Thursday, 17 November 2011

New York, again!

I didn't think I would be back within a year, but there I am in New York again. Paying a visit to Mr. Singer before fabric shopping at Paron fabrics (again). When I find something I like, I tend to stick to it (it will be the sweetheart neckline once more, see Neckline sketches), so instead of a wild-goose chase, I just stuck to what I knew. That's not entirely true, because I did go to B&J, but almost backed out again at once due to overwhelmingness and shock... they just had too much at once! And I must say, the prices... o la la! I believe this is the perfect shop to go to if you're getting started with a project you know you'll master and if you only have one project in mind. For me, just buying two yards of that, two yards of this, B&J was just too-much-ness. Fantastic, nevertheless! So this is what I ended up with from Paron (doesn't it look strangely familiar?):

I browsed through the Burda Style Sewing Handbook at the fantastic book shop The Strand, and that book is going into my shelf. It was strange, being in New York looking at the book with sewing stuff I usually just look at on my computer. It was a surreal feeling, can you imagine? Maybe a feeling of a cyberspace concept becoming real, for real! Haha. I didn't buy the book, though, because I was afraid of excess kilos already, so I'll save it for online shopping.

Talking about surreal; we visited Coney Island, and that was such a lovely, magical and surreal place! Worth visiting just for a stroll in the sun and wind.

(Oh, and NOW there'll be no fabric shopping for me in a while... I have so many ideas and plans, and all I need is to focus. I will try to stick to my July-promise.)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Neckline sketches

I planned to whip up a simple, red dress yesterday (always the ambitions... I'm nearly done with a Jenny muslin, so I should stick to that, shouldn't I?) based on the thirtieth birthday dress, but without the sarong-ish front and with a self-made covered belt with some of the kits I bought ages ago. But then I started to think that maybe I should challenge myself with a new neckline, and did some sketches. The trouble is, I can't help thinking the sweetheart neckline is the perfect one! I once did a variation with the Back to Beat dress, but the basis of it is still the sweetheart neckline. So what to do? Should I just go on with it, being incredible boring and stick to the sweetheart?

By the way, Sunni from the A Fashionable Stitch now sells belt-and-buckle-kits, and that's great! She has covered all parts of beltmaking with great tutorials. There's also a good tutorial from Casey from Elegant Musings on Beltmaking.

Friday, 7 October 2011

The (belated) thirtieth birthday dress

So. I'm getting close to thirty and a half now, but it's never too late to share a nice dress, is it? I made this dress (and a matching tie for mr.Jon) on deadline margins, the week before I celebrated my birthday. The dress was finished the morning of the party, and I added the extra sarongish front with the gathered fabric flower some weeks later, so I would have time to finish the tie. And what a tie! I also managed to bake about 100 cupcakes for the party! There has to be cupcakes for birthdays

The dress is yet another one from self-drafted pattern with the sweetheart neckline. I bought the fabric in London last year, and I decided that I wanted a Hawaiian-style dress. What wasn't better than throwing a Hawaiian-themed birthday? I got no less than three pineapples that day and an extremely tasty pineapple cocktail... I used the same pattern as for my Back to Beat dress, and nip-tucked it a little when it was mostly sown together (no muslin there... I was in a hurry!). The dress is made from two pattern pieces with facings (three if you include the front sarongish part), without lining (yes, I regret) with the zipper in the side seam, lapped and prick-stitched.

The dress is a lot of fun to wear, and I really like the shape. Next up is a plain black version suitable for everyday use with a cardigan. With weather like this (see below...) coming up for the winter, it's nice to have dresses to wear at work: It's comfortable and easy to change into after walking 30 minutes in rainwear to and from work.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Flowers AND polka dots, can it get any better?

Finally a finished object! It's about time, don't you think? I gave you a sneak peek of this dress, but I finally got time to dress up and take photos. The dress is made from 100 % cotton of quilting quality from Stoff og Stil, which means it is quite thin. I lined the skirt with acetate lining and I love the sound of it! I prick stitched the zipper in the back, using the Sewaholic's tutorial. I don't think I'll ever go back to inserting zippers with machine stitching.

