Cold Shoulder Hot Pattern Top

Hi!

The month of September is coming to an end and what a month that has been!

The latest high emotions come from the sunny holiday in Greece, which for me was extra special because it was the first time back there since returning to Estonia four years ago, after having spent five years in Athens.

dscn0058

We started from Athens in order to see the mandatory sights and I also managed to squeeze in time for a couple of friends, whom I hadn´t seen all this time! Then we hired a car and drove to the island of Evia, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. It is not so well known as several other Greek islands, although it is the second largest after Crete, but we had a marvellous time nevertheless. Since the high tourist season is over, there were only a few people at the organized beaches, but we even avoided that by discovering completely secluded beaches that were only for us to enjoy. This is real luxury!

I managed to make two new pieces for the trip and the top you see here took me exactly a day from cutting the fabric in the morning to finishing it at around 10 PM. Of course I took breaks as well for cooking and eating and packing (since our flight was 3AM!), but it was such an enjoyable day, a true holiday doing only the stuff I love and really nothing else!

The pattern is HP 1196 Metropolitan Urban Gypsy Blouse from hotpatterns.com, my first ever pattern from them and it turned out to be a great experience! I discovered the pattern thanks to probably the most productive and inspiring sewing blogger, Erica Bunker, whose version is here!

hp_1196_metropolitan_gypsy_tops_env_f__75782-1446825885-1280-1280

Since I started contemplating making the top just a few days prior to the actual acceptance of the challenge, I purchased the download and print-at-home version of the pattern.

I cut size 10, but as you can see, it is really generous and what actually matters the most, is the shoulder circumference. The fabric is a piece of chambray that I got from Berlin last year, for like 6 euros!

Similarly to Erica, I had no issues with the pattern, it is actually very easy to sew up, but I suggest following the instructions carefully, as everything will turn out beautifully and there is no need for shortcuts, as eventually they will become obstacles when finishing the top. I almost tried to switch the sequence of hemming the sleeve ties and assembling the sleeves, but I quickly realized that sticking to the instructions is the easiest and shortest way.

dscn0007

The shorts that I am wearing are also made by me, several years ago back in Athens, actually, take a look here.dscn9967

I used bias tape bought during the same trip to Berlin to finish the seam allowances, but I didn´t have enough for the hem. I wish i would have realized it earlier, since I would prefer the hem to be finished with such a cool plaid tape instead of the plain white that I had to go with eventually. I also created tabs for the curved hems meeting point at the side seam in order to give it more strength.

While in Athens, it would have been unimaginable not to go to the numerous fabric shops, not much has changed since I wrote the post on this topic. I got a piece of white cotton batiste and 2 meters of nude tulle craziness – I really hope I can turn this into a dress combining it with sharp black. In addition, I got two pieces of fabric for cushions-to-be for our house.

dscn0410

dscn0411

Now, I realize this is a sewing blog, but I still cannot hold back the other big news and events that made this September so memorable. Firstly, as you might know already, I am a big fan of Ludovico Einaudi, and have been attending his concerts in Copenhagen and in Helsinki. Shortly after we returned from Helsinki, I discovered that he will be performing in Tallinn on my 33rd birthday! There was NO WAY to be absent from this, so in an instant we got new tickets for Tallinn too 🙂

I have no photos of the concert or before or after, although we had a great night with friends, I can only say that I was wearing the Black Swan Dress as I did for my first Ludovico concert.

The reason for no photos is actually so controversial – I was too excited and too emotional that night because my boyfriend had decided that he no longer wants to be my boyfriend and he asked me to marry him just a few short hours before the concert! But no photos of that night, would you believe?

So I will just share a few from Athens, the rest of the trip together with a new dress is coming soon in the next post!

