Sewn: The Scissors Shirt

Kids, I’m going to tell you an incredible story, the story of how I sewed with quilting cotton. [recognise it?]

(OK, so I might be sitting down writing this blog post just hours after I heard of Bob Saget’s passing. I loved Full House as a kid, in hindsight it is a pretty shitty show and this blog hilariously captures it. In my older days, Bob Saget is known to me as old Ted/the narrator in How I Met Your Mother).

Anyway, back to the incredible story about quilting fabric. Back in late 200s/early 2010s, when sewing was picking up momentum around the world, or at least made visible due to the birth of sewing blogs, there were many discussions regarding the use of quilting fabric for garment sewing. Many were drawn to the colourful styles and well-behaved cotton, but after the initial love, it was easy to see that quilting cotton was not made for garment sewing as it most often lacked the proper drape. Not to mention the surprise I once got when I didn’t realise that quilting cotton often comes on 110 cm width fabric instead of 140 cm, as is custom for garment fabrics, and I had bought the meterage needed for 140 cm. It was this dress.

A few years ago, I visited Gittes Tygkälla (seriously big store, I’ll take you there if you’re nearby sometime) with some sewing friends and I fell for this scissors fabric from the Robert Kaufmann line. I figured it would be fun to wear my hobby on my sleeve and the print was still discrete while still fun. I found some matching buttons and bias tape to add some purple details to this otherwise very grey colour scheme. For a hem this deep, I prefer using bias tape instead of trying to ease the fabric in a narrow hem.

The Deer and Doe Mélilot shirt (sizes 34-52) is quite a good beginner shirt. There are no sleeves to set and no yoke; the bodice sews up in a whip, even if you, like me, use French seams. The short sleeved version is a good intro to shirt-making, as focus can be put on assembling the collar and put off sleeves, yokes and sleeves plackets until another sewing venture. I sewed a straight size 42, just added 3.5 cm above the bust dart. The D&D block works pretty good for my shape, just need those extra cm!

I also made those trousers (Burda pattern, black stretch twill from Ohlssons Tyger) and I like how they look with the shirt and the red belt. Walking across my yard in this outfit I felt I would fit in at the office, both in terms of how they look but also because it connects to my personal style (maybe I’ll dwell on that in a later post). But alas, it’s back to the home office for now.

Autumn Sewing and Winter Plan

As I continue sewing with a plan, but still take the occasional detour, I think a lot about what I want to wear and what I actually need. For the past year and a half, as I’ve been mostly working from home, I’ve realised that I like to get dressed when working (no sweat pants!) but my wardrobe has been much more casual than when going to the office. T-shirts have been worn aplenty, some to the point of disintegrating.

The Autumn Plan

(Disclaimer: I did once have a Zoom meeting in my robe as I had worked out and showered during lunch and the person I met called me earlier than scheduled).

So, now we are hoping that a more regular presence at the office is near (currently I have two set days, and “when necessary”) it’s time to update my work wardrobe, something that has been reflected in the fall plan I’ve sewn.

The Autumn Outcome

My autumn plan was also a trial of several patterns and style, such as the green blazer and combining Deer and Doe’s Aubepine and Datura into a blouse. The skirt was sewn, but it was planned as a colour-blocked affair, it became all green and the grey and black stretch twills will become separate skirts in the next plan. It could also be noted that I felt green was lacking in my wardrobe, so I’ve tried to remedy that. The trousers, which will have a proper post, are a bit too big, but I like the style and colour of them.

The Winter Plan

As I was sitting down to plan my winter sewing I had an epiphany. Last year I read “The Curated Closet” and one of the tasks was to name your style – and it didn’t need to make sense for anyone else but yourself. And then, the name just came to me “Office nerd connecting with inner rock chick”. I’ve been trapped in making “office appropriate” clothing (even worse when I worked in controlling) and lost a bit of myself. So, let’s change that! I found some fun fabrics at tyg.se that I feel go with the look I’m imagining. Blouses, shirts and t-shirts under blazers, skinny bottoms and colours. I hope it’ll feel right. And, yeah we’re going to a wedding so I need some attire for that as well, in silver and blue.

The Winter plan Fabrics. Office nerd goes rock’n’roll?

