Sunday, July 31, 2016

Maxi-mising my Summer Wardrobe

I hope you see what I did in the title.. ;-)
Summer is moving right along. I feel like I hardly have much time left to do all the summer sewing I'd been meaning to. Two more weeks, then my family will be here for a bit of vacation and then it'll be September already, and probably high time to start on the plans for fall sewing. Oh well.

My current summer fav for wearing in any weather (since Berlin summer can be anything from rainy 18°C to tropical 32°C) are maxi dresses. I love when there's a bit of a breeze ruffling the skirt, and it works both for during the day and to go out in the evening. A maxi dress and a cardi are pretty much all you need for Berlin weather (at least if you're carrying an umbrella). ;-)
So this one is made from the same more-or-less self-drafted pattern as my other two jersey maxi dresses. There are little tucks under the bust in lieu of darts (inspired by the Moxie patterns Verity dress) and the skirt is a simple trapezium/trapezoid, with side slits going halfway up. I tend to knot the sides when I'm walking or cycling, so the skirt doesn't drag or get between my feet... :-)
This time around, I used clear elastic on the arm holes and neckline, just stitched it on with a three-step-zigzag, turned it under and used my coverlock for topstitching. It turned out better than I thought, although I think I still like bound necklines better.

While I'm at it, I think I didn't manage to blog about one of last year's maxi dresses yet. Even though I took some actually rather nice pictures (using an actual DSLR!) last year on my parents' porch!
I really like the fabric, it's a lovely cotton sateen border print that I bought in Hong Kong way back when (that would be... 2011 *phew*, five years ago already?!) The pattern is self-drafted, the back just a rectangle with shirring at the top. I'm not quite happy with the fit in the bodice, the bust is a bit too shallow, but it's wearable. I'm hoping to fix it in the next iteration...
It's not my most worn maxi dress (that would be my very first jersey maxi, the one inspired by Gillian). But it's nice to have variety. :-) Of which I now have quite a lot, especially since I wasn't quite convinced that the maxi dress trend was for me, in the first place. Now I'm wondering on what other trend I might be missing out. Jumpsuits, maybe...?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Oh those Summer Day-to-Nights

Last Sunday was a beautiful, warm and sunny summer day, one of those that seem a bit rare over here this year. So when we went out to have some home-made lemonade and macarons, I decided to take the camera with me and take a few quick dress pictures.
These two dresses were actually made last fall, too late in the season for them to be worn. But as I had just bought the perfect pattern - the Maria Denmark Day to Night drape top - they wanted to be made right away.
You could say that I franken-patterned the dresses. The skirts are just plain half-circle skirts, really, but I'm seldon im the mood to play around with string so I used the very convenient Cake Patterns Tiramisu skirt piece.
Both dresses use clear elastic to stabilize the waist and back neckline.
I left the hems raw, since I'm lazy and the jersey doesn't fray.
Both are very drapey rayon jerseys, the green one from the Turkish fabric market in Berlin and the red one from Stoffmarkt Holland.
I guess there's not much else to tell. Both were quick makes, they're very easy to wear and fit into my wardrobe really well. I'm pretty sure I'll make some more dresses with the pattern, and possibly even some tops. ;-) 

I'll leave you with a picture of the delicious macarons we had... :-)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Sewing Plans

I really love Berlin in summer. To be honest, it can be a bit of a mixed bag - anything from really hot and sunny (which, around here, means about 30°C, hardly cooling down during the night, especially if you live on the top floor of an "Altbau" - one of the many buildings from the turn of the last century - without air conditioning) to cool and raining for days and anything in between. Summer sewing, it follows, is a bit of a mixed bag, too. My favorite garments last summer were my two jersey maxi dresses. For some reason, they feel great in any weather. ;-) And I have planned a couple more in these fabrics (which are both, incidentally, from The Sweet Mercerie).
The one thing about maxi dresses that is less than perfect is that they're a bit unwieldy for biking. So the other pattern that works perfectly for both hot and cool days (with a pair of leggings) is of course, Victory Patterns' Lola. I'm guessing nobody's surprised? ;-)  Both fabrics are from Lillestoff, the teal stripes are a French terry and the multi-coloured stripes are cotton jersey...
And the rest of my summer sewing plans? Well, it's a bit unusual. It's mostly woven fabrics. Whaaat? Right, I don't know why. But I've got them, and they're pretty, and I think I'll just try it and see if I can fit some more woven dress wearing in my life, right? Since I do have an overwhelming amoung of jersey dresses already... ;-)

I'm guessing what partly inspired my unusual plans are the Sew Over It patterns I got in London this spring. So beautiful! Here are the Vintage Shirt Dress and the Betty Dress. And oh yes, it's polka-dots! And florals!

