Friday, 31 July 2015

A tale of a new friendship (and a massive amount of vintage bliss!)

Hello boys and girls!

I trust you are all having a lovely summer (or winter...), I know I am!
My three weeks of holiday is almost up, and it has been wonderful to just be. And not so much do! That is not to say I have been sitting on my patootie, oh no! There has been sunbathing (lying on my patootie), kayaking (ok, that's sitting), doing lots of yoga/human pretzel impersonations, some sewing and knitting. Basically, every and any thing my heart desired!

I have also made a new friend! A sewing friend!
This lovely woman is named Hilde, and I met her last spring on our annual sportscar gathering. She is a seamstress by profession, and works with our national treasure, the Bunad. She has her own sewing studio her husband made for her in their barn. It's better than I make it sound, I am so envious!
We have had some on and off contact, as we live a couple of hours apart and are, well, busy. We met again this spring at the same event, and she told me she had some stuff that she wondered if I could use. They were apparently some patterns, but I had to come visit her to get them. Done deal!

To make a long story short (and get to the good stuff) I went to see her last weekend, and OH MY!
I really dont know where to start.

Spot the third one from the left.
a complete holiday wardrobe!

To kick off, there's some Norwegian mailorder patterns from the 50s. The big green book is a gem! It is printed in 1964 and contains heaps of techniques and how-to's for the home seamstress. Also knitting, crocheting, how to make lace (!), needlework, everything. It is in Norwegian, and finally I can communicate the sewing lingo in my own language! It is hard, when you are self taught and have googled all you know in English... To my greatest joy, there is a tailoring section in there, and I sense my two piece suit is drawing near:)

Next, there is a huge lot of German patterns, that has been pulled from a subscription magazine. The subscriber was Norwegian, and collected these for what seems like some years. They range from about 1966-69, and contain lots of fun stuff! There must be over a hundred of them!

Cool sailor slacks.
This pattern had several variations.

The coolest item of all (if there is such a thing!) is this Silver Scissor booklet, complete with the special ruler/ tape measure. It is similar to the Lutterloh system, where you draft your pattern from small drawings of the pattern pieces using the ruler. Quite genious, and I look forward to have a go at this :) It seems the patterns were released in intervals, so you could collect them over time. I haven't counted these, but there must be about 50 or so.

Will you look at that purple set! And the top suit...swoon.

This should be fun!

I just adore adore the white ensemble....!

 There was also a small collection of various 1960s patterns, and a magazine containing some patterns as well.  

Fabulous dressing gown alert, top left corner!

I am just over the moon over these things! The total number of patterns is probably 200+, and worth a pretty penny if sold separately. Needless to say, I am not letting go of any of these, I feel so blessed to have recieved such a generous gift! She even gave me two pairs of chrocheted gloves, but they are getting a post of their own. Utterly gorgeous things! Here's to new friendships!
Thank you, Hilde :) You're a star.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Playing hide and seek with sewing success

Hello all you good people!

I just want to thank all of you who commented on my last post, in which I shamelessly shared my un-enthusiasm about my mailorder sundress (along with my tired after-work-face, undone hair, and general lack of styl(ing)). I had lots of great input, and ideas on what to do to de-frump it, and I am very greatful!

I have not yet got around to do anything about it, but it is happily simmering on the back burner, until I feel the *need* to fix it. I have bought some new buttons for it actually, so it is slowly coming along :)

In an attempt to make myself feel better, I decided to start a new dress!

Oh yes!
I had some lovely cotton satin fabric with this great tropical leaf print in my stash, that I specifically bought to make a tiki/sarong skirted dress of some sort. The fabric patiently waited for it's perfect pattern match for nearly two years, and I finally found it in Butterick #5880. It is a reissue of a 1951 pattern. I was lucky and found the pattern on sale on the Butterick page, and downloaded the pdf. I decided on a size (12), and got cutting. The bodice, with full lining and all, went together like a breeze, as did the skirt. I pulled the bodice on just to try it, before the zipper went in.

Oh the shock and horror! It was way too tight! Oh no! I quickly pinned the skirt panels together, and realized there was no way in corseted Hell that dress would fit me. And I had used all my fabric too, so no recutting. You would think I had learned by now to make a frikkin' muslin already, but no... This winging business has got to stop. In my defense, I didn't have any fabric that I wanted  to make a muslin out of, so I just crossed my fingers.

Would've been so pretty... sigh.

