Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An update on Sweden, summer, and sewing

Just as a warning, the pictures in this post are in reverse chronological order, and I'm too lazy to switch it around, so I'll try to make sense of it in this direction.

Ahh summertime! I can happily reminisce about that day a few weeks ago, when I was able to sew myself this cute buggy tanktop, and wear it out on a canoe ride in the beautiful canals of Utrecht, the gorgeous city where I have the privilege to live...

(its just a pattern drawn from a simple Vera Moda tank I had)

And that my super stylish sister and her new hubby came to visit me on their honeymoon!!!
.. and! While they were here, we designed this wicked shirt together that I was able to sew up for her and, gasp! she even wore it in public! I made real clothes that even other people wear! YAY! :)

Earlier this summer, Joost met up with me in Sweden and just before going home, we had a couple of warm sunny days, and met up with some new friends of ours, who living just north of Gothenburg. Joost went water-skiing for the first time, like a pro; and I got a pulled groin from trying.

We also did some walking around in the rain, roundabouts Uppsala, and found this little cabin.

 It was lovely inside and we spend the night there in the other room which had three bunk beds, just for that! Yay Sweden and your free lovely accommodations in the forest! We made a nice fire in this stove and dried off from the rain, and met a wilderness man. Yes, a real wilderness man, who could survive on nothing but his coffee. We fed him some of our "Kottbular" and beet salad- the typical Swedish meal. We were attempting integration to the max.

We very much enjoyed the interesting assortments of funny things at the Swedish supermarkets:

And we enjoyed the creative ways the Swedes designed their water crossings: get on a raft, pull the chain and yourself to the other side- and off you go!
The rain was less enjoyable though....
 It was a lovely loop path around a very pretty lake, next to which we camped for one night, at a free camping place.

We travelled around with our good friend, and made sure to visit the most important Swedish sites. We must have toured at least three Swedish Ikea stores... same same.. all the same.

And we also took a day to explore an island in the Stockholm archipelago, called Grinda
 And Stockholm itself is just a bunch of lovely islands! This is from the top of the city hall tower, where a bunch of brides were getting photo shoots. It was a perfectly sunny weekend, just before we headed out to the forest...

 The ISCE conference was a great excuse to visit Sweden. I was really excited, that I even had the opportunity to present my research to an international audience on this huge screen!!!

PS- That's my handmade Jade skirt (by Paprika Patterns)!!! 

The muffins and coffee were pretty good too;)

Getting us back to Utrecht again, which is still my favourite, even after a visit to Stockholm... We live in such an awesome town that we get lots of visitors, and get to show them some of the impressive places in our surroundings. One of those is the Haarzuilens Castle! Complete with moat, chapel and beautiful gardens. We took our visitors to the pretty convent in the centre of Utrecht as well. We always have fun showing off where we live;) And I love coming home to Utrecht, after holidays.... Super lucky to live here, and have such lovely company around me to share it with!

..a cameo from my handmade Moss skirt (by Grainline Studio)!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Paprika patterns gems: Onyx and Jade

It's time to revive the ol' blog. What better excuse than to show off some recent feats of sewing! I've been experimenting with clothes making for at least a year now, and I've made a few items that get worn quite a lot. One of these is the Paprika Pattern's Jade skirt. It sits so nice, it's comfy, and looks pretty good too (if I say so myself). I wear it so much that the fabric is starting to get worn. I've even made a Jade skirt for a friend as well. Even better than wearing a self-made garment is seeing my friends wearing them!!!

But I digress from the main point of the post, and that is to review the other Paprika Patterns gem: The Onyx. I received this pattern for free from Lisa in exchange for an honest review, and I decided to challenge myself. I wanted to work with a new fabric for me, and I wanted a really easy breezy lightweight shirt. I thought to use some double gauze at first... but then I decided to try to try my hand at crepe-de-chine (or at least I think that's what it is). EEP! It slides! It frays! It's really thin and the stitches are really obvious. It's clear I had to be careful.

