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 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

Sewn: A Shirt for The Life After This

As I sit here, in my home office (aka my sewing room), in jeans, a t-shirt and a Briar (I look like this, but with another t-shirt, still black), I dream of days when I can go back out into the world for work, for social events, for just meeting people. Since March it has been a lot of comfortable clothes and while they are great for the home office and just being at home, I still like to dress for other occasions as well.

Which got me thinking. My closet is always overflowing with clothes, because if I get rid of the things I don’t like I feel it would be too empty. But now, when I live in comfy clothes I realised that I can use another criterium for culling my wardrobe. Do I look forward to wearing this garment again? And where do I see myself wearing it? With the current Covid situation in Sweden I doubt we’ll get back to the office full time any time soon (we were back on a strict schedule September-October, but now it’s work from home full time if you can), which would give me time to identify the gaps in my wardrobe.

I tried to show off the 4 buttons cuff, but failed. Also, I think they overlap in the “wrong way”

One thing I know is that I love my shirts. And I love shirt-making! So this shirt is definitely one for the “I look forward to wearing this”-pile. The pattern is from Burdastyle (number 111-2020-02, an issue with many great patterns) and the fabric is a cotton voile from Stoff och Stil. I really like the style lines of the pattern, the princess seams in the front are from the back piece wrapping around to the front. However, their method of hidden button placket gets no love from me, basically they have you sew the buttonholes to the fold-over facing, then you fold it over and stitch it in place. This means that the buttonholes just sit on the back of the facing and are a bit tricky to button and unbutton. All in all, while Burdastyle shirts may have interesting style lines, they keep going back to fold-facings instead of proper button band. It works if you close all the buttons all the way up, but I recently sewed a shirt dress that is rather messy looking in the inside neckline due to the fact that a facing was used rather than a proper button band.

But I love the shirt and I want to wear it out in the world. However, for now it’s comfort and no unnecessary wear and tear of the clothes that await a life after the pandemic. And I tried a #poselikethepatternmodel

Posing like the pattern model

Sewn: A Signature Outfit (Brumby skirt and Burda top)

Details of the outfit

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Brumby
Fabric: Woven cotton jacquard from Stoff och Stil

Pattern: Burda 02-2020-117
Fabric: Cotton jersey with elastane (I believe) from Gittes Tygkälla

Over the spring I did the Wardrobe architect series with my FB wardrobe planning group. We’d meet on Zoom every other week to discuss a new chapter; colours, silhouettes, our lifestyles and so on. Zoom was a necessity in that it was not only Covid-safe – we also live in different parts of the country. It’s really hard to theoretically figure out what you like to wear and when sewing it’s not until the garments are finished that you can see if you like them. It makes it hard to try new things.

Anyway, this outfit, that I recently made really ticks many of my boxes. I like the silhouette with the wide waistband nipping in the waist, the sleeves which are a fun detail, the circles on the top to add a bit of irregularity and fun to the look. And the coloured tights – this skirt goes with tights in all the colours! Now I just need tights in all the colours.

For this outfit I sewed the both patterns for the second time and like the first time, they came together nicely. The jacquard for the skirt was probably a bit too heavy for apparel sewing, but in the end I think it worked out, even if the gathers are a bit uneven.

This outfit is definitely a “signature style” for me and, even better, since it’s made up of separates they can obviously be paired with other things as well. In short: two great wardrobe additions to my closet!

Sewn: A Checkered Blouse

Since I am a huge trivia nerd, the panel show QI is one of my favourite TV shows. Not to mention how many great stand-up comics I’ve discovered through that show (so far I’ve seen Bill Bailey and Dara O’Briain, both great on stage!).

Anyway, in one of the episodes the discussion was about the cockpits in RAF fighter jets; I think it was during WW2. They sized up all the RAF pilots and deduced the “average RAF pilot” and designed the cockpit for that, thinking that it would be one size fits all. Instead, none of the pilots fit properly into the cockpit since no one of them actually was average.

This relates to sewing patterns. On an insta story, I recently saw a newish (?) pattern company putting out a call for sewers to help them with measurements for sizing. Being the cynical, and keeping the RAF story in mind, I quickly realized that there if you do sizing based on the average of  random group of people, it will fit none. And maybe that’s the way it should be. The other option is that it will fit just one person just right and still nobody else.

