Sunday, September 14, 2014

OWOP - A Week of Macarons

I just checked out the post I wrote for OWOP 2012. I hadn't fully realized that was two and a half years ago! Funny, to think back and see how much has changed since then... Two years ago, I wore my self drafted jersey top and dress pattern, which by now has actually been succeeded by a raglan sleeved top from Ottobre magazine as my go-to jersey top pattern... And actually, I was going to use the Ottobre top as my pattern for OWOP 2014. A bit boring, I know, and I changed my decision last minute since, for one, you've already recently seen half of my Ottobre versions in the Holiday Capsule Wardrobe. For another, only one of those tops is short sleeved and the weather forecast was so nice, I rather wanted to wear something summery. :)
OWOP Day 1: Macaron-inspired lacy jersey dress

To be honest, though, I'm not sure if it was all that smart to change my decision. I went for the Ottobre top in the first place because I have two tops I wear at work made from that pattern, so I would have been guaranteed to wear those anyway. Plus, I tend to put on leggings or yoga pants and knit tops as soon as I get home if we don't have people over, and the Ottobre pattern certainly qualifies for a comfy knit top.
Day 2: Hawaiian Macaron, Day 3: Strawberry Macaron

As you can see, I wore the Macaron Dress by Colette Patterns instead this week. Well, the knit and lace dress from Day 1 actually only shares the general idea and the curve of the sweetheart with that pattern (or at least my modified version of it). Still, I'm going to count it. I love that dress.

The downside of my choice was, of course, that some of those dresses only got worn on the way home from work, being exchanged for leggings and a t-shirt as soon as I got home...
Day 6: Blue Plaid Macaron, Day 7: Strawberry Macaron with RTW cardi

Even so, after a week of wearing Macarons, I am reminded why I love this pattern so much. It's cute and a bit quirky, easy to wear and comfy. All of mine (except for the Hawaiian Macaron) feature knit yokes, which make them even more comfortable, and the pocket placement in the front pleats is one of the most ingenious I've ever come across. Of course, styling wise it's not as versatile as a blouse or skirt, besides wearing it with leggings/tights or different cardis, or maybe a scarf, I don't think I could come up with a lot of different ideas for outfits. I'm pretty sure I could come up with a few dozen more fabric combinations that would make eminently wearable Macarons, though. And I think I may have room in my wardrobe for maybe one or two more... ;-)

Do you have a pattern that you can't seem to get enough of?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Almost a Capsule Wardrobe - Holidays at the Seaside

So I spent a short holiday at the Baltic Sea with B. and my family at the end of August. :) Even though Berlin isn't far from there, I'd only been at the Baltic once before since moving here, and that was only for one night. It's beautiful, though (and "only" 4h by car), so I'm convinced now that I need to go back soon!

Having seen quite a few cute selfmade travel wardrobes, I wanted to take a capsule wardrobe of only me-mades, too. In the end, I slipped in a couple of RTW garments (bikini, a couple of cardis, rain jacket etc.) anyway. I guess I'll work that out for next time! ;) Despite only going for 5 days, I packed quite a lot of garments. I rather like to have a bit of a choice when getting dressed, and it still all fits into my little bag (I love how squashable most of my garments are...), so I tend to pack the same amount no matter if it's five days or ten. As you can see, I went with a nautical/stripey theme. :)
My capsule wardrobe: three longsleeved tops, two shortleeves ones, two skirts, three dresses, a pair of trousers, a bolero shrug and five pairs of knickers - all me-made - plus some colourful leggings.
Four of those garments are as of yet still unblogged, I think. The blue Moss skirt, the white and the blue striped boatneck tees (adapted from my TNT Ottobre raglan top pattern) and the red shrug, traced from RTW. All have been pretty useful this summer already! I didn't actually manage to wear all those garments (and I missed taking a picture of the first day travelling there, when I wore the green striped Lola), although it's just the two dark blue tops and the polka-dot dress that got a miss. I actually "saved" the dress for the drive home, anticipating some colder weather -  that didn't turn up, though, hence the Lola again.

(Oops, and it seems I omitted the red polka-dot dress from the capsule picture... never mind, I think it may still have been in the wash.) The weather was a bit chilly and pretty windy for the first couple of days, but for the last couple, I almost regretted not bringing any really summery dresses. Such is the fickle weather at the seaside, I guess.
I really have no room for complaints, though, because aside from a light drizzle on both the day we got there and the day we left, we enjoyed incredibly gorgeous blue skies (admittedly slightly enhanced by a polar filter in these pics), good sea air, lovely food, walking along sandy beaches and even a dip or two into the Baltic.
They have wicker beach chairs. It's adorable! The water is pretty clear, too. Lots of jellyfish, though, although mostly of the non-stingy variety, so far as I know.
This is the island of Rügen, btw, the biggest German island. It's connected to the mainland by a bridge and a dam, so you can take your car over there without taking a boat. It is pretty big, too, at least 25km across and maybe 45km long, and it has internal "seas" connected to the Baltic, too.
It's pretty touristy even this late in the (summer) season, one day we wanted to visit the town sporting the main port but couldn't get a parking spot and it was packed with tourists wanting to go on boat trips. We decided to retire to a smaller beach instead...
We went looking for chicken gods there (no idea why they're called that, and the dictionary tells me they're adder stones in English - stones with a natural hole washed into them by water) and even found a few. They're supposed to bring luck or protect you from evil, I think.
In the end, I left them on the beach, though, for the next lucky finder. :)

