portside travel set for international travels

Well, really for any kinds of travels – I used it this weekend for a sleepover and a trip to a cabin, and last week going to the gym. But I *made* it for my epic sailing adventure to Belfast last summer!

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Oh the sheer joy and slight terror on my face! I was so excited, and rightly so – the sailing trip was a wonderful experience. Statsraad Lehmkuhl is a training vessel based in Bergen, with both permanent crew, trainees that spend a couple of years on board, cadets from the military academy that join on the 2-month cross-Atlantic sail each fall, and shorter trips that we mere mortals can pay to go on. It’s work though – two shifts of four hours each every day, where we haul sails, maintain the ship, keep lookout, and steer. And sleep in hammocks, which was… the best. Ever. We were told to avoid packing in suitcases, since space was limited and the lockers narrow. It seemed like a great opportunity to make a Portside travel set!

Fabric: 1-ish meter each of dark navy twill from somewhere in London (bought for a Robson coat), a water-repellent fabric called Dralon from Stoff & Stil (I think it’s the right color, but it might be creme instead of light grey), and lined with some polyester crepe-satin-twill (totally the official description) from my stash, bought on sale at Vogue in Evanston, IL several years ago.
Pattern: Portside travel set, from Grainline Studio.
Techniques: lining, convex curves, zippers, topstitching, webbing.

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I actually managed to only finish the duffle bag before the trip (last-minute too – if I remember correctly I was sewing in the lining the morning of departure!). After the trip I had other projects that took up my time, so it wasn’t until early this spring that I picked it up again. I made a few changes to the pattern. First up, I used lining in more places than the pattern calls for, like to finish the outside pockets, and inside the pouch. To accommodate the length of zippers I bought, and also because I like the look of the tabs between the zipper and the side seams, I added an inch of width to each of the travel set pieces. Only – I forgot I had done so when I had to recut the bottom for the dopp kitt, so it is a bit misshapen. Haha!

Buying notions was a bit of a headache for someone who ends up researching different options to no end, and due to time constraints I didn’t use all of it for this bag. I want to list it here for future reference though. The black zippers with antique brass teeth that I did use came from Etsy shop zipperstop, whom I’ve bought from before and has a mind-numbing number of zippers available. They also do custom stuff (these were custom length), and have been quick, with good customer service. I also ordered some grey donut style pull, also antique brass, from zipstop, which look very nice. From 3DAN I bought the hardware (1 ¼ inch gunmetal D-rings and 1 ¼ inch gunmetal swivel snap hooks) and webbing (heavy weight nylon in deep grey – oh how I agonized over color choice, there were so many to choose from, and computer screens can’t be relied on to show nuanced differences in cool vs warm grey tones!). I ended up using none of the webbing or hardware – it took too long (which really means, I was too late in ordering!), so I raided a bag I was throwing out for the hardware, and used the webbing available at Stoff & stil, a rather stiff and cheap feeling gros grain in grey (ugh, more color choices! Should the webbing match, or contrast? Perfect match, or just “go”?). Now at least I have everything at the ready for the next bag, and I can use the much nicer feeling nylon webbing – it’s more finely woven, smoother, and reminds me of seatbelt material.

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Sewing the bag, the dopp kit and the pouch is pretty straight forward, but a bit fiddly at times. Sewing the bottom in and pivoting at the corners, and topstitching afterwards benefits from a lot of precision, a good dose of dexterity, and a fair amount of patience. Even with all of those some of my sewing was less even, but the pattern is forgiving enough that it still looks *really good*. I’m pleased to no end with these, especially after the addition of an old brown leather luggage tag I found at my dad’s house, and matching brown leather pull tabs.

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I know some people have mentioned the d-ring installation as tricky, and I found this arm sling tutorial helpful in making things less confusing. I’ve used this bag quite a lot since finishing it, and I’m so thrilled that I made a piece of luggage I can use and looks so… real! I’m anticipating getting a lot of use out of the two other pieces too now – the dopp kitt is currently holding a knitting project, and is the perfect size for a baby sweater in progress. Size wise the duffel bag suits a weekend-length trip. I’m sure I could get a weeks worth of stuff in there if I only brought the most necessary, but the weight of the bag is actually was stops me before the volume. In fact, for the next one I might try attaching the carrying straps further down on the bag, so I could wear it on my back. On this one the straps are attached too close to use it that way. I’m thinking also an inside pocket or two could be practical. Clearly I’m planning on making more. I think they would make really nice gifts, for example!