For me, I like it when pattern makers clearly describe how they have drafted the pattern; what size to choose, finished measurements, cup size and so on. I don’t trust any bloggers’ assertion that “great fit, right out of the envelope” for while that might is true for that particular person, it probably isn’t for the majority of people.

I decided to try out the patterns of Mönsterfabriken, a fairly new Swedish pattern designer. I like the fact that the patterns are basics, but with a twist. First out was the Cina top, which I sewed in a checkered cotton from Stoff och Stil to try out the fit and the techniques. The sizing guide makes it known that you should base your size on the primary measurement – in this case the bust measurement. So I did that.

If you, like me, have a larger bust, you know that this is a bad way to go. But I wanted to do it by the book, since I hadn’t worked with this pattern brand before. And while the pictures in this post might not be of how I plan to wear the top (it looks better with the front tucked in) it gives a good view of the fit.

The dart is a bit too high. It was expected, it is an alteration I usually do to account for my long torso. But also, which is common when you choose the size based on a unproportional measurement, the shoulder is too big and the sleeve hits too far out on my shoulder. Thirdly, the back is a little tight. I was thinking of sizing down, but that would mean that the back would get even tighter, and I don’t want to fiddle with the collar too much.

I do think this top has potential for me, however, I will not yet cut into the nice fabric I wish to have it. I think some more muslins are in order.

On the plus side: the pattern was great to work with, the instructions are sparse but you do get access to more thorough instructions for the tricker parts (fx. while not used in this version the instructions would say “sew cuffs”. That is all. You can use a method of your choice or use the more detailed instructions. I like this, no too long instructions explaining every little detail), the designer answered my questions over Instagram.

Sewn: A Green Floral Dream Dress

I have two fabric stores nearby; Stoff och Stil and Ohlssons tyger. While both have a selection of fabrics, they both also have remnant tables. In the case of Stoff och Stil it could be cut-offs from their collection, at a reduced price with risk for errors, or assorted fabrics. Ohlssons have assorted fabrics sorted by fabric type and in this store you pay by weight. I always like to rummage around in those bins, seeing what I can find and apply it to my sewing. In fact, I very rarely buy fabric off the bolt, unless it’s something I really want or need, I prefer to look at remnants first!

A few weeks ago I came across this beautiful green floral fabric in the viscose bin at Ohlssons. (A burn test down the line shown that it is probably polyester, something I suspected already when it came out of the washer without a wrinkle). The piece was 3.3 metres and for that I paid 179 SEK (€17) or 54 SEK (€5) per metre!

My daughter approves the twirl-ability!

Around the same time Burda 05/2020 arrived in my mailbox. And while dress #109 is really not my style at all, I couldn’t get it out of my head to pair that pattern with this fabric, I had a feeling it would make a fabulous dress. Spoiler alert: It is!

Surrounded by green

The fabric was huge and seemed to have a life of its own. The two skirts are both but on the fold on the bias and it shifted constantly leaving all pieces not symmetrical. I persevered visualizing the finished dress and how lovely it would be. Unfortunately, somewhere along all the shifting and correcting and the fabric not wanting to be contained, I must have cut off a bit too much and the dress is too tight. As you can see, I can get it on, but only if I don’t plan on eating or, you know, breathing. Who needs that?

Split sleeve

I liked the details of this dress; the waist yoke, the split sleeves and the fact that the side seam don’t go all the way to the edge of the bodice. It’s a bit hard to tell, but it’s sewn around 1.5 cm from the edge and then goes in under the arm. To get this you really need to study the line drawing. The pattern is in Burda’s tall range, for the 176 m woman. I am “only” 168 cm, but have a long torso, so I kept the bodice as is and shortened the yoke and skirts to get the proportions right. I used no scientifically approved method for this I just winged it.

Trying to show that unusual side seam

All dressed up and nowhere to go, isn’t that the running theme for 2020?  I hope that next year I will fit into this dress and I’ll have somewhere to go (well, in fact we have received a save the date for a wedding). Also, I hope to find a belt that matches better and that will be a little more dressed up than this one. Until then, it’s back to comfy trousers or shorts, t-shirts and hoodies; the clothes that have become the staple wardrobe of 2020.

