Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sewing Top 5 - Hits & Misses

Hi everyone, did you have a good holiday? Mine is still pretty lovely, I've been at my parents' for the last week, mostly eating and drinking and being social (and meeting up with various parts of my family and my boyfriend's family). And knitting. :) It's a good thing that knitting is such a socially acceptable craft, since I managed to make/finish most of my christmas gift after getting here… Blogging, of course, is much more difficult to do in a social setting, which is why there are still some unblogged garments. Oh well. There's thankfully lots of time between New Year's and my first day at my new workplace (Jan. 5). Four whole undisturbed days!

Anyway, since I have a bit of undisturbed time right now, I thought I might join in with Gillian's Sewing Top 5 2014. I love reading about these every year since she started them two years ago. So.

Top 5 Sewing Hits

#1: The award for the garment(s) with the most wears definitely goes to my two polka-dot t-shirts. I wore them at work pretty much all summer long. Almost every day.
(The garment with the second most wears is probably another (yet unblogged) work top: the top with a twist, which I wore almost daily all through autumn…)

#2: The award for the garment that the most time and care went into for construction, and which has seen several days of continuous wear already is my as yet unblogged Anise jacket.
I love it! My very first jacket! Gonna blog about it soon.

#3 and #4: The award for the most unexpected hit this year definitely goes to the two maxi dresses I made. I wasn't sure I'd wear the first one at all, until I finished it and fell so hard for it, I had to make a second one. They definitely get the award for the most effortlessly pulled off perfect look.
Ok, they may have to share that one with #5: the (yet unblogged) Christmas party dress. Yes, it's navy. Yes, it's long-sleeved. Yes, it's jersey. While all of that may scream comfy but boring, it's got a front twist. And a neckline that lets the lace of my slip peek out. It's the dress I never knew I needed. Now I may never take it off… ;-)

Top 5 Sewing Misses

I think I only have one true sewing miss this year. It's the green Lola, made up in an interlock fabric without recovery. I think it may have been worn twice (?) around the house?
I have also ratted out another miss from last year. The plaid Hawthorn never got worn. Maybe twice overall. The fit just wasn't right (I think I mangled my short waist adjustment) and it wasn't quite my color, either. It's now in the to-be-donated pile.
There are a couple more that I'm not quite 100% happy with, that have slight fit or construction issues. I don't love the gaping neckline of the polka-dot dress. The front fly of the floral Moss sits a bit awkwardly. The sleeve length of the (yet unblogged) Bronte top turned out to be completely wrong (but I think I'll just shorten them to elbow length and that will be that).
They do get worn, though, if not quite as much as the rest of this year's wardrobe.
Gotta call it a win, then, this year. :-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Leftovers of Spring - the Moss Skirt

This is the final post about stuff sewed practically ages ago - yay! If we keep up this pace, I may actually blog about all the garments I made in the last weeks before the year is out! ;)

These two really are from way back in spring, two Grainline Moss skirts I made in April. Since it has been so long, I don't remember everything about the sewing and construction. I do remember that I was happy about the thoroughness of the instructions, and that I managed to correctly insert a fly front zipper on the first try. 

The first version I sewed as a kind of wearable muslin was refashioned from a thrifted button-down dress. At first I thought it was made of linen, but then the tag called it "ramie", which seems to be made from a type of nettle.
Sadly I neglected to take a picture of the dress before I cut it apart... but I saved the golden buttons that went down the front, to use for the skirt.
The pocket linings are leftovers from my Hawaiian Macaron.
And yes, the skirt got worn several times over the spring and summer. It tends to wrinkle a lot, but I really like the bright blue colour!

Version no. 2 was made from a stretch cotton I got in a fabric shop in Cologne last year. I love the rose print on torquoise background so much!
You may remember these pictures, als I already wore the skirt during my Easter holiday in Italy...

Please excuse the wrinkles... This is also the very first jeans button I inserted. I used a hammer. It was very satisfying. ;) I think I had some problems with the attaching of the waistband on this version, because I neglected to staystitch the very stretchy cotton, so the lengths didn't match up. I'm definitely going to remember next time I sew with stretch cotton... So now, as best as I can remember:
The facts: 
Pattern: Grainline Moss skirt, version A in a straight size 10
Fabric: a thrifted Rami dress for the blue version, 1 meter of rose-print stretch cotton for no. 2 as well as some leftover scraps for the pocket linings and waistbands.
Notions: one metal zipper each, as well as two gold buttons for the blue skirt and a jeans button for the flower skirt and interfacing for the waistband.
Time to complete: I honestly don't remember, but not that long. The fly front probably took the longest... ;)
Alterations: I omitted the pocket on the blue version, because I forgot.
Techniques used: Fly front zipper, some topstitching on the pocket, turned-and-topstitched hem, machine-stitched button holes. Overlocked seam finish. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Pair of LBDs

So I'm slowly wrapping up the leftovers of my summer sewing. Here are two Little Black Dresses I made (in July!!). I guess they'd actually each deserve a post of their own but you know how it is - I can't believe that it's Christmas in less than three weeks...

