Yellow Flounce Dress and Trip to Spain

Hi!

Once again a whole month has passed and I have been sewing a lot of stuff, just not blogged about them, yet. If you are also following me on Instagram, you probably have had at least a glimpse of everything I´ve made, so that is at least something.

I will leave the summer sewing for another post, but share a bit of our trip to Spain a week ago and one of the things I made specifically for that purpose – a yellow dress in viscose twill, using Butterick 6677.

The fabric is in a way perfect for warm climate (although the temperature was mostly moderate, at around 20-25 degrees Celsius) since viscose is nicely breathable and even has a slight cooling effect; but on the other hand it wrinkles horribly and after sitting in the car for a while it didn´t look half as nice.

As for the pattern, it is a very easy make, but can be time consuming as you have to do a very narrow hem on the flounce and also on the side that attaches to the bodice. I was temptated to just serge it, but the result is definitely better if you follow the instructions, I am glad that I did.

The waist is elasticated and there is a loop and button closure on the back. If I ever use this pattern again, I will skip this because the neckline is wide enough to pass over the head without needing any closure at all.

I couldn´t find a matching bias tape so for the first time ever, I made my own. I used cotton poplin in the same colour as my main fabric and it worked great. I think that the regular bias tape is usually heavier cotton that would not have been so good for the soft and drapey viscose.

We spent a whole week in Northern Spain and Basque Country, starting and ending our trip in Bilbao. We rented a car and visited the beautiful Picos de Europa national park and its mountains and also randomly picked some sights on the way for stopping by. It was really enjoyable, with no tight schedule or plans, just knowing that we have to get to the next accommodation by night.

One of the best accommodations we staid at was a beautiful, fully equipped traditional house “at the end of the world” as we said it, because the mountain village where it was located in, consisted of maybe 50 houses or so and the road to it was just a narrow serpentine wriggling up the mountain. This is also where we took the photos of the dress and the biggest photo below is the view from our bedroom window.

I visited three fabric shops in Bilbao and shopped at two of them. At Rafael Matias there were many fabrics discounted to 7 euros/m and I bought two after a long hesitation as there were so many beautiful options. The shop itself is also very nice and in addition to the fabrics I bought a pattern magazine that is new to me – Patrones Mujer. I am not going to go into detail over this as you can get a good overview of it on their website and it looks like you can order it, too. The interesting part is that the magazine does not contain written instructions, just the patterns and cutting information both in English and in Spanish. For the instructions, you are supposed to watch YouTube videos that are only in Spanish and at least the one that I checked was not very detailed. However, the patterns are easy in majority and I guess if one has previous experience then sewing most of them will not be very complicated.

The other store that I shopped at was Esquibel. It doesn´t seem to have a website despite of the very fancy looking sign and the way the fabric was packed – it was carefully wrapped in paper and then put into an expensive looking paper bag. The shop owner, Mr Manuel, who must have been at least 80, wrote the details about the fabric on a special card and signed it personally. He also cut the fabric, but the packing was done by his assistant. The shop itself was full of rolls and rolls of great fabrics, also silks and good quality wool fabrics.

I wouldn´t have found the shop unless I needed something black for a dress for my friends bachelorette party. It can be really hard to find something as simple as black fabric because it needs to have some kind of texture to be interesting. Mr Manuel and his assistant suggested one with little heart print all over and initially I thought it would be a little childish. I have made a dress of it by now and I think it worked great, but more on that in another post.

We had a great time in Spain and little Liisa-Mai is a perfect companion for travelling – no whining, no sleep issues, curious and as patient as you can expect a 1.5 year old to be.

In addition to the yellow dress, I made other things for the trip as well, I will write more about these in the next posts.

Until soon!

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Barbie Camouflage Dress

Hey!

If in the world of Barbie there was an army, I guess among all that pink, lilac etc, this would be the camouflage for blending in!

The truth is I had been looking for a certain fabric such a long time that when I saw this (a pretty similar) one on alfatex.de, I knew in an instant that even the crazy shipping fee would not stop me.

