Thursday, May 28, 2009

First stitches

We live in the house that I grew up in. The children sleep in my old bedroom. I'm not sure whether this is a good thing, or whether they'll move to New York and Sydney as soon as possible, never to return.
For toys, there's no need to go to the store. Daddy will climb up on the attic and fetch whatever got stored there 30 years ago. Yesterday, he fetched my old doll carriage. Complete with doll and accessories. Look what was in there:

My first crocheting project ever (of course, wouldn't you know, a purse!).

I remember making that, and my little cramping hands trying to get the stitches even. I didn't remember this:

A doll's handbag. With a lining, so obviously sewn by a child, by hand, that it must have been my first sewing project.

That was fun! I think I need to go dig in the attic some more!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Boy's pants etc.

It's been a while, and I can't decide whether I'm blogging less because
a) the blogging honeymoon is over;
b) it's summer and I spend more time outside, less at my laptop;
or c) I've been sewing more than usual, hence more time at the sm, less at the pc.

DS gets rather jealous whenever I sew something for his sister, so I decided to sew up some of my fabric market stash and make him a pair of jeans - meaning the material, not the 5-pocket-style which rather scares me. As you know I usually draft (or sew together whichever way) kids' pants myself, but I wanted to use a pattern for a change, and loved what I found in the current Ottobre kids fashion issue.
It's the pattern no. 26, "Zoom" pirate jeans. I found that either Ottobre has funny sizing or I have funny kids, because their measurements are truly all over the place. DS is 116 cm tall which makes him a size 116, but his waist is a 104 (two sizes down), and his hips even less. So I re-sized the pattern to a 104 in width and 116 in length. Since it's an elastic waist and an easy fit all's well. I like the elastic/drawstring waist with mock fly as well as the fashion details, such as darts on the lower legs with tabs sewn in on one side, velcroed on the other side. I had some trouble with the instructions regarding the mock fly - they had a fly cut on, and it was supposed to be sewn together on the left side of the garment and stitched down through the fabric from the right side?! If I got that right. In the end, I cut off the fly flaps and just topstitched the mock fly in.

(back pocket detail, border by Farbenmix)

The Ottobre instructions include a how-to on giving the finished jeans an "ageing" wash. I'm not sure whether I'll do that. If I do, I'll post more pictures!

DD has grown out of her pretty sun hats and had to resort to wearing her brother's old basecaps. So when I stumbled upon hat pattern no. 142 in the April Burda issue, I gave it a try. I made size 50 according to DDs head circumference and it fits very well.

The fabric is a heavy cotton with color blocking from Ikea a few years ago, and some remnants of the bird quilting fabric from my tote bag. The hat has a bucket shape that can be worn with the brim turned up or down, and is fully reversible. Three pattern parts, fast and easy. Highly recommended!

Which digital camera do you use for your pictures? I have a Casio that I'm very dissatisfied with (re the picture quality/clarity and flash exposure). I need a point-and-shoot model, and I'm more willing to compromise on ease of use than on picture quality. I found a few positive reviews on the Canon powershot series. Anyone have one of those?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Business opportunity!

Judging from your comments, somebody's missing out on a BIG business opportunity: Fabric markets in the USA! If I weren't in a diametrically opposed profession, I might consider it... Just imagine! Organizing fabric markets for a living! Snapping up remnants for next to nothing! Now I'm thinking about it I might be a bit more flexible about my profession than I thought...!?

Speaking of professions, when DS was born, I used to joke he'd become first a ballet dancer and then, when his joints gave out, a fashion designer. All for improving his mom's quality of life, of course! We'll see how that works out; at the moment his self-chosen interest is this:

When he realized on mother's day that he'd forgotten his present for me at the kindergarten, he went ahead and made me some jewelry: First, a short necklace with "a parrot and a precious stone" for everyday, he told me; second, a long necklace with parrot, stone, and five ladybugs "for special days". One, where does he get these ideas? Two, I'll take fine jewelry designer over ballet dancer any day, thank you!

Lastly, I did sew a tiny little something this last week: A tote bag from the caterpillar fabric. I wasn't quite in love with it, so I haven't even taken pics of the back and the inside, but oh well. In case you've noticed, yes, I'm stalling a little on the jacket. Trying to hold on to my mojo by squeezing in little projects here and there, but I have to be careful to leave enough time and energy to work on the big project as well.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fabric loot

As per Gwen's request, here's yesterday's stash addition:

Clockwise from upper left:

  • Cream cotton eyelet
  • Olive wool knit (wrong season, but I hardly ever find wool knit, and this is my color!) with print knit (probably rayon) on top
  • Pink cotton with tiny white dots, brown cotton with small pink dots, pink rayon knit, striped cotton knit and Kitty appliqué (all of this for DD, obviously, who was adamant about having no less than these fabrics!)
  • Blue denim

Also, light green grosgrain ribbon and striped ribbon to go with the denim, probably. The light green is for my Chanel-style jacket. It's the right color; now I'm just worried it might look boring. I also saw what I think from Lindsay's and Katherine's descriptions must be Petersham ribbon, but not in the right colors (the vendor, being Dutch, also didn't know the German word for it!).