In my defense #2; I did ask around on Facebook sewing groups about this pattern, and there was the general consensus that this pattern had lots of ease. Every dress I've made to date has come out a tad big, so I decided to swing the other way, and size down. I also had a hard time finding the size chart on the pdf, and midway through the process, I found notes of the finished garments measurements scattered about on the pattern pieces.

At the end of the day, it was entirely my own fault, I got eager and cocky, and ended up with a boo-boo. Anyway, I am going to finish the dress and try to find it's smaller than me owner.
I am sad, and bummed, since this would have been the perfect fabric/pattern match, and that I don't have any more of this fabric. But I will have a Butterick #5880 dress! I love the look of it, and already got some new fabric for it :)

I need to build some sewing confidence first, so I opted to sew something non-fitted before I try my hand at these  
(£"#€%>¤&@) dresses again. What more perfect than a nice pajama set?

It has been on my list for a long time, and the Carolyn Pajama-pattern from Closet Case Files was love at first sight. I am making the shorty short version (C) and so far they are looking quite lovely!

I hope to share some sewing success with you guys very soon!
Wish me luck (again), I obviously need it :D  Heh!

Wishing you all good sewing success,
and happy sewing!!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Something's not right here...!

Here's a little update on my mailorder sundress I was teasing you with many weeks ago!

Remember this?

The dress is actually in a state of finished, hemmed and all. However, upon fitting and "testdrive" I just felt it was all kinds of wrong. What in my mind would be an awesome polka-dotted swishy flared sundress, turned out to be a rather dull frumpy thing.

This is my un-impressed face.
I realize I am not helping on the frump-factor.

The front buttoning extends too far up the bodice, and is way too modest. WAY.
The only way to wear it is with the top button open, which leaves me with a collar/lapel with a button hole in it. Pfft. I also have issues with the bodice. It is not in any way fitted. With my glasses on, I CAN see from the cover drawing that it is indeed "blousy" but I always get distracted by the tiny waists on those drawings, and my brain goes "-Yup, fitted!". And to make matters even worse, I added "some" in the waist 'cause the pattern said 34" bust, and that usually means 28" waist. Which I don't have.

Where's my swishy skirt, then??!

I also envisioned a fuller skirt. On the envelope it looks wonderfully-full, but in real life it's just a slightly wide (?) A-line. I can live with that, but still... *sob*
Maybe I could wear a petticoat (that I *still* need to make), that could give it a little lift. Doubt it.

Right. Let's see, what else? Oh, yes, the buttons. I thought upon buying these grey fabric covered ones, that it was a small miracle to find some in a matching grey! Probably was, but it doesn't change the fact that they are boring. They just disappear. This dress calls for something with a bit more presence.

Here you can just see the hot pink pocket lining.

And finally, the collar.
When cutting my fabric pieces, I had the remnants from my shockingly pink shirt fabric up on the table. I decided to line my pockets with it, and aaaaaalmost went for a pink collar too. Should've just dunnit. The collar now, is the same story as the buttons. It just blends into the boring-ness. Actually, I saw Mrs. Ooobop's new dress today, and was smacked in the face by her contrasting collar! Have a look! It's just what my dress lacks (that, and fabulous shoes, fuller skirt, petticoat, hot city night etc.etc.) What reason did I have for deciding against the pink? Well, I didn't "want to limit the styling options by putting a color onto that neutral base". Really!? (I deserve this boring dress, for that thought alone!)

The backside is actually the most favourable bit...

In any event, I have decided not to hate on The Frump, but just improve it! Yes, I will try to refashion it, and see if I can make it a little closer to its imaginary cousin in my head :) Also, I now regret fully lining the thing.  But it should be doable, non?
If you have any ideas, tips, tricks or other creative input, you are most welcome to share!

Right. Onwards!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Lekala #5877 - a spot of contemporary sewing.

Hello everyone!

After my trip to Denmark, where I wore mostly me-made outfits, I realized that I am lacking cover-ups. Not that I was running around half naked, but I was constantly missing that little throw-over garment for sipping drinks on a chilly deck overlooking the sea- sort of thing. Or just something over my shoulders, when out to dinner in a sleeveless dress.

To date, I haven't made a single piece of outer wear, or jacket of any sort and it was time to remedy that. Since jackets tend to be a bit more structured, I figured I best be starting small. Just by coincidence I stumbled upon the Lekala website, which specialises in customized pdf-patterns, and I was intrigued. Could I really get a pattern that was drafted especially for me, in just a matter of minutes? Turns out, I could. And for a  very reasonable price too!

