A Striped Raymond

This took some serious cutting effort, I tell you. My starting point with Raymond coat from Republique du Chiffon was fabric requirement of 270 cm vs. 200 cm of striped wool bought for something else half a year ago. Yeah, I make the smallest or second smallest size and shorten pattern pieces, but still. I think it was something like three hours from this:


To this:


Luckily my wool was double sized with a solid grey back, so I was able to cut all facings without matching the stripes. Otherwise it would have been a hopeless project.

I did have my doubts about chevrons on sleeves, but had dreamed of this thick, striped, fluffy coat for so long that using the grey side wasn’t an option. I really like the oversized striping, and eventually began to like the sleeves too. What I still don’t like, is the fact that I fucked up the collar. The cut was good enough to be eased to match the front, but first I somehow managed to clip the CB notch 5 mm off, and then didn’t check the stripe matching. I mean, I checked all other seams, but this one I just pinned and sewed twice over. And then turned open and almost cried:


Also, my seamripper is broken, and anyways ripping would have probably ruined the wool. 

And in the end I’ve been so happy about my new coat that I don’t even care anymore. The wool -backed with a very light poly-something vadding- is super warm, the pockets are deep enough to keep wind away from my wrists, and the collar has turned out to be much more covering than I expected. It’s like wearing a heavy rug really. And to make life pretty much perfect, I found black reflectors:


All in all, this was a fairly easy coat to make. It has about four straight seams, but with a steady wool it’s not an issue. It merely makes easing curves easy in my opinion. The collar -when properly checked- isn’t too fussy, and that’s the only super bulky seam. When I got to sewing, this took me about two days to make -with some knitting in between.


(Not for me, for a small relative.)

Slow Fashion, Fast Autumn

I’ve started to write at least three times since September, only to abandon the draft because there was no time to finish writing. Or no time to take blown-out photos in daylight until today. (Forgive me, I know they could be better.) I haven’t given up making clothes, just haven’t had time to document until everything’s already pilling and a little stretched in use. And there’s still a pile of half finished yoga pants on my table and an uncut piece wool fabric in the closet, waiting for the right moment. But hey, I’ve finished one pair of leggings and two sweaters! Crappy photos will follow:


First, my second Brooklyn Tweed Alloy. I made the smallest size the first time, but didn’t really like the fit. This one’s getting much more use for not feeling too short and ristricting. I made the second size (38?) using smaller needles, and got just the amount of additional ease I was looking for. The yarn is Lett Lopi, which has become one of my favorites: super warm and not itchy at all. The pilling usually calms down after a wash or two, and I’ve really worn this to death after finishing.

Also pictured: boring basic self-drafted yoga leggings. I don’t have much to say about these, but wanted to show them anyways.


And also pilling and being worn to death, my finally finished Docklight. I hadn’t done brioche in about 20 years, and it was as slow and annoying and pretty as ever. At first I tried to work this in heavier yarn, but it just didn’t work on my body at all. This is done using fingering weight Pirkkalanka, again smaller needles and bigger size, and I really like the drape. Downside is that the yarn can’t take much wear, but like Lett Lopi, I’m expecting this to calm down too in use.

It’s been a while since I’ve finished these, so unfortunately I don’t remember much details about the process. Also I’ve been swamped with work all autumn, so frankly, I don’t remember much about anything. Other than that it’s been freezing cold at the office, and these sweaters have saved my life. 

But anyway, now I’ve let you know that I’m not dead, and will be getting back to finishing yoga pants and tracing a coat pattern.

Pencil Skirt Appreciation Day Is Here


I just made that up, but it was for a good cause. Originally I decided to leave my second Zaria pencil skirt (from Named Clothing) completely unblogged, because what do I have to say about a basic black skirt?  Ok, maybe not much, but it seems that this pattern isn’t getting all the love it deserves, so basically I wanted to state that I’ve been almost living in this thing since I finished it and it’s anything but a boring basic.

I’ve made one last winter in faux leather, and even that one has gotten a lot more wear than I thought it would. For this second one I picked a nice wool with the thought that it might be good to have a more neutral everyday pencil skirt too. Paired with a t-shirt and Camper sneakers or 3 cm heels it’s been more than comfortable at my relatively relaxed office environment. 

It does shorten my steps a little, but the thing is, I get to choose when I’m in the mood for restricting clothing. In fact I tend to wear my pencil skirts on the days when I feel like shit, because they make me sit more upright and give me a more put together feeling. If you know what I mean? Also it seems to make me look at least 180 cm tall in photos, and I’m actually 153. (I’ve never before seen a long legged version of myself so this is pretty exciting.)