The Sewaholic Cambie dress is such a pretty pattern and has been in my stash for years. As has the fabric I paired it with, which actually used to be a maxi dirndl skirt that I got second hand. The white and the red floral fabric have also been awaiting life as a garment for several summers in my stash. They've always been destined to become spaghetti strapped tunic tops. Let's see if I can make it happen this year.

I think I mentioned that I'm not a big fan of sewing garments for work, but I'd really like to make myself a pair of white linen trousers for the hot months. Hoping to finally get the fit right on the Sewaholic Thurlow trousers!
And last but not least, I've put swimwear on my sewing list again! I managed to get my hand on actual swimsuit lining, so I'm definitely trying another Bombshell swimsuit, the one with the sweetheart neckline this time.  And I'd love to put the leftover fabric to good use and make a Nautilus bikini! Hopefully in time for my birthday in July...
I think that's the bulk of it for my summer plans, although I'm sure I'll slip in a jersey dress or two, and maybe a couple of tops. Possibly even those Hudson Pants leftover from the Bread&Butter challenge?

Because I already have some plans for fall sewing. It involves button holes. And outerwear. And possibly even bra sewing! *scary*

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

polka-dot summer dress

Ah, it's summer, how beautiful! My favorite time of the year, starting at the end of April, when slowly but surely the cherries and lilacs start blooming, Berlin tends to smell rather lovely all through the early summer season, all the way into July. Linden trees and strawberries and the smell of summer rain and the river, cut grass and summer jasmin... :-)

In between all the other stuff I'm doing, I hardly find any time for sewing, which may not be the worst thing in the world, because my backlog of unblogged (and unphotographed) garments is about a mile long. Then again, the list of garments I'd love to make and finish this summer is just about a mile long, too. Does that mean they cancel each other out? Lol, probably not...

But since I managed to take pictures of a recent dress during MMM, let's get started with that one!
The idea for that dress and the fabric have been in my head (and my stash) for at least a couple of years, never realized because I was looking out for the perfect pattern. I even bought several patterns, but they were never quite perfect.
The end result isn't quite perfect, either, but at least it's done and wearable. And I may yet tinker with it a bit, to see if I can get it nearer to the vision I had of it.
The fabric is a navy rayon jersey with little white pin dots. Please don't ask me where I got it. It may have been Goldhawk Road, when I visited London in... 2012? Possibly it was
The pattern I used in the end is Cake Pattern's Tiramisu dress, with a few modifications. The bodice is made up of four self-lined pieces, with an overlap in front and the kimono sleeves gathered into more of a sleeveless style. Since I eliminated the neckband by lining the bodice, it gapes a bit. I'll either stitch the two sides together at the right height or try to deepen the overlay a bit, soon. The sleeves are also wider than I anticipated, and I may slim them down a bit, at least in front. I kind of like the draped look, but they tend to feel like they'll fall down, and a couple of centimeters might make all the difference.
I'm very find of the deep back neckline and the twirly half-circle skirt. If the front didn't gape that much, especially after a few hours of wearing it, I might not take that dress off again. :-)

By the way, and what I forgot to tell you in my MMM posts: I wouldn't love wearing my summer dresses half as much if I weren't wearing Bandelettes. No sponsering here, just an honest endorsement from one gal without a thigh gap to others who may have the same problem. If you wanna know more, I wrote a blog post about it two years ago...

How's your summer (or winter, as it may be) going?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Me-Made May round two

And here's the second half of outfits from my Me-Made May this year, just in case you're interested and haven't been following me on Instagram. ;-)
bottom row: day 17-20 left to right; top row: day 21-24 left to right
So how was Me-Made May this year? I actually found it challenging to pick an outfit in the morning. As I mentioned before, I usually just grab  any halfway appropriate dress on a workday morning, no thoughts required, since I only just wear it for my 10 minute bike ride to work, lunch break, my bike ride home and however long it takes me to grab some leggings and a tee. But it was kind of fun, too, to break the routine and wear some different things not just on the weekends. 
bottom row: day 25-28 from left to right; top row: day 28-31 from left to right
Apart from what you can see in the outfits, I wore all me-made knickers during May. Next year I want to branch out into bras and jackets, too!

