Thursday, December 30, 2010

1st SWAP item 2011

I just made a T-Shirt which may be the first item im my SWAP collection.

The pattern is 2005 from Jalie, the view with the boat neck and 3/4 sleeves. I made it before in a black bourette silk knit (
The fabric is a rayon knit in a nice deep tomato red.

A technique new to me is Marcy Tiltons method to hem knits. In London ejvc showed me a shirt where she used it, and it is a good alternative to using twin needles, where I always have problems with the thread tension. You serge (or zigzag) a stripe of fusible interfacing, sticky side up, to the wrong side of the fabric. Assemble the shirt as usual. Then iron the hem up, and topstitch two parallel lines.

what I wore with christmas

This is what I wore with christmas. During travelling to my parents, I wore a striped longsleeved T-Shirt (with a fleece cardigan over it). The pattern is "Zoela" from Farbenmix, but I changed the raglan seams so that the stripes matched.

On christmas eve, for the dinner and the exchange of presents, I wore a skirt from a wool mix, the fabric is double faced with two shades of green, I used both sides color-blocking. The pattern is from schnittvision collection 1. The red shirt is also selfmade, from silk jersey.

To church I wore this tweed skirt, again a double faced fabric of which I used both sides, this time with a wave shape (from an ottobre magazine in 2006).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Comparing European pattern mags and sizing

A member of stitcher's guild on artisanssquare, bessiecrocker, made an overview of the measurement charts of different European sewing pattern brands.,11185.0.html
She offered her table for posting on a blog, and here it comes!

P = Patrones
M = Marfy
B = Burda
O = Ottobre
K = Knipmode
V = Vogue

**Marfy, Patrones and Vogue size numbering systems are different! Measurements matched for bust.
All measurements in centimenters. 10 cm equals 4 inches. 1 inch approx. 2.5 cm.
Onion patterns same as Burda, except 2 cm bigger at the hip (but Plus sizes may be different)

Main coclusion is that the differences are small looking at the measurements. Concerning fit, Ottobre is a bit shorter in the waist, Knipmode assumes a taller and more curvy figure, Marfy and Patrones are designed for a more tight fit even when correcting for the different numbering system. I found that I can cut a size smaller than my measurents suggest for burda bottoms.

When I have time I will add Knipmode plus, tall and petite measurements.
I also tried to find an overview of "European" sizes vs. Italian, UK, US etc., but did not find consistent information.
If anybody can correct or fill in info or share your experience with fit, please do so!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Previous Travel wardrobes

Travel wardrobes are most challenging if you are not familiar with the climate, and when you have a lot of different activities.

For planning the next travel wardrobe, I recall what I learnt from trips the past years.

UAE in November
Learnt: Covering up was not everywhere as important as I thought, Would have liked to be more stylish, sometimes felt frumpy. Do not pack things you would not wear at home.
Good items were:
- Ankle-long nylon/cotton skirt was decent, comfortable, airy, feminine and dried quickly after washing
- Cute short-sleeved white cotton blouse
- Teva’s, and closed shoes for the evening

Florence in Italy in July
- Always have something (not in the laundry) to cover legs and arms in the evening against mosquitoes
- Bring a jersey cardigan against exaggerated air-conditioning
- Sandals can be too warm, need flip-flops
Good items were:
- Knee-long linen skirts with complementing blouses
- No jeans and jacket necessary, brought detergent and was able to travel with hand luggage only

Japan in January, South, middle and North
If it hadn’t been a relatively “warm” winter, I could have lost some toes on Hokkaido, need Canadian boots
Good items were:
Two warm cardigans (1 for “nice” from wool, 1 fleece), two pairs of pants (1 jeans, 1 “thermo”), longsleeves from silk, rayon, merino, and cotton with silver, longjohns…

Coldest day on Hokkaido

Warmest day on Kyushu

Travel wardrobe for Mobile, Alabama, in March. Climate?

I want to go to a conference in Mobile, Alabama, next March. I am already thinking about a travel wardrobe (although I do not plan to sew everything myself). It is a marine ecology conference, so I expect the unwritten rule of clothing can be described as “outdoorsy nerds trying to dress up”. But there will also be more festive activities, like a banquet or so. Additionally I want to add some days for hiking/birdwatching at the coast.

