Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Zoe-Inspired Coffee-Date Ruffle Top

After Saturday's pocket woes, I wanted to get my mind off failures, so I started on something I'd been wanting to make for ages: a version of Zoe's Coffee-Date ruffle top! I've been in love with it since seeing it on her blog during Me-Made May, so I asked if I could shamelessly steal borrow her idea and she gracefully allowed me to. :-)

I used a grayish/navy cotton knit (I assume, since it only has the knit stretch) I bought at the Holland fabric market in Potsdam with this in mind. It's not too thin and has just a little stretch, so it was a lot easier to sew than the lycra-blend I used for the wrap top. The top itself was very straightforward, so I even took the time to make a pattern for the bodice and sleeves (since it is slightly inconvenient to use a real shirt as a guide every time...) I also actually finished the neckline with what I think is called a crew-neck? It's part of the basic tee tutorial I linked to on my (newly added!) resources page, and I think found the link on Zoe's blog once upon a time...

I didn't quite know how to add the ruffle front, because even though I had the Coffee Date Dress pattern, there weren't any instructions... So I looked it up in burdastyle again and do you know what? The pattern made by the Selfish Seamstress!

(Ok, so you probably knew that. I didn't, though... I wonder what kind of awesomely beautiful patterns she made that she keeps for herself, when she's sharing that kind of dress with us...)

What's better, she has the instructions for construction and the adding of the ruffles for Download on her blog. Yay! Took me ages to place the ruffles in a way that I liked, then sew them on and take out the gathering stitches, but hey, it was totally worth it! I'm in love with the top! :)

I wore it yesterday with my red refashioned skirt and today with a denim skirt:

Hmm, I guess I'd better clean that mirror sometime soon... ;-)

BTW, while Saturday was a failure regarding Self-Stitched September (I did wear socks my grandma had knit, though), I wore the wrap-top and jeans again on Sunday. No pics, though... I guess I'm growing weary of taking photographs every day. But alas, only two days of September left...

Sewing Resources

I've been putting together a list with tutorials and sewing resources today. The Sewing Princess asked me earlier how I had hemmed my wrap-style top and I had to look around for the tutorial I used for a while (because I'm really bad about not putting interesting websites into my favorites). So to help me keep my resources straight, I put all of the ones I remember and found interesting together on one page. Maybe they'll help you, too. :-)

If you also know about good tutorials or even made one yourself, tell me about it and I'll add it to the list! :-)

Happy Sewing, everybody!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oh, noes! Pocket woes....

Guess what I did - I started on my sailor trousers today. I cut them out, basted them, tried them on for fit, noticed a bit of excess fabric at the front, where my legs meet my torso... I thought a bit about it, had a look at a good-fitting pair of jeans and lowered the front waistline about an inch, shortening the crotch curve in the process. Then I started stitching the middle seams together, with French seams, all the while thinking about how to do the button fasteners at the side. 

Then I thought: this pair of trousers definitely needs pockets! I had looked over a couple of tutorials on how to make them before and was pretty confident I knew how to construct them, so I decided to wing it. And I made a pair of very cute side pockets, with polka dot lining.

Then I stitched up the side seam (on the finished pocket's side).

Then I tried them on again. I thought: "Funny, the pockets are really high... umm, strange, didn't I shorten the front rise earlier...?!? Oh, ..." I patted my back. "Noooooo!" The back rise hardly cleared my behind.

Yup. Smart Alessa. I put the pockets in on the backside. *facepalm*

Umm, yes. Well. I guess I will be able to salvage my stupid mistake... somehow. It's just that I was really happy about how well these trousers were working out, since I had never made any before. And now I need to rip out stitches. And put in patches. And add the pockets at the front. And I haven't ever made button-holes, and I'm going to need at least three... 

Also, the only remotely self-stitched thing I wore today were socks, knit by my grandma. Oops. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Self-Stitched September, Days 20-24 + Culinary Berlin!

Umm, yes. About those sailor trousers? I still haven't started sewing them. I haven't even cut them out. I have made another top, though, with some of my newly bought fabric! I had (allegedly) bought 1m of the 1,60m wide fabric, but either the lady who sold it stretched it a little too much while cutting or it shrunk a lot during washing, because I ended up with 85x150cm. Which meant that I couldn't squeeze a shirt and a short gathered skirt out of it... I prioritized the top and ended up making a little straight skirt out of the remaining fabric, but it looks very strange... Ah well...