Did you get up to any adventures this summer? And how much do you tend to pack for a holiday/vacation?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hopping the Blog

You may have seen the blog hop that's been going around, about why bloggers write and stuff? Well, I've been tagged by Joëlle of The Handstitched Files to participate! Joëlle is a lovely sewing blogger from Sweden, and I admit that I may have started following her blog because of her blog's gorgeous lace header... Nah, I'm kidding, it's because I'm in love with her self-stitched wardrobe and would totally steal it and wear it all if I could. Plus, her photos always look so pretty - and she's a lovely style of writing, too. :)
Joëlle in a lovely Carme blouse
What with blogging pretty irregularly (and posting mostly crappy photos) since I started my job in January, I'm pleasantly surprised that anyone is still reading this blog, let alone tag me for a blog hop! So thank you kindly, Joëlle, and thanks all of you who're reading this for sticking with me. :)

Why do I write?
Honestly, sometimes I'm wondering myself. ;) I started this blog way back when (ahem, that would be in 2010, after the first ever Me-Made May), to participate in that lovely growing sewing community. People were making all those lovely garments, and blogging about them, and starting sew-alongs and challenges, and I wanted to be part of it, to start on my own me-made wardrobe and share the process and the inspiration and the wins and the fails. By now, the sewing community has grown so much, there are so many different things going on, so many new and pretty Indie patterns coming out all the time, it's hard to stay on top of things. Coupled with holding a full-time job for the first time in my life instead of living the languish life of a university student, I feel that pretty much everything about my blogging has suffered. The frequency, the quality of the photos and the writing, my participation in things... Reading blogs and commenting, too. Ah well. At least I'm still sewing. :)
polka-dot blouse made from quilting cotton, one of my first makes way back when
What am I working on?
Sewing-wise? Well, there is this bunch of happy patterned knit fabrics that I bought at the Maybachufer Market a couple of weeks ago, because they reminded me of Gillian. Since the weather is still warm(ish), I was thinking short-sleeved dresses. I also have an almost-finished muslin of the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers, and a bunch of pretty linen-blend fabrics. And when I'm finished with the leftover summer sewing, Sarah's Fall Essentials Sew-Along is beckoning. I've already made a tentative list. Will I ever get around to blogging it? I have no idea...
Fabric! 
Oh, blog-wise you mean? Well. I'd actually like to catch up on all those unblogged garments, and maybe get back to taking nice-ish outdoor pictures of my makes, instead of making B. (aka Mr. Farbenfreude, who absolutely hates taking pictures) take a cell phone pic. Or manage to actually get back to that a-post-a-week schedule, and not only post about what I'm sewing, but, you know, inspiration and stuff. Mind, I'm not actively working on that (yet). It's more like on my wish-list. ;) But maybe I should start writing a list. And while I'm at it, I might also start on that shopping list to organize my sewing space a bit better.

How does it differ from others of its genre?
Ahem, does it? I don't know. I've honestly never blogged with a goal in mind like starting a brand or a business or even making money fom sponsors, so I've never quite given a thought to being different or unique. Well, not more unique than you are without trying, anyway. ;) I guess my niche (that I'm sharing with a few others) is making fun, comfortable, colourful garments, mostly out of knit fabric, and making multiples of my favorite patterns. I also now and then slip in little posts about the tomatoes on my balcony, or possibly food.
Tomatoes. :D
How does my writing process work?
Right. I'm not sure there's even a process to it. I tend to just write what's on my mínd. I also like to start with the pictures. Because they break up the paragraphs so nicely. After putting in the pictures, I can nicely fill the space between. ;) If I write about a garment from a new pattern, I usually have a few points I always review, plus some thoughts. Since I'm very bad about taking notes while I sew, I usually forget about half. ;) Oh well.

So, to keep this blog hop going, I'm nominating Silvia the Sewingprincess and Becky from Sew and So. Silvia is from Italy (my favorite country for holidays!) and always makes very elegant and stylish creations. She also dances the Flamenco! Becky's blog I love because of all the fun stuff she's making: pretty jewellery, Dr. Who related stuff, Disney costumes, and she's a champion trouser maker and sewed her own incredibly lovely wedding dress!

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

Bandelettes

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.

Why?
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 stoffe.de.
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? :)