Friday, July 11, 2014

Stitching interlude


Pattern: Urban Threads
Embroidery on linen with DMC cotton thread



I blame Pinterest for this new obsession. Pinterest, and a guest toilet in need of some decoration. Very glamorous, I know.

I actually really do not remember how it really started. A pin of a beautiful embroidered piece (probably intricate flowers in satin stich), leading to more boards loaded with inspiration, leading to some more googling, and also probably an email from Craftsy about summer sale and a new class on hand embroidery. I might have a slight addiction to Craftsy classes. The video medium is just great for us visual learners, and when classes go on sale I usually snap up a few. I personally think that 20 or so dollars is great value. The only times I have been disappointed was when I didn't like the teaching style of a particular instructor. The contents is always interesting, though. OK, enough about Craftsy. Anyways, I had bought the class Design It, Stitch It: Hand Embroidery with Jessica Marquez, watched it and loved every minute of it. It is a great embroidery primer and covers all the basics, and Jessica makes it sounds so easy. I also love what she creates, and she has been a great source of inspiration.


 
 
So I gathered supplies and bought this beautiful fox pattern at Urban Threads and started stitching. The tedious part is transferring the pattern to the fabric. I used a water soluble pen and a window as a lightbox, wich works well but is not very ergonomic. The stitching was just so much fun, and I barely put it down for an entire week-end. So it was completed rather quickly, even though there are many hours of labour in the finished piece. I had beforehand decided on orange for the outline (because well, foxes are orange, plus it will match the backsplash in the guest toilet) and a general colour palette, but just followed my fantasy for the stitches and colour distribution.
 
I am in love with the final result. It's colourful, modern and happy. Some stitches are wonky, but it makes me love the final piece just that much more. I really enjoyed the organic process of creating this piece, with the outlines of the pattern as a starting point and choosing colours and stitches as I went. I am really looking forward to build on my skills and explore different styles of embroidery.
 
It still needs to be framed, once I decide what colour to spray-paint the frame. Midnight blue or gold? In the meantime, I stocked up on thread, patterns and added countless embroidery inspiration boards to my Pinterest feed.
 
Finally, I noticed that I have 94 followers on Bloglovin! There is probably people following me in other ways, but I'm not sure how to check that out? Saying this makes me feel prehistorical. Oh well. Anyways, I thought that I would host a celebratory giveaway when I reach 100 followers! I have yet to decide what the prize will be, but I will come up with something good, promise. So check this space, I will, in the meantime, compulsively check my Bloglovin stats :) See you all soon whith som wearable stitching and a celebratory giveaway!
 






Monday, July 7, 2014

The bra story



Pattern: Pin-up Girls Classic bra, size 30D, slightly modified to fit my wires
Fabric: White dotted cotton from stash, white powernet from Sewing chest and white notion kit from Merckwaerdigh on Etsy.

I have been wanting to sew lingerie for a long time, ever since Amy over at Cloth Habit posted her serie about bra-making. I had great plans then to follow the sew-along and learn how to make beautiful, handmade bras. I entusiastically bought kits from Merckwaerdigh, a pattern from Pin-Up girls, and fiddled around with plush and picot elastics. The results were, sadly, less than stellar and I quickly lost interest, confused between powermesh, stretch lace, linings and trims.



Around the same time, probably due to my extensive research about bras and fit, I realised I had been wearing the wrong size bra. No wonder, since my size is barely available in specialty lingerie stores, and definetely nowhere to be found in the usual chain stores. (As a side note, I do not consider that I have a large bust. The letters in the size of my bra have very little to do with the actual size of my breasts, as the volume they refer to is in direct correlation to the lenght of the band, and my breast are certainly not bigger because my bras are! It took me forever to actually really understand this, and I will not try to explain. Rather, I suggest you go read what Butterfly Collection has do say on the subject.) I discovered high quality bras that fitted very well and were pretty and fun and colourful, like Freya and Panache, and for a while I was happy with my drawer full of store-bought lingerie. Who said I have to make everything?

So I continued, for the last year, to admire Novitas and Amys beautiful bras, thinking that "one day" I would be skilled enough to sew a bra that actually fitted. Then Tasia, from Sewaholic, started to post lingerie too, and it somehow managed to give me the kick I needed. I suddenly was super inspired, and eager to finally demystify bramaking.



I re-read all of Amy's sewalong posts and studied my RTW bras. I finally understood what parts need to stretch (the back band), and which should not (pretty much everything else), and that was the lightbulb moment for me. So I simply sat down, traced a 30D from my Pin-Up Girls Classic bra pattern, cut my fabric, a little lace to be pretty and constructed a bra. Just like that! Well, I had also ordered a few different wires in different models and sizes from the Sewing Chest and that also really helped in getting a good end reslut. The sewing itself is rather simple. Inserting all the different elastics does take a bit of practice, but is not really difficult. It does require a lot of precision, which I rather enjoyed. The hardest was attatching the hooks, I had to unpick several times because I was not catching everything properly.

