Monday, 18 January 2016

Slow Sewing

The act of sewing is something I do for me, regardless of who I sew for. It is my happy place, my recharging station and my creative outlet all in one, and I love it. Sometimes I just want to slow down and enjoy a project as it is coming together.

This was one of those projects.

This is M6696, the #1 sewing blogger pattern of 2015. It's a classic and cute shirtdress with both vintage- and mens-wear inspired details and variations, perfect for the intermediate or advanced sewist. 

It may not look that special from afar, but this dress is full of little hand-stitched details.

The most striking feature is perhaps the yoke, being covered in navy sashiko-style embroidery. I first saw this kind of embroidery on Purl Soho, and liked the idea of the simple lines of stitches creating a much more complex pattern. I drew the pattern myself based on the "hana bishi" design and transferred it to my fabric with a transfer pencil. I found the stitching very calming and meditative - just what I needed.

All topstitching is also done by hand with a running stitch to mimic the embroidery. I used a contrasting navy broadcloth to make the piping, bias tape and inner facings for the yoke, collar stands and waistband.

The main fabric is a cotton chambray from my stash, bought 2 years ago at Stoffmarkt Holland as 2 coupons of 1,5 m each. I used one up entirely and a small corner of the second. I think one piece of 1,7 m had been enough for the whole dress. The buttons are from City Stoffer here in Aarhus.

This was not my first time making this pattern. Last summer I had a week long sewcation with my mother and had her help me with the fitting before I made a full, wearable muslin. My measurements put me between size 14 and 16, but based on the flat pattern I made the muslin a size 10 bust with 12 waist/hip. For this version, I took the waist in making it more like a straight size 10.

My only other fit alterations was to remove 3 inches of gathering from center back, rounding the vertical bust dart a smidge and to take a 1 cm wedge out of the bottom corners of the yoke to fit my naturally protruding shoulder blades. In fact, the gathering is not very blousy at all when worn because it sinks into the vale between my shoulder blades. Genetics can be a fun sometimes.

I used the "burrito" method to finish the inside yoke and this tutorial for the collar. The side seams are the only visible seams on the inside, and they are finished on my overlocker.

I really love the finished dress, and more importantly, enjoyed every minute of making it.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Goals and Resewlutions 2016

Goodbye 2015!

There is no denying that my poor little blog was neglected a bit in 2016, with only a handful of blog post being spread thin throughout the year.

Looking back at my "resewlutions" for 2015, I DID manage to sew almost everyday and used mostly stash fabric for my projects. My fabric stash size sadly does not show signs of this, as I bought a bit of fabric in London and got to shop the "trash" when we culled and cleaned my mother and grandmothers stashes this summer.

Both the Historical Sew Monthly and the Vintage Pledge turned out to be major fails for me. I managed to finish 6 historical items covering 3-5 HSM challenges, but only 2 have made it to the blog so far.

Hello 2016!

My goals for this year are mostly the same as last years. I will continue to sew a bit every day and use stash fabrics and notions whenever possible, and will participate in the Historical Sew Monthly as time will allow me. My biggest new goals will be to photograph and blog my makes more regularly, and to be less critical of myself and my sewing (see these posts by Karen and Heather)

Also, being inspired by Rochelle and Ginger, I have made a list of 9 new-to-me patterns I'd like to try in the coming year. 

From left to right and top to bottom, they are

1) Ohhh Lulu "Sarah" Longline Bralette

2) Orange Lingerie "Boylston Bra" (Christmas gift* from my boyfriend)

3) Named "Asaka" Kimono (Christmas gift* from my boyfriends parents)

4) Christine Haynes "Emery" Dress

5) Vogue 9040  Jacket, view A (with help from the Craftsy class)

6) Lekala 4263 Dress

7) Tilly's Love at First Stitch "Mimi" Blouse

8) Deer&Doe "Plantain" T-shirt

9) Sew Sweetness "Kennedy" Bag (or another bag)

* I also got a straight stitch needle plate, a piping foot and fabric shopping money for Christmas.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Dirndl Daydreams

Doesn't we all daydream about sewing? About dreamy fabrics and shiny new patterns, about silk and linen and wool, about trimmings and drafting and tailoring and, most importantly, dreaming up an endless list of things we would like to make and wear - like yesterday.

