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.

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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?

Sew For A Change – September

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This month, our focus in the Sew For A Change challenge was home detox. I’m going to confess right away, I have lost a bit of momentum and am quite happy that I don’t miss retail shopping at all, I am pleased with sewing and second hand shopping. Our three focus areas were:

Plastic is not fantastic 

Learn what the different plastic numbers 1-7 mean and go through your home and find+replace the worst ones. Eg plastic shower curtains, food containers, kids toys (throw away all plastic toys made before 2007 and all plastic toys made outside EU), vinyl prints on clothes etc. 

Having small children we do have a lot of plastic toys at home. Soon the baby toys will go and I will make an effort to get new toys in other materials. Legos and Duplos will be excepted as they are awesome toys and it’s hard to get a valid substitute. But this is definitely something I will work on in the future, trying to reduce plastic. It won’t be zero tolerance but I will try and steer the kids and any potential gift-givers towards the non-plastic alternative. The kids have some vinyl prints, I avoid them but some have been gifted. They’re OK to use since they’re a small part of the kids’ wardrobes. Shower curtains – we have none.

Avoid poisoning your food 

Make a kitchen inventory and replace teflon/non-stick coated pots, pans and trays. Replace cooking utensils out of plastic with wood or metal. Especially if they are made of black plastic or melamine. The old ones can be used for something else than cooking. Plant flowers in them, dig in the garden or whatever – but avoid mixing plastic+heat+food. Try to avoid using plastic bags for food storage; cotton bags, glas jars or bread bins go a long way. Avoid buying food in metal tins (they have a plastic coating with BPA on the inside). Maybe even try to avoid getting your fruit and vege in plastic bags? Buy reusable fabric “produce bags” or sew your own.

I usually bring lunch to work in plastic lunchboxes. Bad Helena! At least I move my food from the plastic container onto a plate before putting it in the microwave. I did look at metallic and glass containers but they are so heavy and expensive. Plus I don’t know how they will take to the freezer. Excuses, excuses. We use plastic utensils, I will look for new ones. I hardly use the Teflon pan, my husband does, I prefer the steel or cast iron ones. We use a lot of plastic bags for storage, although I must say I’m intrigued by Alexandra’s bees wraps. In the future I will look for alternatives to metal tins, but can’t gurantee anything, I don’t think my favourite tomatoes come in anything other than metal tins, but I will change where I can.

Sit nicely 

If you are buying new furniture, be a difficult customer and demand information regarding flame retardants (shall be avoided at any cost!). They are impossible to break down and they are everywhere in the environment now, in the fish in the deep sea and in newborn babies to name a few. Be suspicious of most soft furniture, even mattresses. This is actually an area where buying second hand/vintage is not always best. Many of the really scary flame retardants from back in the day are now banned. 

We have no furniture purchases planned, but I will keep this in my mind for the future.

So, as you can see, I haven’t fully committed to the task this month, but I am taking my newfound knowledge with me to the future in hopes of reducing plastics more at home

Despite getting no bonus points this month, I have spent some. I went shopping for my fall plan, so I have no more plans to buy more fabric, what I have should last me a while and I now have all the fabrics I need to complete my fall plan. I will reserve some points for fabric shopping in Spain, where we’re going in December, and I probably need some new underwear. As I said before, I don’t miss shopping and I’m having a lot of fun looking for finds at second hand stores and flea markets that I doubt I will go on a shopping binge come January.

Ingoing points: 58p

Purchases:

Cotton twill (skirt), 1.6 m: -4p

Cotton (blouse), 1,6m: -3,2p

Cotton voile (blouse lining), 0,9m:-2,25p

Cotton college fabric (blazer), 2,3m: -5,75

Duchess satin (contrast for Michelle the Third), 0.4p: -1,4p

Total purchases: -16.6 p

Outgoing points: 41.4p

Creation: Michelle The Third

Following my third incarnation of Sewaholic’s Alma, I began my next project in my fall sewing plan, which is yet another third incarnation. And another female name as well, Michelle (I know that technically Sewaholic patterns are named for streets and areas, but Alma happens to be both a street and a name). Michelle is a Burdastyle pattern from back in the glorious day when patterns were free and the sense of community was high. What happened?

Yep, side seam pockets!

Yep, side seam pockets!

I have previously made two summer versions of the Michelle Skirt, one yellow and green and one pink. It is a comfortable, easy skirt so instead of finding and tracing something new I chose the easy way out.

The fabric is a duchess satin; shiny, quite stiff and 100% polyester, which played into my choosing a looser skirt for winter. I wouldn’t want to wear polyester too close to my body and since it’s not very good at keeping warm, some sort of outer layer was excluded. Full skirt with tights under – polyester can work for that. The burgundy fabric has been in my stash for a good 2.5 years so it was time to get it out in the air. The grey fabric was purchased to provide contrast and it’s the same fabric type, just another colour.

Hardest bits: pleats and folding polyester ribbon trim.

