Grandma’s Quilt

Last year we had a women’s night in my family. My sister and I, along with our children, had gone to visit our aunt and our cousin was also there with her daughter. As our grandmother has recently passed away there was a lot of talk about her. My grandmother loved children and was an excellent grandmother. Growing up in poverty she was taught to mend and make do and after having spent her life as a housewife she was quite competent in cooking, crafting and baking. I tried to figure out the secret behind her beef stew, the best one I’ve tasted, we were taught the family recipe of Christmas Gingerbread cookies, if we wanted to try the loom she would take it down and prepare it for us, she would knit sweaters for us and she would play with us. My aunt commented that she saw people and acknowledged them.

Another thing we talked about was her attention to detail. Her baking was always precise and meticulous, she spent a lot of time following patterns, making sure the loom was properly threaded, learnt macramé, studied new techniques to get better. When learning this I felt that I had been a bit haphazard in my sewing; taking shortcuts, not paying attention to fabric recommendations etc. Apparently my grandmother had a saying that “no one sees the time you’ve put into something, but they do see how precise you were doing it”.

Full size quilt

Full size quilt

In her later year she got into quilting. One of her masterpieces were hung up in their summer cottage. When we cleaned the cottage for sale earlier this year I took some pictures of the quilt as it exemplifies my grandmother’s meticulousness and puts her wordings above into action.

Close up

Close up

Look how precise! This is quality work right here. This is work that has been done with the result in mind and not worrying about how long it will take. Cutting all of those squares, sitting for many, many hours stitching them, by hand, in order to make that quilt. I’m impressed with how she has worked slowly and methodically, not rushing, placing one patch after another onto the quilt and that her methodical work shows in the final creation.

Many hexagons

Many hexagons

This past year I have tried to channel my grandmother in my work. I have tried to slow down, taken time for each step, read the instructions thoroughly, study steps I’m uncertain of, work on finishing, fitting, stopping when tired and I feel like my approach to sewing is different now than it was in the beginning of this year. So in the future I will take my time, honouring my grandmother while doing it.

What has your heritage taught you about your hobbies? How do you reflect upon it? Do you come from a line of crafters or are you “the missing link”?

Creation: Adult Toddler Dress

Inspiration!

Inspiration!

A few weeks ago I found a really cute and cosy dress for Erika in the hand-me-down box. A hooded velour dress with a patch kangaroo pocket. I told husband that I wanted a dress like that to wear around the house, to which he jokingly replied “you have to sew one”. Little did he know that I had a pattern that worked perfectly in copying dress, never dare a sewer!

Toddler dress in adult version

Toddler dress in adult version

The pattern is Sömnadsmagasin 02-2012-115. I had some issues with the pattern, such as the hood not matching the neckline and I somehow messed up the hood facings so they didn’t match the hood opening, this could have something to do with velour losing its stretch when I interfaced the facing. The fabric is velour in organic cotton from Stoff och Stil. It’s really soft and feels so much better than the regular velour, which has a 20% polyester content. The lace is cotton.

Pocket if hands are extra cold

Pocket if hands are extra cold

I wanted to add some length, but I didn’t have enough fabric, it must have shrunk more than planned. But it will still work with thick leggings or, if I’m feeling extra cold, my Pyjama Party Pants in velour. If my Mortmain Frock is the dress I’ll wear for all festive events in the upcoming season, this is what I’ll wear the day after. Lounge wear to be worn at other people’s house (I would never wear sweatpants at other people’s places, this dress I could totally wear).

Cosy!

Cosy! (Inspirational toddler in background)

There was one element of Erika’s dress that I skipped adding to mine. The ruffle. As it turns out I do have a limit for how far I will go in my toddler inspiration at that limit is at a ruffle over the butt. It would have added the length I needed, but no. Butt ruffles should be limited to toddlers only, they are the only ones who can pull it off.