What I am more worried about than the dress code concerning this wardrobe is the weather expectations.

On the internet I found a temperature range from 2 to 23°C for March in Mobile! Do I have to pack everything from woolen cardigans to short sleeved shirts? It would be nice to be able to narrow it down a bit. I also found the information that Mobile is a very rainy city. But what kind of rain? There are different kinds, I was reminded recently when I accompanied my husband to his new work place South of Berlin. We both got a cold. It was rainy and warm, so you need an umbrella. Something that we didn't own because it is completely useless on our island where it is always windy and the rain moves horizontally, so you need a rain jacket and pants. For rain in hot weather, wide, quick drying clothes are great, and then there is the rain that is more like a thick fog, where wool is nice because it keeps you warm even if it is a bit moist.

I know in theory that the gulf current is what keeps our North Sea ice free in winter although we are at the same latitude as Newfoundland! Then I was confused that the climate tables gave temperatures as low as 40 F for March. I have only little experience with hot weather, and no experience with warm humid weather and don’t know how to make the transfer form the climate table to a wardrobe.
I am quite excited about this trip, never been to America before.

I got lots of advice on SG (,10929.0.html), which I compile here:

"[...] March in Mobile is variable. I would go for the middle range though, rather than the extremes. We seldom have freezing weather, but we do have some big storms in spring (March). It can be quite humid and warm one day, then a weather front will fly though and it will be cool and breezy. You won't need a heavy coat (I don't even own one). I don't think this area is rainy at all! But I can almost guarantee it will rain in March. I would recommend light-weight long pants with a variety of tops, long and short sleeved, definitely not wool; you would get too hot. If you have some of those hiking pants with zip off legs, that would be perfect for your walks in case it is warm. A light-weight fleece jacket or vest and a light-weight rain jacket that could be worn over the fleece would be perfect in case it gets cold, or alone for just rain. I would bring a pair of shorts, too.
I usually wear knit tops, just because they are comfortable and come in lots of colors. By light weight pants I mean not wool, probably chinos or flowy rayon ones, knits are great, too. We have lots of good seafood so an elastic waist may be in order. The HVAC is very efficient, but in March it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the temperature swings you may be hot, or you may be cold. Not much help, I know."

"To present I would wear pants and a kick-ass top with a scarf (since that is what they will see from behind the podium) and a jacket I could take off. Or, since you already have it, skirt, boots and the same top/jacket idea. I've done 10 days with a couple pairs solid pants, several solid knit tops and some bright print scarves to change things around--that would separate you from the students. Then I have a solid fleece vest that coordinates so I can use when I need it. Remember, the humidity is a KILLER."

"I'm laughing about outdoorsy nerds! This is a tourist area, so we see people in everything. (I'm always saying that just because people can fit into something doesn't mean they should wear it) If your shorts and T-shirt match, you are dressed up."

"BTW, you will DEFINITELY want sunscreen for any exposed skin, even if it is cloudy. I assume you will be doing something with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab--terrific place."

"I notice you are from the Netherlands. I strongly suspect that you have no idea of how warm and humid the Alabama coast can be. Robbie is the expert but I second her statement that 70 degrees F is cold for us Southerners. I would bring one cardigan, one lightweight hooded rainjacket, and several long sleeved cotton tops. Robbie's idea of a fleece sleeveless vest is excellent, as it could be layered over the cardigan and under the rain jacket if the weather is "cold" and blustery."

"You've picked one of the most unpredictable months in the year for Alabama, could be in the high 70 one day and in a couple days in the high 40 or 50 Th's and then there is our little friend humidity to factor in. [...] March is a good time to wear skirts with boots and sweater sets for us. I start wearing linen, ponto roma knit made out of pants is good this time of the year. Sweater sets A rain coat a must if it lined that would be great so if its cold your OK and if its warm you can take it our . Skirts and dress are always good with boots or even you could do heels just depends It cold rain the whole time you are there or be near 80 you never know in March it Anne in between month There is the wind off the river and the bay too > That will make it seam cooler than it is but may not bother you."