The fabric reminds me of the Spanish designer brand, Desigual, which I think makes some really awesome clothes. Their coats...! I used fold-over elastic for the hemming and I like how it looks. The sleeves are hemmed with narrow FOE, which was a pain to sew. I liked the broad kind a lot better!


It's wrap-style and I mostly improvised the pattern although I had a look at a similar shirt I already have. I copied the sleeves from my striped jersey shirt... One day, I have to transfer the sleeve head and arm scythe to paper, but I'm too lazy...

I love how the top turned out, and have worn it three times this week! The fabric doesn't seem to be made for frequent washing, though, it's already showing a bit of white fuzz...

So, Monday I wore the blue polka dot skirt you have already seen half a dozen times. The pictures turned out blurry, so I'm not posting them...

Tuesday: the new shirt plus self-stitched lacy tank underneath. We went Salsa dancing and Karaoke singing in the evening and I styled it with a black skirt. No pics, I'm afraid (have I mentioned my bf has a photographing phobia?...) I wore the same on Thursday, though...

Wednesday: lazy day... I wore the top again, though.

Thursday: top and black skirt. Yes, summery temperatures, yay! I forgot to have my coffee date take a picture of me, though, so you can't see the beautiful weather...

Today was just as nice, though, so I wore the strawberry skirt and an old graphic tee. And no tights! :) 

I got tickets for a culinary tour through Berlin/Kreuzberg for my birthday and we took the tour today. The weather was perfect for it and we got to know a few cool new eating places. I was a little sad that about half of them were "touristy" places (as in, found in lots of guidebooks), but the food was mostly good to excellent and we wandered through some very beautiful streets! There are lots of them in Berlin, but if you don't know where they are, you can only stumble over them by chance... I definitely want to go back and maybe try the food in some of the cute little places we just went by. 

Maybe browse some used books...

Try some more of the yummy looking baked goods at this place...

The chocolate-cream-cheese-brownies we tried were super yummy! (Oh, and can you see that I really like picnik's cross processing tool...? ;) Love those colors!)

This is one of Kreuzberg's best Oriental sweet pastry shops - I usually take some with me when I happen to pass by, but we were so full today that I absolutely couldn't...

Right across the street is a cute little place that sells the most awesome Falafel (chick pea), Shawarma (chicken), Makali (vegetable) and other sandwiches in that area. There are probably thousands of places like that in Berlin, but this one has not only low-price, really yummy food but also a really nice atmosphere...

Those tiles alone...!

Oh, and look what I also glimpsed behind a gate:

I am totally in love with vintage cars, I could stare at them for hours! I'm a little sad I couldn't get any nearer because the gate was locked...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Self-Stitched September, Days 13-19

Um, no, I haven't forgotten about SSS. I just felt too busy for writing blog-posts. So here's an update for the last week:

Monday, 13th: self-stitched red polka-dot peasant blouse with unfinished black sweatshirt thingy and lacy black tank-top underneath. The sweatshirt thingy isn't long enough, so I've been meaning to attach cuffs, shirttails and a collar. Haven't yet, though.

No pictures for Tuesday, I was wearing my lacy black tank, though - as practically every day of September. Yes, I do wash it occasionally... ;-)

Wednesday, 14th: self-stitched strawberry skirt, with non-self-stitched pink sweatshirt and new knee socks. And nobody there to take my picture...

I wore exactly the same outfit the next day, though. Mostly, because I'm not quite sure about the knee socks and wanted to get feedback. B/f didn't notice them but when asked thought the bows at the knees were cute. BMF thought they were a no-go. Female friends haven't commented yet. I think they're practical for the current weather and they feel cute, but after seeing the photos I'm not so sure...

Friday, 17th: navy striped sweatshirt and me-made red button necklace.

No photo again for Saturday, because I only wore my black lacy tank as an undershirt, so nothing to see. Which has led me to the philosophical question: if I wear a self-stitched garment but nobody can see it, do I wear it? Is it self-stitched? ;) Um, yes, no more white wine for me, I guess...

