Saturday, February 27, 2016

Oslo Cardigan - Bread & Butter sewing

February has been pretty kind to me, sewing time wise. :-) It may also be that, having an actual plan (instead of just piles of fabric), and a challenge to live up to, my sewing motivation has been higher than usual during the cold and dark season. And actually, it's not all that dark anymore! For the last couple of weeks, there have been a few hours of sunshine at least every couple of days, and it's been light on my way to work. Seems like spring is already around the corner!

All of this means that I have completed quite a few of the garments I have set myself for the Bread&Butter challenge. And I'm still on track for my stashbusting (two sewn up meters of fabric for every new one), even though I've bought four new pieces of fabric already! It would be good to keep up the pace for a few more weeks, since I'll be on a trip to London and Glasgow the week before Easter, and I'm already pretty sure that I'm going to find some fabric to bring home with me. (Incidentally, does anyone want to meet up for a cuppa while I'm there? It's a family trip, but I'm pretty sure I can sneak away for an hour or two... ;-)
This is the Seamwork Oslo cardigan. I wanted a cardi that I could wear over my dresses, without obscuring most of it, while still adding a layer of warmth. There are quite a few cute patterns around (including the Paprikapatterns Opal and the StyleArc Nina cardigan), but since I already have a Seamwork subscription, I went with the Oslo. Like advertised, it's a nice and simple pattern, easy to sew it up in two hours or less, even if you take taping the PDF into account. I may have glanced at the instructions the first time around, and they're quite in-depth, as usual with Colette patterns. 

 These are actually three different versions, which admittedly look pretty similar from afar. 

I must say that I'm not usually a big fan of the baggy, dropped-shoulder style. It's not bad, and reminds me a bit of the cardis my grandpa used to wear - it's just not the first style that I'd reach for. It is mighty comfy, though.
My first version was made from a very stable, textured wool mix, which has little circles knit into it. It's a little stiff but quite warm, and I like how the collar looks when I hold it closed. I think this one would profit from a button closure, but I've been too lazy yet to add one. Maybe next winter. ;-)
The next on the list is made from a very thin rayon-wool knit. Not stable at all, so I stabilized the shoulder seams with clear elastic. Had I been smart, I'd also done that for the back neckline, which is prone to stretch out. Because of fabric restraints, I cut the collar half as wide, same as the cuffs. Since I'm going to wear this one open anyway, it doesn't matter. It grows a bit in the wearing and is quite baggy in the back and sleeves, but that means that I can also wear it over long sleeves, so it's quite the versatile little cardi.  

Versatile enough that I decided I also need a navy version.
This most recent version is made from a lightweight rayon jersey that has a bit of a texture, kind of like silk, as if bits of the yarn are just a little thicker than the rest. It also feels pretty soft and slightly silky. :-) I took a bit away from the dropped shoulders (hightening the sleeve head correspondingly) and slightly slimmed the sleeves. I like the fit better this way, though it really doesn't make that much of a difference.

Looking at the pictures, I can hardly wait for the weather to warm up a little, so I can take my outfit photos outside again. I still have several already photographed in front of this very pretty radiator, though, which are going to appear in the next few weeks...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

An Alice Dress

This dress begins with a bit of a story.

Once upon a time, a long while ago, I won a blog giveaway. It was a very cool giveaway, and I won a very pretty dress from the Wonderland Collection by Shabby Apple - international shipping included! So I was very happy indeed - but imagine my disappointment when I received the dress and realized that it didn't fit me - at all. The waist too low, the gathered skirt unflattering, the skirt too long, the bodice too blousy. I had picked the size that corresponded to my measurements, but the style of the dress combined with the unique quirks of my body didn't work well together. So I put the dress into my wardrobe, and it hung there.

But I didn't want to give up on it. The lace was so pretty! The deep navy colour!
So I cut it apart.
I unpicked the hem.
I picked up some soft and slinky navy jersey, to replace the slightly stiff and satiny lining.
And I used my go-to jersey dress pattern to re-cut the bodice and skirt, replacing the gathers with a slight A-line. The sleeves I kept.
The whole thing was constructed on my overlocker. For now, it's unhemmed, though I'm thinking about redoing the original baby hem. Possibly. At some point.
Though it has been worn on several occasions already, most recently my love's 30th birthday party. :-)

I'm very happy that I could salvage the dress, especially since something like it has long been missing in my wardrobe. Navy and lace and three quarter sleeves, and of course, being made of stretch lace and jersey, it feels like wearing secret pyjamas.