 

dscn9963

dscn0128

dscn0105

 

Out Of The Closet: Taffeta Stripe Dress

When I saw this striped polyester tafetta fabric on a trip to Estonia back in 2010, the perfect pattern for it immediately popped up in my mind – Burda Easy Fashion spring/summer 2009 dress. This particular magazine is one of my absolute favourites since I would still like to make most of the models in it. There are two versions of this dress in the magazine, one of them with a bow belt:

This is my fabric:

And this is my dress:

ML003

ML001

ML002

My dear friend Tiina, who is a photographer (her works can be seen here), took the photos of the dress and we had a full session, playing around with different accessories:

ML004

ML007

I enjoyed sewing this dress very much, the pattern has a great fit, no alterations whatsoever were needed. The only downside was that the fabric is not very forgiving – once the seam is sewed, the stitch marks stay and if you need to pick the seam, the marks cannot be removed by pressing or anything. On my dress, they are visible on one of the side seams of the skirt, but in order to notice this you have to look for it, so I am not letting myself be bothered by it.

Because this project was my very first using a fabric with stripes, the bodice and skirt stripes do not match up. It didn´t even occur to me to check it until the dress was nearly completed 🙂 But as all of the “Out Of The Closet” items that I am showing you are the first I made after a break of several years in sewing (and prior to that I was a teenage sewist, not paying too much attention to anything, I didn´t even press the garment while in process!), it taught me a valuable lesson. Because of this mistake, I only wear the dress with a belt, so that the discontinuity of the stripes doesn´t strike the eye.

The Easy Fashion also suggests sewing a tulle petticoat, but I didn´t since I am happy with the puffiness of the skirt the way it is.

Although the dress was finished in 2010, I wore it for the first time in February 2012, for the reception of the Independence Day of Estonia at King Georges hotel, organized by the Estonian Embassy in Athens. It is a very nice tradition to invite all the local Estonians and I attended every time. The tradition continued this year as well, but as some readers already know, I am currently in Estonia and couldn’t participate. Here is a photo from February 2012:

And last but not least, two close ups:

DSC05108

Out Of The Closet: Bow Tie Blouse

This blog was not started the day I made my first garment and therefore there are quite a few items in my closet that I have made some time ago already, but nevertheless love to wear and share with you.

As I am in the middle of a huge change in my life (post about it will come soon), I will probably be less “productive” for some time at least, but in order to keep this blog alive, I will post some pre-blog projects until I restore a more stable rhythm of life that allows me to continue with the hobby.

The first in line is this bow tie blouse, based on Burda Easy Fashion A/W 2009 issue blouse/tunic/dress pattern. I haven’t been able to find a technical drawing online and at the moment I don’t have access to my pattern stash either, so for now, just this hard-to-interpret Burda photo:

 

AN UPDATE:

This pattern is one of the few I have used more than once. By combining details and materials, it can be used for so many different garments that it is nearly impossible to recognize that the basic pattern is the same.

Now that I look back at this project, I wouldn’t say it is very difficult to make, but the front detail really requires patience and precision. I think I would be able to get a better result now, but that’s how it is with sewing – you constantly get better and more skilled and at some point might revalue the previous achievements.

Despite the little errors on the blouse, it is one of my favorite items in my closet (unfortunately it doesn’t mean also the most worn) and never goes without compliments, even from men and even when the person is not aware that I made it myself. When my fiance proposed to me on a trip to Pilio mountains in 2011, I had packed the blouse with me for a night out. So, the very first photos of us newly engaged are with me wearing it and needless to say, it has become somewhat of a keepsake.

The fabric was bought from Estonia, back when I was still able to limit myself to “one fabric at a time” rule. It is polyester charmeuse, with a powdery shine. I thought such a fabric, with the tiny cream dots on it, was crying out for a bow tie pattern. I couldn’t really imagine it any other way and still can’t.

I cut size 38, but I would say that it could do with a little bit of more ease in the bust area, I have to choose the bra very carefully when wearing the blouse, since with anything push-up-like, there is a danger of popping a snap open. Yes, although the blouse has buttons, it is actually snaps that keep it closed in front. Remember, this is an Easy Fashion pattern (the snaps were suggested in the instructions) and back then I was not ready for trying to make buttonholes. A mistake, as I learned later, since they are actually manageable!

The most difficult part was sewing the pintucks. The pattern first makes you sew them on a rectangle piece of fabric and then cut out the front yoke pieces. The fabric is quite slippery and measuring the distance of the lines and sewing them up took me forever.