Today I did a quick refashion of one of my favorite bought garments, a coral cardigan, bought in spring. I wore it while cleaning the kitchen sink with chlorine bleach and got some of it on the cardi. Bad move, white stains... I applied some elastic lace over the stains today and I think it looks cute. I guess I'll also apply some along the collar for a more balanced look tomorrow, and then I can wear it again! :) Yay!


Oh, and see the Bernina bags? The Holland fabric market I visited in Freiburg last month came to Potsdam today! I really couldn't resist going there again, so many wonderful fabrics and lots of not-too-expensive notions! I got five short zippers for 2,50€ and a 60cm red one that can be opened at the bottom for 3,-€ (fabric store price: 8,95€)! I also picked up a couple of nice jersey fabrics and some organza, since I see quite a few button holes in my future...

Btw, isn't Potsdam lovely?

In other sewing news, I have finally started on designing the basic pants/trousers pattern from the Cal Patch book. I guess I can start sewing tomorrow! :)

In other non-sewing news, I have decided to emulate Sarah and her Adventures in Domestic Goddessing (really, doesn't she always have the most wonderful ideas?) and get out some of my huge collection of cookbooks.


While she is actually cooking from one of two very yummy looking books every day (!) for TWO weeks, I've decided to do a light version: try a new meal at least twice a week, at least until I start my trip around the world - and hopefully I'll remember taking the challenge up after getting back in February. :)

So here's what I came up with last night: Thuringian stir-fry containing Thuringian sausages, onions and apple slices (from one of my two 365 days cookbooks), served with potatoes&butter.


If you think that combining apples and onions is strange, you should really try this - it's practically just all sautéed in butter and seasoned with majoram. Very yummy. :)

So, happy start of the week, everybody!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

travel plans (not sewing-related)

I'm a little bit excited. Ok, to be honest, probably a lot. I booked/paid for my round-the-world ticket today. I'm really going to travel around the world for pretty much exactly 16 weeks - most of them on my own, although my bf is joining me for 3 weeks of Australia. Whew. Also, I can pick up my NZ work visa on Monday... so I'll really have my passport back in time to actually start my travels...

You can see, I'm still a little bit overwhelmed. I know I wanted to do this since high school, and I actually started planning it over a year ago. I've been saving money for ages. My plans have changed quite a bit in the past year, I'll be traveling for 4 months instead of 7 and I didn't get the clerkship in Canada, I'm not going to visit South America or Hawaii and I'll only spent 2 weeks total in Asia and none of that in India. Still, for my current needs my plans are pretty much perfect. It's actually happening.

Ok, so wanna know all the exciting places I'll see, starting in October?

  • New York City, 2 weeks (although I want to spend part of that time traveling around New England. Boston is a must and I also thought about visiting Niagara Falls and Toronto...
  • Nashville, TN, 1 week (visiting my host-family from my year as an au-pair and a dear friend in Bowling Green, KY)
  • Los Angeles, CA (just one day for layover)
  • Auckland, NZ (from there I have 10 days for traveling the northern island until I need to start my medical clerkship in...)
  • New Plymouth, Taranaki, NZ (4 weeks of clerkship, hope I can travel on weekends. After that, I have a week to reach...)
  • Queenstown, NZ, from where I'll take a plane to
  • Melbourne, Australia. I've got a pen pal there, maybe she'll have a coffee with me... A couple days later, I'll meet my bf in
  • Sydney, Australia and I guess we'll spend Christmas there. After that, we have 3 weeks of traveling around before I need to make my way to
  • Brisbane, Australia, from where my plane leaves for 
  • Singapore (1 day of layover). Then there's
  • Tokyo, Japan (4 days)
  • Hong Kong (1 day layover) and
  • Phuket, Thailand (5 days) before I make my way back to
  • Munich, Germany (where my parents will pick me up to celebrate my step-dad's B-Day.)

So, I guess you can see why I'm excited... ^^

Hmm, so anyone up for a coffee if I travel by near your place? Or do you have recommendations for places I need to see? You know, the places that tourists and their Lonely Planet guidebooks only have a chance to stumble over by sheer dumb luck? Cute little coffee shops, cookie bakeries, antique book stores, thrift shops, flea markets, fabric stores, quaint little museums...

