Pepita, my Love!

Hi!

There are some colors that always catch my attention and I find it hard to say no to – such as olive/khaki green, navy and some shades of pink – and there are prints/patterns that have the same effect on me – stripes and pepita (aka houndstooth).

I feel like any fabric with this pattern is calling my name and so did this one:

The story of getting the fabric is quite funny, actually. One of my sewing buddies shared an idea of a skirt that took lots of fabric and I had just seen a post on FB that someone was selling a suitable one and actually in the exact yardage that she needed. So she bought the piece, but the seller threw some samples in her bag and this is how I found out about the existence of this one. I paid 12 euros for 2 meters and made myself the party dress of this season. The season meaning one party, though, haha! And I know I am lucky because so many people don´t get to go to any parties at all!

The pattern is McCalls 7997 that I bought about two years ago already. I even have another fabric option in my stash that I initially intended to use but that will have to wait. I like the agled front version of this pattern too but didn´t have enough fabric for it this time.

I have been sewing mostly Style Arc patterns lately and their size 10 fits me usually perfectly. As their style is usually more loose fitting, sewing them has been forgiving for my figure. But after stopping breastfeeding in spring but not stopping some bad habits I acquired while pregnant with my son (suddenly I just could not resist cinnamon rolls and dipping biscuits into my coffee), I have gained weight and most of the extra is on my hips. So although I have been sewing size 12 for most of my sewing “career”, I had to cut size 14 from the waist down this time. Not a nice realization for sure.

Nevertheless, I am happy with the end result of the dress, even though there are some mistakes that once again remind me how important is accuracy in the cutting phase – mistakes made there are harder to fix than sewing a few stitches wrong.

By now you may have started to ask about the photos of this post. I usually take photos at home or outside when the weather allows and the problem with winter light (or the absence of it, really) has been bothering me for so long. And I can admit that I was totally influenced by Fehr Trade who when struggling with the same problem, finally solved it by getting herself a small softbox for product photos. It was a lightning moment for me and right away I searched up what I needed from Amazon. And got the same life changing experience, because for just 120 euros (at the moment when I am writing this, you can snag it for 99 !!) I can now take photos with enough light in my own home anytime I want. Just like that.

The set that I got comes with two softboxes complete with bulbs and stands and a backdrop system with two stands and a rod in between with 3 backdrop cloths (green, white, black) and clamps for attaching them. Everything packs into a duffel bag so it is super convenient if there is no space for a permanent studio spot. The setup is easy as well, I did not need any instructions actually.

And last night just before we left for the party, my husband surprised me by setting it up in our spare room (this is something like a chill out room next to the sauna, a guest room with a kitchenette at the same time and now as it appears, a home photo studio!) so I could get the photos done in a heartbeat.

On the left below is how it looked the first time I set it up in my living room (sorry for the mess in the background, I was too excited to try better) and on the right is the set up from last night – I ironed the background cloth this time:

The light is really natural and actually all of my expectations have been exceeded. I haven´t tried it without the backdrop yet, I guess even just using the lights would make a huge difference.

Now, back to the dress. I am really not positively surprised by the armhole treatment of the sleeveless version as per instructions. As I understand, I should have used bias tape in the armhole while also lining the dress. I solved it by just sewing the lining and main fabric together right sides facing. It is tricky to sew, but I think the end result, especially after understitching is so much better.

The other confusing part of the instructions was that the drawings show 6 buttonholes on the front, but the pattern pieces have marks only for three and so does the cover photo and line art of the pattern. At the same time, there is also a marking for an inner button on the left front, but no buttonhole marking to match this on the right! Anyway, I made three buttonholes and used 6 buttons, so the right line of buttons is just sewn on and not functional buttonholes. In addition I put in two snaps that help to keep the bust area in place above the buttons.

Sometimes it really pays off to have a large stash at hand. I did not have to shop for the lining as I have had it ready and waiting for about five or six years already and I bought it from Helsinki. So all I needed was some matching piping (miraculously found the perfect shade locally) and although no one outside my family and my followers will know, I find pleasure in knowing that my black and white dress has such a bright inner side.

I don´ know if this makes any sense, but the dress gives me such 80´s and early 90´ s vibe, how about you? For me this just a fun flirt with that era but could be that someone who was an adult during these decades finds it a bit costume-y?

Anyway, I wish you all a very merry holiday season and that you would be able to spend this time with your loved ones!

A Dress of Two Summers

Hi!