The fabric (a lightweight stretch cotton) was very neatly packed and I loved that they had gifted me a spool of Gütermann thread in a matching color! At first I was quite suprised that lilac was chosen as a match but when I thought about it… what else could it be, of course lilac! So I used it for sewing the dress and also picked the buttons in this shade. I wonder what would my own choice have been without this small gift.

The dress itself is so simple that it was boring to make. I patternhacked the Assembly Line Cuff Top into a button up dress by extending the center fronts to create overlap for the buttons and extending the hemline, obviously. I really liked how quick the original pattern was to make and I have worn the top a zillion times. I also liked the simple but interesting elastic cuffs and I was pretty sure I would try to make a dress out of it at some point.

Although boring to make, I love how this dress feels to wear. You can wear it to your grandma´s birthday party and eat all you like, it will hide everything. And while one of the easiest things I have made, it attracts compliments! I am kind of relieved about that because if it was monochrome in lilac, let´s say, then probably people would think I am wearing scrubs and initially I wasn´t very confident about it even in this fabric.

There is not much else to say about this dress, so before some close-ups, I will tell you a story of a real surprise of fabric shopping!

So, in a Facebook group of Estonian sewists, someone posted about closing down her studio and selling all the fabrics off at ridiculous prices. She provided only a general photo of the studio so it was impossible to pick anything of interest from there and physically going to the studio was not an option for me in near future.

So I asked about a certain type of fabric in a comment as many other group members did. The seller sent me a few photos and I picked one to buy but she could only cut it a few days later when going to the studio.

Those few days later I had actually forgotten all about it, when suddenly another member of the FB group sent me a text in messenger, saying that she is present at the studio and she is willing to send me photos of the selection, so that I could shop off the distance!

It came out that she has been reading this very blog for some time and remembered my enquiry in the comments and decided to help out! Needless to say, it is like offering a drink to an alcoholic to celebrate his/her first sober day, but I was so moved and I still find it hard to believe that someone would do that. So basically the fabric just came to me on its own this time!

I picked two fabrics, one striped stretch denim and the other also stretch cotton, but in a beautiful blue shade with white print all over.

Funnily enough, the seller sold my original choice without contacting me about it again, so, thank you, T. for helping me get a great deal on these two as I paid 4 euros/m for them!

And now finally a few close-ups of the dress I was talking about 😀

I also had a holiday in the meanwhile and who has been following on IG, knows that I have made a few things, but more about these in the next post!

Happy sewing and cheers to lovely social media friends!

Daddy´s Girl Dress and Sewing Room Update

Hi!

You know what they say – there is someone for everyone. There is definitely also a pattern for every fabric that makes it instead of breaks it. This dress is an example of this!

My parents brought this fabric from their trip to Italy in 2017, right after our wedding. Actually they brought two, this was the first one they bought as my father thought the latter was like a tablecloth. Once they sent me the photos, they had to go back and buy the “tablecloth” and I made this dress as soon as they got back from Italy.

This black and white rose print however did not really inspire me. I just put it into my stash and felt a bit sorry that my dad had picked it and that I felt so meh about it. When I got pregnant with Liisa-Mai, I had plans to make it into a pregnancy-friendly tunic, but I really-really struggled with concentration (there were times I tried to sew something, but ended up staring the wall) and towards the end I was also unable to sit on a normal chair any longer than a few minutes (or sofa or whatever furniture you normally sit on, the only tolerable thing was a huge Swiss ball). So the tunic never happened.

And then a few weeks ago, I discovered Athina Kakou patterns and the skirt of her Suzy dress was so cute with its faux overlap, that I wanted to make it ASAP. The pattern is designed for knits, like medium weight cotton jersey. However, I am not a huge fan of this type of fabric (I love it on other people, the Suzy versions out there are amazing) and I was going through my stash to find something suitable until I saw that piece from Italy. I wasn´t sure about how this was going to work, you know… a new pattern company, a fabric that is not what´s originally recommended… a million chances to go very wrong.