Hope you have a lovely day!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Self-Stitched September, Day 10, 11 & 12

I'm very happy to say that the last three days have been proper, warm and sunny end-of-summer days, so I didn't have to be cold in my summery skirts. My stepdad has been here for the weekend, working a little and meeting some old uni friends and we spend a couple of nice breakfasts and evenings together. :-)

Friday was another iteration of the pleated polka-dot skirt. Do I need to mention that I really like it? ;-)

I spent part of the day on a refashion, though, so my wardrobe will be a little more lively for the rest of the month. The original was a very cheap waist-high pencil skirt that I bought for a costume party.

I didn't like the below-the-knee length or the fit at the waist, so I took the waist off, adjusted the side-seams, added back darts, shortened the zipper and put it back in and added a new contrast waistband. The fabric ist still a pretty cheap, slightly stretchy cotton but it looks way nicer now. :)

I wore it yesterday and really liked the look.

After breakfast, I spent some time in the nicest fabric/craft-store in town, right next to the KaDeWe. It's called idee, and if you ever come to Berlin, you really need to have a look around. I love it there, bolts upon bolts of the most beautiful fabric, awesome buttons and everything you might ever want to have! Most of the really nice fabric is awfully expensive, though... Still, I got the bright red rib knit I came for and also took some black denim (I think) for a pair of trousers and some navy denim for a skirt. Yay, fabric heaven!

Today, when I got up the sun was shining brightly and I really wanted my black strawberry fabric to be a skirt... It didn't work out as quick as I hoped, of course (my bobbin tension and I didn't see quite eye to eye) but I did manage another box-pleated skirt in about 2 hours. This one has a facing instead of an attached waistband and I "ditch-stitched" on top of the box pleats to secure the facing.

I originally planned a side-zipper with the pleats in front and three in the back, but it looked nicer with a back zipper and side-pleats.


Since the weather was so nice, we took a walk around our quarter of the town and I made my b/f take my pictures (yesterday and the day before, too). He was hesitant because he loathes taking pictures, but I could entice him in the end... ;) We also came across a street fair and found a pair of very cute blue glittery leather ice skates in a vintage 70s leather bag. They actually fit me and my b/f gave them to me! :) He's such a dear.

I hope the next few days bring a bit more of the summery weather, but after that it's autumn sewing for me! I have an almost-finished jersey shirt/blouse thingy and I really want to tackle those sailor trousers that are a leftover from my summer-essential sewing! 

Have a nice start of the week everybody!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Self-Stitched September, Day 7, 8 & 9

Why is 6 afraid of 7?

Because 7 ate 9...

Yes, it's a very juvenile joke, I think I read it in a cub-scout magazine back when I was an au-pair... But I had to think about it when I wrote the title of today's post. :)

After only a week, I'm getting pretty bored with my wardrobe. I'm trying to style the pieces differently each time, but I'm not having a great amount of luck with it. So I guess I need to get on with sewing! I also have a couple of refashions planned, but more about that later.


Day 7, the polka dot skirt again. Also, you can see my lacy black undershirt/tanktop.

And here is a closeup of the top for Day 8. I totally love the shirt and the elastic lace. I bought some more in white, to make another top with the blue&white striped jersey...

Day 9, I'm afraid to say, is just a redo of Day 4, the checkered dress. I even styled it exactly the same, and the pics I took didn't look half as nice as the others, so no photos today.

I think I need more dresses, though, especially more or less casual ones. I really like the style for early autumn...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Self-Stitched September, Day 5 & 6

Yesterday was a lounging around day, I didn't even leave the house although the weather was quite nice until early afternoon. I didn't take any pictures because the only self-stitched thing I wore was my lacy black tank-top/undershirt, which I've been wearing most days actually. I am going to take a picture of it one of these days and post it in my handmade closet... 

