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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lessons from GBSB

Have you been watching the Great British Sewing Bee? Did you like it? I loved it. Apart from the joy of watching other people sew, I liked that it gives sewing some exposure. I mean, our (mostly online) sewing community is usually a world quite hidden from the rest of our lives and those who don't sew. Since we've started a pattern business I'm having a hard time changing my story. You know, when people ask you what you do. My algae story is a very clear one and people usually find it interesting. It sounds like I'm contributing something to this world. But when I say I'm starting a sewing pattern company, the response is mixed. "Do people still sew? They need patterns to do this? And they're willing to pay money for these patterns?" Apart from people questioning the validity of such a company, it looks like I'm going down a level on the educational/intelligence scale. If I want to explain further, I have to add that drawing patterns requires a lot of mathematics, transforming 2D to 3D, and so on. For me there's both a skill challenge and a mental challenge in sewing. I think a show like GBSB helps the non-sewing world to understand what sewing entails. And I think it's great that more people will give sewing a go.

What I also noticed on the show is that when you have time, you can get anything done. I would probably sew exactly the same way as most of the non-finalists did: Try something, and when it doesn't work, rip it out and try again. That's how I sew at home, too, because you have plenty of time for do-overs. What the winner had over the other contestants, is that she usually got it right the first time. That's what experience does, but I think this is also something you can practice. Be more precise. Think it through. Don't rush. Try to get it right the first time. I suspect this will save time eventually, and it will help you master a technique faster. I think I'm going to work on this from now on. What do you think?

[Watch GBSB on Youtube]

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fabric Printing

This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time! Ever since I saw MadMim's hand printed Scout tee back in november. At the end of March, a friend of mine conveniently announced her first stamp making workshop, and I just had to go. It was wonderful! At first we were a bit hesitant about what to make, but once we got going the creative juices started flowing. Ineke, the girl who gave the workshop is very creative and talented, I loved her wall of inspiration.

More pics of the workshop here. My real purpose was ofcourse to apply this to fabric. It is just so exciting to be able to create your own printed fabric! And I wanted to venture into woven fabrics, I've been mostly sewing with knits so far and it's time I expand my knowledge of fabrics. I bought three pieces of lightweight cotton and a natural knit to test my stamp dye on. I have two kinds, one that needs to be ironed and one that just needs to dry. I was surprised to see that the non-iron one held very well. I would prefer that one because the other one instructs to iron for 2 (!) minutes, and not every fabric can take that. In fact, I don't think any fabric can take that. My fabric started discolouring after 15 seconds anyway. So now I can start thinking of design/colour combinations. I would wear all these three colours. I've never worn this salmon pink before, but it suits my skin tone. These are my favourites.

Yes I know, I've put a bird on it. But I still like them. I tried fish but it's just not as cute (ooh the dirty c-word). The black did not get through the wash very well, but maybe this faded look is not so bad. I'd love to have the grey and pink ones as a shirt, but they wrinkle so badly. Maybe I should get a decent iron. The blue one is not an option, it faded after one wash. What combos/stamps do you like? Any experience with hand printing fabric? Do you have a favorite method?

P.S. I'm so sorry, but I won't be able to make it for this months Pattern Magic Project. It has been very busy with work lately and I've been catching up with friends a lot because I started to become a hermit. I'm hoping to get it done for next week though, please bear with me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Update: Final Sample!

Just wanted to show you the final sample of the folded mini I just finished. I keep calling it the folded mini, but this one is actually the longer version. I need to think of an appropriate name! I made it up in a plain black interlock knit, the perfect fabric if you ask me. It holds its zipper well and it shows off the folds very nicely. I've styled it in three different ways to give you some ideas of how to wear it.

I've tried out two different methods for securing the folds, and you can see the difference in the skirt. The bottom three folds are method 1, the upper three are method 2. I'll tell you more about that when we release the pattern. I've also made some adjustments to the waistband again. I joined the back and front waistband pieces to eliminate the seams at the sides, which makes it more simple and less bulky. I also used a shorter zipper, 16 cm instead of 18. Don't worry, all the instructions will be in both metric and imperial :) I also made up this last one to check and adjust my instructions, and draft the basis of the illustrations that go with the instructions. It's going slow but there's progress! Tilly told me her first pattern cost her 6 months to complete, which is probably realistic since she has a job on the side too.

We'll soon be ready to get this out to pattern testers. When we are there'll be an opportunity to test this if you like, I'll get back to you on that. Stef has started on the branding, so I also hope to be able to reveal our name and logo soon! I already have ideas for three other patterns so I hope that after this first one, everything will go a whole lot faster. Starting my own pattern company is still the best decision I have ever made. I have never before so conciously chosen the path that I get most excited about. I can recommend it!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Liebster Award

I recently got the Liebster Award from Meg who blogs over at Made By Meg. I've been following her for a long time now, I love her style and the projects she takes on. She recently ventured into bra-making, and I was very envious of the awesome wax coats she made both her boyfriend and herself! Thanks so much for this award Meg!

