Houndstooth.

April 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

Don’t worry, I have already given myself a big slap on the wrist for being such a lazy blogger, but to be honest, sewing is the last thing I feel like doing at the moment.

Because of a very complicated situation, I got denied entry when I flew to London and got held overnight in the detention centre in Stansted, before I got packed on to a plane and flown back to Denmark. Not the best of experiences, I can assure you, but really, how many people can say that they have spent 24 hours in no mans land? I felt like I was in “The Terminal”, trying to wash my face in a very small hand basin and sleeping on airport seats. I have all the problems sorted out now and on Wednesday, all going to plan, I will be one happy tourist, wandering around London. A few things I learnt though;

  1.  Airport immigration staff in Britain are scary – until they have to search your underwear. Frank didn’t seem to enjoy that any more than I did.
  2. If you ever find yourself in the same situation, the detention centre where they hold you is comfortable and they just want to be nice to you. The ladies on night shift are hilarious and I can at least say I have watched Coronation Street and eaten Salt and Vinegar chips on what is technically, British soil.
  3. Danish immigration is a piece of cake after that ordeal. The police met me off the plane, checked my visa and told me I could stay as long as I needed. Such sweethearts.

The week after all this, the snow returned to Denmark and doing anything outside would probably have resulted in hypothermia. Once it all started to melt, we took a trip to the art gallery called AROS, in Aarhus and got a few pictures of my houndstooth wool skirt. The photo’s that are yellow, are up in a part of the gallery called the rainbow, a big circle attachment on the top of the building with rainbow tinted glass.

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I used the same pattern as I did for my blue wool crepe skirt, Butterick 5015. The skirts are the same, slim waist band with four darts. I used the same method on the zip as I did last time and I am still in love with how much easier it is and how tidy it looks.

I’ve actually had this skirt done for weeks now and I have worn it to death. It is such a good shape to go with everything and I really love the houndstooth with some brightly coloured tights. Makes any cold winters day a little bit better. On a side note, does anyone watch “The Hour”? It’s a cool show about the way news reporting changed in the 50’s on the BBC. A little like Mad Men with some very cool costumes including a houndstooth skirt on the leading lady.

I have sewn two tops and two dresses, all variations of the Sorbetto, but they just need a little more work. Bias binding on the armholes or hemming them up, things that aren’t going to get done when you are having a lack of motivation. As I have mentioned before, because of my lack of sewing machine in England, I won’t be getting much posted but I will post some photos of the things I have been doing instead. Hopefully they won’t bore you all to death!

Til next time!

Cold Snap

March 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

And just as we thought we could see the end of the tunnel, this happens;

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With the matching temperatures of -5, I’ve been finding it quite hard to find spring inspriation. Team this with frustrating visa issues, and you have one very unmotivated sewist. After two weeks of complete darkness from the visa office in London and missing a much anticipated flight, I am now flying out in 10 days time.

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On the positive side of all this, I have had more time with my sewing machine and started finishing a dress I started 6 months ago and got bored of. I also helped my little charge to make an elastic waisted skirt. Apart from the elastic, she cut out and sewed it all herself. Very proud Au Pair right here. She used the fabric that was going to be a yellow sorbetto top, but I promise I have something much cooler to replace it with.

I also got the muslin for my sorbetto fitted. I added a dart in the armhole, made a round shoulder adjustment and cut down the sides of the back to a size 8 and it fits much better. Take a look see;

From this;

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To this;

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I also got the hand sewing on my houndstooth skirt done. Photos to come.

Til next time!

Muslining

February 19, 2013 § 1 Comment

Only one row of hand stitching until I am done with the houndstooth skirt, but in the meantime, here is something for your perusal

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It is a muslin of Colette patterns Sorbetto top. I had just enough fabric left over from this maxi skirt, to make a wearable muslin to try out the fit. To be honest, I was slightly dubious about how this was going to turn out. All my measurements, including the bust, fit in to one size nicely. Immediately I began to think I had done something wrong. Bust measurements were off, I had read the pattern wrong. Something must have made this happen, because I am NEVER one size when it comes to tops. I remeasured and double checked everything, but nothing seemed to be at fault. I began to hesitantly cut it out thinking “it’s only a muslin”.

And I was pleasantly surprised! No major problems except for a small gape in the armhole, front and back. This was nothing I wasn’t expecting, though. Colette patterns are made for a C bust and I haven’t been that for aeons, so of course a bit more shaping was going to be necessary. For the “real” versions, I’ll either leave the dart where it is or move it to add to the bust dart.

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The back armhole gape, which is bigger than it seems in the pictures, is just a case of the round shoulders. Nothing that a bit of adjusting can’t fix.

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I also think that I will shape the sides down to my waist a bit more. I know it’s supposed to be loose from the bust down but I cant help but want a little more shape.

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Other than in the armhole, the back looks pretty good. It’s a tad roomier than I would have liked but I think that will change when I shape the sides a bit.

I didn’t add any photos of the waist and hip area because I plan on chopping it to waist level anyway. I think some crop tops to wear with high-waisted shorts and skirts will be just the ticket in a hot Italian climate later this year!

