Ikat Party Dress

I wish you all a very happy 2015, may your hopes and wishes come true!

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I wasn´t able to find a quiet moment in the hectic but nevertheless enjoyable holiday period to blog about some of the recent finished objects, but found the time today, on the first day of the new year.

It has become somewhat of a tradition to make myself a new dress for each holiday season and 2014 was no exception.

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This time I was looking for a suitable pattern for the ikat fabric I got from Istanbul in spring. The problem was that due to the busy pattern of the fabric and the fact that I only had 1,6 m of only 80 cm wide fabric, it had to be really simple. In the end, I decided to try a totally new pattern, from the book Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress: Patterns for 20 Garments Inspired by Fashion Icons.

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The pattern I used is a variation of Kate Moss inspired dress:

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According to the size chart, I cut size S, but if I decide to use any of the patterns from the book in the future, I will cut a size smaller for sure, it was too wide everywhere. Thankfully the pattern is simple, so it wasn´t a big problem to take in on both sides.

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Although the pattern instructions don´t call for a lining, I added one, because the ikat silk is very thin and delicate. Actually this was the hardest thing about making that dress – trying to tame the extremely fraying material. I used up the last remnant of my favourite lining fabric – the black stretch I got from Poland some time ago. Since it was a remnant, I didn´t get enough length for my lining and I used a piece of beautiful lingerie border lace to finish the lining hem.

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Attaching the black sequins one by one was actually quite enjoyable, although it took me a few evenings during the busiest pre-holiday days at work. As you can see, the last row is double on one side and single on the other, I don´t even know if this happened because of the sequin-placement or if the collar piece is slightly wider on one side. However, it doesn´t bother me since it is nearly impossible to notice unless one is specifically examining the dress. The sequins are only attached to the front part of the collar.

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By the time I write this, I have been wearing the dress on several occasions, since the end of the year has been full of parties and concerts and I have loved wearing it every single time. The only fear I have is that it may not last very long as the fabric is so delicate.

I am also super satisfied with the first pair of comfortable party shoes, they are model Claudia by Dune London:

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This years holidays have been very special and I have enjoyed every moment. I even managed to squeeze in a short city trip to Amsterdam as well, more about this soon!

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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Colour Blast Dress

I hope every one of you have had wonderful holidays so far! With only a few days left until the end of 2013, I am posting somewhat of a conclusion of the year together with the last finished project.

The year 2013 has been life-changing for me. My engagement ended in a separation in spring, and just before the end of the year I got promoted at work. I also traveled to six different countries this year, the first trip being in May, which actually makes six countries in six months! In addition I met a bunch of new people plus some totally unexpected old acquaintances have reappeared in my life.

Sewing-wise, the highlight of the year was definitely being published in Burda German October edition.

I hope the new year will be as colourful as this one was, hopefully with better luck in personal matters, though 🙂

Here is the dress I made for our traditional Christmas party with the colleagues:

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The pattern is Burda 06/2013, model 110, the photos are from burdastyle.com:

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As you can see, my version has short sleeves, mainly because I didn’t have enough fabric but also because the dress is loud enough already.

The fabric is from the work trip to Zurich in September and when buying it, I didn’t have a clear vision of what to make of it. It is very elastic and there was also only one piece left so I was very limited in my options. But in my opinion, the crazy colour explosion and elasticity of the fabric demanded ruching and this is the reason why I picked this particular pattern.

I cut my regular size 38, and didn’t need to make any alterations. The pattern is quick and easy, the only difficult thing was that I was sewing it step by step for a few hours after work within a few days and got pretty tired.

I cannot say it is my favourite dress, but I am pleased that I managed to sew it up on time for the event and found a way to use the rather complicated fabric.

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The Christmas party itself was a lot of fun. It took place at an old manor and nearly everyone from our hospital was there, 100 people out of 120. We had a live band, tasty food and also danced a bit.

For me the event was also special, because in addition to my own dress, there were another two dresses made by me! Because we had a professional photographer taking the photos, I will have a photo of all the three dresses together to show in January.

I have already shown the one made for my dear colleague Kadi and here is the other one for Mari:

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The pattern I used is the same as for my Paisley Dress, Burda 7739, view B. Because the main fabric is a rather thin cotton that I thought would start clinging to the body, I fully lined the dress.

I hope all of you had a year that brings a smile to your face when you think back to it and that the new one would be even better! Happy holidays!

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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The Disco Dress

Hello everyone!