Sewn: The Barney/Rose Suit

There’s math and then there’s fabric math. As part of my physics degree I had to take a few uni courses in mathematics, it is the language of physics after all. In mathematics there is a right and wrong, no opinions needed it’s black and white. (Except when you use it for physics and try to account for energy, you almost always get a rounding error or you can always blames that the unaccounted energy “becomes heat”).

While regular math is very much limited by right and wrong, fabric math holds no such restrictions! In this world numbers don’t need to add up. Case in point, my Barney/Rose-suit.

I had bought a remnant of this green corduroy, hoping to add some colour to my wardrobe. Well, mission accomplished! I wanted to try out a simple non-lined blazer, New Look 6481 (OOP), and used the corduroy as a wearable muslin. This is where the fabric math comes in. I had 1.8 metres of the corduroy, the blazer called for 1.4 metres, so surely I could fit in something else as well? Especially since corduroy requires that all pieces face the same direction due to its nap. I settled on a skirt from Burda Easy FW2014 (skirt 3A without the zippers), which is made up by several small pieces, making pattern Tetris a bit easier. I had to piece the back waistband, and I used another fabric for lining the waistband, but in this version of fabric math 1.4 metres + 0.9 metres = 1.8 metres.

As the blazer is unlined I did a Hongkong seam finish. Preferably, I would like some bias binding with a bit more of a pop, but I decided to use what I had at home. I read that this type of seam finish was not recommended for curved seam, so the sleeve to bodice seam is just serged. A bit boring but I didn’t know what to do. I do like that after 15 years of sewing, there are still new techniques for me to try.

Wearing the two pieces together, well it is a lot of green. I feel like a combination of How I Met Your Mother’s Barney on St Patrick’s Day and Taskmaster’s Rose Matafeo, albeit with a skirt. Each piece in its own is bright, together… is it too much? Maybe more suited for spring than autumn? We’ll see. It was a fun project.

The top is a Megan Nielsen Briar in a cotton knit with denim look.

Sewn: Green Airelle

As many people around the world, the years 2020 and 2021 have been marked by working from home. My sewing machine has been pushed to the side to accommodate my laptop, screen, keyboard and mouse pad. I’ve been using my over locker on the floor, since I couldn’t be arsed to keep moving it up and down from the table. During numerous Zoom meetings, my co-workers and other partners have been treated to views of my fabric stash and cut out projects waiting for their turn. (At one point we did do a fun game in which we photographed our setup and guessed whose work place it was – we’d only seen what is behind everyone).

I’m not going to lie. While I haven’t fallen down into the really leisurely way of dressing for working from home, my outfits have been way more casual than what I would wear in the office. And then I do work in a pretty casual office. So, I’m taking the opportunity to add some more dressier bits to my wardrobe again. And colour! I’d like to think that I sew with a lot of colour, but this picture by @bloome_comics hit close to home. All those years of sewing neutral pieces “that goes with everything” ends up with a practical wardobe, but not very fun. So, let’s add some more statement pieces, shall we?

Maybe a forest green top isn’t really “statement” but it’s a lovely colour, especially for fall. The drape works great for the Deer and Doe Airelle top. It’s my second attempt on this pattern, the first one, also green, was sewn in a cotton, which was a bit too stiff so it didn’t comply with all the gathers of the top and just sort of rested on me. It was weird and sadly waste of a lovely fabric. This time the fabric is a viscose remnant from Ohlssons Tyger, where you can by remnants by weight.

I did my new appraoch to the Deer and Doe patterns, added length above the vertical dart, below the armscye and that’s it. The block fits me fairly well, so now I just want to sew Deer and Doe everything! However, I’m not sure I 100% succeeded on the collar. Still works. As I was working on the top, I got the idea make the pattern into a buttoned blouse and omit the collar. I think that could work and it would be a project for next spring or summer.

Yay! for adding a little bit of colour.

Sewn: Aubétura Blouse

In the midst of sewing garments left and right, I have stumbled upon one challenge that has so far left me perplexed. That of the woven t-shirt. While there are plenty of patterns going around, most of them aren’t accommodated to a larger bust. Even with an FBA in some cases, since then you’d have to add darts, which does in fact change the design of the top.

After dressing in my Sound of Music clothes and realizing that Deer and Doe patterns fit me quite well as they are, save for the length I need to add for my long torso, and after a session of hashtag surfing inspiration on Instagram, I blatantly stole the idea of combing the Aubépine and the Datura, to build myself a woven top.

