Sunday, 15 November 2015

Dirndl Daydreams

Doesn't we all daydream about sewing? About dreamy fabrics and shiny new patterns, about silk and linen and wool, about trimmings and drafting and tailoring and, most importantly, dreaming up an endless list of things we would like to make and wear - like yesterday.

Lately, I have been daydreaming about sewing the perfect dirndl.

I think it started when Gertie posted about her new obsession with the garment, planting a seed in my sub-consciousness. Then my boyfriend started talking about going to Vienna for New Years Eve. Burda had a full-on dirndl feature in the september magazine. Suddenly, I found myself looking through entire pinterest boards full of beautiful dirndls by Lena Hoschek, Julia Trentini and Gössl. Octoberfest came and went, filling Instagram with pictures of beautiful dirndls. Then late one evening, in a moment of weakness, I purchased a pdf version of Burda 7057:

Then I spend an entire evening pulling fabrics from my stash, and came up with these combinations:

In the end, I have settled on the orange/plum color combination (the big picture, top left), as it feels more grown-up and winter appropriate to me than pink, and uses fabric from deeper stash layers. I plan on using the orange linen for the body, the plaid for the full skirt with the beautiful scalloped edge as the hem and the plum taffeta as the apron. The purple linen will become part of the pretty neckline trim and perhaps some matching accessories.

This dirndl has a similar feel and color scheme:
So far, I have printed and taped the pattern together and have cut and sewn the first muslin in my usual size 38. I have a good feeling about this one!

Are you sewing any special occasion dresses for the holiday season?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Feeling Fancy: HSM "Blue"

So... I finished these stays back in february in good time for the HSM challenge, got some decent photos and then promptly forgot about the blogging part. I thought about blogging them this summer after their first official outing, but that obviously didn't happen. Then my historical sewing "club" started talking about stays, and I remembered to write this post.

Long story short, let me show you my finished stays:

I love them. They give me the fashionable 18th century shape while still being deceptively comfortable and undeniably cute to look at.

The outer fabric is a heavy cotton upholstery brocade I found as a remnant at Videbæk Stof-Sycenter (my favorite fabric shop). It is a beautiful periwinkle blue with small tulip-like flowers in dusty pink and pale green woven into it (see picture below). It is still available at Historicum for anyone interested. I used about a half meter. This particular length was bought for me by my boyfriend as part of a swap.

It is interlined in a heavy tan linen/viscose blend from my stash. I made the coordinating pink binding with half a meter of cotton broadcloth from Stof&Stil in the color "antique rose". I used 25 mm binding for covering the inside seam allowances in lieu of a separate lining, the 18 mm for binding the edges and the 12 mm for decorating/highlighting the seam lines on the outside.

The pattern is Butterick 4254 view B. I had to make a few modifications, mainly due to the weird big-4 sizing and the pattern being very short-waisted. I had the size 12-14-16 packet, but the recommended size (14) was WAY to big for me. The 12 was a little better, but not ideal. I ended up taking it in a couple of cm at each center back edge, lower the back neckline, moved the front strap toward center front, adding height to the front neckline and narrowing the straps.
I also changed the boning layout a bit to allow me to do spiral lacing.

The boning is made up of 98 separate pieces of zip-ties, all cut and filed down by hand with a nail file. Each zip-tie was only 0,5 cm wide, so I put 2 ties in every boning channel marked on the pattern. Only the channels and main seam are sewn by machine, as all binding, lacing holes and finishing is done by hand. I LOVE my thimble!

Needless to say, these stays were a labor of love, and OMG I love them! They are so "me", and ohh so nice to wear. In fact, I wore them for 3 full days at the 18th century fair in June, and loved every minute of it. Never will I ever have cut marks on my waist from wearing 3+ heavy skirts all day again!

As this is my official entry for the HSM, here are the specs:

The Challenge: Blue (February 2015)

Item: Half-boned mid-to-late 18th century stays
Fabric: Blue cotton upholstery brocade with woven flower motif for the outer layer. Heavy tan linen/viscose for interlining. Dusty pink cotton broadcloth for coordinating binding. 
Pattern: Butterick 4254 view B, size 12,  modified for fit
Year: 1750-1780-ish
Notions: 98 pieces of "plastic whalebone" (aka zip ties), coordinating pink 12 mm, 18 mm & 25 mm single fold cotton non-bias binding tape and coordinating pink poly satin ribbon.
How historically accurate is it?  50-80 %? The pattern pieces and boning layout looks decent compared to historical garments, despite being laced both in the front and back. The zip ties are also a good approximation to whalebone, and the spiral lacing is spot on!
Hours to complete: Mockup: 2 hours. Machine sewing: 4 hours. Hand sewing, hardware & finishing: 20-40 hours? 
First worn: For pictures and singing practice at home and at the Oceanos festival in Frederikshavn, DK in June 2015. 
Total cost: 
- Blue fabric: a swap with my boyfriend ~ free!
- pink fabric for contrast: 10 dkk
- pink thread: 16 dkk
- zip ties ~ 10 dkk
- pink ribbon: 30 dkk
- Linen lining:  from stash ~ free!

