Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Bergen love

No, I haven't become a stay-at-home-mom-seamstress (nothing wrong with them, in fact I envy them all a little, but it's very far away from my life at the moment), and no this will not turn into a blog for kids clothes.

Only very temporarily!

I spent the weekend in Bergen with my brother, sister in law (well, not in law technically, but kind of anyway) and two nieces. It was a bless! I met my new niece Ella for the first time (she's 5 months old), and although I am deeply biased, I must say that they are probably the nicest children I've ever met (oooh, the ties of blood...). Love.

We didn't do much, really, the happening of the weekend was a visit to famous fabric-shop Stoff & Stil (there is also a Swedish verion here), where I bought half the shop's stock of jersey for childrenswear. It was soooo cute, and at such good prices even though us Swedes are poor as church-rats when we are in Norway, I just couldn't stop myself. Especially not with an enthusiatic 3,5-year-old Julia walking behind me telling me what to make from everything; a dress for me, a t-shirt for Ella...

Here are our treasures (I picked all of them but one, can you guess which one?):

If you guessed for the pink one with hearts you were quite right... Julia spotted it from 5 meters away and immidiately said THIS one for me. This is going to be a struggle to incorporate more colours than pink into her wardrobe. I know I will succeed.... (evil auntie me).

I may need these hints and tips on how to incorporate printed fabrics in childrenswear in a good way, it's a busy bunch (but I really, really like them).

The owls will become pants for Ella (she's 5 months old), the elephants a shirt for Ella, the penguins pants for Ella, the monkeys a shirt for Julia and probably pants for Ella, the hearts a dress for Julia and the striped velour will become pants for both of them and maybe a dress for Ella.

I'm not sure I will actually make all these things, but that's the plan... depending on how time-consuming it is. I also plan to make a white shirt for Julia to make good use of the butterfly-badge further down the page. I hope that pants will be a very quick project... if so I will make many pants. And probably a few bibs...

Some cute badges picked out by Julia and me.

Now, I like ladybirds, elephants, owls and frogs, Julia loves flowers and butterflies and is totally uninterested in ladybirds... We both like heart-shaped buttons, at least! But I do like the butterfly and flower too, and it's fun to let her get involved in her clothes. She was very much a part in the decision on what to make from what material... (I constantly find it amazing how much personality can evolve in such a short time, she's not even four years old... children are fun!).

Naturally I had to play with my iPhone; these pictures are photographed with an app called QuadCamera, I recommend it for all picture-geeks (you can also use the images as animated gif's, but I like them this way):

Ella taking a bath in her much loved Tummy-tub.

Julia dancing.

I realise there's been an awful load of sewing for others going on around here lately (I'm also working on a blue dress each for Julia and Ella, from the same cotton that I made my 1940's blouse of).

I even held some gorgeous sandwashed silk that would have been perfect for the Vionnet blouse I made a toile for recently, and didn't buy it.... aaaaah. I was glad to find that Stoff & Stil do mail-order so I can get it later.

I must make up for all this and make something for myself soon, my closet has begun to yell at me in a very loud voice that it needs something new... now! And I am inclined to agree...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Still in awe

I shall speak once and then be quiet forever. Or, no I actually can't promise you that. I think I will be inspired by this man for a long time ahead... but I shall do one post only with my favourite collection of Alexander McQueen's runway shows. Not sure I will be able to keep my fingers from it, I might add more goodies later...

Because this is art. Because it's pattern construction at its highest level. Because it's fun, and beautiful, and inventive.

Also because I'm a cyberspace collector, and this I want to keep.

And maybe also because some people just don't get it, which intrigues me since I so totally get the beauty and excellence of it all, although I might not understand at all. I did read an interview where he said that his collections can't be art, because they have to be commercial. And well, I don't get that... just look at them, commercial? Not art? Well...

Alexander McQueen, Spring/Summer 2010, "Plato's Atlantis".
Did I ever mention that I really like science fiction? If you do too, watch and love:

Alexander McQueen - Plato's Atlantis from SHOWstudio on Vimeo.

And here's his Autumn/Winter 09/10-collection "The Horn of Plenty" (in two parts). All about thrash, recycling, old/new, future/past:

Fabulous, if you ask me.

If you're short of time, highlights from his shows through the years:

I [heart] AMCQ from PressWhore on Vimeo.

