Bluebell Dress & Catching Up

Hi!

I have so much catching up to do, I don´t know where to start!

Since my last post was about a little Estonian girl needing an incomprehensible amount of money for treatment of SMA, I better share the good news. The money (over 2 million US dollars for the medication plus treatment expenses on top) was collected within about 3 weeks and a week ago she was treated at the Nationwide Children´s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, US. The procedure was successful and she will stay in the States for a few months for follow up monitoring, now let´s hope that the results will be great in long term as well. Thank you so much, who helped either with finances or prayers!

About my own life, lots of things have been going on as well, and if we speak about catching up, then it is the fact that Liisa-Mai turned one on May 1st, so she is already 14 months old by now and just started walking. We celebrated her birthday at home with a barbecue party with friends and family and I pushed myself to finish a matching shir tfor myself and a dress for her. Honestly, I had plans for a fun gingham bowtie for my husband as well, but I ran out of time.

My shirt is Vogue 8772 and while the fuschia gingham was inspired many years ago in Athens by Erica Bunker, the online sewing community´s uncrowned queen (at least in my opinion), the choice of pattern and the fact that I simultaneously made a white version as well, were totally inspired by another sewing community celebrity Emily Hallman.

If you don´t know it yet, she has inspired many to sew in batches and I decided to try it out. I enjoy the outcome, feels like two shirts for the price of one, but the drawback is that the fabrics must be of similar color or you should own two sewing machines, otherwise the constant changing of thread kills the pleasure. In my case, I managed with white thread for both pieces so that was ok.

If it wasn´t for the batch method, I don´t think I would have made two shirts in a row. The continuous lap of the sleeve was something I had never tried, so it was nice to learn something new and get to practice it not two or four times as you would guess, but FIVE because as luck would have it, Liisa-Mai´s dress had the same detail for back slit!

Her dress is from Burdastyle 2/2019, model 131 A in size 80. It is funny, how even a litle girl can understand that she is wearing something different than usually (I don´t dress her in dresses too much, especially until she was not walking yet, the dress would just be an obstacle for crawling) and I think she enjoyed the dress as much as the party. The white details of her dress are made from the fabric remnants of my white shirt!

As already mentioned, my shirts are Vogue 8772 and I guess I will use this pattern in the future again. I cut size 12 and used view D.

I also started working with a very low load already since April and increased it to part time from June. In Estonia the maternity leave is very generous, mothers are paid 100% of their salary for the first 1,5 years but they can postpone returning to work for up to 3 years to stay home with the baby. Additionally, it is possible to make an income up to a certain amount at the same time without reduction in the payment.

So while my maternity payments will continue until November, I chose to work with a small load at the same time. In a way it wasn´t a big change because I had been writing my Master´s thesis since November already and the daily load was similar. And yes…. I finally graduated! The graduation ceremony will take place in autumn and I am not sure yet, whether I will attend, since it means a day trip to Helsinki, Finland, and they have already sent me the diploma anyway. So maybe I can skip making a dress for that occasion 🙂

But I did make a dress for a certain occasion in May. I did not only return to work, but my work tasks also changed and I must admit I am very very happy about it. The new position is definitely less stressful, not necessarily meaning less responsibility, but it involves more planning and thinking long term while the former post was mostly about constantly planning the next week and finding solutions to various issues, often under the pressure of time.

So while generally less stressful, the new position immediately gave me an opportunity to speak at a conference organized annually by one of the leading hospitals in Estonia and that was definitely a stressful challenge for me, especially since I had just started working again. And of course I realized in the midst of preparing for the presentation and also keeping track with the thesis, that I did not have a proper outfit for such an event. You know the rest 🙂 I made a dress!

I never got to take the photos on the day of the conference, but last Saturday my mother in law celebrated her 60th birthday and I got to wear it again and take a few photos this time as well. Unfortunately the blue is not the right shade in the outside photos, the true color is beautiful baby blue.

Since I was competing with time while making the dress, I wanted to use an easy, traced out/cut out/tried out pattern to be sure. The baby blue polyester fabric had been in my stash for about two years (this is nothing compared to the 7 years the pink gingham waited for its turn :D) and it felt good to finally use it.

So I chose McCalls 7539 again (it is the same pattern as the Military Valentine dress), but while in a hurry I forgot to add some length to the skirt. The dress was definitely going to be too short and out of my comfort zone for the presentation. So I just came up with the idea to add a faux second layer to the skirt, so basically the lower part is just attached to the hem of the skirt. I think this solved the issue and it looks intentional.

