Discovering Stockholm

Last weekend I had a chance to briefly visit Stockholm.ImageImageImageImage

My mom and her two friends needed a fourth person to fill the cabin for a short cruise to Stockholm and I thought some fabric shopping in Sweden wouldn´t hurt, so I joined in.

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I have visited Stockholm before and seen or visited the main attractions so this time I decided to look for fabrics and just enjoy the day.

I was so busy at work before the trip that I had no time to run a proper search for the stores so I ended up with a few I found on a random post on a discussion thread somewehere on a website, I cannot recall.

What I like the most about fabric shopping while on a trip is that it makes you go to areas and places that you would most probably not visit as a regular tourist. This is why going back to a city you have visited before can be even more enjoyable because you are free of the pressure to see the most important tourist attractions and landmarks.

With a map in my hand and a metro ticket in my pocket I ended up in Södermalm, to find a tiny fabric shop that I knew from my internet source was owned by a Greek couple. The shop is called Karmosin, they also have a very basic website here.

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They bring their goods from Italy and the little place is stuffed with rolls of different fabrics, from wedding dress silk to plain printed cotton. They are also selling some dresses, that have been sewn using the fabrics on sale. Although the selection is not huge, I found a beautiful heavier type of polyester for a dress or a skirt. I love the color combination:

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It was a very nice experience to speak Greek after some time away from Greece and not having used the language on a daily basis.

The other shop I was looking for, was called Red Thread in English, but I was directed to Red Cross charity shop when I asked around 🙂 I also didn´t have the precise address and was already ready to leave to go to Gamla Stan, when I suddenly noticed a sign across the street that read “tyger”. Somehow I had connected the dots and realized that this has something to do with fabric (actually it means “fabrics” in English, I now know). So I decided to check it out and ended up in a little paradise.

The shop was called Söders Tyger and they really have great stuff there! A huge selection of all types of Gütermann thread, loads of cotton fabrics in all imaginable prints, great buttons and of course, sewing machines.

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Of course I could not leave empty handed and it turned out to be one of the rare times where I have an idea or pattern already in my mind and then I get the fabric as well. Usually the process is opposite, the idea appears the moment I touch the fabric,

This time I was thinking of trying to make tight fitting jean-like pants for summer (Burda magazine produced a very appetizing pattern like two months ago) and I kept my eyes open for a suitable weight stretch fabric. This is what I found:

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I also got a golden coat of arms button for the pants and some Gütermann thread.

I really enjoyed the day, although I was wandering the shops alone as my mom took part in a tour and one of her friends went shopping at a big mall.

Now I just hope to find enough time to get to sewing soon!

 

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Poodle Blouse in Istanbul

I spent the last week in Istanbul, or as Greeks still call it, Konstantinoupoli!

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The aim of the trip was a work-related scientific conference with a rather full program – from 7.30 AM to 6 PM and this from Monday to Saturday, but nevertheless, I managed to see some highlights of this amazing city.

I was especially lucky because I had a very helpful local guide (and his friend who actually works as a tour guide!!) who showed me and one of my colleagues around after the conference sessions. The local guide was a former PhD student from Turkey whom my father, who is a professor at the university, supervised several years ago in Estonia and I had his contacts after he came over for dinner in my parents house once. We had chatted maybe a few times during the past years over social media, but when the conference was confirmed, I told him I would be in town and he turned out to be extremely hospitable.

I didn´t go to Istanbul empty handed, I wanted to use this opportunity to take some photos of my lates sewing project in a more exotic environment than usually.

Do you remember this fun poodle print silk crepe de chine from my trip to Helsinki?

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Just in time for Istanbul, I turned this and a scrap of plain black crepe de silk into this:

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I have used this pattern (model 16, Patrones No 318) once before, and also wore it at the conference:

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As you can see, this time I omitted the sleeves, the result of a long debate with myself – since after my first fabric shopping in Helsinki and pre-shrinking the fabric, it lost exactly enough length and width to forbid me from cutting the sleeves, I bought somemor on my second trip….. just to decide against the sleeves in the end.

Since the shirt is so easy to make, having no darts whatsoever, it was a good project for my first ever silk sewing. To my surprise, the fabric behaved well during the process and I am especially proud of the buttonholes, that are perfectly in line and equal in size. I don´t know if and when I will ever be relaxed while sewing them!

I used French seams for shoulder and side seams and at the armholes I just folded the fabric over twice and sewed.

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Some close ups back at home:

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Of course I looked around for fabrics in Istanbul as well, but I wasn´t so lucky with this. Some of my colleagues had randomly wandered around and reached a square somewehere between the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, which was surrounded by fabric shops and actually a bronze statue of a fabric merchant unfolding some fabric was standing in the middle of it, but I didn´t manage to find this wonderland.