As I type this, it is a rather gloomy, windy and cold day outside with occasional rain. We had an abnormally hot June and July and then August has been somewhat of a disappointment. Therefore I look at these photos with a bittersweet feeling as it seems that another summer has come to its end. They also bring back memories of our fun little family vacation to Narva-Jõesuu and Narva in July.

This dress has somewhat of a funny history. First of all, I call it the Dress of Two Summers because it was as good as finished already last summer. But as you know, I was pregnant until the middle of July and then had the post-partum/breast-feeding body that I wasn´t even sure would ever allow me to wear the dress and I didn´t want to hem it until I knew if and how many alterations it needed. This summer, I finally hemmed it and only decided to add a snap to the front of the dress for extra security although I am actually happy how it fits even without the snap. Another great pattern from Style Arc, of course! It is the Annabelle dress sans the ruffles:

Secondly, the fabric of the dress. I just adore it. I am not sure I have used this word on this blog before. I love the print, the color combo, the slightly crinkled look of it, the feel of it, just everything. And it is also the fabric for the cover sample of McCalls 8104:

I first saw the fabric on this pattern cover when it was released and then shortly afterwards saw it at Abakhan store in Tallinn. Initially I was sure I would make the McCalls dress, but I didn´t buy enough and therefore had to change my plans. It would have been fun though to copy the look, wouldn´t it? And just recently I saw it on sale and grabbed myself another 2 m, again not enough for the McCalls, but I am thinking a flowy wrap skirt one day..?

Anyway, I was a bit meh at first (that means before hemming it) but once finished it has turned to one of the most popular dresses for this ending summer. Just makes me feel nice!

I also think that this must be my first real wrap dress and since it seems to have become quite a habit, I am once again planning to make more with this pattern. Some of the details below:

I think this dress is equally appropriate for holiday as well as workplace, at least for my job. Basically from the office to the beach dress 😀

Talking about beaches, I really recommend Narva-Jõesuu. It used to be the summer resort for many Russian aristocrats before WWII and even now there must be many Russians spending their summers there deciding by the look, style and size of the summer homes. But at the same time there is another layer of history, the Soviet era that lurks around some abandoned resort buildings from that time, mixed with new or restorated old ones that are quite fancy. All in all, an interesting combo of old and new, wealthy and poor, but nevertheless the whole place has a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and the beach is actually breathtaking. A really long (it must be a few kilometers) stretch of sand, the sun dropping to the sea in the evening, cooling water and most importantly not crowded and not too “developed” meaning there is only one beach bar on the actual sand.

I am not such a fan of Narva, though. It is the border town with Russia and it is definitely worth visiting and it has developed a lot over the recent years, but unfortunately as it was basically bombed to the ground during the WWII there is not much left of the historical city center and it feels kind of center-less if there is such a thing.

I have a couple of more projects from summer that I have been wanting to post about, I am hoping to get there before it is already weird! And I have also participated in some workshops that I really want to share about more, but that is also a story for another time!

Until soon!

Vogue 8829 revisited

Hi!

You may remember my recent black embroidered cotton dress and how happy I was with the pattern. In fact, I immediately decided that I will repeat the pattern so soon that I didn´t even put it away from my sewing table. I didn´t have a certain fabric in mind but it came to me by itself if I can say so.

We were on a day trip to Pärnu and since I had been looking for a specific color and size of buttons for a while, I jumped into the local fabric shop to try my luck. And lucky I got! In addition to the buttons I had been looking for, I just took a glimpse at some of the fabrics sold by weight and you know the feeling when your heart skips a beat…. I have always had a soft spot for stripes, but if they come combined with floral, I am pretty much sold! Also, thankfully there was enough fabric because although lengthwise the piece was 3 meters long, the width was only 1,1 m. The shop assistant told me that the fabric is for crafts, but being 100% cotton, it is ideal for a summer dress as well.

If I wasn´t so excited about the result, I probably even would not write a second post on the same pattern (Vogue 8829), but for the second time, it really is a great pattern to work with! This time it went together even faster because I didn´t need to add lining to the skirt piece, the cotton fabric is dense enough.

For the black details, I used the leftovers of the black “sister” dress and thus used up all of the black poplin I was gifted by Black Carrot Fabrics. Since I usually tend to have big scraps, it really feels nice when I can use up all of my material.

