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!

winter woolens

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… or “Loki mittens and the third watch-cap”. It’s winter! I made wooly stuff I can wear! Let’s have a look.

Mittens
Yarn:
 Random scraps of yarn – most of it gifted balls of Icelandic yarn from the stash of a friend who’d been there.
Pattern: Made up, based on Loki sweater pattern. (my ravelry project page)
Techniques: Stranded colorwork, ribbing.

Cabled hat
Yarn:
 Merino wool from a frogged sweater.
Pattern: Cabled watch-cap by Kristen Orme
Techniques: Ribbing, cables.

So, the mittens are a figment of my imagination. Not in the sense that they aren’t real (they must be – the keep my hands warm every day!), but the pattern is made up. I came across the Loki kid sweater on Ravelry a really long time ago, and immediately thought they would make cool Icelandic-inspired mittens with some Icelandic coarse wool I’d just been given by a friend. It took several years to make this happen, but here! Finally!

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I used the repeat pattern from the original kid sweater and repeated it eight times, following the decreases from the chart exactly. It made a sort of funny cone-like shape that isn’t the best for.. you know, hand-shapes. I’m on to the second pair (this time for a friend), and making improvements to get a proper hand shape instead. Meanwhile, I washed, blocked and stretched this pair, and it works just fine. It is very rustic looking – both in yarn and stitch quality! In my defense I will claim that the gorgeously colored green yarn (which a burn test revealed to be some sort of acrylic I think, though oddly stiff) was really hard to work with. I didn’t make it easier on myself either by choosing to combine three different weights of yarn! Especially in the middle section where all three colors are in play at once – it got thick and dense real fast. Surprisingly though, for being a stranded pattern *and* real sticky Icelandic wool, these mittens are not very warm. On their own they are barely good for a crisp fall day, which doesn’t quite describe the season we’re in. I wonder if the gauge might be too loose to get a real dense fabric? Regardless – a pair of thin gloves underneath and it’s all ok. Plus, I love how well these mittens match my woolen hats, and my winter jacket, and generally the rest of my wardrobe. I’ve decided they are kind of charming in their rustic-ness!

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I had a lot of fun knitting these mittens – I’ve forgotten how much I love doing colorwork! It is a fairly small project, and with changes to pretty much every row it is excellent entertainment… Just one more row! I have two more of this type planned out/started, and another fingering weight colorwork pair of mittens  at the top of my ravelry queue (this one). I’m thinking of using my Barcelona souvenir yarn and some thin brown alpacca yarn. It will be sumptuous!

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Ok, and now the hat. It might look familiar. It’s the third time I’ve knit the exact same hat in the exact same yarn. I posted about the first time I knit this hat here (it ended up being to big and I gave it to a friend), and here is the post for the second one (which apparently I’ve lost).

I’m not quite sure what to say about this hat other than 1. I obviously love it since I’ve knit it three times, 2. I actually finally almost used up the rest of this merino wool! It came from a thrifted sweater and the yarn is so fine I’ve been knitting with four strands, 3. I like the wider ribbing of the second version the best, and 4. I’m particularly pleased with how I did the increases between the ribbing and the cabled pattern in such a way that the pattern grows naturally from the rib pattern.

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Oh, I wanted to talk a little about photo editing! That was a topic on Katie’s blog in connection with her Better Pictures post on indoor photography, as well as Gillian’s post on using Lightroom. Personally I use a combination of Bridge and Photoshop, which I have since I got a really great deal on the Adobe CS-package while still a student at an art college. Sidenote – there at school I took a digital photography class where we used Lightroom, and I thought it was really good, and easy to use. When my current set-up is outdated beyond repair, Lightroom would be my dream choice for blog photo editing.