I have grown a little bored with my self-stitched clothing. It hasn't been warm enough to wear most of my tops, so my selection is really limited. Because of that, I stitched up a quick skirt yesterday. It is still mostly a summer skirt, but I guess it will do for September if paired with tights or boots. I got the fabric - navy blue cotton with turquoise polka dots - at the Holland fabric market in Freiburg, and it really, really wanted to be a skirt. With pleats. I didn't use a pattern, just my waist measurement, and pretty much winged the box pleats. Except for the tiny little detail that I totally forgot about my hips and had to take out half the length of the pleats, it worked surprisingly well. :) 


I attached the waistband with a technique I found in Sew what! Skirts by Francesca Denhartog & Carole Ann Camp. They call it "ditch-stitching", which is pretty cool especially if your top-stitching isn't up to par. You attach the front part of the waistband with a normal straight stitch and fold/presse it over. The back/inner part of the waistband needs to be a little longer and you attach it by stitching right over the front part seam. (Um, ok, not sure if that explanation was in any way coherent. I needed pictures and quite a bit of thinking to get it, but now I think it's genius.)


There are quite a few cute skirts and instructions how to make them from your measurements in this little book. :) 

I guess I need to stitch up a couple more things for my September wardrobe, if I don't want to die of boredom. There is a sweater thingy in the making that I started but didn't have enough fabric. Now it's pretty short both at the hem and at the arms. I'm thinking of attaching blouse cuffs and a collar in a cute fabric... Or I could attach a skirt part and make a dress out of it - I think. Also, the strawberry fabric wants to be a skirt - maybe a short circle with a crinoline...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Self-Stitched September, Day 2, 3 & 4

I'm back in Berlin! It's so nice to back back, although the weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse and it has become distinctly autumny. No matter, this way I can include some of my self-stitched clothes that were made last winter. :)

This is me wearing my blue polka dot skirt before we went back to Berlin, on Sept. 2:

Ok, to be honest, I did wear a cardi...

Yesterday wasn't quite as nice, so I wore jeans with my sailor top:

I guess I did get a little bit of a tan during my holiday... :)

I went for a coffee in Prenzelberg with some of my friends today, and since the weather was cool but nice to begin with, I decided to get out my checkered sheath dress:

It's ridiculously short, but I think it works almost better as a skirt than as a dress. The pullover goes well with it, because it's thick enough to cover the lines of the bodice.

We walked around Prenzlauer Berg (which is the hip quarter of Berlin, I guess) a bit and did some thrifting. I found a nice black fall-weight jacket/short coat that fit me wonderfully, but that I hope will fit my (very thin) boyfriend, who hasn't bought a new fall jacket in about 10 years (he's 24). We also saw some other nice things...

The vintage vespa just looked very cute in front of that background...

Look at those really old computers! They had a vintage Apple poster in their door. Very cute. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Self-Stitched September, Day 1

And here is my outfit. The me-made things I'm wearing are my not-yet-posted-about black tank-top (as an undershirt) and striped sailor shirt.


Both have seen a lot of wear since their creation a couple of weeks ago, although I haven't hemmed them yet... Here is a slightly crappy picture of the whole outfit:

Both were taken with self-timer and an improvised tripod (a table) in my parents' little garden. Look, the first blueberries are ripe! And they're yummy, too. :)

And doesn't my mom have the cutest little watering can? There are pink checkers and a cow on it!

I'm on my way back to Berlin tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, because I love Berlin, I'm excited that I'm meeting my friends again and that we're back to being a two-some, my boyfriend and I. But I'm also a little sad because I always love it at my parents' and I don't think I see them often enough...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Hepburn & Hepburn project

Sarah from Rhinestones & Telephones invited me to join her fall/winter sewing project, inspired by Kathrine and Audrey Hepburn.


While I don't think I can rock Kate's way of dressing, I really love Audrey's classical and feminine style. She's an icon and I think my wardrobe would profit from some items inspired by her. I don't know what I want to sew yet, and I also don't know when I'll manage it - I foresee September being rather hectic, since I'll be on a trip around the world from October to January. Also, I don't think my sewing machine will fit into my backpack...

Still, I think the project is a fabulous idea and I've already resolved to watch some of Audrey's movies (like Sabrina and Roman Holiday) sometime soon, to get into the proper mindset. So thanks, Sarah, for setting up such a cool project and I hope I can participate! Oh, and before I forget, I present you the Hepburn Hepburn flickr group!