Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reflections - Not quite a #sewingtop5

Hi folks! It's New Year's Eve and I've been procrastinating big time on a reflections and resolutions post. It feels like I haven't really sewn enough to actually properly take part in Gillian's #sewingtop5, and I've been quite prepared to tell you how meh this year has somehow felt for me, but it's the last day of the year, the sun is shining, we're preparing for an evening of board games with our friends and I've decided I'd rather tell you how thankful I am.

2016 was a year full of stuff happening that no-one really wanted, from the whole political shebang of Brexit-and-Trump to the dying of all those beloved celebrities (and some closer to home, like the dad of one of my friends). For us Berliners, it culmiated in a terrorist attack on a Christmas market more or less around the corner from where I live. I knew none of the people who died or were injured, but I easily could have. I easily could have been there, as could any of my friends. That we weren't is a stroke of luck or of fate. There were also some personal issues that I struggle with, this year, that I don't really want to get into here. I think I'm doing ok with them right now. But still.

All things considered, I'm so lucky that this year also held so many wonderful moments, with friends and family, spending time together, travelling, eating and drinking, having fun. I have no idea where on the balance of the scale this year would end up, if not for that. And for that, I'm really, really thankful.
Sewing-wise, I have to admit that nothing I've sewn this year really stands out. I sewed a few very practical things that got a lot of use (the navy Oslo cardi comes to mind, that I lost and then had to replace because it really goes with everything). The one dress that was the real highlight this year, reached for every time I wanted to look pretty, was actually one that I sewed late last year, so it doesn't really count.
the highlight and the workhorse

The rest partly just kinda seamlessly fit onto my wardrobe (like the Lola dresses I've never even blogged about) and partly has already been put into the donation bag (like the upcycled Bruyère shirt).
 the unblogged Lolas

My big goal for the year was to end with less stash than I started. Actually, the real goal was to only buy 1m of fabric for every 2m that I sewed up. That turned out to be quite a big fail, since I bought 58m of fabric and only sewed up 55m. Still, 3m on the plus side is way better than last year's 16m, and over half of the fabric (35m to be exact) I sewed up was from last year's stash. I also put some fabric on the side for a fabric swap or giveaway (that I meant to organize but never got around to), and I think I'll have another purge come spring. I even got the hang of weeding out some of those handmade garments that don't seem to fit (on my body or into my style) anymore. That feels like an accomplishment. :-)

The other big goal was to interact with the online sewing sphere a bit more. Get back to blog reading and commenting and blogging and taking part in challenges. And maybe updating the stuff around here (like the broken links and handmade wardrobe...). Well. Another big fail for 2016. And as it stands, I'm really not quite sure if I can manage it 2017, either. I know I could make the time, but there's always so much else going on and often, I really just want to sink onto the sofa and bury my nose in a book. I even thought about giving up about blogging and making do with Instagram and Twitter. But this is my small corner of the internet, so I really don't want to give up on it altogether.  So we'll see how it goes. And much thanks to the people who still come by to read and drop a comment occasionally! :-) That's quite lovely of you, thank you.

Here's to the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. May the new year have good things in store for us all. :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A coat muslin

So just in time for the weather to turn freezing, I managed to trace my coat pieces and sew a muslin. Ottobre patterns tend to fit me pretty well, and I'm not really a dedicated maker of muslins, but with a project as involved as a coat (and such pretty and precious fabric), I'd rather be on the safe side...

So here's the (very blurry and unflattering) pictures:
All things considered, not a bad fit, I think. The waist hits a bit low for my taste, so I'm going to shorten the bodice pieces by a couple of centimeters.
The sleeves didn't fit on the piece of fabric I used for the muslin (a medium-ish weigh cotton canvas), so for now the muslin is sleeveless, but I may have to add them, since there's a bit of weirdness going on at the shoulders and arm scythe.
I'm thinking about doing a forward shoulder adjustment and taking away a bit of fabric from the top part of the front side piece. However, the coat is supposed to have shoulder pads, and putting them in almost corrected at least part of the problem... - or what do you think? There are still some unattractive folds along the front side piece, but I'm afraid of taking away too much, and having the end result turn out too small over the bust... maybe just a few millimeters?
I'd appreciate any feedback you can give - I'm pants at fitting most of the time, with the worst thing being actually cottoning on to fitting problems... ;-)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Life, the small things, and the big plans

Hi there! Oh wow, time is flying. It feels like summer was only a couple of weeks ago, and now it's almost December, the lovely golden days of fall are almost over and there are days where I feel cold in my regular fall coat. Despite having had some time on my hands, and the lovely sewing weather (cold and wet), my muse seems to have been on an extended break, and I haven't properly sewn anything in close to three months! Well, I've started on a few knickers made from scraps, and I've cut out a Colette Seamwork Elmira cardi. I could use the knickers, but I don't love sewing fold-over elastic. And I've generally just been in the mood to spend my free time in bed with a good book (or my mobile, reading Sherlock fanfiction, ahem). Add to that a couple of short vacations and starting on a new job...

