Tag Archives: clothing

A dress for grandma’s funeral

As mentioned in an earlier post, my grandma passed away this winter. January 31st was her last day, and as I was ill when she got her second bout of pneumonia in as many months, I wasn’t with her when she went. I had visited her just weeks before, and my brother and I had a happy time with her then. In a way it’s nice to have that as my last memory of that grand and impossibly stubborn old lady.

I loved my gran. My whole life we were very close – perhaps too much so. She was a Hostess with a big H, always catering for guests and urging us to eat for four (my family still employs the term “grandma-full” as a term to describe the feeling of being especially over-stuffed). She was part of the resistance movement during WWII, and after my grandfather passed away years before I was born, she lived alone in her big house. She filled it with people and activity up to the time she went blind from glaucoma. The blindness was a slow process, and almost my whole life she needed some assistance. I was always her eyes when we were outside the house. This May she would have been 100 years old.

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Me and gran at my 20th birthday

My grandma, always the queen of drama. It’s a wonder she survived the war, what with all the episodes of coming face to face with a German gun, daring the soldiers to shoot. Despite all her anxiety in her later years, I doubt she had it in her to be truly afraid. Life was a play and the world her stage. Being part of the audience wasn’t always easy, but it was never dull.

At gran’s request, my brother and I played a Duet by Mozart, her favorite composer, at the funeral. I play the flute, my brother the French horn, and we hadn’t really played anything together before this. It was no easy task to play at grans funeral. I’m glad we did, but I’m never doing anything like this again. On top of the duet, I volunteered to play Bach’s Air at the beginning of the funeral.

Back when I’d just started to make teddy bears, I made one for gran. To this date this is  the only bear I’ve made who has an open mouth. Binna (she-bear in Norwegian) became gran’s companion, and gran slept alongside her for many years in addition to bringing her with her around in the house. Some years ago gran requested that Binna should accompany her when she died. During the week between gran’s death and me taking possession over my fabric shop, I went to the funeral home and brought Binna with me for a last farewell with my gran. My brother made an ice bear from pipe cleaners years ago, and this went into the casket with Binna.

Binna with a little pipe cleaner ice bear made by my brother

Binna with the little pipe cleaner ice bear sitting in her waistband

As my grandma was prone to depression, always expecting the worst and making a scene if nothing else was happening , I could never wear anything other than black at her funeral. When my other Grandma died two years ago, I opted for pale yellow silk, as I wanted to celebrate her long life, rather than mourn her death. She was a half-full-glass kind of a person. This time around, I was saying goodbye to a person who could be the poster girl for the half-empty glass most of the time.

Still, I wanted to do something special, not just make any LBD and run with it. I decided to use wool gabardine and wool crepe. My inspiration was in large part a dress made by one of my classmates back when we were all making landscape dresses. I remembered her making these softly folded bias strip inserts in her dress, and thought it would be interesting to try. I designed a dress with a folded bias strip running through the whole dress, starting and ending in the back hem. It also features wool crepe inserts in the sides and a double inverted kick pleat in the back. This was not an easy project, and the finished dress feature wool crepe bias strips sewn on top of pattern pieces made from wool gabardine, as the strips by themselves had too little structure. I also discovered that corners are impossible to make with this technique, and the dress is a bit tighter than it started out to be, as I had to cut all the corners, turning them into curves as I went along. Still, I’m pleased with the end result, I really love this dress. I think gran would have loved it too, as all the bias strip details give a lot of structure to “see” with ones hands.

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The necklace is a gold watch. This and the bracelets are all heirlooms from my grandma.

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It was a lovely service, and on the days after the funeral, all I wanted to do was to call gran and tell her all about it. She would have loved to hear about all the stories that were told, the details of the service, the people present, the lovely priest. It was a fond farewell with a real special old lady.

Goodbye my impossible grandma, and thank you for being part of my life all these years. I miss you.

