Saturday, 31 July 2010

Pleat/smock detail

Still at my parents place. Eager to sew something, I've finally relaxed from work, become creative (it happens, inevitably, after a week or so of holidays) and after a stressful and challenging project like the Burdastyle coat things feel more do-able than they usually do.

But since I'm not at home I won't start anything big (most of my fabric is in Stockholm).

A perfect time to do research and learn new things!

My mum bought a really nice new coat the other day (on the summer sale, though it's a winter coat... well, we're in the north here, winter is always present, if not in reality, then in the back of your head).

The coat is by Swedish designer Nygårds Anna.  Check out her clothes for a bit old fashioned (pre vintage) clothes with loads of nice details, always in "real" materials, linen, cotton, wool. Very nice!

I think the "braided" detail in front was quite clever, and very nice, and I just had to try making it. So here goes!

On a piece of wool (leftover from the Burdastyle coat actually, very convenient!) I marked four parallell lines, 3cm's apart (you can make the "braid" as wide as you want, but 4 lines is the minimum).

I then folded the material and stitched 0.75 cm's from the marked lines, on my machine (my mum's in truth, but they're almost the same) with this foot I could use the edge of the foot as a guide.

I then marked the edges of the folds, 3cm's apart, as a guide for the next step.

Finally I stitched loops around two lines at the time, using a button-hole-thread (thicker than normal thread, "Björntråd" in Swedish), alternating between line 1+2 and 3+4 and line 2+3.

The finished result! Quite nice, isn't it?

This swatch is made with a heavy weight wool, but I think it would work really well in thin cotton or linen too, with a more narrow spacing between the lines, and more narrow pleats.

In fact, I'm quite sure I've seen linen blouses with this kind of smock before, if I don't remember incorrectly. I might just have to try that out, maybe instead of ruffles on a JJ?

Update: And then I found this, also in my mum's closet. A knitted cardigan with exactily the same detail. 


Kokong bag

I'm spending a few days at my parent's place and you never know what pops up in their drawers and closets when you have a look around!

A few years ago (or, come to think of it, not a few but rather many now), right after I had left university I was unemployed for a few months (I graduated right in the middle of a recession, and there were no job-opportunities at all around).

This was right after I had taken an evening course in pattern construction and I did a bit of sewing (just sitting around isn't really my thing, at least not for too long).
One thing I made was this bag (the one on the left), inspired by my grandmother's old, red shoe-bag that I fell in love with the moment I saw it.  I think it's from the 1950's or 60's. I didn't like handbags much back then (made me feel like a "tant", a not very flattering word for old lady) but needed somewhere to keep my wallet, lipbalm and brand new (first!) cellphone.

I made the bag to use instead of a handbag, small enough to be quite discreet, big enough to keep all necessary things in, and with a strap just the right length for me to keep it on my shoulder, hidden beneath my arm, two hands free, when I went out (=freedom to dance without having to hold a handbag in one hand). I used it all the time.

Somehow I found out that you could apply to sell your designs at Designtorget, a then new shop where they sold new Scandinavian design, so I applied, and got accepted!

I made the label too, the pattern is from a wallpaper that I photographed in a shop, modified and later also used for my businesscard and a CD with projects that I enclosed with my job-application (the very same wallpaper, in red, was used in many H&M-shops about a year later, I find fashion works in very interesting ways. We all think similarily at about the same time sometimes...).

 Fun to put in my CV and a nice memory, but not very profitable. I probably made less than a dollar an hour.
Oh well.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Shirred dress for Julia

Though I normally mainly (only) want to sew for me, and constantly make plans about what to make next (for me), I love sewing for my niece. Maybe for my nieces when my younger niece Ella is a bit older (she's a 9 month baby now, though a very clever baby). I think so.

But now mainly for my older niece Julia.

I got this quite thin, bright pink, gingham cotton in Stockholm and intended to make a summer dress of it before leaving for France in the beginning of July, but of course I had NO time for it until yesterday. But yesterday I did!

I've wanted to try making a simple machine-shirred dress for Julia for a while. The kind where you put elastic thread in the bobbin of your sewing machine (just roll it up by hand, stretching it slightly) and sew parallell lines along the width of the fabric, which makes the material scrunch up and become elastic.

