Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Sundress

So it looks like the warm temperatures of the last few weeks have gone and left us with some chilly days. Which means I'd better tell you about my pretty sundress before autumn decides to fully take over. ;) This one I made to wear to a good friend's wedding, three weeks ago, although in the end I decided that it wasn't quite elegant enough for the occasion. I wore it to breakfast the next day, though. ;)
The bodice, as with my Oonapalooza maxi, is the sundress bodice from Gertie's book. I love that sweetheart neckline! And with the shirred back, it needs no zipper and fits really nicely! The skirt is just a pleated rectangle, because the fabric I used has such a pretty lace border. However, instead of doing just straight box pleats, I used the idea from an RTW dress and angled them a bit, which gives a nicer fit. I haven't seen this in any pattern before, but I think it makes actually a lot of sense, because the sewn part of the pleat follows the curves of the body between waist and hip before the fullness springs out. Does that make sense?
I'm not sure if you can see it very well, but the pleats are trapezoid instead of rectangular, kind of like a dart that isn't sewn all the way up to the apex.
The dress acutally ended up too long for my taste, ending slightly below the knee (sorry for the blurry pic - it was the night before we left for the wedding!). Which is why I cut off half the lace border. Um yeah, I know. All that pretty lace! But I like it better that way. :)
The leftover lace was actually snapped up by a friend of mine, who now uses it as a kind of belt with a pink dress. So we're all happy. Yay! ;)
I'm also happy that I managed to blog about this just in time before the end of the Summer Sundress Sew-along!
Are you still doing summer sewing or are you already working on your plans for autumn?

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I've been meaning to tell you about these for weeks. Months, almost. Although I'm not quite sure how to go about it, without sounding like a commercial... ;)

At the beginning of summer, I bought a couple of pairs of Bandelettes.

I'm not sure if you've heard about them. They are a lacy pair of bands that you wear around the top of your thighs, to keep from chafing. I heard about them sometime last year, when Mary from Young, Broke and Fabulous got a pair for review. I thought about buying some then, then thought about possibly making some myself. But they have these strips of silicone at the top and bottom, to keep them from slipping, plus, they're not actually that expensive. (Shipping from the US to Germany was only 2$, too!) And I think that the guys (gals?) that developed and patented them deserve a medal.

Well. As you can probably see from the garments I make, I love dresses. Floaty dresses are my favorite garments for summer. I love warm and sunny weather. But I've had problems with my thighs rubbing together and chafing at least since puberty. Back then, it didn't matter, except maybe at the pool, because I mostly wore jeans anyway, even in summer. (I had a thing about not liking my knees. Thankfully I grew out of that. ;-) ) But for the last few years, it meant that in summer, I mostly wore leggings, or at least bike shorts, either under my floaty dresses or with tunic-length tops.
Not quite ideal in hot and summery temperatures, when all you want is a nice breeze, isn't it? ;)
So. I bought some Bandelettes at the beginning of the summer, and boy have I been happy with them!
I've been wearing dresses without leggings like nobody's business.
They're a very well thought out and well made product. They stay where they're supposed to be (at the top of my thighs), keep me from chafing, and they also have the added bonus of keeping my skirt from flying up when I'm biking! ;) Apart from that, I don't have the feeling that my dresses stick to them. They don't show, except maybe under my shortest dresses when I'm sitting down. And they have definitely prompted the flood of summer dresses that are coming off my sewing table (four of them still unblogged).
So no, this isn't a commercial. I'm not getting paid, I'm not recieving any merchandise. If I sound like an announcer on a teleshopping channel, that's just because these are probably the most useful and happiness-inducing pair of garments that I've bought - possibly since investing in a really rather wonderful push-up bra with convertible straps last year. (And ahem, that sounds like I'm buying way more fancy lingerie than I actrually do...) ;)

I debated if I should go into a discussion about body images in this post. Does it mean that I'm fat if I need something to keep my thighs from chafing? Actually, I don't really care. I feel pretty good in my body. I'm loads fitter than I was even a couple of years ago. I can run 5km in one go! So what if my weight, according to my BMI, is constantly hovering at the line between normal and overweight (which shows how short I actually am, since I usually sew something between a size 8 and 12, not really plus sizes at all! And speaking of plus sizes, do you know the Curvy Sewing Collective? :) Those are some really cool girls!). I'm also a classical "apple", tending to gain weight at my stomach and waist instead of hips an thighs. Which actually gives me a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those girls with a classical pear figure. Which is one of the reasons why I started exercising in the first place. (And there's the doctor in me speaking... ;) ).