And finally, one more picture of me boarding the ship because I loved the trip and I’m very proud that I traveled in style, and ended up climbing up the rope ladder level to the flag during the course of the trip. Ship ahoy!

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a tale of two city pants

Did I make the jumpsuit Gillian dared me to make? I did not. Did I make pants a while ago and pair them with a new top I just finished? I did. (Did I binge-watch Elementary and now have Sherlock’s voice in my head? I did. Did I also just write a 1200-word count post? I did.)

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Fabric: 1 meter of printed viscose from Stoff & Stil.
Pattern: Alexandria pants pattern by Named patterns, modified size EU38.
Techniques: Overlocking, gusset, understitching, elastic waist.

Last year I found myself getting more adventurous with both patterned fabrics and silhouettes in clothes – I think as part of a post-break-up shake-up. I wore a patterned strapless jumpsuit, and absolutely loved it! The Hudson pants by True Bias was making its rounds, and I was keen to try the city pants style too. (Is it called city pants? Ok, google says yes.) Since the Hudson pants is for knits and I had a cool viscose woven I thought would be perfect for city-like pants, I went for the Alexandria pants pattern by Named patterns instead. Ugh. Sorry – my gut reaction mentioning that pattern is not a good one! I’ll go into details, but basically… the pattern irritated me. Irritates me.

I love the detail of the pocket sort of hiding in a pleat, and I think the pants look really good on their model, and I’d love to make it up in a black silk crepe I have, and I think it would make some really sleek dressy pants. I just know have a decent amount of fit issues to overcome first, which does not fill me with joy!

citypants (3)I took all these pictures practically in someones yard – it was inside the fenced area of an apartment building. Did I feel awkward? Yes. Am I really glad nobody living in the building went in or came out while I was taking pictures? Oh, really yes.

One of the most irritating things first – the pdf pattern. It has I think 1 cm seam allowance included, which I like (I’m solidly in the included seam allowance camp!), but apparently only on the pdf pattern? Does that mean the printed pattern does not include seam allowance? Huh. Anyways, They have separate files for separate size bundles, with sizes EU36 and EU38 together. You’d think that could get annoying if you wanted to grade between sizes beyond those two, but wait! You can’t grade between the two sizes given in the same file anyways! The two sizes aren’t nested you see, but offset. I can’t understand the point of doing it this way, I really can’t. I’m having a hard time keeping my irritation at bay here, and as much as I like the design I don’t like that the pattern is set up differently than what has become the standard. I don’t mind just because it’s different from what I’m used to, but because it’s different with no added benefit, but actually reduced usability!

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Ok. Deep breath. Back to the facts: I cut a straight size EU38, since my hip width indicated this size. They do have a table showing finished measurements, and I really only looked at how finished waist measurement was 0,5 cm larger than my hip width, so I figured 38 would be the right size, though I usually take a smaller size. Should have listened to my gut!

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I think the line drawing is super cute, and those were the proportions I was aiming for. Several problems with that. First, the waist is actually larger than is listed. Measuring the waistband piece I got to 100 cm (not including the seam allowance) instead of the 96,5 listed. Yeah, not a huge difference, but still. I definitely had lots of extra room pulling the pants over my hips, while according to the chart I should only have that half centimetre of wiggle room. Also, I didn’t check the finished hip measurement, which is 110 cm. That fits what I measured my pants to be (flat), but for personal preference I’m more comfortable with a less baggy fit through the hips and crotch.

Speaking of crotch, I felt like there was quite a bit of extra room there. The pleats add volume of course, but the crotch is lower than I would like. In addition, I had a bit of a hard time finding a place the pants sit comfortably, and I keep wanting to pull the front up to flatten out the extra room. I’m thinking that the pants are drafted to sit much higher than I prefer, or for a taller person.

