Monday, 21 December 2009

Twisted shoulder-dress

It's finally finished! I'm happy with it, but I think there are other styles that are more flattering on me. I need to accentuate my waist, and since I'm quite straight-lined, a straight-lined dress is probably not the best option...

Well. I like it the best from the front and from behind, so that's what you'll see (hehe). I love to be able to edit my life :-).

I like the way the twist on the shoulder turned out, but I had to wing it a bit. I forgot to make a pattern for the facing when I did alterations to the pattern (I should have made a facing-pattern from the start and transferred all changes to the facing-pattern as well as to the actual pattern, with a drape-detail like this it's almost impossible to base the facing on the actual pattern, as I learned...) so I made a bias-binding around the neck and the twisted sleeve-opening instead of a facing.

I also put the bias-strip in the wrong way all the way round... so I had to hand-sew it on the outside, I should have put it the other way around so that the hand-sewing ended up on the inside... that would have looked much nicer, and I accidently put the ends of it up on the shoulder rather than under the arm where I had planned to put it, so it doesn't look as neat as it should. But I learned from that too...

If I make another twisted-shoulder-top, I'll put twists on both shoulders, and place them further out (apart). I'll probably put a bit of a cowl-neck in between them too...
And I have to find a way to make my basic shift-dress-pattern more curve-inducing, hm, any hints and tips?

Sunday, 20 December 2009


Dear Santa, this is what I want for christmas:

1. Drape Drape. Japanese book about draping, with paper patterns included. Apparently not the easiest book to use if you don't read Japanese, and although I do I must say I don't read enough to be able to read books (maybe very simple childrens books, if I have a dictionary at hand...), but it still looks interesting enough. And I like to give the old brain (I watched Jamie Oliver the other day, his language is contageous!) a good workout once in a while.

I love the dress on the right hand side, especially the version in black. Read more about the dress here.

2. Vionnet. Another Japanese book about draping clothes... but still entirely different from Drape Drape. Madeleine Vionnet was a French fashion designer who was big in the 1920's and 1930's. She designed loads of sophisticated evening dresses, often cut on the bias, that she constructed by draping directly on the dress form. According to Wikipedia, she's been called the "Queen of the bias cut" and "the architect among dressmakers".

Obviously, I need to learn more about her! This book is a collection of reproductions of her patterns,

According to Fashion Incubator (one of my favourite sites by the way) it's better and easier to use than a previous similar book in english, since the instructions are so clear (or should I say so Japanese! Thank God for Manga). Read the review here.

3. A Baby Lock Evolve Wave-overlock (serger). I need an overlock-machine, and after having reserched them there is no option but to get the Baby Lock Evolve. I tried it in the shop yesterday, and I'm hooked. Not sure it will be in Santa's budget though (actually I'm quite sure I'll have to be my own santa with all three things on my wish-list).

They've even put it in front of a christmas:ey midnight-blue background... (just to tease me, I promise!).

I've finally finished my twisted dress! I hope to photograph it this afternoon. Now I must try to do some christmas shopping (not for me!).

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I'm a femininist

I'm thinking of inventing a new word: femininist.

I'm a convinced feminist, but the word feminism has been associated to too many values that are hard for me (and for loads of other people) to accept. Prejudices. Such as that feminists hate men and are ugly and unsexy, which may be true for some, but no more so than among any other group of women. Or men for that sake.

There is also a quite strong opinion among some feminists (such as the friends of a friend of mine, one of his girl-friends hated me from the moment she saw me, based on her own prejudices. We didn't even talk until she had judged me, unbelievable) that if you like to wear make-up, short skirts or high heels you're not a feminist.

To me it's the opposite; I refuse to be deemed as a less capable or less intelligent person because I'm a woman, I refuse to dress less feminine to prove myself and if people want to judge me by my choice of clothes and shoes then they are quite stupid and simply don't deserve my attention (but they do annoy me).