Due to some bad weeks at work I had lost my sewing spirit, luckily I had my sewing meet-up planned. I sewed this dress and my sewing spirit returned. Now I’m working on a new skirt for my fall plan, sadly the Michelle looks to homemade and unmodern to be worn.

Cuddling up with a good book*

Cuddling up with a good book*

Fabric: Organic cotton velour
Pattern: Sömnadsmagasin 02-2012-115
Notions: Interfacing, Lace1, Lace 2, thread, satin band
Techniques used: Sewn on lace, patch pocket, hood, buttonholes.

*Currently reading The Emigrants novel series about the mass emigration from Sweden to America during the 19th century. It’s a very well written book, fascinating and combining facts and fiction. Having emigrated relatives in the US this book gives me so much in terms of the hardships, reasoning and what their ancestors went through. I’m reading it in preparation for attending the musical based on the books, Kristina från Duvemåla, in March.

First Ever Sewing Meet-Up

I have no pictures to show and only words to describe, but the excitement of my first ever sewing meet-up must be documented. Over the past year I’ve connected with various Swedish sewers on Facebook. There are groups for all of Sweden as well as local groups. On Saturday a meet-up finally coincided with a clear schedule so I could go.

These sewing meet-ups are for sewing. We were nine women (and one child, more on that later) each equipped with at least one machine and a number of projects to work on. We sewed, traced, cut fabric, snacked, talked, showed each other machines, shared tips and tricks. It was so inspirational to be able to dedicate an entire day (I was there from ten to four) to sewing, without interruptions (the kids were left at home) alongside other women with the same interest. I had brought a few projects, I had no idea how long it would take to sew when I had no distractions, in the end I finished one, a long velour sweatshirt.

I realised that I wasn’t quite prepared for taking my sewing on the road. Taking the machine with me is quite easy as all the bobbins and presser feet are stored in it, but then. There’s so much you need; measuring tape, thread, notions, needles, scissors, pattern instructions, interfacing and of course fabric (I’m sure I forgot something). So for future meet-ups, yes there will be more I will need to prepare. The others brought big sewing cases, since most of my stuff is integrated in the room I need a way to bring things in an organised manner. Enter the sewing!

I’m thinking of having one big bag (bought or home-made) in which I will have several different cases and smaller bags to store everything. My plan is to work from smaller things and up. I think if I keep on bag for this purpose and always store the smaller things in it I’ll know what to bring. My first projects will include a case for my scissors (I want to bring three; fabric, paper and thread snipper), a drawstring bag for threads, some case for holding machine needles and something for my measuring tools. I want to use fabrics from my stash and will make up my patterns as I go along. One thing’s for sure, it will beat the method I used last week where I just threw everything in a big paper bag. Amateur!

All in all, it was fun to sew with other people, even though most of them were into children’s sewing. Perhaps next time it’ll be people who sew adult clothing, who knows? All I know is that next time my tools will hopefully travel better.

Sew For A Change – October

Ocotber in Sew For A Change meant hygiene month. We had plenty of tasks to do and it seemed like I lucked into most of them. Here’s how I fared:

Complete the following:

