Sunday, April 30, 2017

I'm taking part in Me-made May 2017

Oh. Um, hi. Is anyone else slightly amazed that it's almost May already? I can't believe I wrote my last post in January, which is already like, four months ago!

So yes, lots of stuff going on. Mostly life, and work, and working on my thesis, which has kind of racked up on the scale of importance, since my supervisor told me at the beginning of the year that she was changing universities, and I'd do good to finish my written work around September, since she wasn't going to be around much longer. Ok then. This has actually put a bit of a dampener on my sewing mojo, since I start to feel guilty when I do more than half an hour's sewing instead of thesis-related stuff.

The garments I did sew (and yes, there are a few!), I haven't really managed to take decent photos of, since our home office, the one decent place for photo taking in our flat, is in total chaos, and I never quite found the motivation for a trip outside involving a camera and tripod and remote and whatnot. But - a lovely friend lent me his home studio yesterday, in the times in between showing me how to make real French croissants (a birthday gift from last year)! So some garments now have been photographed and I may even find the time for blogging about them soon-ish.
So, about this year's MeMadeMay. I thought a while about taking part in it again this year, for the same reason as in the last years. I do pretty much consistently wear my me-mades daily. Actually, there's probably only a handful of days each month, where more than my bra, socks, tights and outerwear are RTW. In addition to that, I have a few outfits dedicated for office-wear that I don't vary much. They need to be non-restrictive, smart-ish and fit under a lab coat, so I have appropriated a couple of jersey dresses for that purpose. Which is fine enough, but doesn't make for an exciting me-made challenge. ;-)
Some of last year's MMM outfits
Then again, I really love looking through the pics of the last few challenges, and it's always nice to see which outfits work and if there are any wardrobe gaps. And document the weather. So, whatever. Once more into the breach!

 'I, Alessa (, @farben.freude on Instagram), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear me-made outfits (except for bras, tights and outerwear) each day for the duration of May 2017. I also endeavour to finish three of my cut-out UFO projects and wear them at least once during the month of May.'

So yeah, I'm also going to try and finish some UFOs. I have kinda started cutting out garments, so I have everything together to start sewing, and then I don't, because it seems easier to just cut another one. Strange but true, I have at least 6 cut-out garments lying around, as well as two or three that are almost complete but not quite... I'm thinking that maybe, if I sew for 30 minutes after coming home from work three or four nights a week, I should totally be able to finish at least two or three during May. That would be nice. We'll see how it works out, since I'm also trying to establish a 30 minute Yoga routine 3 or 4 times a week...

I'm probably not going to document my outfits on the blog, or maybe just a collage at the end of the month, but they'll definitely be on my Instagram, if you're interested.

Are you taking part in MeMadeMay this year?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keeping warm in a good cardi

This is actually last year's sewing, but first it took me a while to take decent photos, and then another while to have a few minutes for blogging. Sometime in early summer last year, I lost my blue Oslo cardi, and since it was such a versatile garment, I immediately vowed to replace it. I couldn't get the exact same fabric (a beautiful rayon jersey with a slightly nubby, silky texture, from, so instead I made do with some soft polycotton jersey from the Turkish fabrik market.
Like my last Oslo, I modified the sleeves and shoulders to fit a bit closer, although they still work well as a layering piece even over long-sleeved tees and dresses.
Navy works as a beautiful neutral in my wardrobe, matching just about everything (alright, almost), so this has been one of the most worn garments since I made it. It's nice for colder summer evenings, and for fall and winter works well as a layering piece over dresses.
 After being completely blown away by how useful cardigans without a front closure are, I also wanted to try a different pattern. I've had the Julia cardigan in my stash for quite a long time, so I chose this light blue and slightly glittery poly-rayon jersey to try it out.
I really like the shape, but it turned out that I'm not a huge fan of the fabric. It feels slightly stiff because of the glittery threads, and the colour is just a bit too pastel for me to reach for it often. It works well with navy, as you can see, but not with too much else...
I'd love to try the pattern in another colour, though. I think I could do with a couple more basic black cardigans.

