Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holiday Sewing and a Happy New Year!

Hello everybody!

The holidays are behind us, but the decorations are still up, and I am only slowly coming to... Although I have been sewing (more than I thought, now I'm counting), the sewing machine has been mostly off the dining room table for quite some time now, and I am ready for sanity (sewing time!) to return.

Everything on my holiday sewing list has been checked off, thanks to my cousin who was our houseguest at Christmas and babysat the children a lot, and due to my letting the jacket take a back seat (the shell is finished; I "just" need to install buttonholes and lining).

First on my list was another Ottobre girls' tunic ( for the others, see here) for my best friend's daughter. My, I love that pattern! I tried to sew under cover, because I knew what would (and did) happen if DD saw the pink-and-red-rose fabric: she'd want one for herself.

Then, what better time to decide DS could use a new holiday outfit than December 22nd? The waistcoat and pants were finished on the 23rd, I'm proud to report.
And DS was really happy; no forcing dressing up on him, oh no. He grabbed his shirt, his bow tie, and the new clothes, and dressed up like a gentleman!

A few details: Both garments are made from a very fine corduroy, almost like velvet. The pants are fully lined in red-and-white gingham cotton, and the waistcoat in a dark blue poly lining (for the back, I also used the lining fabric.). For the pants, I used the Ottobre Pirate Jeans pattern I made these 3/4 summer jeans from. I cut on the back yoke and the waistband, essentially reducing four pattern parts to two parts. I used the back pocket pattern, but self-drafted (read: haphazardly cut out) a pocket with flap and velcro closing for the front. The waistcoat is an Ottobre pattern (6/2007 no. 20) as well. To save time, I left off the facings and fully lined it to the edges. I also just sewed on a strip of fabric in the back, instead of the traditional fastening with two fabric strips and D-rings. To finish it off, I used three maritime iron-on patches (boats and lighthouse). Fast and easy!

Third on my list was last year's Christmas dress UFO. I took a good long look at it, decided it could use a new zipper installation but I had nowhere near the time for it, so I finished the half-installed zipper, hemmed the lining, cleaned up the seams allowances, and - voila!?
Then I tried it on and found it a bit too wide, but didn't remember that at all... This was probably why I didn't finish it last year; I've gained a bit since then so the dress is alright now, but it would have been too loose last year. Funny, the things one remembers (or not). The pattern, which I omitted last time, is BWOF 11/2007 no. 107.

After the festitivities, there was another one - DD turned four! This couldn't pass without something homesewn, so I cranked out a tutu without a pattern. I'm not in love with it and I don't have a photo, but DD wears it, so that's that. I will say this much for children's costume sewing: The most worn garments (by far) I made last year are the witch and the angel costume. The children have a dressing-up box and take these out every couple of days.
We had a Christmas witch and a tree decorating angel this year:

Tonight is New Year's eve, and then we'll be done with parties for a while. I'm really itching to get back to normal now. Karen said it best, and I hope she doesn't mind me quoting her: I really, really like to stay home and make things!

I think I'll pass the sewing recap, but it was a very productive year for me, and blogging and your lovely comments made it so enjoyable. I wish all sewers and all readers a happy, healthy New Year with lots of sewing time!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blogging Break (And: Happy Holidays!)

I have been sewing some, but my time and energy are directed elsewhere:

So forgive my absence, and enjoy the season, whether you have as much baking, crafting and family time as I do, or maybe just a whole lotta time to sew. Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Well, I was about to lament the fact that I haven't sewn a stitch. Due to DS's sixth birthday - preparations and parties galore!

Then it came to me: I have sewn. For DS's birthday! He's really into magic tricks, so I made him a magician's cape. Sewn with maximum slapdash efficiency. No pressing, no re-sewing, no prisoners. Here it is:

DS put it on over his jammies right away!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Girls' pants (again)

The jacket is slow going, so here's a colorful little something to cheer me - and you - up!

(front view)
These pants have been made up for a while. I finally gave in and drafted a pattern - one piece actually, using the preferred width, and crotch curves from a well-fitting Ottobre pattern. Now I don't have to trace around sewn pants anymore, and can vary the pattern by adding a waistband, pockets etc. as I like.
The corduroy is from a recent fabric market, it is fully lined in dotted poplin, the bird ribbon is by Farbenmix, and the woven bird patch is part of a gorgeous jacquard ribbon from Bänderweberei Kafka. I don't know if their ribbons are available overseas, but they are all beautiful! They also have a museum where the old looms - that are still in use - can be seen. I mean to go one of these days, since Wuppertal is only about one hour from here.
(side view)
More on the jacket - and backstay - to come!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jacket progress - backstay?

