Stop–HAMMER TIME!

My fiance pointed out a strange trend that has cropped up this summer in Stockholm. They’re called mönstrade byxor (which literally translates topatterned pants’), and I see girls wearing them everywhere.

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image via chic.se

They are made of a soft viscose material, come in fun patterns and prints, and appear to be very comfortable, but there is just one problem–they seem to make everyone except the supermodel-esque ladies look like they have a very big bum, and not always in a flattering way!

An example of the trendy pants, from H&M

An example of the trendy pants, from H&M

It seems like every few summers, the fashion designers get together and decide that it’s time to channel MC Hammer and Aladdin again, as they did a few summers ago with the harem pants trend. I thought this just might be a passing fad in Stockholm, but Burda seems to have received the memo that it’s hammer time:

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Burda Plus, 06/2014 #136

It seems that only 4 brave souls have dared to download the pattern, and I see no finished projects.  To Burda’s credit, they used a stiffer fabric than the viscose I’ve see everywhere in this style, which helps the shape, but I wonder how those pleats would do on a plus size girl with a tummy.  My guess is not so well, but I would love to see someone prove me wrong. Burda also came out with a pattern in 2011 which looks exactly like the pants that are trendy this summer:

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Burda 07/2011 #102A, also see #102B

However, the Burda 102 pants have one game-changing detail in the pattern–NO PLEATS.  I looked through some of the member projects and saw plenty of cute versions, albeit on girls with very slim figures. Burda member Mokosha put together a very striking version of the Burda 102 pants, and she has a few other versions of the same pattern on her blog.

image via Mokosha

image via Mokosha

They’re satin, and don’t they look lovely on her? Seeing how she styled these is almost enough to make me consider the trend, or at least the Burda pattern. The promise of comfort in the hot summer which this style appears to offer is mighty tempting, but I have no delusions of being able to pull a pair of these babies off without having Sir Mix-a-lot come a-calling. But that’s just me. How about you, are you interested in trying out this trend? Do you think you could pull it off?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Sommaren är kort!

Hej Hej!  I have been absent for a while, but I am not apologizing! As we are reminded every week in the Skansen singalongs on Swedish TV, and by last week’s thunderstorms, Sommaren är kort! Summer is short–too short to be spending time sewing indoors! I have to replenish my vitamin D levels before we get back to several months of darkness.

If you are wondering what I mean by a Skansen singalong, here is a video, filmed at Skansen, and this article explains more about them:

I have been barbecuing, picnicking, attending concerts at Gröna Lund, walking around the lake, had my maid of honor visit, celebrated midsummer, and spent many weekends taking trips around Stockholm county looking at houses to buy so we can get out of the expensive secondhand rental trap we have been in since we moved here.  Sewing has not been my first priority!

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Wearing the midsummer crown I made and NOT thinking about sewing!

With a few babies of friends and family on the way, I did try my hand at a small quick project, sewing baby bibs. You can find the tutorial here from Simple Simon and Company.

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Bibs, made using fabric scraps

This was just what I needed to get back on the machine!  Unfortunately, it also jammed my bobbin case while I was trying to quilt some of the pieces, but lucky me, my fiance suggested we just go to the sewing shop and buy me a new one!  We did, and I came back with a wonderful computerized machine, the Janome 4120.  It’s perfect for quilting, so I may have to learn how!

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My precious!! Janome 4120. The thread cutter is my favorite part!

I was meant to get one last summer, and almost bought a ridiculously expensive (but amazing) embroidery/sewing machine that did everything.  I changed my mind though and decided we should use the money to take a trip to Iceland for my fiance’s birthday, which was a great call, because I got both a new machine and the trip of a lifetime in the end *Side note: Seriously, if you are thinking of visiting Iceland, this travel company was fantastic, and no, I am not endorsed by them!

It took a few days for me to say goodbye to my faithful old Kenmore, which I managed to fix and plan on keeping as a backup machine.  But I finally set up my new Janome yesterday and went through the instructional video a couple times.  Now I have no excuse for abandoning my sewing (besides the fleeting Swedish summer)!  I have to say, on my old machine, I sometimes felt that the quality I was coming out with was not always great, and blamed myself, but the new one runs so smoothly that I’m beginning to think it wasn’t just my skills that were to blame!

Farewell, old friend!

Farewell, old friend!

I am going to miss my old Kenmore though.  I picked it up in California for 50 dollars on Craigslist from a woman whose mother had used it as a professional seamstress before she started getting macular degeneration.  It had the original Sears receipt and a bunch of great attachments, including a ruffler foot.  The daughter told me her mother had treated it like her baby, regularly oiling and servicing it.  I made my first dress on it, and have learned how to do pretty much everything I know about sewing beyond the basics on this machine. It has been in California, Montreal, and Stockholm, and it holds a lot of sentimental value and memories for me!