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A shirt for Andrea

Last year I went to London with one of my closest friends, Andrea. While I was looking for just the right fabric to take home from Liberty, she found a fabric on her own. As I sew and she doesn’t, we agreed that I’d make her a shirt as a belated birthday present (her original birthday wish was to get something from London while we were there). As last year wasn’t a quiet one either, the shirt ended up closer to her next birthday than the one before, but she was happy with the end result.

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I even found blue buttons to match the blue print 🙂

Andrea had a fairly basic shirt which she got from her grandma. This shirt was a bit on the long side, with a back yoke and bust darts. She wanted something close to this in look, and we opted for an old BurdaStyle pattern (#105 in the #9/09 issue of the magazine). I shortened the pattern a bit and made a muslin from old sheets. Based on the fit of this, we decided to add a bit more width to the sleeves, as she liked the roomy sleeves on her original shirt best. Then I made the shirt and requested her to show it off in my blog, which I’m happy she agreed to do.

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Sorbettos – I needed a job interview blouse

I am currently applying for what feels like almost every job that’s remotely connected to my field of education (I’m a bioengeneer with a master’s degree in microbiology), and I desperately needed to up my game for some heavy-weight interviews this week.
Enter a shopping spree where my lovely hubby bought me a suit and a weekend of two sorbettos, and this lovely lady emerged from my otherwise somewhat casual everyday looks:

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I first tuned in to Colettes lovely freebie, the Sorbetto when reading about a botched Sorbetto at Creative Satursays.  Being years late to the Sorbetto party, inspirarion was everywhere, and some googling led me to Sew Weekly’s Seven days of Sorbettos , and realised I had to try this pattern myself. 

My first Sorbetto was made from synthetic chiffon and store bought bias tape. This was just a test run to see how it fit me and giving French seams another go. The second one is made from a beautiful coral sueded silk which is similar to silk charmeuse. Me and a friend from school went shopping the other day, and I simply couldn’t resist its allure what with me being in the shop and all.

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I think it turned out beautifully, and I love how the centre pleat looks a bit like a tie, especially with the suit jacket on top. I think I’ll need to make this in several colours, don’t you?

The changes I made, apart grading between size 14 and 16, was to lower the shoulder seam a smidge to get the darts where they needed to be and have some more ease at the arm openings.

Now I just have to walk around in the world hoping someone will hire me 🙂

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Vogue 1329

A lifetime ago I signed up for Katrina Walker’s Decorative Seams class on Craftsy. I watched through it this spring, and let me tell you, this class is a true gem. I love Katrina Walker’s teaching style and all her inspiring ways to finish the seams on various garments.

The class features Vogue’s dress pattern V1329 free of charge, and I really wanted to have a go at this one after watching the class. My dress turned out as a homage to projects from the sewing course, made from leftover fabrics from the gaucho pants and my scarab dress. I used black raw silk (a wonderful fabric to work with!) for the main parts of the dress and red linen for the yoke and contrasting panel. I made some changes to the yoke lining so that this extended all the way around the sleeve openings and made this from black cotton sateen. Then I used the peach coloured silk lining both to line the dress and to make a bias strip with I folded in half, pleated and sewed into the front dress seam for that wow-factor on the dress. Really love how this one turned out 🙂 I plan to get some wear out of it at some special occasions coming up at the end of this month/beginning of next month.

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This was a great pattern to work with, and I’d love to have it in soft wool come winter. But I’ll have to change the yoke a bit, as it doesn’t quite fit me along the neckline, where it tends to gape a bit. As I ran out of fabric and didn’t fancy putting in a dart or a seam, I left it the way it was on this dress, making notes to change the pattern in the future. If I make it without the screaming peach strip of silk going down the front, this will be more of an everyday dress, I think.

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Fall jacket

I’m in terrible need of some new clothes to go in my wardrobe after giving most of the things I had away due to them being to small/worn/old – all reasons that I didn’t wear them any more. The logical thing to do mid-summer was therefore to make a fall jacket, what with the weather not being warm and summery (Norway sported warmer water temperatures than the air temperatures in Spain this summer …). 

