Sunday, August 31, 2014

Good Morning, Sunshine!

A lot of cinnamon buns and fika (Swedish coffee break) this week...
▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼ Weekly sewing/life potpourri ▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼▼

Hello my beautiful friends!

This week, has felt like three weeks wrapped into one. We had friends visiting over from Spain and we did some sightseeing with them, which really broke the routine.

- In terms of general discoveries this week, I REdiscovered Nirrimi from The Road is Home while away out in the archipelago last weekend. I had really loved her blog a while back, but somehow forgotten about it (probably because I didn't use Bloglovin back then). Somehow, my mood matched the mood of her latest posts on that particular day, and I found myself completely immersed in her storytelling and mind-blowing photography.

- The concept of internet fog. I feel that most of this weekend right now has disappeared in a big internet fog, where I have checked my email about every five minutes, and somehow got dragged in whichever direction the Craftsy newsletter or Bruda Style or Bloglovin emails pulled me. It's nice to now have words to describe the feeling. Although I tell myself I shouldn't feel too guilty about my weekend in light of the intensive week I've had. :-) I first saw the term in Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. (If her name sounds familiar, you've probably seen her The power of vulnerability TEDTalk!)

- The music of Veronicca Maggio. Uplifting Swedish bubblegum pop. :-)

- Spending two days in Stockholm this week, with our visit coinciding with Stockholm Fashion Week, to my surprise and delight. Stockholmers seemed extra well-dressed this week, even more than usual (which speaks volumes). There were also A LOT of fashion street photography for the event -- at every street corner, it seemed.

- This reminded me of the importance of dressing well, even when you think it's okay to be slugging it. You never know if which situation you'll find yourself in, which potential clients you might meet, which potential opportunity might come your way. It's my goal to have selfcare and dignity, and to present the best version of myself to the world every single day that I'm alive. Just like I appreciate SO MUCH the effort others people put in how they dress, I should make a little effort myself, and not just mindlessly grab the same old jeans and faded tee-shirt in the morning. And as seamstress, we know that it's entirely possible to be both comfortable AND stylish. :-))

I listened to two great podcasts on my long run today:

1 - A Tapestry episode with Lesley Hazleton. I found this podcast captivating more for the guest/author as a person, rather than for what she was writing about (although that was interesting too). As a person, she seemed so engaging and eccentric, and really open and unguarded at the same time, but also very deep and full of interesting experiences and stories. What an interesting person to have at a dinner party, I kept thinking.

2 - An Ideas episode with Germaine Greer. I was so pleasantly surprised to discover how strong and relevant her message still is today, some 44 years after The Female Eunuch. Hearing her talk so passionately about her theory makes me want to delve deeper into her work. I must admit that I always thought of her as somewhat of an outdated essentialist feminist, but I'm now convince that her perspective should absolutely be part of our "toolbox" of theoretical lenses to employ in different situations. Did you know that Germaine Greer is actually libertarian? One more fascinating fact about her!

Also: I sometimes tend to forget how happy and energized it makes me feel to engage with the world of ideas, and more specifically with feminist theory. It's a world that's not close to the realm of the everyday, and it does take some efforts to travel there, but it's so very worth it.

Whoa, it's been a long post today. As I said, it's been a busy week, and I guess I had lots to talk about. :-)

Have you been reading or listening to anything interesting these days? And have you ever attended a Fashion Week event?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Anti-UFO Project

Hello my beautiful friends! My unfinished projects box is seriously overflowing at the moment. It's time to do something about it! I'm a firm believer of "one project at a time" so and all these UFOs hanging over my head are weighing down my creativity.

If anyone would like to join me in clearing their sewing table, that would be totally fun! Let's do this together! Let's hold each other accountable for finishing what we've started! I'm going to give myself a deadline, because deadlines work well for me: Septembre 30th, 2014. Nice and realistic! :-)

Happy sewing, everyone! And do let me know in the comments if you'll be joining. :-)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Good Morning, Sunshine!

////Weekly potpourri of sewing thoughts and thankfulness////

Hello my beautiful friends!