Hardest bits: pleats and folding polyester ribbon trim.

The pattern is pretty straight-forward and easy, plus the old Burdastyle’s instructions were quite detailed and had illustrations. (Forgive me while I daydream of old Burdastyle). I had no issues putting this skirt together, the hardest part was the pleats, but that was only due to the fact that it’s impossible to draw on polyester. Yes, I know tailor tacks, but I just pinned where the pleats went and stitched. It worked for this skirt since the pleats were short and straight, the method would not have worked well on darts (that piece of tip is sponsored by experience; having tried and failed). Another hardship was adding the contrast ribbon since my polyester fabric would not press. Synthetic fabric has a life of its own, I tell ya.

Michelle The Third (14)

Being older and wiser than when I made my previous versions I decided to add inseam side pockets. Since I plan to wear the skirt to work, having pockets is great for tossing the phone in when going to meetings or, what I do more often, to the coffee room. I traced around my hand and drew a pocket shape. The pockets were added to the side seam using By Hand London’s tutorial. Of course this made the step “sew side seam” a bit harder, however pockets are good to have. They’re a bit too small so I must struggle to get my hand in, however, I am quite happy with the placement and sewing of them.

Back view. Perhaps I saw the facing with a seam allowance a bit too big.

Back view. Perhaps I sewed the facing with a seam allowance a bit too big.

My fall wardrobe plan goes in the colours of grey and burgundy, which I have captured in this skirt. I am a bit worried that the fabric makes it look too home-made, but I think I will have to wear it to find out. Paired with my grey Alma, to take it from party to work. Two pieces down, five to go!

Are you worried that your homemade clothes look “too homemade”? How do you avoid that? Do you ever daydream about the old Burdastyle as much as I do?

Blog hoppin’ or Ramblings on Ramblings

I’m pretty sure most people have noted the blog hop on writing going around. I was nominated by Becky of Sew and So, someone I’ve followed since 2010 when we were both trying to find our styles.

* Why do I write?

I’ve had my blog for ages, since 2005 -ish. Back then it was used as ventilation, regarding uni graduation, unemployment and getting my first job. Then I slowly got into sewing my own clothes, back in 2006 and I started blogging about that. I found Burdastyle in 2007 and after that sewing started playing a larger role in my life and a larger part of this blog. I’ve deleted most of the private posts from my early days. Nowadays it has become my documentation for my achievements in sewing and style as well as a way to reach out and meet other people. Writing is definitely important to me, I want to document in written words. I keep a daily journal and I have penpals with whom I speak mainly in written words. It’s easier for me to put my feelings and thoughts into writing rather than speaking.

One of my many journals...

One of my many journals…

* What am I working on?

Writing-wise I am working on finding my own voice. I have fallen into the trap of how I should write and present my creations, copying others, letting myself get lost rather than writing with my own words. I’m hoping to add more personality to my posts, while still keeping them informative. Also, I wish to add more musings and discussion topics to hopefully get a bit a discussion in my comments.

Sewing-wise I am sticking to my fall plan. I had a detour last week when I made the kids matching t-shirts, I couldn’t resist, now I’m back on track and am working on my teal Mortmain dress.

* How does it differ from others of its genre?

I don’t think I have a very unique blog, to be honest. I’m not creative enough to come up with on crafts and I don’t have enough technical skills to do tutorials, plus I don’t feel like spending that time. I hope to provide pattern reviews, thoughts on style and musings and discussions regarding sewing, style and fashion, all from my perspective. I like to think that my work is business casual so that’s my hole to fill. The PC thing to say was that I write solely for myself, that it’s my own documentation, but I hope that someone out there likes reading my thoughts, find some answers or gain a new perspective.

* How does my writing process work?

When I’m working on a project I think about the things that make this project unique, did I change anything and why, did I do any stupid mistakes, how do I feel about the project. All of those impressions gets into the post. When I write I just start to write with a specific topic in mind. Most times I stay on topic, sometimes I inadvertently wander off to a whole new topic. I just let the words flow, so after my first write-through I need to go back and edit. Usually I remove a bunch of rambling and make sure that all the information I want to provide is there. Sometimes I add personal anecdotes to accompany the post and that’s one of the things I’m working on to make my blog more personal.

Onto nominations! I know that some people (Becky included) e-mailed their nominees beforehand, but since I couldn’t find any e-mail addresses for my choices, they just have to find out the surprise way. I hope your are up for the task, ladies! (Otherwise, feel free not to, if it’s not fun than don’t it). My nominations are Aleksandra and Donna. Aleksandra makes a lot of fun, wearable clothes and always convey such happiness in her posts, I wouldn’t mind stealing a few of her pieces for my wardrobe (not that they’d fit me or anything), especially this Oscar de la Renta dress. That fabric!). Donna is an American living in France, which just happens to be one of my favourite countries to visit, the food, the wine, the scenery! Her creation posts are always inspiring as she pays great attention to details and sews with fun fabric. I hope you are up for the challenge ladies!