Vintage flowery autumn shirt

I originally bought this fabric to make myself a nice pair of summer harem trousers, but before doing that I made other things and other projects seemed more fun and suddenly, summer was over. And, also suddenly, I realized I desperately need long sleeved shirts. Some time ago, I would go to the high-street and just buy some really cheap jersey things, but I’m trying really hard not to buy anything that was almost certainly made in not the most fair conditions. I’m not getting political, I have no idea where the fabric actually came from (and thus can’t climb on a high horse) and I don’t have the skills or money to completely stop shopping on the high street.

So I looked though my stash of fabric and found this flowery thing of perfect weight (it some sort of very light knit). I really love the fabric and am so happy it didn’t turn it into trousers, because in a blouse, it’s so 90sy/60sy vintagey fun. I found the pattern for the shirt in my stash of Burdas, in the February 2013 issue (I think it’s model 135).

I’m wearing the shirt with a knitted collar I once got in a swap and really adore. I wanted to break the whole floweriness of the main fabric with some solid black and thus made the cuffs and then wanted to add a collar, but decided I’m just going make some removal ones, because I couldn’t decide on a shape and wanted to keep my options open. (I still have to make some, but luckily I already own this one:))

I love how the shirt turned out and I really wanted a nice autumnal and thematic photo shoot. So we went to the Columbia road flower market and took some pictures along the way. London is so f*in beautiful in autumn and the flower market is such a cool place to visit, especially around 4PM, when everyone is selling 2 bunches of flowers for a fiver and I can actually afford lovely flowers:) This time, I even got some cabbage:)

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Hot air balloon dress (and some sea)

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I’ve been crazy busy for the past month, working and working and working in the hopes I’ll be able to completely enjoy my seaside vacation. But I didn’t finish everything I meant to (had to work during the holiday a bit, but at least I had an office with the perfect view once in my life). The main reason for not finishing the work project is … I also wanted to finish at least on last summer sewing project before I left London for Croatia. I knew it will basically be autumn once I got back and I also wanted to have a photo-shoot with one of my makes in a very picturesque setting. Id say the sacrifice was worth it… Here is my hot air balloon dress on me on the gorgeous island Vis.

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The dress is the Burda style Island Placket Dress (04/2014 #121).

I also planed on making an actual maxi version with a colourful fabric, but decided I prefer swimming to working in lovely dresses on holidays.

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The fabric is some kind of chiffon and it’s the first fabric I bought after moving to London. As probably everyone in the world ever, I’m terrified of sewing chiffon, but in the end it wasn’t as horrible as I expected it to be. I have to redo the hem, I rushed it too much and I need a rolled hem foot (for some reason, I thought I have one, but I don’t.) I have a mild obsession with hot air balloons. But just with the way they look, I’d probably die of fear if I ever had to fly in one.

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*why do I look like I only have one leg and am generally not very coordianted? Because I’m not. And I’m sooooo awkward at posing:)

I really love the pattern and I’m so sorry I didn’t buy the issue of Burda, because I’d love to make all of the other variations, but don’t have the instructions. I really like the front of the dress, but didn’t realise how bra unfriendly it’s going to be from the side. I might try something out next time I’m making it, becouse there’s difinitely going to be a next time, but not before next spring. It’s time for autumnal sewing now, but I don’t really have anything lined up?

Any projects for autumn you can’t wait to sew?

The Shorts (dealing with my body image issues)

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These aren’t average shorts. And I don’t want to point out that they were sewn by me or that I added awesome UT embroidery to them (that’s important too, but we’ll get to that later.) These are the first pair of short I have owned in 15 years (cycling shorts don’t count). And 15 years is more than a half of my life. I haven’t worn shorts since I was officially a child.

I always had issues with the way my body looks. My stomach was always too soft and too big. My hair is curly and I have no idea how to control it. The tops of my arms have developed wings of fat in the last 5 years. One of my boobs is significantly bigger than the other. There’s all the other hair all over my body that shouldn’t be there. But nothing has ever bothered me as much as my thighs and the whole cellulite thing surrounding them has.

All of this is about to change, however. For some time now, I’ve been actively working on not hating myself. Not on loving myself, love is a strong emotion, love is hard. I’m just trying not to stare at other women on the street and guess how much worse I’d look in the cute clothes they’re wearing. (I’m also trying not too look at other women, finding flaws in the way they look and feeling smug because I’m “smart” enough not to wear crop tops).

I still remember the day I read my first magazine for “female readers”. It was targeted towards very young teens, full of articles about first kisses and crushes and boy bands. But also, for whatever fucked up reason, full of articles about how to get rid of cellulite and how to hide it if you’re a lazy idiot who’s not trying hard enough to get rid of it. I was 12. I started secretly shaving and stopped wearing anything that my new bible deemed not appropriate for my body type. Then highschool and serious puberty started and I was suddenly to cool and alternative to read magazines like that. I also started wearing all kins of wired (showy) clothes, pretending I don’t care what other people think while in reality I was always careful that, even though the skirts were short, they were wide and long enough to cover the disgusting tops of my legs. I never even tried on shorts. Shorts were too dangerous.