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One thing the line drawing doesn’t show accurately, is that the gathers from the elastic is distributed throughout. I think a flatter front is much more flattering, so I would distribute the gathers more towards the back. That seems to make sense with the side seams too, they were pulling towards the front when I distributed the gathers evenly. If I go ahead and make a muslin I would lower the center front so there is more of a difference front to back. The back piece seems very roomy – especially compared to another very similar pants pattern I’ve picked up. And the side seams are shaped oddly where they meet the waist – look how they bulge out!

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Those were some random thoughts I wrote down while I was in the process of making them. After finishing, save hemming, I decided the pants were roomier than I wanted. I went ahead and shaved off a chunk along the inseam, ending up making the thighs too tight and creating a nice little prominent tent when I sat down. Ugh. At this point I was so annoyed with the pants that I didn’t want to figure out how to save them. Until a year later when I went through my UFO’s and decided it was worth a try.

I ended up adding gusset-shapes to raise the crotch point and make more room across the thighs. Haha! Look at the patchwork of pieces! Sorry for the wrinkles – the fabric does wrinkle quite easily. I made elasticized cuffs instead of just hemming. I can’t quite decide if I think these look like pajama pants or not, but so far I’ve enjoyed wearing them! (despite my griping – it’s not my most successful make, but it’s fine). I do like how the waist is done with several channels and elastic – it’s a detail that brings it all up a notch I think.

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citypants (10)Snazzy greenish yellow silk lining for the pockets!

I do really like how combined with my OAL-top (I’ll post more when I have the whole outfit together!) it totally looks like a jumpsuit. I like jumpsuits!

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Ahhh… And like this post isn’t wordy enough. The second pants I’m referring to in my punny post title is the one below. It’s from Stoff og stil, pattern number 20028, decommissioned it looks like. It is, like the Alexandria pants, a city pant with pockets partly covered by a pleat, and tapered leg. This one was drafted for a jersey fabric though, and fits much better (I’m sure the fabric is part of the reason). I started sewing these two pants at the same time, and while one sat unfinished on a shelf for a long time, this one has seen weekly wear since being finished. It was interesting to compare the shape of the pattern pieces while working on the two pants, and as with previous experiences with Stoff og stil the drafting has been quite good. I see they now have a UK website too, how exciting! I’ve grown up with their stores and catalogues, and it’s awesome to see how much more on trend they’ve managed to become the last handful of years.

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surprise! it’s a jersey dress with zippered pockets.

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I usually have some sort of name for the projects I work on – what I refer to the garment in my head as I’m sewing it, or even what I plan for the blog post title to be, once it’s finished. For this project, I’ve drawn a complete blank. It’s a grey jersey shift dress and it has zippered pockets (same one seen in my UFO-round-up). And that’s it! But that is ok – I feel strongly that this is one my current, quite basic uniform dresses. During college in Chicago I wore alot of skirts+cardigans+belts-combos, and the first few years back in Bergen it was tweaked to dress+cardigans+belts. Cardigans are still very present in my wardrobe, but the dress-style has shifted (ha!) to a straighter shift silhouette with none of the waist definition I’ve done for years. Subtle changes I guess!

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I currently have four jersey dresses I wear a lot, three of them I made, and the last is a store-bought dress very similar to this one. I have the mint ruched dress from last fall, the Ikat Hemlock dress from last spring, this grey one that is the point of this post, and for good measure I’ll mention this first midnight blue jersey fitted dress since it was the one to start this streak of jersey dresses, and because it also has the zippered pockets.

Fabric: 1,5 meters-ish of heathered grey courtelle jersey from Stoff & Stil.
Pattern: Hacked, based on this dress pattern from (yet again) Stoff & Stil.
Techniques: Overlocking, binding, gusset, zippered welt pockets.

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This dress pattern is really one that keeps giving! I think this is my first tried-and-true pattern, since I don’t usually make multiples. But since I’ve now really tweaked the fit to suit my body and the fabrics I like using, it’s reliable and quick to use. You know, except when I decide to change stuff, and totally make a mess of it all – like with this dress. My intention was a looser shift style dress without a waistseam, so I butted the skirt and bodice pattern pieces next to eachother, and then added what seemed to me an appropriate amount of ease. I really missed the mark there – I tried it on after sewing up the side seams and it was sausage casing tight! To make the addition of a gusset in each side seam look a little more intentional I cut it on the crossgrain.