I am usually all into colour and if I buy black shoes, for example, it is always out of need and not because I like them. The same goes with clothes and I recently realized that when it comes to sewing, I have only made a pair of black trousers and that´s it.

Nevertheless I have gathered some black fabrics in my stash and as always, when I buy fabric, I already have an idea what to make of it. The idea might change over time and sometimes the realization of it may take a really long time. I think this is quite common among hobby sewists, we keep piling up fabrics and patterns, but the pace of actually creating the garments is always way slower.

The black polyester jersey of this dress was at first meant to be used for the aforementioned pants, but I decided that I needed a heavier and thicker jersey for the pants so this fabric was left behind. The silver stretch lycra was a remnant I got for a few pennies last year on my holidays to Estonia (I was still living in Greece then). I knew I wanted to combine it with  black for a disco dress!

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The real push for starting to actually make the dress was a concert  I attended several weeks ago – once hugely popular dance music group called 2 Quick Start had their 20th anniversary tour all over Estonia and as one of their most popular songs is called “The Girl in the Black Dress”, I thought it would be nice to sew it up for that occasion.

But as I had my parents visiting, I never made it to the end with the dress so it was left aside for two weeks or so, until the past weekend when we went dancing with a few friends and colleagues. I managed to finish the hem on the last minute!

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The pattern I used is Burda 2006-5 models 121/122:

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Some of you may recall that this is the pattern I used to make a maxi dress for my friend Laura last summer. I think it is great how versatile the pattern is!

This time I followed the pattern more closely, for the front I cut the pieces separately, but for the back kept it in one piece. I also tapered the skirt part a bit, as it seemed to me it would look nicer with such fabric combo.

I used tiny zig-zag stitch to sew most of the seams and twin needle for the hem and neckline-armholes.

The dress is really easy to make and I like that although it also looks simple, there are some nice details, also on the back side.

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I was out dancing all night with the dress and enjoyed it a lot! It is great to sew something and have the opportunity to show it off immediately!

As the summer nights here are not always very warm, I combined the dress with a sequined knit sweater for the walk home.

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Out Of The Closet: Heart Shape Button Dress

One day I was scrolling through my blog (which I have been keeping now for a year already!) and discovered a dress I had kind of forgotten about.

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I promised to write a post about it back in September, but never got to it, one reason being that I moved to Estonia shortly afterwards and only the last month here has been giving enough reason to think about summer dresses; and secondly, I am not exactly thrilled with the dress for purely emotional reasons.

I was extremely stressed the time I made it (in late 2011) and I believe this is the reason why I have been wearing it only a few times, it just brings back memories. Purely objectively thinking, I think the dress is beautiful and I really liked the fabric when I bought it, but nevertheless, it is never the first item I pull out of the closet.

The pattern is Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 2215, view A.

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I cut size 12, but the bodice part of the dress was extremely long, which I somehow failed to notice until it was nearly completed. For a moment I even thought of dropping the project, but then realized that I could fix the problem relatively easily by ripping the shoulder seams, cutting off approximately 2 cm from front and back pieces and stitching again. Because the bodice is lined, doing this was not too much fun, but after this trick, the dress fit just fine, so it was worth the trouble.

The fabric is viscose, and also found really cute heart-shaped buttons. It was my first project with buttonholes and it took me a few tries with the first one to get it right.

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The pattern is not too difficult to sew, just a lot of patience is needed with the countless pleats on the skirt.

After a very long time, I wore this dress for a barbecue evening with friends and I must admit, it is very comfortable. So comfortable, that I was riding my bicycle with it!

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The Rosy Dress

This dress was actually finished the night before my trip to Austria, but I didn’t have the chance to take the photos earlier than today, either due to the lack of time or weather conditions – it started raining heavily the moment I thought of taking the photos and it happened a few days in a row!

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The dress is Vogue 8849, view B.

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As usual, it was the fabric that caught my attention. It is stretch cotton and I got it at the local fabric shop. If anyone is interested, it is also available online here. Anyone who would like to go the easy way and just buy a dress made of the same fabric, can do it here.

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As the instructions demand, the bodice is boned at the front and side seams. I used Rigilene boning and sewed it to the seam allowances of the lining. The dress is fully lined.

The pattern itself is relatively easy to sew, but as almost always with the Big 4 patterns, I had to take in quite a lot in the bodice part, although I cut my regular size 12 according to the measurement chart.

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The lace trimming is my own addition, just felt like the dress needed it!