From there, everything went down. I gained and gained weight although I was constantly dieting, trying to get back to the magical “bellow xy where I would be happy”. Then I started my first real job and in the span of a year gained more than 10 kg (20? pounds). After I quit that job almost 3 years ago I did manage to loose some of it, but my wii fit is still telling me every day that my BMI is just on the verge of too high.

I’m pretty healthy, despite the stats. I started running (and I think I’m sticking to it) and do yoga and even on a lazy day walk at least an hour, because the dog would go crazy if we wouldn’t exercise a bit. I’m probably rounder then the average beautiful hipster lady walking around the neighbourhood. But I also have some sewing skills and an amazing embroidery machine and the weather is hot. So fuck it. I’m going to wear some goddamn shorts. I’m displaying all of the dimples on my thighs and I will do my best not to care who sees them. And sometime in the future, when I’m completely OK with how I look, I’ll start with the learning to love myself thing. Baby steps.

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The shorts are Burda Style 2/2013, model 129. I cut out size 44, because of all of the things I said above, but I could have probably gotten away with a 42. I had to take them in quite a bit in the waist (yay, compared to the rest of my body, my waist is perfect). I also lengthened them a bit, because I didn’t want short shorts. Just shorts are enough for now.

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I wanted my first grown-up shorts to be special, so I embellished them with one of the new amazing Folklorico designs from Urban threads. I thought about maybe changing the shape of the pockets so they would actually follow the curve of the design, but decided against it, because the pockets aren’t that obvious anyway.

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As usual, I had problems with inserting the invisible zip (that isn’t invisible now), broke a needle and was very happy I’m wearing glasses, because there was some potential for loosing an eye. But the zipper closes, the hem is actually very straight and I’m really happy with how they turned out. So if people stare at me in anyway, they’re not judging my cellulite, they’re jealous of the awesomeness of my shorts.

Moth bag

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When I bought my first sewing machine (Lidl, 70 €, still works perfectly) about 5 years ago, I bought it because I wanted to sew bags. Looking back, I have no idea how I got the idea. At the time I wasn’t reading blogs, didn’t follow any crafty forums or had a particularly big interest in crafting (I did dabble in jewellery making and cutting up and drawing weird stuff on T-shirts in high school. I also knit for a short while but never got past the basics. But that was all different.) I guess I must have caught the raising popularity of sewing with the corners of my eyes.

I’m still a crappy seamstress, especially for someone with 5 years of experienced and that’s mainly due to the fact that I’m not patient and like shortcuts. But I was even worse at the beginning. My lack of skill, however, didn’t stop me from sewing an abundance of bags, so the last time I made a new one was 3 and a half years ago.

I couldn’t really justify sewing new ones for quite some time, because I didn’t really need them. Luckily I didn’t move all of my experiments to London and the bag I was using most of the time here (the one form 3.5 years ago) was slowly showing signs of wear. I proclaimed it dead after a liter of baklava syrup got spilled all over it a few weeks ago and I finally allowed myself to make a bag again.

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My sewing skills did improve a bit, but I’m still lazy and impatient, so I decided to just go ahead without a patter, making everything up along the way. I have the great “Bag making bible” book form Lisa Lam with patterns that would have been perfect, but no… Just cut the fabric, no drawing, think later, sew now.  Now!

I do really like my new bag. It’s pretty and violet and has a moth in the front. But it does show that I haven’t made a bag in while and that I just winged it. Even Norb noticed and commented on the shape of it, although I think he thought I might have made it that way on purpose? Yes, it’s extremely narrow and deep, because I like digging in bags for a long time. Makes me feel like I’m Hermione Granger and I placed an undetectable extension charm on it. (Only, it’s kind of detectable from the outside.)

I didn’t add any closures to it, because I don’t have any in my stash and I also never use them. Since the bag has a flap, gravity keeps it closed anyway. There’s a pocket with an invisible zipper in front, because I got one extra when I ordered a bunch on ebay (and I also didn’t have any other zipps in my stash.) There’s just one special pocket for my phone on the inside, because I’ve learnt from experience that I never use extra pockets in the lining anyway, so if I put them in bags I make for myself, it’s just wasting time and materials. I probably won’t even use the zipped one in front, it’s there just in case I take the bag abroad and I need a somewhat secure place for my passport. I guess.

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The shoulder strap is also pretty wide, but let’s say that was on purpose, because I hate it when bags cut into my shoulder. It doesn’t look proportional to the bag, but what can you do? (you can plan ahead, yes, but psssst.)