Even more short of time? The famous Kate Moss hologram from the 2006 "Widows of Culloden"-show (when the world press had bashed her in public and she had lost several huge contracts after she was caught doing drugs, if I remember correctly):

Oh, beauty! Puts tears in my eyes...

If you'd rather see the whole show, here it is, once again in two parts. The hologram is at about 5:35 in clip no 2:

I just realised the shoes I got the other day (at half price off sale price, but oh so cool!) basically are copies of the shoes in that show... that's three years ago! I must humbly add though, that they are quite fashionable this season... (will the bug-like platform-shoes from the Spring/Summer 2010-show be in fashion in another three years? Wouldn't surprise me. Though in a less extreme version!).

This is from his 1999 spring/summer show. The interesting part begins at 00:38, where two robots from Fiat paint a model's white dress in yellow and black, accompagnied by beautiful classical music:

Curious about how the work behind the scenes looked? This video is from his show in London in 1998 (though beware, there are clips from other designer's shows at the end, and well, they do look very dated and/or bland in comparison, and I do think that the Victoria Beckham clip is from one of them, don't let it put you off watching this):

Backstage with McQueen 98 from Andrew Barron on Vimeo.

And finally, proof that commercials can be beautiful, interesting and inspiring, Alexander McQueen + Puma:

Alexander Mcqueen/Puma - Raw Power from drew cox on Vimeo.

Still didn't get enough? Well, then you're probably a little bit insane (but I consider that a good thing! Too much sanity makes for boring) and will be glad to hear I saved the best 'til last... at the official McQueen Website there is an excellent collection of runway video's. Check out the runway archive and you may get stuck for an hour or so (you have been warned!).

For an interview with the master himself go to SHOWstudio now.

Now, I shall be quiet and try to finally sew little dresses for two nieces, I have been in a cold-induced coma for most of the day... can you believe that, two illnesses the same week? But I guess it's a good thing to get it all done at once...

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Vionnet test-toile

Finally, five minutes (more actually!) to post about my Vionnet-blouse-test-toile, AND it's daylight, AND the builders have removed the plastic sheats that have covered my window since november, relief (we are refurbishing the facades and balconies)! No flash needed, finally...

I'm spending the day at home, a suspected Norovirus kept me up for a couple hours during the night but I'm really quite well so I think it might have been something else. I'm still staying at home to save the colleagues from running the risk of catching it... (it's apparently extremely contageous), and there is quite a lot of it around at the moment so I might just be part-immune (if that's possible...).

Now, the toile! I chose to make a toile of this blouse because it was the most simple of all patterns in my recently purchased book with reproductions of Madeleine Vionnet's patterns. Purpose: to see if the size fits me.

After making it I've seen a couple of copies of it, I think I remember correctly when I say I saw a very similar blouse at Anthropologie, and there is a sewing pattern at Marfys that has a striking resemblance to it, interesting... makes me wonder if they were conscious copies or if they just happened to invent the same blouse, it's quite possible.

Now, remember I made the toile in a very simple cotton without much drape. I think it would turn out a lot nicer in a drapey fabric. Also, I haven't ironed it and I haven't finished any edges. Which btw makes med very curious about the threads-issue with information about how mme Vionnet used to finish the edges...

The size, I can't say I'm much wiser! I think it's a little bit too big, which makes sense if I have come to the correct conclusion in my guess that the patterns in the book are made to fit a japanese size 9, and that a japanese size 9 equals a European size 36. I'm a size 34. 

I had to take it in quite a bit in the back to make the toile fit my dressform, but then I think the blouse may have been  intended to be a bit loose-fitting, since it's tucked in in the picture in the book.

Still, I think I will plot the patterns a little scaled down, I really don't like too big clothes (since they make me appear totally shapeless).

Here's what the pattern looks like (update: in the book). I inserted a scanned image in AutoCad, redrafted, scaled and plotted it. A lot easier than to enlarge it manually, and I could fit the pattern in just one A1-sheet.

This is how the pieces fit together. Only the cowl is cut on the bias, which I think is quite rare with patterns by Mme Vionnet.It's actually a surprisingly simple pattern, but it was for an underblouse, I think the jacket that came with it was the real focus piece.

And here are the instructions on how to assemble it. Like I said, I didn't finish the edges at all.