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Having learned from the midnight blue ponte dress, I didn’t even attempt sewing in the zippers by machine, but topstitched around the opening and handsewed in the zipper using backstitch to securely attach it. The pocketing is a nice woven viscose I’ve also used for a pair of pants I recently finished, and I like that it’s matches in color, but is patterned. I’ve noticed that the pockets pull down a bit when I fill them with stuff, which doesn’t happen with the other dress. I’m thinking the waistseam anchors and supports the weight in a way that is less noticeable – you know, it wasn’t a mistake, it is a design feature! 😉

grey_jersey_zippered_pockets (8)Pocketing fabric in a watercolor-like printed viscose. Also, disappointingly, a little pilling despite not having been worn that many times!

So yeah, I don’t have much more to say about the dress. Despite not gushing about it, I do like it very much – I’ve used it at least once a week since finishing it! (I also love the proper summer weather we’ve been granted here in Bergen, and the awesome park that is a stone throw from my apartment. <3 Expect to see more corners from the park in future posts!)

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i have plans… OAL-plans

I’m chipping away at my ufo-pile that I posted about last month… um, two months ago (how in the world did that happen?) – I’ve finished the Grainline Portside travel set and just need to stuff it with pillows and photograph it, tackled a few easy repairs, and gotten back into muslin making for the Robson coat. I’ve been telling myself to knock out these unfinished projects before starting anything new, but then Lauren and Andi’s Outfit Along shows up and disturbs all my plans! In the best way, of course.

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Lots of pops of pink on my sewing table! Really my family inherited dining table, but… um, covered in planned and potential sewing projects now. A lovely little corner of my lovely new apartment!

The Outfit Along is a challenge to, between June 1st and July 31st, knit one garment and sew one garment to create a complete outfit. Technically you’re meant to start from scratch, but reading Lauren’s post got me so very inspired to build an outfit around a half-finished cardigan (another Bayview Street Cardigan) that I’ve lacked the drive to finish, so I’m bending the rules as I see fit. :) It took me about ten seconds to decide on a pair of shorts, another ten to realize I had a pattern in my stash that would work well (Simplicity/Built by Wendy 3850 pants), a minute to dig out a fine-waled grey corduroy I think will be perfect, and (I will admit it) a whole day to land on a magenta crinkly chiffon underlined in dark brown-grey chiffon for a sleeveless Pattern Runway Pussy Bow Blouse.

Going through my UFO-pile made me realize I tend to abandon projects when I deviate too much from the pattern or instructions, and run into fitting issues or problems that require a bit of effort to work through. I want to finish these garments that I’m planning, not add to my pile of stuff – so I’ve decided to really hold back on alterations I make to these patterns. For the shorts I’ll raise the center front though, as I’ve seen that is a recurring comment from others who have made it, and for the blouse I want merge the ties and the collar stand instead of having a separate tie. I’ll probably also raise the underarm slightly since the blouse isn’t drafted to be sleeveless.

So, I’m going to finish a longstanding UFO, make two pieces of clothing I’ve been wanting in my wardrobe, using fabrics and patterns from the stash. Win, win, win, win, huh? I’m excited! Anyone else participating in the Outfit Along?

ufo spring cleaning

Happy Easter everyone! I hope these days off are a welcome break, filled with all the things you want to fill them with. For me, its crime shows on tv (a Norwegian must! I don’t know why, but Easter is all about the murder mystery books and the who-dunnit on tv), chocolate, reading, knitting, and…. spring cleaning.

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There are several reasons why the cabinet with my in-progress sewing projects is getting emptied and scrutinized these days. One is of course that I have a very generous two weeks off from working, thanks to the local school system adding winter break onto this years early Easter. Another is (exciting things up ahead!) I’m looking to move soon – this time into my own apartment! Nothing is finalized yet, but I’m making every effort to become a homeowner this spring! This is beyond exciting and also terrifying, but mostly I’m feeling the happy feelings. This is also an excellent opportunity to sort through my things, and in the spirit of Marie Kondo and her life-changing tidying magic – only bring with me what sparks joy.