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I did face a big problem with the dress, though. My lining fabric has no elasticity while the main fabric is stretch. I ignored this obvious problem until I reached the point where I realized it will not get me far – the lining was so tight that it simply didn’t come over my hips while the dress itself fit well.

After some brainstorming I decided to add a triangular piece of black lace to the back center seam of the lining and although it is still really tight, I can wear the dress now. It is not the most orthodox solution, but I refused to rip the whole dress apart at that point and if I didn’t mention it here, no one would know anyway!

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I am planning to wear the dress with my red heels, but since a lot of my shoes (especially summer shoes) are still in Athens, I had no choice but to take the photos with the blue ones.

When it comes to Athens, the news is that me and my fiancé finally broke up. The relationship did not endure the stress due to the current situation in Greece and the distance after I moved to Estonia.

It is not exactly good news, but I have given it a lot of thought and for a number of reasons I think maybe it was the best solution in the end.

I still have a bunch of good friends in Greece and hopefully I will visit Athens sooner or later again.

All the best to you all!

Chain Print Blouse

A while ago I showed you my favourites from Patrones 318, among them the following blouse, model 16:

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I liked it, but at the same time thought that it would be slightly boring to make. That was until I found a fabric that immediately brought this pattern to my mind.

At first I wanted to be ready with the project by my colleague’s birthday party, but traditionally was short of time and finished the last buttonholes and sewing the buttons the day after the party. This is the result:

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As there are no darts and no princess seams, this blouse was really easy to make. Once again a pattern from Patrones fits me perfectly, I cut my usual Patrones size 42. Due to the simplicity of the project and the type of the fabric, I decided to give French seams a try. It does require some extra work, but I really like the result. The garment looks very tidy from outside as well as inside. Here is a good tutorial that gave me assurance for finishing the armholes with the same technique.

The hardest part was the buttonholes. Not because I wouldn’t know how to use my sewing machine, but I was hoping to finish right before the party, started to rush and as a result messed up a few times.

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The skirt I am wearing is from summer, more details here.

I also tried to style the blouse for a more casual look. I am not really sure about the 70’s style jeans, but decide for yourself.

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As you can see from the photos, the sun is really intense. We have had some really nice days here in Estonia, I can feel spring approaching and the days are longer and longer. It is nice to wake up and see the sun rising. The darkness of  November and December seems like a bad dream now.

Another piece of good news is that thanks to a tip from a cousin of mine, I got myself another sewing dummy! It is actually a decoration mannequin from a shop that is moving to new premises and they are selling their mannequins for 10 and 20 euros (20 for a tall stand). As normally they only sell clothes and accessories, I didn’t take the tip very seriously. Especially because although it is a chain of shops, the mannequins were allegedly for sale only in Narva, the easternmost town of Estonia, where the majority of inhabitants are Russians.

But a colleague of mine has an adventurous mind plus we have two curious Austrian students practicing in our hospital right now and they also got excited of the plan. So we basically drove more than 300 km to Narva and back to get the dummy. Of course we did a lot of sightseeing as well, but the whole idea started off the tip from my cousin.

A few photos of the trip here:

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The dummy is a female shape in proportions of a Barbie doll. The waist circumference is 50 cm while the bust is nearly 90! But in order to photograph my projects it is just fine.

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And finally, the shoes you see here are both Nine West, first the Pugnose, and secondly the Oh Dear wedges:

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The Wavy Top

I have completed the first item of 2013!

It should be a few hours’ work normally, but it took me a few days because I worked very slowly, bit by bit after work and when my friend Sirli came over for the weekend, I excused myself for a moment to finish off the sleeve hems so that she could take the photos.

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It is the popular Burda September 2012, model 123A top.

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Burda september 2012 model 123a

I remember seeing the design and the first idea was to make it with faux leather shoulder details. I was a bit surprised seeing this sewn up in many ways, but no one made it with faux leather, until one very nice version showed up on Burdastyle.com, it should be visible here.

The fabric I used is a lighter type of ponte knit, I grabbed it just a few days before leaving Athens. It was available in three colourways, blue, grey-black and red. The blue seemed to be the most popular by far, it was selling out fast and I managed to get the last 1.7 meters off the roll. I regret not getting the red version as well.

I also regret not thinking ahead and making it into a dress, using the same pattern. I cut the top a bit longer to see, if I would go with the view B of the pattern, that has gathered side seams and only then did I see the potential for a great dress, but the fabric was not enough anymore. In general, due to the stripe match-up, I spent more fabric on the top than I would normally have. Now I am debating whether to try and make a skirt that would combine the faux leather and the remnants of the fabric, so that I could wear the two separately or as a set. I am not sure, because I don’t have much of the leather left and I might want to use it for some other projects as well, so if the skirt will not be a success, I will end up with two wasted materials. We’ll see.