Instead, I found a well-kept outlet at Grand Bazaar, selling Ikat silk and silk/cotton mix. Also some other traditional fabrics, but after a lot of thinking, I ended up with 1,6 m of hand-loomed silk ikat, which is exceptionally wide  – 80 cm. You can see me holding it in the next photo:

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As you can see, the decision wasn´t easy, but I am very satisfied with the result. Believe it or not, but this is the only fabric I bought on this trip!

Walking down on Mahmoud Pasa street, I discovered some shops selling all kinds of crazy lace and glittery lycra, but I did not really stop by there. Then there were also countless shops for buttons, ribbons, bias tape and whatever you can imagine, but I cannot buy these notions without a certain fabric and pattern in my mind, so no shopping here, either. I guess there will be a moment where I will regret it, though 🙂

ImageImageImageGenerally, the whole experience of the city, as much as we could see it besides the lectures, was wonderful. The traditional tulip festival (tulip is the national flower of Turkey) was in full bloom with unreal color combinations and thanks to the local friends, we managed to drive around even at night, when, I dare say, the historic city center looks even more impressive.

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Fabric Shopping in Helsinki

As promised, I will give an overview of my little fabric shopping in Helsinki over the last weekend of Feburary.

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As I didn’t want to overwhelm my friend Triin, I just visited the tried and tested Eurokangas in the center of the city. It is the same shop I bought the super cool Cavalli fabric from last spring. I have actually started sewing that dress too, but made a mistake with the pattern choice and now I have to work my way around it somehow, hopefully sooner than later, because it is just too beautiful. But i digress.

So, I got really lucky this time in Helsinki too.

Altogether I got four fabrics, the first one being a pale pink poodle print silk crepe. It is very lightweight and a little transparent, but I think it will make a fun blouse. I am planning to use the same Patrones pattern as for the Chain Print Blouse , but make the necktie and cuffs in black silk, which I also already got from Helsinki.

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As the tag said “designer silk” or something like that, I tried to find more information online and to my big surprise stumbled upon a blog post featuring a vintage Escada top in the exact same print and shade, in silk satin. I wonder if there is a connection with my fabric.

Secondly, I bought a wonderful shade of lace print polyester (actually I am not 100% sure, I might make a burn test to reveal its true nature, since I suspect it being silk, too).

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I just love this shade of green, I have several matching shoes and boots and as always, I already have a certain idea how to use this print. Just back at home I realized that I need more of this fabric, since the lace print requires special pattern placement. Luckily, I will be back in Helsinki for work this week and I hope to be able to find more of that fabric, otherwise I have to rethink the project.

The best find in my opinion was this wonderful Just Cavalli polyester print:

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ImageThe print repeat for this beautiful thing is 1,55 m, and I only got one length, hoping to squeeze a blouse out of it, using the big design in front and if necessary, making the back out of a different material. This will be a challenging project and I have vowed to finish the Cavalli dress first to have a clear conscience.

There is also a fun fact about the fabric. As we visited the modern art museum Kiasma, I noticed a calendar for sale in their museum shop. What caught my attention was the wave print on the front cover (picture from calendars.com):

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And this is how I learned for the first time about Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849), “one of the last great artists of the Japanese Ukiyo-e tradition of the Edo period. His world famous image of the wave and other woodblock prints influenced a whole generation of modern painters because of the uniqueness of perspective and form”.

I have to admit I didn’t know anything about this world famous artist and his prints, but I think it was a great way to find out 🙂 In the first photo of this post you can see me unrolling another beautiful Hokousai-inspired Cavalli fabric, but I am not a big fan of pale yellow, so I left this one behind.

The fourth fabric is a simple dark blue ponte that will beome a skirt to match some tops I have recently made, including the Plaid Peplum Bustier and Cross Stitch Rose Top. Unfortunately the photo doesn’t do it justice, the colour  appears much lighter:

ImageNow I am all excited to start working on the fabrics. I still haven’t touched the ones I got from Rome, either, so lots of projects in my head!

In addition to fabric shopping and modern art, we went to a classical music concert and to a tango evening with Argentinian songs, music and unbelievable tango dancers.This week’s trip will be work related, but I will have a moment to hop by the fabric shop as well.

 And I can’t wait to meet Triin again!

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Rome, The Magnificent

Hello!

I am just back from a trip to Rome, a wonderful city full of history, elegance, amazing fabrics and the best coffee and ice cream I have ever had!

I spent five days exploring the city and I can say it was not even close to enough. It made me want to return and explore even more, without the weight of the “must-see” list of a first-timer.

Apart from the obvious attractions, I had my personal agenda of fabric shopping, too. But even if this was not on the list, I would have stumbled upon some of the most spectacular fabric stores anyway, since they are right in the heart of the city.