The last thing I want to mention is the fabric. Almost all of it (except half of the lining, which came from the remnants of the swallow dress and the inside of the strap) is from a craftster swap (the “Printing fabric by hand” swap, which got me back into printing by hand. I can’t wait to actually finish some projects!.  The fabric is all hand printed and extremely pretty. I got it from this lovely lady.

 

Sunday Market Swallow Dress

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This dress was materializing in my mind for years. I love 50ish dresses, I love pastels and I love tattoos. Ever since I’ve realised the potential of my embroidery machine, I knew I wanted to make a top or something in the line, that would have two swallows positioned on each side of the top of my chest, kind of where a lot of girls have tattoos of birds. I really like how they look, but I don’t like the commitment that comes with getting a tattoo in such an obvious place.

I bought the swallow design from Urban threads in one of their sales, just because it’s so pretty. At the time I didn’t connect the design with my dream dress, after all it wasn’t obvious that I could separate the birds and put each one on one side of something. Than one day I decided I’ll sew the Elizabeth dress from the Burda Style Sewing Vintage Modern book as a kind of muslin, from cheap fabric, to see how well the size I think I am fits me, before I try any of the other patterns in the book that are based on the Elizabeth dress. (The concept of the book, If you don’t know it, is that you have a few basic patterns and then it shows you how to make a wide variety of other clothes based on those patterns). Than I found this pretty pink fabric and knew I wanted to actually wear the dress that would grow out of it, but I also knew I had to embellish it somehow. So I searched through my library and there it was… Eureka! 🙂

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I just separated the two swallows into two different designs with PE design (the software came with the machine, that I bought second hand. I’ve had it for 4 years now and still don’t know how to use it properly) and changed the size a bit (one of the birds is a bit small now, but I don’t mind that). The positioning is not exact either, but I’m OK with that, too (as you can see, I’m far from a perfectionist;)).

The one thing I wanted to try out to make the pattern a bit more interesting, was to “spice up” the back a little. I really like cut-outs and I think trying a simple one on the back is a good start. My trusted Elsa (my tailor’s dummy) was a HUGE help, I couldn’t have done it without her. It’s was so easy with it though, I just pined the pattern to the back and could mark the desired position and shape of the cut-out exactly. I think the cut out is the most successful part of my experiment.

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I also sewed my first lapped zipper into this dress – mainly because I’m too impatient and lazy. The local fabric store where I bought the fabric didn’t have either invisible or matching zippers, so I bought a contrast one. I had to hide it a bit and a lapped zipper seemed like a good idea. I think it was. 🙂 It turned out better than I expected it to, but again, far from perfect. 🙂 (I learned the basics of how to do it with help of the free class on zipper insertion techniques on Craftsy)

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The sewing of the dress was a good exercise in positioning embroidery, cut-outs and trying out new zipper techniques. It also helped me to see that the fit needs a bit of improvement, but I’ll work on that on the next one.

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I’m definitely going to wear it, I think it would be a shame not to. It seems like a dress one would wear to go strawberry hunting to the Sunday markets, doesn’t it? Hence, the name… 🙂

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Ps: I do realise my one sided braid was not really the perfect hairdo to showcase this dress. But as you can see, I don’t particularly enjoy modeling, so I decided these pictures are good enough;)

 

Taking clothes sewing to the next level

I have recently decided to take my (clothes) sewing to the next level. I did that many times before and generally things have been improving, but everything I make is still obviously made by me. And when someone tells me: “You made that, didn’t you”, it doesn’t mean I have an awesome unique and distinct style, it doesn’t even mean that the garnet has a hint of homemadenss, but that there are several visible mistakes. Not mistakes other people who sew would see, but mistakes everyone can see.

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But I’ll be careful now. I will under stitch, edge stitch, top stitch, face and most importantly press. Every step of the way. I have a few sewing books that explain how to do all of these things, but I learn by seeing, so when Craftsy had a sale I bought the “40 techniques every sewer should know” class  and I’m really happy with it. I have yet to apply any of my new found knowledge on a garment (I need to go fabric shopping. Today. ), but I did sew something that will (hopefully) help me achieve a (more) professional look. A (not so professional looking) tailors ham and roll.

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I did think about making a tutorial, but since there are a few million of them out there already, a short list is enough:

And there are plenty more if you google it.

Most of them ask to fill the ham and the roll with saw dust, but it didn’t. Because a) my only previous childhood experience with saw dust has thought me that saw dust gets everywhere and is supper itchy and b) I have no clue where you might get it. I decided to instead go for the second option and stuff them with my fabric scraps (which I have plentiful, because I never throw anything away).

Making them was super easy, I think it took me around half an hour (I didn’t use any of the new dress making techniques I now know:)) and I’m actually really happy with how they turned out. The ham is a bit rectangular and I’m not sure if it will really work, but we shall see. I have enough leftovers left for 3 or 4 hams, so no worries.