So, unfinished sewing objects… Some of these are years old, and have felt like a cloud hanging over my sewing time – “I should be working on that dress that only needs buttons, but…” I wanted to clear out the projects that no longer thrill me, and at the same time I was a bit curious why exactly I stalled. This might be more to my benefit than of interest to others, but here is an overview of the projects I found lurking – and why I’m giving away two incomplete dresses if there is someone who wants them and finish them. 

There were three categories I found:
– Simple projects that really just needed 20 minutes of attention. I tried to knock these out straight away, and managed to hem a dress that has been waiting for 5 months, mend a hole in a knit sweater, and patch up a pair of jeans.
– Slightly more involved projects that should still be doable in a few hours, like the several pouches below, a pair of zippered welt pockets in an otherwise finished jersey dress, a leather bag that needs assembly, and an umbrella destined to become a reusable shopping bag.
– The bigger projects I found were a trenchcoat with a partially assembled muslin, a lace skirt, a muslin for a bias cut silk slip, and a pair of pants with serious fit issues.

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What: First up, a ufo I’ve tackled and want to show off as a finished object! I’ve had a scrap of black pleather lying around for ages, and at one point decided I wanted to make a lined clutch with gold teeth zippers and a gorgeous golden-green dupioni silk.
Why did I stall: I didn’t have a pattern, and the odd shapes of the scraps meant this was an excersise in creative patterncutting, and it just required too much brain power to get started.
What now: Yesterday I was finally in the right mood to figure out construction details and cut out pieces. I really like how it came out! Save from a small corner of the lining that I left open to pull everything through, this is all machine stitched, and the challenge of finding the right order of operation was a lot of fun and very satisfying. The proportions are a tiny bit off I think, and the top zipper is really a bit too long for the edge I sewed it to (see the slight puckering?), but for the satisfaction of those colors together and the top stitching, I can live very well with the imperfections. Mostly it just feels good to have finally finished it and not have it “waiting”!

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What: Next up, the two smallest pieces of the Grainline Studio Portside travel set. I made the dufflebag itself last summer, before my sailing trip on the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, and it was great.
Why did I stall: I had all the self/outside patternpieces cut and interfaced, but not the lining. I think also I lost the sense of urgency as I barely managed to finish the dufflebag before my trip, and that’s why I was making the set.
What now: I lost a couple of the self pieces, so I had to recut those, and then I cut the lining pieces. They now just need to be slip-stitched to the zipper, and anchor the corners. Also, I forgot that I had added an extra inch of width, so the bottom of the dopp-kit is a little wonky. This is why leaving projects for months and years suck – you totally forget all the little changes and choices you’ve made!

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What: Smaller repairs – zippered welt pockets, and interfacing a floppy collar and buttonstand on a blouse.
Why did I stall: Tedious unpicking ahead. Decisionmaking – where to place the zippers? How much of the buttonstand to interface? Remove the  buttons and the collarstand to really get access? Annoyance – why is this blouse made without interfacing? It’s so floppy and unsymmetrical! Impracticality – I actually wear the blouse quite a lot, now it will be out of commission for a while (well, given my track record at least! I’m hoping to change that!)
What now: Just do it.

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What: Oh, wow. This is an oldie. I’ve had this bag planned since my senior thesis collection (in 2011!). I didn’t have time to make it for the fashion show, and I don’t remember when I actually cut it, but.. here it is.
Why did I stall: It’s like a kit that didn’t come with instructions. Last time I had it out I got totally overwhelmed with trying to figure out the spacing for the holes along the edge that I need to punch out, so I just put it away again. Also, I’m not in a very dire need of a small leather bag, even though it will be cute.
What now: Well, some math and a good album is maybe what this requires?

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What: Lace skirt, from pattern testing Sewaholics Rae skirt pattern.
Why did I stall: I want to make this into an underlined pencilskirt (check out my asking for input on lining choice here), but that means unpicking 8 serged seams, drafting a panelled pencil skirt pattern and underlining each panel piece.
What now: I know, I could make this much easier on myself, but I think this is a project I would enjoy doing very thoughtfully and thoroughly. I should probably start by seeing if I have a suitable skirt pattern in my stash somewhere – that feels like the biggest hurdle to keep going. I almost decided to get rid of this project, but something keeps holding me back. I think I will like this skirt once I finish it!