3/4 of all my outfits were dresses, by the way (wow, I've got lots of dresses, it seems), and I only wore two garments multiple times: my navy and white striped boatneck top (twice) and my Ginger jeans (three times). As for which outfits were my favorites, I have a bit of a hard time narrowing it down. I really like those jeans-and-striped-tee outfits.
But I can't narrow down the dresses... ;-)
Interesting, though, that there's two wovens and two jersey dresses, even though I hardly wear woven dresses most of the time... Both the dotty red one and the flowery torquoise one are Day-to-night-drape dresses by Maria Denmark, by the way.

So, another Me-Made May over... on to new adventures!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Me-made May - It's Half-time!

Whew, May is already half over and it seems like spring is well onto its way of segueing into summer. Meanwhile it seems like my weekly to-do list is ever growing. Which means sewing has fallen a bit to the wayside. Those two woven dresses cut out in April? (Plus two jersey dresses, one cut out in March?) Still lying on their little project heaps. At least I've almost finished my taxes... (being a grown-up is rather lame sometimes...)

Not to say I haven't been sewing at all - theres a couple of little projects for everyday that came off my sewing machine.
A bike seat cover, to protect my bum from the rain (the pretty waterproof fabric is from IKEA).
One of those simple drawstring backpacks that are all the rage in Berlin. I swear, everyone has one. Are they cool anywhere else, too? Those bags remind me of being little, the last one I had was in kindergarten, for PE, one that my mom sewed herself. It was blue and had little triangles all over it... :-)

Anyway, me-made May. I've been faithfully taking pictures and posting them on Instragram, though I missed one day (which I spent sick in bed in my me-made jammies).
bottom: day 1-4, top: day 5-9 (day 7 missing)
The most challenging thing about me-made May this year is actually deciding each morning if I will need that particular outfit another day later in the month. I'm trying not to double any outfits, so I've actually been grabbing my lesser worn clothes first, to kinda "keep" my favs. Sounds a bit silly, doesn't it? It's mostly true for the dresses, anyway, since I think I have enough mix&match separates to keep me going for a pretty long while without doubling up (oh the beauty of maths... ;-).
top: day 10-12, bottom: day 13-16
It also seems that my colour palette is pretty consistent. Navy, green and the shades inbetween, red, and a bit of black&white. I hope that will help me plan a few more short-sleeved tops to accompany the skirts I've been sewing during spring. BTW, do you have any recommendation for pretty jersey top patterns for spring/summer (so, short-sleeved or sleeveless and not your run-of-the-mill t-shirt)?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

It's time again for Me Made May!

Hey everyone! Are you having a good spring? The weather in my parts is still pretty cold and changable - hailstorm one second, sunshine the next. But everything is in bloom, so pretty! I'm definitely looking forward to warmer days, though. Sooo frustrating to have to still wear thick tights when it's almost May already!

I didn't accomplish much sewing this month. Sometimes, other hobbies take precedence and spring seems to be the time for singing. Both my choir and the vocal ensemble that I'm participating in are gearing up for concerts. The first one was last weekend and there are three more between now and the end of June, so there's a flurry of rehersals!

The one thing I did sew in April was a dress for my choir concert. We have assigned colours and I got switched from red to green, so I drafted a quick, sleeveless modification of Onion 2022 with a half-circle skirt, and a bit of black lace overlay. I love how it turned out and may need another one for regular wear at some point...
I'm the one in the front row, in the green dress, obvsly...
Apart from that, I cut out several projects: two woven dresses that have been on my to-sew-list for years, and a couple of jersey dresses. I may get around to sewing those up, one of these days.

Meanwhile, my spring/summer sewing plans are reaching epic proportions. Apart from a pair of black skinny trousers (for that other concert) and another pair of jeans, I have plans for two Sewaholic Minoru jackets (one for spring/autumn and a waterproof rain jacket), a pair of white linen trousers for work when it's hot, and a possibly ridiculous number of dresses from stash fabric... But I guess that deseves a post of its own, soon.

For now, and while it's still (barely) April, here is my pledge for Me Made May 2016!
I, Alessa of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear entirely me-made outfits (apart from bras/socks/tights, exercise clothes, shoes and jackets) each day for the duration of May 2016, furthermore I will try to wear as many of my me-made clothes as possible.

I usually wear mostly me-mades anyway, but I'm incredibly lazy in the mornings, and always reach for the same clothes, so in a regular month I wear maybe... five or six different outfits on average? No more than ten, certainly. So here's to mixing it up a bit!
I don't know yet if I will have the time and patience to participate in the flickr group, but I will document my outfits on Instagram and do a few round-up posts here. 