I had to wait a few days for the suitable belt to arrive and I ordered two slightly different ones just to make sure one would fit and thankfully one of them really is quite similar in width to the front placket. It really is one of the best feelings about sewing when your vision becomes reality!

On the inside I used a piece of white cotton batiste for the yoke because I was afraid that the contrasting stripes would show through on the outside. Also, as with the first version of the dress, I stitched in the ditch on the front placket as opposed to slipstitching on the inside by hand.

I think I also got lucky that the front placket is about the same width as the stripes on the fabric, looks so much better like this.

Whoever has taken photos in a more or less public place with a tripod and a remote, probably knows that it is not always a very comfortable feeling when people stare at you. Or maybe it is just me? But on the other hand taking all of the photos at home would also be very boring, so as long as there is good daylight, I prefer to take my pics outside, even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone. This time, as well as the last time (for the maxi dress post), I had a little helper and it is unbelievable how much courage a child who doesn ´t question your actions can provide! It has been great taking photos with my daughter (despite the occasional photobombing) and I have enjoyed the playground time after the shoot so much!

Until soon!

The Tie Blouse

Hi!

With little Liisa-Mai around, my wardrobe choices have become somewhat limited as there are too many boxes to be ticked – the garment has to fit reasonably in the bust, fit reasonably in the belly area; be breastfeeding friendly and finally, be suitable for the occasion!

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I realized how few of my clothes are actually button-up or wrap style in order to allow comfortable breastfeeding! The other issue is the belly – I have lost most of the baby weight by 8 weeks postpartum, but the belly is resisting, especially as I used to have a pretty flat one prior to pregnancy (of course I would never have agreed to that statement back then, there was always little something too much in my opinion!) and the clothes were sewn to fit that body, not the one I have at the moment.

The pattern I used for the top above is Simplicity 8601 and it is not breastfeeding-friendly, however it does conveniently have a center front seam! So all i did was adding an invisible zipper to the front seam and omit the back closure. I cut size 14 and used view C for my blouse.

I also did not use the facings, but went with white cotton bias tape instead.

 

I am so satisfied with the result that I think I will repeat it. However, I think three ties on one blouse is a little too much, I would rather prefer either one in the front (and then go sleeveless) or only keep the sleeve ties. My husband also came up with a good idea – to make the front and back piece identical and without the tie – then the blouse would be more like a shirt and could be worn with a belt for example. I need to consider all these options before cutting into the next fabric.

 

I actually prefer to style the blouse with pants instead of a skirt, but we have had an amazing spring and summer this year so far – much warmer and sunnier than usually and of course this makes the long walks with Liisa-Mai very enjoyable.

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The fabric I used is a good quality cotton gingham that a dear friend of mine brought from his business trip to Germany a few years ago. When he gave it to me, I was a little “meh” to be honest, but for this project it is perfect, breathable and I love the light blue color too! I am happy I could find a good use for this old-timer in my fabric stash!

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It is hard to get the shade of this baby blue correct in photos, it is definitely brighter than in the photos taken indoors, however slightly duller than on those taken outside 😀

Some close ups too:

 

Next post is coming soon as I managed to finish a long time unfinished project recently!

Happy sewing!

Stripes N´ Roses Top in London

Hi all!

It looks to me that its a current big thing to have embroidered roses or whatever other embroidered patches on clothes and when I finally decided to realize my idea of sewing an off-the-shoulder black and white striped top, I thought it would be a fun detail to add.

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The idea of such a top is so old that the fabric for it has been in my stash since I left Athens in 2012! In the meanwhile I have luckily bought a serger so I guess it was meant to be merely an idea for such a long time, as it is definitely a serger project!

The pattern is Simplicity 1613:

This time I cut size 10 as I definitely did not want this style to be too loose on me. As a result, it is somewhat tight over the waist and perfectly prevents me from eating too much 🙂

The top has a tunnel and elastic around the shoulders to keep things neat, but I made a mistake there by trying to outsmart the pattern designers – the trick is that the elastic has to be cut long enough to go around the shoulders but tight enough to stay up. It looked to me that the elastic was too long so I shortened it, but this makes the top pop up over the shoulder every time I lift my arms too high. So if you are making this top, cut the elastic exactly as long as the pattern says, then it will be perfectly loose enough not to do that and tight enough to stay put.

I have enough fabric for at least one more such top and it is quite likely that I will make another one since I love the style and I could make the second one fit better in that shoulder area.

