Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looking Back on SESA 2011

Sooo... It's almost August and, looking at the weather in front of my window (currently raining and highs of 16°C, thank you summer) it's probably almost time to think about fall sewing, although I hope for at least a few nice and sunny days in August.

I had a rather nice first week of freedom a.k.a. summer break, doing a whole lot of nothing, drinking wine and cappuccino, taking the time to read some books. I also managed to do some sewing, although way less than I had aspired to. I went to a stitching café with two of my friends (they gave me a voucher for my birthday) and had a crack at a serger for the first time.

I have to say, it was pretty cool, and fast! We were at the café for 2h, a good 20 min of which we spent chatting and then I had to re-cut one of my pattern pieces, because I had cut out 2 front pieces instead of 1 front and one back... silly me. The construction of the dress didn't work out quite as well as I had hoped (which has nothing to do with the serger and a whole lot with my thinking process - I forgot that it might be prudent do make sleeve facings if I line the back and front and use raglan sleeves...) I do like how the dress turned out, though, and the one I made the night before, on my regular machine, is very nice, too (at least on the outside).

And look at the back! :)

Counting these two, I have made five dresses for the Summer Essentials Sew-Along - here are the other three:

Last year's white embroidered fabric and the IKEA rose print will have to wait to become dresses until next year, I think. I'm planning on taking the Strawberry Macaron over into my fall sewing, though, as well as a polka dot Rooibos.

These are the three tops/blouses I managed to make. Again, lots of the things on my list were cut, mostly due to the miserable weather of the last few weeks, but at least the ones I did manage to make got lots of wear. I'd love to make one more peasant blouse, but I'm not counting on it. I guess there's always next year...

I can't believe I didn't make any skirts, apart from the one denim skirt refashion! I also still need to add belt loops to the sailor trousers. They sit undecently low on my hips after a day's wear... I think the leggins may have gotten the most wear, and will continue to be worn into fall.

That pretty much sums up my summer sewing, and while I didn't manage to make all the garments I would have liked to make, I still hit my target of 8 garments. Some of the other things (especially in the Accessorize! category) will be put on my fall sewing list (more about that later), some will simply be taken up again next year.

The next few weeks will be a bit of a sewing (and probably blogging) break. Tomorrow I'm off to camp for a week - it's actually a Summer Academy on Integrative Medicine, but organized by students and we'll sleep in tents and spend a lot of time outdoors, or so I'm told. I'm taking some knitting needles but no netbook, so no Internet for the week. We'll see how I manage... ;) Right after that I'm going home to see my family for three weeks. There will be Internet, apart from during our family vacation near Vienna, and possibly a bit of sewing on my sister's machine. :)

I hope the weather is a bit nicer wherever you are. Have a good weekend!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Project: Ridiculous

So! Exams are over and I'm free of anything uni-related until October! (Actually, I won't be quite as lazy as that sounds, I'm going on a one-week Summer Academy next week and there's three weeks of clinical rotation / work experience in September. But still! Summer break!) I've already enjoyed my lazy morning, sleeping in and then reading blogs and drinking Latte Macchiato. :) And I have quite a bit of sewing planned for this afternoon and pretty much the whole week!

I do have something to present already, though, and I think it might qualify both for Summer Essentials and for Project: Ridiculous - a Sailor Crepe! (I'm not telling you that all of a sudden, I'm thinking about bunny-haired anime characters wearing my dress. Oh, the sins of youth... ;)

I had originally planned to make something ridiculous like a ballgown for Project: Ridiculous. Something I don't need (although I might wear it at Christmas), that takes ridiculously long to make, is ridiculously complicated, needs couture finishings - everything an instant gratification girl like myself would never think of doing. Or something with unicorns. Pink ones.

You may wonder why I think my Sailor Crepe qualifies for Project: Ridiculous (apart from not featuring polka dots). It's not a spontaneous project, in fact it is listed on my Summer Essentials Plan as a bonus item and I've had the fabric for it since mid-June - it's not even particularly creative, since I got the idea from this gorgeous dress by Shabby Apple. Also, I've made a Crepe before, even made a muslin for it, so I knew the construction process well enough.

What makes it totally ridiculous, though, is the fact that I made most of it during exam week. Monday, after my first written test, and with a whole free Tuesday before me (and chosing not to think of the three exams each that were waiting for me Wednesday through Friday) I decided that I hadn't used my sewing machine in far too long (two weeks!) and that I really, really needed to be creative, right now.

Instead of turning to a potentially quick knit project or a new Sorbetto (which, with fitting issues, collar drafting and back buttons probably wouldn't have been quick, either) I chose the Crepe, and got it cut out Monday night. On Tuesday, I got as far as making and attaching the facings (which really does take ages) before caving in and setting to revising again. I cursed myself repeatedly for taking time away from studyings during last minute revisions on Wednesday and Thursday...

