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.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Crazy March

Is anyone else having a crazy spring? I can't believe we switched to daylight saving yesterday and tomorrow is already the 1st of April.

There's so much I'm meaning to do all the time and somehow I never end up doing it. My to-sew list is growing longer all the time. One of these days I should really do my taxes (first time, ever!). There are forms I haven't filled out yet and I really need a new hair cut. I also really wanted to take part in the Spring Cleaning Swap Meet, but didn't manage to photograph or measure my fabrics in time.

Then again, I've planted about sixteen different tomato seeds and am waiting for them to sprout. The carrots are already showing a tiny pair of leaves. I also planted a few different herbs and a few chili seeds. I got myself a pair of IKEA shelves for my balcony, and a "tomato greenhouse".
I had a very lovely weekend in Volkach with my parents and boyfriend, doing some wine-tasting and generally having a good time.
My choir gave a really fantastic concert. (We don't have the videos yet, but this one is from one of our last concerts, and an original song from our choir leader to boot.)
And yes, I did get a bit of sewing done in the last month.
More Lolas. Two of them, actually, both green. I'll tell you about them soon.

And knickers. Three are finished already, the other three are still lacking their lace elastic.

And about the fabric giveaway - well, I've got a blogging anniversary coming up at the beginning of May. :)

What's occupying your time at the moment?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

On the Evolution of Style

A couple of weekends ago I did a garment swap with some friends, and in the process of culling my wardrobe came across a couple of pieces that have been in my wardrobe for quite some time. They got me thinking about what clothes and colours I like to wear and if and how much that has changed in the last few years.

This is the outfit I was wearing that day:
me-made aqua top and RTW skirt
And this is the outfit I found:
The top is probably the oldest one I own. I'm pretty sure I bought it when I was about 16 (a few months after I got together with my boyfriend), at H&M, together with a full, pleated red skirt of the exact same colour as the one above, but knee length. The skirt above is also from H&M and used to be knee length, I bought it a couple years later (after the pleated one ceased to fit me) together with a green tank top that I still wear. It got shortened three or four years ago and is still worn occasionally, although it's now starting to fall apart (which made me snatch up the skirt in the first pic when I saw it on sale).
I'd also love to wear the green boatneck more frequently, but aside from being at least a size to small now and rather short, it's also falling apart at the seams. Darn, since it's my absolute favorite shade of green!

So, I guess I'm just a bit predictable in my fashion choices, aren't I? ;)

I can tell some things have changed in the last decade, of course. After I realized about 8 years ago that my knees didn't look any uglier than everyone elses, hemlines started slowly creeping upwards. While I still like the occasional flowy skirt, I've grown to prefer a slightly slimmer silhouette. And after longingly looking at jersey dresses for about half my life, I finally realized that they actually look nice on me if they have some waist definition, thus pretty much revolutionizing my wardrobe.

Have your style and colour preferences changed much in the last decade?
In other news. I made waffles today. With strawberries and whipped cream! And I started tomato and herb seeds on my balcony. :D The halved plastic bottles function as little greenhouses...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Smells like spring...

What with all the snow and cold temps that North America has gotten in the past weeks, and the downpour that has haunted GB, I feel a bit self conscious saying that here in Berlin, we've been enjoying lovely spring weather for the past month. I'm not kidding, we've been surfing along with 8-12°C and nary a day of rain for the past four weeks. Lot's of sunshine, too. It's pretty much unprecedented. Berlin usually is a cloudy sinkhole all winter. Anyway, I'm not complaining. Apart from the fact that I didn't get to even half of my winter sewing projects before spring turned up again. But who cares. I'm lusting for spring sewing. Sunshine!

This skirt could be called winter sewing, if I cared to present it with wooly tights and a sweater, I guess. It has actually been cut out since before Christmas. Paired with nude tights, knee socks and this striped raglan top that I sewed in December, it makes for a decent spring outfit, too (and fits well into my spring&autumn wardrobe preferences). 
It's Simplicity 2451, of course. After last year's green version (in size 16, because I wanted it to sit on my hips) turned out way too big, possibly because my corduroy had some stretch that I didn't account for, I re-cut this version, which is a 12 in front and a 16 in the back (for reasons), and I used some absolutely stable woven interfacing for the waistband. I really love the way this version sits, even though the tulip shape kind of accentuates my hips. But oh well.
The lining is a blue&white polka-dot rayon from Italy (Verona, to be exact) and the skirt hem was done by turning it up once and hand-stitching on a polka-dot lace ribbon. Yay, polka dots!
I like the fit of this one so well, I'm almost thinking about disassembling the green version and re-cutting it to this size. It would probably end in a disaster, though...

The top, btw, is one of my go-tos, the raglan sleeved Ottobre 5/2008-14. Version number four. I'm thinking that I like it even better than my regular-sleeved TNT jersey top pattern. Because raglan sleeves are awesome. :) I even did some (more or less successful) stripe matching.
Are you already thinking of spring sewing? Or is it still winter where you live? And what's currently on your sewing table? (I need to finish a green Lola, or two, before either going on to that Plantain that I've been meaning to make for Blue February, or starting on tracing the pattern for a polka-dot dress, or taping the Moss skirt... So many plans!)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Selfless Sewing: A Men's Shirt

Oh, hi there! Does anyone know how it's already mid-February all of a sudden? I have to admit that my new work schedule, paired with gloomy winter weather and short daylight, have made me into a bit of a hybernating creature for the last few weeks. But we've had glorious sunlight for the last few days (and I guess I'm starting to cope with my schedule), so I've started to wake up again!

