Yearly Archives: 2013

The great 2013

I started 2013 with fatigue and all the big questions – what did I want to/should I do with my life, what were the reasons for the things I’d already done, what made me happy, and did I really deserve happiness etc. I new sewing made me happy, and I saw it as a possible way out of the dark I’d found myself in, and so last year’s new year’s resolution was simply to sew more, learn more about clothing construction and live in the moment as I did this. In addition I wanted some professional help with the fatigue and I wanted to make peace with my past.

2013 turned out to be a great year – one of the best so far! I got better as spring went along, and I managed to apply to and get into my sewing course. I’ve had some closure as far as the past is concerned, and I’m better at being here and now instead of in the past and future simultaneously. I’ve bough a serger/coverstitch machine, I’ve been to Italy, I’ve made accessories for a dress, multiple skirts and dresses, a jacket, two shirts, a pair of pants, clothes for Barbie, shopping bags and a cute little bear couple. I’ve even participated in a sewing competition! I’ve started learning how to draft and alter patterns, how to design clothes, how to copy a ready-to wear garment, how to fit clothes properly, various new sewing techniques. I also started redecorating my sewing room – more on that to come – so far it’s turned out great!

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I still don’t know what I want to do with my life, but that’s really OK! I look forward to finishing my sewing course, and hope the months to come will bring me at least some idea of what I should do when summer arrives. So far 2014 seems to be a great continuation of all that was fabulous about 2013, and I hope that turns out to be a fact. If not, something else is bound to happen that has equal chance of turning out good :) I hope everyne out there enjoyed 2013 as much as I did, and wish everyone all the best for the year to come! Happy 2014!

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Finished dress

The last week of this semester turned out to be quite hectic. The dresses were finished and presented at the teachers’ Xmas party, which was nice.

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After spending so much energy on this project I was exhausted, and I dare say I hated my dress. In fact I hated it to the point where I could not begin to describe it in a blog post. Now, 2 weeks later, I’ve managed to look at the photos once more, and it’s not as bad as I thought, luckily. At the presentation I was just sick of my own design, and thought all the other designs to be better, but I realised, even at the time, that the reason was mainly that I’d just spent 2 weeks working on my design only.

Here’s my dress, based on Yann Arthus Bertrand’s photo from Miami, and it’s not half bad. As it was put together, I envisioned it in all bright jewel tones, which is probably how I would make it if I controlled the fabric choices. Perhaps sometime in the future I’ll dig out my pattern and make it in bright coloured silks, who knows.

What I really like on this dress, is the asymmetrical hem, and the fact that it’s curve meets the curves on the upper part of the dress – although I would definitely not recommend having so many fabric pieces meet at one point – it was the most difficult part to sew on the whole dress! I remember liking the idea of combining the curved lines on the front with basic back panels, and I think it worked, especially with the front curve continuing in under the arm towards the back, as my teacher suggested.

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Our materials were poly-wool blends and the dress is made with a facing in the bodice, where I plan to attach a lining if the dress fits me well enough to wear – we worked only with standard sizes with no fitting involved.

The whole experience has been valuable, and I loved using simple in a picture as design inspiration. Next time I’ll just make sure to stay inside my little bubble and not accumulate stress while working on a project.

A bonus of working on “the same” project as the rest of my class, is the sheer amount of inspiration I get when we’ve all finished our work – my classmates are by no means lacking in the creativity department!

All in all, I can only recommend working with lines from a picture as design inspiration :)

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Seek and you shall find

New sewing course project, the last before Christmas. We shall design and sew a basic fitted dress with a straight skirt. The design should evolve from one or more lines found in an “Earth from above“-photo by Yann Arthus Bertrand. We got five photos; The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Gardens at the Chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte, Houses near Miami, Fields in the Missiones province of Argentine and the Pyramid of the Louvre.

I spent some time looking at the photos through a transparent dress silhouette and taking photos of what I found. I ended with the photo from the Miami suburbs, as the intersection in the upper left quadrant drew my attention. I’ve got several photos of dresses with this intersection on them, and now I just have to pick a couple and develop sketches from these. Next week we’ll make the patterns for our dresses and start assembling it. The deadline is two weeks from now.

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I really enjoy garments with interesting lines, and I think I could spend a lifetime creating garment designs based on the wonderful pictures from Mr. Bertrand.  Such colours and amazing lines!