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What: This is also from last summer – a pair of Named Patterns Alexandria pants.
Why did I stall: I really did not like working with this pattern. It put me in a bad mood. Then the fit was not good, so I tried to slim the legs down and made it worse.
What now: I’ve decided I think a crotch gusset might be the solution. I’m wondering if the width across the hips and… crotch width perhaps? is not wide enough, making a very unflattering “tent” when I sit down. This will need some trial and error to get it to fit, and that requires patience on my part.

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What: Sewaholic Robson coat! I’m actually really looking forward to working on this! I bought the fabric several years ago in London specifically for this coat.
Why did I stall: That lovely printed cotton voile is to become bias binding. Something like 14 metres of it. That is stalling me, as is the fact that I made the decision to grade between several sizes while cutting out the pattern for the muslin, and now I don’t remember what sizes I used and where. Once I have the muslin sewn up I anticipate fitting changes that needs to be transferred to the paper pattern. Also, the amount of fabric is a little daunting!
What now: Now that I write this out, it doesn’t feel all that undoable actually. I think when I work on this coat it needs to be the only project I’m working on – or else I will lose track and get confused.

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What: Pattern Runways Gathered sundress. I blogged about it here.
Why did I stall: I’ve worn this twice. I really love the fabric, a soft cotton silk in lovely colors. It’s just that the fabric reads very differently at a bit of a distance, as a garment, than it does up close. I used a gold-colored silk as an accent in piping along the waistline and the pockets, and I thought changing out the waistband itself would break up the print a bit. I did a lot of unpicking, and then… I don’t think this is my style anymore.
What now: I loved making this dress – I put a lot of effort and care into it, but it’s not for me anymore. If anyone wants this, and put it back together, I will be happy to ship anywhere. (The zipper is included, it needs to have the waistband reattached to the bodice and the skirt, and the lower portion of the zipper attached again. It measures 98 cm/ 38,5 inches in the bust, 75,5 cm/ 29,5 inches at the waist, and is 94 / 37″ cm long in total from top of shoulderstrap to hem)

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What: 0451/2246 Traveler dresses by Lisetteblogged about in progress here.
Why did I stall: My sewing machine doesn’t make button holes. Or, it does, but it’s totally anti-automatic. I’ve been waiting for a chance to borrow someones machine and make the buttonholes, but it’s become clear now to me that even if I finish the dress, I won’t wear it. So, again – if anyone wants this and finish it, I will be happy to ship anywhere in the world.
What now: I really enjoyed making this dress as well – as you can see, I took great care to match stripes, made interfaced bias sections for sleeves and hem, and I did a small FBA as well. I made alterations to the pattern, which I’m glad for – if I want a shirt dress, I have a fitted pattern ready to go! But the colors and the plaid isn’t for me anymore, so it’s free to a good home if anyone wants it! It measures 98,5 cm/ 38,75 inches in the bust, 77,5 cm/ 30,5 inches at the waist, and is 95,5 cm / 37,5 inches long in total from shoulderseam to hem). The fabric feels like a wool/linen blend, but there could also be some polyester in there. It’s a tiny bit scratchy, in other words. 😉

What is the main thing I’ve realized going through my UFO’s? For one, I think I should try to only have one sewing project going at a time – maybe two if the second is a fairly simple one. The choices and changes I make as I’m underways will be forgotten if I put away a project for too long. Another thing I’m realizing is that I stall out when things veer off course. Some days I’m up for the challenge of figuring out things, and other days I just want to follow directions and use sewing as my meditation time. It feels really good to go through these old projects and sort out the ones I actually want to finish! And maybe I can be a bit more mindful about new projects that I start – that I am exited enough about them to work through any problems that might arise?

