winter woolens



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

 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
 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!

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!


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!



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.


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!


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!


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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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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a diamond jersey Bettine

Hey there! So, here is the first of two Bettine’s I’ve made – the second one I will post about as soon as I take the pictures, which will happen sometime in daylight when it’s not raining. That is a bigger feat than it might sound like in Rain capital here!

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Fabric: 1,3 m polyester and viscose jacquard sweater-weight jersey from Stoff og Stil.
Pattern: Bettine dress from Tilly and the Buttons.
Techniques: Jersey fabric, neck and pocket binding, serged seams, single-layer pockets.

First off, this is like socially acceptable pajamas. Made up in jersey, it is one comfortable dress! With pockets. I mean, pockets rule. Here is a close-up shot of the pocket:

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Ok, I’m going to back up here for a second. I taught a youth sewing class this fall (like I’ve done several times before), and I had the brilliant idea of combining all the demos I usually do into an actual garment.  Very smart. I had a laundry list of techniques I wanted to demo for the kids, and I found the Bettine dress to be the pattern that had most all of those techniques. So in between helping the participants with their jackets and skirts or whatever project they had chosen to work on, I would take 10 minutes to show them something different each class; elastic waistbands, or pocket constructions, or bias binding, or hemming. It worked quite well, and at the end I had a dress! Ahead of time I made this jersey dress as a test-run, so I’d be familiar with the construction steps and what-not.

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Now, some words on the pattern and the fit. Going in I was worried about the fit – I’d read several reviews that highlighted problematic aspects about the pattern (this one I found particularly helpful, with the side view), and Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow pointed out that the skirt front and back is cut from the same pattern piece. From the pictures I’ve seen around the interwebs this has a tendency to make the back hem rise up, since the back skirt piece hasn’t been made longer to compensate for the extra travelling distance over the butt. At the same time I noticed in pictures more excess in the back bodice pooling over the elastic waist than in the front, probably for the same reason – the front bodice is not made longer than the back despite the added volume of the bust.

After printing out the pattern and assembling I could see why these issues were happening. The skirt piece and the two bodice pieces all have straight waist seams. Being a beginners pattern I assume the same skirt piece is used front and back to make things easier on novice sewers, but I’m having a hard time justifying the non-curved waist seam. To my pattern-maker-trained eye it just looks wrong, and results in uneven amounts of pooling around the bodice (front to back, center to sides). Also, it makes the skirt hang unevenly. Frankly, I was disappointed to see this in the pattern. I also don’t understand why the sizing has to be unconventional and run as sizes 1-8 rather than the European or American sizing convention, but that is a mere annoyance that doesn’t really affect the outcome of the garment. Uncurved waistbands do, however.

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So, I made changes! I did a small FBA of 1″ total which also gave a little extra length in the front (shown in progress above – I finished by drawing a straight line from the center waist hem to the center neckline and cut away the excess). I’ve never done an FBA on a kimono-sleeve, so this was the educated-guess type of slash-and-spread. I think it worked out! I also shortened the back by 7/8″ from the waist up to reduce the amount of pooling going on in the back.  I used the pocket version skirt pattern as the front, and lowered both back and front pieces at the center by 1/2″ to get my beloved waist curve. On the back skirt pattern piece I added a 3/4″ horizontal wedge from center back to the hip mark at the side seam. This added some length back in, but also meant a center back seam (for the next version in cotton sateen at least, for the knit I decided I could just cut on the fold). Finally I reduced the exaggerated side hip curve by 1/2″ – I know this is a stylized design feature, but I have fairly narrow hips so I just don’t need all that much wiggle room.

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I drew inspiration from Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’s fun and summery Bettine, and made single layer pockets. The jersey probably would struggle a bit with the weight of the pockets, so single layer it was! I’m pleased with how they turned out. I had the brilliant idea of using a thinner viscose jersey in a matching color (yey stash!) for binding the neckline and pocket edges rather than self-fabric, and mid pocket-construction, before turning the binding over to the wrong side to stitch down, I realized I really liked the bit of detail and variation of a contrastic fabric. So I left it. That means the binding on the inside of the pocket is exposed and unfinished, but it seems to be holding up just fine after several washes and lots of wear. I mean, as comfy as pajamas and ok to wear in public? Weekly usage. I’ve had one issue moving into the colder weather of late though, which is that I don’t find it an easy dress to layer. I guess I could layer underneath? The cuffs and slightly wider sleeves tends to look quite lumpy under my cardigans. So non-layering-situations-dress it is.