I hope that your week was filled with lots of sewing and as much sewing daydreaming as mine was!! Good god it's been challenging to stay focused in Swedish class. A magical whirlwind of fabric, shapes, patterns, textures, silhouettes kept happening in my mind. Does that happen to you too, or I am the only weird one? Our classroom has floor-to-ceiling windows on a busy hallway... pretty hard not to indulge in people-watching during class. Especially given the amazing mix of people/cultures/styles we have. :-)

What catches my eyes these days!
- Leather cut outs and details.
- dress shirts,
- CHIFFON,
- fun cotton prints.
- solids in light colours
- stretchy skirts,
- wool, luxurious bouclé,
- textured gray fabrics,
- crêpe,
- And so eager to play with STRIPES! :-)
1. TopShop 2. Smartset 3. ASOS

This week I'm grateful for... carving out little pockets of time in my weeks, for working on projects that have a very much long-term impact on my life. I don't know about you, but for me the long-term perspective often gets pushed back or delayed in the scale of the daily or the weekly. But it's the most important perspective. As they say, people often spend more time planning their vacation they they do planning their lives! So for me I know that this one hour per week I spend thinking about the long term is probably the most important hour of my week.

Photo : Andrea Christensen
In line with that, when Henrik works night shifts at the emergency, he's away for 36 hours. It would be easy for me to see his long hours as an annoyance or as something negative. But it also gives me the space to do things just for me; to reconnect with the long-term perspective. Last Sunday, I woke up at 8AM, grabbed my black trench coat, my rubber boots and my huge golf umbrella, and walked the 6KM to the city centre to have breakfast at my favourite café, Brogyllen. The streets were so quiet, except for the sound of the rain... :-) Perfect for clearing my thoughts, and getting my week off to a good start!

Happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Another Use for Masking Tape

A quick sewing tip for you today!

I started using masking tape to mark the wrong side of my pattern pieces, specially when the right and wrong sides are similar.

I found that the cheaper kind of masking tape sold at dollar stores (or "pound shops," for you Britons :-D) is actually better suited for this, because it's less adhesive and doesn't leave any kind of glue on the fabric.

Happy sewing everyone!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Weekly potpourri of sweet things and thankfulness

Hello my beautiful friends!

This week has gone by in the blink of an eye, with me cycling left and right around town for classes, meetings, and shows from the Kulturkalas, Gothenburg's annual mega big arts festival. Europeans sure know how to spend on the arts!

This week's favourites:
I can't even begin to tell you the different reasons why this video from Cooking with Dog is so amazing, but I will try. First of all, I have been obsessed with Cooking with Dog, a YouTube japanese cooking show, for the longest time. When I saw the they were doing pão de queijo, my number one favourite Brazilian food, I nearly fell out of my chair. I don't think I've ever mentioned it to you all, but I partly grew up in Brazil, where pão de queijo was a regular staple around our house. It had never previously occurred to me that it is possible to make it. From scratch. AT HOME. So this discovery has been quite mind blowing. I look forward to sourcing the flour locally to try the recipe. Will keep you updated. :-)

Other than that, last week I finished reading #Girlboss after seeing several positive recommendations from different sources, and I must admit that all my great expectations for the book fell pretty flat. Like wayyyy flat. Although I have a lot of respect for what Sophia Amoruso has accomplished in such a short time (building a multi-million dollar company with nothing but a pocket full of change) I often found myself wishing she had gone deeper... Deeper into tangible business strategies... and deeper into the analysis of herself as a person. What exactly caused her to go from a anarchist dumpster diver to a master capitalist in a few years? How did that extreme transition happen, and how does she make sense of it now?

I also found her tone a bit abrasive sometimes, with a lack of empathy that made it difficult to cast away the thought that sociopaths are more prominent among business leaders. For example, she mentions bringing children to an interview as a laughably obvious "no-no." It's of course not ideal, but some parents simply have no other option with the serious lack of childcare support in the US. The fact that she states right off the bat that she doesn't identify with feminism also bugged me a lot (as you would expect, lol). Saying that you don't believe in feminism comes down to saying you don't believe in equality between men and women. It just doesn't make sense to me. But that's just my humble opinion. :-)

I also found the title a bit problematic. To me, it speaks to the fact that a "boss" is by default male, and therefore we must add "girl" in front of it to make the idea of "boss" female (i.e., "woman doctor", "woman soldier"). I get it that she wants to inspire more young women to consider entrepreneurship as a viable option. And that is actually really cool. But I question the effectiveness of this strategy: Is using "girlboss"not also demeaning the achievements of female business leaders, in a way? And reinforcing the idea of boss as de facto male? Food for thought.