The Liebster Award is given by peers to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers. It's a great way to introduce some incredible but lesser-known blogs: I've picked up a few from Meg's list just now. It's been going around for about a year now, and even though it seems everyone has had it once, it's still very nice to get. And new blogs keep popping into existence so in that sense there will always be new people to award. When you get the award, you're supposed to chose 11 of your favorite bloggers and ask them 11 questions. I know I didn't follow the rules last time, so I thought it's be nice if I at least tried this time :)

So let's start with answering Meg's questions:
  1. A bit about you - where are you from and do you have a favorite local sewing store? Can I come visit? (Ok, you don't have to answer that last part.)
  2. Well I'm from Groningen, the Netherlands. I was born two hours south from here but moved North to study philosophy, 10 years ago. We have one fabric store that is not my favourite :) And yes you should, we'll go grab a beer (or two :)!
  3. How do you choose your fabrics? Do you go with what catches your eye? Have something in mind when you go? Or shop for certain fabric weights or colors?
  4. I used to buy whatever caught my eye, but that left me with lonely pieces that did not go with anything else. Nowadays I try to plan my wardrobe and search for fabrics that go with other I already have, usually with a pattern already in mind.
  5. Are you a cautious, measure-twice-cut-once type of sewist or are you the throw-it-up-on-the-dress-form, make-it-up-as-you-go type of girl?
  6. I used to be very much the latter, but I'm turning a bit more in the former. A bit, not entirely :) Ofcourse if you want to make a good pattern for others to use, you have to be meticulous!
  7. What is your favorite thing you've ever made (show me!).
  8. It tends to be the last thing I made. I'm wearing the 90's sweater right now! But my favourite older piece is still the perfect blouse.
  9. What was the most DISASTROUS thing you've ever made and why? (You don't have to, but of course we'd all like to see that as well!)
  10. Well just look at my first blogposts, hehe. I had no idea what I was doing. I'm glad that didn't keep me from going on! The most recent disaster was a maxi skirt I made last year.
  11. Do you primarily sew special garments for your wardrobe (dresses, jackets...) or do you try to make everything yourself (underwear, t-shirts...)? How's that going?
  12. I haven't made underwear yet, but I do like to make basic stuff too. I haven't made much dresses because I don't wear that many. I don't have a lot of time for projects of my own so I'd rather sew something visible rather than underwear.
  13. Would you say you've found your personal style? Or do your tastes constantly evolve so that what you made last year doesn't work for you any more? Any tips on that front?
  14. My style has only started evolving when I started sewing. Before that I just wore jeans and T-shirts. I feel like my style is settling now. I hope it does because it would be much better for the durability of the things I sew.
  15. What decade other than now most closely inspires your (current) personal style?
  16. Can't lie: I like the 80's and 90's. But also the great detailing and innovative design features of 20's and 30's dresses. Although I would never wear an actual dress like that.
  17. Have you ever sewn for others? Did they appreciate it? Did it fit?
  18. Yes I have, my boyfriend and he loves the stuff I sew for him. But I made sure I was confident enough that I could sew up to his standards. I waited for a year before I was ready.
  19. What is your day job/day-to-day life like? Are you an all-around creative or is this your artistic outlet?
  20. This is my outlet. For four days a week I am a project manager at an algaefarm. Yes, I grow that slimey stinky green stuff. I am self-employed, and I love the freedom it gives me. I'd still rather devote all my time to sewing and pattern making though! As you might have read I'm busy finishing my first pattern. I have to work with the algae until mid September, and after that I'll be a full time pattern designer! We'll also start our big journey with the firetruck in October, so I'm very much looking forard to being a traveling designer!
  21. I know all your friends are telling you to get into the sewing business. Do you ever have aspirations to start your own handmade-related venture?
  22. Well, people do say that a lot indeed. It wasn't until I realized I could do that by other means than sewing for others that I started thinking about designing patterns.
OK so I am going to break the rules a bit. I have only six people to nominate because I don't follow that many bloggers. I nominate them ofcourse because I like their style, but a big part is also their personality. I love it when a bloggers personality is expressed through their blog and you just get the feeling that you could be friends.

Ingemaakt & Love Teach Sew - two fellow Dutch speakers. We should organise ourselves a meetup, ladies!

Annette Tirette & Me.Anna Two neighbours but from different countries. Anneke lives in Brussels and uses fabrics with bold prints, something I don't do but she rocks them. Like her recent Nani Iro Cambie dress. Me. Anna blogs about all kinds of craft projects, and also gives you a weekly sneakpeek of her life through her 7 sachen series.

A view into my world Louise sews and knits things I want to wear. This lady sits just outside the box and that's what I like.

Masustak Eguzkitan & Sky Turtle - Both ladies from the very south of Europe. I probably should not pile them together because Maider is from Basque (her language baffles me!) and Ina lives in Barcelona. Maider just turned an ugly Burda pattern into a very cool cape! I love Ina's thoughtful blogposts about planning her wardrobe and philosophizing, about the definition of personal style for instance.

Ladies I'll keep this casual: if you want feel free to answers the questions above, if not just know that your blogs inspire me! I hereby welcome you to the Liebster club :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

PPM #4: The Choice is Yours

Since there are three Pattern Magic books and twelve months, I'll make four patterns out of each book. We've come to the end of book 1, and because I find it hard to decide, I'll let you choose what will be my last project from this book. I've selected three which I think represent the most intruiging patterns, but it's hard to estimate how easy or hard they will be to draft/sew. So here's what you can choose from:

FLTR: Knot dress (Musubu), Lumps and bumps (Dekoboko) and Drop Hole Dress (Otoshiana)

If you would really like to see another one, let me know in the comments. You might out-vote the options above. It could be that I won't make the exact pattern in the book, but will try to incorporate the technique in some way. I'm really curious to see what you'll choose! You can vote in the form below (or go here). The poll is open until friday evening. The result will be a surprise, to be revealed on the 24th :)