December 29, 2016

Now with pictures

I hope you've all had a good time over the holidays. These final weeks of the year are usually busy but also mean some time off work.
That last reason finally allowed me to have E take pictures of me in that dress I wrote about earlier.



As I mentioned before, it is very revealing unless you stand at just the right angle. This is the right angle but you can still see my bra. And that slit in the skirt does go all the way up to the waist. I guess I'll use it as a robe in summer. 

I liked the shape though. Fitted from the waist down, curving up to those fairly wide cut-on sleeves. It reminded me of this beautiful vintage dress I've kept on a Pinterest board for a while now.


So, I decided to try and make another dress using the basic shape of the kimono twist design. You know, without the twist...
I even had the perfect fabric: a double knit, blue rib on the right side, plain black on the inside. I'm not sure about the fiber content but there's no static cling so I don't think it is polyester or acryl. It is firm and stable enough for the fitted parts and yet has enough drape for those sleeves. 


Basically, I just used the back piece from the kimono twist dress for the front and back of this one (with an adjusted front neckline, of course). And to give myself room to walk without that big slit, I cut the dress with a center back seam and inserted a godet there. I'm glad to report it works well.

I'm really pleased with this dress: It was very easy to make, I love the look and it is very comfortable. It's a shame its success is so dependent on the fabric or I would recommend it to everyone and make many more myself... 

December 5, 2016

Life and sewing

There's no point in denying it anymore: I just really don't have the kind of time and energy for sewing and blogging that I used to. Between work and climbing, there is just not that much left over. I tried to deny it for months, occasionally blaming myself for not sewing or blogging in the evenings I was at home. 
I'm not going to do that anymore. I love sewing and I love this blog but there are just 24 hours in a day and sometimes, I'm just tired.
I'll just have to change the way I plan my sewing projects. Plan them in way many of you probably always have. Just make simple things when I'm busy or prepare for a well-considered bigger project in the weekend and keep working on it in short little installments during the week. 

I started with the first option last weekend. I finally tried out Studio Faro's Kimono Twist Dress. Basically, it is just a variation on the kind of twist I have often used before but I thought it looked quite elegant from the first time I saw it. 
As usual, I didn't quite follow all the instructions. Those are for a dress in a woven fabric with a soft hand, with the twist at the high hip. I'm old-fashioned and I like the narrowest point of a dress to be at the narrowest point of me, so I put the twist at the waistline. I also made the dress in jersey so I used my sloper for fitted knitwear.
I also kept the pattern in two pieces. Much more economical in its use of fabric. 

I thought it was an easy pattern to draft but I was a bit nervous about the end result. In the original instructions, it is described as "a little daring, showing lots of leg and d├ęcolletage". That twist is the only thing holding the dress together at center front. 
My fears were justified. I will take pictures later this week. The dress covers enough if you are standing perfectly still but move around in it and it gets a bit too revealing. I'm not feeling to bad about it though. It will serve me well as a light robe and working on this helped me develop other ideas. 
More about those and pictures of the dress soon! 

November 21, 2016

Finally!

In the previous post, I told you I would soon finish that black dress... In fact, I only finished it last Saturday and took pictures on Sunday. 
Last week was very busy with work and E was ill, all of which didn't leave me much time for sewing. 


I'm glad it is finished now. I like the skirt and I like sleeves but I'm not entirely happy about the fit of the bodice. I have used this pattern before but it was always in fabrics with just a bit more give. I checked the fit on those other dresses before cutting this one and I added little bits of room in the back bodice pieces and at the biceps. And yet, it is a bit snug in those areas. That's what I get with all that climbing I suppose...

It is not too tight to be wearable though. And as I said, there are other things I like about it. Would you believe I have never made a shirtdress with full-length sleeves before? I always thought that would just be a bit too much so I stuck with three quarter length. 
I did make the skirt a little bit shorter than most of my recent 1950's style skirts.
Interestingly, I think this dress looks a bit 1970's rather than 1950's. But I'm not absolutely sure...

