Friday, September 27, 2013

Completed: Leanne Marshall's Simplicity 1877

Can you believe this dress was largely made in 5-minute increaments between pomodoros? That's what I call slow sewing! But you do what you have to do to get your sewing in, right?

I was kind of nice to sew so slowly. Having to stop after five minutes means that you're stopping while it's still fun. It's like, as a summer camp counsellor, they say it's important to stop the activity while your kids or teens are still having fun, so they'll be excited about the activity next time.
Fabric: some kind of light-weight synthetic with a decent stretch content. Almost like crêpe to the touch in a way, but not exactly. Purchased in London a while back, I'm pretty sure at Simply Fabrics in Brixton.

Pattern: Simplicity 1877 by Leanne Marshall. View B.

What did I change?
- Performed all my usual adjusments for the bodice (narrow upper chest, changed the angle of the shoulders, etc..)
- To avoid breaking up the stripes of my fabric, I transfered the back darts into the center back seam.
- I also removed two of the four darts in the front for the same reason, resolving by the same token the small bust adjusment.
- I omitted the shoulder frills in View B, again to avoid interrupting the geometric lines.

- If you're working with an unstable fabric, you might want to consider finishing the collar and armholes with bias or elastic tape (like I did, more on that in a next post) rather than following the instructions and making your own facing tape (or whatever it's called). My fabric didn't press well and it turned out pretty disastreous so I added the black elastic and I'm really pleased with the result. MUCH better.
I'm really really happy with this dressed. It gave me a nice sewing boost and my brain is now racing with fabrics, patterns, ideas and projects. So many things to sew, so little time!!
And it keeps getting better -- this dress even has HIDDEN POCKETS. At first I was a little annoyed by how un-deep they were but I think it's better that way because it shall discourage me from overloading them and deforming my dress (let's face it, totally something I do).
Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to parade my new dress for lattes and carrot cake with my sweetheart.

Thanks for letting me share my dress, everyone!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lobster dress goes cray-cray

*** ALLERGY ALERT : This post contains seafood. ***

Hey guys!

Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for: lobster dress meets crayfish!
But first things first: You guys pointed out in my last post that I was being too hard on myself, criticizing my lack of a cohesive style in my sewing. And you know what? I decided that I have enough reasons to beat myself up on a daily basis, that sewing doesn't need to be one. So take that, "cohesive style".

No, kidding aside, I do still want to work towards a more cohesive look, but I'm not going to be too hard on myself about it. As many of you pointed out, experimenting is also what it's all about and I do have to use the fabric I already have (let's face it, A LOT).

Now... back to CRAYFISH. Crayfish parties happen every year at around August or September in Sweden. I’ve heard about the tradition extensively and had been waiting for this party impatiently. It basically consists of eating crayfish to your heart’s content (along with a few -- or many -- shots of vodka).

This particular party was organised by our neighbourhood community and the dress proved to be the BEST conversation starter. Of note, I was most pleased to become acquainted with another translator working from home. I’ve yet to meet a translator I don’t like, but anyone working on the swedish translation of Malala’s biography scores MAJOR bonus points in my book. (No but I mean, how cool is that?!?!) Mostly,  it’s nice to somehow feel a little less alone as I quietly put in those very long hours, because I now know there is someone a few doors down who is experiencing the same agony and stress. 

I do enjoy my profession. I mean seriously! Anything gets tough for more than 10 hours a day though. But I am still doing the 5-minute sewing breaks throughout the day, which helps, and I'm now almost finished my dress. :-)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

F for Fail in Visuals

Not to be over-dramatic with my title, but when I look at my handmade wardrobe as a whole, I honestly feel that I've done a pretty poor job at developing a visual language that feels natural to me. Maybe you see a few recurring themes, but it's faaaaar from being how I want it to be.

These thoughts are coming after Tilly's great post "Sewing for your style".

