Monday, 31 December 2012

A finished project! And happy new year =)

December... Wow, it went by fast! It's one of my favorite months; the decorations, the smells of cinnemon and saffron, candles and small lamps lightning up the darkness. I had grand plans (as always. I'm sure that one day I'll learn to have reasonable plans, but now they're always grand) of making two blouses and a dress for Christmas. Naturally, it didn't happen. =) However, I'm quite proud of myself that I didn't start them when I knew I wouldn't have time to finish them. Instead of creating one more thing to stress about, I decided to just relax into the holiday-spirit and enjoy seeing family and friends.

But I have finished a project! It was a while ago, but I've been lazy in taking pics of it =)

Ta-da! The first of the two green t-shirts I cut out some months back. I did some changes compared to the last version, I gathered the top to the waistpiece under the actual bust, instead of centered in the mid-front and then spreading out. It, mostly, solved my old problem of pooling fabric between my cups!


This fabric proved to be a nightmare to sew. It's very thin and very slippery, at one point I spent 3 hours adjusting the tension, differential feed and pressure on my overlock, and the stitches still won't form without stretching the fabric if I'm sewing a single layer. To counteract the light fabric, I interfaced the bands at the neckline and the sleeves with fusible knit. It made the fabric less stretchy and causes some ripples, but it also keeps the bands from collapsing so I'm happy.

The back. Some ripples due to the angle of my arms, but look how little fabric-pooling there is at the waist! My RTW-tops are always a mess of horizontal pleats there.

Also, this is by far the best ever pictures taken of my favorite everyday skirt. It's made of surpluce military wool, meaning thick and almost never wrinkles. It might be some blend, though, as it has a nice luster that washing, steaming and pressing hasn't dimmed. This skirt was my second modern wear project ever, made the months before I started this blog. It's versitile and easy to style in different ways, which is good as I wear it at least four days a week all through the cold season... It has been very hard to photograph though, it always looks too dark, or the shape get's totally lost (as here).

The previous attempt at jersey-top, where the pooling-between-the-cups-problem is quite visible. Also, A glimt of another project I finished long ago (before Stockholm sewing expo, to be honest) but I've failed to take pictures of. It's a half-circle skirt, with a lapped side-zipper (first seen here). Quite nice, and I'm happy with it. Great to have another skirt to wear at winter besides my blue... ; ) However, I forgot to pack it after Christmas celebrations at my moms place, so now I'm not sure when I'll get it back so I can take proper pictures of it =(
Eventually, it will be done ;)

Happy new year!
Love, Erika

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Shoppinghaul from London

As promised in my last post, here's the shopping haul from London!

Let's start in Notting Hill... I spent eunough at What Katie Did to get a complementary shopping bag... So cute! But best is still the goodies inside of it =)

A Glamour corselette and chocolate fully fashioned 45 den stockings! I happen to know my boyfriend also walked away with something from WKD... Can it please be Christmas soon?!

A fast hop to Gold Hawk road, and the staggering number of cheap fabric shops, all within 5 min walk of each other. Few of them accepted cards, but that was ok, as a tourist I came with plenty of cash, and oh boy did I put them to good use! All but the last are jerseys, and I doubt there's a single natural fibre in any of them, but they're lovely to touch, have a beautiful drape and a decent recovery. They were 4-5 £/metre, a bargain in my book =)

From right to left: a green dress (for me or for Malin, if she wants it), two red tops, a brown dress for me and a t-shirt for the mr, wool-like heavier patterened blue for a dress, black jersey with black lace for a fancier but comfy dress (blues dancing, work parties etc) and last a polyester silk-like fabric for a slip (test-run before cutting into real silk, and good to have a machine washable version).