I had initially decided not to make the dress, but one week before the wedding, I just realised if I didn't sew the dress, it wouldn't be done that summer, and the fabric would just go into the stash. So the dress was indeed a project under deadline pressure. My mum helped me with hemming the skirt in the morning of the day my kid sister got married. Thanks, mum!
I aligned the first pleat with the front dart, and the pleats go all the way around to the centre back. It is very hip-flattering, exaggerating the curve. It really feels ultra-feminine. It works well together with a cardigan and Converse, which is great if I want to dress down but still wearing flowers and polka dots at the same time.

I'm in love with the fabric, and have bought it both in black, pink and red, planning a shirt with the pink one, and maybe another dress with the red fabric. The black is a little greyish, so I'm not sure what to do with that yet. 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

My favourite band

UFO's and getting rid of bad conscience

The UFO that is most likely to be finished once. 
Would it look good with a bow tie instead of regular collar?

Dealing with bad conscience (not working hard enough, not being clever enough, having lazy days at work etc.) is a huge part of doing a PhD, and I've realized that I need to get rid of other stuff that pile up on my conscience. Unfortunately there's a lot of things that piles up, like not doing enough exercise, avoiding housework and cleaning, and unfortunately not sewing and sewing-related stuff also gives me bad conscience! Now, I want to deal with some of that, and I want to know how to tackle UnFinished Objects (UFO's) and Projects Half Done (PhD's)...

The PhD-dress to the left would've turned out pretty cute if I just bothered to finish it. But would I use it? The recycle-shirt-draping project to the right was an attempt to break down regular sewing conventions. It will never be completed.
The Domestic Diva sorted her UFO's/PhD's into 3 piles based on the probability of finishing the projects: 1) Finish, 2) Reuse, and 3) Dump. Each project is then evaluated and discussed through what the project is, what is the problem, the progress and the plan, and finally the probability of completion. I really like the pragmatic approach, but the third option is one that I struggle with: I hate throwing things away! And throwing fabrics away? Of course there's the second option, but that brings me back to what to do with scraps. Is it OK to throw away UFO's that has a very low probability of being completed? Even the idea of throwing away projects give me bad conscience, so what says thou, my fellow seamstresses?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

There's so many books

Getting lost at Amazon is always fun, and luckily they have wish lists so it's possible to find back to books that I would want to have in my shelf. The local bookshops and library does not have great collections of sewing/fashion books, and unfortunately I can't buy all the books I would like to. Here's some from my wish list (parents and siblings: Christmas is not that far away...)

The Colette Sewing Handbook looks very promising, and although it says for the new seamstress, I would like to have a look in this book. I have never tried Colette Patterns myself, but so many other seamstresses has, like the Beignet skirt from Kelly Learns to Sew, Needles, Thread and Love gorgeous Ceylon dress, and The Sencha blouse done by One Rainy Afternoon by Zoe (oh, and I love her pencil skirt!). The patterns are all on my to-do list.

The BurdaStyle book has been a hush-hush project, and I don't remember hearing about it since the starting-up a year ago. From what I read on Amazon, it'll be published January next year. BurdaStyle is the largest online sewing community, and in this book BurdaStyle members contribute with projects. It's a great way to include the community in their work. I look forward to see the result!

What seamstress doesn't want a book that is both a history book and a book with vintage-inspired projects? Sew Retro: Simple Vintage-inspired Projects for the Modern Girl and a Stylish History of the Sewing Revolution promise to be such a book. The customer's reviews are not solely positive, but I really like the idea of combining historical and cultural aspects of sewing, in addition to practical projects. Imagine having a similar book with focus on the 40s to 60s.... Hm, come to think of it, that's what I'm expecting from Gertie's book. That is so exciting! 

How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns: From Shop-bought Patterns to Drafting Your Own: A Complete Guide to Fashion Sewing with Confidence is a book that caught my attention as it seems to cover both adjustment of commercial patterns and pattern construction. As you probably know, I'm mostly using my own self-drafted patterns, having failed so many times with commercial patterns and fearing them in case of disappointment and yet another flop. Does anyone know this book?

