and then New Year's Eve, and can somebody tell me where 2012 got to? This year went by crazy fast!

We've been living in our new flat for a month now, and I have no idea if it actually feels way longer or way shorter than that. Actually, it does feel longer. I unpacked the last of the boxes but one (containing our CDs and DVDs) today. It was the rest of my sewing things. Everything else is already unpacked. This flat feels like home. Sitting in bed and having coffee on a weekend morning feels like home. Making dinner in our assembled-with-our-own-hands kitchen feels like home. Slumming around on our brand new red sofa reading the paper feels like home. Even though there are tools scattered all over the room.

The home office still looks chaotic and there's not a stitch of decoration anywhere. We definitely need curtains, since the outer walls and the living-room windows in this hundred-year-old building are not that well insulated. We need art on the walls, and photos. There's still a naked light bulb lighting the home office. We need one more bookshelf, and organizing equipment for my sewing room and desk. And stuff.

You know?


But it does feel like we've come incredibly far in a short time.
Wanna have a look at my new sewing nook?
sewing nook
It's in the sleeping room, right in front of the window. Just a little table and chair, with my two sewing machines on it, and some drawers and boxes. I'll probably need some shelves, too, as right now a lot of stuff (like scraps and current projects) are still in bags.
I wanted an open dresser, which now houses all my clothes (the me-mades are hanging in the middle), my dressy shoes, my sewing stash and on top, some odds and ends.
the stash
I didn't think I had this big a stash, until I saw it all in one place. Well, intellectually, I knew. But I had almost forgotten about some of it. Btw, fabrics are on the three shelves on the left plus on the top one on the right. Sorted loosely by weight and type...
Oh, and two of the drawers in the desk hold refashioning items. And UFOs are in one of the bags. So yes, there is even more...

Now that it's all sorted out, I hope I can finally start stitching again. I've already compiled a huge winter to-sew list, which includes covers for two chairs and two Parfaits made from green and red corduroy, respectively. Also, Christmas presents for my little half brother (t-shirt) and half sister (red corduroy dress, if I can manage). There's also a to-knit list, consisting of two to five pairs of socks, and hats with ears (for the half siblings, obviously). Considering that it took me two months to finish my newest pair of socks ...
It's alpaca wool variegated yarn, from ONline Sockenwolle (which Roobeedoo raved about sometime last winter, which made me buy some, and it really is lovely!) and I used the instructions that came with the yarn for a change, instead of knitting toe-up. I kinda like this way of making the heel.

They also match my outfit today.
the tights and longsleeves are purple, even though you can't see it in this light
Warm and comfy. A definite plus on a cold winter day! :)
Stay warm and have a lovely weekend, wherever you are!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Up above the world

Hi there! I'm using the opportunity of having borrowed a wifi dongle for a short update from the moving front, since I have no idea when the telephone technician will come by to activate our internet. Because we moved house!
gratuitous autumn pic from a beautiful Indian Summer day a week ago
I didn't say much about it here, but we've been looking for a bigger flat since August (and nope, I'm not pregnant), and actually already had a new tenant asking to move into our old flat at the end of October, way before we even found a new flat. I found a wonderful one at the beginning of the month (after several rejections from other landlords, I was getting quite a bit panicky) and we only got the confirmation and signed the lease a week ago. And then we moved in on Saturday! Crazy! Don't ask about how many boxes we packed up in a week...

Anyway, now we're here, in an apartment almost twice as big as our old, tiny, 1.5 room apartment, with two balconies, an amazing view, a huge wardrobe (yet to be assembled), a nice little sewing nook (yay!)... There's lots of stuff to be assembled (including the kitchen), everything is full of boxes, some rooms don't have light fixtures yet... But I already love it here. You'll be getting pictures as soon as the rooms aren't full of boxes and half-assembled IKEA furniture anymore.
I leave you with a view of the sunset from our 4th floor balcony, yesterday. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Here's to franken-patterning! :D Seems like altering existing patterns to knock off a different look is quite on trend, my recent favorite example being Gillian's Macarony (actually, she called it Maca-ny Peo-ron, but I go for less subtlety...). I tried to get the look of Simplicity 2451 by using my only vaguely A-line skirt pattern, Meringue from the Colette Sewing Handbook, as a base. Hence: Meringuity.

