The Teacher Dress

Hi!

I don´t know what I would have called the dress myself, but my husband teased me when taking the photos that I look like a nerdy teacher in it! Given that I wore for a recent birthday party, it wasn´t the best thing to hear, but here it is anyway:

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The pattern is the Jane dress from Burdastyle Vintage edition A/W 2015, dedicated to the sixties.

It was actually the main reason for buying the special issue back in 2015, but as you know, it often takes me that long before I sew stuff up.

However, my parents recently spent their holiday in Italy, starting from Rome and I managed to convince them to visit some of the fabric shops I visited myself during my own trip to Rome in 2013.

It was a very difficult task for them, my dad initially voted against the fabric my mom wanted to pick by saying it looked like tablecloth! Unfortunately I was taking a nap while my mom desperately sent me photos of various fabrics in Messenger so they ended up buying something that I don´t feel is 100% me, but when I woke up and saw this one among the photos (my mom´s first choice) I just made them go back to the store and get it for me! It was a perfect print for this pattern! It looks a little busy on bigger photos, but the closer look reveals this:

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Isn´t it lovely? It is from Fratelli Bassetti Tessuti and I can´t tell the exact composition, but it is some kind of synthetic fabric with enough body and stretch at the same time, easy to cut and sew and fit.

I struggled a bit while trying to find the matching fabric for the details, at first I was sure they must be black, but the longer I looked at the fabric, the more I felt that the dark burgundy was a better match. Of course it was impossible to find fabric with the same characteristics so I got a lightweight crepe fabric in the right shade and used a thicker fusible interfacing to stabilise it.

The hardest part of the dress is the central piece with its round end. I have seen perfect versions online as well as some rather clumsy ones and I guess I fall somewhere in between with my result. This detail took a lot of time and precision to get it done, but still it is not completely symmetrical!

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I actually added the button day after the birthday party where I first wore the dress, because once again I finished sewing less than an hour before leaving the house! I love  the smart trick by Couture et Tricot who sew an extra button underneath the large one, to support it so that it doesn´t hang downwards, but looks straight. I will add this detail to my dress, too.

I didn´t get into all the couture techniques Couture et Tricot did due to the limited time available. The seam allowances are serged and the hem is finished with fusible hem tape. I also didn´t topstitch as far as the 7 mm the pattern calls for as I remember, but the distance from edge is about 4 mm. My dress is unlined.

The pattern is well drafted and I had absolutely zero issues with the sleeves for example.

I love the feeling of completing something that has been on my mind for so long and it could easily be the quickest I have used up new fabric!

The photos were taken in the new sewing room/office, which still needs some final details as you can see, but we will move in during the upcoming weekend!

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Love Celebration Dress

Hey everyone!

We had the honour of being invited to the wedding of G & O and I was super excited as I have attended quite a few weddings in my life, but never a Russian one. Of course this deserved a dress!

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I used pattern no 107 from Burda Style January 2013. I remember seeing this pattern and telling myself that I will definitely make it, but it took me exactly that long to execute the plan, something quite typical as the speed of buying fabrics and patterns will never equal the speed of sewing stuff up…

Again typically I finished the dress late at night the previous evening before the big day and therefore did not manage to make the matching belt. Let´s see if I will get to it at some point or not, since there are so many more ideas next up in line!

I cut the size 38 and I thought the fit was perfect at the bodice, but when I look at the photos, it seems as if there is a little too much ease there. Nevertheless the dress feels super comfortable and I loved wearing it despite the fact that once again I failed to produce a perfect back neckline with the invisible zipper. For some reason it is always a hit or miss for me and more often a miss…

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I always leave generous seam allowances for the hip area and this was one of the times when not doing it would have meant that the dress would have been hopelessly too tight without any extra fabric left for correcting the mistakes. Now it just meant adjusting the side seams a bit.