As always, I ran a small search on internet before the trip and this time I didn’t have to dig deep as I found this article from NY Times, and also the Selfish Seamstress very informative blog entry.

As most has been said in these two writings, I am not going into too much of a detail with the whole experience, but really, Bassetti Tessutti is overwhelming. I wonder if they actually know what they have as the place is a real labyrinth of fabric rolls from floor to ceiling and the ceilings must be around four meters high.

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Nevertheless, I managed to ask for something they did not have – stretch lining, something like I got from Poland in summer. This thing is amazing and great for somewhat heavier, yet elastic fabrics like cotton sateen etc.

A very helpful shop assistant who introduced himself as Massimo, dragged me through the whole place through seemingly secret passages between fabric bolts, showing the best they had and letting me slide my hand over all imaginable kinds of silks, but they were all out of my reach in the means of budget. Besides, I will not line a rather ordinary dress with the best Italian silk, right?

So in the end I bought 1.7 meters of brocade, which, if it is enough for the pattern I have in mind (I didn’t think of the large print while buying), will be my next winter party dress.

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Following the tips from Selfish Seamstress, I also paid a visit to Fatucci Tessuti at Via dei Falegnami. The variety here is tens if not hundreds of times smaller, but thus less intimidating too. This is what I got:

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The first is medium weight stretch silk, exactly as bright as you see it and claims to be Armani, the second one is a beautiful shade of blue viscose-cotton blend, tagged D&G. I haven’t been able to find anything on internet by D&G in this fabric, but the sticker on the bolt seemed trustworthy. Nevertheless, I loved it and it is also available in striped version.

There is a third fabric store in the same area, named Azienda Tessile Romana. They have an impressive wool selection, starting from thin crepes and cozy pontes to coatings.

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If I hadn’t already spent a three figure amount on the other fabrics, I would have got a dressful of wool ponte, around 60 euros per meter.

To sum the fabric tour up, I would say that a sewist definitely doesn’t need to throw a coin into Trevi fountain to make sure that she would return to Rome!

In addition to fabric shopping, I also did lots of sightseeing and was lucky enough to have some interesting exhibitions in town during my visit, namely Modigliani and SoutineCezanne and the Italian artists he affected and finally a photo exhibition dedicated to the 125th anniversary of National Geographic.

A few photos of the trip here:

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The Black Swan Dress

Here is the second dress I made in October, for one certain occasion – to celebrate my 30th birthday with a special present I made myself – Ludovico Einaudi concert in Copenhagen.

As some of you know, I didn´t really celebrate the round number with a party and decided I would enjoy an event like this much more. The decision was made in the first days of September already and I am so happy I made that choice! The following photo is taken at the Koncerthuset Copenhagen on November 2nd, I guess it shows that I am completely excited.

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I used McCall´s 6460, view D vith a few modifications. I cut size 10 at first and realized to my horror that it was too tight around the hips. I was lucky to have enough fabric to cut another dress, still size 10 at the bust but slightly wider at the hips.

As I was about to throw the smaller version away, a colleague of mine said that she would like a similar dress and that it would probably fit her, so my next project will be sewing basically the same thing for her as well!

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M6460a I decided to sew the invisible zipper only on the fabric part of the dress since I thought the zipper would not look very nice on the transparent lace. At first I believed one small button would do the job on the lace, but I ended up with four, since the lace was gaping awfully. I wish the back would look more professional (there are gaps between the buttons), but on the other hand the small buttons can also be considered a special detail, right?

By the way, the following photos were taken the day after the concert and after having cycled (yes, it is Copenhagen after all!) from one bar to another at night. The dress tolerated it all and I didn´t even iron it for the photoshoot!I know it shows that I am still sleepy, that it is quite cold and windy, but just try to concentrate on the dress, ok? 🙂

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Another big alteration was using a lining. The main fabric is fraying like crazy and I knew I would not like the inside of the dress like this, even though I bias taped all the seam allowances. So I used some of the super comfy black stretch lining I got from Poland in August. This makes the dress look nice from the inside as well and I think the fit is much better, no clinging to the body and it has a nice move when I move.

I used French seams for the lace everywhere and lace trim to finish the neckline and sleeves.

I had to make the sleeves a lot narrower than the pattern suggested because I think lace sleeves should fit tight.

The main fabric and the lace is from Athens and as I recall the fabric was like 6 EUR/m and the beautiful lace only 3 EUR/m. This makes me want to visit Athens ASAP! (By the way, it is these days a year ago that I returned to Estonia after seven years abroad!)

It took me a long time to finally make a decision what to make out of this fabric. I love its texture and I wanted some simple pattern to show it off and at the same time not to be too boring, so I think the lace is a good companion to it.