Actually, I think I may be feeling guilty for procrastinating on my thesis. I've been supposed to do the statistic analysis for weeks now... Only, I've never actually done statistics before, never used the program before and only have the tiniest clue of what I'm supposed to be doing. I know it's not actually witchcraft, just a bit of maths and thinking and feeding data into the computer (which I'm actually reasonably good at), and I have a book an there's tons of tutorials out there, just... it feels like a huge undertaking. And I've had a lot of other stuff going on (like a vacation, and a weekend-getaway to London, and a choir concert at a club with a really mad choreography - and three concerts to go until mid-December). So of course hibernating under my bedclothes with a book was a lot more comfortable. But I guess I'll have to start with it at some point, before my supervisor kicks my ass, so. I've been thinking. A lot of things look huge and scary, if you haven't done them before. Sewing a pair of jeans seemed huge and scary, before I made my first pair of Ginger jeans. Sewing a coat seems huge and scary (even though I made an Anise wool jacket, complete with bound button holes, a couple of years ago). But I know it can be done!
So I thought I'd just break those two huge and scary undertakings, the statistical analysis of my thesis data and the sewing of a winter coat, into smaller, hopefully doable tasks. And alternate them. This way I can sew as a reward for putting in data.

That does sound reasonably smart, doesn't it?

I've started on research for both - reading introductions into statistics and the program I'm using, and looking through possible coat patterns. After lots and lots of searching (and buying the PDF of Burdastyle 7458, only to realize that it has 90 pages, which I sure as heck am not going to cut and tape...) I decided on a pattern from one of my Ottobre magazines, Dahlia from 05/2010.
I'll probably try to put some more buttons on. And the fabric is going to be that fabulous Rockabilly red herringbone wool from Fabworks...
And once I've got a start on that, maybe I will manage to get to the rest of my autumn-wintery to-sew list...

I did manage one thing during my sewing hiatus, though. Since the muse wasn't inclined to make garments, I spruced my sewing space up a bit, made covers for my overlock and coverlock machines, got a thread rack and a new sewing chair - it's all so much better organized now!

So, while this week was full with concert stuff and Thanksgiving dinners, and this weekend is choir rehersal weekend, I'm fully planning to use the convenience of my new job hours (an exhausting 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday means a free morning on Tuesday and free afternoons on Wednesday and Friday) to make inroads on this statistics and coatmaking business!

So, anyone else doing any pesky, challenging stuff lately?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Bombshell Swimsuit

Oh look, I made another swimsuit! And I found out how to not look totally uncomfortable while posing in my bathers - wearing shades and a hat. ;-)
The pattern is the Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit - same as I made last year, but with the sweetheart neckline this time around. It's also been finished since the beginning of August, but the weather wasn't quite conductive for taking nice pictures - until the first week of September, when summer came back with a vengeance for a few days! :-)
I like this version even better. The sweetheart neckline is really pretty and it's got polka-dots! :-D Like the last one, the fabric for this was kindly sent to me by Gillian all the way from Canada (thanks, Gillian!), since it's obviously way easier to get nice swimsuit fabrics in Canada than in Germany - go figure...