But that’s it! Surprisingly simple. If all goes well from here, I’ll hopefully have two Sorbetto tops to show you by the middle of next week, as well as the skirt. Less than two weeks of sewing to go!

Til next time!

Progress

February 12, 2013 § 1 Comment

Sewing goals for 2013:

Black, kimono sleeve dress – Check!

Blue wool crepe skirt – Check!

So it turns out, having a solid plan does help with problematic procrastination! I finished the blue wool crepe skirt on Sunday and managed to convince Bif to come out in to the freezing cold to take pictures with me today. Promises of hot coffee while we were outside seemed to help.

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The skirt is a basic straight high waist skirt with a back zip and a lapped waist band closure. The pattern is Butterick 5015, view G. I shortened the length and graded from a size 16 waist to a size 14 at the hips. The pattern is an old one from my mother. I had wanted to make the one with the draped front (view A) but there was no where near enough fabric after I had prewashed it. The skirt was really easy to sew up and it fits really well. After having a very big brunch this morning, it has held up well and there is more than enough ease on the hips to sit comfortably and not have to pull the skirt down all the time for coverage.

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I lined the skirt with light pink polyester lining fabric and finished off the seams with bias binding. I love the effect of binding the seams. Makes them looks so tidy! I also used the bias binding to finish the hem and hand stitched the waistband and the lining to the zip. I usually sew the lining to the zip when I am doing the outer fabric, but this worked so much better, and actually took less time because it was easier to be accurate. No unpicking! The waistband is closed with a simple hook and eye. Please excuse the wrinkles. I had been wearing it and lining is pretty unforgiving.

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I am quite proud of how the zip looks on the outside. I did it a bit differently to what I normally do, so that you can see the stitching on the right side and tried to take my time and it looks very neat as a result. I found a book preview on Google Books, of Marcy Tiltons “Easy Guide to Sewing Tops and Tshirts, Skirts and Pants”, where there was a bit on sewing linings and zips in the preview. I am seriously considering getting this book now because it is very clear and has some pretty useful information. She says that instead of sewing darts in a lining, you just sew tucks/pleats. I have always sewn the inside the same as the outside, so I will have a go with this on my Houndstooth skirt. It also has a glossary of fashion fabrics, which when you are useless at naming fabrics and knowing their qualities like I am, could be really useful.

Two seconds while I mentally prepare for the cold a bit more.

Two seconds while I mentally prepare for the cold.

Alright, I'm ready.

Alright, I’m ready.

Maybe just one more sip of tea!

Maybe just one more sip of tea!

It’s OK if you didn’t notice, my roommate didn’t, but I have had my hair chopped off! After years of trying to grow it out, the ends had become to ratty to live with and I told the hair dresser that they all needed to come off. I felt like yelling “Off with their heads!” but I feared I may scare the poor Danish lady who didn’t really speak English. It’s so light! I just need to get used to actually having to style it a bit more now. With long hair, you can get away with not brushing it in the morning, especially if after 3 hours under hats and scarves, it looks like you just got out of bed anyway. Let’s see how long it takes me to crave my long hair back. Short hair and I are still on our honeymoon.

Hounds tooth skirt is on it’s way!

Til next time.

Let me introduce you to…

February 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Yolanda!

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I know it sounds like I have been watching a bit too much “Pulp Fiction”, as in “Yolanda, I thought you said you were gonna be cool”, but there actually is a completely unrelated reason for calling my new dress form, Yolanda. When I was born, there were two names that my parents wanted to choose between, Amelia and Yolanda. Yolanda is apparently a Dutch name that is in my mum’s family and Amelia was just a nice name that they both liked. I must say, that I am rather glad they picked Amelia. No one has ever been able to find anything bad that rhymes with Amelia, though my brothers did try very hard. I thought it was only fitting that my “other half” should be called Yolanda.

But on to more sewing related things. My sewing goals for 2013 are well under way and I finished all the mending/finishing that I had to do before the end of the week before last and managed to get not one, but two, patterns cut out to start sewing. Well on course! One of the garments was a copy of a double-knit, kimono sleeve dress that Bif’s mother had worn to death and wanted a new one of. So off I went, bought some double-knit and thought it would be easy. Or not.

Turns out, the double-knit was quite stretchy in both lengthwise and crosswise directions, which doesn’t make for easy sewing. Luckily, I had tried out the fabric on some scraps and found that the seam stretched as I sewed it, even with a zig zag. On to the Inter-webs I went. Lladybird has done a fantastic post on sewing with knits, which you can read here, that got me started. I had also read a comment somewhere, that you don’t need a walking foot or anything special (though a stretch/jersey needle is recommended), as long as you use a mass of pins and that is exactly what I decided to do.

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And it worked! No stretched seams!

Here are the deets.