Refashion: A New Life For A Wonky Dress

Three years ago I went to the lovely Cape Cod for a family wedding. It was 8C and rain when we landed in Boston and for take-off, one week later, it was 35C and sunny. Quite the contrast! (This is me in Cape Cod, BTW)

The wedding was held at the bride’s parents’ house in Chatham and it was a nice affair. We were served lobster, which I avoided due to an allergic reaction the previous year (according to my cousin (MD) lobster contain an allergen that do affect everybody, it’s just the cut-off limit that varies for different people) and danced the night away. Or, rather evening since the kids were only 4 and 7 at the time. I had made a dress for the occasion, a dress with which I struggled immensely. It was a nightmare to fit.

The before. With a safety pin in place. And a dried-out lawn.

I have worn the dress since, but always with a safety pin holding the neckline in place and having such a solution meant I never really felt comfortable in it. Plus the waistline was wonky and I always felt like such a fraud whenever I wore and got compliments. People got fooled by the pretty fabric that this dress looked good. So, I decided a refashion was in order.

The after, front. Everything lays nicely no and I can move without fear of indecent exposure.

I internally debated on whether or not I should make a skirt or a “new” dress. In the end I settled on a dress, since I had enough fabric leftover to make a new bodice*. I used the Belladone bodice from Deer & Doe; I added length and removed the back overlay bodice, extending the underlay bodice to match the front shoulders. This meant I could keep the back v-line, which I like having in dresses. Instead of using bias tape as facing I lined the bodice in a thin voile, with interfacing around the neckline, for comfort and structure.

The back. I like back v-necklines. And I did the zipper better this time. *Win*

Since the dress was finished right before midsummer it accompanied me to a small gathering with friends and it held up fine for all classical midsummer games and dances. I would not have done the “little frog dance” in the previous version, but with this dress I had no worries that my boobs would pop out.

So, refashion success!


*Bodice in Swedish translates to “liv”. As does life. So in Swedish when I say I gave my dress a new “liv” it means both bodice and life. I do appreciate a good word pun!

Sewn: Coral Shorts

Growing up, my dad was a blood donor. So, I remember joining him on some occasions to the blood bank for his donations and when I was in uni I became a blood donor myself. This was fueled on by peer pressure as our department at the university hospital was really close to the blood bank and a few of my class mates were also donors, we egged each other on. The downside was that they were male and could donate on the same schedule whereas I, as female, had to wait one month longer in between times. Since then I’ve kept it up, of course with some interruptions for having kids and such.

Donating blood is completely altruistic and you have to live with the fact that if a drunk driver and their victim need blood at the same time, your blood might go to the drunk driver. In the same manner, we are not allowed to take monetary compensation, but we do get a choice of three gifts. I have very often chosen bags, so I have a selection of blood donor bags; a backpack, a foldable backpack, a tote bag, a gym bag and now a picnic bag, which was my latest choice.

This t-shirt is 2 years old and I wore it on a day off, to donate some blood and finish these shorts. The fabric is a leftover from some trousers I sewed last year and I inadvertently copied the fashion photo from my issue of Knipmode. These shorts were a quick project, I just wanted to use up that last bit and get new shorts. I love the pocket/belt loop hybrid in the front. I didn’t pay too much attention to fit, as the fabric was stretch twill and they looked quite loose around the legs of the model. Well, they ended up very tight across the bum and the thighs, all that time on my new race bike and gym has paid off, but it makes trousers tighter. There is a very good reason why I’m not showing any pictures of the back, it’s not a pretty sight.

These shorts will probably just be worn around the house, maybe outside the house with a long t-shirt. But for a quick, simple, stash-busting project, they’re still OK.

Sewn: A Blinged Out Bum Bag

Back in 1991, when I was 8 years old, I visited Italy for the first time. I remember being on the beach, eating donuts, shopping at markets, the salty water. I remember that we bought bags to take home and have “fashion forward” bags for the next school year. I bought a backpack and a, what now would have been called, a bum bag. It was checkered, black and white, and neon, but I cannot remember if it was hot pink or bright green. Maybe both, it was the early 90s after all?