Here's a better shot of what it ended up like. It took about two hours to make. Great!

I winged it a bit, I began with the shirring, then cut the "sleeves" off, added binding to the edges - that extends into straps - and hemmed it. Julia had told me what length she wanted it so I followed her wish. The top of it, above the shirring, is simply zig-zagged along the edge, vith tiny stitches, I wanted the edge as flexible as possible, without any bulk.

Sewing the shirred bit actually worked as a dream, as long as I didn't sew too fast. You have to sew veeeeeery slowly to keep the thread from breaking! Other than that it's dead easy. I had expected the elastic thread to get jammed at least once, but no, it was very obedient.

And it all looks nice and neat on the wrong side too, I love it when that happens without any real effort!

The only places it looks a bit less neat is where I had to sew twice since the elastic broke when I got impatient and hit the foot pedal too hard thus ending up sewing too fast.

The dress was quickly approved of by Julia who immediately wanted to wear it, and who wore it going home to Bergen (she had worn a dress I bought her for three days non stop prior to that).

I even got to photograph her in it as many times as I liked, she likes my new camera (a Canon EOS550D, an excellent excellent camera) almost as much as I do, when I shoot several pictures at once (it sounds like a shotgun) she almost laughs her head off (and so do I).

Happy child, happy aunt!

Burdastyle coat done, yeeeeeepie! And I'm a problem-solver. WIth a bad memory.

Back again! Did some travelling again (might post more about that in another post, I went to Provence, I love love love Provence!), and spent a few days intensely sewing a coat for the Burdastyle book when I came home. Now I'm finally on proper vacation, it's a bliss!

Sewing for Burdastyle was actually complicated and became very stressful due to - what should I call it - the human factor?

My younger brother borrowed my flat to stay in when I travelled and he and his family visited Stockholm. The friend I travelled with lives in the north of Sweden but had visited family in the south before we left so she left some excess luggage at my place before we left. In my storageroom, at the attic.

I forgot to tell my brother to leave the spare keys - which are attached to my keys to the attic and to my storage rooms at the attic - in my appartment when he left for our summerhouse (where we were going to meet up when I returned to Sweden). But I did remember to ask him to please put my printer up there to make some room for him, girlfriend and two kids in my tiny flat. Beeing an obedient little brother he did.

When me and my friend got home I quickly realised we had no keys to the attic. My brother had brought them with him 600kilometers north.... ouch.

We got home late at night and my friend was catching an early flight the next morning, so we decided I'd borrow a key to the attic the next day, break the lock to my storageroom and bring her luggage to our summerhouse where she'd pass by car a couple of days later and be able to pick it up. Only, at about five in the morning she realised she had put the keys to her appartment in the bag at my attic. She woke me up at six, and had to leave for the airport at six thirty. Panic! What to do?

I ran outside. Determined to find a neighbour who wasn't asleep (very likely at 6am in the middle of summer-holiday-season, not). Half dressed, not showered for a day having travelled home in +35 degrees celsius, hair not brushed for a few days, well, I'm glad I have brave neighbours! And I'm glad I have neighbours who go to work at 6 a.m! And that I met one almost immidiately... who kindly lent me his key for the attic when I tried to explain the situation and nearly began to cry (I didn't look forward to paying for a locksmith for my friend's appartment) even though he had no idea who I was (I think. But then I'm in the board so he actaully might). So about ten minutes after I woke up I was up at the attic, breaking my lock (glad I had an appropriate saw for metal). My friend got her luggage and caught the flight, HUGE relief!

I really would have needed to print the pattern for the Burdastyle coat before leaving for our summerhouse where I planned to sew the coat-variation but since the printer was in my other storageroom, behind another lock, I decided to arrange the print otherwise, which became through my father who kindly offered to print it for me. And did, in the correct scale. Only he printed it double-sided, which was the default setting at the printer he used, before leaving home to meet up with the rest of us at our summerhouse (where there are no computers and no printers). Which I realised friday night, two days before the deadline for shipping, when he arrived. Panic again!