Lately, I have been daydreaming about sewing the perfect dirndl.

I think it started when Gertie posted about her new obsession with the garment, planting a seed in my sub-consciousness. Then my boyfriend started talking about going to Vienna for New Years Eve. Burda had a full-on dirndl feature in the september magazine. Suddenly, I found myself looking through entire pinterest boards full of beautiful dirndls by Lena Hoschek, Julia Trentini and Gössl. Octoberfest came and went, filling Instagram with pictures of beautiful dirndls. Then late one evening, in a moment of weakness, I purchased a pdf version of Burda 7057:

Then I spend an entire evening pulling fabrics from my stash, and came up with these combinations:

In the end, I have settled on the orange/plum color combination (the big picture, top left), as it feels more grown-up and winter appropriate to me than pink, and uses fabric from deeper stash layers. I plan on using the orange linen for the body, the plaid for the full skirt with the beautiful scalloped edge as the hem and the plum taffeta as the apron. The purple linen will become part of the pretty neckline trim and perhaps some matching accessories.

This dirndl has a similar feel and color scheme:
So far, I have printed and taped the pattern together and have cut and sewn the first muslin in my usual size 38. I have a good feeling about this one!

Are you sewing any special occasion dresses for the holiday season?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Feeling Fancy: HSM "Blue"

So... I finished these stays back in february in good time for the HSM challenge, got some decent photos and then promptly forgot about the blogging part. I thought about blogging them this summer after their first official outing, but that obviously didn't happen. Then my historical sewing "club" started talking about stays, and I remembered to write this post.

Long story short, let me show you my finished stays:

I love them. They give me the fashionable 18th century shape while still being deceptively comfortable and undeniably cute to look at.

The outer fabric is a heavy cotton upholstery brocade I found as a remnant at Videbæk Stof-Sycenter (my favorite fabric shop). It is a beautiful periwinkle blue with small tulip-like flowers in dusty pink and pale green woven into it (see picture below). It is still available at Historicum for anyone interested. I used about a half meter. This particular length was bought for me by my boyfriend as part of a swap.

It is interlined in a heavy tan linen/viscose blend from my stash. I made the coordinating pink binding with half a meter of cotton broadcloth from Stof&Stil in the color "antique rose". I used 25 mm binding for covering the inside seam allowances in lieu of a separate lining, the 18 mm for binding the edges and the 12 mm for decorating/highlighting the seam lines on the outside.

The pattern is Butterick 4254 view B. I had to make a few modifications, mainly due to the weird big-4 sizing and the pattern being very short-waisted. I had the size 12-14-16 packet, but the recommended size (14) was WAY to big for me. The 12 was a little better, but not ideal. I ended up taking it in a couple of cm at each center back edge, lower the back neckline, moved the front strap toward center front, adding height to the front neckline and narrowing the straps.
I also changed the boning layout a bit to allow me to do spiral lacing.

The boning is made up of 98 separate pieces of zip-ties, all cut and filed down by hand with a nail file. Each zip-tie was only 0,5 cm wide, so I put 2 ties in every boning channel marked on the pattern. Only the channels and main seam are sewn by machine, as all binding, lacing holes and finishing is done by hand. I LOVE my thimble!

Needless to say, these stays were a labor of love, and OMG I love them! They are so "me", and ohh so nice to wear. In fact, I wore them for 3 full days at the 18th century fair in June, and loved every minute of it. Never will I ever have cut marks on my waist from wearing 3+ heavy skirts all day again!

