11 oktober 2014

They tried to make me wear polyester and I just said no, no thanks

This dress was made for a pretty specific reason! As I've mentioned before, I started working in the haberdashery department of a store that also sells hosiery and accessories (fellow Belgians will definitely know who I mean...). Naturally, the employees are expected to wear things from the store whilst working. Yay, free tights!

Some time ago we got a shipment of little black dresses. Classic, shift dresses with a short sleeve and a high neck. My boss loved them. She got this vision of all employees wearing those black dresses on Saturdays, with different tights. Gorgeous! There was only one problem: I hated the fabric (polyester with a polyester lining, and our store gets HOT!) and the fit was way off on me. "Altering the dress would take me as long as just making a new black dress!" I said. "And hey, it kind of makes sense for me to wear something handmade, right? I'll even use trims from the shop!". My boss just sighed since I was like the third person that day to complain about the dresses, and then she told me to do what I wanted. Yay!

On to the facts! I wanted something comfortable but still slightly fancy, and my greedy eyes fell upon the Clover dress by Papercut. I had a black bamboo viscose (ouh!) in my stash that would be perfect, and I even decided to get fancy with some lace!

This viscose was an absolute dream to work with. It's fluid but still has some 'grip' so it's not slippery, and it loves to be pressed and steamed! I decided to not make a muslin since the fit seemed very forgiving (and I remembered the Rigel bomber fitting really well straight out of the package).

Casually defending my territory

This is a very simple dress pattern but there are a few simple and clever ways to keep it from becoming a sack. The front and back are two pieces with a centered seam and some shaping. It's a pullover dress but it's slightly shaped at the waist and extends into a flared skirt, limiting the amount of fabric you have bunched up around the waist. It even looks pretty good without a belt! I also love the soft lines created by the raglan sleeves. One of my favourite things is the underarm curve, actually!

I found this lace trim that was exactly the right width and decided to use it as my contrast fabric. to make the sewing easier I basted the pieces to bits of Soluvlies, sewed everything as instructed and washed it off. It worked like a charm, but the neckline is pretty deep, so I'm thinking of backing the lace with black fabric... The effect wouldn't be as dramatic, but I wouldn't have to choose between flashing my bra or wearing an extra shirt...

The original instructions have you braid a beld with embroidery floss and make your own tassels. I was too lazy and cheap to buy embroidery floss, so I just went for a long tube of self fabric and added some premade tassels. I really should have pressed that.

In the morning I wore this with a heavier coat, but later in the day things warmed up enough to pair the dress with this blazer! It's a classic thing I got handed down from my mother some time ago, and I recently added some embroidery to the lapels. Instant updating, even if the stitching is a bit wonky!

I wore this to work today and got loads of compliments. Paired with being comfortable this makes for a winner! They also go with my new boots-that-go-with-everything-anyway:

03 oktober 2014

Casual Wednesday

Bad blogger! I've been doing some sewing and a whole lot of knitting (I made a sweater! Only need to block it!) but photographing my makes never happened... Until today! I was wearing a new dress to work and decided to take pictures afterwards. Since the days are getting shorter (boo!) daylight was fading fast and I decided to pull a Hanne and take pictures on my little rooftop terrace!

This is the Bleuet dress by Deer and Doe, a pattern I made once before. I hoarded this vintage cotton for ages because I only had a small amount (three very narrow yards) but now I finally mustered up the balls to cut into it! I remembered this dress fitting me really well straight out of the package,  and I wasn't mistaken. The result makes me think of something Wednesday Addams would wear on a casual Friday. Casual Wednesday. And I'm posting this on a Friday. CONFUSION.

The black contrast pieces were made out of a black modal I got from Kokette Katinka. This stuff is pretty cool, it feels almost like a peachskin and presses nicely, even if it's a bid fidgety to sew! I have quite a bit leftover, but no real idea yet about what it will become...

The absolute star of this pattern is the bow in the back. It is so simple to add, but so incredibly CUTE! I started sewing this dress in a radio studio (really) and just couldn't stop looking at it. About that radio thing, Caroline was asked to teach Linde Merckpoel how to sew on Studio Brussel, and she invited me and Lieke along for an afternoon so we could host a sewing club. It was pretty awesome! The room we were in was filmed by a webcam I wasn't aware of until my boyfriend texted me to say he could see me. They also made a little video, you can see me flashing around in the background here and there:

This adventure is also the reason for this extra surprise element:

I had cut my dress the day before so I just had to sew in the studio. Since I had so little fabric (with a directional print) it was impossible to eek the hem facings out. My sleepy head was tired of cutting and figured 'hemming is like, the final step. I won't get to that. Screw finding more fabric, I'll cut those facings some other time'. Upon arriving in Brussels, only carrying my sewing machine and essential items, I noticed the hem was more like, the second step in the garment. Woops! Thankfully, Lieke was working on something gorgeous made out of peacock print and she had some left. Thanks again!