Anyway. I really like those Bandelettes.
Have you recently found any ingenious solutions for problems you didn't know you had?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Gillian Maxi Dress

So, the amount of unblogged garments is steadily growing (I think we're at nine, not counting this one here), as is the number of unread blog posts in my reader. Summer just isn't my favorite time to sit in front of the computer, I guess, especially now that I spend a big part of my workday in front of one, too... Plus, we're currently having one of the nicest summers that I can remember. :-) And I haven't even been swimming yet!

Anyway. You remember my Oonapalooza Maxi Dress? I feel so nice wearing it, it kinda convinced me that I should have more maxi dresses. Which made a few things come together in my mind. For one, you probably know Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow, queen of knits an maker of multiples extraordinaire (see her awesome MMMay challenge this year)? We realized sometime last year that we go for very similar colour palettes and both favor comfy, uncomplicated but flattering clothing, so we conspired to do a "wardrobe twin" sewing challenge and sew an outfit inspired by each other. Fast-forward eight months and there have been quite a few plans but nothing concrete. However, Gillian wears lots of maxi dresses. *Knit* maxi dresses. And really cute ones, too!
Hi Gillian!
It also so happens that I had this subtly patterned and very drapey fabric from Girlcharlee in my stash that I never knew what to do with. It was advertised as a sweatshirt knit (which to me means French terry, a.k.a. the fabric you make hoodies with), so I ordered it to make a Lola, but it turned out to be an almost transparent tissue knit. Probably perfect for a slouchy kimono or batwing tee. Too bad that I don't really wear those kinds of garments.
It did make a really nice maxi dress, though.
Because of the transparency, I lined the bodice with a self-fabric shelf bra. And as the fabric is so thin and stretchy, I stabilized thr neckline with some regular white elastic. I should have used transparent elastic, since it turned out a bit bulky, but didn't have any on hand...
For the bodice I used the Verity pattern, because I like the bust gathers, although in this case I converted them into pleats. I also lowered both the front and back neckline for a more summery feel. The front sits a bit low now, which would have been eadily remedied by a neck band. But then I decided to do a lining instead... ;-)
This was a very quick dress to make, entirely constructed on my overlock machine. I didn't even finish the hem and the side slits, which go up to slightly above the knee. I just sewed the sideseams until about halfway, then stopped.
This dress is so comfy, I hardly want to take it off, ever. I like the feel of the fabric swishing around my legs! The only thing it doesn't do very well is riding a bicycle, so I've taken to knotting the left side of the skirt, just taking the left bottom edge of the front and back skirt and knotting them up to the top of the slit. It even looks only slightly ridiculous. ;)

Coincidentally, after the very exciting #Oonapalooza, the #Sewcialists named August #TributeAugust, to sew garments inspired by others. So thanks for the inspiration, Gillian! :D

Where are you taking your inspiration this summer?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

An Oonapalooza Maxi Dress!

Not sure if it's just this time of the year, or if it's just me, but is anyone else having the feeling that time is flying like the wind...? I must be getting old. ;) Or maybe it's the weather. We've been having the most glorious summer weather since my birthday two weeks ago, which makes me silently long for times when summer still consisted of six to ten weeks of glorious holidays.

Anyway. Last weekend (um, wait - is it really just a week ago?!) I finally finished my birthday dress. And it's OONALICIOUS!
I found this fabric a few months ago at idee. It's an Italian cotton print. I've never worn a maxi dress in my life, but I fell in love with this fabric the instant I saw it, and it screamed maxi!

And I love it.

I always though that, since I'm not very tall and not very skinny, I'd look silly and stumpy in a maxi dress. Well, guess what. I don't think I do. Actually, if anything, I kind of feel taller wearing it. Which may be because of the wedge heels. Then again, it might just be that maxi dresses are all kinds of awesome. ;)

The bodice is the Tiki Dress bodice from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing, minus the bias band and shortened by about 5cm (because I have a short waist). I omitted the back zipper and just cut the entire back out of one piece, adding width to the back bodice for shirring and lengthening it into a maxi skirt. Then I used that template to make the front part of the skirt, using four box pleats to distribute the extra width.
The bodice front is lined with netting to enclose the seams and get a nicer finish. The straps cross over in the back. The front gathering is done by hand, which makes the gathers very even and it only takes a few minutes! This may be one of my new favorite techniques!
Shirring the back took pretty much forever. It's not one of my favorite techniques to sew. And even though I took care to backstitch at the front and back of every row, a few backstiches were too short and the elastic got loose. Hmpf. Note to myself: do longer backstitches, esp. at the end.