The jacket
Here's where I'm at with the jacket.
The back is done; as you can see, the diagonal edges of the upper part - the "V" - have stretched out a bit in spite of the interfacing. I can't try it on at this point, but I think I will have to do something about it, since my upper back isn't that rounded!
I thought of steaming it back in shape, and then adding a back stay, like EricaB recently showed when making her beautiful riding jacket. What do you think? Do I need one? Will it help?
I think I will need to tape the pattern pieces together and draft a new one, right? Has anyone tried this on a jacket cut like this?
Advent calendars
Here's no. 2 from last year. I think the construction is pretty self-explanatory; if anyone wants to make one and has questions, please ask!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Current project: jacket

How I'd love to be able to say, like Lindsay T in a post recently, "I really like making jackets". I like wearing jackets. I like having jackets. I don't even mind working on jackets. But I tend to lose my patience, and the one jacket I have finished sadly didn't turn out well.

I find myself in a lot of other bloggers, which may be the reason I read all you write. Faye says, sewing doesn't come easy to her, and that's why she tries harder. Well, jackets don't come easy to me, so I really ought to try another one!
I chickened out on the plaid fabric/Burda 9/2007 no. 105 combo, though. 3-part-sleeves, a 4-part-back, and all that pattern-matching with less fabric than called for made me realize I could either have my sanity or try to cut that out. Here's what I chose:

A dark gray herringbone wool for the Burda pattern. I debated whether this rather strict fabric is right for the playful vibe of the pattern, but we'll see.
The pattern is rather short; I cut all pieces (including the 3/4-sleeves) a bit longer and will try it on to determine the finished length. I also intend to add buttons rather than the tab closures Burda calls for. I just hope my buttonholes turn out okay. I'm certainly not courageous enough for bound buttonholes!
So far I've cut it out and fused the front and back parts with a very lightweight fusible; the hems and armholes where the pattern calls for interfacing, with a heavier fusible. Sewing to commence soon, wish me luck!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Holiday Crafting OCD

Starting in late September, I sort of lose it. My focus. My "me time". My lists. Under more lists. Covered by lists-of-lists.

Here's why. I love the holiday season. I love crafting and baking. So I try to do it all. By myself, of course. Handmade, as much as possible.

Gifts for Christmas. Gifts for two children's birthdays. Gifts for three advent calendars. Gifts for St. Nicholas day. Giveaways for two childrens' birthday guests.

Handcrafted invitations for two children's birthday parties. Handcrafted invitations for our yearly advent cookie party. Handcrafted Christmas cards. Handcrafted decorations.

Baking for the cookie party (20 to 30 sorts.) Baking for two children's birthdays. Baking for Christmas.

To fill the empty minutes (let's not waste any time here) I have a cross stitch Christmas stocking calling my name.

I love the holidays. Such a wonderful time for relaxed family togetherness. Ahem. And I really do love this time. Could we just spread it out a little? Over... nine months, maybe? (Having a baby sure wasn't this much work!)

Anyone else out there suffer this Holiday OCD affliction? Tell me I'm not alone!

Parting shot:

I thought I'd wait until December to show my handmade advent calendars. But now seems more timely really; maybe someone can use them for inspiration. So here's the first of the bunch.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Girl's pants (Phew!)

So I finished the Ottobre pants, and DD still didn't have a thing (read: lined pants) to wear. I still had a remnant of teal corduroy from this dress, and enough surplus energy/frustration to cut into it right away.
I put a suitable pair of pants on top, and started cutting around it. Wait... Let's not cut in anger, unless you want this to happen:
1. I cut the thing too small/tight.
2. I discovered I'd cut on the cross-grain. With corduroy. Very funny.
3. To remedy 1., I decided to put in side panels, didn't find a piece of corduroy big enough for it, rummaged around some more, finally found one, and cut apart one of the legs.
4. After sleeping on it, and considering trashing it all, I decided not to let a few little glitches get in the way of a nice pair of pants. I proceeded to patch together a new pant leg from the remnants, cut pockets, put in the side panels and a lining, and even added a little matryoshka to offset all the negative energy.
What can I say? DD loves the pants and hardly took them of since.
Here's to unintentional design elements. Anyone care to tell me about theirs?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Girl's pants Ottobre 1/2008 no. 7