  1. Toothpaste: Select one that do not contain triclosan or parabens. Also, if you need to replace toothbrushes, choose wooden ones if you can.
    The toothpaste we use in this household is free of both triclosan and parabens, so no change was needed.
  2. Schampoo and Conditioner: select brands that does not contain parabens, silicones or PEGs. Or if you dare – go ‘no poo’!! (That’s what I do!!)
    The shampoo I use passed the test! Still not daring enough to go no poo.
  1. Skin care: select products free from mineral oils and PEGs. For many people a regular vegetable oil is doing the job beautifully.
    The reason as to why I lucked into so much is that I don’t use that many products. The body lotion and face wash I use are made from organic ingredients and are free from a bunch of nasty stuff
  1. Anti-Lice: Fall often means lice if you are a family with kids in the primary school age. Drench the hair in olive oil and put on a shower cap for a few hours and they will choke to death.
    Luckily we have not had lice in our household so I haven’t had to use this tip.
  1. Make-up: Try to limit your use of make-up and only buy replacements when you run out (don’t buy new products). Select organic where you can. Use vegetable oil on a cotton pad for make-up removal.
    I don’t use a lot of makeup and haven’t bought any new this month. For upcoming purchases I will try and find organic. Mostly I use just water for cleaning or organic face wash.
  1. Soap: Choose hard soap instead of liquid soap. Aleppo or African Black Soap are both fantastic, non-drying soaps that can be used for the entire body including hair and face. They can also be used for shaving (for men also).
    We have liquid soap (easier for the kids!) and have not bought any new soap this month. For the future I will probably still buy liquid soap, but I will buy organic liquid soap.
  1. Try to avoid nail varnish completely this month.
    I hardly ever use nail varnish at all so this month has been no exception.
  1. Try to avoid perfume completely, this month (perfume very often equals ftalates).
    I never wear perfumes. Ever.
  1. Kids: Try to avoid using “products” on kids altogether. They are more sensitive to chemicals than we are.
    The kids get showered once a week whether they need it or not (hint: they do) and then we use shampoo and soap on the kiddo and just water on little E. For day to day washes it’s just water, even for diaper changes. Sometimes we use a wee bit of oil if needed. Little E has some dry rash on her body so once or twice a week we need to moisturise her with lotion.

   10. Deodorant: choose versions without Aluminum and Alcohol.
I bought myself a new organic deodorant (found at my local supermarket!). Verdict: It does its job for a day at the  office, but it’s not quite as good for holding up for a session at the dojo.

image

Organic deodorant

 

    11. Feminine products: choose reusable cloth pads instead of disposables or choose a menstrual cup instead of tampons, if you can.

I did buy myself a menstrual cup during the recycling month and been using it since (when needed, obviously). I use a few disposable pads each month.

To be honest I can’t judge myself. I feel as if I haven’t made many changes and I don’t feel worthy of 10 points. I will check in with the Facebook group for my verdict. Thus I am leaving with a cliff-hanger… summary will be up tomorrow including my purchases, I have a fabric store trip planned this afternoon.

Creation: Mortmain Frock

I feel a warning is in order. If you plan to invite me to a party in the upcoming fall/winter season you will be seeing this dress. I love wearing it and I feel totally pretty in it. This dress will probably celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, plus it has the opportunity to see two musicals (American Idiot and Kristina från Duvemåla). Not too shabby for one dress! It also gets to make an appearance during The Monthly Stitch’s Frocktober.

Mortmain (16)

Happy about my new dress (and ran into a wet bush on the way to take photos)

The pattern is Gather Kits’ Mortmain dress. I have made an FBA, which I talked about in my process post along with other alterations. The pattern was great to work with, I loved that it was printed on a sturdy paper, as opposed to the tissue paper that’s often used. I even got it back in its envelope the same way I took it out! Since I’m a tracer at heart I much prefer sturdy paper. Since I am learning the ropes of the FBA, this pattern, with the dart placement is an excellent base to accommodate for a fuller bust. However, I think the darts are still a bit too long.

Bodice closeup

Bodice closeup

The fabric is a cotton satin with about 5% lycra. It’s quite heavy, but I think it works for this dress. It’s very comfortable to wear due to the lycra. Of course the main attraction of this dress is the exposed zipper in the back. For this type of dress, it’s so perfect! A calssaci silhouette and bam! Some excitement in the back. My zipper ended up a bit too low, so I had to add a hook and eye at the top of the seam. I don’t think it distracts too much from the design.

La pièce de résistance

La pièce de résistance

Since I already had decided that this is a winter party dress I wanted to add some decorative stitching. My first idea was to do it in a silver metallic thread, but after doing half the neckline I started to feel bad for my machine and took them all out. All I had to show for that evening of sewing was small bits of metallic thread all over my sewing and reading rooms. And myself. Plus a silver stitch on a teal dress really makes the dress look like an ornamented Christmas tree. It was a little too much. In the end I did the same stitch but in regular black thread instead. Still fun, but not over the top.