"I would definitely think of layers and some rain gear. We have one or two bird watchers here on the boards and they can probably fill you in better, but sweater sets and nice slacks always work for me for non-outdoor trudging through the weeds activities. Mobile is quite warm and you're apt to get warm drizzle so breathable rainwear is good."

"I would only add that you might be grateful to have sunglasses and perhaps a hat that will shade your eyes."

"The humidity of the American south is hard to describe to a European. Try going into a steam room wearing clothes! It shouldn't be too bad in March, however. Is it too early for mosquitoes in Alabama in March? Is bug protection something to think about?"

"Hen, you'll be amazed by how inexpensive clothing is in the USA compared with European prices. You may want to travel really light and buy things there, if you have time. Shoes are about half the price that I pay in Europe. You can also get good quality basics (underwear, socks, pajamas, tee shirts) for not a lot of money. The basics are available at Walmart or other "discount" stores like Target, Kmart...etc. Buy a couple of new pairs of Levi jeans, too. The good thing is that you can go out and shop for the right clothes if the weather shifts...if it's hot, go native in a tank top and a pair of shorts...if you're freezing just add another layer or two."

"Any more info about the dress code for the banquet? Trying to figure out what a marine biologist considers "dressed up" could be a challenge. It could be alot more casual than a similar European event. Are they giving out awards at the dinner? Is it held at a big fancy hotel or some other place?"

"My point is that with the much-discussed humidity, it will feel MUCH colder than the actual temperature. You should maybe bring one warm sweater to layer under a jacket, because by March in the South, you won't find a sweater anywhere in the local stores , they'll be stocking swimsuits by January!"

"I don't know about Alabama in particular, but having been to a few conferences in the humid and warm parts of the world, I would recommend woven fabric shirts rather than knit tops - cooler to wear if it is hot and also more smart for day wear. If it gets cold you can wear a merino knit tank top or a thermal top underneath and still look smart. Are you presenting? It does not hurt to look better dressed than the other speakers.
Also in the US in my experience, the air conditioning and heating is very efficient - inside temperature may not have any relationship to the outside temperature. - take a cardigan or jacket for the air conditioning on a hot day, and make sure you have a respectable underneath layer for the heating on a cold day. I have sweated my way through a conference in Pennsylvania during winter because I was wearing my smart warm wool jacket and did not want to stand up the front in my camisole. Not fun!"

"I'm going to recommend against ANY type of wool in the Mobile after February for being outdoors. It will be hot and sticky or at least sticky even if it isn't too hot. And you can't wash and dry it easily in the humidity. Yes, it can be done and would be nice for your presentations, perhaps, that are inside and airconditioned. But you won't want that outside doing field work. I would wear long cotton (khaki or chinos) pants. They'll get sandy and salty and muddy. Maybe even shorts (Bermuda length to look "professional") and cotton or knit tops - don't forget mosquito repellent if you show skin. As RobbieK indicated, dressed up in parts of the southern US means your flip-flops match your hair scrunchy. I would wear chinos inside for this type of conference with a nice woven top, probably - Marlene pants would be good. And a sweater or jacket that goes with everything.
I hope you enjoy your trip, the Gulf coast is beautiful (oil spill and all), the people friendly and the seafood excellent. And every month is mosquito month in Alabama (and Mississippi and Louisiana and Georgia and... well, it touches the Gulf)."

"Mobile is very humid and in March I would think that the most you might need is a light sweater or jacket. The sweater for a possible cool night or over air conditioned spaces. You might want an umbrella or light rain jacket. Leave the wool, boots and coats at home. Mobile is more of a khaki pants and sport shirt place for men's attire outside of business settings. You will see just about everything, but I would think that your hubby would find this comfortable and presentable. As for your clothes, once again you will see everything. I would pack skirts, pants and tops knowing that the weather will be in the mid seventies during the day and cooler at night. Having lived in half a dozen U.S. states and in Germany, I find Mobile somewhat conservative in dress (we are talking the norm you will see everything including the proverbial "ugly American")."