As I mentioned before, I started making this dress to have something to wear with my new big scarves. I also mentioned that I usually end up wearing things like this without decoration. 
And this time may not be very different.


This is what it looks like with one of the scarves. It's just a bit too big to go with the dress, I think. Nice and warm though...

November 13, 2016

Sew slow

This must have been my longest break from blogging in quite a while... I didn't mean to do it, it just happened. 
I still couldn't figure out what to make from that flannel. I was very busy with work and social obligations. I spend another weekend climbing in the Ardennes (in the last weekend of warm sunny weather... It was great!). I was just very busy and didn't sew that much anyway...

In fact, I have done a bit of sewing during the time that I wasn't blogging. Because I couldn't decide on what to do with the flannel, I put it back on the shelf. Instead, I started on another dress, which I have been working on slowly, in left-over moments, for the past week and a half (which is not my normal kind of sewing progress at all!).

I'm making this dress, in black cotton. I made this technical drawing quickly in Illustrator so it is not very pretty but it does show the shape of what I'm working on. 
The bodice is the one I originally drafted for the flounce dress but this time, I gave it full length sleeves. I made those a little bit fuller and I'm going to add sleeve slits and cuffs. The skirt is a simple half circle with slant pockets with fold-back flaps (a very popular detail in original 1950's designs). I cut the skirt in six gores but didn't put that detail in the drawing. The center front pleat was a bit of an afterthought. When I was drafting the skirt pieces, I was a bit sleepy and I didn't realize that I had included the front overlap on the bodice in my measurement for the skirt piece. I only noticed that when I was pinning the waist seam. A pleat was by far the easiest way to fix the issue...

The dress should be finished at some point in the next week. It only needs cuffs and a hem now. When it is finished, I will show it and discuss any other issues I may have with it...

And just in case you were wondering how I went from colourful flannel to black cotton, there was a reason. This dress was planned as a kind of "background dress". The sort of garment which can be combined with other things to create different looks. Usually when I try something like that, I either end up always wearing it plain or I settle on one look and stay with that. Which doesn't mean I don't like the idea...

This time, I came back to it after buying these two scarves (my apologies for the horrible cell-phone pictures, taken with the use of a dirty mirror):


They're huge and soft and warm and a lady at my local market was selling them for 3 euros a piece or 5 euros for 2. I have looked at similar scarves before but I never bought them because I don't usually wear square scarves, but at that price, I couldn't resist. 
Now, these scarves are so big they can completely take over any outfit so I don't really have to make anything to wear them with (they look great with jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt) but they were still my reason to start making this dress. I'm not sure it will end up looking good worn with either scarf but I suppose that's a risk worth taking. 

October 22, 2016

Procrastinating

Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow? Especially if you are not quite sure what you should be doing anyway?
That's sort of where I am right now. I had some time off this week and hoped for a chance to catch up on housework (not nice but needed) and do some serious sewing. And then I wasn't feeling well for about three days. Not really ill, just a very low on energy and a bit feverish. If I had had a sewing project underway, I would probably still have enjoyed working on it but I wasn't really motivated to start on drafting something new in that state. 

And then, of course, I started to overthink things. What do I really want or need for my wardrobe? New work, slight figure changes (from the climbing, which I have mentioned before). Everything in life which changes may have an impact on the wardrobe you want or need. And even apart from that, preferences can still change...
As I said, overthinking.

Of course, the fact is that not everything I sew has to be perfectly useful. I have things to wear, both at work and at home so, even though I could come up with useful wardrobe additions, I can afford to just sew something I like. However, once you start overthinking your sewing plans, it's hard to shake that off again. It is to me, at least. At this point, I started second-guessing what I wanted too. 
(I don't usually get like this at all when I'm doing a lot of sewing. When I'm on a roll, I just keep going. It is especially when I know my sewing time is limited and I want to make it count that this sometimes happens) 

Now, one of the things I am considering right now is to make another nice, cozy, flannel dress. I bought these two pieces of cotton flannel earlier this year. I love the one on the left and I bought 4 or 5 meters of it. I'm not as fond of the other one. I think that fabric would only look good on me if I cut it on the bias. Which I may do at some point in the future. 