When it comes to the sewing process, I like to sew all seams but the CB which I’ll just baste to try the skirt on. The pattern obviously calls for stretch fabric, and they all behive differently so I’d rather not adjust the pattern permanently. I’ve only adjusted the length since I’m going to be short forever, but the width can of course vary. This time I kind of took the seams in too much, did all top stitching, and had to rip four seams up to hips to let them out again. It was pretty depressing at the time, but I’m so freakisly happy about the fit and not ruining this wool that I’m glad I did it. I mean, the wool is amazing enough to make me forget the stretch lining that’s made of something that sounds like syanide.

And then after that I forgot what happened the last time with the lining and attached it so that I had a closed circle of skirt and lining in my hands. I was blindly following the instructions, and didn’t check that I could actually turn the lining to the inside of the skirt. So more seam ripping, but at that point it was already tragicomic. Also taking into account that I was trying to finish this to wear on a date which ended up being cancelled last minute due to over sleeping. (Long story short, the re-scheduled date went nowhere,and I don’t think it had anything to do with not wearing a pencil skirt.)

To wrap this up, I friggin love this skirt and have no idea why so few people have made it. It will lengthen your legs by 30 cm and/or do all kinds of magic good things to your mind, promise.

White Noise And The Flying Squirrel


This pattern was a pure impulse buy. I was reading a discussion about Drape dress from Great British Sewing Bee and its similarities to Hedy Designer Dress from Style Arc, and in the process of research ended up buying the latter. Let’s just say that I’ve been wanting a loose fitting knit dress for a long time already and this seemed like a good candidate.

I haven’t used Style Arc patterns before, and a big part of that might be not seeing them made up that much. I tend to google quite a lot before deciding what to make and I usually want to see someone similarly built wearing the garnment before I buy. With this dress I just went with the line drawing and two sample photos. Ever since I’ve seen three people in their finished dresses, and neither close to my bodytype, so this was in a way a shot in the dark for me. Also I kept having a nagging feeling that something was way off with this dress. Like the finished dresses didn’t look right, and that made me doubt getting 2 meters of fabric for it. For some reason I did when the right fabric came along.

The fabric is cotton jersey (with some elastic) from Nosh Organics. I’ve used their jerseys for Kielo last year, and the quality is pretty amazing to be honest. It basically looks new after several washes. I went to check what they had at the moment -it varies- and found this white noise thing which has a clear direction but doesn’t require stripe matching. So not too much pressure to cut a dress with only curved and tilted seams.

And then I began to cut out the pattern. In case you didn’t know, Style Arc paper patterns are one size, and I’m not sure I like that very much. I’m three sizes at once in some more fitted clothes, so while this system worked with this pattern, I’m not sure I’d want to adjust anything with waist definition. But anyway, back to cutting the pattern: I had the line drawing on the floor next to the side back piece, and at that point I realized what it was that had been bothering me.

 

The pattern piece has an armhole, not a 3/4 sleeve. I went back to check all three dresses and the sample, and yeah, they were all basically sleeveless while the line drawing clearly shows a sleeve reaching below elbows. Gah, the disappointment! This is really not the first impression I had been expecting, and I’m still pretty annoyed by a pattern company selling the pattern with the drawing that won’t match the finished product. Because let’s face it, sample photos seem to be a mere sidenote for Style Arc. What the hell happened here?

Because at that point I was determined to get a new dress and adding sleeves didn’t seem too difficult I simply added length to the stumps, finished shortening the pattern pieces to fit me and cut some extra fabric around sleeve hems to finish the adjustment before hemming. I ended up with additional 7 cm, but could have added 10 more. This is still not a winter office dress that could be used without a cardigan, so I’ll have remember that if I make another one. The shortening went well despite the curved seams:


When it comes to sewing, this went together super fast on a serger with some help from the sewing machine. I have to say I found some instructions a bit weird, like stay stitching the neckline in a knit (didn’t do it) and using fusible interfacing to stabilize the pockets and the neckline facing. I mean, doens’t rtw usually use clear elastic or some other kind of tape for this? For some reason I did the fusing this time, but it feels odd in an otherwise relaxed dress. Anyway, I really liked sewing this, and ended up with a super nice dress. The cocoon shape is really cute, and I feel like a flying squirrel in this when I lift my arms. To be clear, that’s a good thing, and if you want to understand you should google flying squirrel.

What Do You Do When You’re Done?

This is something I’ve been thinking of a lot lately: what do you do when your wardrobe is full for the time being? When the sweater shelf is overflowing and there really is no need for another pair of pants, but you really enjoy making things? And you’re not too keen on fitting other people, because then it’s not your own time in your own schedule?