Tell me about your first sewing machine. What kind was it, and do you still have it? 

The Vanadislunden Picnic Dress

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I know it’s spring when I see wild daffodils!

Hej Hej!  After a couple months of hibernating, I looked outside and saw that it was spring, so I decided it was time for a new post! Well, I haven’t just been hibernating, we’ve also had some big things going on.  Like moving our wedding from Scotland to California.  We had planned a lovely castle wedding for June, but it all got to be too much pressure on us and my family, so we talked to my parents and agreed to get married in the fall close to my hometown.  I spent two straight weeks rediscovering the joys of planning yet another wedding from abroad. I was researching venues 24/7, booked an awesome one, and have been busy nailing down some of the other details.  After all that, I decided to take a break from sewing, and everything else! Phew, wedding planning is very consuming!

Anyway, with the big details out of the way and the save-the-dates sent, I finally started a(nother) new project, based on the bodice of Lekala 5212.  I’m still in the cutting phase.  I also have made an Elisalex muslin and have put my Monthly Stitch Miss Bossy Challenge for March on the back burner because I was overthinking how to resize the vintage pattern, but I will get around to it.  I have always been one to just dive into a pattern head-first, without measuring the pieces or making adjustments, so I think trying to do it the right way overwhelmed me, because I froze up a bit in the process!  While I am working on finishing one of these, I don’t want to completely abandon my blog, so I thought I’d share something I made last summer.

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This is Simplicity 2444, and I guess what you would call a wearable muslin.  It was made at the end of the summer last year, so I only wore it once before it got too cold. Image

This is such an easy pattern to put together! I lined the bodice and enclosed the zipper in the lining. I do not know how I did that, because this was one of my first zippers and I was just kind of faking it til I found the Sunni’s Craftsy class on zippers last fall and learned out how to do it properly.

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Pattern: Simplicity 2444

Fabric and materials used:  I used around 3 meters of cotton fabric I bought ages ago when I lived in Montreal, from a little fabric shop run by a sweet old couple who had terrific prices.  I just love the roses!

Things to try next time: I had a fit issue with this, probably thanks to my narrow shoulders–there is gaping at the underarms, which seems to happen to me a lot, and a lot of gaping at the chest. It makes me wonder–do I have a hollow chest, or is it just the pattern? I think I may try using this gaping neckline adjustment tutorial from Phat Chick Designs next time I make this to see if it helps.

New Skills/Lessons learned: I only used the bodice, and did my first full circle skirt.  Hemming that was a little time consuming, but I am glad I know how to do it now, thanks to this Colette tutorial.

Would you make this again?:  Yes, when I am in the mood to make a muslin and adjustments!  It’s a very flattering pattern thanks to the waist darts.

I wore this dress out today, for an impromptu Easter Monday picnic on Vanadislunden.  Eugene and I were cleaning the house to prepare for my lovely friend and maid of honor’s visit this week, when he looked out at the sunny weather and suggested he prep a picnic. He made us some nice sandwiches, which the dog tried to steal, and we stopped and bought beers and chicken drumsticks at the grocery store.

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ImageImageWe found a nice sunny spot on the hill, next to a building which looks like fortress, but is actually a water reservoir.  Vanadislund is a pretty neat place with a large dog park, playground, church, and it’s where a lot of locals come in the summer to picnic, sunbathe, exercise, and walk their dogs.  A lot of people had the same idea as us today.

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It was wonderful, and the dog had fun too! :) I hope you had a nice Easter weekend, and happy sewing!

The Georgia Rose Dress #FAIL

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I spent the week working steadily on this dress, but it wasn’t meant to be.  I should just be whistling along to this catchy Swedish pop song.

Last summer, that #FAIL song was pretty popular. I remember my fiance and I were at Gröna Lund and stumbled upon a Sommarkryssat concert being filmed with Oscar Zia performing. It was funny to see a big group of teenage girls with their faces and arms painted with #FAIL and speaking in fake California accents, but hey, it was enough to get the security to let them into the seated area so I guess it wasn’t such a bad idea!  But anyway, back to sewing!

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The skirt fabric is a cool rose-textured poly chiffon from Joann’s.  My grandmother sent a couple yards to me as a sample.  Originally, I was considering making my own wedding dress based on this Amsale Dahlia dress. I also fell in love with the oatmeal Olivia dress from Watters (which I chose in the end). So I have to hand it to her, this was the perfect combination of the two, and when I pleated it to test, it looked really nice.