For now, I am focussing on the fabric on the left. Good colours for me and plenty of fabric. An early idea (once I was past the obligatory "full skirted 1950's dress") was to make a shirtdress with a long skirt, sort of 1970's style. Probably with a center front and back seam to use those checks in an interesting way.

Then, I started looking at my vintage patterns and came across this design. A Dutch unprinted pattern by the company Harmien's. Undated but I would guess it came from the late 1940's. It has a gored skirt which would not work for this fabric but the top part looks really nice. 
I made a muslin of the whole dress which was less than encouraging (I'll show it in a later post).
Then, I had another look at the fabric and tried on the dress for which I drafted my favorite shirtdress bodice.
This dress, which I still love:

The flounce dress has been a firm favorite since the moment I finished it. It is quite comfortable but also special and stylish enough for all kinds of occasions. I've worn it to all those events where I felt I had to "look the part" without really knowing what to expect. And it always made me feel good. The dress is still in great condition so I am definitely not looking to replace it. Having more like it is a different matter though...
Trying it on again taught me a two things: 1. This bodice still fits well, especially in a fairly soft fabric like flannel. I also still love it. 2. I love a flounce skirt. Full skirts and pencil skirts are all well and good but nothing beats a skirt which combines the two and puts an unexpected twist on both.

So, now I am doubting again. How about a shirtdress with a flounce skirt. I could make a different kind of flounce this time. 
It's a difficult thing to draw in Illustrator so I kind of gave up that but I think you get the idea. Maybe I'll pull the fabric together at the waistline this time, rather than lower down. Or I'll do something else...And I still have another piece of fabric in my stash which has been earmarked for a second flounce dress all along.

On the other hand, that Harmien's top also still looks like a good idea...

In fact, I might have enough fabric to make two dresses. I'm just not sure yet. And it is not like I don't have other ideas either... So. Procrastinating...

October 18, 2016

Sack-shaped

Terrible light, self-timer pictures, freshly washed (still wet, except for the blow-dried fringe) hair and bare feet... What's not to love about today's pictures?
I had wanted to take better ones but I also didn't want to put off posting about this new top I made. So, I had to make do and I hope you can still kind of see the clothes in these shots. 

A couple of years ago, I bought this fabric, a black cotton jersey with that 'loop' texture at the back and very little stretch, on sale. I made a top from it. It had kimono sleeves and a collar and it seems like I didn't blog about it or post it on Burdastyle. At least, not in a place where I can find it now. That garment was OK... The fabric was comfortable but its lack of stretch was less than ideal for this design. The leftover fabric just stayed in my stash for years. Until last Saturday, when I decided to deal with it once and for all. Using up just about all of it, I made this:


A loose-fitting sweater. The bodice is completely straight, with a wide but shallow scoop for the neckline. Its back hemline curves down by about 5 cm. The sleeves have a very low sleeve-head and they taper towards the hem. 
Simply said, it's a sack-shaped top.

I've never had many of those. There is usually plenty of wide stuff in RTW but most of my sewing is more fitted. It can be nice to have a bit of variety though. And I found myself struggling to make nice combinations when wearing my more fitted trousers (like these, or my new jeans). And most of all, this fabric is perfect for a design like this!

In my experience, the look of loose-fitting clothes can depend enormously on the fabric you use. My lovely twice-made wintercoat is very wide and that works because the wool fabric has quite a bit of body.
It worked the first time:


And maybe even better the second time around.
But there was also a time when I decided to use a striped sweater knit to make a cardigan with those same lines... A thinner fabric, with a softer hand. It didn't work at all. Where the coats with lovely pieces of soft sculpture, the cardigan with just a baggy sack. In the end I took it in quite a bit which made it wearable. It's not pretty but it is very comfortable which is why it still has a place in my wardrobe as a warm extra layer to snuggle up in on cold days.