After measuring carefully and saying a few prayers, I sewed it up within a few hours and thankfully almost everything worked out fine. I am happy with the result, although it is still not 100% “me”, but I used the fabric my dad had picked and my parents like the dress very much!

When I say “almost everything” I mean that I discovered that the bodice is quite short on me, I would feel more comfortable with a few more cm in length. Also, the bodice is maybe a little bit tight. I cut size 10 for the bodice and size 12 for the skirt, maybe I should´ve gone with the 12 all the way.

Only because I didn´t have enough fabric for the very elegant original length, I had to shorten the dress by 10 cm. Normally this is no big deal, but due to the front faux overlap detail, I had to redraw and grade a bit, but nothing too complicated. I also added a band to the sleeve hem, the same width as the neckband. I did so because I accidentally cut the seam allowance straight (on the pattern already) instead of widening it a bit for it to fit perfectly when turned inside. However, eventually I think it actually looks even better like that.

My version does not have pockets, firstly because of the lack of fabric and secondly because they would have added some completely unnecessary bulk. I was actually so tight on fabric that I had to sew the tie belt together from three pieces. In the photo above, the belt has been removed, so you can see how the waistline is actually gathered with an elastic on the inside, which is sewn onto the seam allowance.

Now to the second topic of the post. The sewing room. Well, first I have to say that I started writing this post over a month ago, it was supposed to be published in April and here we are… I am about to complete my Master´s thesis (I talked about it a couple of years ago, but didn´t make it then) and also started working part-time, so to say that my time is limited, is an understatement. So the sewing room news is actually no news any more. But still.

I have shared in the past that most of my sewing has happened on a kitchen table or any other place more or less suitable. And that the dream when moving to our house was to have a small studio space, preferrably shared with my husband so that we can both do our stuff but still spend time together. We have done this for a while already, but the conditions for me were still the same – one small desk and that´s it.

Everything changed when we visited friends in Finland in the end of March and made a long-waited trip to Ikea, to get some missing pieces for my space. We have managed to avoid Ikea so far in an attempt to create a home that doesn´t look exactly as the neighbour´s, but for this purpose I think it was ideal.

Initially I was planning to build a cutting table, combined of two Kallax shelves on high wheels and tabletop, but at Ikea, we found a perfectly suitable adjustable table that is still quite big enough for most of my needs. I don´t mind the crank version (as opposed to the electric one), I mostly have it up high anyway. AND I use it to work on my thesis as well, saves my back! We still got one Kallax for the pattern storage. More space in my wardrobe now!

This is were I spend most of my time actually, either sewing or writing the thesis and sometimes even playing with Liisa-Mai. She loves the big mirror door on the wardrobe 🙂 And she loves going through my envelope patterns, but then I have to be extra attentive.

Notice the funny cushion I have on my chair. My maiden name means nightingale and when I saw this bird by the sewing machine with a green table lamp…. Hilarious! Ok, the bird looks more like a pigeon than a nightingale, but still!

Despite of the lack of time, I have made a few things in the meanwhile. And Liisa-Mai turned one! We were wearing matching outfits, more on that in another post. I also had an honour to speak at a conference last Friday and as I realized I had nothing suitable to wear in my wardrobe… I made a dress. I hope I will be able to post everything sooner than later!

And did you believe my sewing space looks that tidy normally! Of course not! Here I am, cutting out my Suzy dress:

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The Coat

Ok, this really is one huge achievement for me! I made a coat. A coat. THE coat 😀

I don´t know how it is for others but for me this has been a huge goal and a dream for many years. A dream that took so long to come true because I never had an opportunity to go and actually learn how to make a coat.

I have two failed attempts of coats still in my wardrobe – both unfinished because I got stuck on the way but I find it extremely difficult, actually impossible, to just dump a project. However, these two might be headed to the dumpster because I know now that saving them would be a huge load of work and maybe even not possible.

So before I continue, I have to say big thanks to my teacher Margit whose class I attended once a week from October to November, seven meetings altogether. She basically held my hand when it came to pockets and this curved hem. I am also thankful to the small group of ladies who also participated and whose company I enjoyed very much.