I've always admired sewing bloggers like Jane, Tilly, Zoe, Gertie and Lladybird who were able to have a very defined style and just develop, grow and expand it in ways that felt very natural to them. They are using clothes to develop a visual language that is theirs and theirs alone.

This has definitely been a goal of mine, ever since I started sewing, but it hasn't really worked out. Why?

I think my problem has been methodological. So far, my method has been no method at all. I always thought that the visual thing would simply happen on its own. "If I like it, I go for it." has pretty much been my modus operandi, all the while hoping that, one day, the stars would align and my handmade wardrobe would magically become cohesive.

The truth is, like many things, defining your visual language is a process that takes both time and efforts. What Tilly's post helped me realize is that you have to actually sit down, and think about it. Go on Pinterest, create mood boards, pay attention to what you react to most and work on consciously defining your style.

This, Readers, brings me back to the most basic question of all:
Were I to have "a wardrobe that makes me drool on a daily basis," what would it look like? 
Food for thought!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

What we’re up to this weekend

Work, work, work! I’m following a tight schedule to make a big deadline next month, but I’m still finding time to sew!

When things get really crazy, the only thing to do is to pull out the big guns: the Pomodoro Technique.

Are you familiar with Pomodoros? It’s the only reason I’m able to get anything done. Basically, you work in 25-minute chunks, followed by a 5 minute break. This is hands-down the best method I found for any task that requires concentration, like writing or translation, and I use it for blogging too sometimes. 

You can get all fancy with lists and check marks and even reward system if you want. Lol. (Speaking of rewards, I think it might be time for me to check out those fabric stores...) I'm just using a plain notebook right now, but I can often be found drooling over Asian agendas and planners on eBay... (Say stationary nerd!)

Anyhoo, my latest breakthrough has been to SEW during my 5-minute break between my work chunks – one of the many benefits of working from home! (That, and the shortest commuting time on earth.) I’ve been finding it really satisfying to do something with my hands for very short bursts. Not to mention how encouraging it is to see your sewing project progress a little bit every day. The hard part is to drop my sewing when my alarm rings, but I tell myself that I'll be able to get back to it in only 25 minutes. :-)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Completed: Pauline Alice Gingham Cami Dress

I'm so happy to finally be allowed to reveal my Cami Dress!

Sewing this dress was really enjoyable for a cami-nation (get it?) of reasons. Aside from the fact that Pauline did a really great job with the pattern (heck, you would never guess this is her first!) I had forgotten how much fun it is to sew with a stable fabric such as cotton. Not to say that sewing the collar was easy-peasy, but you know...

- A ton of things in the bodice. Won't go through it all, but basically all the normal adjustments I usually make to account for the following figure variations: pear shape, narrow upper chest, forward head and slightly-rounded upper back. That last one led me to add gathers right at the base of the neck under the collar and I quite like the result.
- I squared off the tip of the collar a bit for a more current look.
- I made the skirt less voluminous by removing about 20 inches in width at the bottom and maybe 25 inches at the waist. I concentrated the gathers bellow the four waist darts.

What I will do differently next time:
- Not cut the shoulders so narrow. I'm not sure where things went wrong here, but I think I made the mistake while comparing the pattern pieces with my bodice bloc. (See bellow. The shoulder/sleeve seam is weird!)

- For some reason, I only had an extra long zipper, and for some reason I felt that I needed to "get value for my money" by using as much of the zipper as I could in the side seam. Believe it or not, this led me to lower the pockets by 4 inches. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? Apparently me. We now have to contort our shoulders forward to put our hands in our pockets. Yep...
- The instructions call for double thickness of interfacing and if you're like me, you might be prone to thinking "I'm sure one layer will be enough." You must not succumb to this temptation. Just stick with the instructions. Now, my cuffs are not as nice and crisp as they should be.

All and all, it was a pleasure working with this pattern (which you can purchase over here  in downloadable PDF format for a very decent 8 euros). I look forward to seeing what Pauline Alice has in store for us in terms of pattern #2, #3 and beyond! Thank you for inviting me to be a pattern tester!

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