I haven't done a lot of stitching, but I'm working on a sock, I've had a skirt cut out forever that is finally in the process of being stitched together, and there are another couple of Lolas in the plans. (I'm still a bit reluctant and scared to get started on work clothes. Trousers! Collared shirts! Argh!)

Also, I've finished a commission!
Well, actually I made it into a birthday gift. Made from that pink&white fabric in the top right corner. Wanna guess?
Nope, not baby clothes. Actually, it made for a rather stylish men's shirt for my stepdad.
Though to be honest, we're now calling it a (wearable) muslin. Since my stepdad lives 700km away from me, fitting was pretty much out of the question, so instead of taking his measurements, I traced one of his shirts that fits him rather well and took my measurements from that. At some point, I must have added a double seam allowance, though, because the new shirt turned out rather big, and the sleeves are almost ridiculously long...
He also chose the pattern for the shirt himself, it's Burda 7359, but we both overlooked that it doesn't have a proper collar with a collar stand (even though the model on the front wears a tie with it!), instead it features a rather huge and pointy one-piece collar that kinda reminds me of the seventies... or as my stepdad said, a pyjama. Oh well. At least it matches the oversized cuffs.
To make matters worse, I asked the lady at the fabric section of our local department store to recommend a good fusible interfacing for the collar of a men's shirt, but I think she had no idea since what she recommended feels both too thick and not stable enough, a bit spongy instead of crisp. I'm guessing it's more suited to thicker fabrics. Next time I'm going to the fabric store to buy interfacing, even if the department store is more convenient to reach...

There are quite a few things that I'm very happy with, though. I think the sleeve placket turned out exceptionally well, especially since I mostly just followed the Burda pattern instructions.
For the myrad of button holes, I didn't use my regular machine (the all-metal Privileg Super-Nutzstich from the 80s that I inherited from my great-grandma). Instead, I used the computerized but rather cheap AEG machine that I bought when I started sewing, because I realized that it has 5 different automatic buttonhole programmes! Also, you just put your button into the little button compartment of the buttonhole foot, and it matches the buttonholes to the size of the button. No eyeballing! I'm very glad I remembered that. Overall, it's a pretty cheap and crappy machine, it hates knits and heavy fabric / lots of layers, but it makes really nice buttonholes. Yay!
I actually wanted a white contrast band for the button placket as well, but I didn't understand the pattern well enough. What I did instead was add a contrast facing. Oh well.

I have now re-measured the finished shirt and the shirt I used for taking measurements, so I will be able to fix the fit for the next shirt iteration (incidentally, in the patterned blue fabric above). I'll also need to draft a regular collar - does anyone have a tip for a good tutorial for that?

So I'm hoping now that I got most of the stupid mistakes for sewing a shirt out of my system. Any tips on what I should look out for in the next iteration?

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Top 5 Reflections & Goals

First of all, Happy New Year, everyone! :) Hope you all had a nice and relaxing start. Mine was just a bit exciting, since I started my new job on Jan. 2 (as an assistant doctor in a shared cardiologist and GP practice), and it was still a bit chaotic (mostly because there's quite a few new people working there, including the GP), but I'm sure it'll be interesting once we work out a routine.

So, on we go with the Sewing Reflections! Is this a good place to sneak in my statistics? I love me some figures and pie charts...

Sewing Reflections 2013: 
1. I made quite a few things. 18 dresses, 6 tops (I counted my blazer as a top, too), 6 bottoms (including two pairs of leggings), 6 home dec items (chair covers and cushions) and 6 "others" (namely, 5 pairs of knickers and one pyjama). That's 42 items in total! I didn't even realize I was that prolific!

2. I didn't reach my stashbusting goal of making 3 in 4 garments from stash fabric. More like... slightly more than half. I also bought way more fabric than was my goal, 27 lengths of fabric in total! Since I used 15 of them right away, I ended up with 12 new lengths of fabric still in stash. I used up 15 lengths of fabric from stash. That means I still ended up with a stash that's 3 pieces smaller! ;)
Actually, I should admit that I also bought 8 garments second hand for refashioning and only used 2. And I have some larger scraps left over from some of the used stash fabric. So... yes, my stash did grow a bit during 2013. Wait - I also gave away 6 lengths of fabric! So let's call it a balance. ;)

3. I sew a lot of dresses! Then again, I wear a lot of dresses, too. Of the bottoms I made, three were skirts, but only one is really for every day wear. The third, actually, is still unblogged and needs some alterations. I need to make more skirts in 2014!

some of the dresses of 2013

4. There are still some gaps in my me-made wardrobe. Actually, I think almost all of my me-made garments fall either into the category of "Sunday Picnic dress" or are pretty casual, so now and then I acutely miss some going-out-for-dinner-and-drinks clothes. And now I also need some office clothes!
 the skirts of 2013