The rest of the dress was put together Sunday afternoon, just in time to go to Choir practise and afterwards, take it out for a night of HP 7.2 and drinking wine. :)

I modified some things from my original version, lowering the neckline about 1.5cm and making the armholes a little wider (although now the sleeve back is drooping a little). I also shortened the bodice about 2.5cm to get the ties to end at my natural waist and widened the darts a little. And I cut both the front and back skirt pieces on the fold, to avoid pattern matching... Yes, I'm lazy. :) Apart from the bust darts being a bit too pointy and the drooping back sleeves, I mostly like the fit, although I might post some more detailed shots soon to get your opinion on some issues. I wish I hadn't hemmed the dress before trying it on, though, or I would have taken off an additional couple of cm... Maybe something for the future... :)

Now, I'm off to do some reading and then sew some secret things... What are you working on right now?

Happy Monday and have a great week!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Giveaway Winners & A Treat

While I'm inundated with revision (heads up on my forensic practical, I got full marks! :) here are the winners of my birthday giveaway:

Winner no. 1, receiving a set of handmade jewellery, is Jessica from A Yen For Craft, who likes ice cream cake best for her birthday! Congratulations Jessica! :)

Winner no. 2, receiving a Lonsdale dress pattern from Sewaholic is Becky from Sew and So, who likes the chocolatiest chocolate cake! Congratulations, Becky! :)

Dear winners, please contact me with your address details at aldara at gmx dot net.

For everyone else, here is a little something I picked up at one of my birthday gifts (a cocktail making class!) - the best summery Vanilla Piña Colada ever:

Vanilla Piña Colada:
3cl Coconut sirup
6cl dark rum
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
1 dash lime juice
6cl pinapple juice

Put everything into a shaker with lots of big ice cubes and shake for 20s. Strain and serve in a chilled glass with a piece of pineapple.
The even more awesome version uses fresh, juicy pinapple instead of juice and is blended in a blender with crushed ice for about 20s...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Last Chance for Giveaway & Things I Like

Hello everyone! Today is the last day to enter my birthday giveaway, it's still open until 23:59 GMT! Head over here and leave a comment to win a Lonsdale Dress pattern, graciously sponsored by Tasia from Sewaholic.net (who is starting a sew-along with the dress next week!) or a set of handmade jewellery!

Today is also my first exam for this semester: forensic medicine. At least it's practical, so we've done the revision in class instead of at home... Since, like every year, I'm very good at procrastination concerning my revision. Bad habits... Which is why my blog reader is almost up to date and I can show you what I liked recently (at least I'm resolved to not start using my brand new Pinterest account until after exams...):

Very cute crafts for kids, although I can see some uses for my age group, too (like pressed flowers...): Popsicle stick easels and paper frames by LiEr from Ikatbag:

DIY sofa from Cuarto derecha via Grosgrain (I love the little shelf space under it!):

Strapless top tutorial by Studs & Pearls, also via Grosgrain (that one would work pretty well as a babydoll top, too, I think!):

Heart Cutout Dress tutorial by Vivat Veritas (isn't it awesome? yay for back cutouts!):


Not to forget Casey's very pretty 50s dress tutorial part 1 & part 2 (don't you just love the pink gingham?):

Hope you have a lovely week!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

20s birthday frock

If you haven't entered my birthday giveaway yet, it's still open until July 13, 23:59 GMT which is this Wednesday. Head over here and leave a comment to win a Lonsdale Dress pattern, graciously sponsored by Tasia from Sewaholic.net or a set of handmade jewellery!

So, thanks again to everybody who wished me well for my birthday! :) I had a fantastic day, a wonderful party and a pretty exciting weekend. My parents came for my birthday and participated in my costume party - and then, for a very special surprise, my sister turned up with her best friend! She actually took some days off and drove the 700+ km right after getting off work, just to be there for my birthday and spend the weekend with me. My family is incredibly aweseome, aren't they? :)

my parents

My mom, sis and her best friend
My sister actually also turned up in a handmade dress, sewn for her by one of her friends. :)

I also got some lovely presents, among them a book about making buttons and another with different variations on making an A-line skirt,

a gift voucher for spending 3h in a sewing café with some of my crafty friends (one of them made the voucher!), sewing together and having lots of cake and cappuccino,

a voucher for a fabric-or-pattern-buying-trip and a ticket for the Peppermint Club, a 50s style varieté show here in Berlin. Cool, right? :D

Ok, on to the 20s frock I made for my birthday party! We'll remind ourselves as to which pattern I used as an inspiration:

And here is a picture from the evening:

I'm rather pleased with how it turned out, although in the interest of my body shape and time concerns (I was still sewing the morning of my birthday) I went with a costumey rather than an authentic vintage/repro approach. I used slightly stretchy black satin, which was a lot less slippery than I feared.