You see, with "loose-fitting" anything, it's all about the interaction between the fabric, the design and your own body. The bulky fabric of the coats allowed them to have a life of their own, just hanging from my shoulders. 
This new sweater of mine has to play a more subtle role. Like a game of hide and seek with points and curves. In a thicker fabric, my body would end up really looking like a rectangle. And if I tried to make up this same pattern in a more stretchy and drape-y jersey, I would just repeat the cardigan fiasco... But for this fabric, I think I got the fit spot-on.

Some people wear shapes like this a lot. Sometimes to obscure parts of their body they are not happy with, sometimes as a statement. Sack-like clothes can be used to say things like "I don't do obvious sexy dressing, I'm more creative, more clever than that". A bit snobbish? Maybe, but is it really more so than the "if you've got it, flaunt it" approach? 
It was never my style but can't help but admire the look of confidence it has on those who wear it well.
So far, I could only ever make that kind of look work for me in coats. For a long time, it was my working theory that, with my A cup, there just wasn't enough there between shoulders and hips to make that game between garment and body work. Now, I'm starting to wonder if it is just all about the dimensions...

October 15, 2016

lingerie, bras and shapewear

Last weekend, I spent a couple of hours asking the same question on three different Facebook groups of which I am a member (We Sew Retro Sew & Tell, Learn how to make Corsets like a pro and a Dutch group about corset making, to be precise). I got a lot of kind comments and good advice but nothing like a single solution emerged. 
I was looking for advice on how to improve on this thing which I made last year. 

My lingerie corset isn't bad but it is not flawless either. I'm sure I can fix the minor fit issues it has but I really need to find a good fabric for it. The opaque stuff I used here is a bit too stiff and doesn't breathe. And I was also not happy with the way this garment creates more tummy than I actually have. One of the people who commented on my question mentioned something important about that though: Flat stomachs are a modern obsession, a fit like this would have been completely fine in the 1950's (which tends to be the era I look at for this kind of thing).
I also spent some time looking at repro patterns for shapewear (I know Mrs. Depew has a few, if you have other recommendations, please comment). 

I really should try and order some samples of the fabrics which were suggested to me (and some more lingerie supplies besides that) and experiment with the pattern or try a repro one. Instead, I started with supplies from stash and a design which is between normal bra a retro shapewear: A longline bra.


It is strapless for now but I plan on adding straps. I put ribbons in the cup seam to allow for that but I am all out of rings and sliders. 
I made it using non-stretch silk (for the upper cups and the center front), that mesh I also used for my body suits and some beige/pink lingerie foam for the cups. And I used my usual underwires and polyester boing covered in velvet ribbon along the bodice seams. Unfortunately, I only had fairly wide boning in black and proper bone casings would have been better with this sheer fabric... 

And the use of interlocking rigid pieces like the bones and the underwires means the fabric between those pieces has to fit perfectly. The center front is just a tiny bit off in its center, below the underwires. It is nothing that can't be fixed in a new version but it would be much more trouble than it is worth to try and fix it in this finished product. 
In a new version, I would also slightly change the angle of the cups, put a tiny bit more room in the upper edge of the cups and use wider elastic at the bottom edge of the bodice (note to self: Buy such elastic...) and probably lengthen the bodice  by 1 to 1.5 cm to make it reach my waist.
Despite all that, I like this for a first try. 

October 9, 2016

Finished jeans!

And here are those jeans I blogged about earlier:

The pattern is a tried-and-tested one. Self-drafted as usual and intended to be made up using stretch denim, what this fabric is. 
As I mentioned before, I had only just enough fabric to cut out all the pieces for this pair of trousers so I was limited both in the leg length (this was absolutely the longest I could possibly make them) and in the flare of the leg. I might have gone for a more pronounced boot-cut shape if there had been more fabric.