Last, The Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric panel. I have a first birthday party coming up, and will make something from (part of) it. A pillow? Or a wall hanging with pockets?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fabric market and girls' pants

Today's Dutch fabric market was the real deal. I was rather disappointed last time. Had I imagined the low prices? The great selection? The designer prints as well as basics in all the colors of the rainbow?
To my relief, I hadn't. For the locals, the last market was in Bonn-Bad Godesberg; this one was in Hennef, and I heartily recommend it. I ended up buying lots of little girl prints, some cream eyelet and a graphic print knit for me, and lots of blue denim for more kids' pants. No, the jeans sewing bug has not bitten me. Yet. No pictures of the loot either, maybe later.

DS helped me choose; see his head buried in the fabric?

Gwen asked after my last fabric market post what the giant zippers are for. So today I dutifully went and asked the notions vendor! He said, "For lots of things. Some people put them in a dress, one zipper on each side." Ahem. Sounds a bit obvious to me, like those rip-off-pants male dancers (and, I recall, Britney Spears at one time) wear!
For Jenny and others who live in Germany and would like to know more about the available fabric sources, here and here are links to the sites with fabric market dates and locations. I only know of these two firms that organize(Dutch-German) fabric markets.
I also whipped up another pair of pants for DD.

No side seams, no zipper, no applications. Just a few pockets for pretties (and for collecting a three year old's necessary odds and ends).
Fabric from last year's market, left over after a skirt-sewing session with DH's nieces. Maroschka border by Farbenmix.

It passed the swing test!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Fabric shopping in Germany II

Gwen ( asked about fabric stores in Germany. Since I really enjoy Lindsay's ( and other's reports on fabric shopping in their part of the world, I thought I'd return the favor.

"Fabric shopping in Germany part I", unbeknownst to me at the time, was the Dutch fabric market. So we're at part II already! (And I have a series in the making, aka if I never finish sewing my jacket you won't even notice because I'm busy posting about fabric!)

Well, today's "installment" isn't on a brick-and-mortar-store, or an online store either, but this lovely offering:

They call themselves "Wollweberei", or wool mill in German, but I don't think they produce (all of) the fabrics themselves. There's a homepage as well (, but not for viewing fabric. The neat and unique way it works is this:
They have a collection of fabric swatches, grouped together as "outfits", e.g. two blouse fabrics, one bottom weight and one jacket fabric in colors and patterns that go together well. Of these swatch grouping they have ca. 60 or 70 which change according to what they have in store and the season. These swatches can be ordered for free (one only has to send them back) to look at for 10 days. On the back of the paper sleeves there are care instructions and material information on the fabrics.
They also have lots of tools and notions. I think it would be possible to get all one's sewing equipment from this company, barring sewing machines and decorative buttons/borders etc. (here we go again...) The fabrics are right on trend, maybe a bit "conservative" for my taste. You know, not so many of the trendy fabrics one would find at H&M, but rather more sedate quality fashion. That's not to say the fabrics aren't very nice, the quality is superb, and I would certainly buy some if it weren't for my stash... And they have basics like good quality wool crepe in every conceivable color. Their prices are not so low, but they have good deals on linings, interfacings and such.
There's a swatch to look at and feel for every fabric, lining and interfacing, and for every color.
You can also order all the patterns from the Burda collection from them, and they include a booklet showing the line drawings, fabric requirements and difficulty of every Burda pattern.
I have not personally ordered from them so far, and I'm not sure whether they sell abroad, but I would recommend that German sewers have a look at this company.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Jacket and dress IV (Quilting and translations)

First, the quilting.

I have decided on vertical quilting, because several jackets I saw made up on the internet (only) had vertical quilting and looked fine. Also, the pattern pieces are so small, sometimes just two or three inches across, that horizontal quilting wouldn't make sense. Because of the amount of pattern pieces (12) and their very different widths I also don't use a set spacing for the vertical quilting seams. I quilt as near the edges of the pattern pieces as I dare, having to alter and seam afterwards, and then divide the space between - if any - as I see fit.
The pattern pieces have been cut out very roughly for quilting:

It's going slowly but surely, and I think the result is acceptable. I do not have the patience to baste so many seams, but I use a lot of pins:

At first I thought there was some (bad) puckering, but after looking it over I think (hope) it's just the stitches sinking into the boucle fabric. Maybe it'll improve a little with pressing.

I am very pleased that the thread is virtually undetectable on the fashion fabric:

Second, translations.
I read a lot. Not necessarily educational content. But almost exclusively in English. I figured, if I'm going to be entertained, I might as well improve my English vocabulary at the same time. Also, I have never really looked up words I didn't know. I just kept on reading, and now there's hardly a word I don't know in the average book.
Every few years or so I meet a word I'd really love to look up. Not necessarily because I don't know what it means, but because I'd love to know the German expression for it!

Case in point: Petersham ribbon. (BTW, thanks Lindsay for your tip; I'm just not sure I'll be able to color-match online.)

Like the last couple of times I tried to look something up, it happened again: Can't find a translation. Nada. Nothing. Any German sewing specialists out there who care to enlighten me?


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