Is anyone else taking part in Me-made May? What's your pledge this year?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Bread&Butter Project - final part

It's now the beginning of April, so the Bread&Butter project has concluded. I'm really happy with all the additions to my wardrobe, and it was fun to be methodical for once, instead of getting distracted by a pretty fabric or pattern. ;-) I didn't get everything done, and I've already planned some more spring sewing, but that's going to be another post...

So, what did I sew in the end?

1. everyday clothes / 2. weekend clothes

I think I could actually do with another long-sleeved Lola (or two), or barring that, another kind of long-sleeved sweater or jersey dress - and maybe a couple of three-quarter sleeved ones for when it gets a little warmer. I already have some fabric that I planned for a Jasper dress. I think a Bruyère over leggings would also be nice for everyday wear, as soon as we're back to more sping-like temps. Maybe I'll even fix the sleeve cuffs of the one I already made. I could also do with another couple of leggings, and was wondering if maybe a knit skirt or two could round out my wardrobe (although I do prefer the ease of just reaching for a dress on an early workday morning).I also think that a couple of cardigans to throw on over the shorter-sleeved dresses would be nice. For now, I have one me-made Miette and a couple of basic RTW cardis in neutral colours. They're all v-necked, with a button closure, which for some reason prevents me from layering them over dresses. I imagine that a longer, waterfall-type cardigan without a front closure, and sleeves lose enough for layering, might work out better for me. I've had my eye on the Oslo cardigan from the Colette Seamwork magazine.

I planned another Lola or something similar - check. I didn't get to my denim Bruyère, but managed a plaid, refashioned version (though it turned out so-so and hasn't been worn yet). I did fix the cuffs on my very first Bruyère and wore it a couple of times. A couple more leggings are still on my to-do list.
And a resounding yes on the cardigan front! I made three Oslo cardigans!
I also made two contrast jersey dresses, two jersey mini skirts (using the back pattern piece of the Paprikapatterns Jade skirt) and two long-sleeved tops.

3. lounge clothes
For lounge wear, I'd also like to try the True Bias Hudson pants, which have been in my pattern library for what feels like forever. For PJs, I was thinking some kind of elastic-waist woven shorts and colour-coordinated t-shirts, which is exactly what I'm wearing most of the time.
That's a nope for the Hudson pants, I didn't even manage to cut out and tape the PDF pattern. I did make two pairs of PJs (see above), and also made a Paprikapatterns Jasper pullover. That one was a bit of an exercise in frustration, since my contrast stripe matching left much to be desired, and it turned out much too big and had to be taken in on the sleeves and princess seams, which threw the stripe matching further off. I also had to piece the hem band... But it does make for fine lounge wear, a cozy sweater to throw on over leggings.
4. extras
Last but not least, I really need a new handbag. I have a pleather one (from Tchibo) that's good enough for my everyday needs, as it fits my tea mug (or a small bottle of water), wallet, emergency brolly, ebook reader, keys and those other little odds and ends. I haven't had a decent larger handbag or tote (that fits a bottle of wine to bring to a party, or my knitting and a good book when on a trip) in what feels like forever, though. The Betty Bowler has been on my to-sew shortlist for ages, I think I've bought three separate fabrics for that specific pattern. I still need the bits and bobs - so that's going to be my bonus project!
As you can see above, that one also got made! It also survived its first trip, as I took it to the UK as hand luggage. It really is a bit too big for a regular handbag, at least in my opinion, besides the usual odds and ends (including keys, wallet, e-reader, waterbottle, brolly etc.) it not only fits a couple of books and my knitting, but also some magazines, a cardi and a couple of changes of clothing... and it's a bit too unwieldy to actually tote it around town for a whole day. So, more of an overnight bag, really, not that that's a bad thing. But I'm still on my quest for the perfect handbag, and I already have a couple of patterns in mind...

So, that was it for my Bread&Butter sewing, but I think I'm going to continue in this vein. Spring sewing plans coming up soon!

Find the other participants in the link-up here!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Little Holiday - London & Glasgow

So! I'm supposed to write my last Bread&Butter sewing post, but I haven't actually taken pictures of all my makes yet, so that'll have to wait a couple of days. Instead I'd like to tell you about the little vacation I took during the Easter week! The first half was spent with all of my family in London, a 60th birthday present for my stepdad, who we took on a Gin Journey. The second half was spent with my love in Glasgow.