The rest is pretty straight-forward: a fairly high rise, to the natural waist, which I find comfortable. I will normally wear tops over it.
Scoop pockets at the front, patch pockets at the back. And that deep-curving back yoke. A waistband, but no belt-loops. I find adding belt-loops a very fiddly and annoying job and I never use them anyway (on me, to fit well, any waistband below the waist has to be quite strongly shaped so there is no way a straight belt will sit well along such a line).


All in all, not a very exciting but certainly a very welcome and useful addition to my wardrobe.
  

October 5, 2016

Planning for autumn...

My jeans are finished but I won't have a chance to take pictures until the weekend. In the mean time, I am starting to think about autumn sewing.
Now, if you are a very organized person you will have planned your autumn/winter wardrobe already. And if you sew, you will have started making what you will want to wear in the seasons to come. I'm not really like that. I find it very hard to sew for a season I can't feel yet.
We have been experiencing a very mild, slow gentle end to summer here in the Netherlands. It wasn't until last week that we had a dark, cloudy, rainy day and the temperature is still comfortable rather than chilly.
And added to that, my daily life has changed quite a bit since before the summer holiday. I now spend part of my week teaching about textiles and another part helping out a the climbing hall. To environments which are new to me work-wise and require very different things in terms of clothes. To be honest, I'm not quite sure yet what is called for.

However, that change in the weather has certainly pushed me towards thinking about autumn sewing. I will, at least, have my new jeans, and should come up with some nice tops to go with it but what I really like to think about, are dresses. One part of brain still always wants 1950's styles but another part is thinking about the workplace and about current styles. I'm not sure yet but I do know the dresses I have made and loved in past years. Right now, as I am typing this, I am wearing this dress:

I made it way back when 2010 turned into 2011. It's been a lovely dress, suitable for many different occasions and always comfortable. By now, it is showing its age and it has been retired to the realm of 'dresses for lounging at home'. All which makes me think. I need a new version. I have enough of that very same fabric to make about two more and I think I should. Maybe several years apart.
It's a very peculiar material. A knit which only stretches lengthwise (which is why the original dress was cut on the cross-grain. any new version will be too) it has fluffy black stripes on a beige-ish backing. The stripes run from selvedge to selvedge so with the design cut on the cross-grain they look just like duo-tone corduroy.
I am quite seriously considering re-making this dress. I would like a slightly longer skirt and a closer fit at the waist but in general, I still really love it. 
There might be other options too. The hand of this fabric is rather firm so I think it is only suitable for fairly fitted designs. I am thinking about something with raglan sleeves though. And maybe some pleats at the armscye... I'm just not sure yet. I only know I will need a dress like this in my wardrobe for years to come.

October 2, 2016

Making jeans

Not too long ago, I read post on someone else's blog about jeans. It once again reminded me that I could use another pair myself. The post also contained a bit of a surprise for me: There was a picture of the insides of the finished jeans and none of the seam allowances had been finished in any way. There was topstitching along some seams but all the edges were raw. 
Not a treatment I would ever recommend for denim. This, rather experienced, seamstress told me she had never had any trouble with the particular kind of high quality denim she uses. 

And now, I am making jeans again. Another pair of my close-fitting jeans, using stretch denim. I'm making them using my normal method. I've done this for quite a while and generally don't give it a lot thought. However, based on that recent discussion I thought it might be worth showing after all.


I like to use flat-felled seams on my jeans. I use them on all those seams which you will usually see flat-felled or topstitched in RTW. Yoke seam, center back seam, inner leg seam. 
Years ago, before I had a serger, I would sometimes try an flat-fell the outer leg seam as well as the inner leg seam but I would recommend that. It's really fiddly. 

