sábado, 30 de noviembre de 2013

The Twiggy Dress

The Monthly Stitch, a collective with a monthly challenge, which I sometimes accept, had a really great theme for November. Something from a Sewing Book.

I love Sewing Books! Here's my list. 
I have the Colette Book, sewing techniques, a book about pattern drafting, a book about copying RTW garments, a Belgian book on skirts, a Belgian book called Fabric for Dare-It-Yourselvers, two Spanish books that came with the apartment and THIS BOOK, Famous Frocks.

The book has a bit of sewing instructions in general and then come the dresses. 10 patterns with 2 variations each, that makes 20 dresses! The book set me back 20€. I say that's a nice bargain!

Now I'm not saying that every dress in this book is my style. It totally isn't. But the Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy (made by someone from my hometown and blogged about here), Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy definitely are my style, and maybe the Farrah Fawcett, Stevie Nicks and Madonna.

So for the challenge, I made a Twiggy.

This is what it looks like on me:

I love this dress. It is pink wool from the Great Belgian Fabric Haul and the buttons are made of wood. The placket on the front was a bit of a bitch, but all plackets tend to be like that. At least it was a decent size instead of those tiny fiddly things on shirt sleeves...

What more can I say about the construction? Nothing. It's pretty straight forward and easy. Oh yes, pinked seam allowances. My favourite!

I don't have match sticks for legs like Twiggy, so I usually wear this dress with polkadot stockings and boots. And a wool cardi from Mango that I have owned for about 6 years now. It's starting to look a bit ragged, but I still love it, so it stays.

I may already be dreaming up another dress from this book, a Marilyn for dancing...

This is my best dance move...
Taking pictures in a sleeveless dress when it's 10ºC outside, not so much fun as you would think looking at my pictures...

So any other sewing book I should add to my Christmas wish list?

jueves, 28 de noviembre de 2013

Big Barcelona Fabric Binge

It's always sunny in Barcelona...

Two weeks ago, we went to Barcelona. My favourite city on the Iberian Peninsula and definitely in my TOP-5 of all-time travel destinations, even with non-stop rain pouring down...
I love the vibrant atmosphere in the city, the different barrios, the great food, the contemporary ambiance and above all, Modernism, the pinnacle of human architecture and art. 

I even like the Catalan language, even though I don't understand a word they're saying. Written it is like French and Spanish combined with a twist, spoken it has a very Italian vibe... Sounds like the best combo ever to me...
Since our gettaway, I can absolutely positively add to this list; the fabric shopping! It is the best! My husband is very over-indulgent when it comes to fabric stores, but he confessed last week that he actually likes it too!  

Let me give you a list of all the fabric stores we went to and afterwards we will roll on the floor wrapped in our bounty!

First off:

GRATACOS - the prettiest store.
Passeig de Gràcia 110

Every fabric hangs on a rail, so behind every roll you see, there are at least 5 rolls more!
Also the most expensive store, so I went out empty handed.

C/Roger de Llúria 6

Great selection of fabric and an awesome remnants bin! I paid 60 € here for 7 pieces of fabric, including a niece piece of wool, my favourite fabric.

The woman on the right kept steering my attention to other fabrics in the bin, I think she was after my wool...
Ha, nice try Lady!
After that came RIBES Y CASALS, right across the street from Teixits Donna.
C/Roger de Llúria 7

I have to admit, I was very reluctant to go in here. I have been to their store in Madrid last year, and I was so disappointed (in fabric stores in Madrid in general) but the store in Barcelona is quite another story.
A remnants table as big as the fabric store here in Santander, with a great selection. And the store itself was great too, amongst other things I found fabric with multi-coloured feathers (think Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro) and gorgeous laser-cut leather lace. And the biggest selection of polka dots I have ever seen, but after all, the gorgeous Spanish Flamenco dresses have to get their fabric from somewhere...

All those fabric stores caused some serious silliness!
I went home with 3 metres of coating perfect for my upcoming Albion for just 10€. I also picked up a few fabrics off the rolls.

After all this, came NUNOYA.
Carrer de la Palla 6

They are the official distributor of a lot of Japanese fabrics for Spain. Everything here is cotton, and all of it is pretty expensive, 15€ per meter and up, no remnants table here because they make the remnants into handbags or zipper pouches or whatever. I went away with only 1 fabric here, but it is absolutely gorgeous.