Decorative stitches for neckline, armholes and hem

Decorative stitches for neckline, armholes and hem

The other instance in which I had to break out my seam ripper was a total “what was I thinking?”-moment. I had made my armhole facings and was set to attach them. I found which piece was front and back and pinned accordingly. It didn’t quite fit, but I pulled and tugged and got it in to sew. I did the other one, which fitted perfectly, and turned to look at my first one. Sure I had set the front in the front, but I had pinned the whole thing upside down. Nothing to do but rip and replace. Such a stupid mistake!

As I mentioned in my process post I interfaced the waistband and did a self-lining, all inspired by Mary of Idle Fancy. I hope it will hold the dress up better, especially since I have stretchy fabric to begin with, plus it looks quite nice, don’t you think? The waistband feature was one I liked about this pattern, since it’s not seen very often these days. All the edges are overlocked. The suggestion from the pattern was to use pinking shears on the facings’ raw edges. I did overlock them too because for one I don’t own pinking shears and secondly overlocked raw edges are bound to hold up better. There are facings around the armholes and necklines, I know some prefer to use bias tape instead, I’m on team facings. I do however find the need to topstitch armhole facings to keep them in place. The exposed zip is sewn, close to the teeth, with the wrong side of the fabric folded out, then the excess fabric is trimmed and the zipper is sewn again close to the edge, hiding all raw edges.

Overlocked edges and faced and lined waistband

Overlocked edges and faced and lined waistband (and some stray threads)

I enjoyed working with this pattern. The instructions were very clear and the glossary of sewing terms in the back was great to keep the flow going without explanations of terms mid-text. My one problem with this dress is I have nothing to wear with it. I think a good option would be a cropped jacket, such as New Look 6080. Yes, then I’d have one party outfit, but maybe all you need are few great pieces, with some variation potential in terms of accessories (perhaps the Tallis collar drafted for this dress) and layering, because let’s be honest here: I don’t attend that many parties.

Do you go for a many special occasion pieces or is a few enough? Do you have a party invite for me so I can wear my new, lovely dress? Do you get the Mortmain reference (I don’t) and why is it that there as so few of them on blogland?

Wow, You Can Sew Anything!

Fellow Sewcialist Little Miss Sewshine wrote a great post on “rules” for wearing our home-made garments. In my mind, as you can see in the comments, I got hung up on the “you can sew anything” part. Let me tell you why.

Roughly, one can say that three things are needed to create a garment. A general idea of how the garment would look (draped, self-drafted or commercial pattern doesn’t matter), fabric (or other material, I’m sticking to fabric) and notions and trims. All these things are needed, in the case of trims it can be considered optional, to be able to sew anything.

The order in which these things come isn’t static. Sometimes it’s the fabric that calls your name, others it’s a pattern. Sometimes you see a garment in a store, on a blog, on the street and copy it. There’s plenty of inspiration to go around and it’s hard channeling all of that into a garment that we like to wear. To be honest we’re more likely to channel it into twenty garments we’d like to wear.

Two kinds of shirtdresses, Lily by Jenny Hellström and Hawthorn by Colette

Two kinds of shirtdresses, Violet by Jenny Hellström and Hawthorn by Colette

Let’s say you’d want to make a shirtdress. A classic wardrobe staple, simple, right? Well, here’s where the endless decisions start. Should the shirt and skirt be separated at the waist or should the dress be in one piece? Do I want only darts in one direction? Gathered skirt or sleek silhouette? What type of sleeves, or even sleeveless?

Various collars: Peter Pan collar, Collar with stand and folded over collar

Various collars: Peter Pan collar, Collar with stand and folded over collar

Should the collar be stand-in, folded over or separate? Pointy or soft, perhaps even scallops?  See, endless decisions. And this is just regarding the pattern of the dress. After you know what type of dress you want it’s the matter of fabric. First of all, it needs to work with the pattern in terms of stiffness and drape. Then another round of decisions ensue. Printed or solid? What colour? Floral, geometrical, abstract print? Combination of fabrics? Not to mention that while there are plenty of resources you might not find exactly what you’re after and then determining where your good enough lays. At some point you do come out in the other end with a pattern and a fabric, but the route of getting there might not have been the simplest.