I really like the sleeves, there are eight (!) pleats on each sleeve, two of them opposing and lining up at the shoulder seam. The sleeve end is gathered with an elastic band in the tunnel.

The following photos show how I like to style the blouse, I think a fancy riding horse would be a nice accessory :):

The boots are a Greek brand named Gianna Kazakou, as I notice now, they have a surprisingly decent online shop and deliver outside Greece as well.

Drape Drape Drop-Waist Gather Drape Dress

Try reading the title out loud, it reminds me of some articulation drills for children 🙂

Nearly a month after my birthday, I finally sat down to make the first dress from the Drape Drape 1 book I was gifted for my birthday. The teal knit fabric for the project was also a present, so there was a very positive vibe to the whole process.

The pattern is No.3 in the book, Drop-Waist Gather Drape Dress.

I had seen a few versions in the internet and all of them looked nice and flattering, so I was hoping mine would be a success as well.

The reason why I was kind of late to start with the dress is that the peculiar pattern design was a bit scary at first. Of course, when I finally decided to face it, I realized that it could be one of the easiest patterns I have worked with.

As it consists of only one pattern piece, the fabric is cut on fold, there is just a little gathering and stitching to do plus if you use knits you can skip the zipper, I would recommend it even to absolute beginners. The seam allowances are also marked on the pattern and within a few hours´work, anyone could make this cute little dress.

According to the size chart, I am size XL (makes me NOT want to go to Japan), but it is quite loose-fitting, maybe a size smaller would have been better. And a tad longer, because right now I only see myself wearing it with super thick tights, more like a tunic.

I don´t know about others who have tried it, but mine is shorter in front than in the back. At first I wanted to rip the basting out and correct the hemline, but then I looked at the pattern and it seems to me that this is how it is supposed to be. Also, because the dress is generally quite short, I thought it wouldn´t look nice even shorter in the back.

Nevertheless, I am positively surprised and happy with the dress and I believe you will see a bit longer version of it in a different fabric pretty soon.

The weather in Athens is by no means suitable for tights and knit dresses yet, making the photo shoot a tough task. This is also why I am squinting or looking on the ground in most of the photos, the sun was too intense 🙂

I thought that the Tamaris Blistar ankle boots I have would be a perfect match to the dress, but now I see that the fabric is more towards blue than green. I think the blue shoes match even better. They are Calvin Klein Kalina, I only found a photo of the black version though. I am crazy about blue shoes, especially blue suede shoes!

photo from amazon.co.uk
photo from sarenza.co.uk

Burda Stretch Pants

I remember the moment when I saw Elaine’s terrific leather-ponte combo pants. My heart stopped a beat and I decided right there that I have to have something at least remotely similar.

Well, deciding to want something is one thing, but it can be a long way to finally wear what you imagined. But I think I managed in the end.

I didn’ t trust my drafting skills enough to do it the way Selfish Seamstress did, so I had to dig around until I could find a pattern that would allow me to make something similar.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, in winter and early spring there was a long pause in my sewing and in pretty much everything due to some serious things going on in my life. I discovered the suitable pattern much later in BurdaStyle March 2012 issue and by that time had to make a special order from France to get the magazines I had missed and which, after a long time, contained some really interesting patterns.

I think the people at Burda haven’ t really made the most of this pattern (model 126, March 2012 issue) for the magazine. The photo below is the reason I always open a fresh BurdaStyle in the middle where the line drawings are.

The pattern is quite similar to the Helmut Lang pants that inspired the Selfish Seamstress. There are no side seams and each leg consists of three pieces (four, if you consider the divided front piece two).

Since I probably wouldn’ t be able to pull off the leather pants look, I decided to make mine in doubleknit, with some fake leather details. The very first plan was to cut only the front leg details of fake leather, but in the end I also cut the side yokes of the same material and I think it was a good idea.

I didn ‘t expect much of the pattern because several sewists haven’ t been exactly happy with the fit and I was sure I would have a problem as well. The pants turned out to be a little wide around the waist and hips (according to the Burda size chart, my hip measurement should be size 40 or even 42 and based on experience I always cut size 38, and these were still wide!), but that was easy to fix.

