My self-drafted midi skirt

 

I tried my hand at a self-drafted skirt, using a floral fabric with a lot of body. It was a cheapie so I wasn’t too worried about cutting into it without a pattern. It’s just three rectangles that I box-pleated. I overestimated how big the pieces needed to be and ended up with about a foot of extra fabric.

I can’tseem to get a perfect hem. There always seems to be a twist in the fabric. I’m thinking it might be a problem with the grain. I did use a very wide hem to get a nice hang on the skirt and did an invisible hem using my special presser foot.

Ok here it is. Excuse how wrinkley I am. I have no excuse to offer you.

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Unfortunately the twist in the hem is right in the front. Bahhh!

Despite its imperfections, I like the skirt. I love the pockets that disappear into the side seams and It has a nice shape because of the fabric. It feels both vintage and modern somehow.

I’m sure I’ll get better at drafting patterns because I’m starting a pattern construction course next week! The course, at Folkuniversitetet, is 7 weeks long on Tuesday evenings. I’ll learn how to make basic slopers and adjust them to create different designs and patterns. I’m really excited! Folkuniversitetet also offers a draping course that I’d love to take. Can you tell I’m a bit obsessed?

…coming up next…my TWO newly-sewn faux fur hats…as soon as I get off my ass and photograph them 🙂

 

 

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A Green By Hand Anna Dress

Sometimes the fabric comes before the pattern. As soon as I saw this weird cotton lawn at Ohlsson’s I knew I wanted to make a long dress.

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From a distance it looks floral, vaguely asian, but close up it’s just plain bizarre. Skulls? check. Checkerboards? Check. Handprints and dinosaurs? Yup. Just the kind of fabric that screams long elegant dress.

I chose the long version of the By Hand London Anna dress. I probably should have lined it but it works without. It was also my first project using my serger. I’m slightly scared by the speed and potential violence of my Bernina 700D, but man is it ever cool.

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Behold my innards. And geeky library book about serging.

I love the way the dress turned out. Iona kindly took some photos at a T-Bana station.

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You know, maybe I’m completely deluded, but I feel that I look way cooler and sexier in real life than I do in my sewing blog photos. Trust me, k?

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The Anna dress sews up like a dream and the bodice is just sooo pretty. I’ll be making another long one next summer for sure. It feels like wearing pajamas while looking elegant at the same time. Perfect.

Sewing clothes for work…I got my first job in Sweden! Wardrobe planning Part 1.

Yup. I’m a contributing member of society. After a year in Stockholm I finally got a job as a substitute teacher at an English middle school. If you’re wondering what took so long…well, it is difficult to get a job in Sweden if you’re not fluent in Swedish but I was also not looking very hard, partly because I enjoyed being a happy homemaker, and partly because I got stressed out and depressed when I started job hunting. But that’s another story. What’s really urgent now is sewing some work clothes!

Over the last year I pretty much stopped buying clothes. I felt guilty spending money when I wasn’t working and tbh, I wasn’t doing much that required an extensive wardrobe. Also, like many new sewers, I was getting more and more turned off by fast, throwaway fashion and the sweatshops that produce it.

But now I need clothes! The way I used to deal with a new job and new work clothes was something like this: I ran around the mall like a deer caught in the headlights and came home with a bunch of clothes that didn’t fit very well, weren’t really my style, made me feel like a kid playing dress-up and were eventually consigned to the back of the closet never to be seen again.  Ever been to a university job fair where all of the students/jobseekers are decked out in their job interview clothes? Everyone looks uncomfortable, immature and vaguely robotic. That’s me when I hurriedly buy work clothes.

So this time I’m going to do it differently. I’m going to sew as much as I can. That way I’ll be able to use higher quality fabrics than I could afford if I bought from the shops. I can also get a perfect fit-something that I rarely found off-the-rack. And it’s going to be fun.

Now how to get started.

Inspiration is as good a place as any…

My job required me to dress professionally but I’m also need to be comfortable. My co-workers wear everything from jeans to shirts and ties. I need to be comfy but I also know that I feel better when I’m a little towards the dressy side.

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My go to outfit is a pair of comfortable wide leg trousers (or dressy jeans) and a fitted shirt. I always feel good in this outfit and it’s flattering on me. Now to find a good sewing pattern for wide leg trousers. Any suggestions?