So, I used ponte knit and after reading some reviews, decided not to make an opening on the back. I used bias tape instead, which made the neckhole a tad less elastic than the ponte knit would have allowed, but it is exactly large enough for my head to pass through and at the same time will probably not stretch out. In order to use this technique, I had to sew through the faux leather details as well, which only gave me one shot to get it right, because if I had to rip the stitches afterwards, the details would have been spoiled.

Another issue was that if the faux leather is facing towards the metallic plate of the sewing machine, the teeth of the machine ruin the material completely, as it gets stuck there. In order to avoid that, I placed some scraps of pattern paper under the leather parts and everything went smoothly!

The sleeves and lower hem was finished with a double needle stitch for stretch and more professional finish. I remember reading a review saying that the sleeves are too long and this was also the case with me. I had to shorten them approximately 4 cm, so basically I didn’t have to add any seam allowance. My regular Burda size 38 was fine this time as well, no other adjustments were necessary.

Burda September 2012 model 123A

Burda top

Burda September 2012 model 123A

Burda September  2012 model 123A

I am very satisfied with the result, I think it a versatile item that can be combined with many other things in my wardrobe and it is also very comfortable. Also, I have spoiled some striped projects in the past, but this one is lined up, even the sleeves are exactly the same!

Some close ups and a casual look:

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Burda Wavy Top

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For those interested in the footwear, the boots are super-comfortable Gabor Rinkata, the latest addition to my beloved collection. It seems I have a thing with suede leather…

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The blue suede shoes are Nine West Tariko, another grab from Athens just before coming to Estonia.

Nine West TarikoIn addition to the satisfaction of a new garment, I had a very nice weekend, chatting non-stop over a bottle of wine on Saturday evening and having a relaxing time at the local pool today, finishing it off with the best cakes on Earth from a tiny coffee-shop in Haapsalu. I thought to take a photo, but when the freshly made cakes were served, everything else was forgotten!

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Out Of The Closet: Plaid Whirl Skirt

The weather here in Estonia has been from one extreme to the other in a very short time – the photos in the previous post were taken two weeks ago… and check out the ones I took today!

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I actually prefer the snowy extreme to rain anytime, the past two weeks have been magical, snowing nearly every day and turning the world into a fairy tale scene. It is also much lighter like this, even the little daylight we get  is reflected back by the snow.

The first month has been very busy at work and I get quite tired by the end of the day, so I haven´t been sewing as much as I would like to. There is a party dress coming together (I am hoping to make a post about it soon) and the poor coat is still on halt. I asked a friend in Athens to go and see if she can get an extra meter of the fabric, because I feel that the beautiful material and effort I am putting into this project is worth it. I can´t accept spoiling it, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that she can still find the fabric and since I will have a holiday in the end of the month, I would maybe even be able to finish it by the end of the year.

Today I am showing you a skirt I made a year ago, so still pre-blog. There is no pattern for this, just instructions to make one. It is from Burda Easy Fashion autumn-winter 2010 issue.

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Burda Easy Fashion AW 2010 skirt

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The first time I wore it was for the Christmas gathering of the Estonian Embassy in Athens last year. I will miss the one this year, but hopefully the Christmas party with work colleagues will make it up! We will have live music, food and drinks and I think it sounds promising. Also, it will be much fancier, I wouldn´t wear this skirt there. Actually I am hoping to wear the new party dress I mentioned.

So, the skirt. It is pretty straightforward, it is a full circle skirt made up of two identical pieces and has a side zipper. The waistband called for a buttonhole, but I decided to make a loop instead. I also made it longer than the Burda version.

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I am not really sure I cut the fabric correctly, because when the skirt falls freely, the plaids run differently from one side to the other. Then again, when I lift it up, it looks precise… I have no idea, maybe it is impossible to cut plaid fabric in full circle and get it symmetrical?

I really like the colour combination though, and I think it was very appropriate for the event at the embassy, because blue-black-white are the colours of the Estonian national flag!

Because of the full circle, hemming the skirt felt endless. I used double needle for a more professional look. But at  the same time, the full circle whirls so nicely!

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The boots are Greek brand Hunter again. I still regret I didn´t get them in silvery grey as well, because they are comfortable and I often get compliments when I wear them.

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