How about you out there – any spring cleaning or finishing up projects? Regardless – Happy Easter!

cozy raglan sweater, sort of, finally

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Happy new year! A little belated, but I’m wearing my new (store-bought) sparkly skirt in honor of 2016! I think it will be a good one. I hope you all had a lovely holiday celebration, and rest and good company and good food. But don’t be distracted by the sparkles – it’s actually the black sweater we’re here to look at!

Fabric: 1 m black wool terry
Pattern: Raglan t-shirt, Design #4 in Ottobre magazine 5/2013. I cut a size 38.
Techniques: bias binding, understitching, overlocking.

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First off, pictures of this project is inspired (again) by Gillian’s newest post for better pictures, on taking indoor pictures. It is cold outside, even on my veranda, so getting good indoor pictures until it warms up would be nice! The main tip I took from this post was to find a spot perpendicular to the light source. This means however that my stuff is all visible in the background. Paired with the fact that even at two pm the light is fading here, I opted to use the aperture priority setting with a small aperture (f 1.8) that would let in the most light, and blur out the background the most. I don’t know if this affected the autofocus, of if it was where in the frame I was standing, or my sweater being black, but I’ve never had to delete so many totally out of focus pictures! This was a hard one for my camera, poor thing.

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This fabric is crazy cosy. I got a metre of this stuff at a school where I taught sewing as a substitute teacher this spring, and it’s from a local factory that produces wool clothing. I really like the slight horizontal striations, it gives what is really just black jersey a little bit of texture. The fiber is pure wool, and I would call it a terry – it has all those little loops on the backside,  so it’s super toasty! I knew right away that it would turn into a casual Grainline Linden-like sweater. (Or, as I like to put it, the fabric told me what kind of garment it wanted to be!)

I like to be able to use patterns from my stash when possible, so while I don’t have a huge stash, but I did find a raglan top in an Ottobre magazine that I chose to use. The pattern, #4 in the autumn/winter 5/2013 issue, is really a t-shirt pattern, so I knew I needed to make a couple of changes to get the casual sweater fit I wanted. For one, I had to add my own cuffs, hem and neckline bands, and I decided to size up to get a roomier fit than the t-shirt was intended for. Also, the pattern had a dart at the shoulder for shaping, which I didn’t want, so I slashed and spread. I messed this bit up. I ended up adding length at the front between the armpit and shoulder – length that wasn’t appropriate to add, and got a funnelneck thing going on! Not good. I unpicked, overlapped, and trimmed the neckline down, and that helped. I could not get the neckband to look decent though, so I finally just attached it as a binding instead. I eased the shoulders in especially during this step, which also helped, but I can see the binding makes the neckline a little bulky, and it still wants to stick up a little bit. I have the same thing happening on my ikat Hemlock dress – I’m thinking binding in a lighter weight jersey like on my recent Bettine dress is a good solution. Oh, and also note the little piece of ribbon I put in. It’s mainly meant to help me quickly tell the front from the back, but I also think it’s a nice little touch!

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Take notice of my face in the picture above – it’s my “seriously camera, will you focus and take a picture now, if I move a little to the left?”-look. But it also shows the back raglan sleeve, which I think has a nice line (nicer than the front, but that’s mainly my fault). While I was making this I was not really pleased with how the sweater was looking. I thought the sleeves were too slim, the neckline and shoulder fit was a mess, and the sleeves were really long after adding cuffs rather than folding and hemming them. And don’t I actually look better in dropped shoulder styles rather than raglan? The width of the hem band was due to how much fabric I had left, and it doesn’t look entirely proportionate in my eyes. The fabric isn’t the stretchiest, so cutting the cuffs and hem band from a narrower width of self fabric is only partly successful. I mean, it works, but not super well. For example – I can’t pull the sleeves up more than 2 inches above my wrist – the cuff is then stretched to its maximum! Oh well.

For all my hesitations and second-rate solutions I have ended up with a perfectly wearable and undeniably cozy sweater. I actually like slim sleeves; the extra length is something I really love in sweaters; and the neckline would probably look a little constricting with the added band, as was the original plan. It’s not perfect, and this post certainly contains a fair amount of what Karen cleverly dubs ablogogising (oh how I enjoy Karen’s writing!) – pointing out the errors in my make. But, it is cozy and warm. And I’ve worn it for three straight days. Let’s call it reluctantly, eventually, finally a success, shall we?