Carrer de Rauric 8

Just a 2 minute walk of La Rambla.

I saw a lot of pretty things in here, but the colourful prints couldn't really convince my man, and my wallet was beginning a peaceful protest action as well, so I bought only one piece of fabric here too.

They make those hilarious African shirts here too, you can get them made to measure...
We politely declined...
I added all these stores to my map of fabric stores, so feel free to use it to your hearts content and add to it!

A whole while ago Gillian made me a personal color palette using her very scientific method... And I am glad to say that my new fabric really is in accordance to the colours on my palette. I didn't bring the palette with me, but just knowing I have one is an unconscious guideline when I go fabric shopping. So I know that the clothes I make with these fabrics will actually work on me...

I should tweak it a little bit for autumn and winter, but I am lazy...
I can assure you that my little trolley was almost bursting at the seams when I started packing to go home...

Let's take a closer look shall we?

Now let's take an even closer look and disclose a few of the plans for these babies...

This is the fabric for my Albion. It's obviously brown, but the stripes you see are flocked and have a little bit of golden glitter in them. The cow fabric is really cute, it's hairy and has the texture of a real cow skin. This will become a sleeve for a tablet. I hope there will be enough left for a pillow too.

 A diamond-patterned knit that will most likely become a second Lola. On top of the knit is an assortment of suiting that will become a dress as soon as I get the pattern in the mail.

On the right, the African fabric and on the right, the Japanese fabric. One of these will leave its cocoon as an Anna Dress... The other pattern is not yet decided... Maybe another Bleuet.

 The black fabric is the lining for the polka-dots because it's pretty sheer. This will be a dress for dancing. I haven't decided on a pattern yet, I want something that looks good twirling...

Mustard coloured wool and pink herringbone and a supersoft cream coloured knit. I'm not sure what these are going to become. I would love for the knit to become a sort of cardigan, but I have no idea what pattern to use, I have been looking the interwebs a while now, but still  haven't found what I was hoping to find...
All tips or suggestions are very welcome!

Now I promise you, this is not all we did... Oh no! The main reason for our trip were ARCTIC MONKEYS. The best band in the world right now, not only their records but above all their live sets! We have seen these gentlemen 4 times now and they just get better and better. The first time we saw them in Belgium they were still very shy. The second time was in Amsterdam and I guess they were going through a fase then, because their music was great but they didn't really seem to care. The third time was in Luxemburg, headlining a summer festival and it was fantastic. All day we had been soaking up the sun, baking in our own skins, then when the sun was setting, Arcade Fire was playing, and after that came a hot steaming Arctic Monkeys set... And this was the fourth time and it was amazing. We had seats in the stands, but we were seated on the sixth row or something, about at the same level as the front row in front of the stage so we were still really close. And once they started, nobody around us sat down, but was singing from the top of their lungs, dancing, jumping and fist-punching the air like a bunch of crazy people. Which they were because they were Spaniards (and a lot of British) at a rock concert...

They have a tour lined up in North-America and another in Australia and New-Zealand, both for 2014. And after that it's the summer festival season...

Yes, we were this close!

My favourite song of the new album, how they played it in Barcelona. The entire CD is a declaration of love, if you listen closely to the lyrics, that are absolutely genious, my kind of poetry! I wouldn't mind being serenaded like that...
FYI, my favourite song by Arctic Monkeys is Crying Lightning, although I can not name one song of them that I don't like... I encourage you all to check out their entire repertoire! Long live Spotify...

On Sunday we went to CosmoCaixa, a scientific museum that's really worth the trip to the beautiful Tibidabo area. And with only 4€ entrance fee, quite on the cheap end as well.

So after this fantastic citytrip we decided we would do this more often (more often being once or twice a year...). Take a plane to Barcelona and spend the weekend there. The two-way airfare was a little over 50€ each, we found a great hotel in the city centre that has a great family suite for under 100 € per night, the price of good food is very reasonable and public transportation is very affordable in Barcelona (unlike London, my other favourite destination). Add to this all the great concerts, museums and other activities, and you need not look any further to know where your next trip should take you!

jueves, 21 de noviembre de 2013

V is for Victory - L is for Lola, the Love of my Life

I never thought I'd see the day, but I am totally and utterly in love with a knit dress I made. I had in my stash a gorgeous ribbed knit fabric that just screamed SWEATER DRESS off the top of it's lungs to me. After perusing Pattern Review, numerous blog posts and several pattern companies, I settled on  fell in love with Lola by Victory Patterns.

