let’s do the twist

we’ve been having such a wonderful summer this year in Finland that i’ve just been taking walks whenever i can (read: whenever i am not working) just to enjoy the weather and views. this is of course not a reason for me to not write or sew, but it happened.

another fake (but true) reason is that whenever i feel like an inspiration is coming for me to sew, the fabrics i want to sew are the ones still in the fabric store and i really should first use my own fabrics before buying new ones! the dilemmas of a fabric addict, right? ๐Ÿ˜

but one day i just had to sew something, and thankfully i found the right fabric from my own closet.

self-made top, New Yorker shorts, woven bag from Bali – Indonesia.

this spring i bought a super cheap top from Zara that i wore for my photo shoot here (shown on first picture). my secret motive was so that i could copy it and make many more similar tops! (insert devilish laugh here.)

after months of pondering about it in my head, i finally felt ready. the fabric i used was one i got for free from my co-worker J last winter. it’s a synthetic knit fabric which was about 1,5 m wide and long.

remember how i said i felt ready? well, i was wrong, LOL. i cut the fabric first for the front part… and struggled to make the twist just right. in short, i failed. so i cut another piece for the front part, for the second time. this time i just put it on top of my dummy and worked from there. this seemed to do the trick, so now i know that whenever i can’t figure out some cut/pattern, all i have to do is trust my dummy! ๐Ÿ˜

but since i already cut the fabric the first time for the front part, i was left with too small scraps to get a full back part. so to save my sewing project, i had to improvise… as per usual. in the end, i think i managed to save it. ๐Ÿ˜Š

if you ask me how to do that twist, i can answer truthfully that i don’t know, hahaha…. i put some detail pics above just to remind my future self of how it looks like from the inside, but i know i also won’t understand it just from the pictures. my brain just can’t think in 3D, so my best advice is to invest on a dummy.

originally, i wanted to make this top have long sleeves, so i could wear it for winter. but again, since there wasn’t enough fabric left, i had to change that plan too. so ‘short super wide and pleated sleeves’ it is!

as you can imagine, i am super proud to have accomplished this top! ๐Ÿ’•

so come on everybody, let’s do the twist!

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frenchie flamingo

my love of dogs in all shapes and colours still continues (of course… i don’t think that’s something that will ever die down! LOL), and seeing this fabric made me squeal. without thinking too long, i bought it and made it out into a simple top almost immediately, too.

self-made top, New Yorker shorts.

i mean, what’s not to love about this print? French bulldog pups in cow pattern, looking in all directions. โค

i got about 70 cm of this cotton jersey fabric because it’s super wide (about 180 cm). i wanted to do something super simple yet try out another decorative stitch from my sewing machine, so i decided to copy an old top i got from a thrift marketplace in Jakarta, Indonesia.

the ‘twist’ is at the front part where the seam between the bodice and the sleeves are. this was where i tried the decorative stitch (top left pic) and i am sooo in love with how it turned out!

the original top i have has these lace frills on the hem, but seeing the salmon pink colour on the dogs’ ears made me think of my flamingo fabric and so i decided to use remnants of that instead.

other than the hem, i used that same flamingo fabric for lining the edges of the sleeves… so that when i fold the sleeves up, i can show the lovely flamingos!

and that’s the story of how my French bulldogs get to meet the flamingos! probably not the most logical relationship in the world, but i must say, it works on my top, hahaha… and that’s all that matters! ๐Ÿ˜€

gonna take my frenchies and flamingos out for a walk now, while the summer days are still here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

magic mushrooms

in my 10 years experience of sewing, i hadn’t got the chance to sew Finnish design fabrics other than the big brands like Marimekko, Finlayson’s Moomin, and Nanso. to be honest, i didn’t even know much about Finnish ‘indie’ design fabric brands that much, until some colleagues of mine started introducing them to me some time last year. and what a wonderful alternative they are to the other bigger brands!

i had wanted to get my hands on them ever since, but compared to the fabrics i usually buy & sew, these Finnish ones are naturally quite pricey. for example, i usually spend about 5โ‚ฌ-10โ‚ฌ for a single fabric for one project, but these fabrics cost around 24โ‚ฌ per meter. so i wanted to be careful when choosing the fabrics to buy from these brands, and not end up regretting the purchase.

luckily for me, some months ago there was an arts and crafts event called Ommel where these brands sold their fabrics for cheaper prices. this event was also where i got to learn about & test the sewing machine i ended up getting (didn’t buy it from the event itself, though). in short, this event was my perfect opportunity to get deeper into my passion of sewing.