For a first attempt, otherwise known as muslin, it's almost wearable. Almost, because I cut out two identical back pieces, thinking that in a solid woven fabric, the right and left side should look the same. Enter a twill weave. Yeah. Not so much. It needs a close look to my backside to notice, though, so I've actually already worn it out and about. Also, the pleats are slightly asymmetrical. Because I'm a slapdash sewist. But oh well.
It haz pockez. Also, new short hair.
Apart from that, and the fact that even after taking it in about a centimeter on both sides, it's still a wee bit big, it nicely fills the gap of basic, neutral skirt in my wardrobe, and actually works nicely with all of my me-made longsleeves!

The pattern alteration really wasn't all that difficult. I used the "adding a waistband" tutorial on the Coletterie, made it curvy in the front instead of straight, and added two pleats and a pocket on each side of the skirt. Next time, I'd try to get the pleats to lie more at an angle instead of straight down, and change the curve of the waistband a bit.
The facing and pocket linings are made of some polka-dot poly-lycra scraps, leftover from my first Sorbetto, and I hemmed it by hand with some lace tape. Notice the difference in right and left side of the fabric. In my defense, it was an overcast day, and I didn't have enough fabric to cut a second back piece...
The last mishap was using a zipper that wouldn't stay closed for the heck of it, which made me learn how to install a hook and eye. Another technique checked! ;-)

Now I'm wondering if I really need an improved version of Meringuity in red corduroy (which I don't have in my stash yet), or if it would be a better idea to wait and see if I can acquire an actual Simplicity 2451 pattern for my next try. It's not a pressing decision though, as I really should pack up my sewing things for the move that will hopefully happen at the end of the month...!

Before I hop to bed, if anyone reading my blog should be in NYC this weekend, I have a recommendation for you! A very good friend of mine, talented singer/songwriter Lili Sommerfeld, is having her first gig in New York this weekend! She's playing in The Path Café (Westvillage) on Friday from 7-8 p.m. and at the Somethin' Jazz Club in Midtown Manhattan on Saturday starting at 9 p.m. Both even have free cover! I could tell you dozens of wonderful things about her, but before I embarrass either of us, I'll just leave you with a video of one of the songs from her album.
Oh, and a song with loop station. Because that's just really cool. :D
Have a lovely, lovely rest of the week, wherever you are!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Self-Stitched Weekend and Things I like

Hi everyone! First of all, thanks so much for all your suggestions and offers regarding Simplicity 2451! I may revisit them at some point, as I'm still rather intrigued by the pattern, but for now, I think I've made a fair approximation out of the Meringue pattern from the Colette Handbook. It's even almost finished (well, the hopefully wearable muslin is, more about that at a later point), but still requires some hand sewing - after I've taken it in a couple of centimeters. Yay!

I thought I might show you a couple of outfit posts from last week(end), when I met my parents about halfway between our homes (read, in the middle of Germany) for a bit of a spontaneous wine-tasting vacation.
We stayed in a rather cute little village near Würzburg. Cute enough that I'd call it kitschy if I didn't come from an equally cute little town myself. Oh and look, stripes look cute with strawberries, too. Plus, new boots. In red. I ♥.
By the way, every third house in that village was a winery. Okay, maybe every fifth one. But still, loads. I won't tell you how many different wines I tasted in the three days. Loads. Yum.
I sometimes forget how many beautiful places there are in Germany that I haven't seen yet. I should remember more often.

I thought I could also share some stuff with you that I've ♥ on bloglovin in the last weeks...

Like Zoe's Refashion Fridays, and especially her tutorial on adding a cute collar to a t-shirt. Or a lace front. Pretty!
Or Madalynne teaching us how to correct the fit on raglan sleeves.
More sleeve alterations: How to alter a pattern for forward sloping shoulders.
And last but not least Colette teaching how to sew a fly front - something that I have yet to try!

My first day in Surgery Internship was fine, btw. No 24h shifts for German interns! Gosh I'm glad about that, and with my way to work shortened by about 40 mins and beginning 45 mins earlier, there really is a whole lot of afternoon left after work! Wahoo! (We'll see how I do on my first "real" day tomorrow... ;-)

Have a lovely week, everyone!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oh, look! Stripes!

Can you believe that my second term of internship is already over? I saved up some study days, so I have this week free, but after that, my third and last term is starting, and as it's even shorter than the others (12 weeks instead of 16, as I've been saving my 20 days of leave to have more time for studying) - I'll be finished by Christmas. Crazy, huh? 100 days of intensive studying later, It'll be written board exams for me, and oral board about 6 weeks later, and then I'm officially a doctor. Weird and kinda scary.

Ah well.