During the summer I washed all my knit sweaters, and it was difficult to get them into the closet, and there were some I don’t even use that much. Also the whole wardrobe seems to be overflowing with stuff and I haven’t had a nothing to wear -crisis in a long time, so I fear that I might have reached the point where I don’t exactly have any urgent clothing needs. And trust me, I used to have those a lot about a year or two ago. 

When I went from unemployed back to being employed again I was completely out of neat office outfits, and spent the first winter in one pair of jeans and just switched sweaters. (I had maybe four sweaters back then.) I felt like I was constanly running behind seasons, and couldn’t make everything I felt I needed fast enough. All my old clothes were basically in pieces, and I just felt really, really unprofessional and like I didn’t know how to dress at all. So I kept on making things and at some point last winter I realized I could actually choose from a few things what I’d feel like wearing that day. (Partly because I found out that a dress is basically a complete outfit when you add tights.) The shame of wearing the same sweater all week was gone, because now I had like ten of them. And I’ve noticed lately that most of my self made clothes will both survive loads of wear and stay current for more than one year. So it’s inevitable, that at some point clothes begin to pile.

Now what? I’m asking myself this even though I have a piece of jersey waiting for being made into a dress, because to me it doesn’t make sense to keep sewing and knitting until I drown in clothes. And even that future dress feels unnecessary. I mean, this is no different to going shopping every week just for fun. And yeah, I could always sew to others but the stress of fitting other people and scheduling that just feels like it would turn my hobby to work. I can deal with my own fit issues, but don’t want to mess with anyone else’s possible insecurities. Knitting is maybe easier in that sense, and I’ve already done some as presents. So maybe, just maybe I could message my friend who asked last spring if I’d be interested in knitting a sweater for her. In theory I’d love to, to be honest.

I’ve been taking some mental notes of the things I need to or could do:

  • Re-do my yoga pants and sportbras. These are all getting old, and I need 3-4 pairs in order not to do laudry every other day. Boring, but necessary.
  • Knit sweaters to people I like. Risky, may turn into a chore.
  • Knit that black boring cardigan I’ve been needing for years. I might have a suitable pattern, but I want my wrists to heal first. Not sure I’m a cardigan person, but this would make many more things wearable during winter.
  • Make a sample sheet of the leftover yarns I have, take it to the office and ask people to design their own mittens. Then get measurements and make them mittens. I’m kind of fond of this idea.

At any case I feel like I need to slow down somehow. I don’t want to be that person who’s constantly shopping for fabric or patterns or yarn or what have you, and I’m also not as interested in the process as I am in the outcome. I mean that I’m not going to be making things simply to learn new techniques or just because a garnment has interesting style lines. Ideally I’d like to make things I really need. Like, I’m definitely not making a new dress for my brother’s wedding because I made one to my sister’s wedding last year and have worn it total of two times. Clearly there’s no need for more party dresses in my wardrobe. I tend to wear very few pieces / season, so having more than three of something (underwear not included) feels weird in general. Maybe I should just start with a complete wardrobe inventory to see what’s there, and then make long term plans? Rip some sweaters I’m not wearing and re-use yarn in that mittens project. See where the holes are and make a list.

Watson – The Sequel


You know what? I have finally made Watson work for me, and ended up making two of them. As said in the opening post, I had made a few unsuccessful attempts in the past, and mainly wasted lots of good elastics. This time I threw most fitting advice out the window, and went with what I learned while making my Sophie swimsuit: I need a wider cradle / underwire than what the cup would normally be combined with. So basically I just printed out the size I thought might fit and two neighbouring cup sizes and tried on all three cradle pieces to see what would fit me best. I knew the band size already, so at least that was narrowed down. And I also knew that 30C would be too narrow, so I started with 30D, 30E and 30F, ending up with 30E. I muslined that with no changes to the cup and then flattened the cup seam to somewhere around 30C cup in the upper part.

I’m not even going to try to get all my bra materials from Finland. Make Bra has some, and I used the basic kit for Sophie, but their selection is quite limited. I wanted lace, and ordered a kit from Tailor Made Shop on Etsy. The kit was actually for an underwire bra, but had all I needed for Watson. For the first one I used the scallop edges of the lace and lined the cradle with black powernet. The second one is built out of scraps, so I skipped the scallops completely. While I was cutting it I realized that I wanted the lace to show also on the cradle, so I ventured to use the non-stretch nude cup lining instead of the powernet. It does have some give, so the band feels almost the same in the second draft. Also, in general I’m happier with lace placement in the last one.

I knew that the cups would probably look too high on me, but didn’t want to make too many adjustments at once. In the first draft they kind of overwhelm me, and also show from t-shirt neckline if I’m not paying attention. I mean, I’m not too particular about underwear showing and I don’t give a shit about visible bra straps or lace under a t-shirt, but this just looks like a wardrobe malfunction to me. And because it also looks dimensionally wrong on me I shortened the cups by 13 mm for the second bra. And while at it, I fixed a minor band gaping problem at underarms.


