hemlock jaquard dress

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What better way to treat myself after another exam finished than to make an easy dress? By the way, I sometimes talk to my fabrics, asking it what it wants to become. This jaquard greek-ish ikat-ish jersey wanted to be a dress. Not any kind of dress, but a dropped shoulder shift-style dress.  A Hemlock dress!

Fabric: Jaquard jersey from Stoff & Stil.
Pattern: Hemlock tee by Grainline, lengthened.
Techniques: Overlocking, binding, and understitching.

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I put it on as soon as finished on, and I’ve barely taken it off. Well, to sleep and clean off the tomato sauce I got on myself making pizza sauce. Anyways, with the navy tights and mustard cardigan and brown oxfords I get a distinct 60s vibe, helped by the jaquard-like pattern and the silhouette of course. I wanted a bauteu neckline so I just cut the back piece twice. I also made the front piece shorter to improve the fit, and then I took the sides in a couple of inches to go from roomy to flattering.

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I’m very pleased with the neckline finish. With the bauteu neckline I didn’t want a visible band, so I did a Sewaholic-technique with a band folded double and understitched and topstitched. I love the way it looks – very clean! The wine-colored ribbon is to help me put the dress on the right way. Like I mentioned, the front is slightly shorter than the back. I once showed up to school with my dress inside out – the least I can do in making my own clothes is to try to wear them the right way!

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Also, I can dress it up! With summer approaching and days just getting longer and longer I’m craving lighter colors in my wardrobe. This fits the bill very nicely. Did I mention I am so very pleased with this dress? What do you guys think – should I make more Hemlock dresses?

twisted jersey ikat skirt (and a tutorial that is barely a tutorial)

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So! I made this skirt. It’s my second attempt at those twisted skirts that I’ve come to really like – I made the first one last summer. I had quite a hard time understanding how exactly to make that first skirt, even with tutorials I found, and I ended up taking it in several times so it would actually stay up!

I’m teaching a sewing class again this spring, and one of the girls in my group bought a pattern from Stoff & Stil for this type of twisted skirt. Once I realized the “pattern” was really just a few lines of instructions I couldn’t help myself – I wanted to make one too!

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Fabric: A viscose/cotton (I think?) jersey from Stoff & Stil, in an ikat print.
Pattern: From Stoff & Stil, but not on their website anymore. I guess they retire patterns every so often.
Techniques: Overlocking, Lauren’t elastic insertion technique.

It really is a super simple skirt to make, and I will tell you how. This is the tutorial-part of this post:

  1. Cut a rectangle measuring as wide as your hips, and as long as you want the skirt x 2, plus a few inches to account for the twisting and the waistband.
  2. Sew the long side up so you have a skinny tube.
  3. Fold the tube back on itself, so the two raw ends are lined up.
  4. Twist one end somewhere between ¼ and ½ of a circle depending on how much twisting action you want. This skirt is twisted about 1/3, after deciding the first skirt I made has too much twisting and is borderline too short in certain situations. Though, this second attempt ended up significantly longer (which I don’t mind), so the depth of the upwards v-shape isn’t too big of a deal.
  5. Sew in an elastic at the top edge. I used this technique that Lauren showed on her blog, and I think it came out very neat and tidy – just like she shows it. I used a zig-zag stitch because I couldn’t find a twin needle in the moment. I wanted to use a twin needle thinking that would look the nicest and most professional, but honestly – you can’t even tell there is a seam there at all with the print going on, so it’s all good. One note though – the elastic stretched while sewing it in, so I actually redid it once, and still I am not entirely happy with the amount of pulling in. This may or may not have to do with the quality of the elastic I used. Probably does.

Ok, so I guess that is borderline a real tutorial. Though, no pictures of the process, because really – it’s so simple. Rectangle, tube, elastic. Bam, you’re done. I like that there is no obvious front or back to this way of sewing the skirt. The print hides the only seam (which is slanted down the length of the skirt), so I can just pull it on without any adjusting at all. Yeah!

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So yeah! I’m happy with the skirt! I’ve attempted a half-assed spring capsule wardrobe , and this is absolutely one of my pieces. The rest is mostly grey, some navy and a couple of mustard yellow pieces. I say the capsule wardrobe is half-assed because there are several things I decided I needed to buy to fill in the gaps, like a grey pair of jeans, a lighter weight spring jacket, several more tops or blouses since I have about… three (in this capsule wardrobe at least!). But! I keep trying to go shopping, but when I do, I’m so picky I never come home with anything! Either it’s not the right color, or the right fit, or the material is crappy polyester that I don’t want to buy, or it’s completely out of my price range. My shopping trips usually last 10-15 minutes before I get aggravated and just go home. Haha! I’m not much for shopping for clothes I guess. Also, I’m not too concerned about doing  this capsule wardrobe thing correctly right now since I have a lot of stuff going on in my life – including having four exams over the next month! By the end of it I will be a certified teacher, so that is the incentive right there – I can’t wait!

