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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Portugal Fun

Hey everyone!

I am back from my wonderful 10-day holiday to Portugal for nearly two weeks now and it feels like it all happened ages ago. Probably  the autumn really kicking in here in Estonia makes it hard to believe that just some days ago I was sweating on a bicycle ride along the coast of the Atlantic ocean.

Portugal is amazing, it was my first time there and I was lucky in several ways – first of all, having enough time to explore the country, secondly having maybe the best travel companion with me and thirdly, the itinerary we had set up enabled us to see a great deal of Portugal.

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Out of the ten days we spent four in Lisbon, then headed to South to Albufeira and from there up North to Porto via Coimbra. From Porto to the oceanside Figueira da Foz and then on the last day dropped by Obidos as well.

A few photos (most of them in this post have been taken by my friend Triin) here before getting to the fabric stores 🙂

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Yeah, to the fabric store then…

The first thing that I noticed and it kind of struck me was that being as busy as I was before departure, I didn´t find a moment to do any research on the fabric shops in Lisbon or anywhere else, but as it turned out, there was no need, as it is impossible to miss them in any city center. I guess it has something to do with the history of trading that Portugal is known for.

The first one of the many in Lisbon was Feira dos Tecidos, very close to the Rossi train station. It is a peculiar shop, lots of space but really not so much variety to choose from. Some fabrics are sold as 1,5 m coupons, some are on the rolls. However, they had some interesting faux leather and some doubleknits in beautiful autumn shades.

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The whole touristic city center of Lisbon is full of smaller fabric shops, that are not always very welcoming for photographing so I cannot show you many photos, but once you find the Feira dos Tecidos and then wander around the network of streets around the area, you will run into most of them anyway.

Some of them are pretty modest on the outside, but hide great, expensive fabric treasures, especially lace. There are also streets lined with small shops selling haberdashery, but I cannot buy buttons without a certain fabric and pattern in my mind, so I passed them with a heavy heart.

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As we were on our way to Porto, we made a stop for a lunch and stroll in Coimbra.

An once again, a fabric store suddenly just stood in front of me! As I discovered later, Avenida 7 is a whole chain of high-end fabric retailers. They mostly stock designer fabrics, expensive silks and amazing lace.

The following photos are taken in their Coimbra shop, but there is also one in Porto. Neither of them can be missed if you happen to walk around in the city center!

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As you can see, in addition to the goodies I got from Lisbon, I couldn´t resist the ones in Coimbra, either.

Altogether I got three fabrics:

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The mustard fabric is from Avenida 7, I am not sure about the composition, however, it has lengthwise stretch and it is quite heavy. I loved the texture and color and I imagine a nice fall skirt made of this.

The quilt-effect sweater jersey got me with its color combo. I only got a small piece and I should sew up a sweater asap, combining it with some plain black jersey.

The striped one is probably viscose. Again the colors where what sold me, I think I can recall a RTW maxi dress made of a very similar fabric. As it was sold in coupons, I got 3 of them, each 1.5 m wide and long. Hopefully enough for a dress at some point.

Unfortunately I haven´t had much time for sewing recently and it makes me stressed. I wanted to finish one interesting summer dress right on time for the trip so that I could have taken beautiful photos, but work and fun (and also the heatwave of early August) got in my way so I have a few unfinished projects waiting for their turn. I cannot afford all this fabric gathering up in my little flat, should turn it into garments at a faster rate!

However, I wouldn´t exchange my trip to Portugal to no matter how much time for sewing because it was a real time-out and I am also very grateful to my dear friend Triin, who put up with my fabric stores tour, did the driving and also took these beautiful photos!

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Burgundy Wedding Guest Dress

One would think that if the whole month passes without a post, there is not much going on about sewing in my life, but it is quite the opposite! Actually the reason for not posting is that I was frantically working on two dresses simultaneously and just as I got them finished with, went off for a great long weekend in Copenhagen.

So the first dress that nearly made me give it up, is for my friend and colleague Kadi. She had a wedding to attend close to Stuttgart, Germany the same weekend as I had a wonderful concert to attend in Copenhagen. More about that in the next post, related to my own dress.

Two events, two girls, of course two dresses needed!

I started off with hers as I surely did not want to mess it up and not be able to deliver on time. And oh boy, that was a good decision as the dress caused me lots of trouble.

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I have to apologize for the quality of the photos, but as winter approaches Estonia as well as Germany, it is extremely difficult to get good light conditions for photographing, so the photos in this post are not so clear.

The pattern we chose for her together is Simplicity 2442, view B:

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Although Kadi´s measurements seemed to fit size 40, I decided to cut 38. I am afraid some of the problems I faced with the dress occurred because of this too, but then again I feel that with the bigger size I would have had just different issues. For example, the shoulder yokes seem to fit her fine, but would definitely have been too large in size 40. But where things got tough was the gathered waistband. I ended up making two, one in size 38 (too small!) and the other one in 40 (also nearly too small!!). Thankfully we could eventually use the smaller one to make her a small purse to match the dress.

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The fabric is polyester taffeta, also chosen together. I am not a big fan of red, but this shade fits Kadi very well and has somewhat of a grace that fit the occasion perfectly.

Here she is with her charming boyfriend and the beautiful bride:

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The whole process gave us the opportunity of quite a few tea drinking and sewing evenings together. Everything went faster when Kadi was around, as I could try the dress on anytime I needed and also felt more pressure to stay focused rather than get lazy.

The bodice is lined and I used bias tape (if I remember correctly,nearly 10 meters!) for the seam allowances of the skirt. The hemline is hand stitched.

Here are a few photos with the dress on the hanger:

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The most peculiar thing was that although I had taken the measurements with her wearing the bra she wanted to wear with the dress,  the neckline just did not fit her at all! So one day, in despair, I took the bodice to work to try it on again after some alterations and she told me she was wearing a different bra that day. We tried the dress anyway and whoa! it fit her perfectly! So the trick was to change the bra 😀 Oh well, I am not anything close to a professional seamstress, I guess a professional would have worked her way around any bra.

But eventually I finished the task just four days short of Kadi´s trip and she is happy with the result, so all is good!