There are also pictures of the details of finishing it in the book, and I think it's quite possible to follow the pictures without reading the text.

Still can't really decide whether to make a real blouse from this pattern or whether to move on at once and try making one of the dresses!

But first up on the list is making a couple of pieces of clothes for my nieces, whom I will go to Bergen to visit this weekend, I can't wait!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Kreativ- and Sunshine award

I am increadibly honored. I was given the Kreativ-blogger award by no less than four lovely, creative ladies:



Whipstitch Sewing 

Boo Dogg and Me 

and to make me even more proud lovely Kosmika gave me the Sunshine Award:

Girls, you're spoiling me, I might get big-headed ;-). Thank you all so very much!

For the Sunshine Award  I must do this:

~ Put the logo somewhere on my blog or within my post.
~ Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
~ Link the nominees within my post.
~ Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
~ Share the love and link to the person from whom I received this award

and for the Kreativ Award this:

1. Copy/paste the Kreativ Blogger Award picture onto your blog
2. Thank the person who awarded it to you and post a link to her/his blog
3. Write 7 things about yourself we might not know
4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award
5. Link to them
6. Notify your 7 bloggers of their award

Now, I'm in an insane period of my life (visits from friends, loads of work with the housing cooperative where I'm in the board - a very swedish thing, most of us live in one - a trip to Norway next weekend, and to add to burden my work is participing in a competition and I have to work laaaate, and on top of that during the weekend).

 So I will do the easiest bits left only (for great hints on which bloggers I would have awarded had I had the time, take a look at my link-lists and blog-feed), I will tell you 7 things you might not know about me. Not that easy, I tell you.

1. I am blind to McDonalds (do I even know how to spell it?). Other people orientate around town by using McDonalds as landmarks. When they try to give me directions and mention McDonalds I stare at them with a dumb gaze. There was even one right next to my closest supermarket (I frequent them quite often...) that I hadn't noticed. Another one across the street from my work-subwaystation. I only found out about them when people used them as landmarks and I had to ask where on earth they were (I don't eat there very often, no).
Might have something to do with the fact that I'm lucky enough to mainly like very healthy food such as seafood, meat, veggies and fruit. And that I'm totally dedicated to buying as much ecological food as I can, it just feels so much more right for me. I find it especially hard to buy non-ecological dairy-products and meat. And the bread you normally find in swedish supermarkets, don't even think about it, I buy Levain at the bakery. So I guess this "secret" really is about me being a very quality conscious eater...

2. I've lived for a while in Australia, England and Japan.

I went to High school for a year in Mornington on the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne (at Mornington High School, now all gone). Australia has a very soft spot in my heart! I will never forget meeting parrots in all thinkable colours on my way to school or freezing my ass off in winter (in a tropical country! though I know Melbourne is more temperate than tropical). I loved it all. 

I also spent a year in Manchester, UK, where I went to university on Erasmus exchange (I'm an anglophile big time! I buy only English tea and am fortunate enough to live near an excellent British butcher where I get proper English sausages when I get cravings. I really think English food is underestimated in the rest of the world). I studied at Manchester Metropolitan University where I - apart from landscape architecture - took a course in Japanese, which leads me on to my third living - abroad - experience:

I've spent a total of 9 months in Tokyo (split in 6 + 3 months, the second visit I got a scholarship-flight-ticket at my Japanese-course in Manchester, lucky gal, huh!). I just really had to take a break from my studies (after too many years in school) and got the chance to work in a tiny bar called Skåne (the name of a swedish province) in Shibuya, where I served Swedish spirits and bread to Japanese businessmen who taught me everything I wanted to know about Japan (if they could) to practise their English. I had the days off and had an excellent opportunity to discover Tokyo. Nihon ga daitsuki desu! Japanese culture impressed me tremendously, and although Japan is known as "very different" to us westerners, I remember thinking - surprised - that Japanese manners were just like Swedish when I returned there for my second visit. I think maybe I just felt that way because I love Japan so much that I simply felt perfectly at home there. And I was very happy to return.

3. I'm the eldest of four siblings, I have three younger brothers.

The picture shows me, my brother's girlfriend Sylvia with my niece Ella in the tummy, my niece Julia, and my brothers: Martin, Henrik and Joakim. The picture is from last summer, Ella was born in October.