I ended up copying the back of each print at a bookshop in town (no internet cafés or anywhere else to print things available), assisted by my mum, saturday afternoon, and spent the rest of the weekend sewing frantically (glad I had already made all the more compliated of the needed changes to the first printout of the pattern that I made before leaving for France).

This is where I did the sewing, at the verandah. There are worse places to spend a few days sewing! The water (i.e. the
sea) was right behind my back when I got the photo at four am, right after finishing the coat monday night. I love being able to look out the window and see water, and the forest.
I had to push the deadline for shipping from monday to tuesday (which would have worked) only to discover (tuesday morning) that the papers I had recieved from Burdastyle for the shipping weren't enough to send it, and that FedEx had to snailmail me an airway bill before I could even think of sending it. Panic again.

I could do nothing about it though and shipped it today, two days late, since you have to arrange the FedEx pick-up before 10 am and the mail is delivered at 11 and FedEx refuses to arrange the pickup unless you've already recieved the airway bill. So although I got the airway bill yesterday I couldn't send the parcel until today.

I can safely say I'm relieved now! And that I hope my "coat" will get to New York as soon as possible!

I wish I could show you pictures of it, but I can't, not until next autumn when the book is published. But I will show you pictures of the dress I made for my niece today. I needed some instant gratification after all the hard work, and I wanted to make her something before they went back to Norway this evening. What better to make than a shirred dress in gingham cotton? Pictures to come tomorrow.

Now bedtime, again...

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Well it was to me, at least. I'm usually no big fan of etiher rings or decorated nails.

But this, very pretty! Clean, simple but sophisticated.

Too bad I keep my nails short and get all nervous and fiddly if I wear rings, otherwise I would have given it a shot, come fall!

I borrowed the image from Lady Melbourne, and it's her hands too.

Had to keep it in case I wake up with long nails one day... ;-)

Monday, 5 July 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Finally, a post long overdue; just before my long absence I was awarded with the Beautiful Blogger Award by Carolyn at Handmade by Carolyn (which btw is one of my favourite blogs). Thank you so much! I will do my best to deserve it better in the future than in the last month!

With the award follows that I'm asked to perform an A and a B:

A. Tell ten things about me:

1. I love fruit. Especially stone-fruits (peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, plums), Swedish apples (they have much more aroma than the imported ones) and exotic fruits such as mangoes, litchies, longans, cherimoyas and, well, durians. I'm not sure my neighbours are as fond of me eating the last one as I am (durians smell!).
I think my love of fruit may stem from the fact that my parents gave us kids exotic fruits (or dried fruits) instead of the Swedish standard "Saturday lollies" that all kids here get. Not too bad actually!

Pictured is a Pakistani Mango. If you haven't tried them, DO! There are very similar Thai ones that are - to my tastebuds - equally nice. It's worth paying a load for them (I paid 10euro's a kilo, about US$12, for this one), they have such a rich, beautiful taste that it's almost impossible to imagine. And they're in season now!

2. I also love old bicycles. I ride my 1951 Husqvarna to and from work every day, except for the coldest months of winter. It's such freedom to not have to wait for buses and trains, and good excercise too. Unfortunately someone liked my bike a lot too a few years ago and tried to break the lock by twisting the whole bike around the rail I had locked it to, result: a bent frame and a mint condition antique bike suddenly ruined. I still use it, but the frame is defenitely not straight any more. Sad.

 My red 1951 Husqvarna on the left, and a recent addition to my collection of old bicycles on the right, another 1940's or 1950's Husqvarna! You can't really tell from the picture, but it's blue and cream, in quite good condition but defenitely in need of some TLC. I was very happy to find it!

3. I'm very annoyed at capitalism at the moment. Not at all things about capitalism, but at the rather common opinion that it's every company's duty to make as much money as possible rather than to try to make the world even a tiny bit better. I would wish that it was possbile to combine the two, and honestly I think it is.
I have a feeling this will make me cut my H&M membership card in two pieces and send it to the company headquarter with a complimentary letter (real soon).

4. I'm not very good at writing short letters. Or texts. Or blog-entries!

5. I have three younger brothers, and two nieces, but no kids of my own (not even a boyfriend, sigh). Nieces all the more loved!