Each class was 3 hours long, but since I live 100 km away from the capital of Estonia, Tallinn, for me and my family it was a whole journey each time. My husband left work two hours earlier each Wednesday and we packed little Liisa-Mai with all of her equipment into the car and drove to Tallinn. Each Wednesday they spent the 3 hours together either strolling in the shops or visiting friends so that I could make that coat. The participation in this course was actually a birthday present from my husband, but as you can see, it was much more than just paying for the course!

Anyway, even with the seven meetings the coat was not yet finished. I had to attach the lining of the left sleeve and as it very often happens – these little things in the end take most of the time and effort. So I actually finished sewing the coat in January and then had to take it to a tailor´s shop to have the buttonholes made. At least this is what the teacher suggested – trying to sew them with a regular home sewing machine would not give a satisfactory result.

The ladies at the first tailor´s shop immediately told me that they did not offer such service anymore and that bound buttonholes would actually show real craftmanship. Yes, agreed, but I just made my first coat! I can keep something for the next one, I believe?? 🙂 Anyway, I finally found a place that accepted the work and… the coat was finished!

The pattern is from a Patrones magazine a few years ago. I actually got the magazine exactly because of this pattern, I was drawn by the unique curved hem and the general tailcoat style. The wool fabric is also from a few years back and also bought exatly for this pattern. I remember a lady buying it and I told her that I thought it was really beautiful and asked her what she would make out of it. She was snappy when she responded so I waited for some time until she left the shop and then asked for the same fabric 😀

But what was it about those two earlier attempts that I wasn´t able to finish them, or more precisely, lost interest in finishing them because I could see that the result would not be satsifactory? For me, it is the lack of instructions in the sewing magazines. I have not seen one coat or even jacket pattern that would advise using as much fusible interfacing as you ACTUALLY need for making a proper jacket or a coat. Or what about sleeve heads? Extra layer of windstopper material? I really tried following the patterns word by word and always ended up with a mess. It makes me sad, because I believe I am not the only one and some people could really get discouraged by this.

So my coat has windstopper inside the back piece (I could really feel the difference today while taking the photos, since I did not add any to the sleeves, for example), self-drafted sleeve heads (so simple, who would have thought!) and lots of fusible interfacing (I had figured that out with a help from a local seamstress already earlier). I used the Spanish size 42 without any adjustments even after measuring the pattern and myself (this is a new thing I learned at the course!) apart from setting the sleeves a little deeper.

It also has this curved hem that actually made things quite difficult – adding the lining and making it fall smoothly was a lot of work and I know that it is not perfect, but I am happy with it anyway, since it is my very first!

As you can see, I skipped most of the buttons on the front. The truth is only one of them was meant to have a buttonhole anyway so after I sewed on the first one it seemed quite enough for me. However, there is a smaller button on the inside to secure the fronts nicely as they overlap.

The fabric is a beautiful striped greyish-pink with a very soft pile. Some of the photos show the fabric more grey than it is. I used pink piping on the lining attatchment seam.

In conclusion, I am beyond happy – happy about the coat and happy about the skills and encouragement I got from the course!

Three Is Company

Happy New Year!

I have to start the new year with some old news – once again no chance to take photos until now, although I finished and wore the set below on December 21st already.

photo credit: Markus Sein

I usually make a dress for the annual Christmas celebration with colleagues, but this year I knew I was going to be short of time and I thought I would only make two super easy things – a pencil skirt and a sleeveless little top to go with it.

The top is McCall´s 7601, view A and the skirt is Burdastyle 8/2012, model 111 (I have used this pattern before). I must say that this is the one pattern that does not need any adjustments, I need to remember that when planning another pencil skirt!

I used lightweight cotton sateen for the top and I had it in my stash for some summer pants. But when I discovered how well it goes with the brocade I knew I would have to combine the two somehow. The top doesn´t look like much, but it takes surprisingly lot of fabric so basically no leftovers from the yardage I had for pants as the top ate up 1,6 m of fabric!