I planned to use the fabric to make a dress, so I thought it would be nice to practice sewing with it, to see how it felt. I still had enough left to complete the dress with it as well. I wanted to follow the instructions EXACTLY this time, to really test out the pattern as it is. I have to say, my meticulousness with this shirt made the adventure last a whole day (from cutting the pattern and taping together to a finished garment) but damn, I was gonna get those french seams and that flat bias neckline!!!

More experienced sewists have been saying it sews up really quick, but of course I had to choose a tricky fabric.... and I was determined to get it right the first time. The flat bias-neckline was a first success for me this time, but it really did take time, you can't just rush though this step. Especially not with the fraying sliding fabric I used. The tutorial from the website, and linked from the pdf instructions was very thorough. I used this and the cuffs tutorial. I did get slightly lost near the end of the cuffs, just before the folding bits, but they still worked out fine. Not sure how that zig zag in the pattern works, but it just does! And its great! I like how the little stitch in the bottom keeps it folded there, and the epaulet has the top part secured in a fold too. Clever!

I only had issues cutting so close to the seam on the epaulets cause the fabric frayed so easily through my stitches... but i managed by adding a topstitch on each epaulet to keep the fraying to a minimum....

The pdf pattern was easy and quick to tape together. The instructions were very clear and the pictures were thorough enough for a seasoned- beginner or intermediate sewer. The large enough seam allowances left enough room for the french seams, though I think I would have preferred the armholes to be a bit looser (I've got pretty beefy upper arms...).

My version was made in a size 4 and graded to a 5 at the hips, and I extended the length of the shirt down to the lowest line on the pattern. Otherwise I followed view A to a T, and here's what I got (don't get scared by the purple hair!)

Also showing off my Jade skirt with my PaprikaPatterns outfit!

I just have to show the inside seams, and just look how flat that neckline sits! <3 p="">That hour making bias tape and shaping and ironing that thing in place was worth it!

All in all, a really nice shirt, and awesome pattern!! It's classy and with this fabric a winner for a professional conference or dinner, or any semi-fancy workplace thing, or just a breezy summer day in the city. I really like the cuff and the neckline finish, it makes me feel great knowing that my shirt looks great on the inside and out;)

Thanks Lisa, and great job on another awesome gem which completes a 100% PaprikaPatterns outfit!!

Definitely check out the Paprika Patterns site and the Blog for useful tutorials and construction tips.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Me Made May Fails but life wins.

Bit of a tough challenge that "Me Made May" but I guess I tend to bite off more than I can chew. What really happened was, I vowed this:
"I, Jenny (, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to make at least 4/5 items in the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 or at least 3 new summer garments; and wear one handmade piece of clothing each day for the duration of May 2014"

...I didn't take into account that I was
a) camping one weekend (even managed to get some climbing in, and introduced our friends to the lovely climbable rocks in the Eifel National Park in Germany...)

b) going to Belgium for another weekend, awesome family weekend in a lovely house, complete with canoeing, and a trip to Spa

c) going to Berlin for another: Love Berlin... Especially with friends visiting us from Canada!

d) Leaving for a  week to Kefalonia, Greece, on the last weekend....

and e)had enough hand made clothes, yet most shirts I made had long sleeves....

Basically, lots of excuses, but I didn't make enough hand made clothes to make it for the month, and didn't have time to make any new clothes.

I did however sew madly in the spare minutes of the busy month of May. I sewed one birthday gift bag/purse, and 4 beach bags for the girls on our trip to the island of Kefalonia!!! I had to test them all out before we left....:

Here's one of my bags in action in Kefalonia:)

May was a marvelous month... But not entirely ME MADE enough.... There's always next year!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Full week of Me Made May!

I've committed to Me Made May, and made a possibly-overambitious decree that 

"I, Jenny (, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to make at least 4/5 items in the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 or at least 3 new summer garments; and wear one handmade piece of clothing each day for the duration of May 2014"

Turns out, I've already made a lot more clothing than I realised, and wearing at least one piece per day that I've made myself hasn't been too difficult yet! I might be running out soon though, so I better hurry and make some more... but the summer-clothes-making part of the decree has proven a lot more challenging than I expected. May is a busy month.