So, I'm a femininist. I love being a woman (except when I meet biggots), I love men (especially non-sexist men), and I am completely convinced that you should never judge someone primarily by their sex. Yes, there are differences between men and women, but there are even bigger differeces between different men and between different women. We are all unique and should be allowed to be. I will always fight for womens right to be taken seriously even though they are sexy and feminine women (and men's right to be taken seriously even if they are not macho enough to fit the norm).

And I'd like to quote Gloria Steinem:

“The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.” 

The "truth" here is referring to the fact that there are gender powered structures in society, that restrict both men and women. Most of all they restrict all the men and women who don't fit into the stereotype of what a man or a woman should be. And since the structures in society tend to favour men, and to make men the norm, they generally restrict women more than men.

If you understand Swedish there is a very interesting radio-program about the way fashion has shaped the general view on feminists here (mp3) or here (streaming). It's the program from December 11th, also about the story of the Vanderbilts.

Sunday, 13 December 2009


 So, a report on my Lanvin-"knock-off"-project. Though it's really not a knock-off, but rather a dress inpired by.

I'm now on my second toile for the top with a twisted-shoulder, and on the second one for the skirt-part (I will combine them both into a dress).
I've made more test-versions for other projects, but right now I still feel like I'm drowning in toiles and toile-fabric!

I started off by constructing 1/4-scale patterns and toiles, to save work, since I really didn't know how to construct the twist and how to remove the darts. I decided early to not make a copy of the Lanvin dress, but to instead make the twist-detail much more simple, both because it would be too complicated and time consuming for me to construct (the dress has to be ready in a week!), but also because I wanted the twisted side to be less covered up than it is in the original (lucky me, huh!).

I made the pattern by moving all the darts to one of the shoulders. I had some other ideas first, for example I tried to slice the pattern by using a pattern-magic-wrap-front-method. It looked ok, but this looked better.

First, I drew a new neckline and new sleeve-openings and closed the darts. I moved the shoulder-seam for the twisted shoulder forward a bit, since I wanted to move the twist slightly to the front. That's a simple procedure, you just tape the seam closed, draw a line for a new seam and cut along that line instead. Voila, the seam has a new position!

 This is the back-piece during the process of moving the darts. I've drawn a construction-line from one of the waist-darts to the opposite shoulder, a method I found in Modern Pattern Design by Harriet Pepin, from 1942. I want that book! At the moment I read it online, at Vintage Sewing.Info.

I love the illustrations, they show the principles of quite complicated pattern-alterations in a very clear way.

I cheated a bit in the back, I didn't get all the darts to open and close perfectly, but it didn't matter since my basic sloper is a bit too rounded in the back (I have to fix that) due to the standard dart-width that is too wide for me (same thing with the skirt-front, I've fixed that one now, phew!). So I won't miss the width that got lost in the back-piece due to a slight overlap of the pattern-pieces. And since I will cut the top-part on the bias it will be quite forgiving (and rather a little too tight than too big).

When I had moved all the darts to the shoulder (in both the back- and the front-piece) I taped them all closed again, taped the front-piece to the backpiece on the shoulder that will end up with the twist, drew a new sleeve-opening that mimiced the shape I want the gathered material to have after I've twisted it.

After cutting off all unwanted paper around the new sleeve-opening and slightly adjusted neckline, I added 1,5 cm's to the "shoulder-strap" to leave room for the twist. The picture is from before I did.

Then, I cut all the moved darts open again. I intentionally distributed the slices evenly along the thin "shoulder-strap". Like this:

Now, when the pattern is finished, there'll be a gather on the shoulder with a twist.

To finish the pattern, I taped the front- and back-pieces onto a new piece of paper, sliced the back-piece a bit more to make the shoulder-width the same as on the front-piece (the darts are bigger in the front-piece since my back is more flat than my front, thank god, so I had to wiggle a bit to make them meet).

Since I'm going to twist the material on the shoulder I had to put the back-piece the other way (mirrored).

This picture shows the pattern before I added the extra bit between the front-and backpiece, before I opened all the darts, and on the right after it's finished (the first version).
So, toile-time! The first one needed quite a few changes:

The cap-sleeve is way too wide. It should look almost like a shift-dress-sleeve. There's too much width across the back, and too much material around the twisted sleeve-opening. The neckline is too high. The shoulder seam on the cap-sleeve-side is too high next to the neck.
(And yes, I did pull that tummy in in the pictures from the side, oh, wait until after christmas, there'll be no naked-tummy-pic's then!)