As this is my official entry for the HSM, here are the specs:

The Challenge: Blue (February 2015)

Item: Half-boned mid-to-late 18th century stays
Fabric: Blue cotton upholstery brocade with woven flower motif for the outer layer. Heavy tan linen/viscose for interlining. Dusty pink cotton broadcloth for coordinating binding. 
Pattern: Butterick 4254 view B, size 12,  modified for fit
Year: 1750-1780-ish
Notions: 98 pieces of "plastic whalebone" (aka zip ties), coordinating pink 12 mm, 18 mm & 25 mm single fold cotton non-bias binding tape and coordinating pink poly satin ribbon.
How historically accurate is it?  50-80 %? The pattern pieces and boning layout looks decent compared to historical garments, despite being laced both in the front and back. The zip ties are also a good approximation to whalebone, and the spiral lacing is spot on!
Hours to complete: Mockup: 2 hours. Machine sewing: 4 hours. Hand sewing, hardware & finishing: 20-40 hours? 
First worn: For pictures and singing practice at home and at the Oceanos festival in Frederikshavn, DK in June 2015. 
Total cost: 
- Blue fabric: a swap with my boyfriend ~ free!
- pink fabric for contrast: 10 dkk
- pink thread: 16 dkk
- zip ties ~ 10 dkk
- pink ribbon: 30 dkk
- Linen lining:  from stash ~ free!

Total ~ 66 dkk or just under 10 USD

Final thoughts:
Did I mention that I love them? I do. I really, really do. The colors, the fit, everything!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose - Flora(l) Saltspring Dress

I will start my back-log of blogging with my most recent make, as I was so extremely lucky as to get some photos of it outside last weekend. I find it really difficult to find interesting and public-but-sheltered places for taking photos, and very awkward to go out and shoot the photos, but was lucky with both this time around.

Back to the dress. This is my wearable muslin of the Sewaholic Saltspring dress, and it ended up exactly as I had hoped it would, if not better! I will confess to not initially liking this pattern when it was released, but my great success with the Cambie, Hollyburn and Tofino made me curious to Tasia's other designs, and I kept seeing really cute dresses Modcloth similar to the Saltspring, so I figured it was worth a try.

I am still not sure if this silhouette is flattering on me or anyone else with bigger hips, but I like it for being a bit different from my other fancier dresses. It is very comfortable, and I feel graceful and feminine in it, despite the lack of more waist definition. I am wearing a obi-style belt in these pictures to define the waist.

The shell fabric is some cheap poly chiffon I bought on our trip to Stoffenspektakel on my birthday last year and the lining is an optic white crepe georgette with a bit of stretch that I was lucky to find as a remnant at Stof&Stil. The shell fabric has really grown on me since last year, and I am happy to finally having made it into something pretty.

I made my usual size 10 and skipped the muslin, but made some small adjustments to the pattern before cutting. I lengthened the bodice lining with 2 cm to comfortably fit my longer torso and shortened the outer bodice with 1 cm to remove 3 cm of the blousing in all. I also eliminated the zipper, as other bloggers reported it unnecessary and made adjustable straps instead of the tie-straps (I slaughtered an old bra for the sliders). I am happy to report that the dress fits really well, and that I can get it on quite easily over my head without the zipper.

The original skirt was also a little slim for my taste, so I used the By Hand London Flora skirt instead. I just made a pleat on the Flora skirt pattern piece until the waist seam fit the Saltspring bodice lower edge, and the skirt width fit my fabric, and cut the hi-low version with an extra 10 cm length. I used the original short skirt pattern pieces for the skirt lining.

I finished the outer skirt with french seams and a tiny baby hem. Everything else is finished with my overlocker and as described in the pattern.

Eliminating the zipper makes this a fast and easy project, even for a beginner. Swapping the skirt and making adjustable straps was the most difficult parts of this dress, and those were my own add-ons.
This has definitely been an experiment in silhouette for me, and I might not make another one of these for a while. Until then, I'm off to sew ALL THE COTTON DRESSES! Bye!