 

Oh. And here’s the skirt I’ve been working on. I just have to get it fitted before I can finish it.

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Homework!

A truth I’ve learned about attending a sewing course full-time: Homework can actually be fun :)

This week we started doing bodice alterations, and the assignment has been to show the patterns for different bodice designs (the designs are taken from Helen Joseph Armstrong’s Patternmaking for Fashion Design, which is a true gem for anyone interested in pattern development).

I love the fact that I get to play around with dart manipulation and that this is actually considered homework!

The process for us newbies has been to cut out a quarter-sized pattern and close the darts before cutting into the bodice to add new darts according to the shown designs. So easy and so much fun to see how a given bodice design translate into pattern pieces.

 

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Turning a tablecloth into a skirt

Our assignment last week was to make a skirt from an old tablecloth. It was important to treat the tablecloth as a tablecloth rather as fabric sold by the metre. In addition to the tablecloth we had to find a clothing style with roots in a music genre and add elements from both the tablecloth and the music style clothing to the skirt design.

I started out with a large tartan woven tablecloth with fringes on all sides. I wanted to do a bit more than cutting a whole in it and make a circle/hanky skirt, and opted for a variation of this where I cut the cloth into four pieces and sewed them together with the fringed seam allowances showing on the outside. My tablecloth reminded me too much of Norwegian folk costumes (Bunad) that I was comfortable choosing folk or country music of any kind for my inspiration. Then I thought of the emo/goth enthusiasts who seemed to live outside in the parks in Leipzig when I moved to Germany and all their tartan skirts and dresses, and decided to go with their punk ancestor as my main inspiration.

Apart from the big problem of the skirt’s waistline expanding almost 10 centimetres during the construction, I’m pleased with the outcome. Not sure I’ll want to wear this skirt, but the process has been interesting and fun, and upcycling is always good. I’m playing with the idea of turning the skirt into a dress, as I keep visualizing a fitted black bodice to go with it.

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Anyway, if anyone wants to make this skirt, here are the instructions:

My tablecloth was about 120*170 cm. During the construction process I made my skirt square (about 120*120 cm).

You need to construct two pattern pieces, which I’ve just called 1 and 2:

Measure your waist circumference and divide this over 2π to find the radius of the circle (as I’ve shown earlier). Subtract 1 cm from this (you can always make it bigger, the trouble is to make it smaller once you cut) and trace a quarter circle on a piece of paper. Draw up the lines outlining the quarter circle at a right angle and add 1 cm seam allowance along the sides. Trace a fold line across the quarter circle (which is your sewing line). This is pattern piece 1. For piece 2, you just make a copy of piece 1, fold it along the fold line an cut out the quarter circle.

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1. Cut your tablecloth into four equal sections (be sure to label right side of the fabric on all pieces before cutting them apart).

2. Place pattern piece 1 on the corner (wrong side of the fabric) and fold both the pattern piece and the corner toward the wrong side as shown below. Press or finger press the fabric in place (right-angled corner)

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3. Place pattern piece 2 on the folded-down corner and trace the quarter-circle outline on the fabric with chalk as shown.

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4. Remove the pattern pieces and pin the corner down as it was pressed and sew the quarter circle. Trim down the seam allowances, cut the seam allowances and turn and press each corner/quarter circle.

5. Overlock the seam allowances and understitch them to the skirt (not the folded-down corner). Make sure that the corners lie in a straight angle to avoid the expanding waistline I described earlier. Optional: Add stay tape to the understitched seam allowances to make sure the waistline keeps its circumference.

6. Stitch the back seam wrong sides together and fringes on the outside of the skirt, leave room for a zipper (invisible).

7. Fasten the zipper on the inside of the skirt.

8. Stitch the rest of the pieces together, wrong sides together and seam allowances on the outside.

9. Adjust the skirt length and cover the raw edges with bias tape.

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10 Press the skirt and you’re ready to go!