Anyway, this one turned out really nice, although I'm still a bit in two minds about the practicality of the pattern. It really does look fabulous, but I didn't actually wear it for swimming, since the ruched fabric and two layers mean it gets dripping wet and doesn't dry very fast. It's perfect for lying on a beach towel, though! (Although I always feel a bit out of place on a German beach, where the credo is to wear as little as possible... ;-) ) Maybe a beach vacation is called for. :-)

Pattern notes:
For this version, I used actual swimsuit lining, which is a bit thinner and works better than the swimsuit fabric I used for lining last time. I also used my overlock machine for most of the construction and kept to the stated seam allowances, so this version, while fitting snugly, doesn't seem too small like the last one. I didn't quite like the method of attaching the straps after turning and topstitching, since it adds another visible line of stitching... I'll try to do them in one go next time around.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Last year's sewing dare revealed

While putting on one of my favorite jersey dresses today, I remembered that there is still quite a bit of last year's sewing that I never blogged about - including this dress, which is funny because I even took some decent pics of it last year! It's also part of the mini wardrobe capsule containing a dress, top and bottom, that Gillian challenged me to make for sewing dares (ahem, last year's spring). So, well, I'm blogging about it now. ;-)

1. the dress
It's one of those boring TNT jersey dresses. The raglan bodice is (as almost always) based on an Ottobre pattern, the a-line skirt is modified from the Onion twist dress, and as has become usual in the last year or two, I put a little tuck under the bust for a better fit. The fabric is a rather nice rayon jersey from with a lovely drape.
Despite being nothing special, it turned out to be a favorite, especially for work days. Blue jersey dresses somehow scream comfort for me, and I have at least one for every season. I don't have to think, putting them on, they just look effortlessly nice, while still letting me fade in the background, if I so chose. ;-)

I think I had 2 meters of that fabric, so with careful placing I managed to squeeze both the dress and a top onto my length of fabric.

2. the top
It's also a TNT of course, the aforementioned Ottobre raglan. Nothing special, beside a bit of ruching along the neckline, which I tend to do with half of my tops...
And for once, I managed to finish the hem and sleeves on my coverstitch machine.

3. the bottoms
Those are what took bloody long to make, and honestly, in the ten months I've had them, they have only been worn a couple of times. It's a pair of red linen Thurlow trousers.
It's a toss-up if the fabric or the fit is bothering me more. I wanted some nice, bottom-weight linen, and found some linen-rayon mix with a decent weight for a good price. Since I love both linen and rayon, I thought it was a good choice, but they hang heavier than I thought and they feel a little scratchy, despite several washes.
After making a muslin of the shorts version of the pattern in sz 12 (corresponding to my waist measurement, my hips falling into sz 10), which turned out huge, I went down two sizes and made these in size 8. It may just be the give of the linen, but they still turned out plenty big, so I took them in at the center back (which is sewn last for fit purposes), but that threw off the fit at the butt. They're also too big in the back thigh area, which I might have anticipated, not being a pear... Oh well. I'll probably give up on that pattern and maybe try the Ginger jeans in linen instead?

4. bonus project: another top
To round the collection out, I thought I'd throw this top in the mix. It's not pink, as you might think, but has thin red and white stripes. The pattern is actually an experiment, traced from a boatneck top I own and rather like. I like the neckline and little sleeves well enough, although I probably should have used a different finish for the neckline, which is only turned under and topstitched, and consequently tends to roll and gape a little.
It's certainly not perfect, and I'm still on the lookout for a good pattern with a nice, wide boatneck. But it makes for a nice casual top to go with my Ginger jeans, right?
Any recommendations for nice boatneck patterns?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Maxi-mising my Summer Wardrobe

I hope you see what I did in the title.. ;-)
Summer is moving right along. I feel like I hardly have much time left to do all the summer sewing I'd been meaning to. Two more weeks, then my family will be here for a bit of vacation and then it'll be September already, and probably high time to start on the plans for fall sewing. Oh well.

My current summer fav for wearing in any weather (since Berlin summer can be anything from rainy 18°C to tropical 32°C) are maxi dresses. I love when there's a bit of a breeze ruffling the skirt, and it works both for during the day and to go out in the evening. A maxi dress and a cardi are pretty much all you need for Berlin weather (at least if you're carrying an umbrella). ;-)
So this one is made from the same more-or-less self-drafted pattern as my other two jersey maxi dresses. There are little tucks under the bust in lieu of darts (inspired by the Moxie patterns Verity dress) and the skirt is a simple trapezium/trapezoid, with side slits going halfway up. I tend to knot the sides when I'm walking or cycling, so the skirt doesn't drag or get between my feet... :-)
This time around, I used clear elastic on the arm holes and neckline, just stitched it on with a three-step-zigzag, turned it under and used my coverlock for topstitching. It turned out better than I thought, although I think I still like bound necklines better.