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I spent four days in Copenhagen and had a wonderful time, visiting Ordrupgaard art museum where the current exhibition was of James Ensor and Arken museum of modern art where I was lucky to see an exhibition of Frida Kahlo. I also did some bar hopping, dancing, celebrated the Christmas beer, shopped for fabrics, saw and listened to Ludovico Einaudi and on the last day visited the viking ship museum in Roskilde. Sounds like I was running around but it was a smooth sequence of absolutely enjoyable events.

 In my experience, Copenhagen is not the number one destination for fabric shopping.  I shopped at the Stof 2000 like last summer (you can see the post on my last visit here) and to my great surprise discovered another shop at the train station in Ishøj, on our way to Arken museum.

The owner was selling everything at 30 DKK/m, which is approximately 4 EUR/m, extremely cheap. As I was in a hurry, I was not able to concentrate very well and so I only got 1.5 m of some cotton plaid fabric. Now that I have figured out what I want to make of it, I need more!

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This is Stof 2000 from the outside, (right in the center of the city, very close to Nørreport train and metro station) and the thick jersey with houndstooth and diamonds print that I bought:

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And a few more photos of the trip:

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AN UPDATE:

As one of the readers asked for more details on the dress, I am adding a few more photos and a short description of the lace trimming on the neckline and sleeves.

The lace trimming itself looks like this:

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For the finishings of the dress I folded it lengthwise:

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I used the same technique for the back  as well and made the loops for the buttons the same way:

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There is no trick for the curves that appear, it is just due to the lace being under tension, if there were no buttons, the would be one big opening on the back.

And lastly, a glimpse of the inside of the dress. Here I just used the same pattern for the lining as for the dress itself and sew the lace part in between the lining and the main fabric, then understitched the lining to the seam allowance to keep it put.

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Lucky in Zurich

Those who follow the blog, know that I recently had the chance to spend a few days in Zurich for a conference, but also had some free time to explore the city and get a souvenir fabric as I always try to do.

It should be no secret that Switzerland is super expensive and the same goes for fabrics. I had looked up just one fabric shop, because I knew I could not make my colleagues follow me on a fabric hunt and neither would I have been able to afford one in this city.

So the choice was the Bernina store on Talacker street. As the name goes, it is mainly selling Bernina sewing machines and then some fabrics and notions on the side as well.

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I would have loved to shop for a sewing machine, but for several reasons I just concentrated on the fabrics 🙂

At first it seemed that I would walk out of there empty handed, because everything was too expensive (average price range in euros was from 25 to 40 euros per meter) and because of the small choice I didn’t see anything that I instantly liked. Until my colleague pointed out a basket of decent sized remnants which were discounted as well.

I got lucky and found a very elastic bright print viscose fabric that has kind of a powdery surface, I love the colours and the feel of it, but it is one of the rare times I did not have a certain style or pattern come up in my mind. I am still not sure, so I am open to any suggestions. I am thinking of something slightly drapey.

ImageImageImage Apart from being super expensive, Zurich was quite fun. A few photos here:

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In addition to all this, while in Zurich, I turned 30!  I am not too thrilled with celebrating birthdays, so it was a quiet one as well. But the German Burda October issue that was waiting for me when I got back to Estonia, was definitely a great birthday surprise!

Lucky in Poland

Hello!

I am back from a wonderful trip to Poland!

I loved the country, beautiful places, beautiful nature, good food and much lower prices than in many other European countries.

I was with a good friend of mine and we visited Warsawa, Krakow, Lublin and a smaller town Szwzawnica close to the border of Slovakia. Since there are basically no borders between EU countries, we cycled to Slovakia for lunch one day!

Of course I had prepared a list of fabric shops in every town, but ended up shopping in only one, because I managed to be late to most of the others!

So, I saw two shops in Warsaw and shopped at this one. It is a small store, but they have a nice variety of fabrics from cheap polyester to really nice good quality wools and silks.

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What got me really excited, was the large choice of colours in STRETCH linings, at a very good price. So I ended up getting four colours, 1,5 m of each.

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I also got 1,7 m of knit fabric in a very cool colour combination and last, but not least, a fabulous cross stitch print crepe!

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As always, I already know what I will make of each fabric, but since there are so many projects in my head and so many fabrics in my stash, I will tell you when I finally get to them!

Another shop I visited in Warsaw downtown was Mimoza :

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I didn´t take any photos of the inside, it is a tiny shop and it felt kind of inappropriate.

They have very beautiful and great quality fabrics, but the prices are accordingly high. Probably due to their central location, the stretch linings here were also more expensive than in the first shop.

A little photo gallery of beautiful Poland:

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In a few days I will be in Zurich, for work reasons, but I hope to have a chance at least to take a look at some fabric shops there as well. I don´t know if the prices will allow me to buy anything, though! We´ll see!