On the other hand, it makes fitting and wearing the dress so easy! So maybe I like shirring after all...

So, on to:

The Facts: 
Pattern: Tiki Dress bodice from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing, size 8 at the bust grading to size 10 at the waist. Self-drafted maxi skirt with slits up to the knee.
Fabric: 2m of Italian cotton print from idee, 14€/m on sale (yes!) and about 0.5m of elastic net lining from
Notions: Elastic thread
Time to complete: A couple of hours for tracing and cutting, maybe three or four hours sewing, most of which consisted of shirring the back.
Techniques used: Shirring in the back, hand-gathering the front bodice, the seams are first stitched on my regular machine and then overlocked. The straps are made like bias tape (but on the straight grain) by folding the edges to the middle and then folding along the middle and edge-stitching.
Alterations: Graded the bodice between size 8 and 10, shortened by about 5cm, added 5cm to each side of the back bodice for shirring (as instructed in the Tiki Dress variation).
First worn: Going shopping with my mom.

It's second outing was worthy of Oona herself, though: a glorious birthday bash at a 1920s cocktail bar, slurping Old Cubans and Dark'n'Stormys (my fav summer drinks!) while lounging in leather chairs.

So, what do you think about maxi dresses? And what's your favorite cocktail? :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Summer Musings

Occasionally, I'm very amused about myself. I tend to be either very busy or very lazy, but since I've started working, I have the feeling that I've been a lot more lazy during my free time, spending hours just reading various trashy books. It may have to do with the fact that I spend an hour or two every day uselessly sitting around at my job, because I have more hours than actual work to do, which is pretty frustrating to me. I know there are people who like having that extra time, but it makes me crazy, even though I like the rest of my job and the people I work with very much. 

Anyway, being in this lazy state of mind, I've been dithering a lot about my sewing projects, even though I currently have at least an hour or two of potential sewing time every day! Dithering about my Thurlow linen trousers and having to fit them (I might try starting by cutting them out...). Dithering about sundresses and which pattern to use and the potential hazard of fitting a strapless dress. I may have too many patterns, since I have been unable to decide between trying to make a strapless Cambie, Simplicity 4070, the Tiki Dress from Gertie's book and New Look 6457. 
While I have silently challenged myself to use more of my untried patterns this year, I'm tempted to just cut the chase and use the Macaron bodice without the yoke, because the pattern is already cut out and fits, and it would be fun to have another Macaron. On the other hand: I really do want to make up some more of these untried patterns of mine!

And with a well-fitting sundress bodice, I think there are at least 10 potential dresses and babydoll tunics I could (and would like to) make from my stash!

And to illustrate my obvious laziness: the text above is actually from June 12. Yes, more than three weeks ago. Since the weather in between has been really ambivalent, no sundresses have materialized in the meantime, either, even though I actually meant to make a new dress for my birthday (which is tomorrow, so that probably won't work ;) ).
I finally traced and cut out the Tiki Dress pattern a couple of nights ago, though!

I also managed to finish reading all the new blog posts in my reader sometime last week. The unread posts have been hovering between 250 and 400 since possibly Christmas. It's nice being almost up-to-date on the stuff that's going on, instead of reading about it, like, three or four weeks later. ;)

And my unblogged garments have gone up to eight now. Two Lolas, two Moss Mini skirts, two t-shirts for work, two little black dresses. It's a lot of fun to make things in pairs! (The last one is cheated, though, since it's two different patterns and the one has polka-dots...)

Hope you're having a lovely week-end!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

And: Some More Me-Made Weekend Days

I'm having the growing feeling that I'm slowly getting a bit bored with my wardrobe.
Shocking, isn't it? I don't even know why, since when I get the chance to browse, I'm still very much drawn to the usual: stripes, polka-dots, the occasional medium-sized flower print. Navy, white, red, and of course the obligatory off-shades coral and teal.

I guess my style has changed a bit since I started sewing. I wear less of the woven dresses and more knits. The hemlines got slightly shorter and the skirts less full. I finally realized that I think Peter Pan collars are too cute for my taste, and that there's a lot of garments I'd chose over wearing woven blouses. And I don't make skirts with straight waistbands anymore. ;-)

I haven't quite knuckled onto what I'm missing, though. I guess it's time for some Pinterest browsing and people watching? What's your current favorite garment to throw on and feel fantastic?