Anyone else doing a capsule wardrobe? And succeeding? Or making jersey skirts? (come on, do it! So easy!)

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sewing-themed charms necklace

I have to confess – I’m not crazy about charms bracelets. It’s not the charms I don’t like, I’m just not a bracelet person when it comes to jewellery! I find them often just being in the way, I guess in the same way sleeves can be – more often than not I push my sleeves up to the elbow. I feel like I’m more concentrated and ready to work then.

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Anyways! I got a charms bracelet from John’s mom a few years ago, and being sewing themed, the charms were adorable. I just had to find a way to display them that worked better for me! I had a vision of a necklace with a sort of bar with rings on it. I looked and looked, and finally came across TexasBeadz on Etsy, who has lots of jewellery making supplies, and was able to custom order the antique silver color I was hoping to find. It doesn’t look like she has the same item listed anymore (and I’ve already forgotten what the jewellery world term for this bar-thingy is! Anyone know? Please share if you do!), but the owner was very lovely and nice to work with so I wanted to mention her store.

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I bought a set of jewellery rings from my local crafts store, and spent 10 minutes getting the charms on the bar. So now have a necklace with a sewing machine, ruler, scissor and iron on it! I’m not quite sure what the cog-looking thing is supposed to be, but it’s cute. The third charm from the left is a small freebie pendant I got to match a pair of earrings I bought through the Norwegian version of Etsy, which is called Epla. The jeweller is Sølvsmykkeriet, and she too had excellent customer service and ended up custom making a pair of earrings for me that I absolutely love. I don’t think I have a close up of those, but they should be in pretty much every post the last year since I hardly ever take them out!

Oh, and happy March everyone! At the moment Bergen is greeting it with heavy, wet snowfall. Isn’t March the first spring month? Anyone else having non-spring-like weather? Or – anyone else itching to start making spring-like things? I definitely am!

petrol green knit dress

Here is the sibling of the midnight blue ponte dress!

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Fabric: A fine cotton stretch rib from Stoff&Stil, in a heathered petrol green color.
Pattern: Dress #23099 from Stoff&Stil, bought in size 36 but probably closer to size 34 now after all the alterations.
Techniques: Sewing with knits, overlocking, twin needle stitching.

Same pattern as last time, with a few changes. For some (now forgotten) reason I thought the sleeves were too long on the midnight blue version, so I shortened the sleeves on this. I actually like the longer version better, now that I’ve used these dresses for a while. I skipped the zippered pockets, but added a back zip to the bodice since I felt like the fabric was maybe less stretchy. I can still pull the dress on without using the zipper, so it really isn’t needed! Most noticeably I added a front seam and a v-shaped neckline, modelled on a favorite RTW knit dress.

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Since there were seams both on the front and the back, I decided to shape the center front and center back by curving in 3/8″ or so, to avoid gaping.  In a sense that works the same way as adding a dart, I just built it into the seam instead. So in the front the fabric curves in over the bust, and in the back the top of the zipper lays flat against my back. Our bodies are curved there – we don’t have to look like Quasimodo to benefit from a back shoulder dart! The fit adjustments from the previous dress have worked out quite beautifully. I’ve made no alterations on this one – it is just cut and sewn. I’ve already trimmed off an additional 1/2″ of the pattern on the bodice back length, but looking at the dress now, that extra half inch of length could be from the zipper stretching debacle more than a pattern alteration need. The waist seam does sit a little lower in the back than the front, but the skirt length is totally even. Which means, future self, if you make this dress again you need to add length to the top of the skirt back pattern piece. Yes.

Oh, and the zipper debacle? Yeah. I did not hand baste or even pin the zipper to the back bodice before sewing. You might be able to guess where this is heading. I stretched the shit out of the back bodice, and after sewing the zipper to both back pieces, it looked like I had a dinosaur back – like Stegosaurus-type. Not a good look. I unpicked and repinned and did it again and it looked weird flat, but worked out beautifully in the end, and the lesson is this – measure the zipper against the *pattern piece*, and pin to the fabric based on that.

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Look how nice and neat the narrow facing for the neckline looks on the inside! Yey. I cut  a 1 1/8″ strip in the shape of the necklines, and serged the exposed outer edge before sewing the facing to the dress. On the previous dress I serged the two layers together, but I thought it got a little bulky so I did a regular seam here. I also understitched the facing before topstitching it down, because… well, it looks pretty! My overlocker had black thread in it from the previous dress, and I was really contemplating just leaving it in there, but in the end I spent the 5 minutes rethreading and I’m very glad I did. See how beautiful the matching thread is! Just lovely!