The set-up I’ve got going now is pretty much a substitute to the Lightroom setup in many ways. I use a Nikon D600, and I have it set up to save in both RAW and jpeg formats. I got used to working with RAW-files in the digital photography class, and I’m just not going back if I can help it! There is so much information in the unprocessed files, which in many ways makes photo editing much easier, since there is more you can do before your photos look… you know, really edited. Anyways, I open my photoshoot folder in Bridge, and look through what I have. As I go along I label the pictures I like (you can use a star rating, or different colors). Then I filter to show only labeled photos, and start comparing and deselecting the good but not great ones. Once I have my selection I mark them all and open with Photoshop, which will go straight into RAW-editing mode. From there I can play with temperature, exposure, black level, brightness, recovery and fill light (the last two are great for overexposed white areas, and those times when the light source is behind me or not strong enough). Those are the things I pretty consistently adjust. I have set up an action to save my photos, so a keyboard shortcut will resize the photo optimized for web, into a folder I’ve specified, and close out the photo from Photoshop so I know I’m done with it. It works really well. I’m very in favor of actions – once you’ve taken the trouble of setting them up!

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I thought about all of this because while editing the photos I hit the auto-option for color temperature and general exposure (like I always do – at the very least I want to see what the program thinks I should do!), and it made the colors really warm, and it made for a nice-looking photo. My first thought however was “This is all wrong! It was a really cold day, with the sun setting early in the afternoon and I had a pale, low sun as the source of light. It should look cold!”. So I left the pictures looking a little cold. I’m not entirely sure what my point is, other than maybe that I edit the pictures to reflect how I think it looked or felt that day. Which this day was pretty damn chilly. I think maybe my frosty breath is visible in some of the pictures!

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Anyone else have a system or agenda with their photo editing? Or, use the “I’m just adjusting my hat/scarf/hair-pose to avoid awkward idle hands in photos? Or, have knitted some warm wintry goodness lately? It’s the season! (Or maybe… it’s the season for having them finished already so they can be put to use!)

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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sewing for my teaching exam

Well, hello there! Big news – I am now a certified teacher! For the last year I’ve been doing a practical-pedagogical course at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, called PPU (praktisk pedagogisk utdanning). This, alongside the bachelor degrees I already have, allows me to teach art in public schools grades 5-13. I can probably teach in private schools too, but private schools only make up for 5% of the student body here in Norway, so it’s not too pressing of a matter if it turns out I can’t.

Ok, anyways! Being a practical-pedagogical program, it was only fitting that we had a practical portion to our exam as well as an actual practicum (I did 7 weeks with a 11th grade art class). First we submitted a written theoretical paper, along with a devised classroom plan based on our thesis from the paper. I wrote about how the national achievement goals outlined for the art subjects for the class I had my practicum in favored learning hand-fast skills more than it did an aesthetic type of learning (oh, I will do it injustice trying to explain that briefly, but I mean the type of “intuitive”, bodily learning that usually involves some type of creating or expressing. Like – a group of kids putting on a play about trolls can encompass and express learning about social rules and what happens if you don’t follow them. For example).

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The classroom project I outlined in my paper was pretty much the one I did during my practicum, which was to have the students work through a design process by being inspired by a painting, do some research and brainstorming around the artwork, sketch designs for a sweater, and finally make the sweater. I had a really good time doing this with the kids (well, teenagers), and they produced some nice and fun and cool interpretations of their artworks in sweater-form.

So the next part of the exam, which you see here, was to create something within our own field of expertise, that could be used in the classroom to visually aid the instruction. All the students in my class ended up using only three pretty basic sewing techniques, which were an elastic straight stitch (I insisted they only used jersey fabric), a twin needle hem, and finishing necklines, sleeves or the body with a folded band. So I made up three matching samples, which in real life in a classroom setting I would sew during a demo for the students, and then the samples would be there for them to look at afterwards as a reference.

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And then the really fun part! For my exam presentation I then made three garments using only those three basic techniques (also limiting myself to only using knit fabrics, since that’s all my students were allowed to use), which works to illustrate how many different things you can do with having the basics down. The imagination is the limit! I tried to make three distinctly different garments stylistically, but also tried to use those basic techniques in different ways. I realized the day before the final presentation that the only way I had used the twin needle hemming, was to… hem. On each of them. No necklines, no sleeves finished with a twin needle! Oops. The goal was to spark imagination by showing really different ways to use the techniques. I did manage that for the folded band though!