Lola is everything you would want in a girl, I know she is everything I want in a girl. She has curves in all the right places but is not too curvy, is sporty, excellent to lounge with on the couch with a cup of tea and a movie featuring Bradley Cooper (she loves Silver Linings Playbook just as much as I do and we both wished we could dance like Jennifer Lawrence), she loves a walk on the beach during an autumn storm, she looks great in leather boots, but still is sophisticated enough to take her out for drinks on a Sunday evening. And best of all, she doesn't need to carry a huge handbag because she has pockets! Not my Lola though, I ran out of fabric, I guess I could make pockets and sew them on, but we have a husband who doesn't mind stuffing my phone and ID in his pocket when I decide I want to take those with me, so I'll leave it at that.

I have a very severe case of the pear. My bust measurement is about 10 - 12 cm (depends on the day and the amount of chocolate eaten the days before measuring) smaller than my hip measurement. Victory Patterns have established the difference between bust and hip for their patterns at 5 cm... I hear you thinking, "No big deal, just grade at the waist line" but that is where the trick is with this pattern. All seams are curved (except for the hem) and there is no side seam, just princess seams front and back. I solved my problem by making the pattern in the size of my hips and then take in the front princess seams and this worked out fine, but the sweet Kristiann of Victory Patterns sent me a little diagram indicating the waist line on the pattern pieces and has been so kind to let me share this with you.

Click this image, it will open the diagram Kristiann made. I had to google the way to do this twice!

Have I said I love this dress? It is awesome. The knit is super soft and warm and comfy and cozy. The dress pattern is super cool, a wardrobe essential I would label it! So I guess fabric and pattern were meant to be together...
This is the first real Autumny thing I have made, all other things I made are very Summery. It could be the beginning of a great new exploration in fabrics and patterns!

I wore it out on another day trip, to Potes this time. A cozy and warm (how compatible with my dress) little town in the mountains. To get there, you have to drive through the 'Desfiladero de la Hermida', a 30 km-long gorge, eroded over millions of years by the Río Deva and equally impressive in Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, no matter how many times you have passed through before. We would go to Potes just for the drive through the Desfiladero...

 I'm sure Gillian will have a heart-attack when she reads that I haven't prewashed my fabric. Maybe it can be a reassurance that I plan to give it my standard self-made treatment; hand wash the first 3 times, normal wash (30ºC) and dryer after that... Just so you all know, Gillian is my 'Sewing Knits Hero', and has added a section 'Lazy tips for sewing with knits' to her blog, a part I often go to to make sure I don't commit any cardinal knit sins. (Oops, just did by not prewashing).
She also came up with a way to make your own colour palette. She made one for me too, I'm definitely preparing to share it with you guys really soon!

 Maybe I should have ironed the hem, but Lola is just like me, she doesn't care about wrinkles if it means the iron can stay in the cupboard.
 What is up with the hair?

So, how do you guys feel about Lola, or are there other patterns you would (or already have) start a love-affair with?

jueves, 14 de noviembre de 2013

Tutorial for drafting a mini-skirt

I promised a tutorial for the skirt I made, so here it is.

Let me show you my original diagram.

Yes, this is in Dutch.

I fine-tuned this and applied colour-coding and registered every step to give you a nice tutorial. So here you go, for all of you who want to make a skirt like mine, follow along! 

For all you crazy people out there that are not using the metric system , 1 inch is 2.54 cm.

And here is the explanation, but once you get the right order, it's really not that difficult, I promise. You'll see.

Now to do this, I taped brown craft-paper to my sewing table and used the lines as a guideline, but the most important thing is to pay attention to your right angles, and from there on out, everything comes together rather nice.

The only three measurements you need are your hips, waist and distance between hip and waist.

Here you have a very professional drawing of a body with the directions for the measurements...

My model is slightly imperfect, to be more true to reality ;-)
As an example, I will use my own measurements which are 106 cm hip and 78 cm waist. Hm, pear shaped much?
Distance between the two +/- 26 cm.
I used 1 cm ease because I wanted a close fitting skirt, but you can use whatever ease you want...
I've put my calculations in green below.