This year we had plans to go to Italy for our summer vacation. To get there, the kids and I were meant to take the train through Germany and stop in various towns and learn about history (my oldest was really excited for the Berlin Wall and Gedächtnis Kirche). I don’t think I need to give any reason as to why these plans will be cancelled.

Travelling alone with two kids, and luggage for two weeks, had me a bit worried. I had, obviously, seen the bum bag trend rise, but to me it was ingrained in me that it was a trend better left in the past. Then I saw plenty of sewn versions in materials that were a far cry from the loud 90s plastic polyester my own bum bag had been and putting all this together I realized that a bum bag would be a perfect solution to keep my hands and shoulders free, whilst still keeping my valuables close to me.

Gold details. I cannot get over the perfect matching of the band

I used a free pattern from a German magazine, Snaply. I managed to get most of the instructions using Google Translate and the pictures provided. It is a small pdf-file and the bag is fully lined, which is a plus. Some cons are that there’s no interior pockets and the flat bottom. But it turns out nice and polished, all seams are enclosed. There are some other bags on their site and I would probably look there if I wanted to make another bag, some are quite cute! There are also a few clothing patterns and accessories as well.

For the outer fabric I chose a cotton/poly blend, a bit heavier weight (no longer in stock). Due to the gold stripes in the fabric I unceremoniously decided that all hardware should also be gold, just to get my bling on (Zipper, carabiner, D-rings, sliders) and a band that matched both the purple and gold. This was meant to be! The outer fabric was interfaced with a cotton/linen blend interfacing and the lining was a striped cotton fabric that I picked up a ton of to use as linings and other things. It’s featured in several garments as pocket bags and/or waistband linings. For example in the skirt I’m wearing in these pictures and my Brumby skirt.

It’s fully lined and big enough to hold my phone (must be a requirement for bag patterns these days, aye?)

Even though this won’t be the year my bum bag goes out on grand adventures, I hope to try it out on the smaller ones. It was quick and fun to sew and it’s always fun to try different things and techniques (just trying to figure out how to thread the band is an exercise on its own). The fabric required is very little and the hardware could possibly be salvaged from worn out bags, so this could be quite a cheap, easy project.

Sewn: A Grey Brumby

This weekend past was a long weekend here in Sweden, Ascension Day is a public holiday and at my office we always get the Friday off ass well, so Woo-hoo, four day weekend!  We had grand plans, well grand to be in the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, we meant to meet people. Friends on the Thursday and Friday was my sister 40th birthday so she invited us to a picnic. On Wednesday night my son started sneezing, which was a full-blown cold by Thursday and thus all plans were cancelled.

Love the skirt paired with my denim jacket

Luckily, I had planned to get my car inspected on the Wednesday (mandatory in Sweden), so since I had to leave the house, I also decided to go do some fabric shopping. During April I’ve made a big dent in my stash (11 metres out, nothing in. Still had about 70 metres, though), but I wanted something new and fresh to work with. I picked up four pieces and one of them hardly spent any time in my fabric box, it’s already made into a skirt. Imagine that!

Exposed zipper in the back

I spent last year’s black Friday money with Megan Nielsen, purchasing the Briar and the Brumby. I’ve made several Briars already, but this was my first completed Brumby. With some stashed jacquard, I’ve made half a Brumby, but decided to put it off until colder seasons, I mean I need to take the opportunity to make some warm weather clothes, right?

Please note that I put on pretty shoes for these photos

This is version 2, midi length with many gathers. The hem is a bit deeper than designed, both because I liked it so and to shorten the skirt a bit. I also failed at realizing how a zipper is measured so it sits a bit low and I had to add a hook and eye at the top. Other than that the pattern is sewn as intended. It was a nice pattern to work with, I probably could have drafted something similar myself, but I don’t want to and I’ll gladly pay for someone else to do it, if I think it’s a pattern I’ll use a lot. I liked that the Brumby is not an ordinary rectangle into dirndl skirt, but there is some shaping in both the skirt panels and the waistband. Also, the tutorial for inserting the exposed zipper really helped.

The fabric is a linen/viscose blend, which, once you get over the fraying, is lovely to work with and it was perfect for this skirt. I see this skirt being a summer staple piece and besides the jacquard version for winter, I’m also envisioning a cupro Brumby for winter events. Conclusion: It’s a nice little pattern!