Perhaps the sleeves are a bit long, but that’s way better than too short IMO.

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I didn’t get to wear the jacket except for the morning we woke up in a freezing hotel room with a hyperactive A/C (we got a new room which was a lot nicer to stay in for the rest of our stay). So at least I needed it on my summer vacation 🙂

I fell in love with this pattern (my teacher The Great Saviour of Jackets designed it) when most of my class mates (the ones who didn’t opt to make the tailored suit jacket) made this in time for Easter. It’s such a versatile pattern and so comfortable to wear. I’m already planning a winter version from the same pattern. I added inner pockets to the lining and the upper breast pockets concealed in the seam under the flap.

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The shell fabric is cotton bough in the home dec department and the lining is viscose satin. I love the bright colours and have my fingers crossed for some fall days without rain where I get to wear this beauty. 

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Long overdue post on finished projects

I finished these items in time for our evening on the runway back when my sewing course ended in June. The runway show can be seen here for those who want to catch a glimpse of all the wonderful garments my classmates made during the past year.

First out is the skirt I designed back in 2013. I love how this one turned out, and I learned so much from this project. However we had some troubles with the fit, and that’s part of the long time it took to finish this one. The other parts were all the projects and assignments that simply had to be finished before I had time for finishing the skirt. I look forward to wearing when the weather cools down – the shell is pure wool (and so soft and drapey you wouldn’t believe it) and the lining is viscose with some polyester in the mix for stability. This skirt is warm!

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Recognise the blouse? This Sorbetto has yet to have its tale told – all in good time.

 

The second piece is my pride – a real tailored jacket made from scratch, pattern and all. This baby conceals a ton of errors – so much went askew with the pattern and the handwork wasn’t my best at times. But I finished it and it fits so well – I love that I now have a pigeon-blue fancy jacket to keep me worm. And my teacher will henceforth be known as The Great Saviour of Jackets. She is a gem and somewhat a magician for making this garment turn out so well despite all my wrong turns. Needless to say, I really learned a lot from the making of this one. I’m so happy I waited and didn’t try to make a tailored jacket on my own (I’ve been collecting patterns…) – it would have been awful to make all these mistakes without some guidance along the way. And now I’m confident that I’ll make things work in the future whether I make mistakes or not – which is a super nifty quality to have acquired 😀

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First project on my new Janome

After playing around with decorative stitches on some scrap fabric, I decided to take my Janome MC6300 Pro for a spin around a real project. I opted for a new dress, using some leftover Tilda fabric that I’ve previously made into a skirt. I’ve longed for another Princess dress since I made my grey dress a year and a half ago – I’ve practically lived in that dress through the last two winters – so my pattern choice was easy this time.

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I measured my pattern pieces and added a bit to the circumference as this seemed to be needed. When trying on the dress, turns out it wasn’t – in fact I needed to take away a bit more than added. Still it feels slightly big without me being able to pinpoint exactly where I need to take a chunk out of it without distorting the fit completely, so I decided to leave it at that – it’s comfy and looks good enough for me to wear it at school (the ultimate test with all the trained eyes of the sewist and seamstress there).

The sleeves were altered to make somewhat longish capped sleeves.

When I looked through my zipper stash, I couldn’t find a matching zipper that was long enough, and I opted for added creativity in the back, inspired by Gertie’s “Home Sewing is Easy” dress (she has a tutorial on the back detail here, I think I made my back in a similar fashion). I’ll definitey do this again, I love the cute V-neck collar and buttons in the back! Plus I got to use supplies from my stash rather than making a trip to the capital only to buy a new zipper 🙂

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I’m still in love with my new sewing machine, and I find myself petting it fondly when we’re in the same room. It’s just what I needed: A stable work horse that makes sewing my own clothes a dream. I can’t wait to see what we’ll make together next 😀

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