Sunday 30 January 2011

Fancy Frock Friday

This week we had our first Fancy Frock Friday! An event inspired by this lady and her project Posh Frock Friday. We dressed up in pretty dresses, did our hair, donned the high heels, and then dedicated an evening to tea, cakes and sparkling drinks. A great evening!

First out: tea with pretty cupcakes, a yummy almond cake, swedish raspberryjam-cookies and gingerbreads.

I wore my sailordress with two newcomers in my wardrobe: white, seamed stockings (used to be my late grandmothers) and blue heels (gift from Kattis).

The tea party was at Kattis place, here you get a glimt of her pretty pink dress and lace stockings. Also note the gorgeous teak coffeetable from her grandparents house, and the china from the same house.

Later we switched to drinks with a bit more bite and the cheese to go with it. I set my mind on the blue cheese and accordingly had portwine in the glass.

Coming home I started trying on hats. Weird? A bit =) But isn't it the perfect time to see what hat goes with a certain hairdo? Just making my hair to test the hair-hat combo seems like a lot of work. And testing before leaving the house doesn't seem smart, as it messes up the hair. The favorite turned out to be the fur headband with white veil (not very surprising). I just adore this hat!


After this kick-off for the weekend, I was all set for two creative days. Baking and sewing it is! =)

Love, Erika

Thursday 27 January 2011

Summer is far away and I like it

This should have been a post about outfits. Or stockings (just got three new pairs of WKD Retro seamed stockings, in nude). Or the fun party this weekend. Instead, let me marvel about summer and winter. Lately bloggers have been longing for spring and summer (link, link, link), the usual turn of season-longing that gets us all towards the end of a season. However, this time I'm not feeling it. Don't get me wrong, I love summer; light, thin dresses and open-toed shoes, but right now I don't miss it. How could I, when Umeå looks like this:

These pictures were taken a week ago, it's less rimfrost now but still beautiful.

This is the best part of the year for me. The days are getting longer (the sun is setting after three! yay!), it's snowy and it's not horribly cold.

A perfect winter wonderland. I never tire of it.

I'm sure summer will be great, and when it comes I'll revel in the midnight-light (end of this post) and the wonderful greenery. But right now, I'm happy where I am. In a winter wonderland. Hoping winter will last at least two more months.


Monday 17 January 2011

Interlocked jersey and sew-alongs

 I'm back with another sewing-related post! The reason is quite simple: I've taken a complete dance break in an attempt to heal all my muscle inflammations (lately one could think I've been collecting them at purpose!). So for the next three months (at least three months) I'm staying off the dancefloor and be a good little patient and do my physical therapy instead. This way I'm hoping to get back to my old self and be able to dance like I could just a year ago.

Eunough with the sad story! This is not the end of the world, it's just three months after all. One benefit (aside from healing) is all the suddenly free time. I usually dance 3-4 times a week, that's a lot of time now available for other fun stuff! Like sewing =) My mind spins constantly around sewing these days, and I'm working on the coat every day. It will be ready for use this winter! (It's perhaps fortunate winter is a long story up here...)

When writing about the Christmas dress in my last post, I mentioned learning a thing or two about sewing with interlocked jersey (also called double knit), and I'd like to share my learnings with you. So here's some tips for sewing with this wonderful material. Time to get geeky! =)

1. Pre-washing: I did pre-wash the fabric, and I will not do it again. Maybe it skrinks a little bit, but the fabric I used needs to flat dry. Since flat drying 2 metres is impossbile for me, I had to hang some of it up, and it stretched a lot at those points, making it tricky to cut the fabric. So I won't prewash interlocked jersey again.

2. Seams: One of the wonders of this fabric is that it doesn't unravel at all, so there's no need for finishing the edges with zig-zag or french seams or the like. Using an overlock (serger) really helps, but it's perfectly possible to use a regular sewing machine. I used a stabilizer, as seen below:

For the Swedes: I used something called Fixeringsband, found for example here, but didn't iron it on. Thing is, the fabric stretches slighlty while sewing (and bounces back once it has left the machine), and the stabilizor will be as long as the seam. Meaning that my seams stretches a little, but the stabilizor will protect the seam and keep the fabric from stretching so much that the seam breaks. Very handy!