after some hours of deliberating, i decided to get 2 fabrics from Verson Puoti. the other one is to be posted later when i have made something out of it, but this first one is called Sienisato.why i decided to get this one is actually another story probably worth telling.

just before this event, i celebrated my 10th year anniversary at my work place. my colleagues had secretly prepared surprise gifts for me, and one of them was a skirt made out of a Marimekko fabric. โค

i really love that skirt and want to use it everyday, however i found that i only have plain t-shirts to wear with it, either black or white. so i was looking for another special fabric that i can use together with that skirt, and thought that black and white print would be lovely.

self-made top, hand-made Marimekko skirt from colleagues, handmade earrings from another colleague.

but you can be the judge of that! even though i haven’t been using crazy prints that much lately, i do still like to mix prints and colours. now with this Marimekko skirt, i can go all out!

this piece of fabric that i got was cotton jersey, sized 70 cm long and about 160 cm wide. it’s wider than most jerseys, so at first i thought i would still be left with a small piece for some other project. but alas, the first sleeve piece i cut was much too narrow that my arm couldn’t fit it, so i had to cut new ones.

since i promised to really make use of my new sewing machine, i tested different stitches for this project. for the sleeves, since they are still quite tight even after i cut new pieces, i used an elastic stitch (left picture above) which is not really straight but also not really ziggy zaggy, more like a combo of these two. for the added detail, i decided to make straps from black cotton jersey and used decorative stitches on it.

i had worried that the decorative stitches would be uneven when i do it to a stretchy material, but since i folded the fabrics twice (so that it’s 3-layered) i suppose it helped to stabilize it, and i would say my machine did a pretty damn good job! (can you tell how much i love my new machine already?)

for this project, i used the good ol’ Ottobre design magazine pattern that i have used numerous times on different types of dresses and tops. since i am still learning on how to make my own patterns, i did this one the ‘idiot’ way: first i traced the pattern and cut the fabric as they were supposed to be (minus the neck pieces), and then i sewed the sleeves and back & front pieces together, and then cut the neckline so that it would be slightly off-shoulder. then, i added the straps.

as you can also probably guess, i love the result so much! i’m just so proud of myself and my sewing machine for being able to put the lovely print design to a good use.ย maybe it’s because of these magic mushrooms! also, i’m happy to be able to support these local indie textile designers, i do hope i don’t disappoint them by making this top out of their magical print.

acceptance

there are many times in my life when i feel like giving up. in any thing.

giving up school. giving up working. giving up trying to get better after a nasty flu. but even through all those times, i never gave up my passion for fashion. after being able to sew, this included never giving up sewing.

until about a year ago. i didnโ€™t know what was happening, i didnโ€™t even know it was happening. i kept telling myself that it was a good thing i donโ€™t sew as much anymore, because who needed all those clothes anyway? i hid behind my own resolution to not sew useless things, and in the end i hardly sewed at all.

but somewhere along the way i realized that i did not even feel good among fabrics anymore. they didnโ€™t call me the way they used to. when i looked at my fabric collection, i got exhausted already, thinking of all the work i got to do to process them into a wearable item. that was when i realized something must be wrong with myself.

i was tired at that time, physically and mentally. there were many things going on at work, and no matter how hard i tried not to bring them back to home with me, i still did. i lost count on how many nights i lost sleep. and even when i did sleep, i woke up a lot earlier than my alarm and couldnโ€™t get back to sleep. this lasted for more than a year, and regardless of how many times my husband encouraged me to go to the doctor for my insomnia, i never did.

funnily enough, at the same time, my work mates were relying on me to get things done. not that they didnโ€™t do it themselves, but it seemed like their favourite person to turn to for help when there was some problem at work was me. and i was/am not even in any official managerial position. i didnโ€™t mind this, of course, but i wondered why i came off to them like i was holding everything together just fine, when i was actually also ready to tumble down.

i wanted to give up everything at that time. including this blog, which i had abandoned for months.

and then earlier this year, i came across this article. reading the first way of its manifest in real life rang alarm bells in my head already.

sewing, and fashion, used to be my rock, my safe haven. it was what i identified myself with. seeing clothes or fabrics used to bring me joy, even to just be among them, not having to own them. when it stopped doing that, then what had i become? who was i?

luckily for me, i didnโ€™t have to go to any doctor to get myself diagnosed for any depression, because the help came almost right away.