Talking about books, there's always a dress on my mind... Check out this beauty from Dollydagger! This one I know is on my wish list, but wouldn't it also look great and less formal in a non-shiny fabric? And it sure somehow look like Retro Butterick 4790, a pattern I've always liked. I do have some deadlines coming up, and need a new dress, don't I?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Turning 30 is perfectly fine (aka Summer 2011)

Whoa, what a busy summer it's been! It all started with celebration of my 30th birthday, where I partied with all my great friends who could make it, having three live bands, Hawaiian theme and about hundred cupcakes. Then I moved in together with the perfect mr.Jon. The flat is not nearly any finally-moved-in condition, but we had 7 people over for pizza the other day, so there's been some progress the last two months. Then I got offered a PhD-position, which means I can continue doing science for the next four years. Turning 30 is great!
There's mr.Jon with a matching tie to the left, and there were cupcakes, and my favourite band at the moment, the fabulous The Wednesday Knights. All from my 30th birthday party.
My summer continued to be good, with plenty of short trips to everything from big cities (Copenhagen and Oslo) to a small farmstead. I've been at Øya music festival where I saw Miss Margarita, and dared to say hello - she was super nice and looked splendid as always! I've been hiking and gathered blueberries, visited my grandparents with a short trip to their mountain hut and been to Tivoli with my niece and nephew. I've had close contact with wild sheep and not-so-close contact gobbling turkeys behind a fence. They seemed quite interested, though.

Luckily I've had two deadlines this summer (well, I could've pretend to have more, but I guess my own birthday and a wedding is what it takes. hrmf.) I haven't found time to dress up and pose, but I'll give you sneak peaks:
I have some deadlines coming up, but I have to remember my Closing the Gaps pledge and the need for daily clothes (it cannot ALL be dresses! Well, it can, but I have to think more for the daily days). But anyway, there's the Gutter Ball Festival in Oslo, a wedding to attend in Berlin and Norton Record 25th Anniversary in New York (spoilt, moi? Two times NY in one year is luxury, but isn't great to live in an era where that's actually possible?). I have some ideas for it all, but I'll try to include pencil skirts and shirts, so I can catch two birds with one rock by making every-day's outfits as well.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

My stash (in general...)

Some of my potentially lovely clothes
I've moved into a new flat again (which partially explains my long absence from the blogosphere), and again I'm hit by the fact that I own too much. I own too much fabric (no! never!), I have too many shoes (can I ever get enough?) and I have the wardrobe full of clothes that I don't use any more (one day I might want to use this / but I made that five years ago!). Unfortunately, it doesn't stop with apparel... This brings me to some issues regarding stash and scraps.

Zoe from 'So, Zo... What do you know?' already launched the Stash Bustin' challenge a year and a half ago and she recommitted recently, and it's been on the back of my mind for quite some time now (at least a year!), but trips to London or Copenhagen always softens my determination. But now, NOW! is the time. I will do as Zoe once did: I'm pledging to bust my stash and will not buy fabrics (unless they are absolutely necessary items like linings/interlinings helping me to stash bustin' pledge).

More of my potentially lovely clothes...
I'm taking it a step further. I have decided that I will try not to buy any new clothes this year. Socks and underwear are excluded. And rainwear since I soon will start biking to work. When I packed down all my clothes, I realised that I have everything I need, seriously, although I'm missing some basic garments to complete my wardrobe. And if I only change my focus a little, and make more wearable and casual clothes (it can't be all about nice dresses with circle skirts...), I can have a self-stitched wardrobe! So I hereby also take the Closing the gaps project pledge launched by A Vintage Girl. I will close my wardrobe gaps.

I also realised when sorting some of my fabrics and sewing related stuff, that I find it very difficult to through away scraps and smallish pieces of fabrics. But for what? Tasia from Sewaholic also discussed the scrap problem, and there's a lot of good suggestions on what to do with it in the comments, like this super cute japanese coin purse. One of the best mini-projects I know of, is the zippered pouch with pocket and loop from Lisa Lam at U-Handbag. But how many pouches do I need? Have you got any good ideas for using you scrap?

I'm heading into my sewing stash now... hopefully I'll manage to go through it all, maybe sell some yardage and at least develop a good system.

So many plans!

...all my plans...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Featured member at BurdaStyle

I'm the featured member for 1 week! Hurray! This is any BurdaStyle member's dream... Hope you enjoy the interview!

Too bad both my sewing rate and blogging rate are quite low at the moment, sorry about that!

Monday, 28 February 2011

New York!

What a city! I will have to go back in near future; there is so much more I want to see and do, food to eat, places to hang out, enjoying ice cream from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in the sunshine (and not only indoors as we did), good coffee and beer to drink, cream cheese flavours on bagels to taste... not to mention the rest of the Garment District that I will have to see.