"I wouldn't waste my luggage on boots unless you will be in a barn (the riding sort) or fishing or in water (the rubber sort). Boots with a skirt are not going to be comfortable that far south except maybe for New Year's Eve. You will not want wool, either. I like tropical wool, and I do wear pants made of it year round up here in Virginia, but only when inside all day and only the really lightweight stuff. No way I'd wear it outside for any length of time that far south, even in March. Or woolen sweaters, even in the a/c I think. I'd plan to layer, light shirts, a lightweight sweater and a jacket. Yes, something waterproof, either the jacket or an umbrella. Imagine the steamy bathroom after you've taken a hot shower with the door closed. If your clothes would be sticky there, they'll be sticky in Mobile most likely."

"Can't help you with the weather issue in Alabama at that time of year, but I think the other consideration with a travel wardrobe is packablility (if that is a word). The fabric I like the best in my travel wardrobe is the ponte knit. It is basically wrinkle free and folds up very small. I have found that pontes can be lightweight to medium weight. I like the ponte without polyester for breathability. Just a thought."

People in Mobile, Alabama, in February. Everybody is wearing jeans or other long pants, not everyone is wearing a jacket, and you see some with short sleeves. (Thanks to Janis for the idea to google street scenes in the place of destination!).

Monday, November 1, 2010

SWAP rules 2011 - new techniques

The rules for the sewing-with-a-plan-contest 2011 are published.,11196.0.html

This year it is all about improving your skills.

I made an overview of methods I would like to master. The yellow ones I have avoided successfully so far, the red ones I had flops in the past with, and the green ones are skills I added just for fun.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I need a laptop bag - TODAY

I just made a laptop bag! I use my laptop mainly at home as my only computer, but in two days I want to take it with me in the train. It is VERY big, and I could not find a laptop bag I wanted in the right size today.
I cut an old camping mat to the right size for the protection, and from a patterned denim I made a very quick bag. It closes just by tucking in the extending fabric into the filled bag. When I have time I might add a clasp later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

another layer

I made another layering-piece from thin wool knit, in burgundy. The pattern is from Knipmode magazine October 2007. It was really quick to make because the neckline is an oversized turtleneck and it has a band instead of a hem, so does not require very accurate work.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Finally finished the first top from fabric bought in London! It is a silk/wool knit.
The pattern is from burda magazine 8/2006. I made it up two years ago in black, but that looks old now. See how this colour matches with my door?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

neckline versions

Here I give an overview of some different neckline bindings on T-Shirts. The binding is one of the last things sewn when making a T-shirt, and also one of the most difficult things, so it can get disappointing.

In London (,7881.70.html) we talked about how our personalities are reflected in how we approach our sewing projects. Simplified, Ruthie is more of a getting-things-done person, who likes using tried-and-true-patterns to be able to add to her wardrobe quickly. Elizabeth likes to know how things work, likes to try new patterns and techniques, and may even leave things unfinished (with exceptions, e.g. pants).

I mainly go for quick satisfaction, but I found I may have some of both. For example one longsleeved shirt, Zoela from Farbenmix, I made about a dozen times, but recently tried out different versions to bind the neckline, just for the change and the challenge.
Although Karen is probably the most advanced and productive sewist of the four of us, she admired the neckline bindings on the T-shirts I wore, so I thought I’ll share how I did them.

The basic principle is always that you have a binding which is a bit shorter than the neckline (7-10% depending on stretchiness and recovery of the fabric). It has to be stretched while sewn to the neckline, and the most difficult part is to get it evenly distributed. I do not really give instructions here including pinning and basting, but only show different morphologies.

The first example is a variation on the instructions that came with the pattern from farbenmix. You sew the binding, right side to right side, to the opening, fold over and under. Topstitch from the right side with a wide zig-zag.
+ The zig-zag is decorative
- While topstitching it is important to stretch the same amount all the time, otherwise the zig-zag will be irregular
I used this on a blue cotton-jersey with a subtle ajours-pattern and on a merino-shirt (meant as underwear, so I was not so concerned about the perfect binding).

For the second example I followed instructions from New Look, and I think this is also what I saw on Karen’s Jalie-shirt. You sew the binding, folded double, to the right side, it will turn up, and then you iron the seam allowances down. You may, or may not, topstitch through the seam allowances. I did this with a narrow zig-zag so that it still stretches.
+ I think this is what you often see on purchased shirts, so it looks professional
- It is very important to stretch the same amount all the time, otherwise the binding becomes smaller and wider in different places
I used this on a dark green rayon knit with lycra.