While sewing, I had some matching blue ribbon lying around my sewing table and I thought it would add a nice touch to the otherwise plain dress, so I attached it to the waist seam.

It is one of the garments that needed relatively little work but offer great satisfaction when wearing. As I mentioned already the color of the dress in the photos, the photos below are more realistic.

Finally, here is a comparative look of the two dresses made with the same pattern:

So while still leaving a lot unsaid, this is a short recap of the background of long silence here. I have bought so many fabrics and my mind is whipping up new ideas for sewing very fast, I only have to arrange my time so that I can realize at least some of them.

Enjoy your summer and happy sewing!

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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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Paper-Bag Waist Pants & The Cuff Top

Hi!

I have no statistics for proof but my gut tells me that these pants were the most made in 2018:

Well, late as always, I made them in the beginning of 2019 and just managed to take the photos 🙂

The pants are paper-bag waist pants McCall´s7726, view B:

They may not look like that, but they are quite baggy, definitely baggier than any other pants I have and although I think they are an interesting change, I feel a bit funny in them. It is a similar issue with loose fitting blouses – I am so used to wearing tight fitting clothes that something so loose makes me feel awkward.

Also, because I think the most flattering length for this type of pants is the slightly cropped one, I struggled with wearing them during the colder season. I mean, what kind of boots would really fit here? I chose ankle boots with a block heel but I think they look the best with shoes.

While I was sewing the pants there was a stage were the pants are almost finished except for the waist pleats. I showed them to my husband and he actually went blank, saying “Hmm, are you sure you cut the right size?” Because prior to the pleats its like size.. I don´t know… 60 maybe 😀 But I cut my regular 12 and took in about 1 cm from the centre back seam for a better fit and after creating the pleats they are just fine even without the belt.

There was a lot of fun going around during this stage as we made bets whether these were Vanilla Ice or MC Hammer pants. With the help of YouTube, we determined these definitely are Vanilla Ice pants. I don´t think I will ever make MC Hammer pants…

The material I use is quite stretchy cotton twill. Otherwise very nice, but it catches every bit and piece of dust and I might start carrying a lint roller with me!

Now for the top, it is probably one of the easiest things I have made but nevertheless I really like it and although it is also loose fitting, I feel very comfortable in it. The pattern is Cuff Top by Swedish brand Assembly Line.

Easy to make and easy to wear, I think I will make more of these for summer. For this one I used a beautiful sky blue cotton chambray I got from Liverpool some time ago. I had more than necessary for the top, but unfortunaly the fabric had defects so I had to be careful with the pattern placement in order to avoid them and this resulted in lots of wasted fabric.

The pattern is, honestly, very expensive, I think I paid about 30 euros together with the shipping, but the delivery was fast and you know how it is sometimes – you just have to have something. If I make several tops out of it or even lengthen it to a dress with an elastic waistband such as on the sleeves, the price per item will go down.

The nice detail is that they add their label to the package, if you wish.

In the meanwhile I have been busy sewing several garments, some are already finished and waiting for a photoshoot, others need a few finishing touches and as always some are just piles of pieces yet. But the best news is that my sewing space got upgraded to its best ever and you will see it pretty soon, I already took some pics!

Military Valentine

Hi!

I finished this dress on Valentine´s Day and wore it to dinner with my husband the same night. Surely could have worn something more feminine and romantic, but there is nothing like wearing a brand new dress!

I am amazed by people who manage to take selfies of nearly everything they do because in my case, getting a photo that I would be satisfied enough with to publish it, takes so many tries that I usually simply do not have that much of spare time. So, as usually, no photos of that night, but the weather was super sunny over the weekend so we thought we could take the photos of the dress outside…. It really was a bright day but too cold and windy to spend more than a few minutes without the coat. So we just snapped a few and they will have to do.

I think it shows in every photo, how cold I was! But I love the combination of the pink of my coat and the burgundy of my dress.

The pattern I used is out of print McCall´s 7539 view B, and I chose it precisely for the collar an chest pockets, because this is what I envisioned when I bought the fabric (for Estonian readers, it is from Kangastuudio!).

The only changes I made were to add metallic snap buttons to the pocket flaps and topstitch the center front seam. I also sewed the sleeve hems just like the dress hem, a visible line of stitches. In addition, the sleeves were a bit too long for my taste, i find it annoying when they reach the base of my thumbs, so I shortened them by a few cm.