Once again Burda Style surprises me as they have only rated the dress with two stars for difficulty level. I am quite sure that for someone looking for stepping up the game to next level, pulling this off (fully lined, tricky assembly sequences, many pattern pieces) would be too complicated. And it really takes time, I spent several evening just preparing the pieces before I could get to the actual sewing!

Here is a little close-up to show the fabric´s texture a bit better. I bought the fabric from Helsinki probably last year and they had it in baby blue as well as pink and it was hard to choose, but th yellow seemed more special. It was actually quite hard to find a matching lining fabric, but thankfully I finally did.

I got too excited when I was literally hit by the bridal bouquet and completely did not think of taking a photo with the beautiful bride then,  but here is one snapshot from the party and the bouquet itself next morning:

We are next up in line and I guess it is needless to say that we are very excited about it!

Spring Wedding Guest Dress

Hi!

I am so thankful to Marjorie Trundle, who responded to my plea for help and sent me snapshots of the instructions for Burdastyle 3/2016 model 108 B dress in English, but also to all the others who responded and were willing to help, Marjorie was just the quickest!

Thanks to the English instructions I was able to complete the dress just in time, actually mere two hours before the wedding ceremony of one of my dear colleagues!

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For some reason making that dress meant a lot of mental pushing and self-motivation for me and I am not sure why. It could be that because I usually use lower quality fabrics (not necessarily meaning cheaper) than this Armani stretch silk that I bought a few years ago from Rome and that I was too intimidated by the fabric and scared of failing, or it could be that as I had to sew in our country home where we currently live as our own house is being renovated, I feel kind of lost, out of my usual rhythm as my stuff is all over the place making everything a little uncomfortable.

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I was also worried about the weather-appropriateness of the dress as the spring this year in Estonia has been a disappointment – the weather has been cold and windy and as you can see, we are just getting to see the first green leaves on the trees!

And exactly when I had decided to go with the longer version of the sleeves, the weather forecast announced that the weekend will be summery and warm, which it did, but it made me again worried, weather the dress might turn out to be too hot to wear in that case! Anyway, since it is silk, it felt heavenly light and airy on and I just loved it!

The front is actually double layer, but as I didn´t have enough of the silk to do that, I used a piece of stretch lining in the matching shade that I still had left over from my fabric shopping in Poland in 2013.

The funny thing is that as my silk fabric has two right sides, I accidentally created the tie on the right side of the dress as opposed to the left side that was intended by the pattern!

As usually, I cut the sice 38 and the fit is remarkably good, I guess the stretch fabric helps, since I didn´t had to fiddle with the fit even on the back side of the dress!

The trickiest part of the dress was not the side tie as I initially thought, but the neckline finishing with the facing. I am really not good at sewing sharp angles and it takes a lot of time and patience to sew these. The front neckline is self-faced and just softly folds over, while the rest of the neckline has a sewn on facing. Eventually it turned out ok, I think. I used my serger to finish the seam allowances and the iron-on hemming tape for the hems.

If anyone has a good tip on how to store silk fabric, I would like to know it because as I bought the fabric 3.5 years ago and had it stored folded, I noticed that the silk had fold line marks on it, somewhat lighter than the rest of the fabric and they could not be removed. I just can´t imagine how I shoud have stored the fabric to avoid this and because I did not have too much yardage, I had to accept that one of those lines ended up right on the front skirt panel. Since the front part is cut as one long piece, I could not avoid it, unfortunately. Of course it is not visible in the photos and probably not even by anyone else in real life, but I do notice it myself.

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And finally, a pic from yesterday´s wedding, together with the best colleagues:

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Orange Lace Dress

Happy New Year, everyone!

The first post of 2017 is actually a project that I wore already in the beginning of December, but I wanted to add an official photo from the wedding I made the dress for, together with the beautiful couple, H and M!