some time after reading that article, there came a shocking change at my workplace, something i didnโ€™t think would happen. as with any big changes in my life, i was pessimistic about it at first. but regardless, i stayed, and saw through the change, day by day.

and days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. suddenly, i could see myself sewing again. i could hear the fabrics calling me again, and i started getting ideas and energy to sew things again. i tried sewing one skirt, and then another top, and another…. before i knew it, i got myself back. ๐Ÿ˜Š

so what was the help that i got? it was first and foremost: acceptance. first, after reading that article and slowly tried to make sense of it, i accepted the fact that i might be experiencing some sort of depression. and the change that happened at work was, in short, a change of superior position. and lucky for me, and all of us, this change turned out to be the best. because she had that in her, too. acceptance.

we are not perfect. and we were all extremely tired at that time. but she listened to all of us and accepted us as who we are. by doing this, she made us feel worthy, and also feel at home, even when we are at work. she stood by us when the one before her didnโ€™t.

it may sound small to some people, but to me, at that moment, it meant the whole world. if the change hadnโ€™t come at that time, i probably would have had to go to a doctor, get some prescribed medication, and who knows whether i would be okay enough right now to sew, and blog, and live happily.

this acceptance, both from myself and outside of me, made me feel like the burden on my shoulders were lifted up. now i can finally turn off my โ€™workโ€™-mind when i go home from work, not because my superior ordered me to, but because i know things will be taken care of. for the first time after about 1,5 years, i could finally sleep peacefully at night.

iโ€™m writing this down here so that if i ever have the same problem again, i can read this post and know that i had once gotten through this. that i had learned to accept myself, and someone else also had given that to me. next time, if there ever will be, there may not be an understanding person such as my superior, but i hope by then i wouldโ€™ve learned that self-acceptance is the key to finding myself back and being happy. โ™ฅ๏ธ

brand new

again, i was offline from my blog for a while. but i had a very good reason this time.

you see, we just moved to a new house. again. ๐Ÿ™‚

this new place is so close to our first home together (the one before our previous one), closer to the city center, closer to people. i am a city person, so imagine my delight when we got the news that our application for this new place went through.

the moving was tiresome, especially since it had to be done in parts and during the most hot times of this year’s summer. but we are optimistic that this will be our home for a loooong time. longer than 5 years, at least. ๐Ÿ˜€

moving means packing, and packing sometimes mean leaving out some replaceable things. this time, it meant leaving out my beloved sewing machine of 10 years.

it wasn’t that it got broken or anything. in fact, if you see my previous post, i sewed that dress using my old sewing machine.

but time has changed. and when i got that sewing machine, i wasn’t even sure if i would still be sewing at all after 10 years, or was it a passing hobby. it was my first ever sewing machine, my learning one, my basic one. and now that i know i still got that sewing passion in me (and my birthday was just around the corner at that time), it was time for me to move on… to a better machine.meet my Brother’s replacement, Juki! โค this pic was taken just when it arrived, so those tapes are long gone now, LOL! this is my first computerized sewing machine ever, and i promise i will make the most of this machine!

but first, when the days had been so very hot here, i started with a very simple project. any guesses what that would be?

& Other Stories top, self-made culottes, COS shoes.

why, culottes, of course!

i was so amazed by how easy it was to make my previous culottes that i had to make another pair. this fabric was embroidered on one side, which i then used as the hem part. i got 2 meters of the fabric, and after washing it (so that it shrank) i divided the fabric’s length to 2 and used each piece for each leg. i was left with enough fabric to create something else later.the whole project took me about 2 hours from cutting the fabric till the very last stitch. i got 80 cm long of the elastic band for the waist and absent-mindedly put it all inside the tunnel without measuring my actual waistline… so after i sewed in the tunnel, i tried them on and only then realized that the waist was way too loose.

so out of the 2 hours i spent to make these, 20 minutes went to rip open the waist tunnel stitches (enough to take out the elastic band), adjusting the elastic band, and closing the tunnel again. still considerably quick, though.

and let me tell you, a girl can never have enough of culottes! i’ve used these culottes so many times already, just like i had the previous ones. this is the summer of culottes for me!

there you have it, from brand new home, to brand new sewing machine, and brand new culottes! i feel like i’ve finally found a brand new passion for sewing again, after a long time. but that’s for another blog post! ๐Ÿ™‚

faking it

ladies and gents, i am at that point in life where not only do i copy ready-made garments, but also ‘fake’ clothing patterns.

self-made dress.