Yes, the pattern put me in a grumpy mood, and my ideal dresses can be layered, and I turned the elastic casing into the bodice instead of the skirt so the pooling isn’t as elegant as it’s supposed to be (oops! My bad, I went rogue on the instructions), and I only realized after struggling to get pictures taken during post-sunset low lighting that the cuffs were all askew after taking my cardigan off (and I really could not be bothered to re-shoot). It might not be the biggest hit, but I’m still pleased with the dress.

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hemlock maneuver

Made: Hemlock tee.
I can’t decide if I think my post title is clever or just cheesy. Regardless, this is my third Hemlock! In my previous Hemlock post I waged that my third attempt would be “just right” after a couple that were almost right. I’d say I’m there – I’m pretty damned pleased with this one!

Fabric: Remnant piece of viscose jersey from Stoff og Stil. I think the piece was 1,5 m, but I didn’t use it all, by far.
Pattern: Hemlock Tee from Jen at Grainline studio.
Techniques: Jersey fabric, neck binding, serged seams.

Made: Hemlock tee.

Made: Hemlock tee.

As you can see, I tried photographing this shirt just as the sun was setting behind that mountain in the background. While the yellow light and crazy sunflares made for really atmospheric photos, they didn’t really show the tee very clearly! So I waited the 5 minutes it took for the sun to move out of frame, and tried again. Direct sunlight makes it really hard to photograph! I’m reading Gillian’s Better Pictures Project with a great deal of interest, and next after using the Portrait mode on my camera, I’m now trying to figure out the lighting situation for my balcony, aiming to turn it into my tried and true photo spot. Now I know having the sun in the frame is a no-go, which means no photos between 3pm and 5 pm, this time of year at least.

Ok, so I don’t know if there is much to say about this particular iteration, construction-wise. The sleeves and bottom are hemmed with a twin needle, and as always I sort of eyeballed the neckline band width and length. I used the twin needle on the neckline as well, straddling the seam. You can kind of tell in the close-up photo of the fabric right above – I think it’s a nice little detail. Oh, in my need-to-make-something-right-now-mode I cut into the fabric without having pre-washed it, which meant that… yep, it shrank in the first wash! Just in the length it seems, and I actually really like how it turned out! You can’t tell in these photos since I’m being all cool and tucking the front, but the shorter length hits in quite a flattering place I think, right above full hip width. So that was a successful neglecting of prewashing fabric.

Made: Hemlock tee.

I love how easily this tee goes from casual to less casual. I changed my shoes, and then bam! I was serious business lady. I found it hilarious how hard it was for me to smile after putting the heels on. I carried myself totally different too! So, all in all another Hemlock success – the other two shirts are still in regular use, though starting to look a little tired. Thankfully this is such a quick project that they can be fairly easily replaced when it’s time to take them out of regular rotation.

Made: Hemlock tee.

hanging on to summer with a mint-colored dress

mint_ruched_dress (6)I look a little sullen (which I wasn’t!), but I get a sort of cinematic vibe from the whole “big sky, posing on the balcony, framed by the doorway”, so I’m posting it anyways. Let’s just call it my serious look.

Yes, yes – I am hanging on to summer even though it’s October. I’m going to Barcelona this week – a trip with a couple of friends from school last year, and a trip we planned in February. You see, I therefore expect to get just a little bit of summer in before submitting myself fully to fall (which is totally here, leaves dropping and everything)! I finished this dress last week, and it’s a copy of a RTW dress I tried on in the beginning of summer and loved, but for several reasons didn’t buy. First of all, it was made in a soft t-shirt material that draped beautifully, but almost exaggerated any little lump and bump on my body. Second, it was so sheer I could see through the dress that my underwear was striped that day! I figured it was an easy enough dress to copy, so off to the fabric store I went.