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As you can tell, the colour theme was blue and orange (referring to the groom´s native Netherlands), which gave me the perfect opportunity to use some fabrics from my stash: two pieces of orange poly crepe de chine and a surprisingly matching 1 meter of lace, probably my only successful online order on fabric.

The fabrics were not bought for any certain project and rather happened to match once the lace arrived. I found the lace on aliexpress.com and kind of test-ordered a meter about a year ago. I just recently saw the red version on sale in one local fabric shop but at a much higher price of course.

The pattern I used is Burdastyle 5/2012 model 133, which was a rather brave move since I had very little time to make the dress and I have once failed with the same pattern already.

I liked the style immediately in 2012 but never finished it because something went completely wrong with the bodice – I guess the bias cut somehow played tricks on me and I could not get the sides to match anymore. Luck was on my side this time and it could be due to the fact that as I was short of fabric but it seemed to have enough drape, I cut it straight.

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As it often happens, there is not enough time before or during such exciting events to take photos, so these are taken the morning after the wedding and the party.

The dress is fully lined according to the pattern and the skirt part is underlined in addition. I would say it was not as much as difficult, but time-consuming to make. However, in my opinion it deserves more difficulty points than the mere two as stated by Burdastyle magazine, because the shoulder seams are quite tricky to get right.

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Some close ups:

I must say I really like the back drape. It is also totally bra-friendly, no need for any special underpinnings or tape.

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As of the fit, the bust darts are quite off, as if the drape factor has not been considered.

I am really happy about the coincidence of having just the right fabric ready in stash for such a demanding colour scheme as orange is not something I wear often.

May you all have a very happy new year and to those who sew – I wish you lots of patience and luck with your projects!

Gutes neues!*

*Happy New Year!

I welcomed 2016 in Munich, Germany where I spent the last days of 2015.

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One of my former colleagues now lives and works in a small Bavarian town Bad Tölz, just an hour by train from Munich and sometime in September we decided with my boyfriend to go and pay her a visit.

The trip lasted just a few days, but it feels like it has been a long week since we did and saw so many things – visited one fashion and two art exhibitions, travelled to Salzburg, Austria for a day-trip, got acquainted with the history of Audi cars and wandered around Munich and Bad Tölz, of course.

I think the highlight of the whole trip was the amazing exhibition of Jean Paul Gaultier´s haute couture fashion From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at Kunsthalle Munich.

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I had never seen any haute couture show close up and I was totally amazed by the abundance of details, the crazyness of the ideas, the unbelieveable use of materials and how it altogether looks really-really beautiful.

The exhibition has been displayed in several locations since 2011, the one in Munich will remain open until February 14th, so if possible, go and see it in the heart of Europe before it is taken to Seoul where it will be from March 26 to June 30, 2016!

I am adding a few photos here, but there are many better quality ones out online, if you search. I am just trying to show the level of detail in some of the creations.

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We also saw the special exhibition of Klee & Kandinsky in Lenbachhaus and the current exhibitions in Pinakothek der Moderne.

There was a slight disappointment in Ingolstadt as we went there to see the Audi Forum and mainly I wanted to see how the cars are made in the plant, but we could only see the museum part, since the assembly work was stopped for holidays. As a teenager I once visited Mercedes Benz plant in Germany (I don´t remember where exactly and it appears there are several) and it was a very exciting experience.

However, totally unexpectedly the small town of Bad Tölz offered its own highlights to our trip. This is a place I really want to go back to for a relaxing and sporty holiday in summertime, since you can do water sports on the river Isar and cycle or walk on its banks in beautiful surroundings. Somehow I took only a few photos (probably because I was all ooh! and aah! for the beauty of it), but the atmosphere there was great, complete with beautiful traditional houses and bright sunlight.

This idyllic place also has a fabric shop that offers, among the dirndl-fabrics, some interesting fashion fabrics as well. However, I did not buy anything, as I had already bought too much on the first day in Munich.

I only visited two shopping malls (Karstad and Oberpollinger) and their fabric departments, because of lack of time, but since everything was on sale, I got more than I should have at a great price.