6. I had to show my id-card to prove I was old enough to buy alcohol at our state owned liquor-stores until I turned 36. The legal age is 20. Hah. It wasn't fun in my 20's, but the older I got the more fun it was to watch the clerk's faces (embarresment mixed with surpise)! I don't have to anymore though... (I kind of miss it).

7. Last time I travelled abroad (UK) I lost my passport on the plane back. I don't think I've ever lost anything of importance before so it was quite a surprise! I was also surprised to find that I just had to show my driving license to enter the country again. I spent the whole morning the other day waiting for my turn to apply for a new one (2 hours of waiting...).

8. I love nature. A lot. I constantly sniff the air for loveliness when I'm there. Trees, moss, flowers, rocks... they all smell beautiful and are kind of an infusion of life...

9. One could then wonder why I live in the middle of the city, but I also love being able to go anywhere I like on my bicycle, pictured above.

10. I look blond, but I'm actually a red-head. At least I was until I was five or so. I'm letting my hair stay off chemicals now, no highlights, so I'll soon be back to my own, natural colour (I only ever changed it slightly, but still), kind of interesting! I've found I still have red hair around my temples (wonder what that could mean...).

B. Award five fellow bloggers (Fun. But hard, I like too many...):

I've chosen, out of the last few days' posts in my blogroll, some of the people I find especially inspiring:

Stitchywitch: Green Apples   

Sherry: Pattern Scissors Cloth  

Fouth Daughter: Style Wilderness  

Senasews:  Sew Be Do  

Rachel: Boo Dogg and Me  

Girls! Feel free to just feel a bit honoured, or to pass it on and take the chance to reveal a little, whatever you like about yourselves :-)!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Patrones Pantalon Anudado - fail!

Oh, I liked them so much in the magazine... and they looked so easy to sew (got to love that), but no... not for me! The Pantalon Anudado, pattern no. 20 in issue no 291. Major fail when I tried to make them a couple of weeks ago.

See how nice they look in the magazine:

Cool, not too diapery, not too much fabric around the crotch. A nice and not too extreme take on the harem-pants, perfect for summer, right?

But sadly, oh no... they're not, don't be fooled! Or am I just a really bad seamstress? Could be. Not very used to using patterns other than my own, at least.

See? I really do look like I'm wearing a diaper. I think I chose the wrong material, I used a linen, I think it needs a much softer drape. Much, much softer...  They are lower in the waist than the original, because I didn't add the waistband before trying them on, and I folded the legs and didn't add cuffs, they're really as long as in the original. It's not all about the material though, even if I had used a different material they would have been wrong for me, in the picture I had pleated the waist about twice as much as indicated in the pattern (not really, but I added four or six extra darts). 

And I couldn't sew the legs as intended, or I did, but I simply couldn't even fit my feet through them unless I opened about 10cm's of the seams. How tiny feet do Spanish women have? And narrow calves? Or did I just not get the instructions? 

Makes me wonder about the size I chose, should I have choosen a larger size? I cut them in the smallest size, 40,  which I thought would be similar to my size, a european 34/36, UK 6, US 2 or XS. Does anyone have any experience in Patrone's sizing compared to apparel sizes (I still haven't quite sorted out the sizing used in sewing patterns).

I think one of the pattern-related problems may be that the crotch is straight, not curved, the material is to but cut on the fold so the whole front of the pant is just one piece, and the back another one. Easy to sew, but hard to fit!
Fortunately I wanted to make a wearable muslin first, so I didn't put much work in it and I still have quite a few metres left of the very much so not expensive linen I used. Which is fortunate, because I really like the colour. I should try washing some of it to see how it falls when all the starch is gone... (it must be starched).

I think I might try changing my old basic pant block into something similar but more 80's pant- and less harem-pant like instead. When I find the time that is...

Finally, if anyone's interested: the full instructions in typed text, for Google Translate. I didn't get far enough to use all of it, hopefully someone else will! I made it tiny to save space.