The skirt is more or less a circle with the hole placed more towards the front and a straight waistband - yay for stretch! :) It could have been a bit more ruffled, I think, to mimick the front folds of the picture more closely, but I only saw that after I had cut the circle. I like the longer hemline in the back, though it could have looked a bit more dramatic... anyway, it's definitely a skirt I can see myself wearing for events like choir concerts, where we're supposed to wear black bottoms and plain colored tops...

The top is pretty much A-line, fitted at the bust with some shirring at the hemline, to get the dropped waist look. I'm almost sure it won't become a staple in my wardrobe, but it does look ok with leggins, so it may come in handy for going out at some point.


All things considered, I think the 20s aren't going to turn out my favorite fashion period of all time - I like my curves too much for that. ;) But it was great to see that for once, all my friends turned up in costume without complaining, and did a pretty spectacular job for the occasion - we even had a couple of spectacular hairdos! I think my next costume party should be 50s themed... :D

I should get back to revising now (or hop into bed and get up bright and early tomorrow...) Have a lovely week, everyone!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Birthday Giveaway!

So, I'm turning 25 today - a quarter century! And the weather has even turned warm and sunny again in honor of my birthday! ;)

It's funny, I usually ask myself every year if I have changed, if I feel older, and usually I think "nope, same old, same old". I guess the changes that happen are just too gradual. I did pick up some changes this year, though. Mostly concerning my "being relaxed with myself", I think. I participated in a couple of improv/stand-up theater workshops this year, and I managed to be way more relaxed with the improvisation part, just going with it instead of thinking "oh no, what to do, what to do??". I mean, I've always been ok with being on a stage. Playing an instrument and singing in the school choir, and later in my drama group. I've never had problems doing a presentation in front of the class. But I was never comfortable with being put on the spot, and the one time I got a solo line in a choir song (back in my junior year), I almost couldn't sing for hyperventilating. *g* I had a bit of a solo improvisation in our recent choir concert, and not only did I ask for it, I managed to do it without getting terrified. :) (Honestly, it didn't turn out wonderful, but we hadn't rehearsed it, so it was ok... *g*)

Ok, enough introspective rambling!

Not only is it my 25th birthday today, my blog has also recently acquired its 25th follower! I think it's pretty awesome that not only are there people out there who read what I write - you care enough to come back and read regularly, to post comments, and that is a great feeling. Being part of this Sewing Blogger Community, giving and receiving feedback, getting to know you all, even if sewing is just a small part of your life - it's great and it means a lot to me!

So, to celebrate you lovely people, along with my birthday, I've decided to have a giveaway!

First, I'm giving away one matching set of handmade jewellery. It consists of a fabric necklace, bangle bracelet and button earrings. I actually haven't made the bracelet and earrings yet, but here is a picture of the necklace, made with Tilly's tutorial. :) I'm going to use the same fabric for the bracelet and earrings, it's a dusky blue with roses printed on it.

The second item I'm giving away is a Lonsdale Dress pattern from Sewaholic! The timing of Tasia's new pattern announcement was so conspicuous that I decided I had to give away this pattern for my birthday... :) Also, the dress looks so cute and perfect for summer!

Now, the giveaway is open until July 13, 23:59 GMT and everyone can enter. If you'd like to participate, please answer this question: What was your favorite birthday gift, ever? Also, what is your favorite birthday cake/treat?

Please also specify which of the two prizes you'd prefer. Don't forget to leave your name and a means to contact you (if you link your blog, that should be alright). Of course I'd prefer for you to be a reader of my blog, but since I can't verify it anyway, if you stumbled over this giveaway by accident, feel free to enter anyway. And while you're here, why don't you read some more and maybe you like it enough to come back? ;)

I hope you're having an awesome day and a wonderful rest of the week!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Paying it forward 2011

So, I'm probably the most forgetful person in recent history. Which is ok, I guess, since usually something comes along to thump me on the back of my head, reminding me of the things I'd forgotten. If not, they can't have been that important, right? ;)

Anyway, months ago, Oona posted about "Paying it forward 2011", a lovely blog project, promising the first 5 commentors something handmade, if they agreed to paying it forward themselves and give away something handmade to their first five commentors. Since I love getting packages so much, I'd do practically anything to recieve a little gift in the mail - including sending out 5 little gifts myself ;) - I jumped at the chance and commented. Then I promptly forgot all about it.

But, dear Oona, you won't get out of standing in line again, because I remembered. :D And I do hereby promise to send something cute and handmade to the first five people who comment and say they want to participate, as soon as they blog about it and promise to do the same.

And honestly? I really do think that the principle is a great way of making the world a better place... :)