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Optional: Use safety pins to give the skirt shape and a somewhat punky look. I ended up with a skirt which my teacher called “the Nordlands-bunad goes punk”

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Pattern construction and clothing design

Last week my first design project was due. Although  exhausting, the design process is definitely interesting. While brainstorming for inspiration, I went from handicrafts via stereotypical gender roles and ended up with designing shirts and pants based on Donald Duck :) As I didn’t have the time to sew any of these, they’re currently only illustrations on a board (though I really like the end products – maybe I’ll make one of them someday in the future). The feedback from my teacher was mainly positive, though I have to change some things for my next presentation – I didn’t fully grasp the concept of a mood board, and some size-wise changes of the different parts relative to one another would make a better poster. I also need to ask more questions during the process, which I hope I’ll be able to do after defining a starting point or base line for myself with this first presentation. Mainly, I think it all boils down to practice and getting more design projects reviewed. Hopefully by the end of next semester I’ll see some progress. If the design process is anything like learning to sew clothes, I know I’m in for a ride – there’s a world of difference between the clothes I make today compared to the first garments I made only a few years ago, when I started sewing clothes for real. I think it’ll definitely help being in the environment of my class as they’re all super excited to learn designing, construction and sewing as well (compared to the less-than-excited mother who didn’t do a thing to contradict me when I told her I could only make teddy bears as those were so much easier to make than clothes – guess what: they’re really not, depending on which garment you choose to make).

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My first design project is called “Ducks and silk”, which describes my inspiration and choice of fabrics.

 

Next up we’ve finally started pattern construction, which is what drew me to this course to begin with. The last week and a half was spent making our own basic skirt block and doing various pattern alterations on quarter-size basic skirt blocks. So much information to take in, but it’s so fun! I love the fact that I’m getting nearer to my goal of making my own clothes all the way – not using other people’s patterns. The experience of creating my own designs  is very liberating, if what I remember from designing and making teddy bears is correct :D

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24 metres of wool

I’ll admit it. I went nuts on the sale at Rainbow last week. They had all these lovely woolens, and over the course of two days I ended up with no less than 24 metres of wool. 14 metres are a knit wool bouclé and the rest are woven fabrics with wonderful drape and feel. I think this stash will last me through this winter and the next, and probably the one after that as well. At least I’ll keep warm.

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My head’s been spinning with ideas for skirts and dresses and outerwear, plus ways of dealing with scrap pieces as I cut out the pieces for the clothes I want to make for myself. It’s a good thing I finally got around to measure my friend’s 6 year old daughter.

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My gaucho pants are finished!

The latest school project was finally finished last week, and I’m really happy with how these pants turned out! Best part of the process is that I now have a pattern and a sewing description for my summer favourite staple which allows me to make more of these :D

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I wore my first pair until I could see through the fabric – they’re so comfy and I love the almost-skirt look. And thanks to my wonderful teachers this new pair of pants fit me perfectly as well – what more could a girl ask for?

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Another BurdaStyle skirt

After finishing my black sateen skirt I made another skirt from the same pattern. This one is actually two sizes smaller than the first, as I had to take that one in a bit and it still was a bit too large.

The fabric is quilters cotton from Panduro.

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I’m pleased with this skirt, although next time I make this, I’m going to grade between sizes to get a little more room around my hips. I also liked the somewhat asymmetric feel of the not-matched-up print: Laziness in cutting created a random look for my finished skirt.

And I know – I ought to start sewing winter’s clothes pretty soon (and I will, as soon as my sewing room is ready again – it’s in the middle of a makeover at the moment), as it’s cold outside and soon it will be snowing. But I like stretching summer’s colours and patterns into the fall.

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Black sateen skirt

I made this skirt from The BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. The fabric is black cotton sateen - Moonless Night from HarmonyArt which I bought from Fair Trade Fabric.

Both the pattern and the fabric were great to work with. The fabric wrinkles easily, which you can see below – this is just after wearing it to school one day, but otherwise it’s got great stability. I cut the pattern in the size I should be now according to the book, but as with other BurdaStyle patterns I had to take it in some for the skirt to fit, and even now it’s a bit big.

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I lengthened the skirt a bit and ditched the overskirt. All the seams, except the one with a zipper in the back, are flat-felled, which make a nice detail on a durable skirt.

All in all I’m happy with this – I’ve longed for a basic skirt which can be worn with everything in my closet – you can’t go wrong with black. I also really like the subtle sheen on the cotton sateen.

I’ll definitely make this skirt again in a smaller size and other fabrics. And HarmonyArt is on my watch-list for new fabrics once I punch a hole in my ever-growing stash.

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