Aplicar fliselina en el revés de las cinturillas y en la mitad de los puños base, planchar. Coser entrepiernas y lados desde señal X. Hilvanar pliegues cintura pantalón. Doblar puños base derecho con derecho y coser extremos, girar puños y coser una tela de estos a las bases, según señal X formando abertura, entornar la tela opuesta de los puños, en el revés con un punto a mano. Unir la costura lado derecho de las cinturillas por separado, unirlas derecho con derecho y coser parte superior hasta lado izquierdo, girar y coser una tela de la cinturilla al pantalón abertura lado izquierdo. Aplicar la cremallera y entornar cinturilla. Unir las dos tiras para cinturón formando una sola, doblar derecho con derecho, cortar los extremos en diagonal y coser alredor dejando una abertura para girar, girar, entornar abertura y anudar delante.

Friday, 2 July 2010


I have this thing for convertible clothing at the moment (maybe it isn't me, maybe it's fashion? A year late?).

I've had my eye on the Donna Karan Cosy ever since immi posted a version of it over at Burdastyle. Such a great piece of clothing!
However, I've hesitated to make one, probably because I'm a fabric-hoarder and find it really hard to cut into my nice fabrics to experiment... and this cardigan needs a nice, thin fabric = extra hard to cut into. Even though you barely cut into it at all with this cardigan (the perfect piece of clothing to re-make later on!).

During my UK-visit a few weeks ago (did I tell you about that? I'm a bit hesitant to post my travelplans on the internet in advance, I'm a chicken, afraid of thieves... anyway, I had a great time!) , I  was fortunate enough to be able to visit Bicester Village, which is a designer outlet near London. I now have my own silk/cashmere DKNY cosy... it's luxurious! I'm a big fan of silk, and fine wool, so it's perfect for me. I love to touch it, wear it and sniff it (silk and wool both smell niiice). And it cost me the equivalent of any highstreet cardigan here in Stockholm, or well, nearly.

The picture on the left/above is DKNY's set of instructions on how to wear it. No. 2, 8 and 12 are my favourites. No. 10 and 11 don't work at all for me, I'm too short, and I have still to try no 4, 5 and 6 since you need a ring, like a bracelet, to make them. I'll get one, soon, or at least before autumn!

If any of you want to make a Cosy of your own, there's a great set of instructions at Sewstylish (is that a magazine?). I think I might make a simpler, off-white version for me, for summer (it tends to get chilly at night here). If I find the time that is. Maybe in August?

Recently McCalls promoted a two piece prom-dress with a sash that makes it possible to wear it several ways, a great idea, though probably not new. Very adaptable I think.

Another convertible dress, that has been popular at Burdastyle, is the Infinity Dress. I haven't made one yet, maybe that's the maxi-dress I need for my vacation in France later on this summer? Hm. Anyway, it's nice. There's a great tutorial on how to make one at rostitchery.

This white version is by rachelily, it's one of my favourites.

Also popular on Burdastyle and on the internet is American Apparel's Le Sac dress. There are loads of tutorials on Youtube on how to wear it in all kinds of ways. One tutorial on how to make it can be found on Crafster, and another one at Waking Up to a New Tomorrow: For a video-tutorial, go to I don't give a frock.

Image from American Apparel
For inspiration, and similar kinds of dresses, check out Please Dress Up. Thier summer 09-collection was called infinate possibilities, and is just that. And really pretty too. I so wish I could copy some of their styles!

Image from Please Dress Up

Complex Geometries also make quite a lot of convertible clothing, most of it a bit more avant garde, for example the sheet t. Cool.

Image from Complex Geometries

And then there's the Swacket... available at Harput's Own. Coolness as a jacket. Love.

Image from Harput's Own

And that's the end of the working week for me (I've finished off this post at work, since it's so much easier to type on my work computer than on my laptop at home, I should connect it to a keybord I guess...), one more week to go before it's time to go on vacation. Yey! Just one wek! Time to go home and cook the scallops and anglerfish I bought at the fish-shop-vacation-sale today (no worries, they are perfectly fresh, they just sold everything off before closing for summer!). Loads of patternmaking ahead of me this weekend, and I still need some new clothes for summer, so the Le Sac feels like a good option, we'll see...

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