Let's hop on to MacCulloch and Wallis on the corner of Oxford street and Dering street! They have an amazing collection of haberdashy, equipment and fabrics of all sorts. The store is divided so the fabric is on the groundfloor, most of the haberdashy and equipment is on the 1st floor, while the trims and so on are on the 2nd floor. While the girls on the fabric floor was angels, the people upstairs were... not so serviceminded. Now, I'm Swedish. I'm polite, patient and don't want to make a lot of fuss. But I still find it unpleasant when a clerk rolls his eyes when I ask for a band being cut. Yes, I wanted 20 metres of it, but still - rolling his eyes? Not so nice. I was very, very happy I had spent a few hours at their website and therefore knew what to ask for, as the store was pretty hard to navigate and not so well-labeled (most things were not labeled at all, actually).
I don't recommend against the shop, not at all! But I do recommend coming with a good idea of what you're looking for and be prepared to be ignored or sighed at when you ask something (they did answer my questions, though). Most important, I found some stuff that just can't be bought anywhere I've seen in Sweden... and def not to those prices! So I'm happy =)

At the top: Gripper waistband. Below it: 20 m of piping cord. At the bottom of the picture: designer tape, wax for handsewing, basting thread, kicktape (brown + black) and two twin needles.

Now, the fabric departement and the lovely ladies who worked there... Totally different experience! No fabric is left laying around in the store, instead huge sample pieces hang on clothing racks. Easy to browse through, cut a piece, feel the drape etc. I had of course a million and one questions about the different interfacings, the lady answered them all, came with suggestions, and ran off to the basement for my fabrics.
In the last minute - like 5 min before they were closing - I asked for a shirting with some specific qualities. She showed me the row of shirtings and I felt a a moment of pure panic. Five minutes and all of those to browse?!!! Then she took one out and said "This one is the one I think best fit's the description you gave...", and it was perfect. Relief! I didn't even glance at the other fabrics =)

Not much to look at like this, but am I weird to find this the most exciting photo of them all? Perhaps =) To the left, interfacings of different sorts (sew-in, fusible, horse hair, hair canvas, chest canvas etc). To the right, pocketing and the aforementioned shirting (a lovely cotton mix with beautiful fall and body. There's a small weave stripe, maybe 2 mm apart).

Leaving the world of sewing and lingerie, I found some books that just had to come home with me =) I had planned to not buy any books, the suitcase get's so heavy but... The gorgeous coffetable book about the Hollywood costume exhibition in Victoria and Albert museum I just had to have. I loved "How to be a woman" by Caitlin Moran, so I of course had to buy her new book. While searching for it at Waterstones, I stumbled over the little "How to be a welldressed wife" by Anne Fogarty and then... =)

This and that. The scarf and the coaster I picked up as we walked along Portobello road towards WKD. I loved the deep chocolate colour on the scarf, and I have a similar coaster that it'll be easier to use when I can also provide a retro-humour coaster for my guest =)

The tie is... a bit hard to see, but I didn't want to remove the protective plastic. It's dark brown with a diagonal weave, and it matches two of the three shirts the mr bought. It's going to look stunning!

That was the week's haul! Or rather, the haul from monday to wednesday, as we just danced during the weekend =) Hope you enjoyed the peek!

Love, Erika

Sunday, 2 December 2012

In London, on vacation!

I and the mr spent a week on vacation in London! It's been years since I've been abroad, so an out-of-the-country vacation is a huge deal for me. The whole idea really came from "Look, there a blues dance camp in London! Wanna go? Hey, let's take some extra days off work and make a vacation out of it!". Said and done, we left for Blues baby blues on Friday 16th, not really sure what to expect from Britain in mid-November. And yes, there was some rain (thankfully we missed the storms with a hairs width, I hope all my Brittish readers are well!), but there was also fun dancing, good food, impressive buildings, intense shopping and a sometimes gloyriously sunny late fall. Here's some pictures from it all, enjoy! =)

Dinner the first day, tired after getting up at 4.50 to catch the first morning flight from Umeå. See that slight curl at the end of my hair? I set the hair in pincurls the day prior, it was a pudel-80s-mess when I took it out at noon Friday, after lot's of brushing it looked pretty darn nice and I thought to myself "Yay! Now it will be all curly and cute until Sunday!". This did not take the humid London air into consideration... I swear, during 4 hours my hair drooped 10 cm!