The pattern is simple, but due to the stretch of the fabric, the pockets really gave me a hard time and they are not exactly identical, but I gave my best. After the completion of the pockets, everything else went really smoothly and the pattern is a good one in terms of fit as well.

The photos don´t show it well, but the fabric has a nice knit surface while the wrong side is smooth. I think the texture and the color are perfect for such a winter dress.

Until soon!

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!

The Feathery Blouse

Hi!

If you follow my IG account, you have probably seen a glimpse of this already:

It´s a simple blouse, the pattern is from Burdastyle 11/2013, model 103.

As you can see, it is pretty straightforward, no careful fitting or special techniques required. The cuffs could be a bit wider because as they are now, I have to unbutton them every time I want to put on or take off the blouse. But of course being so narrow they create a beautiful bell shaped sleeve.

The sleeves actually have a dart on top of the shoulder and it is not obvious from the technical drawing. The construction is also interesting and simple at the same time because initially you only have to sew a part of the sleeve attachment seam and then close it with one continuous seam on top of the shoulder together with the shoulder seam.

Recently I am very much into this wine or bordeaux shade as the feather print of this fabric. It is polyester and I wish it was rather a mix of some natural fibre because of static electricity but still, could not not buy it when I saw it. I have a beautiful plain fabric in the same colour and I will make a pencil skirt to go with this top.

Speaking of pencil skirts, my husband made a comment when I was halfway done with the blouse and wasn´t sure if this wider cut and bell sleeves are really me. He said that “not everything has to be almost skin tight” 😀 He is right but for some reason I do feel kind of clumsy in wide clothes, especially wide sleeves and maybe this is also the reason why I am not really a fan of floor length dresses either. But pencil skirts… I have thought many times that one day, one day!… I will get an office job just to be able to really dress the way I like. Because I really do like pencil skirts 😀

Anyway, some close ups here as well:

I wear glasses for reading, driving and of course, sewing but normally not through the whole day. But for these photos I wore them for two reasons – they are new and they are the same bordeaux colour! I admit – my phone cover is in this shade as well! And did you notice the shoes? 😀

I used to wear high heels quite often when I lived in Athens because the lifestyle of a Southern European city was very different from my lifestyle now. Plus, in Estonia we normally don´t wear shoes indoors, so to be honest I don´t think I will ever wear the top as you see it with the red heels here. Once I make the skirt, yes, to a concert or a date night but with pants I guess it is going to look more like that in real life:

But those red shoes have leather soles and I just remembered a funny story related to them. We once went to a winetasting date with my then boyfriend (I actually think it was Beaujolais Nouveau Day in November) and totally forgot to think how are we going to get back home after all this tasting and drinking since we drove there but the celebration was in the middle of the week and yes, in this small town in the middle of a winter week you actually can´t get a taxi! And I was wearing my 10 cm heels with leather soles and it was half raining/half snowing outside….. So what did he do? He carried me on his shoulders all the way home, taking several breaks on the way. We had crazy fun and I guess even just this would have been enough to marry him, right?

Tie (Up Loose Ends)

It is a bit as if 2018 is still going on here 😀 Still things to finish up from last year. If you remember this…

… then maybe you also remember I had cut out a tie for my husband to wear on Christmas Day.

And I did finish it minutes before we sat down for dinner, actually the rest of the family even had to wait a bit. Honestly, I thought it is going to be a quickie, but either I misunderstood something or the pattern really is as poor as I think it is.

burdastyle.com

The pattern is Burdastyle 12/2013, model 148. I downloaded mine from burdastyle.com. It seems to me that the part on how to attach and work on the insert to shape the tie are problematic, as it was nearly impossible to hide the insert behind the lining piece on the wider end. Also, if I would ever make it again, I would cut the insert much narrower, not just without the seam allowance in order to be able to make it look acceptable.

Since I didn´t have a wool insert (what is it anyway?) I used a piece of windstopper material that I had left over from a coat (hint!), which worked fine.

For the lining I used the same fabric as for the dresses. You can see how much I hurried from the sloppy hand stitches on the narrow end…

Conclusion? Probably the only tie I will ever make, unless there would be some event so special that I´d be willing to spend another full day on making a matching one with my dress again.

But my husband loved it and the family photos are really fun, unfortunately none with a very good view of the tie, but you get the idea I believe 😀