The result is a bra that is very wearable, which I a super happy and proud of. I always considered it a muslin, and there are many things I will adjust for my next version, and my stitching can also be perfected. About the pattern, I will say that the instructions are extremely detailed and pertinent. The fit is quite good, straight of the envelope, on me at least, and feels quite true to size. The model is, however, quite dated. The bra gives lots of coverage, and the wide straps feels a bit old (i do think I messed up somehow with the elastics and seam allowances and that my straps are larger than they are intended to be). It also gives me a very pointy shape, which is awesome for a retro look, but maybe not what I would go for daily. I believe that all of this will be easily altered with a bit of drafting and Amy's helpful posts.

p.s. My lingerie photographing skills are also something I hope to improve... ;)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pattern testing: Alameda



 
Pattern: Alameda dress by Pauline Alice. Size 36 in the bust and waist, graded to 40 at the hips. I was asked to test this pattern before it's release.
Fabric: Polyester crepe, bought locally at Glada tyger, linen-look cotton from Minerva for the lining.
 
I am a Pauline Alice fangirl. I have bought and made the Cami dress (sorry, still unblogged!), the Ninot jacket and the Carme blouse, and these last two are some of my favorite me-mades. So when Pauline asked if I would like to help her out and test her upcoming pattern, I jumped at the opportunity!

To be honest, I don't think I would have chosen this style by myself. I am very conscious of my hips and I thought beforehand that this style would really emphasize them. But I thought that this was a good time to stretch myself a bit style-wise. I sometimes feel like I get stuck in the same "safe" silhouettes. Sewing my clothes means that I don't get to try them before they are completed and see if I like the look (I know, I know, that is what muslins are for...). So I put my trust in Pauline and dug out this pretty floral fabric.

The Alameda has a cute and unusual sithouette. It has a fitted bodice with princess lines, a waistband, and a flirty little flounce attached to a fitted skirt. In the spirit of testing, I added piping on the princess seams of the bodice and skirt, but I am still unsure about if I would prefer the dress without them, or maybe in a more tonal colour. I chose a fabric with a nice drape, so that the flounce would twirl nicely, but lined with cotton. Partly to keep the poly away from my skin, and partly to give the bodice and skirt the structure they need. As always, Paulines instructions are clear and clever and the dress came together without a hitch.

I am very happy about how this dress turned out. For me, it's a great everyday dress to wear to work, and it actually has everything I look for in a design. Simple, clean lines that are not overworked, but an element of fun or edge. It's more modern and trendy than what I am usually drawn to, but nevertheless I will keep twirling in this one too!




Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A dress with a taste of retro


Pattern: Buttericks 5748, size 12 with lots of modifications for fit
Fabric: cotton sateen, from Moods


I sew much faster than I manage to blog. And I will rather spend my spare time behind my sewing machine than behind my computer screen, editing photos and typing blog posts. But I do want to share and show you guys my new twirly dresses. If anyone has a solution to this dillema, please share. In the meantime, my list of finished projects to blog is almost longer than my sewing queue. Oh my.

So this dress has been finished for quite a while, and I even wore it a few times. I was one of these projects where I had the perfect fabric for a pretty pattern. I thought, 5 pattern pieces, a circle skirt, a simple bodice with fun notch details, this is going to be a fun project! Well. I had to fight so much with it to get it to simply fit. I am still not happy, but it is wearable. After wearing it a few times, I think I`ll go back and take another wedge in the center back. In hindsight, I should have started with a least two sizes down... It is a real pity, because apart for the fit (I still hope to be able to save it!) I love everything about this dress. The summery fabric, the low back, and mostly, the circle skirt. Oh, the circle skirt. Can you believe this is the first circle skirt I ever wore? I had so much fun all day wearing it! I need more circle skirts in my life.

Construction-wise, it is pretty simple. I put in a side lapped zipper, as per the insructions, and did quite a decent job at it, despite the fabric wanting to stretch very badly. The skirt is hemmed with a bright red bias tape (my favorite way to hem rounded skirts), for a pop of colour on the inside too.

And look, I can twirl!!

I styled it with my red Miette, which is the second sweater I ever knitted. I still love it so.











Monday, May 12, 2014

Georgina



Pattern: Georgina, by République du chiffon, size for bust and waist, 40 for the hips. Cap sleeves removed.
Fabric: Printed  silk purchased at Mood NYC and black cotton shirting, also from Mood.

