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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Expand your comfort zone

This fabric has been in my stash since the big fabric market in March. All these months I have been thinking about what to do with it. I wanted it to be special because I like the fabric so much and it's a nice quality. It's a bit heavy but also thin and stretchy. A skirt would be too obvious. I drafted a top a while ago, thinking I had it, but when I took the fabric out of the suitcase, I found it way too thin for the top I had in mind. Back into the suitcase it went for another month. And then it hit me: pants. Not the most original idea I admit, as this summer's fashion seems to be all about flowery pants. It just took me a while to realise it because these pants are so far out of my comfort zone I can't even see them from where I'm standing. I went to work anyway, and here they are!

I figured with this kind of fabric, loose low crotch was the right way to go. I used the same pattern as my other low-crotch pants, but this time added small pockets and gathered the legs at the side. Half of my sewing time was spent working on the waistband. I made a V shaped waistband that closes with two snap buttons which are hidden underneath the big buttons. I ironed on interfacing all along the bottom of the V for extra strength around the gathers. I lined the waistband with an old T-shirt, because I really wanted to save some fabric for another garment. I only had a meter! Big pink buttons make for a funky finish, and voilĂ ! Comfort zone expanded yet again.

Overall I'm very pleased with this. It worked out as I had imagined beforehand, which is always a relief. Although it took my waistband skills up to a next level, there is still a lot more room for improvement. I tried the stitch-in-the-ditch technique on the lining which went well, but that pointy corner was not intended. I left it there because it didn't bother me.

This is officially the last thing I have sewn for this challenge! The year is almost over! But don't worry, I've got a lot more in store for the next. See you on thursday the 4th!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer dress for next year?

While dresses seem to be the favourite make for most people on other blogs and Burdastyle, this is actually the first dress I made this year. This summer has definitely not been dress-worthy so far, it has been raining for three weeks in a row now! Which was the inspiration for the pics below: the only way I can wear them at the moment.

I made this dress after one of my first dresses, an H&M dress bought about three years ago. I still wear it and as this is a perfect summer dress pattern, I replicated it. The fabric is rayon: made from cellulose fibres and semi-synthetic. It smells like paper when you burn it. (For those of you who now wonder when I started burning my fabrics: lighting a small piece is a way to find out whether it's synthetic or not.) It's lovely for these kind of dresses but the production method, I learned after buying it, is not very environmental friendly. I had been eyeing this fabric for a while, every time I was at the fabric shop.(Yes, the fabric shop, sadly we have only one! And they seem to be aware of it, judging by their grumpy personnel.) It has pretty green and pink dots, it's not as bleak as it looks in the pics. Blame the weather for that too!

See that frumpy part in the back? It's shirred! The first time I tried this technique, and I was surprised how easy it is. It creates a waist and because it's elastic there was no need for a zipper. I don't think I will ever hand-gather again, shirring is so much easier. I also shirred the gathers in the bust and at the shoulders.

I'm very happy with the finishings on this dress, an area of continuing improvement. The fabrics were very difficult to sew though. The rayon is not stretch fabric, but it does sort of move in all directions. I used a stretch lycra for the underskirt, seriously the most slippery fabric imaginable. It even slips away between your scissors when cutting! Anyway, I hope the weather gets better soon, so I'll have a chance to wear this dress before autumn sets in. I guess moving to Norway in a few weeks won't increase my chances either!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

H&M read my blog

And they thought it would be funny to make this challenge very hard at the last moment. I flicked through the H&M catalog at work today, and what did I see? Mustard yellow all over the autumn collection! Oh no! Not shopping was never harder than it is now.

I have to keep in mind that I persevered for almost a year now. This mustard obsession is just temporary (are you tired of it yet?). Plus, H&M is evil, with their cheap clothes made in third world countries that fall apart after a month or so. But seriously, mustard pants? How am I supposed to resist that? (Update: I couldn't. I went and tried them on. They fit horribly. Phew!)