I took the top part of the Aubépine, down to the dart, and the bottom of the Datura, omitting the back button band and doing it just on the fold. I’m actually quite pleased with the look and the fit. The fabric claimed to be viscose, but might be polyester. I have terrible fabric detective skills. But the fabric was cheap and it has the right weight and drape for this sort of top.

It was the second time I sewed all those pin tucks and the second time I drew them on the wrong side of the fabric. Most fabric markings go on the wrong side, pin tucks do not. Also, should I get tired of the sewing a gazillion pin tucks (9), I could use the lining piece for the Aubépine and get a smooth top instead.

Of course, I haven’t actually worn the top for real, so I can’t talk about the wearability factor, but look how pretty!

Summer Sewing 2021 – Outcome

As I have mentioned before, I do like to plan my sewing. For each new season, I make a plan. As each season ends, I try to figure out what I missed, what I wore, what never got worn to, hopefully, remember for next year so I can make a better plan. For the summer of 2021, here’s what I planned:

What I planned

This year I tried to go for a mini-capsule, where all pieces would mix and match, also while using fabrics I had accumulated over the year. I did sew all of those piece, maybe not the exact pattern (you’ll see what I mean) and added a few pieces that I also needed, but that didn’t necessarily fit into the capsule.

What I sewed!

I truly love the bumblebee dress, how it fits, how it looks, the fabric! The Vaccine Top is also a pretty big hit, it’s a bit dressier (not shown here is the plunging back neckline) and that, since it’s white, goes with plenty of bottom pieces. The other white top, not in plan (pattern Burda 06-2018-121) is a fail. It’s a pique fabric and I’m having trouble getting the neckline to lie flat. But the biggest issue is that against all better judgement, I should have known better than to put gathers around my boobs. While I thought I’d like this for really warm days, it has hardly been warm and I wouldn’t want to wear it outside of the house.

The little jacket from Knipmode (Edition 04/2019 cannot find pattern online), in a stretchy sweatshirt knit, is a very nice little summer jacket. I just haven’t been out a lot in weather that would need it, but surely it can be worn for fall as well? And I didn’t call you Shirley.

As for the bottoms, the blue skirt is lovely in colour and length (and has a post of its own). The tie-dye culottes (Burda 06-2018-103) I made because, well, I needed shorts. I liked the idea of a longer length and the styling made it seem like the overlapping flap would make the culottes look more like a skirt. Truth be told, while I like the shape, the flap mostly gets caught between my legs. If I were to make these culottes again, I’d make them without the flap, and I’d add a waistband. Interfaced waistlines just don’t do it for me.

Now the red trousers. Certainly a pair of 3/4-length trousers are a staple of a summer wardrobe up in the Nordics. I love the fabric and the pattern with the cool pocket details (Burda 10-2017-113). However, someone really stupid (not naming names or placing blame here, people!) didn’t check the stretch of the fabric and didn’t realise that it went on the cross grain of the fabric instead of the straight grain. So now I have trousers that stretch well in the lengthwise direction, but not so much where I actually would want the stretch. Stupid! Plus the haphazard stretch made it harder to get the pocket details sharp. You live you learn (eventually, last fall I made the exact same error.

As for random things to consider for next year’s summer sewing:

  • I need more colour!
  • I want some more vowen, slightly looser tops
  • Viscose knits are lovely to wear in warm weather, but I need to stay clear of the nightgown feeling they can give me
  • I’d like more practical shorts – cargo style – for hikes and similar outings.

Also I’m likely to find lovely fabrics over the year to come, so who know what I’ll want to sew then…

Sewn: A Bumblebee Dress

Today I got a notification from WordPress congratulating me on the 14 years that have passed since I signed up for this blog, which is quite interesting considering that my first posts from this blog are from 2006 – 15 years ago.This blog has been through many iterations, I’ve recapped travels, reviewed books and movies, shared unemployment anxiety (and workplace anxiety) and all in between. In the end I’ve settled on irregularly sharing my sewing creations here and many of the other posts have been removed from public reading. I still have them and cringe.