Anyway, I did wear me-mades on the last couple of weekends. I even (kind of) took Gillians suggestion of matching patterns. :D Kinda.
May 24 and 25: the obligatory knit summer dresses, made from my TNT self-draftet/traced top&dress pattern. Actually, the polka-dot dress has raglan sleeves and the striped skirt is slimmer and made of four panels instead of just front and back, but they're made from the same pattern anyway.

May 28: a dreadful airport pic, but the dress is made from the same pattern as the ones above. Normal sleeves and skirt, this time.
May 29 and 30: Hello Liverpool! Even though those outfits look similar if inverted, the patterns are different. The blue skirt is adapted from a Colette Meringue and the red&white top is from an Ottobre magazine. The blue top is one of the first I ever made and self drafted, the red skirt is Simplicity 2451.
May 31: Hello Edinburgh Castle! Yay for mixing and matching tops and bottoms, when you're going on holiday. And a Lacy Lola to go out for beer and fish'n chips. ;-)

So, that was May. Remembering my pledge besides doing me-made weekends: I also made a couple of work tops! And yes, they do feature polka dots. I've enjoyed wearing them a lot, but I don't have any pictures yet. I also haven't even started on the trousers, besides cutting out the Sewaholic Thurlow pattern. I think I'll muslin the shorts version first. Soon (ish).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Self-Stitched Weekends and Giveaway Winners

Hey y'all! I'll just cut out the complaining this time around, alright? I'm feeling very positive today, since I got some sewing done! Two tops for work, and they do feature polka dots, while still keeping with work outfit rules and looking vaguely professional. Yay! Pics soon. :)

I'm rather glad that I didn't officially take part in MMMay this year since even my vague pledge about wearing me-made knickers and self-stitched outfits on weekends got blown by a) occasionally forgetting to do the washing on time and b) a cold of epic proportions that hit me a couple of weeks ago which meant jammies and bed (and a glowing red nose) all weekend. I'm only now getting over the residual sniffles. Needless to say: no pictures.

My boyfriend took me out on a couple of weeknights, though, so I still have a pair of outfits for each week. Phew! ;) By chance, I even managed to wear garments made from the same pattern for each pair of outfits. *lol* I think Gillian is sending me subconcious thoughts...
May 12 and 13 feature my Coral Lola and Nautical Lola (with RTW cardi), respectively. Aww, how I love that pattern! So comfy! 

May 17 and 18 I wore my Hawaiian Macaron (with RTW cardi) and Fall Macaron (which luckily also works in spring).

About my blogiversary giveaway: thank you guys for participating! Of course I'm shipping internationally, or I would have said so. :) Luckily (for me, and you), the German postal system is pretty affordable even for shipping internationally - especially compared to others I've used (US or NZ, anyone?). To pick the winners, I made lists of who chose which bundle, and then used a random number generator. So, on to the winners:

Congratulations Ola, you won the blue bundle!

Congratulations Janou, you won the red bundle!

Congratulations Scruffybadger, you won the green bundle!

Congratulations Minnado, you won the white bundle!

Please send me an email with your address so I can get your prize to you! :) You can send it to aldara at gmx dot net.

Btw, I'm going to be in Liverpool and Edinburgh next weekend (May 29 to June 1). Does anyone have tips for nice fabric shops, pretty places to have a cup of tea or any other must sees? Or is any of you UK peeps somewhere near and wants to meet up for a cuppa?

Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

MMMay '14?