The weekend is was all dancing, and we saved both shopping and touristy stuff until later. We did go through Hyde Park on the way to the dance classes, and I couldn't resist some photo's of the park in all it's sunny glory... Please excuse the weird coat+baggy jeans combo! Those jeans are the best for dance practice, but not quite in style with the rest of me here =)

Dinner at the hotel Sunday evening, giving you an idea of the quite nice little hotel restaurant where we had breakfast (included with the room, not a given thing in London, apparently).

Strolling down Portobello road in Notting Hill, on our way to What Katie Did, one of my longed for shopping destinations. I'll get back to my shopping in a later post, let's just say it included 1-2 hours at WKD, and a number of shops on Gold Hawk Road... =)

Lot's of cute stuff along this rather tourist heavy part of town. Loved these suitcases!

Interesting wall. See what all those items along the wall and the dividing shelfs are? That's right!

Vintage sewing machines!

I love walking around new cities at night, all the historical buildings are lit up so beautifully, making their modern surroundings fade away. Here's Big Ben and the House of Parliament.

The Tower Bridge

I also saw the Hollywood costume exhibition in V&A museum, it was amazing to see all those gorgeous and sometimes iconic costumes up close! No cameras was allowed inside, so no pictures I'm afraid =( I did buy the official "exhibition book" though (might be the point for the museum with the no pictures-policy... Ah, well, the book was pretty and I wanted it =) ). The whole museum was amazing, I could have spent days there! Strongly recommend a visit there for anyone going to London and being interested in art/craft of all sorts!

That was the tourist (and blues dance) part of the vacation! Early next week there will be a post on the shopping haul =) Stay tuned!

Love, Erika

Friday, 9 November 2012

Busy little bee with planning problems

Wow, these past two weeks it's been pretty busy! Basically the dancing has stolen time from my other hobbies. No sewing, no blogging and almost no gym-time. Of course the entire fall has pretty much featured this problem, but the past two weeks has been more intense than usual.

I suppose really shouldn't be complaining, when I've been doing fun stuff! I've taught a 3 hour blues dance workshop, organized a blues dance social and held two intermediate lindy hop dance lessons. In theory not so bad it merit's getting my tail in a twist over it, but as all these things are new "events" they all come with lot's of hours of planning and rehearsing. Over the years I've taught a fair share of intermediate classes, but every single one of them is individually planned and constructed, meaning that planning-wise, a single intremediate lesson is more work than an entire beginner's class.

So lot's of dancing! =) But not much else =(
I have managed to do some few other things, but haven't had a chance to take pictures or write posts... Here's some sneak previews...

More to come!

While I feel I have no right to complain, and while I don't even for a second regret any of this fall's activites, I somehow feel I've failed to find a balance in my planning. For me, the best thing is a balance between dancing, gym, sewing, seeing friends and hanging out at home (alone or with the mr). When one activity takes over I soon start feeling a bit understimulated, no matter how much fun that one activity is. And this fall it's been all dancing (and not in the sense of doing it myself, but in the sense of working for the dance-society to give others oppurtunities to dance), to the point where I start to feel frustrated over all these sewing ideas that pops up in my head, and that I have both pattern and fabric for, but that I just don't have time to do right now!

Anyone else who does this, over-plans and then find yourselfs unable to squeeze in creative time?

Ah, well, I have a couple more commitments until new year's, but after that I'm taking it easy and slowing down the dance part of my life a little bit (not stopping!), to give the rest of my interests a chance to catch up =)

Have a great weekend!
Love, Erika

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Stockholm sewing expo

I'm home from a wonderful weekend in Stockholm! There were family and friends to chat with over a meal or two. There mom's adorable little dog to cuddle. There was Stockholm sewing expo... It being my first in many years, I didn't really know what to expect. Would a picky careful fabric shopper like me even find any fabric? I needn't had worried...