Anyhoo, to move on to a lighter topic and to go from Sofia to Sophie, a sewing-related high point this week was discovering the revamped blog of Sophie from Ada Spragg (previously Cirque du Bébé). Her new blog layout is absolute eye candy and I find her overall approach to sewing to be incredibly inspiring. (Have you SEEN her latest dress???) Yep, definitely a blogger who sets the bar very high for all of us. Keep up the good work, Sophie!
Photography: Olivia Frølich
If you like Sophie's sorbetto coloured aesthetic, you will most definitely appreciate this feature on Danish designer Stine Goya. Total dressmaking daydream that's guaranteed to spruce up even the lowest sewjo. It may also cause you to purchase home decor accessories in pastel colours. :-)

I hope that everyone will have a restorative and productive weekend!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Friday-morning potpourri of sweet things and thankfulness

Turns out Oona might have been right. This dress may have been a case of too much cheese, and needing to rest my eyes away from the dress a bit. That, or it needed to be re-branded as beachwear. :-) It was perfect for the beach! (By the way, when we say "going to the beach" in Sweden we mostly mean "big rocks.")

This week, I'm thankful for...
- Fresh veggies from our garden... and all the delicious meals my partner cooks with them. Yum!
- The gorgeously appetizing photography of healthiteens on IG, who inspires me to take more time to prepare my food and make healthier choices and remember to take care of myself, even in times of intense stress.
- How energized and full of vitality I have been lately, both from spending so much time outside and from making sewing a bigger priority in my life. Yay!
- My organized closet -- I decluttered it two weeks ago and it's keeps on giving me joy, calm and happiness every morning when I open it. Never underestimate the power of a good clean!
- Summer weather that exceeded all of my expectations, and keeps on exceeding them.
- Running less these days and being OK with that, because sewing is more important to me at the moment.
- Watching The Shawshank Redemption this week and being reminded of the power of a positive outlook. I was never one to be so crazy about the whole "must think positive" self-help babble, but I must say that since becoming my own boss, I've seen first hand the effect of a negative attitude on your productivity! It really starts with ourselves, and how we view things. Anyhoo, the bigger lesson of the movie was worth the whole Hollywood melodrama side -- How much working a little bit towards your goal every day -- however big your goal and however small your daily action -- can have a dramatic impact on your life. As such, I was naturally reminded of my personal journey with learning Swedish. I'm starting classes again next week, and I'm only now able to appreciate how hard I've worked this past year, and how far I've come, independently of how near or far I am of the "finish line".  Just like with any journey, learning to celebrate the small and big successes along the way is extremely important. The success I celebrated this week was hosting a dinner party in Swedish for the first time and having a lot of fun without a word of French or English! :-)

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Sewing the Open Back Dress


Hello my beautiful friends!

I hope your week is progressing well and that you are checking a lot of things off your to-do list! I, for one, am quite happy to check off this tutorial from my list, as it has been here for a few days now! You've read Part One, where I showed you how to draft the pattern pieces of your Open Back Dress, and today I'm happily presenting Part Two!! I will go over how to assemble the dress, with special focus on the waistband. By the way, the tutorial assumes you are a fairly experienced sewist, so it won't go into great details over the more usual steps. But if you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them in the comments. :-)

Before starting, make sure all of your pieces are cut out, properly marked and interfaced. :-)

1- Join the front and back pieces of the bodice and the skirt. To do this, you can first sew side seams of skirt, then shoulder seam of bodice, than side seam of bodice. When sewing the side seam of bodice, take care to leave approximately 5/8" unsewned at the bottom towards the waist, so as to stop your stitching line 5/8" before you reach the waist. (See dark pink lines in illustration bellow.)

2- Gather your skirt piece. Gather your bodice piece at the waist, only in the front.

3- Attach the bodice to the waistband, but only along the yellow line above. We're making an open back dress, so the goal is to sew only the front piece to the waistband, leaving the back out. That said, the finished dress looks better if I extended the stitching line one inch passed each side seams. It ended up delineating the waistline from the front, to avoid creating a boxy silhouette. A tip: reinforce the beginning and end of that stitching line (yellow line), since they're pressure points on the finished dress.

4- Attach the skirt to (the bottom of) the waistband, just like you normally would.
 

5- Next, press, as shown bellow.


6- Waistband facing: Pin and machine-sew the top of the waistband  facing, to the bottom of the waistband and top skirt pieces. The right side of the facing should be against the wrong side of the skirt. During this process, have the bodice out of the way and folded back.