A much bigger problem was caused by the fact that I must have cut one of the three leg pieces slightly off grain. This resulted in the good old spiraling pants – the seams were twisting around my calf and it was especially obvious due to the design of the pattern.

I knew what was the reason, but still, hoping that there might be an easy way out or that the twisting might be caused by a different mistake (which hopefully would again be easier to fix), sat down and ran a little search online. Well, it had to be the grainline issue, which most probably happened when I cut out the pieces from double-layered fabric and didn’ t notice that the lower layer was slightly off.

It was rather difficult to determine, which of the three leg pieces was responsible for the twist and of course I couldn’t rule out the possibility of having more than one piece off the grain. Finally I tried my luck with the side piece. But as I had ran out of fabric, I had to go and buy some more of it, wash it, cut the relevant piece etc… a lot of trouble, but I didn’ t give up.

I think I hit the spot of the problem, because after changing the side panel, the twist was gone!

The fake leather I used is the same as for my obi-belt, it has a nice fabric backing and it is slightly elastic, which I figured would match the doubleknit well enough.

As said, I cut the size 38, slightly adjusted the hip and waist width and omitted the back welt pockets altogether. I have never made them yet and I didn’ t want to put this project at more risk.

The pants could have a better fit, but generally I am happy with the outcome, they are wearable and fun. Some could say that maybe they are a tad too short, but this is the way I liked them. I tested them with several shoes and this length seemed to be the best in my eyes.

I didn´t want to stitch through the leather while hemming the pants, so I only stitched the fabric part and used fabric glue on the leather which worked perfectly because it is fabric-backed.

The Sundress

As you may know already, this dress has been finished for about a month, but there was a problem with runaway buttons.

The buttons finally arrived right on time, because the weather here has turned back to summer, giving me a chance to finally wear the dress. The temperature has been around 33 degrees the past few days, so when Stefania and Giorgos asked me to spend a weekend over at their house, we also spent one day at the beach, swimming and feeling as if it was the end of July instead of the last days of September.

Here is the dress:

I cannot say I am entirely happy with the dress and the main reason is that i couldn´t handle the fabric very well. Firstly, matching the plaids and secondly, the fabric is kind of three-dimensionally wavy. It was quite hard to make the pattern pieces keep their shape when sewing. Thirdly, it makes me look pregnant at certain angles and this is not exactly the look I was going for. The fabric is so lightweight that it just doesn´t fall at all and therefore the front gathering puffs the dress up right under the chest.

I guess if I had matched the shoulder straps as well, the general impression of the dress would be much better, but the time I was sewing the dress, I actually thought that since it is generally a bit mismatched, it would be ok.

Anyway, I have undrestood that the flaws and mismatches hurt the eye in the photos more than in real life. I notice things that I didn´t think were there before and it can be really frustrating. Maybe It would be a good idea to take some photos before the completion of the item, in order to spot the mistakes on time?

The pattern I used is New Look 6046:

In my opinion, the colourful plaid fabric was asking for a childish design and I decided to go all the way, by adding a full mock button panel (the buttons are just for decoration). In order to do this, I split the front gathering to two, leaving just enough space for the button panel.

The pattern is easy to work with, it was the fraying, plaid, wavy fabric that caused me the trouble. I cut my regular size 12 and had to take in a little on the bodice side seams.

The bodice is lined (as per pattern instructions) and I also bias-taped the seam allowances.

Button close-up:

The shoes I am wearing are Moschino Jeans all-leather flats that I got for a ridiculous price (seriously, depending where you live, I spent the equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee on these shoes) at a local shopping mall last sizes sale a few years ago. I haven´t been able to find a photo online, so I took one myself:

 

I think the starfish and seahorse details match wonderfully with the dress because of the playful colours. The colours are actually exactly as on the dress, but right now I am having a very complicated relationship with my old laptop, as it refuses to run some of the programs properly and the modern laptop is on a trip over the Atlantic 🙂

Fabric Shops in Athens

Yesterday a funny coincidence occurred – at some point during the day I had the idea of helping travelling sewists, who would like to buy  some fabric on their trip to Athens, by giving directions to the relevant shops.