Little Black Dress No. 1
This could also be called my Choir Dress. I've been meaning to make one since we agreed on our current dress code for concerts: a nice outfit consisting of equal(ish) portions of black and either of the following colours: red, green, blue or yellow. I usually go for either red or green, so I could have made a dress in one of those colours, and I may do so yet. But black gives me maximum versatility, and I usually pair it with some coloured tights and accessoires/jewellery and a matching fabric flower.
My choir dress is made of black jersey (because I can, it's so lovely when comfort and style go together - and for optimum breathing ability while singing ;) ). I used stretch lace for the yoke and midriff band.
It took me a while to figure out how to best treat the edges of the stretch lace. Then I had the bright idea of having a look at my one RTW lace dress and do you know what, it's both easy and pretty: a scalloped elastic zigzagged to the edge and then turned under. Looks great and gives nice stability! And so much easier than binding with self-fabric, as I tried with my first lace dress...
The only other "special technique" I included was to iron a knit stabilizing tape to the seam that connects the sweetheart neckline to the yoke, to keep the seam allowance from showing, and also to the turned under seam allowance of the sweatheart (which is then topstitched to the lace). The rest of the dress was made on my overlocker and the hem and sleeves turned under and stitched with a twin needle. (Btw, remind me to never try to sew with black fabric in less than full daylight. Those twin needle hems feature one black and one dark navy line of stitching. It's hard to see and if anybody asks, it's a design featur, but oh boy...)
The pattern, by the way, is my usual knit top/dress pattern, and I used my (modified for fit) Macaron bodice to copy the sweetheart neckline (and the construction method for attaching the yoke).

The dress has held up well for the past few concerts. :)
in-action shot of our last concert :)

Little Black Dress No. 2

Polka-dot LBD! This spring, I got the Ultimate Wrap Dress from Sew Over It and decided that a polka-dot wrapdress would be a brilliant idea. For some reason I very much like the idea of wrap dresses, but in the end I usually have problems with gaping, so I don't often wear them. (The exception to this is Colette's Crepe dress, obviously, which wraps in the back. Such an ingenious concept, maybe I should try that one in jersey, one of these days...)
I'm not quite sure if this pattern gapes naturally, if it's my fabric choice or if my pattern alteration (shortening the bodice by 4 cm right at the point where the wrap ends) aggrevated the problem. The facings definitely didn't help. In the end, I just bought a lace bustier to wear under the dress, to prevent indecent showings of cleavage and it's quite wearable like that, even if the waist ties still sit a tad too low for my taste. I did wear it quite a bit during summer, though.
I'm pretty sure that there will be a next version, possibly even a long-sleeved one for winter/spring. Next time I will try to remember to add an elastic waist stay and I will bind the neckline instead of doing facings, which should help with the gaping. I'm also almost sure that I can go down a size. There are a few more bodice tweakings I'll try: change the angle of the neckline and raise the waist ties. I'm also going to shorten them, since I have a feeling that they're almost ridiculously long... ;)
So that's two Little Black Dresses down. The Choir Dress really filled a wardrobe gap, whereas I'm not so sure about the wrap dress... Is it the fit? Maybe it's just not quite my style? Maybe I should have made the tie in a contrast colour? Anyway. I feel like there might be another LBD (or two) in my future. One a bit classier, because every time I want to wear something elegant(ish) that isn't quite a taffeta cocktail dress (ahem) or a ballgown, I'm a bit stumped... But I have the perfect pattern! Now I just need to find some really slinky black jersey...

Saturday, November 29, 2014


I'm slowly working my way towards blogging about the rest of this year's makes, so I can start the new year with a fresh mind. There' s only about two posts of spring and summer makes left, before I can get to the more recent ones! ;-)

You may have noticed that I like making and wearing the Lola dress by Victory Patterns, I already made five versions last year and it's one of my favorite patterns. I made another two this spring and one in early autumn, and I'm planning at least two modified versions for winter wear. :-) 
 Green striped Lola
This one has been worn a lot during spring. The fabric is a jersey with tiny green and cream stripes (same kind of fabric that my strawberry stripe top is made of) and I used green interlock fabric for the bindings. That's the only thing I really don't like about the dress: the interlock has very little recovery and the bindings tend to bag out. I think I may switch them out with actual ribbing, as soon as I find some in the right colourway. 
The other issue that has prevented me from wearing it yet this autumn is that I prefer to wear it with nude tights (not warm enough in this weather), and the long sleeves don't lend themselves to being covered by a cardi. I have a new pair of green tights that could work, though. Or do you have any other colour suggestions?