What better way to celebrate than to share a a wonder summer dress! I sewed this back in May, but with everything summer happening, here I am at the tail end of summer posting about it. Ah, well. To be honest, as I don’t fancy typing on my tablet and rarely use my computer during holidays, no posts get typed. The harsh truth. And very relaxing.

This dress, impractical as it really is, is a dream! The perfect summer dress. Ruffles, full circle skirt, nice fitting bodice… what else could I ask for? The pattern is #107 from Burda 05/2020, sewn up in a viscose fabric from Stoff och Stil (discontinued), blue and white striped with adorable bumblebees on it. Summery without being floral! I had a discussion with a sewing friend, she wouldn’t sew a full (or half, as she first thought it was) circle skirt in stripes, the different directions would drive her crazy. But I decided that the stripes were thin enough that it wouldn’t be an issue and in the end she also admitted that it wasn’t as disturbing as she thought at first.

As for alterations I did an FBA on the bodice, afterwards I split the one (now very wide) dart into two. I also added length to the bodice (hello long torso!). On the back bodice I took out a wedge of the neckline as it was gaping. I think the skirt got a bit shorter, due to fabric restrictions, but I can’t remember. Anyway, this dress is lovely to wear, lovely to look at and lovely to twirl in!

Sewn: A Vaccine Outfit

After what seems like an eternity of working from home, wearing the same clothes, waiting for warmer weather to show up; I decided to just say “oh screw it!” It was Friday, I had a 6-hour meeting booked (although I knew it would be quicker), so I put on two recently finished garments. Just to look cute. I even swapped my regular glasses for another pair, but unfortunately they’re just not comfortable. I need to really consider comfort when choosing new specs. These are 5 years old and I want new glasses! Especially since of the 3 pair I have I just use one since the others aren’t comfortable. So, I made an appointment to get my eyes checked and then pick out new glasses, no matter what the exam says I need.

This outfit does not match the weather… (And yes I’m always barefoot at home and couldn’t be arsed to put on shoes for the picture)

I’m still sewing with a plan, making a 5-6 piece plan for every season. For summer of 2021, I tried my best at a capsule. Then I added a few pieces as well, as the need for new shorts became apparent and a pique fabric fell into my cart in the fabric store. What can I say, sometimes fabrics are drawn to carts! One of my identified needs was a knit top, a bit fancy for garden parties. Well, since I’m Swedish, I needed something to wear with skirts for Midsummer. After going trhough my stash of patterns I settled on the knot sleeved top from Burda 07/2018. It was quick and easy to sew. The shoulders do need some adjustment when wearing, I’ve noticed some who put ribbon across the back to keep the sleeves up, another idea would be to add a snap and clear elastic to keep the bra strap in place. I will wear the top and see what I would do. The fabric is Stoff och Stil Ponte di Roma.  It’s a bit on the thick (and polyester) side, so it might not be ideal for really hot days, on the other hand they could be few and far in between.

I do like a low cut back neckline

The skirt was a project I completed after sewing a shirt in cupro. It was so nice to move on from that shifty fabric and detailed pattern, to a simple skirt with fabric that did what I told it to. A very well-behaved fabric! The pattern, yet another Burda, from 06/2020, was easy to work with. It’s one of those patterns that maybe you don’t really need, but it’s always nice when someone else has done the math and considered proportions.

Insert Covid Vaccine here

After wearing the top for one day, I am seriously considering making it my vaccine top. No need to roll up the sleeve!

The self-belt is sewn in. There is also a sewn in snap keeping everything in place

Sewn: The Sound of Music strikes again

Many years ago, BC (before children) we visited Bavaria with our friends. One of our stops was the ski jumping hill in Oberstdorf as our host was a big ski jumping fan and the rest of us were fans of pretty Alp views. We took the lift up to the top of the hill and to get down we left the arena and ran down in the green hills below the snow covered Alps, pretending to be Maria in The Sound of Music. This activity has since been referred to as “hills are alive”-ing, from the intro of said movie.

The original “Hills are a-liver”

These clothes are not particularly related to the Sound of Music, they are not made of curtains, but the pattern company makes me sing “Do, a deer, a female deer”. Another song set among the grass hills of the Alps.