I took advise from the BurdaStyle blog where Lindsay T. Sews presents the Garment District. I chose to visit only Paron Fabrics based on her description: Paron Fabrics: A smaller, well-edited store that’s a Garment District mainstay. Helpful and friendly staff is generous with their time and their fabric cuts. Not so overwhelming as Mood or B&J, plus you can get great deals in their sale section.

This is true indeed,  the staff was really helpful, and the time I had for spending there was enough to get around their selection of fabrics. I'm getting more and more used to buying fabrics without having a plan, so I did some estimations on how much I needed for what, and ended up with this:

The bottom red fabric is a lovely wool and viscose quality that I got for $12/yard (half price!), and I bought 3 yards so I'll have enough for a dress. The plaid houndstooth is 80% wool and 20% silk and is amazingly soft! It was only $24/yard (I say only, because Norwegian prices would've been at least double!), and I bought 1.5 yards. I'm thinking a cropped jacket, so I can match up the plaids. The top red is silk lining ($10/yard) for the houndstooth fabric. Despite that I'm not a very good impulse buyer, I'm very pleased with this little heap. 

No more fabric shopping for me now (at least not until I go to London in April). I've got to get stash bustin'...

It was cold! But walking across Brooklyn Bridge and eating ice cream at Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory was still great!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Deadline exceeded with only 30 minutes!

I've been playing with Photoshop and The above picture is generated with the Photoshop action HolgaRoid GENERATOR V1.0 COLOR by RawImage.

Deadlines make me sew! And luckily my friends didn't mind me being 30 minutes late for our appointment, seeing how happy I was with my result. We twisted, shouted, hopped, skipped and jumped all night long.
The dress was surprisingly easy to make, and I guess that's the joyful result of having a basic block that is nearly perfect! I altered the pattern from my basic block and was a clever girl and made a toile, just to make sure the pattern would work at all. The fabric is slightly stretchy, so the dress turned out a little too big at first. I did it the easy way, and just pinned the side seams, and adjusted the seams. The dress is still a little roomy around the waist, and together with the stretchy fabric it turned out that I could skip the zip! It feels like cheating! The drawback is that it won't look good with the intended belt I was going to make, but I will sure make a second dress in a different material requiring a zip, and then the waistline may be tighter also.
A close-up of the front darts and a picture true to fabric pattern and colour:
So for the time being, I'll leave the dress with roomy waist - so I can hop, skip and jump, twist and shout, and eat. Next up is a matching bolero. Something like Burda8153. Any other suggestions?

  • I need deadlines and events to finish projects, or even just to start new projects.
  • I need, NEED a proper steam iron! From just ironing the darts and facings to steaming them with a wet blanket, the dress transformed! Does any of you seamstresses have experience with domestic steam irons? I long for one of the types we had at the fashion course, but I bet they'll be too expensive for my humble production.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Possibly back from winter hibernation

Even though my production has been minimal this winter, I have given myself two near coming deadlines for finishing off two dresses. Deadlines may be good, if I manage to finish the project, but ever so disappointing when I realise that  I've bitten off more than I can chew. I started the first dress a while ago, dreaming of a nice and warm dress (it's pure wool), and hopefully the weather will stay cold for a bit longer. Anyhow, I'm going to NEW YORK in February, so a warm dress may come in handy? The top is as always from my self-drafted block, with a boat-neck this time. I think I will insert a hand-picked zip, based on Sewaholic's tutorial. This is the dress so far:
Princess seam and boat-neck and weird background. I don't have many good background surfaces in my new flat. Have to work on that. 

The other dress I'm working on, is supposed to be finished in less a week. I've done some drafting, and have to admit that I really like 2D-drafting (I guess the logical and mathematical approach appeals to me, as well as cutting small paper models to check the logic). I've made toile of the front, as I've been experimenting with the darts and front neckline. The toile is in non-stretchy fabric, so I hope the toile will still be useful, although the final dress will have some stretch. I had to do a small bust adjustment, as my own basic block has always been slightly to roomy, and I applied the principal from J. Stern Design (this is where the small paper models come in handy). I'm planning on putting in a lapped zip (preferably hand-picked), based on Gertie's tutorial. So far, this is what it looks like:
It looks a bit wonky on my clone, at least the front piece, and I think the fit is better on me... 

Possibly back from hibernation, and all I can show off is half-finished projects? Hopefully I have more to show next week and just before my upcoming trip to New York. Please share if you have any great ideas or must-see's or must-eat's or must-visit's when in New York!