First up the Sherlock Holmes meets Lisbeth Salander cape-thingy:

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 Draped right on my roommate, scuba-jersey for the neckline band, which is so wide that it turns into a collar. I had fun making this one! I think draping lends itself really well to letting the fabric dictate what happens, and less conventional solutions to basic shapes. This has a couple of deep pleats around the neckline to allow for the shoulders, and the separating zipper opens fully.

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This might actually look familiar to some! It’s a jersey version of my Ireland dress, which I made a few years ago. It was nice to work with a familiar pattern, and to remember the construction decisions from last time. The armholes are finished with a technique I familiar with from the Sewaholic blog. It’s a bias binding technique, but works pretty well with jersey as well! And, of course… look how lovely the neckline falls – the beauty of jersey! The high-low hem is totally a product of minimal yardage since this was a piece of fabric from the stash, and I had to cut out the back bodice from somewhere! I think it looks perfectly nice and a smidge more casual, combined with the jersey fabric.

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 And finally, what I think might be my favorite of the three – this tropical-floral-neoprene-like kimono. I had a different plan for a more structured garment, thinking that the neoprene would really hold its shape. My fabric store totally sells garment-weight neoprene, which is a lot more drapey than the real stuff. I didn’t have a lot of yardage, but enough to squeeze out this basic kimono shape. I took everything I learned making my own kimono-style robe, and just simplified it a little. The black edge bands are from a wonderfully squishy merino-wool, and I think the rest of the metre I got is destined to be a casual raglan sweatshirt or something similarly slouchy. I bet it will be so warm – the wool fabric feels very lofty, almost a sponge-like quality to it! Which also is working well with the spongy neoprene. I really love the contrast between the neon-colored floral print and the rich black. I have a wonderfully colorful and cheerful friend, and I thought of her all while making this – first chance I get I will hand it to her, and I think it will suit her really well!

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As I post-script I guess I should add that I did really well on this exam. I am relieved, happy and immensely proud of having completed this last year of study – it has been challenging and demanding and educational (hah, yes) beyond all I had imagined when I started. The first week I so often thought “Oh, my god – I can’t do this! What have I gotten myself into?!”. I totally did this, and I am now beyond a doubt totally a teacher – in heart, mind and spirit!

black lace belcarra blouse

Yeah, look at that alliteration in the post title! I have a bit of a backlog of garments I want to post about, so I did a really chilly photoshoot outside my apartment today. I think this Belcarra blouse is the oldest, judging by my instagram feed I finished this in mid-August. I remember wearing it tons right after finishing it, and being very pleased with it. Which I still am!

Black belcarra blouse (4)Check out my new glasses! I’m really pleased with them. They are the Tame Cat pair from Bergen-based company Kaibosh.

Fabric: Soft bamboo twill and lace in black, both from Stoff og Stil. I don’t see either fabric on their webpages, but I think I saw them both in the store last time I was at the Bergen location (for any locals looking for it!). Also black bias tape from the depths of my stash. It’s probably vintage by now.
Pattern: Belcarra Blouse from Sewaholic Patterns, view A. Size 0 at the hips, and size 2 pretty much everywhere else. I did bring the neckline in, roughly following the size 4 markings, graded to nothing at center front and back. Also, a 1,5″ FBA resulting in a bust dart.
Techniques: Raglan sleeves, bias binding, handpicked understitching.

Black belcarra blouse (2)

I made the most rookiest of mistakes in preparing for this blouse – I didn’t check the test square when I printed out my pdf pattern. I never have my printer set to scale anything, so I simply didn’t bother to check until after I had assembled and cut the pattern, and yes! It was 10% smaller than it was supposed to be. Ha! After some careful pattern measuring, and realizing I barely had enough left of this bamboo twill to make the smaller size anyways, I decided to not re-print the pattern. A quick muslin showed I needed more room at the waist, and to narrow the neckline. I’d seen several people mention the width of the neckline, so I was prepared for that regardless.