I'm very fortunate to finally live in the same city as one of my brothers now, he moved to Stockholm a couple of years ago from the south of Sweden. We go to concerts together when we have the chance, which is especially great because I really missed someone to go to certain concerts with before he moved here (my friends don't like all the music I like). My other two brothers live in Gothenburg and in Bergen, Norway (where I will go next weekend to meat my second, nearly brand new niece for the first time, yippie!). Our parents live in Österund in the north of Sweden, so we are a well distributed family, to say the least.

4. I eat almost everything, but not cold eggs and marsipan + cream. Many swedish sweets consist of whipped cream in combination with marsipan and I just can't eat it. People love it and love sharing it even more, and I'm always the really, really dull one who rejects their offerings. I used to force myself to eat it, but I'm too old now, I had my share of forcing myself to do things I don't like (an advantage of growing up, don't you think!). I do find the cakes beautiful to look at though...

Above a semla. Bun + marsipan stuffing + whipped cream. Tuesday next week is the big Semla-day in Sweden and people go crazy. I don't.

And a prinsesstårta (Princess-cake). Sponge-cake + jam + custard + whipped cream + marsipan. Everyone loves them, I don't. My boss and I share the same birthday and I have to reject his birthday cake, on my birthday, every year. I feel deeply ashamed! Why don't people just love chocolate cakes or strawberry cakes instead?

5. I've participated in the World Championships in sailing. In the J80- Worlds in Kiel in 2008 to be more precise. It was loads of fun but a real strain too because I was in the crew partly because the boat owner wanted to date me (the story of my life), partly because he wanted two very light-weight new crew-members and partly because my friend (the other light weight crew-member) bought half the boat and finally because we all worked really, really well as a team until I eventually started dating the captain/boat owner. Or actually, until I realised I was head over heels in love with him, and he was in me, or so he thought. It didn't last long (we were a terrible mismatch it turned out) and ended about a month before the championships, so let's just say I didn't have to diet to loose the weight I needed for us to weigh in as a crew (we all had to loose weight, not that either of us really needed to...). Ah, stressful, sad times.
Anyway, I don't regret any of it and I have some truely fabulous memories from it all! In the long run you keep the happy memories and loose the sad ones, I think.

6. I love perfumes almost more than anything! Actually I call myself a perfumaniac and scent addict. Scents make me feel full of life, both man-made ones and those from nature.

I especially like perfumes by the Swedish company Byredo. Gypsy Water is my favourite. For everyday use I wear Viktor & Rolf's Flowerbomb, and I also really, really like Chanel Allure Sensuelle, but I think I may be a bit sensitive to something it it (makes me sneeze) so I still just try it on once in a while instead of buying it... I have a few other perfumes that I like, and use quite often, but these three are outstanding. If I feel a bit low I simply got to NK (a big, posh departmentstore) and try on a couple of Byredo-fragrances, it's like a very exciting Smörgåsbord (buffet) and I get excited first by the choosing-process and then by the interesting scents (they're nothing like your average perfume). Ok. I'm finished promoting Byredo now!

7.I'm a technology-nerd. In a way I'm like a stereotypical man in that sense. I love reading tests and reviews before I buy my technical toys, and I tend to begin believing I will get something reasonable and end up buying the best I can find. Though - and in this sense I guess I'm a typical woman - I like small gadgets, which is very lucky since it ususally means I'm not interesting in the most expensive options (which my economy just would not cope with). And I like to keep them for as long as possible, I don't feel the urge to replace them when the next model is out, phew!

My two latest technological toys are my Baby Lock Overlock-sewing-machine and an iPhone (the 3Gs 32Gb) that I forsee will completely revolutionise life, I LOVE it! I mean, yesterday evening when we were hanging out at a restaurant me and my friends checked out works by Kandinsky (a friend of mine had been to a Kandinsky exhibition and wasn't that impressed), looked at the houses I lived in in Tokyo and Melbourne, looked at my friend's house in the north of France (Google Earth) and then I forced myself to put the phone away. I also forwarded an important e-mail to my friend when she asked about it, to make sure I wouldn't forget. And I can check train times, the weather forecast or the latest newspaper headlines at any time, almost anywhere.

Well, there you go! I'm glad I didn't have to tell more than seven...