i’m talking about the most famous dress pattern for the past few years, Named Clothing’s Kielo Wrap Dress. and here’s my confession: i did not buy their pattern nor did i borrow anyone’s. ๐Ÿ™ˆ

you should know by now that i am such a lazy seamstress that i couldn’t even be bothered by the thought of having to copy the pattern, and then trace it to the fabric, and so on…. instead, i just did a bit of a mathematical calculation and drew it out, took an old top pattern just for the neckline and armholes, and started cutting away! if you can’t stand copycats, piracy, and the sorts, then i suggest you skip this post. but if you’re curious, here’s my so-called technical drawing ๐Ÿ˜:

the measurements were my own, of course, so feel free to adjust. first thing to know is at what height your waist is when you measure yourself from your shoulder, because that’s where you want the widest part of the dress to be. then you need to measure your whole waist circumference, and divide it by 2. for my measurement, i thought adding 20 cm to each side should be enough because i wanted the ‘wrap’ parts to not overlap with each other. after you got all these measurements, you’d know how much fabric you need.

in my case, i used my fabric the wrong way, using the selvedge as the hem of the dress (lazy). i used about 180 cm of my viscose fabric in total, cause i needed to make the ties on the sides. judging by the pictures of the dress in Named’s website, i estimated the ties to be about 120 cm long on each side. it worked for me, but of course as we come in different sizes, yours might be different so i suggest making longer ones first since it’s easier to cut them shorter than make them longer afterwards! my fabric’s width was about 140 cm, so this would be my dress’s length which is just perfect for me.

after you got your measurements, it’s time to find the perfect pattern for the neckline and armholes. my choice was pattern no. 127/128 from BurdaStyle magazine 02/2015. whatever your pattern choice is, remember to cut the back side of your dress 2 times (one left, one right) instead of one time on fold, because you need a slit for the back side of this dress otherwise you can’t walk. measure your own measurement from the shoulder to the waist, put a mark there and draw the diamond shape. one thing to make sure when you draw the line from the widest part of the dress to the bottom of the hem is that about 20 cm under the waistline is your hip, so you want to make sure that the dress’s width on that area fits the measurement of your own hip (i did this by measuring my hip and divide it by 4).

i made my dress’s hem to be quite narrow, 30 cm for the front side, and 15 cm for each back side. and as for the height of the back slit, you can decide it yourself, but since i like to be able to walk freely, i made mine open at 50 cm above the hemline.

then you can start cutting and sewing! i added pompoms to the armholes, just to add a little something. had to sew it by hand though cause my poor old machine just couldn’t handle it. and oh, in case you decided to use the same pattern as i did for the neckline, don’t be absent-minded like me and forget that the neckline is quite narrow. you might want to either make another slit at the back and close it with a button or…. if you’re lazy like me, just cut off an extra 3-5 cm around the neckline (which i did AFTER i sewed a bias tape onto the original neckline, and tried it on, and realized my head couldn’t even get in, duh).

and now, on to the exciting part: the result!!! ๐Ÿ˜ oh, it was just everything i dreamed of, and even better because i cheated, LOL! ๐Ÿ˜‚ย and i understood right away why so many people love this pattern. the dress is just so very versatile, as it can be worn many ways, depending on where you do the wrap, how tight the wrap is, and where you wrap the ties. (warning: loads of pictures coming up!)

here’s the first way (including the 1st pic way up there), wrapped tightly to the front.

the second way, wrapped loosely to the front:

the third way, wrapped tightly to the back:

you see? how can one not fall in love with it? and i think i chose a pretty good fabric for it, both material and print.

this will definitely be a summer fave dress for me! โค

whether you choose to buy the pattern or fake it like me, i really think Named Clothing did a very cool job to come up with this pattern. so thanks for inventing the pattern, ladies! ๐Ÿ˜

checking out Czech

well, okay, Prague to be exact.

neither my husband nor i have ever been there, so this was our first time ever. and my verdict is: love the city, hate the tourists! ๐Ÿ˜€ (i guess that includes us, LOL!)

i’m too tired to put descriptions in the pics, so here’s the short(er) story of the whole trip.

upon arriving, i immediately noticed something in the air that was quite familiar. it was very hot and damp that night, so that already brought me back to Indonesia, but the air was filled with incense scent. and i mean like everywhere! this of course brought my mind back to Bali, where they have incense-scented offerings everywhere on the street. i had no idea why there was an abundant smell of incense in the whole city, but when i heard church bells near our hotel, then i thought maybe the reason was that there is plenty of these churches in Prague, and perhaps they use incense in there? i didn’t hang around in churches to find out, so i guess i’ll never know.