This is what I do now:

For my flat-felled seams, I use topstitching thread in sewing machine's needle and regular thread in the bobbin (topstitching thread is thick and likely to get stuck in the bobbin). This works really well but it does mean that you had to plan ahead where you want the contrast stitching to show.

The first step is to sew the seam with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other and stitching on the side you want to be on top in the flat-felled seam.

This is what the other side looks like.

Then, I press the seam allowances open,

trim the seam allowance on the side that has the stitching in the regular thread

and fold and press the other seam allowance around and over the trimmed one. 

You could pin it down at this stage but I usually don't. Denim can pressed really well and tends to stay in place just fine. In fact, I think having to remove pins might make your stitching more wobbly. Just stitch close to the folded edge, keeping an even distance to the first line of topstitching. 

Maybe a bit tricky if you try this for the first time but not difficult. And you get nice, strong seams and a clean, smooth inside of the garment. 

Years ago, I used a different method: I would first stitch the seam in the usual way, with the right sides facing and using regular thread. Then, I would press, trim and fold the seam allowances on the inside and then stitch along the folded edge. However, when using topstitching thread, I would have to stitch from the outside of the trouser leg, with those folded seam allowances on the inside. I made it work but that was really tricky and it involved much more re-threading of my sewing machine.
There is one area where I might try it again though: The center back seam.

Mine looks like this. I'm actually not that bothered by mismatched point but I know some people like to sew their jeans which real points.

And on the inside, that is just what I have. If I were to use my old method for flat-felled seams on the center back seam (and the regular method on the yoke seams) or even to make a fake flat-felled seam by serging and topstitching, I could have this perfect point on the outside. 
I won't try and change it on this pair of jeans though. 

Oh, and just in case you are wondering about the blue lines and the stamp on the wrong side of the fabric: This was the beginning of the bolt. I originally bought just enough for two pairs of jeans and this will be the second one. I had to be really careful with my pattern lay-out to squeeze it out of the remaining fabric so I was obviously not going to avoid those lines on the back. 


September 27, 2016

Fiber history

In this past week, I have been sewing but none of it is really blog-worthy (yet). I've made a rough sample of a new-to-me corset pattern, which is very likely much too extreme in shape for me (even the hip spring, that a first!). And I have re-sized some t-shirts for myself and my boyfriend. Useful work, and it is appreciated but not very interesting to share here.

So, instead, I thought I would share another old object. I came across this one at work. I have started teach a subject I can only translate as "knowledge of textiles" at a local fashion school. This subject is about understanding fabric, from the raw fiber to its place in the world of fashion and it is aimed at future buyers for stores, stylist/designers as well as made-to-measure tailors. 

Last week, I was looking through one of the cupboards which contains samples when I found this:

It is fun to find samples of fibers which are not often used for clothing. Most of the contents of this box seem to be made from coconut fiber. But look at that label! It looks old doesn't it?
For those of you who don't read Dutch I'll translate:

Royal United Carpet Factories
Rotterdam

Superior weaving.
Softly spun coconut yarn for weft purposes.
Spun by hand in British India

British India! So that means that this sample pre-dates 1947 (or 1950 if we presume extreme conservatism and mistrust of the ability of former colonial nations to organize their own governments on the part of the label makers at the Rotterdam factory).
I wonder how it ended up here. It certainly pre-dates this institute in its current form. I didn't have time to search the other boxes in this cupboard but I'm really curious about what I am going to find there! 
 

September 24, 2016

A hat

Look what I've got!

Unfortunately, I have no good way of displaying it but this but it is a rather nice lady's hat. 