Lucky for me, they also have some autumn accessoires that are excluded from my shopping-blacklist. I'll just have to do with mustard tights and belts. Now let's make some clothes that go with these.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Leather + Lace = Love

Leather is rough and masculine, lace is delicate and feminine. A perfect combination for bracelets, don't you think? Add some pretty buttons and you're all set.

From left to right: two pieces of leather, button with elastic thread closing; supersoft leather, vertical lace, button and snaps closing; sturdy leather, horizontal lace, leather cord closing.

I bought the lace at the market. I know could have crocheted it myself - in theory. It would just take too much time to learn how to crochet patterns like this. Some of the lace was a bit too bright white, off-white matched much better with the leather. So I figured out a way to dye the lace without too much hassle. The solution? Tea. Yes, I dyed the lace with some English Breakfast Tea! It gets the job done in just a few minutes time, without using any chemical substances. Just make some lukewarm tea, not too strong and leave the lace to soak for a few minutes. Don't rinse it afterwards, just let it dry.

Dyed vs non-dyed

By the way, did you know my blog-o-versary is coming up? On August 4th it will be exaclty one year ago since I pledged to stop shopping and start making! I think I should make that week special, and I'm also thinking these bracelets should be part of it... Stay tuned!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mustard Mini Madness

UPDATE: The sewing pattern for this skirt is available HERE!

Sometimes when I get an idea, I just HAVE to make it IMMEDIATELY. Whatever I'm working on is dropped, and I start my new project like a madwomen. This is one of those projects. I was browsing through projects at burdastyle when I saw this awesome dress made by Ichigogirl. The pattern comes from the highly wanted Japanese Drape Drape books. I stared at the dress long and hard, but it's too complicated to make the whole dress without the pattern. Instead I made my own version of the skirt-part.

The striped jersey leftover from my shirt was perfect for this. I had barely enough so I could only replicate the front of the skirt. I folded the fabric and sewed the backs of the folds to a second piece of fabric. I concentrated on making the folds stay and not show any thread at the same time, at which I succeeded by thinking ahead. The order in which you sew parts of the skirt is crucial, and I've gotten much better at it. There was not enough fabric to make a waistband, so I had to make it out of three pieces of scraps. The little black button (can you find it?) works, but it's just there to pretend the seam is an opening instead of a seam at a weird place.

I also found a way to avoid bulky side seams. I should have taken pictures, it's too hard to explain in text, but I'm sure I'm not the first one who thought of this. It makes the seams of the bulky part lay towards the back, with the back part seams folded over them. This way you get a really nice finishing and there is not a seam to be seen, inside or out. I'm wondering whether I should add something of a bias strip to the side seam to 'mark' the transition from front to back. What do you think? Does it look odd this way?

This is my second mini skirt, and I LOVE it! I've been thinking about age-apropriateness lately, and it made me realize I'd better wear them now while I still feel comfortable in them. It also depends on the model: this one's got a nice round fit to it which makes it almost classy. As opposed to a fluttery mini skirt I owned once, which made me feel like a 7 year old. I'd wear them with a sweater and some boots though, rather than with a top like this. I'm actually wearing them now, and they are, as everything I seem to make, very comfortable. And surprisingly warm, too!

UPDATE: Check out the tutorial!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Handmade gifts for fathers

When you claim to make everything yourself, this should also apply to gifts. I think I've come to the point where I can get away with giving handmade gifts, without being embarassed. So when my father mentioned he would be getting an iPad, I thought I'd give another go at a sleeve. You can clearly see my progress in sewing compared to the last sleeve I made!
I used faux leather and some leftover fabric from my dance pants. Even the black bias tape didn't give me too much trouble. Its too bad faux leather isn't very pretty on the inside, but it's nice and sturdy and provides the needed protection.

Another handmade gift was for a friend who has just become a dad. I thought of sewing some cute baby shoes, but babies grow so fast they'll be too small in no-time. Besides, I have no clue about the size of baby feet. So I made something that will hopefully last a bit longer: a play blanket. It was my first try at quilting, and I think it turned out OK. Not perfect, but it's real hard to sew up all those squares evenly! I can see how pretty it could be, from looking at the Snug Bug's last quilt! I'd like to try again, all I need now is some more friends with babies!