grandma-dress

There are some things I’ve sewn that have gotten more use than others. This is such a thing. It started out as my grandmothers dress, that I wore some times. While I loved the shape of the dress, I didn’t really wear it much as it was – always with sweater over it. I spent several years debating whether or not to cut into it and making a strapless dress instead. Having been my grandmothers I was very apprehensive, feeling like I’d ruin her dress by altering it – but I finally decided I’d probably get more use of it after the refashion.

I did. I’ve celebrated birthdays, opera-premieres, exhibition- openings, garden-parties (granted, the birthday girl – which wasn’t me that day – got to wear it for that occasion), school- acceptances, and ordinary school days in this dress. It’s also the perfect summer garment to randomly frolic, back-lit, in a lush field:

Yes – I love this dress.

Looking at the picture of the dress as it was, I do think it was a beautiful dress, and maybe at this point, I would use it as it was. However, I can’t regret making this pretty floral frock, and I am often complimented on it when I wear it, so that is lovely.

To the left: The dress as it was. Perhaps some day I will try to replicate it. This was the only picture I had of the dress pre-refashioning, so I apologize about the blurry head. To the right: The dress is obviously well suited for hanging out in a chair in a field.

The fabric wasn’t as lovely as the print, which is one reason I went ahead with the refashion. Being some 40 years old (or more?) it is of course made of polyester, or some other equally clingy and unbreathing material. The lining was even worse; static and plasticy, and generally horrible. First I unpicked the bodice from the skirt, and took apart all the pieces which were to be used for the new corset-like bodice. Next I placed the seam and zipper of the skirt in the back instead of the side. This made the skirt fall rather strangely, so I ended up placing all the gatherings in the back to compensate.

To the left: Making the pattern for the bodice. To the right: The dress at an exhibition-opening. The cardigan -silk and cashmere!-, belt and shoes are thrifted. (I realize this is an odd way to combine the pictures, and an illogical order to present them, but I think they just worked better like this, colorwise.)

For the bodice I made my own pattern. Luckily I had recently taken a corset-making course, and based my pattern on one I already had. I wanted to make as few pieces as possible, to show as much of the large pattern as possible. Both the skirt and the bodice was lined with a thin white cotton, and for the bodice I added another layer of white canvas for support and to stiffen it up. I originally wanted to use the zipper that was already in the dress, but it came apart a couple of times and I realized I couldn’t go around worrying that my zipper would suddenly unravel.

Now, for the pictures with the flowers in my hands – I attended my own exhibition-opening today! Some 15 young, local, “up-and- coming” artists were asked to participate in a summer show in my home town, and today was the opening day. I obviously wore a self-made garment for the occasion, as I was showing a couple of my own designs. They might show up here in a later post, but for now they can be in the background of the picture. I sadly didn’t have time to sew something new for this exhibition, so I showed some pieces I made a couple of years ago. The dress on the right is for whichever dressy event where I need to look like a pink fairy princess, made with thai silk, embroidered silk chiffon, and every shade of coral and apricot and seashells (and all other lovely things) in chiffons, satins and smooth cotton. I think I have six or seven different fabrics in that dress. The top to the left is very much influenced by noa noa, and is made of a very airy embroidered cotton, and a green lining fabric. The belt is the best part, with lots of layers and raw edges. Along with these two garments, I exhibited the poster to the left (the bold pictures on the right belong not to me), which is for a local outdoor summer play, set in medieval pilgrimage time.

And so, let my wordy homage to this dress end. May it continue to make me feel pretty.

apron

There is something about aprons that just invites you to roll up your sleeves, and make. In grade school we would wear our aprons made in home ec class, while making food in home ec. At home the aprons would come on when we made plastic-clay room interiors on ice cream carton lids with dad, and with mom when we felted wool hats or helped her cook and bake.

For Christmas a couple of years ago I got an apron from a dear friend. She had embroidered my name on it, and sewn on a deer-patch. It is lovely. And it’s gotten so much use; for cooking, for crafting, for dish-washing, for eating… I’ve gone whole days without taking it off. I adore the efforts she’s put into making this all mine:

I was visiting a good friend in Berlin about a month ago, and whenever it was time to cook, I would look around the kitchen to find the apron. There wasn’t one. So coming back home I pulled out my own green apron to use as a pattern, and went to work. I really wanted a quick, satisfying project, so an hour later, I was ready to pose:

The fabric is a thrifted, thin curtain in a cotton-mix, so I used two layers of fabric. The sides were then sewed up, leaving strategic gaps for the band. On the upper sides I added a seam to make channels for the band to go through, so it’s adjustable at the neckline.

This was sent in a bright blue package to Berlin, where I hope it will lead an exciting life with my friend and her flatmates!

knitstuff

I sometimes forget that “making things” does not exclusivly equal to “sewing things”. I’m constantly working on a project, but when my knit projects are done, it doesn’t strike my mind to photograph them and post about it. Maybe this is because most of what I knit is smallish, utilitarian things; scarves, hats, mittens, more hats, more mittens… There is plenty to post about, just lying in my drawers!

Some of the stuff I knit end up in other peoples drawers though (there really is a limit to how many handknit mittens I need), like the drawers of my boy. I’m sure he’ll be packing them away now with the summer almost here, but he kindly took some pictures so I can do a little show and tell. It’s like a boy-knit-themed-post!