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The back of the armhole looks a little wonky to me, like there is too much fabric there. I think I might take out a wedge from the armhole edge to the center back line, to reduce some length (or height?) in the armhole. The sleevecap would then need to be reduced, and it does look a little tall to me anyways. Oh, and I made a silly user error with the pleats. Having sewn something twice in two weeks you get a little cocky maybe, and I  misinterpreted the notches, and made single pleats instead of double pleats in the skirt. I don’t mind too much – it just makes the dresses a little less identical, but in the back the single pleat is a little boxy and slightly unflattering. Not a big enough thing to bother fixing though.

I am seriously looking to buy lots of similar weight courtelle jersey, ponte-knit, double knit wool, whatever I can find, and just make a ton of dresses based on this pattern. I might not do anymore of this cotton rib, since it’s less weighty than the ponte, and more “sticky”. I could just use a slip, but I do like simple fabrics that just… work. I would like to do a plain skirt next, maybe with a slit in the back for walking ease. There are just so many variations I could make now that I have the basic fit nailed! Feel free to offer some suggestions – what variation of this dress would you make?

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midnight blue ponte dress a.k.a my new uniform

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Alrighty, I’m back – more pictures from the same photoshoot as the Belcarra blouse and my watercolor Hemlock tee! I was productive that day. Anyways – Happy New Year and all that! My school semester has started again, so I’m back to full-time-student living. I recently made two knit dresses from the same pattern, and I’ve used them tons already – I’m seriously (in a capsule-wardrobe kind of way) thinking of making them my uniform and make a couple more in different colors with a few different detailings, and just wear that all semester. How easy would that be!

Fabric: Navy blue viscose+poly ponte/courtelle jersey from Stoff&Stil.
Pattern: Dress #23099 from Stoff&Stil, bought in size 36 but probably closer to size 34 now after all the alterations.
Techniques: Sewing with knits, overlocking, twin needle stitching, neckline binding.

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I actually came across this pattern while helping my students in the sewing class pick out their own patterns – to make it easy on everyone (slash me) all the fabric and patterns came from this one fabric store chain, so the girls could fairly easily pick out fabrics and patterns from one place through the catalogue or website (which has been down a lot lately – sorry if the links don’t work!). I thought the dress looked cute, and like it would be easy to wear – how can you not love being fully dressed with just one garment, which is comfortable as well? I also liked the exposed zippered pockets – dresses with pockets, yey! I already had a length of what Stoff&Stil calls courtelle jersey, which I assume and suspect is pretty much the same as ponte or double knit fabric. It’s a stable, moderately stretchy knit, it’s kind of heavy, and it drapes well.

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 To make the zipper opening one piece of the pocket bag is sewn on with a rectangle, which is slashed and turned inside out with the zipper edgestitched on. Being the wise-ass I am, I thought the opening would be too small for the zipper, even though I bought the recommended zipper length. I made the opening longer only to find it stretched out during sewing and was too long! So – either interface to make it more stable, or trust the pattern and it will all work out. I also ended up basting in the zipper before edgestitching to make it easier on myself (not without attempting to sew it on with just using pins first! Whoa, no good.) The pocket is constructed by sewing the second pocket bag piece to the first – quite easy if we disregard my zipper blunder.

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This was the first time in many many years I’ve used a pattern from Stoff&Stil. They are sort of retro in their usage actually! There is only one size per envelope, and they are precut with seam allowance included in a non-fusible interfacing type material. There are no printed markings, so notches are cut into the seam allowance, and drillholes indicate grainline and other markings. It’s a bit of a puzzle, but a cutting diagram and numbered list of pattern pieces show you what you’re dealing with. I would find it extremely frustrating as a beginner to attempt this though! Being able to identify different pattern pieces (say, a skirt from a sleeve) is an advantage in working with these patterns.

According to their size chart (I started with the EU36 size) I needed to add a few centimetres to the bust and the waist. I dutifully added them and then cut and constructed the dress. I barely even tried the dress on during construction since I had checked my measurements and eyeballed the non-interfacing patternpieces against my body, which looked fine. When the dress was done, it fit mostly ok, and I was really thrilled I was able to just quickly construct and have a wearable dress. Dressmaking made easy! The waist was a bit roomier than I prefer, so I ended up basically shaving off all the width I had added in during the measuring stage. Then I went to a friends surprise party, and revelled in all the lovely attention I got for wearing a handmade dress that looked like something storebought (yes, I totally eat those compliments up!). But it irritated me that the waist was still too wide and also too low. I finally unpicked the overlocked seams and took off a good 1″ from the front length, and 1,5″ from the back, and took in the sides by maybe 4″ total.