The sewing expo was tremendous fun! I'm not sure what sewing expos in other countries includes, but here they opened the concept and included all sorts of creative handcraft. There was fabric, notions, patterns, knitting yarn, quilting, lace-weaving, scrap-booking, jewelrymaking and more, to behold and enjoy. The hall was huge and tightly packed with interesting booths. Even though I may not practice all these different crafts, it's still fun to browse and get an idea of what's available out there, so it took us - that's me, mom and my grandmother - almost 5 hours to cover the entire expo, and we didn't even double back much.

There were vendors from all of Sweden, and I ran into the lovely Olivia from Retro Olivia, who was working in the booth for her mother's company. She was just as charming and knowledgeble in real life, and it was so much fun to chat about sewing, reading, blogging! I really hope I'll get a chance to meet her again in the future!

Me and Olivia - two vintage loving gal's, rather tired as it was towards the end of the day

With so much to see and do, where did I lay my cash, what did I bring home? Well, I tried to keep my purchases to things I have a very good idea I will actually use, instead of just going along with all the inspiration that struck me every 5 metres =) I did rather well...

Fabrics: blue jersey for a dress, purple jersey and elastic lace for underwear, floral jersey for a top for Malin, blue silk for a blouse. I also bought a seduclingly soft and airy pyjama-top made of ecological bamboo. It was a 50% sale - it really would have cost more to buy fabric and sew my own.

I got Cath kidstone's Sew! (in Swedish!), two underwear patterns (see, there was a point with the purple fabric and trim above!) and a booklet with knitting directions for retro-inspired projects. The knickers-patterns I shared with mom, and the knitting booklet I got from Olivia's mother's company "Färgkraft". All these things are areas I haven't ventured into yet, but knitting as well as sewing bags and underwear have been on my skills-I-want-to-learn list. Maybe I'll take the leap soon! =)

Fun stuff! Well, it's all fun, but this was just indulgement =) A lacepattern with linen thread/yarn to it, and two little fun tools for laceweaving. A vintage hat, gift from gran who found it in a second hand store. Perfect red! And about 45000 metres of thread. Whew, it really goes out of proportions when an overlock gets into the picture, right? The thread mom got for me at Stoff och Stil, to a much better price than anything we saw at the expo.

Stockholm was beautiful, clinging on to the end of fall, with gorgeous colours everywhere. Saturday morning me and mom solved (or tried to solve) the radio music crossword, while eating breakfast and enjoying this view.

And of course, one of the major treats with visiting mom is I get to cuddle with Elsa! =)

It was an intense but fun weekend, and now it's rather nice to be back home again. I'm looking forward to sewing! As soon as I unpack properly and sort through everything and dig out my sewing table from beneth the weekend's haul... Better start now, then I'll get to sew tomorrow! =)

Love, Erika

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Getting my groove back

I had a free weekend and decided to do my best to get my sewing groove back. While having finished an UFO would be very satisfying, the actual process of finishing it is boooring. Cutting out a new garment on the other hand, that's fun. So Saturday I did this:

Sorry, murky picture.

It's a half circle skirt with a lapped sidezipper and a one-piece waistband, meaning only a total of 3 pieces to cut.

This colour is closer to the truth.

I hand-picked the zipper, on both sides, to avoid stretching the fabric. So the sides are sewn, the zipper is inserted, the waistband interfaced with thick woven fusible and then added to the skirt. All that's left is finishing the waistband edges and adding closures, and of course hemming after letting it hang a few days.

Sunday I had grand plans of turning a lovely green jersey into a dance dress. This was my idea:

It's based on my other jersey dress pattern, with some alterations in the bodice. However, after drafting the changes and laying out the pattern I realised I was short of 20-30 cm of fabric. I tried reducing the skirt width 4 cm both front and back, and it would have worked.

Works in theory, but it'll be very tight to add seamallowances.