This was a very straightforward dress to make (far easier than the first one, but that probably has more to do with me using cotton this time instead of velvet). I really like how the princess seams make for a fitted silhouette without feeling constricting or uncomfortable! I spent five hours at work in this and it was awesome. One of my collegues bemoaned how I make nice things for me and then say 'nah!' when someone asks me to sew for them. Sorry guys!


In slightly unrelated news: I'm going to ask for money and it's not for me. My amazing friend Nena is trying to raise funds for an exhibition of her work in the train station Brussels North. She graduated from art school with a beautiful comic about the people who go through the station daily, and her plans for the exhibition would make for something truly astonishing. She needs 4200 euros to cover printing costs and an opening night, and we all really want her to get there! Every donation gets a present by the way, depending on how much you give. You can donate here and see more of Nena's work here!

14 september 2014

Business Time!

Some exciting news here! Lieke, Ilse, Charlotte and Erika decided we needed to clean out our stashes and are hosting a fabric sale in Antwerp! Aside from fabrics we'll also sell notions and books... I won't be able to contribute much since I did some serious destashing during the blogger meets and before my move, but I do have a few goodies for sale...

The event is hosted at Lieke's house, so if you want to stop by you can send her an e-mail at bouquetofbuttons@gmail.com to get the address!

I'll be there on Sunday afternoon by the way, if you want to come say hello...

31 augustus 2014

I guess this is my comeback then. Rejoice!


Hello friends! It's me!

This blogging break lasted longer than I wanted/expected it to. The boyfriend and me moved into a new place, and this, combined with me working loads of extra hours at work meant I spent most of my spare time unpacking and organizing! The new appartment is amazing though. Our first place together was a bit of a necessary evil: it was a basement level, dark and quite damp, but it was large enough for the both of us and our work and we needed to make a decision. Now we have the two top floors of a gorgeous building (wooden floors!), a little balcony and loads of windows and light. I even have my own sewing/drawing room! Expect some pictures when things are somewhat in place.

Now, let's talk about sewing! This was sort of an emergency dress I made right before we moved, back when there was still a summer going on... Temperatures were really high all of a sudden, and the part of the store I work in doesn't have air conditioning. I looked at my wardrobe and figured out I needed something very lightweight and loose to survive!

This fabric is a very soft and drapey viscose knit I got from Wanderlust fabrics. That's right people, I made something in a knit! And it only took me three fours (making the pattern included!). Sewing knits is nowhere near as scary as I used to think it was, but for some reason I still prefer working with wovens. For this dress, I simply traced the shape of a tank top I already owned onto pattern paper, lengthened it and did some math for the bindings. It could have used a bit more length but I stop caring when it's hot and it's fine with tights...

I reinforced the hem with fusible seam tape, then just turned it under once and stitched it down with a zig-zag stitch. It has enough flare so it doesn't really have to be stretchy!

Something I'm really happy about is how the bindings turned out. I don't remember exactly how the calculations went but the finished strips ended up around 15% shorter than the holes they were meant to bind. I stitched all the seams in the garment, stitched the short ends of the binding together and folded it, aligned the raw edge with the raw edge of the garment, stretched and sewed. The edges were then topstitched down with a straight stitch, again because I didn't really feel they had to stretch!

Here's me being all smug about sewing a dress in three hours and moving into a nicer place. We see that building in the background from our balcony, by the way! It's like the town hall, but for the city district we live in now, so not really a town hall if that makes sense (does anyone know the proper term for this in English?).

I'm currently organizing my workspace and hoping to get sewing and working again soon! In the meantime, enjoy this picture of me ruling over my minions. Or, more exact, ruling over one pigeon. He didn't really listen to me so I wasn't exactly ruling over him though.

22 juli 2014

It's Oonapalooza and Everyone's Invited!

Oona's blog was one of the first sewing blogs I started reading. I was (and still am) baffled by how intuitively she seems to turn fabric into amazing garments and the brilliant ways she uses prints. So when I heard about Oonapalooza I took the loudest, most technicolor print out of my stash and got celebrating!