It won’t completely go to waste. I can still make a nice skirt out of it, and that’s the plan.  As for the bodice, what a mess! The pattern is ByHand London’s Georgia (which is a good pattern, just not this time).  I cut a size smaller figuring that, since my measurements had gone down a little, I should.

What I should have done is measured! I am at a weird place in the size charts right now where I am not quite a US 14 but not small enough to be a 12 either.  I tried on my first Georgia and it was a little big. I should have just cut the 12 and used smaller seam allowances like Bec of BecSews did with her Georgia dress.  Too bad I saw her post just after I had finished my bodice and trimmed the seams. I also should have used a stiffer fabric than the stretch satin and cotton lining here.  Live and learn.  Of course I can always wait til I am smaller to wear this, but frankly, I am out of love with you, Georgia Rose.  Into the UFO pile you go, and onto the next project!

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pretty skirt, but weird fitting bodice!

All is not lost.  I may have spent a fair bit of time on this dress, but I learned a few things too.  I tried out some boning in the top part of the bodice, practiced understitching for the first time (why have I never done this before?!), and cut my first half circle skirt (I have only cut full circles in the past).  And I confirmed my suspicions, Georgia looks pretty cute as a full skirted number.  If anyone is inspired to try your own swishy Georgia (maybe with a sturdier fabric than my bodice), I would love to see it!

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This week, I have been practicing my time management.  I set a timer to sew 20 minutes every day.  It usually ended up being more like 40 minutes because I just wanted to keep going.  This helped me stay a little more consistent, and gave me lots of time to do other things, like bike around beautiful Haga Parken with my dog, Lulu!  We are lucky to have early spring weather in Stockholm this week, so I have been taking Lulu out with me on her special bike leash and harness.  People seem to find it hilarious to see me on the bike and my little dog happily trotting along.  It is so fun and relaxing to be outdoors, and to have sunshine again! I have been loving the view of the lake, the swans, and all the ducks. The dog absolutely loves it too. Usually when we walk her, she pulls hard on the leash because she just wants to run, so getting to run alongside the bike is like heaven for her.  I also let her off leash to try to catch ducks.  She never can because they fly away into deeper waters, but she still has a ball!

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This weekend will probably be more biking, weather willing, and I will be starting on my Simplicity dress for the Miss Bossy Challenge from the Monthly Stitch!

Sewing, Oscar Style!

Inspired by the fashion posts in my Facebook feed from the Oscars this week, and by the Make This Look series via the Sew Weekly, I decided to create my own version of Make This Look– Oscar Style!

I’ve checked out some of the most popular Oscar dresses, perused several patterns, and come up with some ideas on how you can steal the stars’ style and sew your own red carpet-worthy dress.  If you decide to make one of these, I would LOVE to see how it turned out!

Here they are:

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Lupita’s gown was a personal favorite for me, not only was the color gorgeous on her, but there was so much elegance in the simplicity of the dress!  I love the way she described the dress color as reminding her of the Nairobi sky, so romantic!

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And just because I love vintage fashion, here is a classic from the 1954 Oscars:

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Now, tell me readers, did you watch the Oscars? Who do you think was best-dressed at the Oscars? Who was your least favorite? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear what you think!

“The Battlefield Dress” Burda 07/2011

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Burda 07/2011 Off the Shoulder Dress (Plus Size) worn with fur stole, a gift from my godmother

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This gives you a good idea of the color of the dress, which turned out much darker in my other photos. Sorry, I think my photography assistant/ sweetheart is on strike because I am too bossy!

In Kunsträgården after the party--it started snowing!

In Kunsträgården after the party–it started snowing!

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The Berns Hotel Grand Salon

Last week, my fiance’s company hosted a party at the Berns Hotel in the beautiful grand salon.  The event called for “smart casual” attire, which is open to wide interpretation.  A few Google image searches of the dress code yielded a look that is more office casual than party chic, but I have so few opportunities to dress up in Sweden (even office attire here is more ‘casual Friday’ than business professional), so I decided to finish my Burda Off the Shoulder Dress.  I am opting to call it The Battlefield Dress, because completing this dress was a like a battlefield with all the fit and construction issues I encountered.