I've been sewing a bit, two pairs of girl's pants. Here's the first:

As always with Ottobre I was a bit exasperated with all the time-consuming details, but the end result is worth it. As is not usually the case, the made up size 104 didn't fit DD. I had taken out a bit of width before sewing, but she's not only swimming in them width-wise, they are also much too long. With the leg tabs and the fact that I fully lined them, I decided not to alter them, but wait it out. They ought to fit next winter.
The details:
Next up: the pair I sewed together without a pattern after finding out these were too big!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

SWALP - and Jacket BWOF 9/2007 no. 105

I would, probably, rationally, not attempt a SWAP. Not as long as the children are little. Not as long as my attention span is shorter than the thread on my needle. Not as long as my inner teenager battles my inner sewing instructor.

I may, however, be in the middle of a SWALP (sewing with a little plan) right now. In this post I named a table runner, kids' pants and a jacket from my most recent fabric spree as a tentative plan.
Runner? Check. Girls' pants? Almost done. Jacket? Weeeellll...

I have a confession to make: Last year, I attempted my first jacket:

All went well. Until I got to the collar. Here's the sad story in pictures:

I tried to fix it, ended up where I started, lost heart (and fabric, since this was ravelling terribly), and finished the jacket as it was. ("Maybe it won't be so bad if I look at it next week." Right.)

There's one more year of intense sewing experience (no tailoring though) between then and now. Is it time for another jacket?

SWALP says yes. I'd really like this:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Autumnal table runner

I coveted Wendy's autumn table runner from the beginning, and promptly forgot about it (ah, the many inspirations on the internet!).

"All of a sudden" I craved a quilted runner in autumnal colors, revising my original plan of appliquéing autumn leaves onto a solid background. Yesterday, when I was deep into piecing the runner (and realizing I might just lack the patience to do a lot of patchwork/quilting), I looked at Wendy's blog. All right. Now I remember!

A few notes on construction:

It's a very balanced runner regarding the fabric sources: the forest animal fabric and the brown dots are from fabric markets, the green dots and orange print bought on the internet, and the orange solid as well as the lining from IKEA!

I started with making a template for cutting out the animal motifs, and then framing them in strips of brown fabric. Parallel to this, I randomly sewed together strips of orange, orange print and green fabric, cutting apart and sewing together again and again, until I ran out of steam. I almost left the project there and then, not sure if the oranges would go with the animal patches, but I really wanted this finished today, as this is German Thanksgiving! So instead of continuing with the patching, I sewed the animal patches on top of the orange/green piece, and rather like the result.

I did not quilt it after all, just lined with white muslin fabric and bound the edges with self-made binding. I wanted the table runner to be rather thin so I could set the table without removing it.

German Unification day: We climbed one of the seven (small) mountains south of Bonn by the Rhine river. Here are some of the views:

It's been 20 years (almost) since the Berlin wall came down, and 19 years since the reunification. I, for one, am happy for the freedom the last 20 years have brought the German people, and many others. If the next 20 years could improve the political landscape as much...

Oh, and I don't say this nearly enough: Thank you for all your nice, supportive, cheering comments. They make my day! And thank you for reading.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Girls' tunic Ottobre 1/2008 no. 8

Although I share Lindsay's sentiments on knits, I keep going there.

1st reason: They're basic, comfy, so I ought to learn.

2nd reason: I can't believe I'm not getting better. (Which I'm not. This may have to do with my stubborn low-tech everything-should-be-sewable-with-a-regular-machine-and-zigzag-foot approach.)

3rd reason: I also abhor making buttonholes. So blouses aren't a good alternative for tops.

Unlike Lindsay, I'm not above wearing, and especially clothing my children in decidedly Becky Home Ecky garments. So this will get worn.

Probably a lot, even. DD chose the fabrics herself. (I might have chosen a little less... PINK!) And the Hello Kitty apliqué. And she's one happy girl!