It was given to me by my mother and grandmother last week. They told me they had paid a visit to a friend of my grandmother's (who is between them in age) who is now volunteering for a charity which also has a shop. This hat had been brought in and she had put it aside, recognizing it as a good thing but knowing it wouldn't sell. So, my mother and grandmother got to take it along for me, knowing that I would appreciate it. 
My mother thought it was decorated with peacock feathers but I suspect those lovely dark brown feathers with their iridescent deep green shine came from a smaller bird. A cockerel I think. Two kinds of feathers are alternated around the outside of the hat, circling a crown made of deep brown velvet. The lining is very clean and the elastic un-stretched. This hat looks like it has never been worn. 
Of course, I should wear it. It's a continuing issue of mine: I love hats as an idea, but I tend to struggle to actually wear them. For this hat, I will have to figure out a hairstyle that works with it. It looks like a 1950's style so it was probably meant to be worn with shortish hair. I think a low bun would work too.  
Maybe I could construct an outfit around it... I have quite a bit of dark green wool in my stash. I have often thought about turning that into a 1950's style tailleur suit... Maybe I should do that now. The green might match the shine of those feathers and I think this hat seems like the kind of style to wear with a dressy suit in autumn...

September 18, 2016

That bodysuit...

First of all, thank you for all the replies to my previous post. You are proving once again why this sewing-corner of the web is the best. When I read your comments and re-read my own words, two things stood out to me: First of all, by speaking of and to women, I neglected to acknowledge some people who also add to our little sewing circle. I'm sorry guys! In fact, one of the things which are great about sewing is that everybody can enjoy it. Not just regardless of size but regardless of gender too. 
And secondly, one of you pointed out that there are still issues with the size ranges of sewing patterns. Trust me to forget that! Not even because I don't have that problem but because I nearly always draft my own patterns... Which is also the best advice I can give to anyone who would like to say farewell to the terror of sizing: If you have the time (because it does take a while to get it right and build up confidence), learn how to make you own patterns. Or do what some bloggers with difficult sizes do: Perfect the fit on a simple pattern and use that as a sloper.

With that said, I would like to move on to the main topic of today's post. It has taken me a week but I finally found a moment to take pictures of that bodysuit I made.

At come angles it is a bit daring. I will have to decide whether or not "low cleavage" (a bit of bust curve showing at the underside of those opaque triangles) means this thing can't be worn in public.

I like how it looks with a wide skirt like this. A bit ballerina-like. 

There's that V at the back.

And... eh... Here it is without the skirt. In this picture, you can just about see the opaque bits at the bottom and the angle on the front of the leghole.

After finishing the first bodysuit, I didn't feel I was quite done with it. So, I made another one. On this one, I slightly adjusted the angle of the triangles (in an effort to get more lower bust coverage but I forgot to move the center point down a little bit. And even then it might not have worked), I added sleeves (I had never even drafted those for this body fashion block before), removed the center back seam, cut the back neckline round rather than in a V and I changed the design of the bottom. This time, I cut the sides up in a smooth line from that front triangle and cut the back in the same kind of thong shape I often use for panties. That also allowed me to add a that bottom opening I didn't make in the first version. 


The different placement of the triangles doesn't really show but the sleeves make the whole thing look quite different. And if I decide I am brave enough, this one would be more practical to wear as a bodysuit. 

I think I am done with bodysuits for now but this experiment has given me a new idea for a bathing suit.

September 14, 2016

I love you all!

I really do. I started blogging a whopping 7 years ago and although I may sometimes hope for more comments or occasionally get frustrated by spam, I have always found my particular corner of the internet to be a friendly and encouraging place. 
I think the same goes for the blogs I follow (certainly the sewings ones but also the few about history and the one rock climber's blog) and for the Facebook groups I am a member of (I've been a member of 'We Sew Retro Sew & Tell' right from the start and joined 'Learn How to Make Corsets Like a Pro' some months ago) as well. 

With that limited social media landscape, I could easily tell myself that the world wide web was not scary at all. Just a big playground where people from different places and walks of life can interact.
Of course I'm not totally ignorant of the nastiness and negativity out there but in my experience, lifestyle related blogs, Facebook groups and Pinterest board were friendly places.
I guess I kind of took that for granted.