Attempt two:

Combined with the skirt from a pattern-magic-dress. In the final version I will use a more simple skirt, from my basic dress-sloper.
There's still too much width around the back, and the cap-sleeve is still a bit too wide. The front neckline is nice, though the neck is still a bit too high in the back. I'm not too fuzzy about achieving a perfect fit in this toile though, since the final verison will be in black wool, that both drapes better and hides imperfections better than cheap cotton.

I've transferred all the changes to the pattern today and was going to cut it in the real material, and now I can't find it! I bought about five meters of fine, black wool this spring (we're talking bulk here, it shouldn't be able to hide from me!) and now it's just gone. I have a faint memory of stuffing it in the attic before my parents came to visit earlier this autumn, but I couldn't find it there earlier today. I'll just have to get my butt upstairs and turn my attic-store-room upside-down...

I will find strength in the memory of sunlight on the flowers in my kitchen this morning (I've decorated for christmas, I've put my advent star up in the kitchen-window, and planted/bought loads of christmas-flowers, I love it!).

I normally keep the light in the star off during the day, I just switched it on for you guys to see...:-)

My favourite flowers for christmas are Amaryllises, Hellebores, Hyacinths and Lily-of-the Vallies (three of them are in the picture, the forth in my fridge, waiting to be planted), so I was very pleased to read in the paper today that they´re in fact also the most economical flowers to buy around christmas, since you can make them bloom again next year, or plant them in the garden in spring.

Just my kind of logic. First please me, then please the masses (and save me from having to throw you away)!

Speaking of economy, I've almost convinced myself that I must buy a Babylock Evolve Wave serger. I've realised that I NEEEEED a serger, and after looking into the market I've moved from planning to buy a simple, used one to realising that I need one of the most expensive ones for home-sewers... gosh. But it's simply too much better than the other ones, and it's hand made in Japan.

I'm a sucker for things that are hand made in Japan and that's the argument that really gets me convinced, even though I'll have to get a second mortgage to buy one, because I know that it's probably just as much better quality as it's more expensive than the other brands. And I'm SO tired of buying new things. I want them to last forever, be it in the garden or in my sewing-room...

Thursday, 10 December 2009

In bloom (to be)

I have one vice: flowers (ok, I may forget one or two...).
I simply cannot help buying flowers. And when there's a spring bulb clearance-sale at my favourite garden shop I can't stop myself. Impossible. I loose track of time there too, browsing through the boxes trying to choose just the right ones... and I usually leave with a ridiculous amount of bulbs.
This week was the big bulb-clearance-week.
First I got these beauties:

I got selfish and planted them all around my own front door (I live in a block of flats, which - along with three other blocks of flats - belongs to a tenant-owner's society. I'm in the board, last year I was the chairman, and I'm in charge of the cortyard garden, so I'm deeply engaged in it all and feel kind of responsible...).

Anyway, deed well done. If I pay for them with my own money and plant them myself I may be selfish and plant them where I see them every day, right?

But then they were only 10 skr (=1 euro) a package (the normal price is about 80 skr a package...), and it is really nice to see some more of them when I go to the laundry room... so I just had to go back and get some more. And came back with these:

So now our whole courtyard (basically) is planted with spring-bulbs (I organized a bulb-planting last year too, that covered all of it). Almost as much around the other houses as next to mine (but just almost), which feels great since it's basically a big mess there at the moment due to a biiiiiig facade-refurbishing-project (of which I'm in charge). I also arranged for 6 hamamelis-shrubs to be planted earlier this autumn, they will hopefully bloom in february/march (which is madly early here since we're often covered in snow then, but they can take it, miraculously).

So I think I'm entitled to pick some of the flowers when they're in bloom, don't you agree?

If any of you don't have a garden but feel inclined to sneak around in the darkness and do some gardening (I recommend bulbs for big effects with little effort) you should check out Guerilla Guardening. I almost felt like one of them tonight, but I don't think planting your own courtyard counts, especially not if you're in the board...