The front slit is very deep, I raised it by about 5 cm and could raise more but then the bust area becomes too tight. Thankfully there is the bow so it covers up the occasional view of the bra. The next time I would also raise the armscye because I had to choose the bra very carefully for it not to show from there as well.

I am hoping to wear the top in summer as well, with some casual pants and probably not tucked it. For the pencil skirt, I think the tucked in look is better.

Then the idea of a jacket came along while I was making the former two items and I still tried to keep it simple – the pattern is originally without lining. I even decided I would only serge the seam allowances to save time, but couldn´t help it in the end and just two days before the party, cut and sew the lining as well. It is just so much more comfortable and looks fully finished this way, I am super happy I took the time to do it!

The pattern is Simplicity 1421, view A.

As you can see, I omitted the pockets since I think they are a sporty detail and I wanted a more classy look. I think this pattern is great! It sews up really fast (the fabric worked extremely well, too) and is flattering. I might use this one again soon for maybe a more relaxed look.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the outcome as instead of one dress I now have three separates that can be combined with other items I have.

The brocade fabric is simply wonderful, I ordered 6 meters from Italy and if anyone is interested, I have over 3 m of it left and would happily sell it! The composition is 50%PL, 29%VI, 13%MD, 8%CO. The width of the fabric is 144 cm and weight 320g/m. I paid EUR 34/m for it, but I am willing to sell at EUR 30/m! Let me know if you are interested!

Hopefully you have had a great start of the year 2019!

Me and Mini Me

Hi!

You knew this was going to happen, right? 😀

Well, I couldn´t resist! These are the dresses I made for Liisa-Mai´s first Christmas, we wore them already for the childrens Christmas party at my workplace, but definitely will wear them for the Christmas dinner with family as well. I actually have cut out a tie for my husband in the same fabric, we´ll see how this turns out. And then this might be the best use of fabric I have ever managed, although I bought the piece without any clear ideas about 2 years ago. But for the readers in Estonia – I noticed it was still on sale in Kangadzungel!

The pattern for my dress is Burdastyle 9/2013, model 108 (size 38) and for Liisa-Mai, 07/2012, model 145, size 74 – she is 7,5 months old already!

I love that I managed to find two patterns that have identical sleeves 🙂 Liisa-Mai´s dress is a bit simplified, because I realized that if I want to make a tie as well, there will not be enough fabric left after this skirt piece with its pleats and gathers. So I omitted the pleats, which I think would have added unnecessary bulk anyway plus the plaid fabric probably would have hidden them, too. So Liisa-Mai´s dress is just gathered, I used as much fabric as I had which was about 10 cm less than it would have been with the pleats.

I added the piping detail for her dress sleeves and if I had had more time, probably would have done the same for the collar. I also contemplated using the blue fabric for the bodice and then add the collar and fabric-covered buttons in plaid. It would have been really cute, but the blue fabric is 100% synthetic and the plaid felt more skin-friendly. The blue pieces are remnants from my Estonia 100 dress.

For her buttons, I used a special set that I purchased some years ago from Singapore. It is a great way to add some personality to a garment and I think it is especially cute for a baby! There are three hidden press studs down the front of her dress as well.

As for my dress, I shortened it about 15 cm and as you can see, added piping to the neckline, sleeve edges and the curved darts. The dress is fully lined with one of the most luxurious-feeling lining fabrics I have sewn with, a stretch and silky lining by Versace. I used the same fabric for her sleeves as well. It was such fun to see the tiny sleeves sewn up exactly as the big ones!

I am quite satisfied with the plaid match and placement and especially about the fact that although I managed to finish my own dress at a relaxed pace, the final decision to try to make hers for the party was made the previous evening…. I literally attached the last press stud like half an hour before leaving for the party!

I have actually dedicated a lot of time on sewing these past months and there is a big project waiting for its reveal, but it needs final touches and then there is the annual Christmas party for which I am also making a few things. So more to come, just a little patience!

Happy upcoming holidays!

Trips and Tops

Hi!