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The dress is just a basic kimono sleeve double-knit dress with shaping through the waist and hips and a boat neck. The fabric has a 2 way stretch and is quite heavy. The “pattern” is the same front and back and the neckline and hem both have facings and the arms have a cuff around the edge. The facing for the neckline was on the original dress and I added the facing to the hem and cuffs to avoid having to turn them up and stitch them. I actually really love hem facings now. They look so tidy and are so easy! Since it’s a knit, I didn’t worry about finishing the inside seams, just trimmed them down nicely. I used a zig zag stitch through out and a jersey needle to sew with. If it weren’t for all the pins, this dress would have been an easy make, but since it wasn’t for me, I really didn’t want to risk the seams stretching, so I pinned. As you can see above, I put the pins in perpendicular to the seams and I just sewed right over them to save a little bit of time. Nice and simple, really.

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Sleeve cuff

Sleeve cuff

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I also cut out the blue wool crepe for a skirt and I am just over half way done with sewing that one. By the end of this week, I want to have that skirt done and the houndstooth wool cut out and ready to go, if not already half sewn.

Til next time!

Sewing for 2013

January 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

Plans for 2013 will be a bit light on the ground, I’m afraid. I plan to be travelling for around 6 months from March until late September and I doubt that my little machine will make it in to my luggage allowance. Maybe I’ll take up knitting. But, come September/October, I’ll be back on Kiwi soil, along with my mother’s overlocker, her two computerised (don’t know if this is the right way to explain them. They have screens) Bernina sewing machine, one of which I plan to steal, and her MASSIVE pattern and fabric stash. Heaven! I really didn’t know how good I had it until it was gone. Should have listened to the Counting Crows.

Since I won’t have much time to sew this year, I don’t have very ambitious plans. A couple of skirt, finishing some dresses and making a few basic tanks. Here are the deets;

Now that I have a printer that actually has ink in it, I’m keen to try my hand at the Sorbetto. I have two fabrics at home that would be perfect for it. I picked them up at the Turkish bazar in Aarhus and I have no idea what they are. They have a bit of weight to them and drape really well. I edited (very crudely) the line drawing to get a visual of what they will be like.

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The red one, I plan to lower the neck line and shorten the length to make a “crop top” to wear with high waited skirts and short. Not sure whether I will keep the front panel or not. The yellow one, I will add some lace or ricrac to the front panel – just something to make it a little less plain.

The two skirts I plan on making, both come from Butterick 5015. One will be in the plain skirt with darts (G), probably out of the houndstooth wool my mum sent me. I was going to make the Burda skirt that I mentioned there, but since Mum had also sent me this pattern, I thought I may as well make use of it. The second skirt, will be out of a bright blue wool crepe, also from Mum, and will either be the plain wrap skirt (D) or the draped one (A). Wool crepes drapes well, so we shall see. Both will be in the shorter length and I’ll add pockets at the side seams since there is a back closure.

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I’ve also promised to sew a copy of a knit dress that Bif’s mother has worn to death. It’s a really simple kimono sleeve, only-has-back-and-front-pieces sort of dress. Once I have it cut out, it shouldn’t take long at all.

AND! If I have done that faster than planned (HA!), I would like to make a dress for a wedding I have to go to in Italy in July. I’m thinking something out of cotton, since it will be stinking hot by then or with a nice flow-y, chiffon-y skirt. I can dream of something like the dress below, while whizzing through the rest of my plans.

So, five items (possible 6) to sew in under 6 weeks. All very simple. By the end of this week, I plan to have cut at least one pattern out and have it ready to sew and to have all of my UFO sewing finished. There are only three of these, mostly just re-hemming or adjustments in fit, including the dress I made for Bif’s mother at Christmas (the bottom of the zip stuck out weirdly). Have I mentioned that I hate hemming? It’s always the last thing I have to do on a project but it always takes me around a week to get it done, or in this dresses case, 3 weeks around a suddenly busy schedule. But! It will be done by the end of this week! No time for procrastination!

For anyone interested, this is what it looks like outside my window at the moment. And I was worried I wouldn’t get enough snow this year!

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Til next time!

20 minute meal

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Though these are more “summer” recipes, it’s what we had on hand. Anyway, half of the world is basking in the warmer months at the moment, so this is in homage to the very warm (or so I have been told) summer that I am currently missing, and pining for, in New Zealand. I haven’t written amounts because I find these two are really up to personal preference. Like chilli? Add more. Like garlic? Add more. The pasta recipe can also be changed by adding chopped sun dried tomatoes – my personal favourite. Didn’t grab any photos, unfortunately. Bif was hungry!

Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil and Chilli and Cherry Tomato Salad

For the pasta:

Spaghetti

Garlic

Olive oil

Chilli/chilli flakes

For the salad:

Cherry Tomatoes/Sweeter large tomatoes

Oregano

Basil

Olive oil

Salt

Cracked pepper

  1. Finely chop the garlic and chilli.
  2. Boil a pot of water and salt for the pasta. Add the pasta when the water is at a rolling boil.
  3. Heat a small pan with oil (enough to cover the amount of pasta you are using) to a low heat.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and season with the oregano, salt, pepper,basil and olive oil. Tastes similar to the topping of bruschetta.
  5. Add the chilli and garlic to the warmed pan and cook in the oil without letting the garlic brown. 2 or 3 minutes is plenty to let the flavours sink in to the oil. Set aside until the pasta is cooked.
  6. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add the oil mix to the pasta. Mix together.

And voila! A nice quick dinner.

Til next time!

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