What's your favorite cardi pattern?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Progress on the Winter Coat

So. Well, first of all, happy 2017! I've had quite a good start into the year, we celebrated New Year's Eve at home with new and old friends and after a tipsy night of fun and games, we spent New Year's Day incredibly lazy, sleeping in, having coffee in bed and later, some more friends came by for brunch that lasted until it got dark. The evening we spent on the couch, knitting and watching TV (and watching Sherlock!). I think January and February is perfect for lazy evenings, knitting in front of the TV, which we've been doing a lot. I've also managed to stick to some resolutions (like doing Yoga at least 3x per week, working on my thesis more or less regularly, and getting a few things done that have been on my list for a while) - and there's also been some coat sewing.

I started with the lining, to check the fit again, and I think it looks pretty alright. I do think the forward shoulder adjustment makes a difference (as does putting in the sleeves *lol*) and the rest of the fit looks mostly fine to me.
Well, I guess the proportions look fine to me. Overall, the fit feels very loose to me, especially after checking against the other coats I own. I can put this lining on while wearing one of my (not quite that warm) coats and it still fits and isn't straining over the fabric. I have about 15 cm (6 in) of ease along the waist seam  and the bust when I wear it over my normal clothing. Measuring the waist seam (subtracting the overlap), it's actually 20 cm of ease compared to my measurements. That seems a bit excessive? Although it's just about as much as seems to be recommended by Sandra Betsina?

The next question being, of course, if I wanted the fit to be a bit closer, should I start from scratch with a smaller size or could I get away with using slightly bigger seam allowances...? I'm guessing I need to take apart my lining and try it out...

In related news, in the quest to make the best coat I can, I sewed a tailor's ham. 
I'd been thinking about making one for ages, but always put it off because I wasn't quite sure where to get sawdust. Turns out, you can get it in every single drugstore, since it's used as filling for pet cages. Shows what I know... ;-) I think it turned out quite pretty and I heart it, but I'm never making one again. Have you ever tried stuffing a bag full of sawdust through a tiny hole made of fraying wool fabric? No. Fun. At all. Oh well.

How's your new year been going? And do you have any life saving tips on coat sewing or fitting?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reflections - Not quite a #sewingtop5

Hi folks! It's New Year's Eve and I've been procrastinating big time on a reflections and resolutions post. It feels like I haven't really sewn enough to actually properly take part in Gillian's #sewingtop5, and I've been quite prepared to tell you how meh this year has somehow felt for me, but it's the last day of the year, the sun is shining, we're preparing for an evening of board games with our friends and I've decided I'd rather tell you how thankful I am.

2016 was a year full of stuff happening that no-one really wanted, from the whole political shebang of Brexit-and-Trump to the dying of all those beloved celebrities (and some closer to home, like the dad of one of my friends). For us Berliners, it culmiated in a terrorist attack on a Christmas market more or less around the corner from where I live. I knew none of the people who died or were injured, but I easily could have. I easily could have been there, as could any of my friends. That we weren't is a stroke of luck or of fate. There were also some personal issues that I struggle with, this year, that I don't really want to get into here. I think I'm doing ok with them right now. But still.

All things considered, I'm so lucky that this year also held so many wonderful moments, with friends and family, spending time together, travelling, eating and drinking, having fun. I have no idea where on the balance of the scale this year would end up, if not for that. And for that, I'm really, really thankful.
Sewing-wise, I have to admit that nothing I've sewn this year really stands out. I sewed a few very practical things that got a lot of use (the navy Oslo cardi comes to mind, that I lost and then had to replace because it really goes with everything). The one dress that was the real highlight this year, reached for every time I wanted to look pretty, was actually one that I sewed late last year, so it doesn't really count.
the highlight and the workhorse

The rest partly just kinda seamlessly fit onto my wardrobe (like the Lola dresses I've never even blogged about) and partly has already been put into the donation bag (like the upcycled Bruyère shirt).
 the unblogged Lolas