While I'm at it, I think I didn't manage to blog about one of last year's maxi dresses yet. Even though I took some actually rather nice pictures (using an actual DSLR!) last year on my parents' porch!
I really like the fabric, it's a lovely cotton sateen border print that I bought in Hong Kong way back when (that would be... 2011 *phew*, five years ago already?!) The pattern is self-drafted, the back just a rectangle with shirring at the top. I'm not quite happy with the fit in the bodice, the bust is a bit too shallow, but it's wearable. I'm hoping to fix it in the next iteration...
It's not my most worn maxi dress (that would be my very first jersey maxi, the one inspired by Gillian). But it's nice to have variety. :-) Of which I now have quite a lot, especially since I wasn't quite convinced that the maxi dress trend was for me, in the first place. Now I'm wondering on what other trend I might be missing out. Jumpsuits, maybe...?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Oh those Summer Day-to-Nights

Last Sunday was a beautiful, warm and sunny summer day, one of those that seem a bit rare over here this year. So when we went out to have some home-made lemonade and macarons, I decided to take the camera with me and take a few quick dress pictures.
These two dresses were actually made last fall, too late in the season for them to be worn. But as I had just bought the perfect pattern - the Maria Denmark Day to Night drape top - they wanted to be made right away.
You could say that I franken-patterned the dresses. The skirts are just plain half-circle skirts, really, but I'm seldon im the mood to play around with string so I used the very convenient Cake Patterns Tiramisu skirt piece.
Both dresses use clear elastic to stabilize the waist and back neckline.
I left the hems raw, since I'm lazy and the jersey doesn't fray.
Both are very drapey rayon jerseys, the green one from the Turkish fabric market in Berlin and the red one from Stoffmarkt Holland.
I guess there's not much else to tell. Both were quick makes, they're very easy to wear and fit into my wardrobe really well. I'm pretty sure I'll make some more dresses with the pattern, and possibly even some tops. ;-) 

I'll leave you with a picture of the delicious macarons we had... :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Sewing Plans

I really love Berlin in summer. To be honest, it can be a bit of a mixed bag - anything from really hot and sunny (which, around here, means about 30°C, hardly cooling down during the night, especially if you live on the top floor of an "Altbau" - one of the many buildings from the turn of the last century - without air conditioning) to cool and raining for days and anything in between. Summer sewing, it follows, is a bit of a mixed bag, too. My favorite garments last summer were my two jersey maxi dresses. For some reason, they feel great in any weather. ;-) And I have planned a couple more in these fabrics (which are both, incidentally, from The Sweet Mercerie).
The one thing about maxi dresses that is less than perfect is that they're a bit unwieldy for biking. So the other pattern that works perfectly for both hot and cool days (with a pair of leggings) is of course, Victory Patterns' Lola. I'm guessing nobody's surprised? ;-)  Both fabrics are from Lillestoff, the teal stripes are a French terry and the multi-coloured stripes are cotton jersey...
And the rest of my summer sewing plans? Well, it's a bit unusual. It's mostly woven fabrics. Whaaat? Right, I don't know why. But I've got them, and they're pretty, and I think I'll just try it and see if I can fit some more woven dress wearing in my life, right? Since I do have an overwhelming amoung of jersey dresses already... ;-)

I'm guessing what partly inspired my unusual plans are the Sew Over It patterns I got in London this spring. So beautiful! Here are the Vintage Shirt Dress and the Betty Dress. And oh yes, it's polka-dots! And florals!

The Sewaholic Cambie dress is such a pretty pattern and has been in my stash for years. As has the fabric I paired it with, which actually used to be a maxi dirndl skirt that I got second hand. The white and the red floral fabric have also been awaiting life as a garment for several summers in my stash. They've always been destined to become spaghetti strapped tunic tops. Let's see if I can make it happen this year.

I think I mentioned that I'm not a big fan of sewing garments for work, but I'd really like to make myself a pair of white linen trousers for the hot months. Hoping to finally get the fit right on the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers!
And last but not least, I've put swimwear on my sewing list again! I managed to get my hand on actual swimsuit lining, so I'm definitely trying another Bombshell swimsuit, the one with the sweetheart neckline this time.  And I'd love to put the leftover fabric to good use and make a Nautilus bikini! Hopefully in time for my birthday in July...
I think that's the bulk of it for my summer plans, although I'm sure I'll slip in a jersey dress or two, and maybe a couple of tops. Possibly even those Hudson Pants leftover from the Bread&Butter challenge?

Because I already have some plans for fall sewing. It involves button holes. And outerwear. And possibly even bra sewing! *scary*