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The embroidered rose patch is the iron-on type and I got if off Aliexpress for 0,95 $ and free shipping. The choice is immense, but I got lucky since mine is of excellent quality.

Now you may have noticed that these photos don´t look anything like Estonia and you are right – I had the privilege to take part in a work-related conference in London during the past week and one of my sweet colleagues agreed to snap the photos on our last morning there.

As usually, the time-table during such events is very tight, but there were a few free hours on one day and I took the chance to check out Berwick Street in Soho for some fabrics. There are quite a few shops on that street, starting with Misan Brothers, that offers a beautiful choice of high-end fabrics, up to the Cloth House that has an interesting range of fabrics from Japan. Since their price level was more affordable, this is were I made my purchase.

Misan shop:

The Cloth House:

I got a beautiful kimono-style crepe that has an amazing drape:

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I hope you are enjoying your summer!

Cut Out Shoulder Top

Hi!

I remember when I first saw the model 116 top in Burdastyle 3/2017, I thought: “Gee, I love it, but I would never bother to cut and sew all those bands!”. But the design stuck in my head and a little later I realized I had the perfect fabric for it ready in stash.

116B-032017-M_300x400-ID407020-746784c5c2250b1bbbaf6eb786f90145116A-032017--B_largeI bought the (quite flimsy) cotton batiste with embroidery on one edge last year from a small fabric shop in Tartu and initially planned to turn it into a girlie skirt one day.

However, after all the cutting and fiddling with the bands (didn´t I say in my last post that I am not good at sewing sharp angles? Well, it appears I am not good at sewing round edges either!), I turned it into this top instead:

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I considered using the embroidery pattern provided in the magazine to copy the original design, but the last time I embroidered was in elementary school crafts class, so eventually I decided not to take the risk. I also considered embroidering with beads, but that would compromise ironing the garment and cotton batiste just has to be ironed every time after wash. So the result is somewhat plain, but I hope the wide lace will make up for it!

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I didnt have enough lace fabric for the back, so I just used a piece of plain batiste there.

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Some close ups:

I think eventually it is a better use of the fabric than the skirt would have been, now let´s just hope that the weather will give me enough chances to wear it!

Sailor Top

Hello!

I have been enjoying my Colour Clash Top so much that I decided to make another version of it. Who would have thought!

As you know, the pattern is model 130 from Burdastyle 9-2012.

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This time, I gathered both sideseams of the top. I am not really sure if it was a good idea since this creates countless folds of fabric right on my waist.

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I don´t know the exact content of the fabric, but it is very thin and not really stretchy, an unplanned buy upon a sudden flash of an idea. I only wish I could sew half as fast as I buy fabrics.

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I used a piece of cotton lace for the back neckline on the inside:

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Anyway, if you are in need of a quick sewing satisfaction, this is a pattern I recommend!

Baby Blue Stripe Dress in Berlin

Hello!

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year is rich in travels and the trip of July took me to the German capital, Berlin.

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I have visited Berlin twice before, the last time being 15 years ago and the first when I was only seven years old. I still remember the wall that had been pulled down two years prior, but remnants of which were visible everywhere. Today 1300 meters of it is still erect and preserved.

The trip was a short getaway with my 18-year old brother, and I think we both had fun. He helped me to take the photos of my latest project as well:

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It is model 107 from BurdaStyle 1/2014:

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I made quite a few changes to the original construction. Firstly, because my main fabric is a see-through crochet lace, bought from Vienna last year, I doubled the bodice with beige stretch lining and that saved me from the facing you can see in the tech drawing.

I also turned the the two pleats on the back of the bodice into darts, because otherwise the fit was too loose.

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Thirdly, my version is about 15 cm shorter than the original pattern. I just felt that the gathered skirt looked so much better shorter. Longer, below the knee length looks best when the skirt is more fitted, in my opinion.

As you may have noticed, there is a back center seam on my version. This is due to the limited amount of fabric I had. I guess I could have managed to squeeze even the sleeves out, but I deliberately used a different fabric there.

The dress is very airy and nice to wear in summer, I also haven´t experienced any excessive gaping of the front wrap detail, which I thought might be a problem.

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Some dressform photos here as well:

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Berlin surprised me with two things: firstly, the weather was so moody, it could turn from perfect sunshine to heavy rain within just a few minutes and then back again. Secondly, although Germans are known for their punctuality and precision, trusting the direction signs in order to find the Kulturforum complex, took us to a detour of a good 45 minutes, while the thing itself was a ten minute walk from the metro station we started at.