But it was a squeez, and then I got the idea, how about two tops instead? I love this fabric, and what would get most wear, two tops or one dress? Obviously the tops! Esp as this jersey goes with almost all my skirts, both summer and winter. So I cut out the tops, and that was pretty much the day. No actual sewing done, but still 6 hours of sewing prep. It felt really good to have some productive sewing hours! Actually did get some of my sewing groove back... Altough my overlock did it's best to erase that groove yesterday. I've reached a stage where I thought me and the overlock had become friends. I usually thread it and balance the tension and change all those itty-bitty settings in 10-20 min. Yesterday, me and the overlock argued about just about everything for two hours! Which was my allotted sewing time. *Sigh* Ah, well, at least I got the darn thing ready for sewing the tops next chance I have to sew.

The two tops laid out, the extra space over the left bustpiece is for the second sleeve. See, there's room for seam-allowances! =) And I got some scrap fabrics, which was good when I did a zillion test stitches on the overlock!

Both these projects were made from stash-fabric, and as I've used three stash-fabrics lately, I'm elligable for some fabric shopping, right? Esp as my new altered jersey dress pattern needs a fabric... Well, I'll very likely have a good chance at finding some during Stockholm sewing expo this upcoming weekend. Yup, I'm going to Stockholm sewing festival! So excited, it's been 8 years since the only time I've visited the sewing expo (it always collides with something else in my scheduale). But this year I'm going! Yay! Also looking forward to seeing family and friends, so it's a really good weekend that lies ahed of me =)

Lot's of half made things today, but at least I am sewing again! How are you coping with the change of seasons? What's on your sewing table?

Love, Erika

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A chignon and sewing funk

I want to keep a positive tone on this blog, but feel the need to admit I've been in a bit of a funk lately. (All right, now why is it hard to admit I'm only human?!) Maybe due to the lingering cold I've been trying to get rid of since forever, or maybe it's the days getting darker that's getting to me. I've been all inspiration and no motivation whatsoever to get anything done. Finally I grew weary with myself and decided to try to lift my spirits!

First up: for this seasons first Lindy Hop Live I decided to try out a hair-do tutorial by Brittany on Va-Voom Vintage (tutorial found here). I didn't have the time/energy to do a pincurl-set, and don't have hot sticks, so I used my hot rollers instead. The wave effect is a lot smaller, this would really benefit from a pincurl-set with standing pincurls in the front. I like the idea to use a wave in the front, though. Got to try it with better prep =)

The back looks totally different from Brittany's, mainly due to my hair refusing to be tucked in at the top. So instead I did a sort of flat roll in the center and a flat victory roll at each side. Not bad, but I do like the fuss-free classic look of a clean chignon so I tried an adapted version the week after. No photo's of that, I'm afraid, but I plan to put up a little tutorial in a few weeks!

My second attempt to get myself a bit more motivated was to finally treat myself to samples from an internet fabric shop, Sonjas Textilateljé. They only carry ecologial fabrics, and they're swedish so it's fast and easy (well, for Swedes anyway). No customs or staggering fee's, yay!

You want to see some pics, right? =) All in all it's around 150 fabrics...

Shirtings - mostly cotton but also some linen

Heavy cottons - bags, interior decorating, summer jackets

Jerseys - cotton, but also some linen, silk and wool. Love the mathcing single jerseys and ribbings!

Wool, silk and heavy linen. Not much to look at like this, but oh my! The quality of these fabrics is fantastic! The black suiting is just stunning.

Of course my fabric storage space is full to the brim, but it's always nice to plan, to dream... Also, I'm thinking that with these in hand I might be saved from too much "Oh, I love this fabric, what can I do with it? I'm not sure, but I like it so I'll get x metres and then I'll surely have enough". Maybe it will be easier to decide on what I want to sew, find the perfect fabric for it and just order the amount I actually need. All with good conscience, knowing my fabric to be eco-friendly =) (And yes, I know the problems with eco-fabrics, I know there's no guarantees, but it's got to be a little bit better than shopping fabric I know with absolute certainty to be an eco-disaster).