First you draw your base-line: A

A = 1/2 x hip + ease (note, in the final skirt, the amount of ease will be double of this amount, because we are only drawing half of the skirt).
A = 1/2 x 106 cm + 1 cm = 54 cm

Next up is the length of the skirt, line B

Decide how long you want the skirt to be (starting at the waistline) and add your hem-allowance. Here are a few options:
  • seam allowance (1.5 cm) if you add a hem facing
  • 3 - 5 cm if you just turn the hem, finished invisible or not
  • none, if you decide to leave the raw edge exposed
B = 45 cm + 3 cm = 48 cm 

Complete your rectangle.

On to side C, here I just divided A in 2, but you can change it how you want, giving more width to the back than to the front, I suggest that you measure your body and make a muslin. For example, my hip measurement is 106 cm, but my front (stopping at where my side seam would ideally be) hip is 51 cm, making my back hip measurement 55 cm. So here are two suggestions for calculations.

C = 1/4 x  hip + 1/2 ease
C front = 1/2 x front hip + 1/2 ease
C back = 1/2 x back hip + 1/2 ease

C = 1/4 x 106 + 0.5 = 27 cm
C front = 1/2 x 51 + 0.5 = 26 cm
C back = 1/2 x 55 + 0.5 = 28 cm


Now we move to the top of our rectangle. First of all, add 1.5 cm to the top of the dividing line between front and back and draw a line from the top of the sides to this point. On this line we will calculate the length of our waist.

D = 1/4 x waist + width of darts/pleats + 1/2 ease
You can use whatever you want here, I used 2 pleats of 3 cm each, you can just as easily make this into a single dart of 3 cm, or you can add 3 darts of 2 cm or 5 of 1 cm, or whatever you prefer. Just make sure that D < C

D = 1/4 x 78 + 2 x 3 + 0.5 = 26 cm

E follows the same logic as D, but goes at the back. I added 2 darts, one long dart and one short dart. The first 4 cm wide and the latter 2 cm wide. Again, you can use whatever you want here!

E = 1/4 + 78 + 4 + 2 + 0.5 = 26 cm

Mark your waist-hip distance on your pattern, from the top down and also mark half of the distance. Small caps a and b in gray on the diagram. Connect the end of D and E with the bottom marking you just made in the centre of your diagram.
a = distance between hip and waist
b = 1/2 x a

a = 26 cm
b = 1/2 x 26 = 13 cm

Next up, divide your front and back panel in 3 sections. 1/3 x C (front and back)

Next the darts. The widest dart goes where the butt goes, so closest to the center back seam. Left on the diagram. The narrowest dart goes more towards the side seam, right on the diagram. I let the largest dart end in halfway between a and b.

On to the pleats on the front panel. Make sure you spread the pleats evenly. I used the 1/3 mark as the center between my pleats. If you decide to add a dart to the front, make the center of the dart the 1/3 mark you drew in the previous step. Pleats or darts on the front should go up to line b.

Now we are almost there! Just decide how far below your waist you want your skirt to start. I went with 5 cm.

Draw a line parallel to lines D and E, 5 cm lower (or distance chosen).

Now all that is left, is to finish the markings on our pattern. The tips of all the darts need to go straight up from the last drawn line (parallel to the center back line) up to line E and D, if not, our facing will become to narrow.

Blue lines = where to cut out your pattern piece
Gray lines = will help you draw your pattern
Brown lines = markings to transfer onto you fabric

Now just cut your pattern on the blue lines and you're ready to cut your fabric and sew your skirt!
When you cut your fabric, don't forget to add seam allowance (usually 1.5 cm) to the side seams and center back seam. The center front seam is cut on the fold so you only have 1 frontpiece!
Hem is already included and for the waist there is no extra allowance necessary.

To sew this skirt, the instructions are standard and simple

1. Sew darts and pleats following your markings. Darts are pressed towards the side seam, pleats can be pressed to your liking, and if you swing that way, you can even stitch them down...

2. Insert the zipper. If you're looking for a great tutorial on inserting different types of zippers,  I highly recommend the free Craftsy class 'Mastering Zipper Techniques'. It is a bit boring, but covers all the basics! Make sure your zipper is long enough to go beyond your butt, or you'll have trouble getting in and out of your skirt.
The zipper should start where you will turn under the waist-facing. (the brown sloping line you drew near the end). All that goes above this point is left as open.