We visited the fabulous Mario Testino In Your Face photo exhibition and also a great exhibition about impressionist and expressionist painting, Im Ex. Of course we didn´t miss the famous Pergamon Museum, although unfortunately the biggest exhibit, the Pergamon Altar, was sealed for repair and maintenance works.

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When visiting a place, I always try to imagine living there and the feeling I get when I imagine myself being a local, pretty much defines whether I like the place or not. I liked Berlin. We happened to stay in an area loaded with small shops and cosy eateries, packed with locals and took long late-night walks accompanied by the best ice-cream I have had in a while, so it was easy to like this city!

Of course, I always look up some fabric shops. Remembering the trip to Düsseldorf in autumn, when I saw the Karstad shopping mall, I knew that the 4th or 5th floor would also have a selection of fashion fabrics and I was correct. I was lucky, because they had sales going on and I got two fabrics I have been thinking to buy from Estonia, at less than half the price!

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The other shop I visited was a rather small one named Knopfloch in the vicinity of Alexanderplatz, where I got some sewing machine needles. They mainly had jersey and various cotton print fabrics, but nothing that I could no resist.

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A short distance from our hotel, there was also a tiny shop named Frau Tulpe, which opens at 11 on Saturdays so I got there too early and didn´t return later due to lack of time and the fact that it looked more like a craft shop, offering mostly colourful cottons.

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And finally, there is the Turkish market at Maybachufer, which among other goods offers fabrics and trims and notions and as I heard from one local, has the best selection of that on Saturdays.

The prices are really cheap, most of the fabrics I saw were sold at 3 euros per meter, but the selection mostly consisted of cottons, cheap jerseys and some novelty fabrics. I got a nice cotton fabric that looks almost like lightweight denim or linen and some cotton bias tape that sold at 50 cents/m for plain colours and 1 euro/meter for patterned ones.

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As an experience, the Turkish market is really nice, you can also try various foods and I am sure everyone will find something to buy as well.

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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My New Friend

When I got home today, someone I had been expecting for a week already, had arrived. She was patiently waiting by the stairs and I was very happy to find her there. My dressmaker´s dummy!

I had wanted it for a long time, but three things had to happen in order to finally go for it – Stefania wanted me to make her a dress for her sister´s wedding, I had my birthday and thirdly, amazon.co.uk finally had one dummy that they were selling themselves, not via third parties.

Let me explain.

Stefania lives quite far from me and doesn´t have the time to get over here for a zillion dress trials, and I myself am too inexperienced in making clothes for others, so I felt I needed a “body” in her measurements to feel more assured during the process. Secondly, it is sort of a tradition for my parents not to give presents, but make a bank transfer on birthdays, so I can decide on my own. Thirdly, I had been looking around for a dummy for some time, but at the local haberdashery stores here, they are quite expensive. The cheapest I have seen was 169 EUR!

As you must have understood by now, I am a devoted Amazon customer, having bought nearly everything from ceiling lamps to underwear from them over the past few years. They also sell a variety of dressforms, but always via third party, who either don´t want to send such a thing to Greece or charge too much. Amazon itself doesn´t charge any shipping fee to Greece when one spends at least 25 pounds so you can imagine how delighted I was to see that they finally sell ONE dummy on their own.

They hadn´t added the measurements of the dummy to the product description so I spent one day waiting for them to go and get the information  and get back to me. I knew that this model comes in two sizes, S and M and was praying that they would have stocked the S. Which they had!

So it took 70 euros (!!!) and a week of waiting for the dummy to get to my door. Perfect! It is even more satisfying that the price has increased and not decreased during this time, so I am really enjoying myself right now 🙂

So seems the dummy (I think I should actually give it/her a name), standing there and wearing one of my dresses already:

And without the dress:

I know that it is not the best out there, but I guess it is still better than not having it at all. The downside is that it is made of hard plastic covered with thin fabric, so that I cannot push any pins into it, just through the fabric layer. Secondly, it could be adjustable at the waist as well. Right now the waist changes according to the chest and hip adjustments. For my body this works fine, but if I would want to make a dress for someone with a very straight body, it would be difficult to adjust the dummy very accurately.

So far so good, we´ll see if and how much help I am going to get from this sewing buddy!

PS If anyone is interested, then the dress the dummy is wearing is Simplicity (Cynthia Rowley) 2215. I haven´t had a moment to write about it yet.