7- Press waistband facing and stitch-in-the-ditch or handstitch the top of the waistband facing, like so.
8- Finish the lower hem of the back bodice, by serging or zigzaging and turning over (above and bellow). Other options would be to add a facing, to extend the hem by an inch in the pattern-drafting phase to allow for "a turn and a turn" type of hem (like I did bellow) or to double the back pieces creating a sort of self-lining. Bellow is one option for finishing, depicted from the outside and the inside of the dress.

9- Sew the two back pieces together along the Center Back seam, after having finished the edge, stopping as far as you want depending on how much back you want to show (and whether or not you want your bra to show, for example). Press seam open, and topstitch along the two sides (see third picture bellow).

10- Insert the back zipper, either by machine or by hand. If you want the zipper to come all the way up into the waistband, sew that last bit by hand. Also, if you want to insert an elastic, do it before this step. :-)

And that's it for the tricky parts of assembling your open-back dress! I wish all of you a wonderful time making this dress, and make sure to leave a link in the comment so I can admire your work!

Thanks for letting me share and happy sewing everyone!

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Oonapalooza Dress

Hello everyone! Back from the mountain and super refreshed from our six days of enforced internet detox. Easy to forget how life without the internet feels like!

So I made a dress this week! I started working on the second part of the tutorial I promised you last time and decided that I might as well make a second Open Back Dress out of it, since I loved the first one so much. Besides it was Oonapalooza month over at the Sewcialists, and I had just the fabric for it. Boldness and whimsicality embodied -- yes, yes, perfect Oona.

A word about the photos in this post: sorry if you're feeling disoriented!! I'm experimenting a little with backgrounds right now, some being more successful than others. :-) Lots of fun. :-D And a lot more fun than the embarrassment of taking pictures outside, big camera and tripod in front of everyone. Gaah. Last time, cars were literally slowing down in my neighborhood, checking out who that "celebrity" was. Gah. I know I was in a Bollywood movie, but still. I really like the end result of the photos I take outside, as tricky and uncomfortable as the process is, but I need to be in a special kind of mood for it.
Ahem. I may or may not have sewn better zippers before.
SO, things don't always turn out the way we want them to. I don't think I'm going to be wearing this dress very much (like, ever). The craziness and loudness of the fabric is one thing (my partner said the pattern made him dizzy. Call him Swedish -- minimalist -- but I think he is right.) I even used the reverse side of the fabric, to avoid the intense sateen effect, but it could only do some much to tone it down. More than that, I didn't do such a good job technique-wise with this temperamental silk (polyester?) charmeuse. Everything shows with silk charmeuse, as they say on Project Runway. (Speaking of PR, has anyone watched the last season? I'm several seasons behind!)

I liked the fabric a lot when I bought it (with the lovely Pincushion Treats back in the days where we were both living in the UK, I might add.) I still do like it, graphically speaking. But it just doesn't really fit with anything I have in my wardrobe. And somehow doesn't feel quite "me". It happens! :-)

The positive thing that emerged out of this dress is for sure to realize how much my attitude has changed as a dressmaker. In the early days, I used to get SOOO upset when I messed up a project. Difficult to believe now (okay, maybe not so difficult to believe) but I remember throwing myself on my bed, bursting into tears because the Andrew Sweater from Burda Style hadn't work out and ended up in the garbage. In those days I was equating a failure with the statement "I suck at sewing," which is so unfortunate! Because if you're afraid to fail all the time, then where is the experimenting? Where is the risk taking?

Somehow along the way, I learnt to take it easy! It's just sewing! I've accepted that the occasional failed project is bound to happen when you go outside of your comfort zone. "If you're not failing half the time, you're not trying hard enough", as they say. So failure is part of the deal. I know you all were probably a lot faster at learning this lesson than I was, but realizing this, with this project, has been an important moment for me. Along the years, I have been really inspired by how unafraid -- and brave! -- you have been in making mistakes in front of the world on your blog.

On these thoughts, little chickadees, I will leave you to it. Sew, sew, sew! Have a happy, productive weekend!

P.S.: For more technical details about this dress, again, you can check out my first Open Back Dress post, inspired from this dress by Club Monaco. You can see the drafting instructions for it here. And I'll be posting the sewing instructions for the waistband in the next days, so stay tuned! :-)
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