My big goal for the year was to end with less stash than I started. Actually, the real goal was to only buy 1m of fabric for every 2m that I sewed up. That turned out to be quite a big fail, since I bought 58m of fabric and only sewed up 55m. Still, 3m on the plus side is way better than last year's 16m, and over half of the fabric (35m to be exact) I sewed up was from last year's stash. I also put some fabric on the side for a fabric swap or giveaway (that I meant to organize but never got around to), and I think I'll have another purge come spring. I even got the hang of weeding out some of those handmade garments that don't seem to fit (on my body or into my style) anymore. That feels like an accomplishment. :-)

The other big goal was to interact with the online sewing sphere a bit more. Get back to blog reading and commenting and blogging and taking part in challenges. And maybe updating the stuff around here (like the broken links and handmade wardrobe...). Well. Another big fail for 2016. And as it stands, I'm really not quite sure if I can manage it 2017, either. I know I could make the time, but there's always so much else going on and often, I really just want to sink onto the sofa and bury my nose in a book. I even thought about giving up about blogging and making do with Instagram and Twitter. But this is my small corner of the internet, so I really don't want to give up on it altogether.  So we'll see how it goes. And much thanks to the people who still come by to read and drop a comment occasionally! :-) That's quite lovely of you, thank you.

Here's to the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. May the new year have good things in store for us all. :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A coat muslin

So just in time for the weather to turn freezing, I managed to trace my coat pieces and sew a muslin. Ottobre patterns tend to fit me pretty well, and I'm not really a dedicated maker of muslins, but with a project as involved as a coat (and such pretty and precious fabric), I'd rather be on the safe side...

So here's the (very blurry and unflattering) pictures:
All things considered, not a bad fit, I think. The waist hits a bit low for my taste, so I'm going to shorten the bodice pieces by a couple of centimeters.
The sleeves didn't fit on the piece of fabric I used for the muslin (a medium-ish weigh cotton canvas), so for now the muslin is sleeveless, but I may have to add them, since there's a bit of weirdness going on at the shoulders and arm scythe.
I'm thinking about doing a forward shoulder adjustment and taking away a bit of fabric from the top part of the front side piece. However, the coat is supposed to have shoulder pads, and putting them in almost corrected at least part of the problem... - or what do you think? There are still some unattractive folds along the front side piece, but I'm afraid of taking away too much, and having the end result turn out too small over the bust... maybe just a few millimeters?
I'd appreciate any feedback you can give - I'm pants at fitting most of the time, with the worst thing being actually cottoning on to fitting problems... ;-)

Friday, November 25, 2016

Life, the small things, and the big plans

Hi there! Oh wow, time is flying. It feels like summer was only a couple of weeks ago, and now it's almost December, the lovely golden days of fall are almost over and there are days where I feel cold in my regular fall coat. Despite having had some time on my hands, and the lovely sewing weather (cold and wet), my muse seems to have been on an extended break, and I haven't properly sewn anything in close to three months! Well, I've started on a few knickers made from scraps, and I've cut out a Colette Seamwork Elmira cardi. I could use the knickers, but I don't love sewing fold-over elastic. And I've generally just been in the mood to spend my free time in bed with a good book (or my mobile, reading Sherlock fanfiction, ahem). Add to that a couple of short vacations and starting on a new job...

Actually, I think I may be feeling guilty for procrastinating on my thesis. I've been supposed to do the statistic analysis for weeks now... Only, I've never actually done statistics before, never used the program before and only have the tiniest clue of what I'm supposed to be doing. I know it's not actually witchcraft, just a bit of maths and thinking and feeding data into the computer (which I'm actually reasonably good at), and I have a book an there's tons of tutorials out there, just... it feels like a huge undertaking. And I've had a lot of other stuff going on (like a vacation, and a weekend-getaway to London, and a choir concert at a club with a really mad choreography - and three concerts to go until mid-December). So of course hibernating under my bedclothes with a book was a lot more comfortable. But I guess I'll have to start with it at some point, before my supervisor kicks my ass, so. I've been thinking. A lot of things look huge and scary, if you haven't done them before. Sewing a pair of jeans seemed huge and scary, before I made my first pair of Ginger jeans. Sewing a coat seems huge and scary (even though I made an Anise wool jacket, complete with bound button holes, a couple of years ago). But I know it can be done!
So I thought I'd just break those two huge and scary undertakings, the statistical analysis of my thesis data and the sewing of a winter coat, into smaller, hopefully doable tasks. And alternate them. This way I can sew as a reward for putting in data.

