18 november 2014

Revenge of the Swamp Witch

Once upon a time, there lived a witch in the swamps. She spent her time casting spells between the mud, dirt and water, wreaking havoc all over the place. Her frightening appearance- floating scarves, skirts and kimonos- burned itself into the collective memory of the people and remained there for centuries after the witch's death...

One day, a foolish young girl decided to use this image, and dress up as the Swamp Witch for something as trivial as a Halloween party, despite of the warnings her friends uttered. Because, as the story goes, the Swamp Witch's spirit was said to posess the bodies of the wild dogs roaming the swamp and the forests around it, and she did not like it when people would mock her name!


The Foolish Young Girl persisted, and assembled a costume inspired by the tales about the Swamp Witch. Most items were already present in her wardrobe, but she did have to get crafty to get her hands on some of them! She cut a stencil of the Witch's sign (as it was left on people's doors in the old days, striking fear into the hearts of the villagers) and applied it to a lowly store-bought top, using gold fabric paint.


Obviously, the kimono was the most important part of the outfit. The Foolish Young Girl found a piece of gifted lace in her pile of fabrics and went chopping. After simply sewing together a few rectangles and attaching some fringe, she had something that truly invoked the spirit of the Swamp Witch. Her friends were impressed, but begged her not to get too close to the forest, since the tales of the Witch had made a lasting impression on their minds. But the Foolish Young Girl ignored their warnings and went ahead.

This is the last picture the search team found on her camera when they recovered it:


06 november 2014

Oh Paris, you've really done something to me

Look who found some time to take pictures, edit them and write a post! I even had to take a short trip to Paris for these. Really. No, actually we were going there anyway to see the Welcome to Night Vale live show (AWESOME). We were in the city for about three days and had loads of luck with the weather, so I decided to take some pictures of a new dress during a visit to the Père Lachaise cemetery!


This is essentially a lengthened version of the Magena fringe jumper by Named Patterns. No spectacular hacking here: I just lengthened and slightly flared the pattern pieces, and omitted the hem band. It seems the Sew Convert had the same idea! I love her version.


This was my first time working with a Named pattern, and I'm impressed. The design is simple but interesting and opens up a whole lot of possibilities. The instructions are short but clear (mind: there's a lot less hand-holding than with other indie patterns! The instructions for this jumper fit on one A4 page) and the drafting was excellent.


I used a combination of two different fabrics for this. The main body is made out of a sparkly silver mistery knit I bought at Stoffenspektakel in Antwerp, the sleeves are made from a black modal knit I got from Mondepot. The black might be a bit too lightweight for this, especially compared to the glitter, but I don't really mind this... The main eyecatcher is the fringe of course, which has really won me over. I'm already planning another fringed project!


I cut the length a fair bit shorter than I'd usually go for to balance out the bagginess. This is a far cry from my usual fitted waist/full skirt silhouette, but I loved this for strolling around (and eating lots of food)


See? I can even do a graveyard dance in it. To be honest I felt a little awkward doing a 'fashiony' shoot in a location like this, especially since the cemetery is still in active use, but on the other hand we saw loads of tourists stomping on other graves to get a good picture of Jim Morrison's, so I guess it's not so bad? Damn, I'd be pissed if people walked all over my grave all the time just because I'm next to someone famous.


It had been a long time since I was in Paris, and I had a blast. We only had a few days so we decided to make the most of it and just see as much cool things as we could (within reason). We even saw the Eiffel Tower!


 We also visited a few really nice exhibitions (Hokusai and an Art Brut exhibit) but I was most thrilled about the Natural History museum! It's a beautiful building and the Paleonthology department is amazeballs. It's two floors stuffed to the brim with skeletons and seems to have been left unchanged for ages (I loved the ancient signs).

I've finished some knitting recently so I hope to photograph that as well now it's getting colder! Get ready for the sight of my first sweater...


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!

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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!


*drumroll*






















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!