i make underwear

Yes, underwear! I made these. They used to be t-shirts, and now they are fully functional, very comfortable underwear. And happily quick to make.

(click the picture to get the back view)

The first thing to do, is find some suitable t-shirts to cut up. I’ve used gifted and thrifted t-shirts, but my closet is under close scrutiny at the moment. I prefer my cotton straight up, no synthetics, and the softer (and thinner), the better.

As I’m no genius at pattern-drafting, I thought sticking with my favorite pair of undies as a model was the best bet. It was quite finicky to make this not-so-big 3D garment translate in to a 2D pattern, but it’s perfectly doable, especially with a little patience and persistence. In cutting the pattern pieces out of the t-shirts, I’ve generally just squished them all in there to get as much out of my t-shirt as possible, but in the future I am going to put down the pattern pieces horizontal on the t-shirt, to get more stretch in the underwear. And this I know from experience now: some t-shirts are naturally quite stiff and has very little give, and that means there is a greater chance of seams tearing, so stretchy t-shirts are good (I guess better luck next time in making underwear for the boy).

(It’s a moose. Too bad Guttkes Fritidsstugor printed his moose on such a stiff t-shirt.)

I’ve even managed to use the neckband of the old t-shirts as waistbands for a couple of the new undies. That makes me quite happy. Also, I’m quite happy with the stitch-in-the-ditch sewing and nice seam finishing on some of these, most visible on the brown underwear in the picture below:

For those who suddenly got an urge to get up and make themselves some underwear, there are some patterns and tutorials out there, like this one at Supernaturale, and this one over at BurdaStyle.

The color scheme of my underwear collection was in no way planned, but brown is a very good color. I’ll end with a picture of the very first undies I made. It looks like the t-shirt would have read ”Alabama” at some point, but it really didn’t. The word was ”Alaba”. Huh.

(eta: thanks to the boy for the pictures)

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turquoise

So – turquoise is the other of the two colors that make me more happy than all other colors. I certainly adore so many other colors besides turquoise and green, but I have a good and longstanding relationship with these two. The other colors I develop a liking for seem to be more short term, and certain periods of my life is very much connected to a color, and even an accompanying taste. The summer when I was 14, I couldn’t get enough of blackcurrant; clothes, pens, vanilla ice cream with a blackcurrant jam center. The year before it was lime (perhaps because I discovered Greek salads with a sour cream-lime dressing?).

But turquoise… Well, for now turquoise can be the color of living on my own. As in the green post, this is a random collection of things I surround myself with:

(click the detailshots to see the whole thing)

From the left: This curtain was the very first thing I bought for my first rented room. Perhaps it is the reason I’ve gotten all my other turquoise objects? For me it is one of the things that instantly make a place mine. My 1972 Bernina is another. ♦ A thrifted cardigan. This is one of my top five thrift store finds ever. It’s 73 % silk, 13 % cashmere, all quality and utterly fabulous. And 5 dollars! ♦ I found these oven-mittens at home,. I really like the pattern making bold stripes of white. ♦ My first ever knitted socks. Why not try making lace-knitting for the first time too? My mom and I grossly overestimated the amount of yarn needed for the knee-high socks, so with the four balls of yarn I had left over, I’ve made mittens and a hat, and there’s still a ball or two laying around. ♦ Turquoise necklace (as in the mineral). I bought this at a huge antique market in Beijing. It was freezing cold, but so many fantastic things were to be found. ♦ This pillow is an early “own place” creation. While the fabric is nothing too special (and the execution is slightly under par…), the color is right on! I guess I often navigate towards slightly darker versions of turquoise (according to Wikipedia, I’m a fan of teal, yale blue and cerulean).

yellow socks

Completely unrelated to yellow socks, I was gifted this chair (and a sibling to it!) for my birthday one year by my mom. I love it.

Sometime last summer I developed a fascination with all things mustard (except maybe actual mustard). I bought fabric in mustardy colors; I bought shoes in a mustardy color, I craved clothes in mustardy colors (and to pair them with navy blues like Sportmax and Maxmara both did some years ago, albeit in various degrees of vividness – see here, here and here. The Wardrobe Remixer Ranna exemplifies this color combination beautifully. The skirt might actually be black, but it looks dark navy to me!).

Sometime between last summer and last fall, I was between apartments. I spent that time on friends couches, and maybe to bring a little homey-ness to those nomadic weeks, I bought me some mustard yarn and put my trusty size 3 knitting needles to work. I used the same yarn as for the brown and red socks – a fairly thin (mostly) cotton – my preferred sock yarn. I seldom use patterns, but after previously having made both socks that wouldn’t stay up, and socks I couldn’t squeeze into, I was quite careful to get the fit right from the start. This meant restarting at least four times, and at least four outbursts of “You took it apart? Again??” from friends whose couches I was borrowing. But I really don’t mind restarting a knit project early on, when I know it’ll make me that much more happy with the end result.

I like ribs on socks – not only to help them stay up better, but also as a visual interest. So I let the ribs continue nearly down to the toes on the upside of the sock. I really like the rhythm of knitting the ribs with two straight stitches and one purl; the purl-rows almost disappears when the sock isn’t on, only to peep out when the sock is in use!