And here it is! My version of the Lekala #5877.
It is a cropped, cap sleeved jacket or bolero, with ruched detailing on the sleeves and a rounded collar. One button closing in the front. It is also fully lined.

I made it up in some leftover blue linen, which I used for my RAF swing trousers. This jacket was great for using smaller bits, as the pattern pieces are not very large. I guess one could also do a color blocking with this too! The design lines kind of begs for it ;)

The construction was very straight forward, and it all went swimmingly right up to the collar bit. I think my brain was on holiday that day, and I basically did everything backwards and upside down. By the time I figured out the right way, I had trimmed off nearly all the seam allowance on the collar, and was just able to eek it on. But I did it!

The written instructions are what I would call minimalistic. There are no illustrations, but all you need to know is in there, you just have to read it all through, and use your noggin'. I suspect a complete beginner would struggle a bit, but nothing you can't overcome.

I got myself into a knot (literally) when attaching the lining. I read the instructions, but didn't quite pay attention, and did it like I thought was right. I then proceeded to turning the jacket to right side again, and ended up with a twisted pretzel. I could not for the life of me turn it back to where I started, and in the end I had to get the ripper out and unpick the lining on both sleeves. Just as well, it was all wrong! I admit, there was a few tears when my lining pieces threatened to fray beyond recognition, but I was very happy when the jacket was once again untangled. The whole spectacle was a You-tube moment for sure....

For the lining I used some sparkly viscose type of fabric, that's been in my stash since before it really was a stash. I think it was the perfect thing for the jacket, a pop of color and sparkles in all that mellow blue linen. Makes me happy to look at it :)

I guess you could say that this jacket was a roaring success! I love it, and it's the perfect summer throw over. I think I could stand making more of these :) I also think it's versatile, it goes with tanks and jeans just as well as dresses or skirts. Depending on fabric, you could make it casual, or dressy.

So what do you think? Have you ever tried Lekala patterns? I am tempted to make some more of their designs. Not having to make any adjustments was kind of sweet ;)

Happy sewing!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Hello good people!

Yes, despite the lack of sunshine I finally got round to doing some very belated photography! (Actually, the sun has been out for days, it's just me being slow.)

This here is my Rainbow jumper, or Lavenda #915, all made up and all 280 (!) ends weaved in!
I finished it three weeks ago, and in time to bring it to our car trip to Denmark. Which was perfect, because May this year has been the coldest in almost 50 years. So cute, wooly 40s jumpers were just the ticket, and wearing them got me lots of compliments! I'm gonna call that a double win :)

The knitting of this jumper is very straight forward, but I found the pattern a bit boring if I'm honest. Lacy things add some brain exercise, but this was just knit 3, slip 1, and then purl 3, slip 1on the alternating rows . Every 4th row, you switch color, and scoot the stitch pattern sideways by half a repeat. Snooze...

But that makes it a great project for when you are not feeling like being focused :)
I did make some alterations in size (just added some repeats) and did waist increases every sixth row the same way stated in the Victory jumper pattern.

I love the neckline on this jumper too! The buttons are fully funtional, and that is useful for when you have done up in full Victory roll splendour, and then remember you need to get clothing over your head. Not that the neckline isn't stretchy, 'cause it is. Just gives you lotta' room!

Even if this is knitted in the same yarn as my Victory jumper and is knitted on same size needles, it does feel heavier/bulkier. My Victory jumper is light an airy because of the lace pattern, but this pattern makes the fabric denser. I was a bit disappointed by this initially, but the jumper is still lovely in my eyes.

This may or may not come as a surprise, but I have started a new knit! Some time ago Renée, of Renée and the cats meow shared a free pattern which I thought was lovely. So it jumped my queue, and is now about 40% done. So far it looks great! So thanks, Renée! If you haven't visited her blog, you should! It is lovely and full of vintage inspiration, and there are many more free knitting patterns at her place, too.

Now, what have you been up to lately?

Friday, 22 May 2015

Machine embroidered pockets - a tutorial

This whole thing emerged in my head while making my RAF trousers. Of course, at that point they were only trousers. Quite theme-less:)

The original Simplicity #3688 has got no pockets, but my rear really benefit from some kind of embellishment. High waisted things without, just end up up as a whole lotta unflattering flatness.