3. Sew the side seams. Make sure to line up the notches (the little brown lines in the center of the diagram).

4. Press your seams.

5. Finish your raw edges by zigzagging, pinking, serging, binding with bias tape,...

6. Finish your hem by turning it under (3 cm) and stitching it down in/visibly, add a hem facing,...

7. Turn under the waist-facing, press thoroughly in place.

8. Invisibly tack your facing in place.

9. Wear with pride and joy! And send me a picture of your skirt, I would love to see it!

If you have any questions about drawing your skirt or putting it together, give me a shout-out in the comments below and I promise I will get back to you!

If you want to share this tutorial, please go ahead. But mention where you got it!


jueves, 7 de noviembre de 2013

Self drafted mini-poncho-sombrero-skirt

A couple of months ago I saw this fabric in my local store. I immediately fell in love with it, but could not for the love of God think of something to use it for, so sadly I left it there.

After seeing Kim's gorgeous weekender bag made in a fabric that made me think of this one, I had an epiphany. This fabric would look great as a mini-skirt! And guess what? It does!

I went to the fabric store, and in my basic Spanish I had to explain to the shopkeeper what fabric I meant. It wasn't until I pulled out my phone and showed a picture of aforementioned blog post that the kind sir (I doubt his name is Lorena, even though that is the name of his store) knew what I was talking about...  Luckily the bolt was not yet sold out.

If only I could be a fly on the wall, or read minds to know what the shopkeeper was thinking... I always show up there with pictures on my phone, same story at the mercerias/haberdasheries, where my favourite word is 'chisme' translated to 'gadget' followed by a vague description of it's use and/or physical features. So far, this method works out just fine...

I started looking in my pattern stash, but didn't find anything suitable. In my closet, on the other hand, I have a mini-skirt that I love, despite coming from the evil of all evil, ZARA. I took it out (it's about time anyway because it's getting colder and tights are permitted again, and so my skirts are getting shorter) and studied it intently for about 3 whole minutes and was amazed by what I saw. Raw edges finished with bias tape! And an ingenious facing, not sewn to the skirt but just cut out along with the entire skirt that gets folded under. An idea was born. A copy-cat idea.

So it was then and there that I decided to draft my own skirt. I browsed the interwebs looking for tutorials, looked through my course material of the sewing course I took 10 years ago and leafed through my pattern drafting books, and distilled my own method.

The result
 For those of you wanting to use the same method I applied, I made a step-by-step of the procedure, a tutorial if you will... With colour coding, which is unheard of in my chaotic mind, I'm really trying for you guys! I will dedicate another post to this tutorial.

By now, I know how to assemble a skirt, so no problem there. The stripe-matching could have been better, but all in all, I'm pretty pleased with how it worked out, I'm not one to fuss about details. Not on a skirt that will not see any formal venue anyway.

The zipper is just a simple slot-inserted zipper. 

My fabric has a VERY loose weave, so I opted for underlining the whole thing. I used a piece of brown Kona-cotton I had in my stash. Black would have been ideal, but as you all know, we do not live in an ideal world...

The insides of my ZARA-skirt look slightly neater, they are finished with bias tape, whereas mine is just fake-overlocked (I don't own an overlock/serger) with a 3-step zigzag, but I like it as is. I like the insides of my me-made things simple, a (3-step) zigzag or pinked seams can make me unbelievably happy, the whole RTW-finishing is just not really my thing, except on knits, but there it's more a question of function than of form.

And that's it. A poncho mini-skirt. Oh, and did I say that the fabric cost me 6.5 EUR for 80 cm and the zipper was from my stash, as was the black thread. So I'm off the hook rather cheaply...

Last weekend we went to see 'bufones', these are basically holes in the seaside cliffs that run underground from the seaside of the cliff and open up towards the upper level of the cliff. Wind and currents forces air and water through them, and they just erupt sea water. It was amazing! The sounds coming out of those holes was incredible and the bursts of water sometimes went up to 15m ! 
You have to go see them at days with rough weather, so you get soaking wet, umbrella or not, rubber boots are not a bad idea either, but so so so much fun!