Push, don't pull: A bit obvious, but never pull an interlocked jersey while sewing. Insted, I discovered that a light push on the top layer (with the stabilizer at the very bottom layer) kept the layers from shifting. Otherwise details like the one below gets tricky.

3. Pleats: I only pinned my pleats, and in retrospect, it was not eunough. Look at this so-called pleat-meet:

What I should have done, and will do next time, is to sew the pleat-meet shut along the seam allowance. Maybe even sew the entire pleat, just inside the seamline, before I attach the skirt to the bodice. Considering how wobbly the waistline on this dress is, I'm thinking about tearing it up and re-attaching the skirt, this time with pre-sewn pleats.

That's all! If you'd like to read more on working with interlocked jerseys/double knits Gertie wrote a great introduction post.

On another note: Have anyone else noticed all the interesting sew-alongs that are going on right now?! For those new to the concept: it's basically an online sewing circle, with the blogger-hostess acting as circle-leader. Usually everyone uses the same pattern, and the hostess does posts on fitting, cutting, sewing, detail techniques etc. Even if one doesn't participate in the sew-along, it's a great way to learn new methods. For beginners it's great to see the entire process and have the sewing instructions translated from gibbersih to action =) For the more experienced sewists, there's always new ways of sewing to learn! I often find myself thinking "Why haven't I thought of that? It makes such perfect sence!" =)

Some sew-alongs I'm following if maybe not participating in:
Gertie is sewing a Collette wrap-dress. Very beginners-friendly!
Tasia is sewing her first own pattern, the Pendrell blouse, also for beginners.
Casey hosts a sew-along for the Swing-dress, more for those with previous experience in garment sewing.
Peter is sewing a man's shirt. Very exciting, as there's so little to read online about sewing menswear.

I plan to join Casey's sew-along, but I'll be a bit late in, as I want to finish the coat first. Also, I'm going to use the pattern I made for the Christmas dress, with some detail-alterations (more pleats againt the bust, a long sleeve and I haven't made up my mind about the skirt). If nothing else, I get to add this adorable sew-along button to the blog =)

What are you sewing on right now?
Love, Erika

Sunday 9 January 2011

The Christmas Dress - but for New Years Eve

I finished the Christmas Dress! Made in gloriously red ecological cotton interlocked jersey. I'll rave about the fabric later, let's stick to the dress for now =) Well, to be honest, I didn't get it done in time for Christmas, but in time for New Year's Eve (like minus 30 minutes in time...)

I've seen this style of dress countless times in patterns and Sears catalogs from late 30s and early 40s. Bodice pleated against midriff and shoulders, set in sleeves, A-line skirt with maybe a few pleats. Instead of using a pattern that would need to be altered 100 times, I made my own pattern from a basic pattern I have (a bit like I did for Malin's dress). The only thing I changed was not to sew down the pleats on the skirt down to the hips, as I wanted the freedom to eat lot's of Christmas food.

The little bow brooch I found at a fleamarket past summer, the belt originally came from my grandmother, and the necklace I borrowed from mom so long ago I've started to consider it to be mine =)

For closure I set in an invisible zipper in the left side-seam.
The picture below is a bit dark, it's more like the colour in the first three photos. But here the construction is clearer. I'm mostly happy with it, except the waistline, it's a bit uneven. Good thing I'm wearing a belt with this dress!

Will you let me indulge in a little rave about the fabric? Please? Eco fabric is almost impossible to find in Swedish fabric stores, but there is a mailorder company (Swelogent) which carries a lot of eco-fabrics. The catch? It doesn't sell to private customers! Only to companies, schools and such. It's really annoying, because does the stores order these great fabrics? Of course not. *grumbles* However, the sewing class I took last semester is connected to a school, so they could order from Swelogent, and we students through the school. Yay!

About fabric names; I've never encountered double knitted jersey in Sweden, but there is something called interlocked jersey. It doesn't fray, it's a bit more stable than single jersey, it's quite heavy and it has more body than single knits (so it drapes beautifully, but doesn't show every bump along the way). What do you guys think, is double knitted jersey the same thing as interlocked jersey? Read Gerties post here for more info on double knits.