I drafted the pattern pieces for the pockets myself, but I also wanted them to have some decoration. I noticed that my trousers was the perfect match for my closet-dwelling Smooth aviator blouse, so it had to be wings!

Now, for this project, I could have drawn the design myself. So any image will work, self-made or "borrowed". If you draw something, you need to scan and save to your computer. If you find something online, download and save. So this would be your step 1.

Step 2 is prepping your paper on which you will print the image. Regular pattern tissue/tracing paper is nice and thin for your machine to embroider upon, but it can be tricky for your printer to feed through. So, take a single sheet of printing paper and tape a piece of tracing paper ontop. The size you need will depend on your image, but there is no need to cover the whole sheet. You only need to tape the upper and lower edge of the tissue. Place the sheet into your printer (the right way). It may be a good idea to have some extra paper inserted, I know my printer is a little fussy, and have an easier time grabbing the individual sheet if there is a stack of them in.

Step 3, open the image file and choose print. In the printing menu you will be able to adjust the positioning of the image in the preview window, and so on. I adjusted the side margins inwards so that there were sufficient space around the image. This is helpful when you attaching your paper piece to the fabric. When you're happy, print.

Step 4, carefully remove your tissue from the printer paper, and pin it onto your fabric piece. I made the embroidery before any cutting, or folding of edges or any of that.

Step 5, baste the printed tissue to your fabric and remove pins.

Baste close to edge.

Step 6, start sewing!
My image was rather intricate with all the feathers, so I made several passes over them. Start with the outline and just follow along all edges, and then filling in the "fatter lines". Go slow!

Slowly does it.
(Take breaks and stretch your neck!!)

I didn't worry about filling it in too perfectly, but if I were to make this design again, I would maybe use a thicker thread. I used regular cotton sewing thread. But again, it all depends on your design. It can also be useful to play around with your machine settings before cracking on with the final product. Check if you've got the correct tension and stitch length. If you've got a design with straighter shapes and thicker lines, you might be able to use a small zig zag stitch for example. Make some samples on a scrap first.

When your done, peel away the tissue gently. If you need to, use a pair of tweezers to get the small bits. Also remove the basting stitches. Et voilà! Embroidered pocket fabric. You can now go ahead and actually make the pocket,
and stick it onto your garment!

The navy ring is hand embroidered on.
The rest is Bertha:)

This method is also useful if you need to transfer something for hand embroidery. I don't own any good marker tool that creates a fine enough line, or can be easily removed. So I just use a thread matching the fabric color, trace the shape with my sewing machine, and continue embroidering by hand. It is great for small initials and other simple designs. That way, the markings don't get fudged while you handle the fabric, and are totally invisble after it has been covered by embroidery floss.

I hope you found this useful :)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

While waiting for the sun to shine

Hello springbunnies :)

Spring this year has been unusually chilly, rainy and windy in my part of the woods. May is typically nice and summery, only to turn into a wet and disappointing summer come June. So I take it this is a sign of a lovely warm summer ahead? You are probably not coming here to get the weather forecast, so lets get on with things!

I have been sewing. Oh yes! I finished another version of Simplicity #3688, you know, the fabulous swing trousers. My new ones are forest green, and apart for the slightly scratchy linen fabric, I love them too! When the sun pops out, you'll have the delightful pleasure of me modelling them. Yes, I'm generous like that ;)

On another note, I am all done with the knitting part of the Rainbow jumper!

But I am starting to realize why this is rarely seen when googling it....

Come on. Count the threads. I dare you.


Actually I've done that for you. There are 280 ends in total. I need to be in an exceptionally good mood if I am to sit down and weave in all those buggars.

So while I wait (for the sun AND the urge to wrangle wool), I started a new dress!
The pattern is a mailorder one from sometime in the 1940s. The envelope is adressed to a Mrs Martin Lottmann in Owensville, Missouri. The stamp has no date on it. It is a bit mindblowing to think about this little letter ending up in Norway some 70+ years after. What are the odds? I know Mrs Lottmann didn't see that one coming.

And now, I am getting a new sundress :) Isn't it lovely?

Love those sleeves. And the pockets!

I am finally sewing with polkadots, too! I can't believe it has taken me this long, because I love those little things :) Fingers crossed this will turn out good. So far, I've roughly gotten the bodice together and waiting for the lining fabric to dry. Here's a sneak peak for you ;)

Yes, that is leftover fabric from my pink power shirt :)

So, what excitement have you got going on your sewing table? Do tell!