Even though the weather wasn't the best, I had a lot of fun, visited quite a few fabric shops, charity shops, vintage shops, pubs, tearooms, had lots of tea and ale and gin... oh yes, I felt very British! I even tried some (fried) Haggis (nibbles) in Glasgow and liked them!

I also got to meet Katie from What Katie Sews while I was in London, and we spent a fun couple of hours at Ray Stitch and went for a pint afterwards and Katie showed me a bit around Islington, which was lovely! In my excitement, I managed to take exactly zero photos of that, so you'll have to believe me...

So, first things first, right? Ray Stitch had a very pretty fabric selection, lots of nice jerseys and wovens and some very nice haberdashery. The best thing about it, I think, was the selection of indie patterns. They had a lot of Colette and Named, Papercut, Tilly&The Buttons, By Hand London, Sew Over It... And some lovely sewing books! I actually was a bit overwhelmed with it all and conscious of my one suitcase that I shared with my love, so I only got some Merchant&Mills glass head pins and a little Package of Liberty scraps, to be used for little details like fabric-covered buttons or plackets and stuff like that.
The next day, I went to visit Cloth House in Soho, which Katie had recommended to me. Honestly, it's maybe the most beautiful fabric shop I've ever been to. I could have stayed there for hours and bought almost everything...

In the end, I went away with a length of selvedge strech denim (look at that pretty selvedge!), for a new pair of Ginger jeans, and some thicker non-strech striped cotton fabric (twill?) for a bag/purse.
I also had to visit Liberty of London, mostly just to have a look around. I love-love-love touching that wonderful Liberty tana lawn, but I really can't imagine wearing a whole blouse or dress made from it.

 Oh well. But I bought the possibly prettiest tape-measure on earth!
(As well as some tea from Fortnum&Mason, some more tea and lemon curd and a fascinator from M&S and some very yummy as well as prettily bottled gin from the Maltby Street Market. Btw, does anyone else love checking out grocery stores in other countries? I could spend hours doing that, no kidding...)

One other stop that I definitely wanted to make was Sew Over It. I've had my eye on the Joan dress for quite a while (I have the perfect black double knit with flocked polka dots for it!) and one of the branches is in Clapham, only two tube stops from where we were staying. They also had a lovely fabric selection, mostly an incredible amount of pretty woven blouse and dress fabrics...
I almost bought some of the mint polka-dot fabric on the left above picture, but the colour was a bit too pastelly to really go with my skin tone. But so pretty! I the end, three patterns (the Joan Dress, Betty Dress and Vintage Shirt Dress - and a Sew Over It tote bag!) went home with me.
Yes, I know, I hardly ever wear woven dresses anymore - but the two I do wear are in style pretty similar to the Betty dress, and I've been dreaming about the perfect shirt dress pretty much forever...

That of course I had to buy the perfect fabrics for those two patterns while I was in Glasgow. :-)
The one on the left is a cotton lawn fabric, which I bought it at Remnant Kings in Glasgow. Navy and polka-dots and roses! Remnant Kings has a smallish but nice selection of dressmaking fabrics amongst a lot of home decor fabric. I also saw some very pretty royal blue linen, but knowing that I also wanted to visit Mandor's Fabric Store, I refrained from buying anything else. 
At Mandor's, I found the navy polka-dot rayon fabric. So soft and silky! It reminded me of a shirt dress that I tried on years ago at a market in Sydney, which sadly didn't fit right, so I guess I really had to buy it. :-) Mandor's is also a really amazing place, they stock pretty much every fabric you can dream of. I was fascinated by all the bridal laces, so pretty! And woolens, tartans, jersey fabrics, cottons... 
Although there are surely a dozen more fabric and sewing shops in London and Glasgow, that was it for me. I had to leave something for the next visit, I guess, and I didn't want to stretch my family's patience too f ar. As it was, I may have visited one or two charity shops too many (without buying more than a bangle and a dress, both in the very first shop), and got several rolled eyes for it. ;-)

Overall, though, I think we managed to indulge most everyone's whims, found a nice balance between the obvious sights and the less obvious, fun places.


Such a wonderful holiday! I could talk much more about it, but I had better stop here, since it's really already past my bedtime... What's your favorite place for a holiday? Have you ever been to Glasgow or London? Did you like it? Any important bits that I should definitely visit next time? (Oh and thanks for the recommendations for Glasgow on Instagram - we did visit the Kelvingrove Museum and the Willow Tea Rooms and had a lovely time!)