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a floral cotton sateen Bettine

Starting the weekend with a 10 am sunrise photoshoot! Like I mentioned in my last post, about the jersey Bettine, I’ve been waiting for daylight and weather to co-operate so I could take pictures of the cotton sateen Bettine I’ve made. Waking up Saturday morning to the absence of sleet and hail and pouring rain had me dressed to the nines at sunrise to take some balcony photographs. The things we do for blog photos!

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Fabric: 1,3 m floral print cotton sateen from Stoff og Stil.
Pattern: Bettine dress from Tilly and the Buttons. I made the size 2, but used just 1/4″ s.a. for overlocking.
Techniques: bias binding, understitching, elastic casing.

I haven’t worked in a cotton sateen since my final thesis project in fashion school. The dark grey side-draped skirt is made in cotton sateen, and I remember creases setting in like crazy – once a wrinkle had appeared there was no amount of steaming or ironing that would get it fully out. Therefore I was a bit worried about the same here, but though the fabric does wrinkle (even just from sitting down for 10 minutes!), it is way easier to iron them out than my last attempt! So… maybe not all cotton sateens are created equal? This is still definitely a dress I’ll need to iron before wearing though.

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I really like the print of this fabric, and the colors! It’s bold, and watercolor-like, and it’s cream-colored rather than white-white, and I love it.

I wrote quite a bit about the pattern changes I made to this dress in my previous Bettine post, so I don’t need to repeat all of that. The only change I made to this cotton dress after sewing up the jersey dress, was to shave off another 1/2″ or so from the bottom of the back bodice, to make it pool even less. I also remembered to fold the elastic casing down into the skirt this time, as intended – which makes the bodice lay nicer over the waistband. In this version I cut the back skirt with a center seam. I did this partly for fabric yield, but mostly for fit reasons. By having a back seam I could add some width and length over the butt, and I think that helps the side seam hang more nicely as well.

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I know the pattern changes I wrote about were a little hard to visualize, so I took some pictures of my pattern pieces post-alterations. They’re a little worse for wear after travelling rolled up in my bag during a rain storm, but you can see the important parts still!

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This is the back skirt piece, where I first of all lowered the center back waist point, to shape the waist and get a curve going up to the side-seam instead of the original straight edge. You can also see where I opened up the pattern at hip/butt-level and added a wedge. This wedge gives the skirt piece extra length to travel over the shape of the butt, and also just a tiny bit more width. The side seam length stays the same though. You can also see how I’ve reduced and redrawn the dramatic side seam curve, which is even more crucial to a good fit in a stiffer fabric like cotton sateen.

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The back bodice skirt has length taken out at the center back waist seam to reduce the amount of fabric hanging over the waist. I took out a little bit of width too, to get a near 90° angle at the side seam/waist seam intersection so it would meet the front bodice piece correctly.

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The front bodice piece I’ve shown already, but I did an FBA by opening up a wedge from the shoulder to the bust apex. Instead opening up and adding length evenly across the bodice, as you usually do with FBA’s, I rotated it into the center front fold line. This adds length to the center front only, and the side seam stays the same length. By doing this I got a little bit of extra length to travel over the bust, which I think was needed to have the same amount of pooling in the front as in the back. So – added length to the front bodice, reduced length in the back.

I don’t know if it was the thickness of the fabric or the multiple layers around the pockets, but I had the hardest time getting the elastic into the casing using a safety-pin! It took me 5 or 6 tries, after ending up between the wrong layers of fabrics. I actually unpicked a section in the front to get it all straightened out, and re-sewed that section with the elastic in place. A different way of getting the elastic in might save you some time!

Other than a woven fabric and the back skirt seam, the only difference between this version and the jersey one is adding the button tabs. The fabric is quite busy, so it’s not very easy to see – but it’s there, and it has a brass-colored button, and it’s a nice little touch. I think it works with this weight of fabric.

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Well, I managed to say quite a lot about a dress I’ve already said a lot about! It works very nicely as a party-dress (worn to my neighbour’s 30th birthday party), and I like the print and the colors very much. The end.

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