Over all I’m pretty happy to have two new well fitting bralettes in my collection. Both seem to be comfortable, and I’m also ok with the execution. I seem to have thrown away the instructions (smart, huh?) and followed the sew along on Cloth Habit blog to make these. All elastics are 5% shorter than the fabric edges, and that kind of tension works for me. I measured and calculated all of them, because I don’t trust my gut feeling in this just yet. 

For the scallop Watson I used only materials from Tailor Made kit, but the other one has some from the Make Bra one. I have to say that I very much prefer 12 mm straps (the black ones from Make Bra) to the wider ones. Super sturdy notions just look like over kill on me, and make me feel like I’m wearing a harness instead of a light bralette. Actually I’d like to get something flimsier, but it seems that most kits are put together with the larger sizes in mind. When I look at my RTW bras the straps are mostly 6-10 mm wide, and that just looks prettier on my similarly flimsy frame.


Speaking of which, I’m not at all convinced that Watson is the right bra silhouette for me. The shaping I have no problem with, but the dimensions somehow make me look like my shoulders are detached from my torso, and that’s definitely not something I’m going for. I think it’s the way the outer cup curves from underarm towards mid-shoulder, and then the strap placement sort of cuts the shoulder at a weird place. And yeah, I’m aware I have wide shoulders. So in the future -when I need new bras again- I’ll probably go with balconette or something like that. Turning Sophie into a bra is totally an option since I’ve done some of the fitting already.

(Completely irrelevant, but every time I write about Sophie swimsuit I think about that scene from Kill Bill where Bill comforts Sofie Fatale. “Sofie. Sofie, my Sofie.”)

Bernadette And The Forgotten Tweed

Like every decent person, I had planned on cleaning my closets during summer holiday. That’s when you do all the things you don’t have time for while working full time and also become a much better person in every way imaginable. So I was going to do lots of yoga and arrange all my property and eat well. But then I got a summer flu and didn’t do much yoga for a week and then I found tweed from the second closet and then I ate frozen pizza. The last one I can’t really explain, sorry.

I originally bought this wool when I was making Colette Patterns Anise jacket*, and the leftovers survived last summer’s move based on both quality and usability. There was almost one meter left (I think, didn’t measure), so I figured I’d be able to use it on something. Like Bernadette from Republique du Chiffon.

image

I’ve made Bernadette once before -also in grey- and it’s pretty straight forward to make for a jacket: the shell has three pattern pieces, and all the seams are eventually hidden inside the lining. Only hand sewing happens when you close the opening inside sleeve lining, and RDC blog has photo instructions for putting together Michelle jacket which has a very similar lining.

The instructions don’t even mention interfacing any pattern pieces -I think it’s because the sample uses a quilted fabric, so no extra support is needed-, but I opted to use the basic fusible on all facing pieces. My wool is fairly drapey and also prone to flutter and stretch around like it thinks it’s chiffon, so it felt like a good idea to stabilize all edges. It might have become more cardigan-like if I hadn’t, but really, it was pretty difficult to keep all pieces in shape while sewing so I’ll stand behind my decicion.

The cutting phase was a bit of a puzzle but eventually I only cut the two on fold -pieces with a seam in the middle and had some tiny corners missing from seam allowances. Really, nothing makes me happier than not having to store a massive amount of maybe usable scraps after cutting. (Except maybe pizza.) And this went super well in terms of only throwing away the pile you can see above here.

The first time I made Bernadette I cut size 36 based on bust measurement and wanting a loose fitting, shoulder dropping jacket. This time I went down a size, because duh, bust circumference isn’t that essential in a jacket without any kind of closure, and also because I wanted the shoulders more fitted for a change. Otherwise this is sewn completely out of box with no adjustments, and I’m happy with the fit.

When I first tried it on before adding the lining it looked like the most boring grey boxy box ever made, but the nude/beige/champangne/whatever lining completely changed that. I’m kind of whishing that it would be less shiny, but around here you use what Eurokangas happens to offer. They used to have a lovely silk lining in black, white and nude, but that seems to be gone forever now. And I didn’t even want to touch the sweaty synthetic stuff they have in all the colors, so it was either this rayon satin or the other rayon satin with less color options and more shine. However, it looks pretty damn lovely with the tweed, so I’m not going to complain about that any further.

Yeah, I have just managed to move a piece of fabric from my fabric closet to my wardrobe. We happy.

*As a sidenote, the fabric requirements for Anise were way off. Since, you see, I’ve now made two jackets out of the listed amount.