There are a lot of other bloggers participating in Me Made May, and I've noticed that many of them have also set the same goals, and have also taking to proving their success by showing weekly round-ups of their self-made-and-worn successes. Here's a perfect example: 

Peneloping- Love all the things she makes, but her version of the Belladone with a cut-out back, I think I might try that dress again with a drapier fabric. Curtains I used are just too stiff.

As some of the other bloggers, I also didn't round- up the first week, since it was short, and I was sleeping in a tent for most of it- so I decided that it doesn't really count.

Here's my round-up from the second week of May, starting with my recently complete Moss skirt from ikea fabric
May 6: from Grainline's Moss pattern.                  May 7: of my favs, the Autumn-love dress by Nette.

May 8: The Cation Dolman Top                  May 9: A Datura, by Deer & Doe

May 10: The modified Plantain shirt-dress by day and Reddish Moss miniskirt by night

May 11: Lounging in my Summer Knit Cardigan- which is a nice and easy pattern but with that kind of fabric, it was really tricky to sew.
May 12&13 Moss skirts in different colours, and an up-cycled tank top from an old H&M longsleeve (The tank is my first summer piece towards my May goal of making more summer clothing)


What I've learned this thus far: 
-I have a lot of clothing that I made myself!!! 
-I don't love the Datura blouse, at least not with the fabrics I've tried it with so far. It's just not that flattering on me.
-I learned about the BurdaStyle magazine, and got overwhelmed with all the things one can make. I can't believe each issue has so many different patterns. I need to learn more about how to trace and make muslins. A friend brought about 12 of them over and I spend a whole day ooohing and ahhing. Lots of new projects to start!
There's something so relaxing about candles lit in the daytime, a cuppa tea, and sewing:)

I started with this dress as well as weekend, but after laying it all out realized I probably cut the wrong size, and should try it first with a muslin... grumble grumble. Something about having to sew a dress TWICE doesn't appeal to me. But since it uses close to 3 meters of fabric, it would be a shame to make it and then have it all not fit at all and be a total waste. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Belated Moss Making and Climbing in the Eifel

So, if you're a sewing addict like me, you'll know that last month was Moss Making Month, and that means, if you like to read blogs, and you like sewing skirts, and you like to participate in weird sewing randomness, you'd make yourself one of THESE beauties. I'm not gonna lie, I had already made two before the skirt's namesake month, but what the hell, what better excuse to use this awesome IKEA fabric that I just couldn't resist?

It's amazing how quick these skirts come together after you've made a couple. The first time I found it really uber-zupah challenging, and now I only get a little stuck around the fly part- but it's getting easier every time! This time I made it a tad bit more A-line and a smidge longer since I was finding it hard to cycle in it without flashing everyone on the street... a very important factor to consider now that I'm cycling from each end of my train-ride to work....  gotta look classy on my new bike;)

In other news, this weekend we arranged at the last minute to go to camping in the Eifel in Germany! We found some friends crazy enough to come climbing with us outside on the awesome outdoor playground near Nideggen:

Climbable and bolted;) What a treat!

 The lush green of the spring fresh forest smelled and sounded amazing.

 And the views from our hikes were not too shabby either!!!

Of course we had to take photos of the local lovelies:

 These poor little guys got kinda massacred along the hiking paths...

Wish I could fly through this canopy...

...but I still managed to make it up there at least:)

He lead some pretty tricky routes as well! All in all, much fun was had by all:)  

Therefore, my plan for Me Made May is a bit delayed. I started May off with my newly made Moss; but then had to switch to my merino clothes for the weekend since it's the only fabric I know of that I can wear for three days straight, not smell and stay warm enough and cool enough in.

So I think I'll have to add a caviat to my proclamation of last week that, if I am not sleeping in a tent, I'll wear self made clothes in May:) So far so good! Plaintain shirt for the win!