The above was inspired by something I read from shams ( Sew the wrong side of the binding on the wrong side to the neckline. Turn over and stitch, and let the raw edge curl up.
+ Here you don’t see a stitching line, this was ideal with my previous machine, which made longer and shorter stitches depending on the sewing speed
- You are doing something “wrong” on purpose, so the overall look must show this was the intention and not a mistake
This was nice for a casual shirt striped in mud-colors, for a thin silk knit which was very “curly”, and for a jersey with two different sides.

I don’t know where I got the fourth method for this mottled shirt from, must have been stored somewhere in my subconscious (maybe from Jalie?). Sew the right side of the binding on the wrong side to the neckline. Turn over and under, topstitch.
+ One of my favorites, it is nicely flat and “clean”. If by mistake the binding was stretched irregularly while sewing the first seam, one can correct a little for the resulting varying width of the band by turning more and less under

This last one looks quite similar to the previous one. For the red shirt with pleats at the neckline I followed the instructions from Knipmode. The band is folded double and sewn to the inside, then turned outside, including the seam allowance, so that the stitching line is at the edge of the neckline. Topstitch.
- There are six fabric layers at the neckline, making it difficult to topstitch, especially if the seam allowances start to curl inside the tunnel
+ If done from the other side, and maybe starting with a single layer, this can give a nice sleek look like you would do with bias-binding on wovens
I cut the binding parallel to the grainline, because the neck is low and I did not need or want it to stretch more. For the same reason I used a straight stitch and not the narrow zig-zag.

Friday, June 11, 2010

So here finally the picture of the dress.
It fits nicely at the bust, and also falls nicely from the hip down. The part inbetween is not so good because of the size difference between my bust and hip. I took several cm in at the side seams and darts, but now there is some volume in the front where my body doesn't have much volume. But even if I had found a better way to get rid of the eccess fabric, I realized that this type of silhouette is not good for me, just emphasises the pear. I wore (and always should wear) the dress with a jacket over it, to give me more "weight" on top.

The professors had some tough questions for my husband, but I did my best to have a confident expression. The party was nice, and now he works in New Zealand for two months.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Next project: Long Black Dress for PhD defence

After our wedding the next important occassion that asks for a special dress is my husband's PhD defence in the end of april. I will be his paranimf, that is the analog of a bridesmaid for the PhD candidate.

Traditionally tailcoats are worn, but nowadays suits are also worn. Women often wear dresses. I already have been told it can not be too much. Now I am looking for something festive/gala/official/presentable to make.

Last year I bought this satin woll suiting that was called tuxedo-satin by the shop. It has a dull side with shiny stripes and a shiny side with dull stripes. The stripes are small (7 per inch). I have more than 5 meters, that would be enough to make a three-pieces suit with an extra skirt.

I came across this picture of a long bodice-dress in a fashion magazine. A long black dress would be very festive and appropriate. The skirt part should not be too slim (pear-body shape) and not too wide (because the fabric is soft but heavy, and striped; and because of the occasion).

burda magazine 12/2008 "Bambi awards" also has many patterns that go into the right direction. I think I should have sleeves or a blouse or a jacket. Not sure yet if I should make a one-piece or two-pieces dress.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

SWAP 2010 progress

I am not going to finish the whole SWAP within the deadline, but the rules inspired me to find this striped jersey. I am not sure though what to do with this raglan shirt pattern. The pattern piece on the left is the front, the one in the middle is the sleeve, and the pattern piece on the right is the back. The back and sleeve can be easily matched in the raglan-seam, but the front parts have different angles and will not match like this.

Should I
- sew it up like this, accepting that the stripes will not match in the front?
- find a different shirt pattern that can be matched?
- try to change this pattern so the stripes match?

Wedding outfits

For the ceremony itself I wore the cardigan, and made a skirt form the remaining dress fabric, partly using the shiny side outside, partly using the dull side. I made the coat literally last minute from fabric my mother had bought ages ago. First she started to make a cape from it, but gave it to me as an UFO. I tried to make a duffle-coat type of thing from it, but also kept it in UFO state for years because it looked like a bathrobe. My wedding was a new motivation to make something more shaped from it. I had not dared that before because I did not want to destroy the embroidery.