That does sound reasonably smart, doesn't it?

I've started on research for both - reading introductions into statistics and the program I'm using, and looking through possible coat patterns. After lots and lots of searching (and buying the PDF of Burdastyle 7458, only to realize that it has 90 pages, which I sure as heck am not going to cut and tape...) I decided on a pattern from one of my Ottobre magazines, Dahlia from 05/2010.
I'll probably try to put some more buttons on. And the fabric is going to be that fabulous Rockabilly red herringbone wool from Fabworks...
And once I've got a start on that, maybe I will manage to get to the rest of my autumn-wintery to-sew list...

I did manage one thing during my sewing hiatus, though. Since the muse wasn't inclined to make garments, I spruced my sewing space up a bit, made covers for my overlock and coverlock machines, got a thread rack and a new sewing chair - it's all so much better organized now!

So, while this week was full with concert stuff and Thanksgiving dinners, and this weekend is choir rehersal weekend, I'm fully planning to use the convenience of my new job hours (an exhausting 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday means a free morning on Tuesday and free afternoons on Wednesday and Friday) to make inroads on this statistics and coatmaking business!

So, anyone else doing any pesky, challenging stuff lately?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Bombshell Swimsuit

Oh look, I made another swimsuit! And I found out how to not look totally uncomfortable while posing in my bathers - wearing shades and a hat. ;-)
The pattern is the Closet Case Files Bombshell Swimsuit - same as I made last year, but with the sweetheart neckline this time around. It's also been finished since the beginning of August, but the weather wasn't quite conductive for taking nice pictures - until the first week of September, when summer came back with a vengeance for a few days! :-)
I like this version even better. The sweetheart neckline is really pretty and it's got polka-dots! :-D Like the last one, the fabric for this was kindly sent to me by Gillian all the way from Canada (thanks, Gillian!), since it's obviously way easier to get nice swimsuit fabrics in Canada than in Germany - go figure...

Anyway, this one turned out really nice, although I'm still a bit in two minds about the practicality of the pattern. It really does look fabulous, but I didn't actually wear it for swimming, since the ruched fabric and two layers mean it gets dripping wet and doesn't dry very fast. It's perfect for lying on a beach towel, though! (Although I always feel a bit out of place on a German beach, where the credo is to wear as little as possible... ;-) ) Maybe a beach vacation is called for. :-)

Pattern notes:
For this version, I used actual swimsuit lining, which is a bit thinner and works better than the swimsuit fabric I used for lining last time. I also used my overlock machine for most of the construction and kept to the stated seam allowances, so this version, while fitting snugly, doesn't seem too small like the last one. I didn't quite like the method of attaching the straps after turning and topstitching, since it adds another visible line of stitching... I'll try to do them in one go next time around.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Last year's sewing dare revealed

While putting on one of my favorite jersey dresses today, I remembered that there is still quite a bit of last year's sewing that I never blogged about - including this dress, which is funny because I even took some decent pics of it last year! It's also part of the mini wardrobe capsule containing a dress, top and bottom, that Gillian challenged me to make for sewing dares (ahem, last year's spring). So, well, I'm blogging about it now. ;-)

1. the dress
It's one of those boring TNT jersey dresses. The raglan bodice is (as almost always) based on an Ottobre pattern, the a-line skirt is modified from the Onion twist dress, and as has become usual in the last year or two, I put a little tuck under the bust for a better fit. The fabric is a rather nice rayon jersey from with a lovely drape.
Despite being nothing special, it turned out to be a favorite, especially for work days. Blue jersey dresses somehow scream comfort for me, and I have at least one for every season. I don't have to think, putting them on, they just look effortlessly nice, while still letting me fade in the background, if I so chose. ;-)

I think I had 2 meters of that fabric, so with careful placing I managed to squeeze both the dress and a top onto my length of fabric.