These socks have gotten much use over the past year. There is a certain comfort in pulling on lovely-colored wooly-ness, even it isn’t very cold. And while I believe in making socks to use them, and usually don’t mind pills and other signs of wear, I will admit I made the socks camera-ready. A word of advice: Don’t wash yellow wooly things with black wolly things in the same bucket. It will result in grey pills. Ops.

twice remade

I found a dress in mom’s closet many summers ago. While the shape of the dress wasn’t anything too special, the pleats, the bright blue color and the soft thin cotton was begging to be turned into a summer frock. So I went to it. While my enthusiasm was admirable, my work certainly was not. Being impatient to have the dress wearable, I took so many shortcuts it turned into a dress I never wore.

Digging it out from it’s hiding space I have done a repair on my botchy initial remake. Partly out of embarrassement, but also since I haven’t made any changes to the shape of the dress, I’ve opted to skip the “before” picture, and go straight to the “after” photo-shoot:

The initial changes I made, was to chop off the top portion of what was a sleeveless dress, and make straps instead. I also shortened the length quite a lot. The bodice was taken in to be fitted, and the original zipper put back in. Back in the days I didn’t know how to put in an invisible zipper, so that was one upgrade on this second round of remake. Someone (probably not me) had the foresight to save the scraps I had cut off from the original dress, and from the hem-leftovers I was able to add another layer to the bodice to make it less flimsy. And joy over all joys, among the scraps I found an inseam pocket from the original dress, that I had just cut around! I obviously put the pocket back in the dress, for I like my inseam pockets. Finally, I finished all the seams I had left unfinished last time. While I made no big changes, I still believe having done the steps properly this time around makes for a better looking dress.

The boy helped out by taking nice pictures with his fancy camera. And obviously, if you go outside on late summer nights, the mosquitoes will get you. Big time.

trench-coat

Back in February, mom and I went thrifting; she was looking for a coat to use in a costuming project of hers, and I had been on the lookout for a trench-coat for a while. She found her coat, and I found one as well. After a while in front of the mirror, trying to imagine the coat more fitted and shorter (and more flattering…), and after a little prompting, I decided it had potential. We even got a discount because of some missing buttons. But lo and behold, I found a loose matching button in one of the pockets!

To the left: The before-picture. I felt like a German officer in this wholly unflattering shape. At this point I hadn’t yet understood that not every dark picture is salvageable in photoshop. Ops. Center: A detail of the belt that I made from the length of fabric I chopped off from the hem. I am quite proud of my belt, with grommets and belt loops and nice even edge stitches! To the right: In action, on my way to set the timer on the camera. Strangely enough, the trench has an extra button by the collar so I can close it up (the lapels are quite large, so I appreciate this feature.) It’s nice for cold days when one is in need of more coverage. All I’m missing when the lapel is up like this, is a beret and an undercover mission for the French government.

The coat after the refashion, with me looking off into the distance for the ambulance I was hearing. After a couple of good washes (buu, dirty coat!), I fastened and replaced missing and broken buttons. I had spied some seams in the back where I could pinch an inch or two to make the coat more fitted, but after taking in an inch from each side, the fit was so much better that I just left it as it was. Next I cut off a lot of fabric from the hem. Then, the belt project – I cut two strips from the left-over fabric, being careful to go with the direction of the threads in the fabric so the belt wouldn’t end up twisting. I then ironed on interfacing on both pieces, and sewed them together. I had a grommet-kit lying around, so I bought a silver buckle to go with the grommets, and went to work. Putting holes in your newly made belt is a little scary, but it went well, luckily. As a finishing touch I used my fancy “stitch-in-the-ditch”-sewing machine foot for the seams around the edge.

The fabric is a cotton-polyester mix, which means it wrinkles very little, and that’s always good. Being lightly quilted, the coat is quite warm for being fairly thin. It has also passed the infamous and rigorous tests of bitter March winds. Now – where is my beret?

plantdyed yarn

My workplace is quite nice. Among other things I do in a normal work-day, is to sell plantdyed yarn. The yarn was dyed by a co-worker a while back, for an event with kids. Now the yarn is for sale, and there is a big wicker basket full of yummy woolness waiting to be turned into something fantastic.

I was a bit slow on picking out the yarns I wanted – even though I’d eyed two balls in particular, in a rust red and a faded yellow that went lovely together – and then this sweet, old lady walked in (she was waiting for the bus) and promptly picked up the very two colors I was wanting. She clearly had excellent taste.

The next best colors were still lovely, and I particularly like the texture and soft, light wooliness of the two yellow skeins. The bright pink is not plantdyed actually, but cochineal is still a natural pigment I’d say! I believe the rusty orange-pink is heather, and the yellow might be from the flower yarrow. (for my norwegian-reading readers, kochenille, røsslyng og ryllik.)

Now… what to make of these lovely things? They are three different weights, so I’m not sure I’ll end up combining any of them, but all suggestions are welcome!

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.