With just a few hours to go before the party, I put Breakfast at Tiffany’s on in the background and got to work. I have had this dress hanging on my mannequin and sitting on my sewing table since November. Trying to figure out which way the collar piece sandwiched into the shell and lining fabric was tricky, and the instructions may as well have been written in German.  I was daunted by them, so I called in reinforcements. With a little help from my friend Helen of Button and Snap, I was able to figure out what the heck was supposed to happen with the collar piece, and she also gave me a little moral support when she confirmed that those Burda instructions were indeed confusing.  Thanks Helen, you gave me the push I needed to dive in and get over my fear of the collar.  :) WIN_20140225_160424

When I finally completed my first kick pleat and lapped zipper, I was so proud and the result was great, except for the fact that the bust was now too big and the collar was drooping too far off of the left shoulder.  I ripped out the back part of the collar and sewed it back on so that it sat a little further down, but this was no help.  It became apparent to me that I was going to have to really get into the guts of the dress, so I ripped open the lining tried a little pinning to adjust the fit.  I soon became so intimidated with the task that I just left it sitting there as a UFO, until now. No longer will this dress taunt me!

When I finally revisited it yesterday, I thought I was going to have to adjust the whole bust area, and struggled for about an hour to try and get my head around how to do it, until I realized I was running out of time and just decided to move the front of the left collar piece downwards to make the sleeve tighter. This probably would have worked well a few months ago when I first made the dress, but blessed/cursed weight loss has caused my bust to decrease a little more since then, so it was still loose.  At this point, I only had an hour to get ready, so I pinned the collar pieces where they needed to go, and did a quick hand-sewing job on the inside. The fully lined dress isn’t as pretty as it could be now in that area, but this quick fix along with a nicely padded pushup bra, did the trick.

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This dress, thanks to the full satin lining, feels amazing to wear!  I can’t help but feel good and elegant in it.  After watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s in the background, I was happy I had a dressy outfit to wear to the party. Don’t you just love how formal clothing was during that era?  I kept Holly Golightly’s poise in mind all night, but I resisted the urge to call everyone “daaarling!” as she does in the film.  I must admit I felt like Marylin Monroe in this dress, and my sweetheart kept saying how beautiful I looked and how he was so glad I was there. So I guess I won the battle in the end, and it was worth it.  Until next time, daaaaarling!

Pattern: Burda 07/2011

Fabric and materials used: Around 3 meters navy stretch satin (good quality) for shell, 2 meters bargain bin blue stretch satin for lining, regular zipper, iron-on vilene tape to stabilize the zipper, and iron-on vilene stabilizer (which was useless because it would not stay–next time I will just stay-stitch).  I could really tell the difference between the two fabrics in terms of quality.  This was my first time working with any sort of slippery or stretchy fabric and I must admit I really loved it.  It was not as scary as I read it would be, though I took ages to cut it out.

Changes I made/things to try next time: On the burda measurements chart, It said I was a size 48 bordering on 50 at the time I cut this out (holy hips!).  I cut a 48 in the hips and a 46 in the bust.  I really could have sized down even further, especially in the bust area.  However, I found the armholes way too tight and ended up modifying these to account for my bulging biceps. ;)  I cut them down this twice, measuring carefully to make sure both sides were even.  Maybe I went a little too far though, since the left collar piece/armhole ended up being too big.

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New Skills/Lessons learned:  This is the first time I properly excecuted a lapped zipper, and for extra gold stars, I made the lining nice and tidy too.  This was also my first vent.  I am sold on the lapped zipper. I reinforced it with vilene iron-on waist stay tape, which made it nice and sturdy.  Although it looks wrinkly in the photo, I assure you I have a more ample backside than my mannequin, and it fits smoothly on me.

This was the first time I worked with nicer quality fabric. In the past I always used cheaper cottons, which was fine while I was improving my skills.  Now that I have improved, I must say, I can finally see the value in spending a little more on fabric. I feel like this is the first time I have produced a piece that is more handmade than homemade,  and this has given me the confidence to start looking more at actual dressmaking fabrics rather than strictly cotton prints.

Would you make this again?:  Possibly. I loved the end result, and it is not as confusing now that I have made it once, but I would have to take more time to fix all the fit issues. Maybe I’d make it for a friend though, as every voluptuous girl deserves a dress like this!

And the favorite for March is…

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This week, I  asked you to tell me which pattern I should make for The Monthly Stitch Miss Bossy Patterns Challenge, choosing 3 lovely but neglected patterns from my stash which I had never used before.  It was a close race, but the majority of you wanted to see me make….

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The vintage Simplicity pattern, #5238!  The recommended fabrics list pretty much lists any weight of fabric I fancy (cotton, cotton satin, velveteen, linen, silk, brocade, wool, crepe etc), which makes choosing fabric both easy and challenging.  What to choose when you can choose ANYTHING? I considered using some lightweight wool from my stash, but I was thinking of something cooler since the weather is warming up here in Stockholm (and by warming up, I mean 45 F; I have definitely lost my California sense of temperature).

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What fabric would you like to see me use for this pattern? Don’t be shy, go ahead and boss me around!