So the first week of May is already nearly over, and I haven't even said a peep about this year's Me Made May. To be honest, I debated for a very long time if I should even take part. I loved all the me-made challenges that I took part in and last year I think I even managed to only repeat an outfit once or twice! But nowadays, I'm working five days of the week, and my work outfits for now consists of two pairs of black RTW trousers and a choice of two blouses and three fine-knit pullovers. Not very exciting. And I tend to just pull on some yoga pants and a t-shirt when I'm home. Not very exciting, either. (Dresses and skirts, for some reason, seem to be a no-go in a doctor's outfit over here. We either wear scrubs or a combo of smart trousers and a nice shirt/blouse/top in Germany!)
MMM Day 1 - Me-made polka dot dress, lacy tights and new Italian shoes.
But thinking about not doing any outfit posts for May left me feeling quite sad - so although I'm not officially taking part in Me Made May '14, I have decided to do a weekends-and-holidays edition! May 1 is Labor Day in Germany and an official bank holiday, and since it fell on a Thursday this year, we got a four day weekend. Yay! And we even get another long weekend in May (May 29 is the Christian holiday of Ascension, which is also a German bank holiday)! So there are some outfit posts to be had this month. Phew!
MMM Day 2 - Me-made strawberry stripe top and flowery Moss skirt.
I'm also going to be wearing a pair of me-made undies each day of the month, but there's not going to be any photo documentation... ;) The real challenge though, is that I'm determined to make myself at least one outfit for work this month! I'm planning on a pair of black linen trousers and a blouse (or two). I wonder if polka-dots are appropriate doctor's office wear...?
MMM Day 3 - Me-made striped top and blue Moss skirt.
Also speaking of long weekends. My boyfriend and I are coming to visit Great Britain from May 28 to June 1. We're visiting old friends from school, one is currently doing her doctoral thesis in Fishing Science in Liverpool, and after we spent a couple days there, we're going to visit another friend who's doing his doctoral thesis on Computer Linguistics in Edinburgh. I seem to have pretty smart friends (with a funny choice in subjects)... ;-)
MMM Day 4 - Me-made green-striped Lola.
Anyway, since travelling always is a wonderful excuse for fabric shopping, does anyone have a suggestion on where to get lovely fabrics? Or lives within a reasonable distance and wants to meet up for a cuppa? (I actually tried to get my boyfriend to agree to fly into Birmingham instead, and take a quick look at the famed Rag Market, bit air fares and travelling times proved too much...)

Hope you're having a lovely week!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Blogiversary and a Giveaway

Oh look, it's an anniversary! My little blog is turning four years old today! And as an interesting coincidence, I also noticed a couple of days ago that I had 199 published blog posts, so I decided to postpone my post about this year's Me Made May, making this also my 200th blog post. :)

To celebrate, I'm giving away four fabric bundles. :)
the blue bundle
the green bundle
The fabrics are all from my stash, and I sorted them (sort of, hehe) by colour scheme. Some fabrics are remnants from garments I made, sized like large-ish scraps. Some are full length pieces. Some I bought, some were gifted to me (mostly from the vintage fabric stash of my boyfriend's grandma). All of them are at least big enough to make a pillowcase or a kid-sized garment, and all bundles have at least one full-length piece.
the red bundle
the white bundle
To take part in the giveaway, please leave a comment on this blog post naming the bundle that you'd like to win and telling me which sewing pattern you're currently excited about. The giveaway ends on Sunday, May 11th at 11:59 local time (which is CE-DST, or MESZ, as we Germans say).

I guess I could write a very long blog post about the last four years, about learning to sew and growing as a seamstress, about all the inspirational and lovely sewing bloggers out there and how lovely it is to be part of that. But honestly, it's Sunday night after a beautiful but very full weekend, and I'm just a bit slow at putting my thoughts into acceptable English writing. ;) So just let me tell you 'thank you' for being such wonderful people, for coming over and reading and commenting, for the last four years, being part of this community.

(I have the feeling that I'm usually at least a tiny bit more eloquent but it really has been a long and exciting weekend. I think I'm going to bed early today...)

Anyway, hope you have a lovely week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crazy April - Italian version

Oh, hi there! It probably won't surprise you that my April did not turn out appreciably less crazy than March... Although there was some sewing!

There was also some gardening.

And an Easter holiday in Lana, Alto Adige, Italy.

 Beautiful weather.
  Beautiful flowers.
 Pictures worth taking.
 Some me-mades (a.k.a. polka-dot leggings on the left and a new Moss skirt on the right!)
 A pretty amazing view.
New shoes. They're the most expensive pair I've ever bought, but they're Italian calf leather. And SO amazing!

Somehow, I didn't take any pictures of the food, which was also amazing. I left my knitting at home by accident, so no crafty things got done whatsoever. If you don't count cooking or baking, anyway. But I finished two Moss skirts (a blue wearable muslin, made from a fabric I've never heard about before: Ramie, and the flowery one made of stretch cotton/denim seen above) right in time for my holiday! I hammered a jeans button! More about that later - right after I finish telling you about the green Lolas...


Crazy or not, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. Lilacs are blooming. Chestnuts are blooming. The air smells incredibly sweet and flowery. It's almost warm enough to leave the house without a jacket in the morning. There's sunshine, and in between there's rain, and even the rain smells amazing. There's the first asparagus and the first strawberries, and it's warm enough to have dinner on the balcony. And I'm in no way exaggerating: there's no nicer smelling month than April. Warm rain on lilac and chestnut blossoms. It's the essence of early summer. And it makes me incredibly happy. :-)
And now I'm going to relinquish you from my babbling. There's going to be some more sewing related stuff soon. I promise.