Speaking of happy girls, last weeks' tunics got worn to an outing in the forest. Quite the fitting background. A couple of pics:

Up next? I'm still torn between:

  • an appliquéd autumnal table runner (and playground for me!)
  • a jacket with my most recent fabric acquisition
  • lots of children's pants for fall

Happy sewing!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Tale of Two Tunics - Ottobre 4/2009 no. 16

Here they are! I made use of today's early fall sunshine and took garden pics. Maybe I'll manage an action shot tomorrow, if the two girls cooperate.

I made up the pattern according to the instructions without glitches. One in size 98, one in 104. They don't look that much different; the six centimeters between 98 and 104 are probably evenly divided between upper and lower body, and 3 cm isn't that obvious.
I didn't add the called for rows of topstitching on the cuffs and lower band, because the dotted poplin I used was stiff enough on its own.
Also, the pattern called for three fabric covered buttons for decorating the front piece. While I thought this looked really cute in the magazine, I found myself playing with some matryoshka (yes, again) fabric and making little appliqués for whatever one night... Well, whatever turned out to be the tunics, and I think the matryoshkas fit the tunics to a tee. (But then, I may be biased.)
All in all a very cute pattern. I have visions of making it up in black velvet with red tartan ruching for Christmas, but I doubt I'll get around to it. We'll see.
Sewing or not, have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sewing ADD?

Q: How is it that when I'm sewing I find less to blog about?

A: It takes less time to shop for fabric/read a sewing mag/go to fabric market/ dream up new projects than actually follow through! (So... blogging less actually means I've been more productive? For me, it does.)

And when I'm halfway through with said plan, I'm so bored I change track. Case in point:

Right now, I'm sewing little girl tunics. Remember the "Russian Peasant" theme in Ottobre I swooned about? Well, I went and bought the same fabric that Ottobre used, only in a different colorway - something I never do, I don't sew to copy but to make it my own, right? But the fabric was too cute by far, so I hunted it down, spent more money than a ready-made tunic would cost, and set to work. In the end, I changed a few details, so it's all my own (or DD's, to be precise) after all.

Then, I'm proud to say, despite my sewing-ADD tendencies, I sewed up a second tunic for my cousin's little girl (sneak preview shown above). The tunics are as good as ready, and I'll take pictures soon.

Then I had a plan to sew DD a pair of matching (and needed!) corduroy pants.

Then my sewing ADD got the better of me, and I went fabric shopping. Aaaaaah... Rest my weary eyes on yards and yards of pretty fabrics. And buy for a new, wholly unplanned project. (More later.)

Now what? Back to the plan? Or the plan before that? Or on to new pastures? (Am I glad this is my hobby. No, I'm not ADD in real life!)

Any fellow sufferers?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Boys' pants Ottobre 1/2008 no. 25

The pants are done, have been fiercely worn already, and I lo-o-ove them. At first, I was sceptical - such a high yoke? Such low pockets? But this is a neat visual trick; it makes the pants look fashionably low-slung (via the pockets) without actually being so. They cinch right at the waist, so they don't fall off DS's non-existent butt! (No, really. The pockets are wider than his behind. Quite funny.)
DS was sceptical, too, what with the (slanted) "front pockets" being in the back. But as the big front pocket is large enough to hold a stone, a card game, three used tissues and a piece of candy (no, really! He tried this out today, all in the interest of science, of course!), he is mollified.
I used a wide-wale corduroy bought years ago for a pair of baby pants I never made (yes, I barely squeezed it out!), a fat quarter of quilting fabric (Orange Afghan Hexagon by Jay McCarroll - Woodland Wonderland), and some ribbon I bought at the most recent fabric market I never blogged about. Ahem.
What I did differently from the pattern: I put in a mock fly and left out the zipper. DS's waist-to-hip-ratio is basically 1, and the pants have an elastic waist, so I figured he'd get the pants over his hips without a zip (and he does). For visual interest, I put in a functional buttonhole and button.
In between sewing I got a bit frustrated with all the pattern parts, topstitching, etc, etc. and had visions of the three or so simple pants I could have made instead. But I find the result is worth it; I just hope DS doesn't trash them before the winter is over!


Friday, September 11, 2009

New camera, new pattern magazines

I turned 39 on Monday. It's hard not to get philosophical; while I' happy with my life and where I'm at, the years are racing by with lightning speed, and I can't believe I may already have lived half my life. See? I did get philosophical!