What with a totally free Saturday (bf is at his parents and flying on family holiday for 2 weeks, without me as I got the time off on very short notice) - sewing time!
The pattern is one I've used before, Ottobre 05/2008-14, a simple raglan-sleeved tee, although this time around, I lowered the neckline by a couple of centimeters and added a bit of width for a gathered neckline detail. The fabric is actually thinly striped, not light pink, and bought on a whim when we got the fabrics for the baby blanket, in August.
All things considered, I'm rather pleased with the look and fit, and very happy that the neckline gathers worked out. It's one of my favorite details on a favorite shirt, and I'm pretty sure, more tops in this style will follow! :D
It did remind me that I'm missing some me-mades in my wardrobe, though. I have next to no me-made skirts! Can you believe that? I've had some navy twill, destinied to be a little skirt, for ages, and almost set to make one yesterday, when I found that I only own two skirt patterns. The free Burdastyle Kasia skirt (which is highwaisted, a look I since learned doesn't go well with my figure) and the Colette Meringue. What I really want, though, is something along the line of Simplicity 2451 (of So...Zo and Scruffy Badger fame), but Simplicity patterns being rather expensive over here, I've decided to franken-pattern the Meringue. Which will take a little more time, but there you have it. I happen to have some this week. :)
The leftover scraps made a nice pair of knickers, too, and would have made a second, if I hadn't been silly and cut out three left front pieces instead of a left front, and a right front and back, respectively. How I did that? No idea. Ah well...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

polka-dotted come-back

Oh hai there. Seems like I've been awol for quite a bit. This whole working-full-time thing, combined with a 2 hour commute, takes up lotsa time - but hey, just two more weeks! After that, I change internship placements once again, and while I get to get to start work an hour earlier (at an ungodly 7 a.m.) that also means I get to leave earlier. Yes! ;)

Anyway, it wasn't all work in the last 4 weeks. Since I don't get off more than a day or two a week during internship, my parents and sister decided to spend their summer holidays in Berlin, and came to visit for two and a half weeks! This of course meant very little sewing time, but lots of fun going window shopping, trying out new restaurants and bars, enjoying an awesome rock'n'roll concert (The Baseballs! a very awesome, Berlin-based, 50s inspired band) and exploring the city. :) And spending quality time, of course. (Oh. And looking for apartments. We're going to move into a bigger one in November. Yay, more room for fabric and a sewing nook!)

But wait, there actually was some sewing involved. My sister and I collaborated on a baby blanket for our newest half sibling (by my father).
We were supposed to keep the colours gender neutral, as the parents wanted to be surprised, but somehow or other it seems that rather a lot of pink managed to find its way in, even though my father was very sure that it was going to be a boy... Seems as our intuition was pretty good, though, as little Charlotte was born yesterday morning. :D Hehehe.

And there is another finished object I haven't had the time to present, yet, even though it has been finished and frequently worn for almost 4 weeks now.
It's a typical Alessa project - meaning it came together in a rather haphazard way. The fabric was originally meant for a half-circle skirt, but this spring after making the blue polka-dot dress, I knew I needed a red twin for it, so I started cutting out pattern pieces from the 1m of rayon jersey. Needless to say they didn't fit, even though I cut the bodice pieces smaller than usual and used my raglan-sleeved (self-drafted) pattern. I decided that it needed a midriff-band in white, and possibly white sleeve bands and a peter pan collar anyway, but for ages could't find any appropriate white jersey! Everything was either incredibly flimsy or lycra or off-white, so in the end I bought a white t-shirt with the right fiber content second hand. And because the rayon jersey turned out to be incredibly stretchy, in the end I even had to take in the sides and shorten the hem to get a good fit...
So. The facts: 
Fabric: exactly 1m of rayon jersey, from the Holland fabric market, plus a thrifted t-shirt.
Pattern: traced raglan-sleeved bodice plus slightly-less-than-half-circle skirt
Notions: none at all
Time to Complete: 5 months? 5 hours? something in between... ;)
First Worn: to choir practice, and lotsa times since then.
Thoughts: This must be my most worn garment this summer, no matter that it is only 4 weeks old. I love the colour and the polka dots, they make me incredibly happy. It's incredibly comfortable. I really like how the capsleeves turned out, and the same goes for the crewneck finish, which looks cute and does a lot to stabilize the neckline, because the main fabric is rather flimsy and stretches out easily. I did a baby hem, which turned out well, too. The only sad thing is that it has already started to pill a bit, especially on the side where I wear my purse/bag...