My favourite is Karstad where I got the first two from:

They are both jerseys, the first more like a scuba knit and heavier, while the second one is more lightweight. The price? 6.99 and 4.50 euros per meter respectively!

The prints are quite loud but hey, this is why I sew – to have the luxury of occasionally extravagant and maybe not so seriously practical clothes since I can make whatever I like! I also got a perfectly matching piece of lining for a dress I am planning to make and some special needles for microfibre fabrics.

Some photos from Karstad:

From Oberpollinger I only got the last piece of a dark green stretch fabric, exactly enough for a pencil skirt. Their selection is also very interesting though, I had to restrict myself very hard.

On the last day of the year we visited the Festung Hohensalzburg in Salzburg, Austria, just before heading back to Munich to celebrate the Sylvester (New Years Eve) with our friends.

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Happy New Year! For all the sewing fans out there, I wish creative ideas and lots of finished objects!

Spring in Paris – The Yellow Skirt

Hello!

I spent the last week in Paris with my mother, a trip she had long wanted to make. As my employer decided generously to add one extra week of holidays to everyone in 2015, I thought it would be a good chance to use the extra week for the purpose of accompanying her and also discovering Paris for the first time.

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I must say if you ever plan to go to Paris in spring, do it in April-May. Currently it was nastily cold! There is something about the cold in warmer climates – during the years I lived in Cyprus and Greece, I was also always cold in winter, especially indoors and fell ill once every year. This rarely happens to me here up North!

It was also slightly early because the trees were still leafless, which surely had an impact on my visual impression of Paris. It just means another trip has to be planned!

Thankfully, I had just finished a mustardy-yellow skirt to brighten things up.

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The pattern is from BurdaStyle October 2011 issue, model 119A and B mixed together.

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I cut size 38 at the waist and smoothed to size 40 at the hips. The fabric I used is from my trip to Portugal. I don´t know the composition if the fabric, but it is a weird one, dense and heavy and quite elastic lengthwise. I had just enough fabric for the skirt, as the pockets are self-lined and pretty big, requiring a lot of fabric.

Sewing this weird material was a pleasure, although it got tiresome at the waist, where I needed all my strength to press the basting needle through the layers.

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The skirt is unlined and i did not finish the seam allowances, since the fabric doesn´t fray at all and it would only have added extra bulk. The waistband is also hand stitched from the inside.

I really love the shape and extravagant size of the pockets. The buttonholes are only stitched, not cut through and the buttons are sewn onto those.

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Traditionally, I had done some homework on fabric shops in Paris and luckily there is a whole district of fabric shops of all sorts right on the base of the hilltop where the spectacular Sacre Coeur church sits.

Some of these shops are specialized on Halloween and other carnaval fabrics, others are selling everything in coupons of 3 meters, others have a bit of everything. I didn´t see anything too special or too expensive, the prices are rather low.

The most interesting one was perhaps Tissus Reine, a huge store with a large variety of fabrics from Liberty cottons to curtain and furniture fabrics, also a wide range of notions. The ground floor is dedicated to dressmaking fabrics and they have used smaller than human size dummies for decoration, who are dressed up in clothes made of the fabrics that are for sale.

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The other one, Les Coupons de Saint Pierre, is bigger online than in reality. They are selling everything in coupons of 3 meters, including silks. I spotted some beautiful pieces of bright yellow and green silks, but most of this was good fabric waisted for weird prints – like tiny Chinese working on ricefields or strolling with sunshades, However, I managed to find a piece of beautiful silk and paid just 20 euros for the whole 3 meters!

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Here is what I got:

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The first is a microfibre fabric that looks a bit like suede, I am not yet sure whether it will become a jacket or a minimalistic dress one day. The second one is a 3 meter coupon of cotton for a summer dress and the last is the silk fabric coupon.