Green Hoody Lola
I had high hopes for this dress, since I loved the idea of a hooded Lola since seeing this one(psst, it's colour blocked, too!). However, in this case the fabric choice took it from a win to a fail. It's made of the aforementioned green cotton interlock (actually, a tiny 1x1 rib - is that still called interlock?), which felt actually really nice and medium weight, but stretches out like nobody's business. I had the bright idea of lining the hood with quilting cotton, which I've seen succesfully done in Bench sweaters. Not a bright idea with this stretchy interlock, though. 
The hood was traced from an existing sweater and is probably fine, except that my (lowered from the original) neckline was a bit too low and wide. Overall, this dress just doesn't work well and even around home I've only worn it a couple of times. (The photos were taken right after making it - it was baggy about 5 mins later and I'd already taken all four seams in by about 3cm...) I'll probably retire it, since I don't even know what kind of garment could work with this fabric if I wanted to refashion it. I haven't given up on the idea of a hooded Lola, though, and I'm mightily in love with this navy star print sweater fabric, which even has a soft and fluffy wrong side...

Lacy Polka-dot Lola
This is my most recent Lola and it worked wonderfully both for the last summery days and now for the colder ones, paired with tights and a cardi. It is made from the same 1.5 m piece of navy dotted fabric as this top, which is why it has short sleeves cut on the crossgrain and lacy pockets. :-) Since the fabric is a 4-way stretch, there's no problem with tightness of any kind.
You'd think that I've got enough Lolas now, but as I said, I have at least a couple more still planned. They're going to be made from sweater knit, one of them a refashion from a knit cardi/coat that my grandma gave me. I think the princess seams should work well for pattern placement and I'm probably going to eliminate the pockets and waist seam, to get a slimmer line, as I did with my Star Trek Lola. The other one is going to be made from this interestingly patterned wool sweater knit.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Stuff around here // October&November

Do you ever get blogger's/writer's block from having too many little things on your mind? I've been meaning to write a blog post for ages, but there's so many little things, I never quite know how to start or what to concentrate on. After thinking about that for a bit, I realized that much smarter minds have already found a solution to that problem: the week (or month) in review post. ;-) Ah well, I'm very bad at keeping to any kind of regular schedule. But anyway, here's what's been occupying me for the past weeks.

1. Season changes always makes me want to make plans. Although recently, I've kind of been wary of putting down any explicit plans, for fear of never actually completing them. ;-) But I've managed to sort my stash a couple of weeks ago, and I pulled out everything that could make a possible fall/winter garment (and then sorted the rest into "will definitely need warm weather to be sewn up" and the inevitable "in between, will think about it" pile). So now I know where to reach when the urge to sew something comes up!
upper part: summer fabric, lower part: might be used
 2. Stephanie instagrammed her collection of sweater knits a while ago, and then was having their annual autumn sale, so there was some fabric buying. ;-) I acutally got some cute sweater knits, some nice jersey knits, and some more rather cheap jersey knits, but overall the selection was nice. All of them except for the wool knits are already washed and added to the stash...
possible stash to be used this fall/winter
3. Patterns. Do any of you remember a time when Colette was the only indie pattern company (I knew of) out there, and the new collection was awaited with baited breath? I love that there's so many new indie patterns coming out nowadays, but it also stresses me a bit. ;-) Like that kid-at-the-candy-store feeling - very excited but a bit overwhelmed, right? New patterns all the time, and even if I had the money to buy them all, when would I sew them??? So. I got the Pattern Parcel #6. It was too amazing to miss. I've already made the Bronte top, and taped together the Hudson pants and the Julia cardigan. I've also gotten a copy of Closet Case File's Ginger jeans and Nettie bodysuit. I caved in and finally bought Deer&Doe's Bruyere shirt. And when Colette brought out their new Daliah dress pattern, I bought both it and the Anise jacket, which I'd been thinking about makinge since sometime last year.
cutting out the Anise jacket
The good thing is that I have fabric options for each of those patterns, and may even be able to make them all this fall/winter. I've already cut out the Anise jacket. And I spent a couple of days in Hannover this weekend to watch a performance of some friends of mine, and found some lovely fabric for a Bruyere shirt. Yes, I know it has been done already.
polka-dot denim for a Bruyere shirt and green-striped sock wool!
4. Since I mentioned Colette, have you heard that Sarai is going to produce an online sewing magazine complete with patterns? It sounds very interesting and you can sign up for a preview and also win a subscription here.
5. Since November always has the best knitting weather, I have started a Miette cardigan and have resumed working on a lace shawl for my granny. :) Good thing that I've had some journeys by train and car, so I've managed to knit away quite a bit!
And what is going on in your corner of the world?