Right now I'm trying to finish some UFOs. Hey, maybe that's why I'm in such a sewing funk! UFOs are just so booooring, and I've been at it for weeks. I even thought I was ready with a plaid wool skirt, when I realised the zipper stretched the fabric. Quality time with my seam-ripper ahed...

Or I can just dream about fabric ; )

Love, Erika

Monday, 17 September 2012

Stockings and shoes

It's been ages since I've posted anything I've bought, hasen't it? I have been shopping, but mostly practical and slightly boring stuff (dance sneakers might be good investment, but it's not a very fun one). But now I ditched my responsible shopping overboard and treated myself to these lovelies:

Look what I've found! What Katie Did's CC09-stockings from Tradera (Ebay). These are sadly out of sale, I don't know why WKD stopped carrying these (anyone who knows?) but they are great. 40 den and very authentic for the 40s. A terrific way to stay warm in style during fall!

I've seen countless times in movies and photos how girls would wear their stockings rolled down to under their knees, and the stockings stayed there on their own, even while the girls were dancing. How has been a complete mystery to me, but now I know: they used stockings like these! =)

These Clarks got me the moment I took a step in them. Sure, they're quite regular to look at, cute, but a standard modern classic. It's what's underneth that I fell in love with...

The crepe soles makes these unbelivebly kind to the feet, it softens the step so much that it's almost like walking on clouds. My feet are superpicky on shoes, but these are actually ok. I won't take long walks in them, but for work or getting around the town they're perfect.

Here with red nylons from Lindex, a recent purchase

Shoes and stockings for fall, can a girl ask for more in early September? =)

Love, Erika

Monday, 10 September 2012

New take on the t-shirt pattern

In March I made my first ever attempt at jersey sewing. Examining my t-shirts and the patterns that came with "Sew U Home Stretch" I realised I would have the same issues with that pattern as I have with my RTW knits. So I made my own pattern =) I wasn't 100% happy with that pattern though, and I haven't worn the t-shirt much. I felt it was a good start, but somehow I didn't feel comfortable in it. It might have been the heavy jersey, but I think it's also the style. Cute, but not really me. So I set about to alter it just a little, and used my jersey dresspattern as a point of reference.

First I made a top that's divided and gathered under the bust, with short sleeves that are slightly gathered in the cap. The back is just a single piece.

I liked it, and it felt like I was getting somewhere, but I had two issues: First, the neckline was too narrow and high, it didn't look good underneth a cardigan. Second, I didn't like the pouf between my... eh...cups? you know what I mean. It's a bit too hard see due to the busy print, but after just 10 min and some movement, the fabric really droops in the mid-front.

I corrected these issues by taking out a horizontal wedge over the bust, and just chopping off 2 cm from the neckline. Then I of course wanted to change something else... So I made a second version of this top, this one with grown-on sleeves =)

A lot better! Much nicer neckline, and more flattering in the bust-area. There's still some drooping going on mid-front, but at least it's less. On future makes I might try to not gather all the way along the front, but leave 4-5 cm ungathered in the mid-front.

Please excuse the wobbly top-stitching! 

Using a twinneedle, I topstitched the bands to make the overlocked seams lie flat and still, but I'm not sure I like the pintuck effect. Sure, when pressed it's fine, but I don't want to press my knits, and also the bands stretched during pressing, making it necessary to wash the t-shirt before these pictures could be taken (and yes, the pintuck effect re-appeared after washing).

I'm starting to feel more confident in my jersey-sewing, and think I'm finding my balance with this new t-shirt pattern. There's so many possibilites with it! I can add a buttonstrip, change it to a v-neck, cover the top front with lace, etc. Looking forward to playing around more with this pattern in the future! =)

Right now, I'm trying to tie up an old, old project: changing the terry lining on my grandmother's dressing robe. It's going be great, but the project itself doesn't excite me. I'm keeping the "I'm going to love wearing this!" firmly in my mind! What's on your sewing agenda?

Love, Erika