I made the best use possible of my birthday by
a) wishing for a new camera, which I got (if my pictures aren't good now at least I'll know it's my fault!);

b) having a typical German "Geburtstagskaffee" (cake and coffee) with family and friends;

c) sneaking a few minutes to read the new Threads and a couple of new pattern magazines I got.

While I love my Burdas for bringing me lots of patterns, fashionable ideas, and something new to enjoy every month, I also often feel a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amount of patterns I have collected with several years' worth of Burdas. When looking for a pattern or ideas, I sometimes get frustrated trying to process all that information. This is something I like about my Ottobres, which are just two (slim) issues a year for women and four (a bit thicker) issues for children.
So, while I wouldn't give up my Burdas anytime soon, I decided to take a closer look at those magazines that are published seasonally rather than monthly.
(For some reason I couldn't get the picture to turn. Time to read the camera manual, I guess!)
"Sabrina" is one of several German publications like that (I know of two others called "Diana" and "Lea"). These aren't as glossy as Burda, but Sabrina is certainly fashionable enough. It's not graded for difficulty, and the patterns appear rather simple, with few seams, darts, and linings (all the jackets and coats are from warm fabrics but unlined!).

"Knipmode" is a Dutch monthly that is quite fashion-forward (Melissa makes a lot of beautiful garments from Knip issues). This is the first issue I've seen in German, although there may have been others. It's not a monthly but a fall/winter issue that is, as far as I can tell, close to perfect!
It features nine pattern (in several slightly altered versions) that are made up to show four big fall trends, each of them a different style and colorway, and all with just nine patterns. A real lesson in the versatility of sewing patterns! Also, great clothes, beautifully photgraphed. Real eye candy!
And both magazines, as well as the aforementioned Ottobre, only show clothes made up with their patterns, not RTW like Burda. This makes it so much easier to decide on possible combinations/ensembles. Burda used to feature "mini wardrobes". Bring them back, please!

I hope this peek into German/Dutch magazines was interesting for you. Next up: the finished boys' pants. Phew!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Gaultier kiddie pattern

Did the header grab your attention? It sure grabbed mine when, returning from our summer vacation, I bought a magazine for the ride home and discovered this gem.

Luna is, well, probably a parenting/family/children's fashion magazine. It's very glossy, the fashion pages are quite beautiful, there is a lot of product placement/reviews/marketing, and some editorial content. In short, a glossy aimed at parents with cash to spare.

One laudable thing about Luna is that although it isn't (I think) aimed at the alternative/crafter/DIY set, it features sewing and knitting patterns for children's clothes. Which goes to show, as I already discussed in my Brigitte post, how mainstream sewing, and not for reasons of saving money but because it's fashionable, has become.

There have always been a lot of knitting patterns around, in women's as well as parenting mags, but this focus on sewing is new, at least that's my impression. Now Luna has been around for a couple of years, and has been publishing a sewing pattern per issue, usually by German/European designers specializing in children's clothes. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the magazine and discovered that this issue's pattern is by JPG! It's in schoolgirl size, so DD will have to wait a couple of years, and there's a warning that this is not a beginner's pattern, but it's a Gaultier! It also has to be ordered and paid for separately from the magazine, while the other patterns had usually been enclosed printed on tissue paper, but I have ordered it and will keep it in my treasure box until DD is old enough to make it up.

(In case you think I'm an uncritical designer fan, I also love the dress. Nautical is all I will/need to say!)

P.S. I ordered an extra. I think I feel a giveaway coming up!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Monkey patch

When in doubt, sew kids' clothes! This monkey patch was inspired by my son's favorite soft toy, a monkey named "Charly", and is on its way to becoming part of a pair of boys' pants.

Thank you for the input on the coat. I had a good long look at all the material on The Great Coat Sew-Along (an amazing site; if you haven't seen it, go look!), and now I'm more motivated to make a coat than ever. But your comments were right; while it's a great pattern I'd love to see made up, my fabric may not be the best option for it. Or the other way around, I may need another pattern.
So I might:
a) get more fabric and make up the pattern in question,
b) search for a better pattern and make up my fabric.
While it's percolating, I'll plod on with the kids' fall/winter wardrobe!


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