I’ve been eyeing the Aubépine pattern for quite a while, switching between thinking it was a perfectly casual day dress and worrying that it would make me look pregnant with its empire waist. Last Black Friday I took the plunge and paired it up with some viscose from Stoff och Stil. The big challenge of this pattern is that it is to be sewn in a lightweight fabric, so you need to keep track of it, especially when sewing the tucks on the front bodice. I did mess up a little and the fabric waist seam ended up bigger than the lining waist seam. In the end I had to take in the fabric, which created a few tucks, but those are hidden in the drawstring.

I cut a straight size 42, based on my measurements, and added 4 cm of length between the tucks and the dart. And, since D&D drafts for an X-figure, it is very flattering on me. No sign of pregnancy anywhere. There shouldn’t be. I’m glad I decided to make my first version in a print, since it hides some of the mistakes in the tucks and the above mentioned waist seam snafu. For future version I will add interfacing to the buttonholes for the drawstring to reinforce them, they feel really flimsy.

High on a D&D success, and wanting to sew something a bit simpler, I revisited the Datura pattern. I have made one before which was, well I’ll be honest, vanity sized. A straight 42, with 5 cm length added, split by the yoke and bodice and ta-da! It fits really well. The fabric is a remnant from tyg.se and I added some red buttons for a pop in the back. This pattern is a simple woven tank, that I can imagine being good for scrap-busting. There are two necklines, one being this small collar, the other a triangle cut-out, it would work just as well without the collar as a simple woven tank. Maybe it would also work with a closed back, to save even more fabric, but I haven’t figured out that option yet.

Anyway, Deer and Doe are delivering for me, and with quite a few of their patterns in my possession, I might revisit some of them again. Airelle, I’m looking at you. Well, I have one little beef with them. They draft in SI units (aka. metric), which is the measurements used in the Fremch instructions. In the English ones it’s imperial measurements (aka. inches and such) (and not always written) so I need to go back and forth between the two. Embrace the SI system!

Sewn: A Stevie Budd Outfit, or Two

2020 was quite the unusual year, I think everyone can agree to that. It was memorable, albeit for all the wrong reason. But while many of my plans were cancelled (travelling, Green Day, Trevor Noah, just seeing friends and family), I can’t say that my year was bad. It certainly wasn’t good or fun, but I would say more boring than bad.

The colourblocked raglan

There was one good thing to come out of 2020 though, which was my discovering and falling in love with Schitt’s Creek! I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS!

I had heard of the show, but I couldn’t access it anywhere, until like September, when my local carrier started streaming it. It took a while, but I fell in love! And keep on falling with every episode passing. It has humor, both subtle and not so subtle, and a lot of heart. I’m at the point where I’m jealous of those that haven’t seen it since they have so much fun ahead of them.

The dark grey raglan

So, when making fashion inspired by this lovely, funny, heart-warming show, I didn’t turn to David and his amazing knits, nor did I look to Alexis’ boho chic wardrobe. I emulated Stevie. Unintentionally, but that’s how it turned out and I guess Stevie’s style is the most practical for me in my everyday life, especially now during work from home.

Also, coming of a stint of shirt making, I wanted to make something quick and easy, something I knew I needed and could be finished quickly. A bonus was that this was pure scrap busting, using my best pattern Tetris skills to eke out the various pieces, for the white fabric I had to sacrifice the curved hem. A couple of years ago I sewed a pair of leggings that I rarely wore – they became the light grey sleeves on the white/grey version. The dark grey is a leftover from a dress I sewed in 2019, which became my Christmas dress, 2 years running. Since I bought all of these fabrics in bulk at Ohlssons Tyger, I have no idea of the contents. I think the white and light grey are cotton/elastan, the dark grey might have some polyester and/or viscose in it. I haven’t done a burn test (do those even work on elastane fabrics?).

Full Stevie Budd outfit – all me-made

Just drop me off at Rose Apothecary so I can be BFF with Patrick and David. While I relate to many aspects of Stevie herself, I think my everyday commentary on life is more in line with Patrick’s. But I’m not making myself (yet another) light blue shirt. (Spoiler alert, I made a dark blue shirt to end 2020)

Now, the only question is, do I write something Schitt’s Creek related on the white top and, more importantly, what quote would that be?

Outfit details:

Tops: Hey June Handmade Lane Raglan t-shirts in mystery fabrics

Shirt: NL 6407 in plaid cotton

Trousers: Pinda Pants by Waffle patterns in stretch denim