5. Overall, I think I'm happy with my sewing in 2013. While some garments get worn more often than others, there weren't too many outright misses. Two things that still challenge me are a good fit in the bust and (sometimes) matching the right fabric to a pattern - or at least not buying crap fabric. ;)
the tops of 2013 (though there are  two more unblogged)

In non-sewing reflections, of course, it also was an exciting year. I crammed knowledge into my head for almost 6 months out of 12, ending with my board exams, so now after 7 years of studies, I'm a qualified physician! Looking for a job took a pretty long time, before I was accepted as an assistant doctor in a GP/cardiology practice, where I interned a couple of mornings every week for the past two months, and finally started a full-time position last week. I also started on a doctoral thesis (I know that in a lot of countries, the "M.D." is awarded upon completion of studies, but in Germany you have to do actual scientific research and write a thesis - which I'm now doing, with my focal point being gender differences in prevention medicine), so there will be a lot less free time than last year. Still, my working hours are such that I have two afternoons and don't work on weekends, so there should still time for some relaxing sewing and knitting, and all that other stuff I do to relax. :)

Goals for 2014:
1. I'd like to do something to close my wardrobe gaps. Sew a couple of slinky tops and maybe a lacy dress for fancy occasions. Make some fun denim skirts, and maybe even a pair of shorts or two. And there's definitely room for a few more basics like undies and tank tops, too!

2. This year, I'll be wearing office clothes 5 days out of 7! In the colder months, this will definitely mean black trousers and white collared tops under a solid coloured pullover or vest, though I may be branching out into white jeans and short-sleeved blouses in summer. So that'll be well-fitting trousers (I'm thinking Thurlows) and collars on my to-conquer list!

3. Work on getting a better fit. This is an ongoing project really. ;) I like a close-but-not-tight fit in the bodice, and while that's pretty easy with knits, I still find it challenging to get a fit I really like in my woven dresses. So I guess that either means buying more stretch wovens, or taking the time to make a well fitting sloper/muslin...? We'll see.

4. Another ongoing project, of course, is the status of my fabric stash. I actually like the amount of fabric that is on my shelves, but I know that there are still some fabrics in bags and bins and drawers, some that I know I'm probably not going to use, some I just don't know what to do with. So my big goal this year is to reduce my stash to only the size of my shelves, where I can see it, plan with it and sew with it. The rest is going to be used or given away.
The Stash
5. Try out new patterns. You may have noticed that I re-use my patterns a lot, and I love doing that! Partly because the tracing and cutting process isn't my favorite, and because with second and third makes, I know what to expect. But it also means that I haven't used about two thirds of my patterns yet, and that isn't counting the ones in my Burda/Ottobre magazines! So, let's make this a concrete goal: I'm going to use at least five new stash patterns in 2014. I can also think about at least five patterns that came out in the last year, which I haven't bought yet but would love to try... But we'll see how that fits in with my other goals. :)

So, quick question: what is the one pattern that you definitely want to sew in 2014?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Sew Ver(it)y Green

I have to say, I'm not sure if I am a very good Sewcialist. I don't have a facebook page, I still haven't quite gotten the hang of hanging around on Twitter, and my i*phone is so old that it doesn't support Instagram (it takes almost a minute to load Twitter, which may be part of the problem)... And anyway, I kinda like the old-fashioned blogging stuff. ;) But anyway. This Sewcialist thing is rather fun. Especially since we're sewing a rainbow!
I was a bit late for #redoctober (my Looks Like Christmas dress was an early December make), but I managed to sew #greendecember in time! I actually had three projects planned, but the other two didn't quite turn out like I wanted. They may be refashioned/altered at some point...

Anyway, on to my Ver(it)y Green December dress!
The facts: 
Pattern: Verity Dress by Moxie Patterns
Fabric: 2m of green wooly sweater knit fabric from the Maybachufer fabric market.
Notions: none
Time to complete: a couple of hours, plus another hour for hemming.
Techniques used: The seams are overlocked, the sleeves and hem are turned under and hand-stitched.
Alterations: I took a couple of centimeters out of the back bodice, midriff band and skirt, tapering to nothing at theneckline. After trying it on, I realized that the fabric was pretty heavy, especially since the skirt is nice and full, and the weight was dragging the fabric down a lot. Like, the midriff band sat on my hips. So I eliminated it, and since I didn't want to do the bust gathers again, I made them into box pleats instead. The midriff seam still sits a bit low for my taste, but it's alright, I guess. I cut the neckline higher than in the pattern, since I figured that the lower neckline was my mistake last time with the split collar. This one sits nicely and I may add a couple of big green buttons that Maider gifted me a while ago.
First worn: To a Christmas party with my friends.
Thoughts: I love the fabric, it's so cozy and warm and a perfect shade of blue-ish green! I also really like the split collar and full semicircle skirt. :)
How's your holiday going? I had a lovely and relaxing Christmas with my family, and now some friends from Berlin are visiting us here in the country to celebrate New Year's with Raclette and Fondue. Yum.