Black belcarra blouse (3)

Despite being a smaller than intended size, I still didn’t have enough fabric without piecing the back! I made it curved to look a little more intentional, and even shaved off some length in the middle to make a sort of sway-back adjustment while I was at it. It doesn’t bother me too much to have a seam across the back – but then again, I can’t even see it when I wear the blouse!

Black belcarra blouse detail

I sewed on the bias binding by hand. I could have done that by machine of course, but the width of the bias tape had me worried about terrible stretching. Also, by handsewing I could turn this into a portable project, like knitting! I actually did most of this while visiting a friend and drinking tea. I pickstitched to function as understitching (because I love understitching and it makes everything prettier), and then sewed the bottom edge down as invisibly as I could. I hemmed the bodice in the same way – well, I overlocked, then turned up and slipstitched.

Black belcarra blouse (1)

So there it is! Success! And yes, it wrinkles, and yes, the bamboo twill is a little stiff, but it’s also a little shiny, so it’s forgiven. And yes, the black fabrics are two different kinds of black, and yes, I have some small adjustments like lowering the bust dart and taking out a wedge from the apex towards the raglan sleeve seam, but I use this top lots, and I like the way it looks. I’m thinking of doing the version with the pintucked sleeve next!

twisted jersey skirt

twisted jersey skirt

John’s camera did some really wacky blurring on this photo, but I thought it was still cool! This weekend Bergen has been host to 70 sailing ships in this years Tall Ship races, the couple thousand crew members of the ships, and about half a million in visitors. It’s been a lively weekend, to say the least! There has been concerts, beer gardens, activities and open ships to visit. We took a stroll on Saturday and enjoyed the sunshine and the crowds, and I made a skirt for the occasion. This was seriously a 30 minute project from start to finish! It might look like a dress in the picture above, which is of course because I’m wearing my nearly perfect tshirt in the same fabric. A belt in a contrasting fabric helps the illusion that the two pieces are actually a dress – double duty garments are the best!

Fabric: A rayon jersey from Stoff og Stil, in a heathered blue.
Pattern: Totally and experimentally made up.
Techniques: None. Well, if you count overlocking and twisting fabric, then sure, those.

twisted jersey skirt

That is the Russian vessel Kruzenshtern in the background, the largest participating ship. It’s crazy big! And that is me cooling my feet on a recordbreaking warm day for Bergen. It felt so nice.  So, the skirt! I’ve been wanting to make a jersey miniskirt to fill a gap in my wardrobe – I’ve realized I reach for my striped miniskirt a whole lot, and it’s the only miniskirt I have! I’ve seen these twisting jersey skirts several places, and think it’s a great way to make a jersey skirt more interesting. The tutorials I found on the webs were really confusing to me, so I sort of went with what I thought would work.

This is pretty much just a tube that has been twisted before being joined together along the short end. Let me explain: I cut a square about 1 yard x 1 yard (that is 2x the length of a well-fitting miniskirt x a little less than the hip circumference of a well-fitting miniskirt), folded in half with right sides facing in, and sewed the long edge shut. Then I turned the tube right side out, and before lining up the two short ends to overlock across the four layers, I twisted one side so the first seam intersection was nudged about 1/3 of the way down from the top. This means that the long, first seam runs from the top edge on one side of the center back seam, around the body but spiralling very gently downwards, and ending at the center back seam further down than the starting point. Yeah, so not the easiest thing to explain, but I can expand if anyone is interested! I did have to shape the back seam a bit, to hug the waist but not be super-tight across the hips.

twisted jersey skirt

Later in the evening we went back downtown to sit outside and have a beer after it had cooled down a bit. We took these pictures right about midnight actually, so that tells you 1. how warm it still was, and 2. how much light we’re still getting here at night! Love that. I did an outfit change too, so you can really see that it’s actually a skirt, haha! I call this a success, and looking forward to wearing this well into fall with tights and boots. But for now, I’ll be baring legs for as long as I can. Happy summer!

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