I also love making a dressy piece look easier with something casual like a tee or denim. Something like this:

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I’m thinking a By Hand London Charlotte Skirt and a screen printed tee:

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The library at Kulturhuset in Stockholm has a screen printing workshop every Saturday: Lava Bibliotek and Verkstad.

I also have a soft spot for clothes that feel like pajamas.

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This one is Kate Moss for Topshop. I’m thinking a By Hand london Holly Jumpsuit as culottes in a silk jersey.

I really want to make the perfect midi skirt.

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Maybe I’ll have a go at drafting one myself since it’s pretty simple. Like this one:

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Aaaaaand, I just bought Drape Drape 1 and I’m learning by trail and error. More on that later!

 

 

 

 

 

Swedish Sewing Patterns (by way of Japanese sewing patterns of course)

And she begins with a digression…It was Japanese sewing patterns that drew me to sewing in the first place. I lived in Japan for five years and spent a lot of time in Japanese magazine stores. My Japanese was not that great but Japanese magazines are filled with drawings and cartoons and diagrams and great photos (and by great I mean slightly weird.) I didn’t sew or knit at the time but I loved to look through the craft magazines. The patterns, especially for bags, were so cool and inventive, and the meticulous instructions made me suspect that if I tried, I might just be able to make something. It would be another ten years until I actually tried, but the seeds were sown.

So here I am in Sweden, which in a lot of ways (clean minimalistic design, orderliness and attention to detail) is somewhat similar to Japan, so I thought I might explore Swedish sewing patterns. I started with the Jenny Hellström Ruas books, specifically Sy! FrÄn Hood till Skjort-KlÀnning.

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It’s 109 pages (in Swedish of course,) and contains 18 patterns with variations of each. Jenny Hellström was known for her eponymous clothing line in the late 90’s and into the 2000s. Typical of the nordic style she designed clean, casual clothes with playful graphic details. The label’s logo was her father’s passport photo.

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The title of her first sewing pattern book translates to Sew! From Hoodie to Shirtdress. So let’s take a gander inside:

There are indeed hoodies:

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and shirtdresses:

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How cool is this shirt and tie?

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I love the collar.

Others patterns I’m not that hot about. Like this skirt.

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Maybe it’s just the fabric and colour choice, but I think it looks a bit homemade ( in the bad sense.)

A pretty cute pencil skirt and a versatile tee-shirt pattern (that I failed miserably at, but that was my fault mostly.)

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One of my favourite patterns is the Jasmine Coat. I’m a sucker for raincoats.

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There are some basic sewing instructions in the back with some (limited) illustrations.

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And the patterns are nested on two large sheets:

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My review:

Pros:

I really liked the look of this book and I think some of the patterns could prove to be wardrobe workhorses. The tee, the shirt and and shirtdress will all appeal to anyone who like a slightly androgenous style with a vintagey edge.

The Cons:

Yeah, it’s in Swedish. If you can’t read Swedish then you’d better be a seasoned sewer. There aren’t any cute little cartoony diagrams in this book to follow.  In fact the instructions are very rudimentary.  There’s a glossary in the back, but again, if you aren’t down with the Svenska, you might be shit outta luck.

I’m still gonna try to make the raincoat so I will update the blog with the final verdict!

Meet Greenie, my vintage Elna Grasshopper

-Hello. My name is Catherine and I’m addicted to vintage sewing machines

-Hi Catherine

Another stockholm thrift store find. It’s like THEY find ME.

So I was just browsing. You know. Killing some time. No intention of buying anything. And then I see this:

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How intriguing. Vaguely military. No label or markings. But I just knew.

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Yup. A cute little green Elna 1. The first model Elna produced. Original case, accessory box, a couple of presser feet. 200 Kr ($33.) Sold. He wasn’t quite as heavy as my Bernina 730 Record, but I had some sore arms after hauling him back to GubbĂ€ngen.

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When I got home I excitedly unpacked Greenie. He came with the original manual in Swedish, and tucked in the manual was the original receipt, dated 1959. He cost 350 kr 55 years ago.

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The green-lidded accessory box:

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And the best part:

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The case the turns into a sewing table.

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Can you see what beautiful condition he’s in?

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A little bit of cleaning with a looped pipe-cleaner and some compressed air, and Greenie was sewing nicely. The Elna 1 is a straight stitch only machine and has limited capabilities, but I’m pretty happy. The knee pedal is really nice to use, although it takes a little getting used to.

And here’s a sneak peek at my lovely new green Anna Dress.

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I’ll model it when the rain stops.