Oh Georgina. Although I immediately fell in love with the design of the back, there was something I was unsure about this pattern. Then I saw Clo's sleeveless version (I love how she changed the neckline to a V-neck, too), and something clicked: it was the sleeves I was disliking. How had I not thought myself about making this simple modification still escapes me, but it the inspiration other bloggers give me is also one of the beauties of our community. The dress is very feminine, yet easy to wear. And nothing beats the feeling of silk against your skin... I am a bit unsure about the fit. The seams from the outer layer of the back did not quite meet, and the fit was a bit roomy at the waist so i took it in about 2cm in the back. The sizing is now good, not tight but not loose at the waist and just flowy enough in the skirt. But I find the bodice very blousy, which is not necesarily a bad thing, just not what I expected. I'm also not sure how I would adress the issue should I want to change it in a future version. The neckline is also very high, which is flattering but sometimes uncomfortable, so I would lower it just a touch next time. Finally, despite all my precautions with the back pieces (I fused a stirp of interfacing to the bias edge straight after cutting and was careful to handle the pieces as little as possible), one piece did stretch. Bleh. I pretend not to care, but it does bother me a bit... I still love this dress, though. That back is just too beautiful!






Monday, April 28, 2014

Carme blouse


Pattern: Carme blouse by Pauline Alice, size 36, graded to 38 at the hips
Fabric: Light heatered grey cotton/poly/viscose from A-tyghus (local fabric store in Malmö)

I made this blouse a few weeks back, after finding the perfect Carme fabric while browsing my local fabric store in search of a fabrics for another project. It was among shirting fabrics, but it is much drapier than your average shirt fabric, which works wonderfully for this lovely blouse. It presses very well, which is a must for making this blouse without tears. I love this pattern, Pauline never ceases to impress and inspire me (and have you heard, printed patterns are coming!!). This blouse requires precision sewing, though, and there are a few more advanced techniques involved in the making of this. But I enjoy this kind of sewing, everything matched up great and the explanations were clear so making this was bliss. I really appreciate the fit of the blouse, slim but not tight. Next time I'll lower the darts a centimeter or so, but otherwise it's perfect and I have already worn it several times. I think a version in two colours, with a sheer, non-pleated yoke would look awesome!










Monday, April 14, 2014

Meissa Blouse



Pattern: Meissa Blouse by Papercut Patterns, size M
Fabric: blush pink cotton from Stoff och Stil and black cotton shirting from Moods

Oh Meissa! It was love at first sight when Papercut released it's latest collection. I already had a vision of a light pink blouse and I spent a few months looking for the perfect fabric. I finally found this cotton at the big box fabric store here in Malmö. On the bolt, it was deliciously soft and light and had a nice sheen to it, but it became quite crisp and dull after washing. Still not sure what happened, but it is now not quite drapey as in the vision I had. My boyfriend expressed serious doubts about the color, saying it was the same colour as my skin, so I decided to break it up with some black for the collar and cuffs, which I am so pleased I did. It gives an interesting contrasting element and prevents me from being washed away by the pale color, which is, let's be honest, not my best colour.

What is there to say about the pattern more than it was a joy to work with? Everything, from the beautiful packaging to the lovely details in the style, is just so well thought out and nicely put together. I didn't make any adjustments except than shortening the sleeves, which is standard for me. I am pretty sure the gathering in the front yoke provides some bust shaping and the side seams curves in nicely at the waist, which makes for a very nice fit. Unlike everybody else, I am still on the fence about Grainline's Archer. Don't get me wrong, the Archer is a wonderful pattern, but I just feel that it is not the most flattering on me, because of the boyfriend style (which looks great on everybody except me it seems). I need to figure out how to put darts in the Archer for a more fitted style... Anyways, back to the Meissa, which has the more fitted look I prefer. The gathered details, the double buttons and the rounded collar are so feminine, too, and exactly the kind of details I love. I am now dreaming of another version, in silk, because I still want a flowy Meissa, no matter how much I like this one.






Also, May is approaching quickly, and May means Me-made-May! I participated last year for the first time and struggled a bit because I didn't have that many me-mades that I loved. But it is different this year, as I have been quite productive and learned to make things that I actually love and want to wear. So this year, I am challenging myself to wear at least one me-made item everyday, and to take a picture daily. Eek!! So:

 'I, Joëlle of thehandstitchedfiles.blogspot.se, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item (handstitched or handknitted) of clothing each day for the duration of May 2014, and to record it daily on Instagram. '


P.S. All the pictures in this post are taken by my friend, Somayeh. She was kind enough to let me play model for her and I now have these beautiful pictures to share. Quite an improvment from my usual set up in my living room... Hopefully we can make these photo sessions a recurring thing!