2. the top
It's also a TNT of course, the aforementioned Ottobre raglan. Nothing special, beside a bit of ruching along the neckline, which I tend to do with half of my tops...
And for once, I managed to finish the hem and sleeves on my coverstitch machine.

3. the bottoms
Those are what took bloody long to make, and honestly, in the ten months I've had them, they have only been worn a couple of times. It's a pair of red linen Thurlow trousers.
It's a toss-up if the fabric or the fit is bothering me more. I wanted some nice, bottom-weight linen, and found some linen-rayon mix with a decent weight for a good price. Since I love both linen and rayon, I thought it was a good choice, but they hang heavier than I thought and they feel a little scratchy, despite several washes.
After making a muslin of the shorts version of the pattern in sz 12 (corresponding to my waist measurement, my hips falling into sz 10), which turned out huge, I went down two sizes and made these in size 8. It may just be the give of the linen, but they still turned out plenty big, so I took them in at the center back (which is sewn last for fit purposes), but that threw off the fit at the butt. They're also too big in the back thigh area, which I might have anticipated, not being a pear... Oh well. I'll probably give up on that pattern and maybe try the Ginger jeans in linen instead?

4. bonus project: another top
To round the collection out, I thought I'd throw this top in the mix. It's not pink, as you might think, but has thin red and white stripes. The pattern is actually an experiment, traced from a boatneck top I own and rather like. I like the neckline and little sleeves well enough, although I probably should have used a different finish for the neckline, which is only turned under and topstitched, and consequently tends to roll and gape a little.
It's certainly not perfect, and I'm still on the lookout for a good pattern with a nice, wide boatneck. But it makes for a nice casual top to go with my Ginger jeans, right?
Any recommendations for nice boatneck patterns?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Maxi-mising my Summer Wardrobe

I hope you see what I did in the title.. ;-)
Summer is moving right along. I feel like I hardly have much time left to do all the summer sewing I'd been meaning to. Two more weeks, then my family will be here for a bit of vacation and then it'll be September already, and probably high time to start on the plans for fall sewing. Oh well.

My current summer fav for wearing in any weather (since Berlin summer can be anything from rainy 18°C to tropical 32°C) are maxi dresses. I love when there's a bit of a breeze ruffling the skirt, and it works both for during the day and to go out in the evening. A maxi dress and a cardi are pretty much all you need for Berlin weather (at least if you're carrying an umbrella). ;-)
So this one is made from the same more-or-less self-drafted pattern as my other two jersey maxi dresses. There are little tucks under the bust in lieu of darts (inspired by the Moxie patterns Verity dress) and the skirt is a simple trapezium/trapezoid, with side slits going halfway up. I tend to knot the sides when I'm walking or cycling, so the skirt doesn't drag or get between my feet... :-)
This time around, I used clear elastic on the arm holes and neckline, just stitched it on with a three-step-zigzag, turned it under and used my coverlock for topstitching. It turned out better than I thought, although I think I still like bound necklines better.

While I'm at it, I think I didn't manage to blog about one of last year's maxi dresses yet. Even though I took some actually rather nice pictures (using an actual DSLR!) last year on my parents' porch!
I really like the fabric, it's a lovely cotton sateen border print that I bought in Hong Kong way back when (that would be... 2011 *phew*, five years ago already?!) The pattern is self-drafted, the back just a rectangle with shirring at the top. I'm not quite happy with the fit in the bodice, the bust is a bit too shallow, but it's wearable. I'm hoping to fix it in the next iteration...
It's not my most worn maxi dress (that would be my very first jersey maxi, the one inspired by Gillian). But it's nice to have variety. :-) Of which I now have quite a lot, especially since I wasn't quite convinced that the maxi dress trend was for me, in the first place. Now I'm wondering on what other trend I might be missing out. Jumpsuits, maybe...?