Buttons in various shapes and colours, invisible zippers and visible zippers in various colours.

Buttons in various shapes and colours, invisible zippers and visible zippers in various colours.

Think you’re ready to start sewing? Wrong! You still need notions and trims. Even selecting thread, do I want a contrast thread or which colour blends in the most with my print? Zipper or buttons? As for zippers; invisible, visible, exposed? Hand-picked or machine sewn? In the back or side seam? Which colour buttons, should they blend in or stand out? (When selecting buttons for a floral blouse I spent fifteen minutes (at least) just staring at buttons. True story). Which shape; round, square, any other? Two holes, four holes or the ones with the stitches below? Do I want trim to personalise my garment? Rick-rack, ribbon, bias tape? Contrast or complementary?

People who don’t sew shouldn’t be impressed that we can make anything. They should be impressed that we can make anything at all with all the inspiration and endless choices. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to select a decorative stitch for my new Mortmain dress.

Process: Mortmain

As I had posted my blog hop answers on writing, they still stuck with me. Especially the part about my editing myself to avoid too much ramblings in my creations post. But if I feel I have a lot to say, why shouldn’t I say it? To avoid long posts I can always split the content into two posts. That’s what I’m doing here since I already feel I have a lot to say about the Mortmain dress I’m working on.

I’m not the person to jump on every new pattern release. I can enjoy a new pattern, but I wish to see it made up a couple of times before I commit. Yes, you can call me a coward. Also, I don’t enter giveaways if I can’t see myself using the prize, may it be fabric, patterns, books, notions or whatever. However, during Indie month on the Monthly Stitch, there was a giveaway for the Mortmain dress by Gather. I hadn’t come across it before but I liked it so I entered the giveaway and Lady Luck was on my side and I won.

Winner!

Winner!

How the fabric came into my stash is another story. Usually, when fabric shopping, I have a plan. In my mind I have a selection of patterns and I try to match a fabric to a pattern, but I always stop by the remnant bin, excellent finds can be made there. This fabric is one of them. It’s a dark teal, cotton satin with 5% lycra. It’s luscious and gorgeous, has a small sheen to it. It’s been in my stash for a year. At first I thought of making a Colette Hawthorn, but it wasn’t enough fabric. Then it just sat in my stash, I petted my lovely fabric, wondering what it was meant for until the Mortmain pattern landed in my mailbox. Marriage!

Since I loved the fabric and it had gained a high status, unused fabrics can get that, I wanted to be prepared. Enter research phase! I did my first muslin. I learnt that the Mortmain was drafted for a C cup (excellent information!) so I made a 2 cm FBA on my bodice and waistband muslin. The bodice was a bit short and the darts were too high. However, the FBA was good and I only needed to move the darts and add length.

Tips from Twitter - love the #sewcialists!

Tips from Twitter – love the #sewcialists!

Since I am learning my way in the adventures of fitting I asked on Twitter if length or dart shifting came first. Emily of Tumbleweeds in the Wind said darts first and then length may not be needed. She was right and after I moved the darts south the bodice fit me.

Still, my fabric was so precious that I didn’t dare cut it yet and I googled blog posts of the Mortmain. Mary of Idle Fancy had made a cute version, however she brought up the issue of a lack of interfacing on the waistband because waistband stretches. This made me concerned since I already had stretch in my fabric, so I decided to make my waistband double, with one piece interfaced (outer layer) and one piece un-interfaced as facing.

Beyond the point of no return

Beyond the point of no return

 

With that I felt ready to Cut That Fabric!

And I have high hopes for my new dress.

Are you a “jump in the deep end of the pool”-person or do you research and study before a project? Does it differ for different projects? How do you treat your “special” fabrics?