And as I checked the statistics of my blog later on, I saw that someone had stumbled upon my blog with search term “fabric shops in Athens”. Sadly, that person had to leave empty-handed.

I will not point out all the shops one by one, as they are all very conveniently gathered together in a small pedestrian street in the center of Athens. This makes it easier for the travelling sewists to get their shopping done without putting too much pressure on the non-sewist co-travelers. The latter can either take plenty of photos of the nearby tiny but nevertheless picturesque Kapnikareas church or get dizzy in the busy shopping street Ermou.

The first map shows directions from Monastiraki metro station, blue and green metro lines run there:

The second map shows directions when coming from Syntagma metro station, blue and red line:

Once you are in Kalamiotou street, it is impossible to miss the fabric shops because all of them have rolls of fabric presented right outside their doors. You can find everything from home decor fabrics to fake fur and silk.

You will notice that most of them have no price tags at all and this is the tricky part. Basically they can ask you any price they want, so I suggest taking a look at several shops and ask for prices for similar fabrics, to get a better picture first. You can try bargaining, which will probably be successful, especially if you buy more than one fabric, something pricey or just a large quantity.

I cannot promise that the shop assistants (in most cases actually owners) speak fluent English, but for sure they will try to help you as much as they can.

The prices generally are rather good in my opinion, you can expect to pay around 6 to 10 EUR/m for doubleknits, synthetic charmeuse and stretch cotton sateen. Silk fabrics are around 18-25 EUR/m.

For more fabrics and notions, there are a few good shops here, in Perikleous street (notice that it is just around the corner from the previous shops), directions starting from Syntagma, via Perikleous to Kalamiotou:

There is also one shop in Ermou street, Kalaviotis, that has buttons, linings, zippers and other notions. You have to go downstairs to the underground level to find these things, as on the ground floor they sell some garments, Crocs shoes, umbrellas and underwear (don’t ask me why such a selection!) The address is Ermou 8 and it is in the beginning of Ermou street when coming from Syntagma Square.

I will try to remember to take my camera with me the next time, to illustrate this post with a street view photo.

Here are a few photos of Kalamiotou street and the interior of one of the shops:

 

I hope this helps!

Burda Colourblock Dress

In winter and early spring we had a very rough time because of a serious health issue in the family and the general situation in crisis-hit Greece, so I didn´t have the time and energy even to look at Burda Style magazines for a couple of months, and of course when I finally came around, they had suddenly come up with some great patterns in February and March!

I managed to order these issues from Abo Press, France eventually and it seems they will be my favorite Burdas for a long time. It was also nice to get them in English, it is way easier to follow the instructions, because although I read Greek, the Burda instructions are notorious and I can certainly decipher English better than Greek.

One of the patterns that made me go through the whole ordering process was this colourblock dress, Burda February 2012, model 117b:

I also loved Amanda´s version and actually I was pretty sure that I would not copy the Burda colour scheme. But as I was fabric-shopping in Estonia in summer, I saw a suitable jersey in lime and changed my mind.

I made the last stitches on this dress on my birthday. The plan was to show the dress on the blog and then forget about it for some weeks at least, because it is too early for it here in Greece. But surprisingly enough, the chance to wear it came already yesterday!

I had arranged to meet my friend Anastassia, who happened to be in Athens for the weekend (another christening!) at 10 AM for a coffee, and although getting up early in the morning has never been my strong side, it was even more difficult yesterday, because it was raining outside, the air was cool and getting out of my cosy bed seemed not an option. But then it dawned on me that this could be the first chance to wear my new dress and out of the bed I was!

Because of the grey weather, the photos are not the best in terms of colour and clarity, but I hope they will do.

The dress was quite easy to make, apart from some stupid mistakes I made during the process. The mistakes were mainly due to the fabric looking exactly the same on both sides and so I managed to sew up something like a colourful chessboard, before I realized I had joined the wrong backs and fronts. So, it was easy to make but took me longer than it should have.

I omitted the tucks on the shoulders, as I liked the way they were without them and used an invisible zipper instead of the exposed one that the pattern calls for. I like the exposed zipper idea in general, but because I used it on one of my dresses already, I decided against it this time.