if you are an honest and naive tourist like me, you might want to be extra careful where you buy your groceries. :p i learned it the hard way there when on our first night, since it was hot and we were tired, we only managed to go to a nearby mini-mart to get some water bottles. we had a small idea of how tourist stores ( = any store in a tourist-y area) mark up their prices, but it wasn’t until we got back to our hotel that we found out how badly ripped off we were. 11โ‚ฌ for 2 big bottles and 1 small bottle of water is NOT normal, i can tell u that. ๐Ÿ˜€ the next day we found a bigger mini-mart and paid 1,50โ‚ฌ for 2 small bottles of water. go figure.

if you’re an anti-tourist like me, avoid Charles bridge at all cost! LOL. i put a picture i took from there just to show you how many people there were at that time… and remember, this was not even a peak season yet, and the temperature was somewhere between 30-32C degrees. it was blazing hot, and tourists with their selfie sticks were just taking pictures upon pictures with every effin’ step they made, people walking behind them would just have to wait patiently because, well, the crowds were everywhere…. unbelievable.

there are soooo many castles in Prague, and soooooooo many beautiful gardens to come with those castles. so they said. we tried to see just the gardens (because, well, the castles would be filled with tourists… again), and since we’re so used to free gardens in Finland, we were taken aback with the fact that we had to pay tickets to view the gardens of the castles in Prague. ๐Ÿ˜€ and since apparently they really don’t want to let people view it for free, they had to make walls around the gardens as well. no castles and no gardens, then! ๐Ÿ˜€

we did go to the Alphonse Mucha museum, for my sake. it was small and non air-conditioned, but whatever. i’m glad it wasn’t as famous and hence full of tourists, so that was nice! no pictures are allowed in there, that’s why i don’t have any.

i got this tip from a colleague of mine, and apparently it’s true: you can only buy stamps in Prague in the post office. ๐Ÿ˜€ in Finland (and i think even in Indonesia) you can buy stamps from kiosks and mini-marts, but when i asked a souvenir store in Prague if they sell stamps… their answer is: no, but the post office is right there on the main street. so off i went there, took a queue number from the machine (in case you’re wondering, it’s “other services>selling stamps and other products”!) and went to the cashier just to get 1 stamp for a postcard! wow. and then there’s the matter of figuring out how to work out the mailbox. there are plenty of them around the city, but the instructions (or whatever they are) are all in Czech. hmm. i hope my postcard arrives to where i’m sending it to! ๐Ÿ˜€

you will find many places offering Trdelnik aka chimney cake, for various prices. however, after the water bottle incident, i was quite careful about spending money there. i remember seeing a place selling traditional Trdelnik for as cheap as 20 Kr, but since it was far away and i was too tired to go back there, i decided to go to the one nearest to our hotel that offered it for 50 Kr. i tried the cinnamon one, and boy, was it good! i wish i had tried the one filled with ice cream, but maybe i’ll do it some other time!

another thing worth mentioning is the dogs of Prague. i can’t tell for sure if they are local or tourist dogs, but i found many dogs were let loose in Prague (as in, not bound on a leash) and yet they didn’t run away! โค the first one i saw was a cute dachshund on the loose and i had to fight back the urge not to pick it up and bring it home! ๐Ÿ˜€ another one i saw was inside a small souvenir shop, with no leash of course, just looking out of the store as if it’s the owner of the store, looking for new customers. i managed to take a candid picture of 1 dog i saw that was just sooooo sooooo sweet, i couldn’t resist it…. if you’re the owner of that dog, i’m sorry i had to steal a picture of your doggy! good thing you put a leash on it! ๐Ÿ˜€

lastly, just a few pics of the hotel we stayed at, called Blue Oak.

it was such a lovely place! we were looking for a place with air conditioning (not all hotels in Prague have them, we knew there would be this heatwave coming when we were looking for the place) and possibly a microwave. and wow, we didn’t even expect the room to be so big, but it was! on the last day of our trip, there was a big thunderstorm with lots of hail and we got to view it from our bedroom window. just like in a tropical place, it only lasted for a short time, and made the weather much more bearable afterwards.

and there you have it, Prague from my very small & short point of view! ๐Ÿ˜€ i highly recommend it if you appreciate architecture… and beer, obviously, LOL. but if the larger-than-life tourist thing bothers you, you might want to go there when it’s really a very low peak season instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