Tomorrow I'll return to my pattern construction-project!

Sunday, 6 December 2009


I'm in love with this dress. It's a Lanvin ready to wear from fall 09.

I worked until 3am this morning on trying to make a pattern with a twist on the shoulder... a more simple twist than Lanvin's, but still, oh how I would love a dress with a twisted shoulder! And I love the simple lines of the rest of it too (what ever did Alber Elbaz do to hide all darts? They must be somewhere, or is it cut on the bias to get the snug fit? Hm.).  

(Update: Found it, here, for gathers you can slash the pattern from the shoulder to the opposite waist-dart too, and voilá, no darts needed! I hope it works, if so I'll post the process. Harriet Pepin, my guiding star...).

If I had a dressform I'd probably drape a toile/muslin, but since I haven't , I'm attempting to make it by altering a flat pattern.
Pattern Magic is unusually well thumbed this weekend.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Happy friday

I won this 1940's pattern on e-bay today!

It's probably much better for me than the last one I wrote about (and made a toile for), it's much more grown up and reminds me of the blouse I made using McCall 6520, that I really like. Gathers below the shoulder-yoke, darts around the waist, and shoulder pads. I think they are all details that work for my body-type. At the same time this pattern is totally different from the blouse with the neat shirt-collar and long set-in sleeves (I might make it short sleeved though...).

Are those double darts around the waist by the way?

I also won this 1950's (1960's?) pattern from the same seller. There's no note of the pattern company in the item-description (I think that may have given me less competition, so I don't mind!), only a number (1137). Interesting to see what it is... I like the detail where the front-pieces overlap the side-pieces and become a kind of collar on the shoulders.

So many sewing-possibilities, so little time, I can't wait for christmas!

This dress

is a big NO! I will not make a dress from this pattern, it's not me at all.

I think I will use the sleeves somehow, but since I look almost annoyingly girlish to begin with (you would never be able to guess my age) it's just too much. I need more adult-looing clothes.

Anyway, this was an interesting experience. I've learned that:

- I DO need a dress form (it's haaard to pin in the back, or even the side-seam, on yourself). I knew that already, but it got even more clear to me...

- I don't like A-line skirts on me. I might like them in a very fluid material with a simple top, but not A-line + puffy sleeves. Too girly. But this skirt does fall very well, the side-seams are almost completely vertical when I wear it, as they should.

It might be a good idea to use my own sloper for the top to get the fit right if I do decide to make it (if so with a lower neckline, and in thin, black wool). And the sleeves are too far out on the shoulders, they don't fall right and this pattern is not made for shoulder-pads. But the pleats on the sleeve-heads are nice!

At least it looks a bit better if I narrow the skirt! And I think the skirt should be 5-10 cm's longer (I meant it to be, but there are little darts in the side-seams that I didn't notice when I cut the material...).

And it was so very pretty on the pattern envelope.... oh well (I have some other projects in mind... Lanvin made some really nice dresses for fall/winter 2009 and spring/summer 2010... aaah!).

Wednesday, 2 December 2009


...I'm feeling bubbly... and cosy! A little like this:

There's hope in that picture, isn't it?

And I've decided to make Wallis Simpson my styleguide for a while. She  may be best known for having said "you can never be too rich or too thin".
I'm not sure I agree with that one, but she also said ”I'm not a beautiful woman. I'm nothing to look at, so the only thing I can do is dress better than anyone else".

And she did, with success. I admire her way of realising a problem (well, not being beautiful shouldn't be a problem, but I guess some things are easier if you are) finding a solution to it and using that solution to perfection.

Apparently she was regarded as one of the best dressed women in the world for over 40 years... an intelligent woman with loads of style. Here she is on her wedding day (in 1937). She was married to the Duke of Windsor, King Edward the 8th (who abdicated to be able to marry her).

I think she was pretty (she looks much better in other pictures, but her husband was gorgeous, and the KING of England! She was a divorced american...), I admire her strength, and I love her wedding-dress and sense of style... (oh how I love strong women!)

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