What's your perfect party dress?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bread&Butter Sewing Plans

Siebenhundertsachen is holding a blog challenge called Project Bread&Butter. I'm actually too late for the link-up (late enough that everyone's already doing part two), but as I'm itching to plan some sewing, I've decided to join anyway. Project Bread&Butter is the German equivalent for "sewing cake", if you want to put it like that. I've actually never quite understood why anyone would eat copious amounts of frosting (though I can see the appeal in sewing it). Frosting isn't a German thing. While we do have fancy cakes (Sachertorte or Black Forest cake, anyone?), they usually feature cream, or chocolate, or ganache. The real fancy ones have buttercream. Personally, my favorite has always been pound cake, with either a chocolate or lemon glaze. But most days I'd take a freshly baked slice of rye bread with seeds, slathered in fresh butter over cake, hands down. ;-)
So before this blog post totally devolves into a discussion about baked goods: Project Bread&Butter is about those garments you actually wear every day. The ones that hardly see your wardrobe, because they constantly rotate between being worn and being washed. What do we actually need more of? Are there any gaps in that wardrobe? Any garment in need of getting a twin? A garment that would allow others to be worn more often in combination?

I'm not going to count the clothes I wear at work, they're all-white and need to stand up to being frequently washed, so I'm happy for them to be RTW. The rest of what I frequently wear falls neatly into three categories, with some overlaps:

1. everyday clothes, which I wear on the way to and home from work, so they need to be bike friendly, and I wear them during my lunch break (which I tend to spend at home) and when I get home from work.
Activities: apart from biking I tend to spend some time on the computer, reading, sewing, or doing chores (getting groceries, cooking). My main requirement is for the clothes to be comfortable, and to look put-together enough to be in public. I also seem to prefer the easiness of just shrugging on a dress in the morning, over chosing separates. Currently, I rotate between Lolas and the small number of other long-sleeved knit dresses in my wardrobe. Going by last year's experience, tunic-length tops over leggings would also work (but it's a bit too cold for my Bruyère at the moment). I actually tend to select the "boring" over the "nice" dresses for everyday wear. Maybe because I want to keep the "nice" ones for the weekend, when people actually get to see them.
2. weekend clothes, to leave the house, meet friends, go to choir practice etc. These need to be less bike friendly, though I still prefer comfy. I tend to wear my "nicer" knit dresses, or sometimes pullover and skirt, although at the current temperatures, I tend to reach for my RTW wooly sweaters instead of my jersey tops.
3. lounge clothes, for evenings and the part of the weekend that I spend at home. These need to be comfy, and I still like to look put together, in case a friend comes over or I need to go out and run an errand - I prefer not to have to change completely to do that. I tend to wear a lot of leggings instead of tights like during the week, and either my workday knit dresses or layered knit skirt and jersey tops. My fleece Lola is also a top contender when it's cold.
It's also a sad fact that my sleepwear consists of mostly worn out t-shirts and boxer shorts, even though I've been collecting fabrics to remedy that. Maybe this project will finally make me bite the bullet and actually make a couple of nice PJ sets.
What I don't wear: I don't wear jeans in winter - I hate the way they get snug when layered over tights. I also hardly wear any shortsleeved dresses, because I don't like my current crop of cardigans for layering.

So what's the plan?
I think I could actually do with another long-sleeved Lola (or two), or barring that, another kind of long-sleeved sweater or jersey dress - and maybe a couple of three-quarter sleeved ones for when it gets a little warmer. I already have some fabric that I planned for a Jasper dress. I think a Bruyère over leggings would also be nice for everyday wear, as soon as we're back to more sping-like temps. Maybe I'll even fix the sleeve cuffs of the one I already made. I could also do with another couple of leggings, and was wondering if maybe a knit skirt or two could round out my wardrobe (although I do prefer the ease of just reaching for a dress on an early workday morning).
I also think that a couple of cardigans to throw on over the shorter-sleeved dresses would be nice. For now, I have one me-made Miette and a couple of basic RTW cardis in neutral colours. They're all v-necked, with a button closure, which for some reason prevents me from layering them over dresses. I imagine that a longer, waterfall-type cardigan without a front closure, and sleeves lose enough for layering, might work out better for me. I've had my eye on the Oslo cardigan from the Colette Seamwork magazine.
For lounge wear, I'd also like to try the True Bias Hudson pants, which have been in my pattern library for what feels like forever. For PJs, I was thinking some kind of elastic-waist woven shorts and colour-coordinated t-shirts, which is exactly what I'm wearing most of the time.
Last but not least, I really need a new handbag. I have a pleather one (from Tchibo) that's good enough for my everyday needs, as it fits my tea mug (or a small bottle of water), wallet, emergency brolly, ebook reader, keys and those other little odds and ends. I haven't had a decent larger handbag or tote (that fits a bottle of wine to bring to a party, or my knitting and a good book when on a trip) in what feels like forever, though. The Betty Bowler has been on my to-sew shortlist for ages, I think I've bought three separate fabrics for that specific pattern. I still need the bits and bobs - so that's going to be my bonus project!

I find it really hard to confirm to dates and timelines when it gets to sewing, so we'll see if I manage to keep up with the official Bread&Butter project. I've got until the end of March, though, so I'd say it's entirely possible. :-) Are you taking part in any challenges or sew-alongs at the moment?