This is a rayon challis I bought from Wanderlust fabrics, and it's truly great in person! Kelli from True Bias used it to make some shorts, and I decided to go all out and make a dress.

This dress fills a very real gap in my wardrobe. The days of working mostly from home are over, meaning my usual strategy to cope with heat (stay inside and don't wear clothes) are not really an option anymore. I took a look at my clothes and noticed there's a severe lack of light and airy dresses fit for hot days and mobility. Time to do something about this!

The pattern for this is mostly self-drafted (Oona style!) I started from my trusted bodice block, spread it to add volume (but not as much as for this dress) and simply lengthened it into a dress. This was then chopped up again to create the contrast yoke.

"I can see your bra straps" "phbbbbt"
The yoke was the hardest part about sewing this incredibly easy dress. It's a stretch lace I bought from Mondepot with my Sew it Up prize (yay!) and the trickiest part was getting a sharp point and sewing the stretchy bits to the woven bits without everything going wobbly. I stabilized the bias cut edges on the challis with fusible tape and just used lots of pins and a walking foot! The neckline and armholes are finished with narrow black bias tape.

To lift the entire thing out of muumuu territory I just cut a long strip out of my leftover fabric and used it to make a tie belt. I like how the volume worked out: it's super floaty and light but still wide enough to provide loads of airflow.

I think that might be the closest I'll ever get to a cool Oona pose on a tiny bridge.

This dress was a dream to sew (it took me two short evenings to draft the pattern, cut everything and sew it together). I loved wearing it and felt really comfortable, even on a sticky hot train (which was shared with some peeps returning home from a Belle Epoque picknick at the Antwerp Zoo... They were quite literally dripping but looked SO AWESOME). I love it when the result of a challenge like this ends up being very much my thing!

And for those who want to frolic in this Garden of Eden I'm standing in: you're out of luck! It belongs to Luc Cromheecke and his wife Sabine, an awesome comic book artist who fed me tea, cookies and wisdom during a three-month internship two years ago. He bought one of my boyfriend's drawings and we decided to deliver it in person, which led to this feast:

It's a good thing we took photos beforehand because I ended up absolutely stuffed and barely able to move!

17 juli 2014

Bowties Are cool. Deal with it.

I'm back with another finished project! It's been a bit quiet on the sewing front, after Sew it Up I took it easy for a while, did some knitting, designed a card for friends. But as soon as the sewing itch came back I started on a project I've wanted to make for a long time!

This dress is made from a very lightweight cotton I bought in Brighton over a year ago. The saleswoman said it was Gaultier or something but I wanted it because I really liked the feel (so light!) and the print (border print!).

The print also reminds me of someone...

I bought a book about Daleks on the same day. Don't judge. The TARDIS necklace I'm wearing in this pictures is an amazing birthday gift from some amazing friends. You know who you are!

Back to the dress! This pattern is made by me! I started from a basic bodice block, slashed and spread to get rid of the darts and add some pouf to the bodice and then turned it into a faux wrap. I also added two tucks along the neckline, but they kind of get lost in the fabric! this gathered bodice was attached to a waistband, and I just gathered my entire length of fabric as a skirt to make maximum use of the border print with my limited yardage.

The dress closes at the back with an invisible zipper, but it only goes halfway to the top. I left the rest of it open and closed it at the neck with a button and loop, so there's a slit for ventilation and aerodynamics. Oh, and if you look closely you can see something peek out...

That's right, I got my first tattoo almost two months ago! It's something I've wanted for a long time, and I spent ages looking for the right artist. I ended up with Susanne K├Ânig at Salon Serpent in Amsterdam and she did an awesome job! I definitely want another one. Sorry mother dear.

Sewing time is a tiny bit limited right now... My boyfriend and I are moving into our second appartment together (my own sewing/drawing room! Yay) and there's so much stuff to pack. I'm hoping to squeeze something out for Oonapalooza though!

12 juli 2014

Giveaway Winners!

I'm a teeny tiny bit late announcing the winners of this giveaway, and that's only because I completely forgot about it. Sorry! Things are a bit hectic now (we'll be moving in less than a month!) But I'll soon be back with a finished project...

Anyway, without further ado: the stripe fabric goes to True Bias and the Michael Miller fabric is for Rebekka! Rebekka, if you are reading this, I couldn't find a way to contact you so could you e-mail me at annekecaramin(at)hotmail(dot)com so I can get the fabric mailed to you?

Hooray for the winners!