Travelling with a baby sounds quite horrific to many people and I admit I was one of those who secretly crossed fingers when seeing someone with an infant boarding the plane. However, when I think back to this, I can´t really recall a flight that has been unbearable because of a baby crying, so perhaps it is more an idea in our heads that babies don´t tolerate travelling well.

You may have already guessed where this is going and yes, you are right – we just got back from a trip to Chisinau, Moldova, together with Liisa-Mai. It was work-related for me but I couldn´t have done it without taking my family with me and as my  husband supported the idea from the beginning, we just did it.

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It was the craziest trip in my life so far but not because of Liisa-Mai, who just giggled or slept during the total of four flights, but because we managed TO LEAVE OUR LUGGAGE HOME! Seriously… I would not believe it unless it didn´t happen to me. The airport where our flight was leaving from is about 3,5 hours drive from our home and we even made a stop to feed the baby and change diapers, but did not realize we had only packed her pram and one backpack with her travelling essentials into the car, the other two carefully packed suitcases stayed home 😀

Just try to imagine the feeling upon realization! But there was no time for panic so when we understood that we at least had the passports and boarding passes with us, we decided to fly.

I am still trying to digest the whole experience of our short stay. The most impressive thing was the hospitality of the people we met. The country is by no means wealthy but as one of our group members said – you feel like you are wrapped in warm hospitality as a guest.

The reason for the trip was a long-term cooperation project between the two countries but apart from work, the free time was also organised by the hosts who took us to their national pride – Cricova winery but also to one of the hosts´summer cottage where he makes wine himself. They took the time to show us around as much as possible within the very short time we had available. I was even taken to fabric shopping! And then one of the hosts gave us his own big suitcase to take our several bottles of wine and many boxes of delicious Bucuria sweets home. So as we started our trip with no luggage, we ended up having an overweight suitcase on return!

The fabric shopping was a quick run to one of the shopping centres in Chisinau. It was a very interesting experience, because the whole floor was separated to small nooks, each operated by a different merchant and having their own display and selection of goods. I was lucky to get the chance to go there at all, but of course I wish I had more time to concentrate amidst all this. I got two fabrics which were an easy pick because of the eye catching print and embroidery. Probably it would have been wiser to buy something more wintery, but these were easy to notice in the rush and I really like them. The embroidered piece is the one you can see on the lower right photo.

 

The plan was also to take photos of some of the items I have made in August and September, but since there was no luggage, that didn´t happen.

However, I recently made two tops using La Maison Victor Rumer Top pattern. I am wondering how can it be that I have time for sewing but not for photos. One of these tops was ready long before the handkerchief hem dress that I last posted!

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I made the following version of the top using leftovers from past projects. It feels really good to use up all the fabric! I also made the yellow skirt a few years back and the idea was to wear this outfit for my presentation in Chisinau.

I didn´t have enough fabric for the flounces but I think that´s OK. I felt the shirt would look too plain without any embellishment, so I used a strip of yellow lace on front. My husband teases me by saying that the shirt reminds him of some national costume but he is not sure which country 😀

It is my first woven tee and I am surprised by how comfortable it is! The only downside is the need to iron it.

I also made another version with the flounces, again peasant-style according to my husband! I guess it has to do with the trim that I have hadded but once again I would find it too plain without it.

We tried to take photos of this during our wedding anniversary trip to the island of Saaremaa for a weekend spa holiday but then the weather was so windy and cold that my husband refused to take any photos where I am not wearing a jacket! As a result I only have a few shots.

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The trim itself is as narrow as you can see on the sleeve edge, for the front I just used two strips that are sewn to place back to back.

For both tops I used ready made bias tape for the neck finishing. I cut size 38 and of course it is a very easy project to sew but I am not entirely happy with how the sleeves are set.

The material of the first top is cotton chambray and the flounced version is in lightweight polyester that has a slight seersucker effect. I would say the latter is more forgiving in terms of fit but the top with the yellow trim is definitely my favorite of the two!

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In addtion to these tops I also made something for my husband (also no photos yet) but this is the topic of the next post already!