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My whole sewing (well, working, I also do all of my work there) space looks quite professional now, wouldn’t you say? Next to my desk you can see my new best friend, Elsa. Dad got her for me as a Christmas+bday present. We like each other, because we both have bigger  butts bottoms. I have to buy her a padded bra though, her chest is a bit too small. The sleepy dog in the corner is the best part of my “office”, obviously. (Why yes, I did tidy up the whole area for the photo. how did you know it does not look like that all the time?)

 

 

What to do with spoonflower swatches

My spring flowers faux quilt fabric has arrived (a week ago).

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I wanted to make something out of at least one swatch before I post anything on the blog, and I did:). It was hard to think of a nice project, there’s only 8×8 inches of fabric and you can’t really do that much with that. But I have quite a collection of metal purse frames and 8×8 is just enough for a small coin purse! The scallop fabric is, in my opinion, perfect for the project, since the small shapes on the fabric kind of echo the shape of the purse.

 I thought about making a tutorial, but realised there’s so many out there already, the internet really doesn’t need a new one. Here’s a few links, if you’re interested:

*the only thing I do differently is, I don0t glue the frame to the purse, i use the tiny holes in the frame to sew it to the purse. I think it looks prettier, adds something interesting and holds better.

When observing the rest of the fabric and thinking abut what to do with that, i realised the forget me not pattern is perfect for covering buttons in fabric. I don’t really know where i’ll put them, but.. you know, they’re adorable!:)

 Maybe on the small make up case I intend to sew out of the remaining two swatches? I need some interfacing and a zipper for that and I don’t know when I’ll get my ass to the store, but I wanted to post this before an eternity passes.

 I’m slowly runig out of ideas on what to make out of the swatches. I made some quilted pot holders out of my pie fabric, it’s quite perfect for that. But I have a few more swatches just waiting to be made into something…

 

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Do you have any great ideas on what to make out of Spoonflower swatches?

Jellyfish trousers

If there is a hell, I’m pretty sure it’s a shopping mall and all you do for eternity is search for a nice pair of well fitting trousers. The only time I ever got frustrated enough to cry in a dressing room was the last time I was buying jeans (and that was more then a year ago…). I’m short and my hips are approximately 8 H&M sizes larger then my waist.

I tried sewing a pair of trousers  just after I started experimenting with sewing clothes. That didn’t go that well and I didn’t try again for a long time. I’m also not that good at pattern adjustments (Ok, I actually never really tried or looked into it. I have to do that some day soon…) so I feared that sewing my own pair would result in a similarly ill-fitting way and I would cry even more, because all of the work I would have had put into it. There was also the issue of not wanting to wear clothes that are too unusual (if I sew, I usually get a bit carried away, as you can see in this project:)) in Maribor, because people would stare and make rude comments. And although I tried not to care, I did. But a few months of living in a hip area of east London erases all of your fears of looking ridiculous in public from your mind. Want to go to the Sunday market dressed in a zebra onesie? No one cares. So I finally got to courage and motivation to sew myself some trousers, because I knew I’ll wear them no matter how they look (they just have to fit).

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I had an eye on that 10/2010 #110 pattern since I bought that issue of Burda. Wide pants always fit in my thigh area, but I was told (or I read it somewhere) that short stubby people should never wear trousers like that. They obviously make you look even shorter and more ill proportioned. But I just don’t care anymore:)! I also had this fabric in my stash since forever, I don’t even remember what I bought it for (it was definitely not trousers, though:)).

I wanted to add an element of embroidery to my new awesome trousers, but didn’t know what. Then the Urban threads sale came along and I fell in love with that jellyfish. That whole thing did not work out as well as I hoped it would, but I should have foreseen that thin filigree lines won’t really stand out on this kind of material. I tried adding a nice lacy border at the waist, and that also didn’t really work, so I decided I’ll leave the other pant leg clean. We’ll just pretend that’s how it was meant to be from this moment on:)

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I didn’t really read the instructions in the magazines, because they were long and in German, so I kind of winged the whole process of sewing them together. I did watch a few youtube videos on how to sew a fly zip front and all of them were really useful (I don’t know why I don’t use youtube tutorials more often…). I will not show you any close-ups of any parts of the trousers because there are sooo many obvious mistakes, but I still really like them. They f-n fit! Yes, they have a ridiculously high waist, but it’s not too wide. They are a bit itchy (wool, doh), but they are wide enough to comfortably wear some leggings under them. All in all, they are infinitely better than store bought pair I ever owned, and I’m going to make many many more of them:)

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I have to add a button in front, but I’m still deciding on how exactly I’m going to execute that 🙂

And now a question for you, potential reader… Have you ever sewed trousers? Any patterns or tutorials you’d recommend?