Friday, 12 February 2010

A day of mourning, a master is gone

 This morning I was chocked to read very sad news in the paper; Alexander McQueen, the master of construction and one of the most ever loved enfant terribles is dead. He took his own life in London yesterday. Apparently he had been depressed and suffered several personal losses recently, one among them that his mother died last week.

The fashion world will sure be a more dull place without him. His last collection (though apparently he had finished another collection to be shown this spring), the Spring 2010 Ready to Wear was a parade of fairytale/space-princesses. It makes my heart bubble to just look at them. Never would he have made a boring collection.

For those of you who want to make your own Alexander MacQueen-creation, there's a free downloadable pattern at, check it out!

Rest in peace, Lee Alexander McQueen, you will be missed by many, many of us around the world!

Images from and Showstudio

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Tiger tiger (or, actually: leopard!)

So, two of my friends now owe me big time! I just spent 12 hours making two dresses for the dancers at their club, and all I got in return was free entrance to the club for me, my three friends had to pay (which might have to do with the fact that we got there waaaay too late since we had been busy sipping champagne in the compnay of five gentlemen in smoking, overlooked by a few centuries of family portraits, sometimes life takes you unexpected places). The place they do the club thing at is notoriously famous to have impossible bouncers, so I'll put the blame on them instead of me or my friends ;-).
Anyway, I'm never sewing for other people for free again, but I did learn a bit or two, although it's a shame I stayed at the club too short to actually see the girls wear them (blimey!).

But here they are without the girls in them. You can probably tell the girls had quite different figures, although they had about the same measurements (I might just say one of them was suspiciously curvy).

Process: Intend to make a bathing-suit-like costume similar to the one in the post before this one. Discover it’s impossible to find a suitable pattern. Find out the dancers are quite a lot bigger than me (not that surprising I guess) which meant winging it would be impossible. No pattern to be found. Realise I might have a vintage dress-pattern that could work for the top part. Make a simple waist/hip-length toile based on the dress and a bottom part toile based on the Alison bathing suit with approxiamtely the right measurements and a LOAD of ease. Find out at the fitting that they have found another dancer = two costumes (which WAS the initial plan but I had thought I’d get away with just one…). Try the toiles on the girls only to discover that the first dancer had gotten the measurements mixed up and the bottom toile in fact was almost 10 cm’s too small (I had been given a hip-measurement of 96cm’s and it was more like 106…). Bottom part useless. Scprap initial costume-idea and decide on making mini-dresses (very fortunate because of lack of time). Make two dress patterns based on their measurements and the toile from the fitting, sew until the eyes bleed but get finsihed JUST in time!
Lucky me the girls refused to wear hoods with little ears, so I didn't have to make any...

It was easier to place the pieces for the front than the back, so the back panel stands out a little bit, but I think it turned out ok!

The fabric is really quite gorgeous... fortunately I have quite a lot of scraps left, I do plan to put them to good use (if I can bear cutting in them!).

After a tough week of sewing and thoroughly cleaning and organising my apartment I had a great weekend with two nice dinners, two parties, visits at two clubs and a guided tour at an interesting museum that was topped off with skating on a lake today (sunday), in the sun followed by coffe at a cosy café at an old castle (Ulriksdal), just my cup of tea (sorry about the contradiction)!

I'll confess I'm a bit tired now... (the Kreativ-post will have to wait for a day!)

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I am on a break!

Oh no, I haven't disappeared, but I am in the middle of an insanely busy week where I have to balance work, turning my sewing-hut of an appartment into a guestroom suitable for me + two guests (and organising the drawers while I'm at it) and sewing a little costume-number inspired by this babe:

More difficult than I had imagined, as it turns out. The material is a super nice one-way stretch fake leopard, so the Alison suit from Burdastyle is not good enough, as I had thought it would be. The size L is about 7cm's to small around the hips for tha M girl I'm making it for. So I've made a two-part toile to be fitted tomorrow from both Alison (the bottom part, graded up quite a bit) and a vintage evening dress (the fitted top of it). The girl (a dancer) who is to wear it is considerably larger than me so I can't fit it on me. It would have helped if could have... (I knew I should have kept that ajustable but too big dress-form!).

When I return I will make a Kreativ-award post to thank several nice ladies who gave it to me, I am very honored! And very much trying to think of which secrets I shall reveal, hm...

Be back soon (I hope, if I survive this week)!

Update: Watch the tiger-dance-video here!
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