First up; first boy-knit-project – the skull scarf:

He had mentioned over the summer how fun it would be to have a skull scarf in pink, just for the oddness of pairing skulls with the color pink. This was his Chirstmasgift. The mom approved of my handiwork (which I appreciate since she’s a knitter too), but I do believe some of his family members found it “morbid”. The scarf has gotten much use, happily, and apparently the solid black flip-side of the scarf comes in handy for situations where people might not look so kindly on random pink skulls.

Next Christmas came socks;

The boy picked out the colors, and I was testing the fit as I was making them, so it was hardly a surprise for him on Christmas Eve. They weren’t actually done by Christmas Eve, so if I remember correctly he unwrapped a sock and a half. Haha! The yarn is a 80% wool, 20 % nylon mix, which is good for socks so the heel doesn’t wear thin too easily. Also, the yarn is fairly thin (26 sitches to 10 cm I think?), so the socks aren’t too bulky – something I really like. Hmm.. maybe bulky socks should be the next project?

And this past Christmas (can you spot a pattern?), mittens!

This is based on traditional norwegian knit-patterns. It’s my first time working in the round with two colors making pattern, and I’m quite happy with the result! This was also my first time making thumbs the proper way, with adding on stitches leading up to the thumb. It makes for a better fit than the simpler way I’ve been making thumbs, just casting off some rows at the appropriate place, and making a gap that I later pick up again. These are made of 100 % wool yarn, and since there is effectivly two layers of yarn, they are pretty dense and warm. The boy was very satisfied too, and they’ve gotten lots of use this past winter – and nothing is better than that!

And finally, the boy modelling the scarf, mittens and a hat I’ve knitted for him earlier. I think this Norwegian winter wonderland composite is pretty funny, and the boy looking all nice and serious in all his wool:

(edited to add: this is indeed a photoshopped image. Talented boy for confusing several people on this one!)

purple dress

My dear friend Stine stopped by on her way to a dance gig in Istanbul, and willingly modeled a dress I made her a year ago. She was told to bring fancy clothes for a party after the gig, and she brought my dress – I’m flattered (and proud)! This is the second dress I’ve made for her, and she likes to say she has a designer making her clothes. Who am I to argue with that – she’s my # 1 client!

purplefront2

She was living in New York at the time I was making this dress, and I was not, so she didn’t get to try it on before it was all done. I really enjoyed the process of designing this dress. I was quick to decide on the deep, but bold, purple, which I thought would go well with Stines fair skin. I was picturing this as an evening dress, so I decided she could pull off the rich color. Also – she’s a dancer, so I went with a cut that shows quite a lot of skin and toned-ness, especially her arms and her back. (I apologize for the dark picture – I’m learning where not to hold photo shoots!)

purpleback3

I was aiming for more classy than sleazy, and with all that skin revealed, the only thing that made sense was to keep the dress itself quite loose and flowing, and not skin-tight.

I’m starting to realize that pictures of outfits are easier to match in color to the real thing if they are taken in daylight (oops!), but to give you a better idea of the color of the fabric, here is a detail-shot:

purpledetail1

Both the back and the front have deep pleats. The fabric is a gorgeous, crinkly silk chiffon I bought in Paris. I figured the dress would require less ironing, since the texture of the fabric itself would hide some crinkles.

And, as a curiosity; on the left a picture from the process of pinning the fabric and making the pleats, and on the right a dress by 3.1 Philip Lim. I swear, I didn’t see this dress until after I had fully planned Stines dress, so it was funny to see that I was unknowingly following some current trend! (unfortunately an extremely tiny picture)

grey and green dress

I’ve finished my green and grey dress!

All ready for spring with a new dress! The pattern is kind of based on Simplicity # 4589 and Built by Wendy (or is it Built by You?) # 3835, and full of my own alterations. I lengthened the top from the Simplicity pattern, and based the lengthening of the sleeves on the Built by Wendy pattern. One problem with insisting on the “wing it – try it on – unpick seams – try again”-approach to sewing is that sometimes it turns out that it’s ok to heed the patternsizes, and that sometimes interfacing is your friend. That aside, I’m quite happy with my dress! And see the inseam pocket? Inseam pockets are the best.

A close-up of the yoke, with some fairly straight decorative stitchings:

The dress was a bit of a patchwork to make, since the pieces I had weren’t all that big. Hence the added panel at the bottom hem, and the diagonal seams on the yoke… The green bits were taken from a dress I thrifted some years back, and I just adore the color (which might be appearent from the header-image!). So far I’ve used that dress for three different projects, but there isn’t much more left of it at this point. The grey fabric came from a friends grandmothers apartment, where I was helping to downsize. In the process I scored some nifty stuff; knitting needles, knitting pattern, fantastic vintage postcards, some belts and this piece of grey material. I’m really not sure what it is though, I’m thinking a viscose blend, based on the feel of it. It’s kind of heavy, but still has a very nice drape.

At the bottom hem I wanted to line with green fabric for a flash of color occasionally peeking out. I didn’t have enough from the green dress, so I used some silk chiffon I scored after a costume job I helped out on (scraps come in handy!). The different greens match quite nicely in daylight, but looks a little off at night in indoors lighting. I think I can live with that though. Here is a detail from the hem-lining:

I can’t even start to say how much I love this greenish, yellowish color. It’s such a perfect blend of bright, muddy and acidic! I’m not sure how to refer to the color though – is it yellow-green, green-yellow, lime, chartreuse? In any case, I think it’s the perfect color to lure spring out of it’s hiding with!