The notions include shoulder pads, cover buttons and 3 shades (grey, dark blue and black) of jersey bias tape, something I have not seen before.

What I loved about Paris was the remarkable Musee d´Orsay, which will be one of the main reasons for my return and also the cheese and wine 🙂

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Hello, Africa!

Hey, everyone!

It has been a while, but I haven´t been idle, as soon as I get some photos taken, I will be able to show you this year’s holiday party dress and there are some other projects on the verge of completion, too!

But what I actually wanted to do today, was to share one interesting blog post with you. It is written by my dear colleague, Kadi (seen here with her Burgundy Wedding Guest Dress made by me) who currently is doing some great volunteer work in Uganda, Africa. Her task is to help the local school for children with special needs to develop some kind of production unit for young people with special needs who are not attending the school anymore but continue living there, so that by selling their goods they would be able to cover the expenses and have an income.

The idea is to produce several hand-made goods for sale and also take orders for sewing services. Of course now you know where I am getting at – fabrics!

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Over our long Skype chat Kadi sent me several photos of some of the most fantastic kitenge prints and I got very enthusiastic about the possibility of her actually bringing something along for me when she returns in January.

Below you can read a copy of her blog post that describes the local fabric shopping/sewing life, that I found very interesting. With her permission, I have only copied the English version of her original Estonian/English text that is available here.

For more details about the whole production unit, the little shop the volunteers have helped to start and of course, more supercool fabrics!, please look here.

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Tailoring business.

Moving around together with the tailors has brought along many interesting activities and discoveries regarding the textile and tailoring industry in Uganda. Firstly, I have learned about many new places for finding good fabrics and the important shops have been written down and memorized. Interestingly the shops are mostly organized so that similar businesses are all located in one place, e g there is the Energy Center for all kinds of eletrical materials, Majestic Plaza is the place for buying beads and pearls and other handicraft things (+ men who do your nails located on the ground floor) and many textile centers are packed tightly around two streets in downtown. From the outside it looks as if there were only a few shops but after entering the building one discoveries that every house is a labyrinth where all salespersons try to convince you to buy their products (hello sister, come and have a look, welcome, do you want some kitenge etc). After shopping there a few times you locate some shops that have good variety, reasonable prices, and friendly salespersons. One of the best experiences was to go fabric shopping together with teacher Winnie from the women’s project. She walked in front on crutches and me and Liina followed her along the lines of shops helping to choose materials and carry the shopping bags. While accompanying her we felt a lot less shouting and unnecessary attention around us. While moving around on your own, it still happens that the usual price of 25 000 – 35 000 for 6 yards of fabric turns suddenly into 60 000 and in that case I have often just left the shop because the bargaining and explaining would take too long. In some ways this kind of asking for a double price is also a bit disrespectful. Especially when I am bargaining in Luganda and state clearly that I know the real price anyway. The fabric shops have also specialized further – there are separate places for buying kitenge, materials for gomezis, for suits and so on. The surroundings of fabric shops are always filled with humming of the sewing machines and tailors with sewing machines have been squeezed into tiniest corners possible.
Besides textiles I also had to learn a lot about the sales and prices of sewing machines. Apparently the sewing machines sold in downtown Kampala are all brought in second hand from Asia. The prices vary between 350 000 and 500 000. The main factors affecting the price being the different stitches (they call it ‘designs’ here) the machine can make and whether it has a table and/or motor included. Only new machines I saw were manual Singer machines that are most probably also manufactured in China. While still searching for sewing machines for the tailors, we came across an easier and cheaper solution – getting four sewing machines from Bluesky. Due to having only solar energy, Bluesky was not using these machines anyway and we could repair four instead of buying one.
Ruth (left) and Night with some of their handicraft.
Handmade tie-dye fabric.
Shopping for fabrics.
Second hand sewing machines from Asia.
Olivia and the great artwork done by me : p
A welcoming light in our shop.
My home-office

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