I have a feeling that this concludes my summer sewing, even though I didn't get in even a third of the projects I had originally planned (half of which were actually left over from last summer). Maybe some of them can carry over into fall, if ever I find some time in between internship, looking for apartments, organizing the move, and all the other social committments (cooking with friends or sewing? Hmmm... ;)

Also, here's a little vid of my favorite Baseballs song, which I'm pretty sure you might like...
Anyway. Hope you're having a lovely time, wherever you are!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beautiful Things

I almost don't want to write this (or at least formulate it some other way) as it seems quite shallow to be happy about things... But some really beautiful items have found their way into my life in the last couple of months, some by sheer luck and others by delightful people, so I thought I'd share with you my happiness about them. :)

Maybe I'll start with something sewing-related first. A month or two ago, there was an Art&Textiles exhibition here in Berlin. I'd never been there before, it seemed rather low-key, situated in a school, and I actually only went because of the proclaimed flea market, where I got the beautiful goods below: a short length of perfect yellow-flowered seersucker and some extremely cute (if rather expensive) buttons, some of them probably vintage (see the ones with the rose print? and some with polka dots!). It was pretty exciting though, with lots of artists and crafters, some beautiful textile wall art... Sadly, photography wasn't allowed...
Then there's something my boyfriend came home with a little while ago, just because. He really does know me very well...
It's a book-shaped box of buttons and a little sewing necessaire by Cath Kidston. So cute! The item I've already used most is actually the measuring tape, since it has centimeters on one side and inches on the other - so handy for sewing with American patterns!

Another gift my boyfriend came home with actually brought me to tears (there may have been hormones involved though... *cough* pms *cough*). We'd walked by an antiquarian a couple of weeks earlier and I had admired this cute, rose and gold printed tea cup set.
He meant to give it to me for my birthday, but used it as a cheering-up gift instead when I was feeling down one day. And then we went helicopter flying for my birthday. Don't I have the most amazing boyfriend, ever???

Also, some amazing fabric I found, two lengths of soft, drapey rayon print. In a department store! I really need to go back there sometime soon... I'm thinking a dress with a bodice in the torquoise and a half-circle skirt in the rose-print. And maybe I'll also manage to make a kimono-sleeved blouse from the remaining torquoise fabric...
And did I mention that my family gave me a dress form for my birthday? It finally arrived and it's so beautiful!
I decided to call her Lily (on a total whim, since the fabric cover is actually a rose print). As I haven't been sewing, I haven't used her yet, but I'm totally looking forward to the new fitting experience, and maybe doing some draping! I'll have to see how well it goes, all measurements except for the waist are spot on (that one is 5cm too small). If it doesn't work out, maybe I can add a stuffed belt-thingy to the waist...

Last but not least, I've done a bit of flea-market shopping. Don't you just love flea-markets? The ones in Berlin are very varied, some almost exclusively consisting of professional sellers of knicknacks (not a big fan of those, as they seldomly have cute stuff and if so, it's mostly expensive) but there's one on every 1st and 3rd Sunday that is half craft market and half flea market. The most awesome find I made a few weeks ago: a little golden wind-up watch that can hang on a necklace. It's really only an inch in diameter, and entirely perfect. :D Just as special is the gold chain, which was gifted to me by my grandma. :)
The earrings are from a craft table, new but apparently made from vintage cabachons. So pretty! I'm also in love with my new cupcake stamp. The fabric is a rayon jersey top that I found only last week, but almost haven't wanted to take off since then.

So, that's my beautiful things for today. What is currently making you happy?

Friday, August 10, 2012


It's been quite a while since I posted anything about the lovely, inspirational, instructive things that float around the internet and sometimes find their way onto my Pinterest boards. Here are a few of the sewing-related links that have excited me in the past month or so:

Experiencing diagonal drag lines on your tops or dress bodices? Here are two interesting posts on drafting or correcting armholes by Madalynne: How to correct armhole balance and The relationship between across shoulders, across front and across back.

Also, an interesting post on the question of sleave-cap ease really being necessary?

Vintage illustrations on making cute rick-rack flowers via What-I-Found.

Sallie-oh's great guest post on Madalynne's blog featuring lots of tricks on how to make your home-made jeans look smooth and professional:

Did you hear about the new indie pattern line Cake Patterns (name inspired by the cake vs. frosting debate) by 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World? The first pattern is the Tiramisu dress. :D

I love this travel vanity case by DIY Dixie!

Have you found any worthwile links recently?