Fabric: 1,5 meters (roughly – I didn’t measure) of aqua courtelle jersey from Stoff & Stil.
Pattern: Self-drafted, based on this dress pattern from (yet again) Stoff & Stil.
Techniques: Overlocking, binding, twin-needle hemming and ruched side seams with elastic.

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Not wanting a super sheer fabric, I ended up with this ponte-like courtelle jersey. The basis for the bodice is a pattern I’ve had success with before; this navy knit dress with zippers, and the emerald-green one with a v-neck. From there I raised the neckline and extended the skirt from the waist, to allow for the gathers. I also lengthened the front part of the bodice only across the bust – the gathers at the side seam gives more length over the bust, so they end up having the same function as a bust dart would have, more or less.

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I could turn this into a massive list of all the stupid mistakes I made trying to make this dress (I mean, it took me two months from RTW-inspiration to finishing this!), but that might get a bit boring. So, let’s look at the things I learned instead! (keeping it positive, folks.)

  • Use a pattern that is suited for the type of fabric you’re working with. A positive ease, slouchy t-shirt pattern will make a ponte knit dress look ridiculously frumpy. Fitted thicker knit garments like negative ease.
  • Thicker fabrics can handle less gathering before getting lumpy. The inspiration garment was a thin t-shirt fabric, with tight-looking ruching that skimmed quite flatteringly over the body. I re-learned that ruching creates volume, so now I have some unintentional and unnecessary volume especially across the stomach. I get why maternity clothes use this design element!
  • Knit fabrics need different techniques than woven. Elastic fabrics need elastic constructions, which is why I finally ended up ruching the side seam by serging the two layers of fabric together along with a length of elastic pulled taut. The elastic is added to the seam only from about the waist and down.
  • Peg the skirt and attatch the elastic all the way to the bottom edge of the skirt – or else the bottom part of the dress will flip outwards in an unflattering way.
  • Ruching the layers together instead of separately and then joined together, makes for a more even result (um, duh!).
  • Wow, quality of elastic makes a huge difference. Use elastic with good retention that doesn’t stay stretched out after zig-zagging. It was a total trial and error which ones of my elastics held up and which ones didn’t – which explains why there are three different ones used here, and two layers of elastic. Yep.

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I like this image above for showing all the ruching at the side. Also, I was sort of inspired by Gillian and her Better Pictures Project to find natural lighting and an outdoor space. My little balcony overlooking the local soccer field might be stretching the definition of “outdoor” a bit far, but I’m quite pleased, and I might make this a regular spot. Yey for the natural light at least, and my goodness – using the Portrait mode certainly helped!

Finally… this last year. It’s been a crazy one. I’ve written about going back to school to get my teachers certification, which was demanding in terms of work load, and challenging in terms of getting to learn and practice just a small part of what it means to be a teacher (such a huge, and important job – and so much consideration goes into it!). In this past year there was also the end of a long-term relationship (you might have seen John’s face here on the blog – he’s been the recipient of a number of things I’ve made over the years). Bookended between my 30th and my (this past week) 31st birthday, it also saw me move 6 times, hold down a new part-time job teaching sewing (mentioned here in my post about the kimono I made), and now (happily sort of successfully!) a new job market. I have been doing temp teaching through an agency, and I have loved it – teaching among other things swimming (!) and geography to 7th graders, math and science to 9th graders, and English to 10th graders. The latest work-developement is that I am doing a 2-3 month part-time gig at a high school, teaching “Design and architecture”, and I can’t wait! The thought of just having a string of temporary jobs would at one time have terrified me, but right now I’m excited about the different experiences I am getting to have, and I believe fully that a more permanent position will come along at some point.

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Until then, I am really enjoying the fact that my current (more permanent) living situation offers me not only a balcony with a view to soccer practice (my favorite. Not really. But I don’t mind them too much – and I really love the openness of the space!), but also a decent amount of table-space for my sewing machines. Having lived quite temporarily in this past year has taken a toll on my sewing time, but lately I have been able to sew more and even finish some old projects, and it feels very good! And now I will pack my bags and go on my mini-holiday tomorrow – of course bringing my summery aqua-colored dress with me. Vayamos!

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).


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.


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:


 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.



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.


 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!


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!

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