An inside-out picture. I chosed to interline/underline the top front bodice, giving more stability to the surplus from the pleats. I've planned a more detailed post, with pictures, of how I transformed the pattern. I'll also add some thoughts to sewing with interlocked jersey, in case someone is considering using it for the first time (and I really recommend trying it, it was great to work with, it's comfortable and drapes beautiful).

One thing that became clear was that life as a seamstress is made a lot easier with an overlock (serger, for the trans-atlantic readers =) ). I used mom's for a few seams during a quiet morning the christmas weekend, and I fell in love. Head over heels, unrational and utterly in love. I had to get one, but in my clearer moments I knew this was a futile dream. Even worn down second hand overlocks are way out my budget, and then they need to be sent on service as well. Let's not even discuss the new ones that are good machines...
While talking to mom I scanned Blocket (a swedish online garage-sale) and there it was! The add had been out for only 40 min, a Saturday. A second hand overlock, old but not much used (which is actually a bad thing in sewing machines, the engine needs use) for 300 SEK. That's about 30 euros, or maybe 40 $. In chock I called the seller, yes, it was still there, yes, she only wanted 300 for it (it had been her mom's, she had never used it and now she just wanted to get rid of it to free the storage space), and yes if I wanted her to, she would hold it until I could come. I jumped on the buss, and four hours later I was home, with my very own overlock!

Not the newest model, and in dire need of service after close to ten years without use, but all mine! For 300 SEK! Or 400, counting the buss fare. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will actually work, as I don't dare to even try it before it's been on service. I'm praying it will only need a good clearning and oiling to work, but I'm also prepared for the worst, that it might not work at all.
If it does work, then this (even including service-fee) will have to go down as my best thrift-find ever. I was so happy yesterday it was a good thing I was alone at home, I was just bubbling! Sitting on that bus my head spun, my stomach danced (in a good way) and I was just lost in the clouds =) Sometimes life does throw you unexpected gifts!

Love, Erika

Tuesday 4 January 2011

The holidays - a short goodbye to the past year

The Holidays swished by so fast, yet I feel quite rested and refreshed. It sometimes amazes me how much seeing my family gives me new energy - even though I this time held a grueling tempo in Stockholm over Christmas.

Christmas eve (the big celebration day in Sweden) I was at mom's place. For the first time in three years we had a Christmas tree! I know, two years without a tree isn't the end of the world, but I really, really love it... Christmas just isn't a proper Christmas without a tree to decorate. I have to admit though, I'm not the most artsy tree-decorater, I tend to just throw things over the tree and adjust it a bit so everything is a bit spread out =)

I couldn't resist this photo of Elsa, just look at that cute little fluff-ball! =) Her fur is a bit long for the moment, it's been so cold that mom wanted Elsa to have a bit of extra warmth. I'm sure it works, but she does end up looking like... a lamb? a walking fur muff? a toy-animal? a fluff-ball.

Christmas-fika at my grandmother's, with amazing coffeebread!

I brought home some amazing things from Stockholm, both presents and results of my own shopping. It's a rare and wonderful feeling when everything you get it's something you either had wished for or something you didn't even know you wanted, but that just fits. I am so grateful and happy that my family knows me so well, even though I live far away from them!

These loafers I bought as a gift to myself, and to my feet =) To me, they're just beautiful! With perfect cushioning in the entire sole, and made to be worn with orthopaedic insoles. I'm so looking forward to spring! Wearing these instead of the ortho-sneakers I've been stuck with the past year... Yay!

Christmas gifts in my family leans towards "the more the merrier" (while the total value remains the same). I think it's cozy with a mountin of presents beneth the tree, and like for it to take a while with opening the presents. It doesn't have to be expensive stuff, it's more along the line of "if I give someone two identical pairs of socks I'll still make two presents out of them!". Ripping paper is fun... Here's some of the things my wonderful family got for me:

Sewing supplies; bobbins, a storage-box for bobbins and needles for lace-making.

For entertainment; Season 3 of Mad Men and a novel by my favorite urban fantasy-writer. If you're at all into that genre, I very much recommend reading something by Patricia Briggs. Her stories are gripping, her characters have depth and her handling of the fantastic elements is remarkable.
Being away is great, but there's no place like home, right? So I'll end this goodbye to 2010 with a picture from a winterwhite Umeå. Happy New Year!
Love, Erika