Total ~ 66 dkk or just under 10 USD

Final thoughts:
Did I mention that I love them? I do. I really, really do. The colors, the fit, everything!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Rose is a Rose is a Rose - Flora(l) Saltspring Dress

I will start my back-log of blogging with my most recent make, as I was so extremely lucky as to get some photos of it outside last weekend. I find it really difficult to find interesting and public-but-sheltered places for taking photos, and very awkward to go out and shoot the photos, but was lucky with both this time around.

Back to the dress. This is my wearable muslin of the Sewaholic Saltspring dress, and it ended up exactly as I had hoped it would, if not better! I will confess to not initially liking this pattern when it was released, but my great success with the Cambie, Hollyburn and Tofino made me curious to Tasia's other designs, and I kept seeing really cute dresses Modcloth similar to the Saltspring, so I figured it was worth a try.

I am still not sure if this silhouette is flattering on me or anyone else with bigger hips, but I like it for being a bit different from my other fancier dresses. It is very comfortable, and I feel graceful and feminine in it, despite the lack of more waist definition. I am wearing a obi-style belt in these pictures to define the waist.

The shell fabric is some cheap poly chiffon I bought on our trip to Stoffenspektakel on my birthday last year and the lining is an optic white crepe georgette with a bit of stretch that I was lucky to find as a remnant at Stof&Stil. The shell fabric has really grown on me since last year, and I am happy to finally having made it into something pretty.

I made my usual size 10 and skipped the muslin, but made some small adjustments to the pattern before cutting. I lengthened the bodice lining with 2 cm to comfortably fit my longer torso and shortened the outer bodice with 1 cm to remove 3 cm of the blousing in all. I also eliminated the zipper, as other bloggers reported it unnecessary and made adjustable straps instead of the tie-straps (I slaughtered an old bra for the sliders). I am happy to report that the dress fits really well, and that I can get it on quite easily over my head without the zipper.

The original skirt was also a little slim for my taste, so I used the By Hand London Flora skirt instead. I just made a pleat on the Flora skirt pattern piece until the waist seam fit the Saltspring bodice lower edge, and the skirt width fit my fabric, and cut the hi-low version with an extra 10 cm length. I used the original short skirt pattern pieces for the skirt lining.

I finished the outer skirt with french seams and a tiny baby hem. Everything else is finished with my overlocker and as described in the pattern.

Eliminating the zipper makes this a fast and easy project, even for a beginner. Swapping the skirt and making adjustable straps was the most difficult parts of this dress, and those were my own add-ons.
This has definitely been an experiment in silhouette for me, and I might not make another one of these for a while. Until then, I'm off to sew ALL THE COTTON DRESSES! Bye!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Fabric Shopping in London

So - I have a massive pile of finished makes to photograph and blog about, but those will have to wait juuust a tad longer, as I am itching to show you a fabric haul from our recent London holiday.

We have had a rather blah spring around here due to some un-inspiring and stressful weeks with school, job and some unexpected family issues. Everyone is well, but we needed a break from it all. So, when we suddenly got some money back from our rent, we treated ourselves to a little holiday. The choice fell on a extra long weekend in London around Ascension Day.

Walthamstow market

I had spent some time researching where to shop for fabrics in London, and was happy to have enough time in London between all the castles, museums and general entertainment to visit Liberty, Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow Market, although I only had about 1-2 hours for each of those places.

Goldhawk Road.

I LOVE buying fabrics when traveling, as I think they are the perfect souvenirs. In general, I tried to focus on quality over quantity, as I have a bad habit of buying too much too cheap fabric when presented with endless bolts to choose from. I think I succeeded, as I only came home with 7 truly gorgeous pieces of fabric and some trim. Take a look:

3 m red and pink watercolor flowers on a cotton lawn from Goldhawk Road
for the perfect summer dress
2,5 m blue peacock Liberty-like cotton lawn and 1 m matching blue silky polyester for lining, both from Goldhawk Road for a fancy summer dress.

1,5 m navy and pink floral viscose from Goldhawk Road.
Will become a dress or skirt. 

1,5 m white drapy mystery fabric with black stars from Goldhawk Road. 

1,5 m very wide (220 cm) cotton bedding fabric with purple rose border print from a fabric store off Walthamstow Market, destined to become my first Emery dress.  

2,5 m navy knit lace fabric from The Man Outside Sainsbury on Walthamstow Market.
Little Navy Dress, anyone?

1 m each of bordeaux and sand polyester lace trim from Walthamstow Market.
Trim for a victorian corset. 

I have a few other projects to finish before I can dive into these new, shiny fabrics, so I better get going with those. Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Sneak Peak

As the end of February draws closer, the probability of me NOT finishing the corresponding HSM challenge grows higher. It is truly my own fault. I got pulled down the creative rabbit hole of patchwork/quilting, and thus only started my rather complicated make this last Saturday. 

In the meantime, here is a sneaky peak at my project. Can you guess what it is?