Another change that I made was omitting the snap fasteners in front. Since the dress has a zipper on the back, I don’t see a reason for leaving the front open at all. So the final stitches I made, was sewing the front yellow piece onto the beige from the inside, on the outside it still has the overlapping effect. I feel that this way the dress fits much better as well.

I cut size 38 and the fit was perfect, which was a relief, because otherwise it would have been difficult to make the colour blocks run smoothly at the side seams. The hemming was done by hand, so the stitches are not visible on the outside.

I am thrilled with the dress, because it is SO comfortable and I think it can be dressed up and down very easily by changing the footwear. Yesterday I wore it with black/silver leather flats in the morning and since the shoes got soaked, I ended up wearing the dress in the afternoon with wellies (rainboots), to meet another friend! The wellies were a bit extreme I guess, but I hate to have wet feet, so I didn´t really care.

The shoes that can be seen in the photos are Pump & Circumstance Nadine leather flats, very comfortable and although I purchased them last year from Amazon, I have noticed that metallic cap-toe shoes are around a lot recently.  I guess the silver leather toes of my shoes kind of fit the trend as well!

Another idea that still has to wait for colder days to try out, is to wear the dress with black matte tights and these Calvin Klein Karla booties that I absolutely love:

I don´t know why really, but the pewter-silver footwear seems to be the best for this dress, maybe because of the grey skirt-block.

By the way, I am so happy with the outcome, that I already got fabric to make the same dress in another colour combo! But that will have to wait a little, since right now I am working on Stefania´s dress and keeping fingers crossed for a good result!

The “Wedding Dress”

I cannot find a better name for this dress, because it was made for a wedding where I had the honour to be among the guests and because both, the bride and the groom, Tiina and Paap are my good friends and I was as excited as the bride, I guess.

As always, everything starts with the fabric in my case, and this time it was this beautiful cotton sateen in Athens. I find it difficult to describe the colour and after some google search, I would say it is caribbean green. Oh well, you will see it in the pictures anyway.

It was one of the most enjoyable projects I have made, probably a combination of a good pattern, easy-to-work-with fabric, its beautiful shade and the purpose.

I chose Simplicity 2053, view C, minus the flower:

It was easy to make, maybe I mostly struggled with the pleats in front – a lot of basting after a lot of line drawing on the fabric. Because of the sewing instructions, I couldn´t really try the dress on before it was nearly finished. I was SURE that it will be too tight around my hips. But it was perfect!

The dress is a pleasure to wear and the wedding was simply amazing. I don´t think I will ever have the chance to attend something comparable. The venue, the weather, the atmosphere, the couple, the officiant, the party host, the food, the table decorations, the band, the cake… just not enough words.

As I said, I was probably as anxious as the bride, so I forgot to take any photos of the dress that day! But the photographer was one of the best (if not the best) in Estonia and I hope I will have a really nice one to show you, posing with the couple. The photographer was Annika Metsla and her blog entry on that fantastic wedding is here. It is worth checking out!

Today I had an opportunity to wear the dress again, this time for the christening of little Giorgos. And this time I remembered to have some photos taken!

The shoes are Bourne Frida in crimson, that I got from amazon.co.uk last autumn.

The christening took place at Panagia Faneromeni church in Vouliagmeni, one of the posh areas of Athens and the reception at Astir Palace hotel nearby. The church is very new and they have managed to combine tradition and modern architecture beautifully, it is full of light and gives a feeling of serenity. Even little Giorgos didn´t protest too much when the priest soaked him in oil and water!

Because of the event and lots f people we had to greet, I didn´t want to run around with the camera, so if anyone is interested, a few photos of the church from the outside can be seen here and here.

This is the view from the reception area of the hotel:

It was a windy day, so please excuse my hair in the last photo! The little white ribbon on my chest is a small pin that was given to every guest at the church.

I liked that my dress coincidentally matched the colour theme of the party :), here is the boubouniera (a small gift of sugar-coated almonds or chocolate beans given to every guest at Greek weddings and christenings):