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After that I was much happier with the fit – the dress now sits at my natural waist, it is fitted but not tight, so it’s perfectly comfortable. Oh, and there is supposed to be a zipper down the front, but I didn’t feel like having it there, so I didn’t bother. While I took quite a bit of length off the back bodice, it still looks like it is maybe too long. Look at all these wrinkles!

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It definitely doesn’t feel like my backside is all wrinkly while I wear the dress (hah….), but I suspect that the wrinkles on the skirt is due to some static cling that could be solved with a slip, and that the wrinkles in the bodice is from some excess length, and maybe width? There is a swayback situation going on, but like I mentioned in making the muslin for my plaid shirtdress (which is just missing the buttons and the buttonholes, but I’ve totally stalled since I don’t think I will really wear the finished dress!) my back is quite narrow at the waist, and I think adjusting the pattern accordingly would be good. How informative taking back view pictures is!

I actually have another dress from this pattern, so I’ll be posting about that one soon. In the meanwhile, I leave you with this lovely outtake of what most of my pictures looked like, trying to get the wireless remote to work properly:

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pixelated flower kimono

I bought this awesome silky patterned fabric at the Goldhawk Road meet-up, when Lauren of Lladybird was doing her transatlantic trip. Here is a post and some pictures from the meet-up that Kelly of makesewdo shared. Ok, back to the fabric. Look at this!

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I didn’t have a clue what I was going to make out of this – my first thought was a dress, but it’s both a little thin, and a little overwhelming for me to wear as a dress, but I got 2,5 meters so I would have enough a dress-appropriate amount anyway. I bought some midnight navy twill for a Robson coat as well, and some dark grey silk charmeuse for a slip (oooo, luxury!), but this fabric I had no plans for.

It took me a short week, and then I realized that much better than making a dress out of this, would be making a kimono! I’ve seen people on the interwebs looking all stylish in jeans and heels and flowy kimonos, and I might try that, but more likely is floating about in my apartment, looking all bohemian and lovely when I have stuff delivered at the door. Yeah, much more likely!

kimono3I’m not quite sure what I’m doing here – channeling a stern prison warden perhaps? Haha! Photo by Linn Heidi Stokkedal

I used a combination of this Elle Apparel tutorial for some rough measurements and general ideas, this vintage looking diagram as a cutting layout guide, and a whole lot of eyeballing. The length is completely dictated by the length of the fabric, and then everything else followed from there. It’s roughly 36″ long, 31″ wide across the shoulder, and the sleeves are two rectangles of 16″ (folded double for the cuff) and 20″ for the armhole length. From the scraps I pieced together a rectangle for the belt, and another rectangle to hem the kimono.

A slight aside – this fall I’ve taught an evening class on designing and sewing, and have had a great little group of teenagers taking the class. We even had a photoshoot arranged for them at the end, and I managed to have a couple of pictures taken of me too. The photoshoot was great fun, and a little creepy since it was at a deserted prison! Peeling paint, elaborate iron cell doors, brick wall sections of the yard… the works!

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watercolor hemlock

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Alright, moving along with my recent photoshoot pictures! This is a Hemlock tee that I finished last week. I made one this spring that I’ve worn a lot, currently out of commission because of a grease stain… Anyone have suggestions for grease stains that have been sitting for a while, or through the tumble drier? Dish soap did not do the trick!

Fabric: Viscose jersey from Stoff og Stil, unfortunately not on their website.
Pattern: Hemlock Tee from Jen at Grainline studio.
Techniques: Jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

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I tried something a little different with this version, which I mentioned in the previous Hemlock-post. I narrowed the neckline by maybe 1″, and narrowed and shortened the sleeves as well. I was trying to make the fit just a little less casual, but I think the success of the fit is quite dependent on the casual details! I also did shorten the neckline band past the usual recommended 85%, since this fabric is extremely drapey, and the previous Hemlock neckline didn’t lie quite flat I think from not being short enough. I guess I overdid it a bit – this neckband pulls and makes the neckline significantly smaller than it was without. I feel like Goldilocks – the first was too big, the second too small – the third will be perfect!

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The fabric is a little unusual for me, but I’m working on getting comfortable with prints and… well, non-solids. I really like the color of this watercolor-psychology-ink-blot-test-pattern – it’s kind of fun! I’ve lost the little sticker with the info, but I’m pretty sure this is a viscose jersey. It’s the drapiest I’ve ever handled – seriously, it was like sewing with water solidified.

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Next up I think will be the kimono/robe I’m making from fabric I bought in London at the recent Goldhawk Road meet-up! I’m almost done, so then it’s just a matter of getting pictures taken. I’m of course having the same issue as the rest of the bloggers in the northern hemisphere – freezing temperatures and lack of daylight. I will find a solution!

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