And then, at some moment last month, I watched the BBC 3 documentary "Clean Eating's Dirty Secrets"
I started watching it mainly because I have been surprised more than once in the past years by the odd hype diets cropping up. Hypes which were sometimes even taken up by friends.  
The documentary follows a young blogger/vlogger who focusses on body positivity. A larger lady herself, she sets out to explore the world of "clean eating" blogs. What she uncovers is (spoiler alert!) mostly a deep pit of unsubstantiated health claims, dangerous food fads and a very negative, judgmental way of looking at women's bodies (mostly by women).

I was a bit shocked by this. I kind of knew this stuff existed but the scale and the conviction still surprised me. 
I haven't really struggled with body image during the years I've been blogging and I am often aware of the fact that I am among the skinnier sewer bloggers. But I've had more troubled times too and of course I know it is an issue for lots of women. I used to alter wedding dresses for a living and I met lots of different women and encountered lots of different views on beauty and body shape. Most of them overly negative.
I am very glad I was a teenager in an era before social media. I don't want to imagine what might have happened if I had had access to the kind of toxic "inspiration" offered by the kinds lifestyle blogs featured in this documentary. I feel sorry for those confronted with it now.

I like to think that we, people who sew and who talk about that somewhere on the internet, are helping in that regard. We love to talk about fitting but that's always about making the clothes fit and flatter the body of lady who will wear them. Sewing for yourself frees you from the size system dictated by the high street. Of course, patterns come in sizes too but us sewing people quickly learn just how arbitrary those are. Even more so if we decide to try out vintage patterns. Sewing also opens up the possibility of trying out styles which are not currently in fashion but may suit our bodies better. And, most of all, the online sewing community I know and love happily supports such efforts. No matter who you are, no matter what look you are going for.
So, yes, I love all and let's keep up the good work!



September 10, 2016

Experimenting (Yeah!)

To be honest, I've been a bit down on my sewing mojo lately. Yesterday was the first time since I came back from holiday that I actually made something from scratch (I've done some very small repairs in the mean time). There are some excuses: I've been busy with work and last weekend I went rock-climbing in the Ardennes again (I think I'm actually starting to get the hang of it ;) 
But mostly, I've just been over-thinking things. The striped dress for example. Yesterday evening, I went back to contemplating that orange striped fabric and being indecisive. And then I decided I'd had enough. As much as I love shirt-dresses it's not worth fretting over for weeks. And I could do with some nice, enjoyable, relaxing sewing. So, I decided to make a pair of panties using a tried-and-tested pattern and some black lace and lycra (I forgot to take a picture).      
Of course, I was happy with the result. That's what tried-and-tested patterns and materials are for! And it made me think of other things I could do with those lingerie materials...

So, today I made this:

My first bodysuit! The picture is not very clear so I've also made a technical drawing (I'll see if I can get a picture of me wearing it tomorrow. One I'm comfortable showing online...)

The pointy bits in strategic locations are made from black lycra, the rest from a fairly dense black mesh (which is about as stretchy as my lycra, maybe a bit less). All the edges are finished with fold-over elastic. 

My main idea behind it was to experiment with graphic shapes. I used a sloper made years ago for my first bathing suit. The bathing suit was always uncomfortably short in the body so I added one humble centimeter at the waistline. Which turned out to work perfectly. 
For the bottom edge, I used a shape I pioneered recently: The notched front leg.

I am quite happy with the way it turned out. The fit is good and those points are in the right places.  
It is not really practical though. Normal bodysuits are meant to be worn as nice smooth tops and have a placket with snaps at the crotch to allow for easy bathroom breaks. You can buy those plackets pre-made at places which specialize in lingerie-making supplies but I don't have any. And I didn't think I would find a feature like that very comfortable. Of course, the only alternative was sewing up the crotch like you would for a bathing suit. 

Making this thing was never about creating a practical addition to my wardrobe though. It was about the experiment and the fun of sewing it.