drizzle, ripple, wave

your words, your acts, however small, affect others. first they may feel like a drizzle to the skin: light, barely there. as time goes by, they slowly create ripples, reverberating in the minds, until finally they become big waves of reactions, whether they be directed to you or not. have you ever thought of that?

i’m not trying to preach, though. that’s just how i feel in general, and that was what i saw embodied in this dress i just made. drizzle, ripple, wave.

self-made dress, Casio watch, Moody Monday earrings, ASOS cage shoes.

the drizzle is on the print. this was one of those fabrics i couldn’t say no to, because the print reminds me so much of Marimekko. it is 100% viscose and i got a bit over 2 meters of it, thinking i would make a maxi dress out of it.

old pic borrowed from (X)S.M.L’s website.

but then i remembered this dress i once saw in Indonesia in 2011 from the brand (X)S.M.L. the part that i really liked was the flap on the top & hidden underneath it some small pleats. and i realized how in all these years i had adored it, i never had gotten the chance to really think of how to do it myself (carbon copy is my middle name). i mean, it seemed pretty easy. until i realized that it’s not that easy. 😀

rather than spending too much time–longer than 2011-2017, that is–pondering about how to make the pattern for the dress, i decided to just drape the fabric straight onto my dummy. i mean, that’s what dummies are for, right? duh.

within an hour or so, i finally got it. so i put pins here and there, and started sewing. just like that!

the ripples are the small pleats under the ‘flap’. this was the first thing i sewed before anything else on this dress. after putting the pins to know exactly where the pleats should end, i moved the fabric from my dummy to the sewing machine.

the waves are the flap on the top of the dress and the drapes at the bottom part, creating the asymmetrical hem. the drapes at the bottom actually came accidentally, meaning i didn’t even think of doing them, but made them up as i went along.

the back side is just an A-shaped piece with just enough width so that i could still walk freely while wearing the dress.

just for the record, i am extremely pleased at myself for making this dress! i can’t remember the last time i did something like this, working straight on top of the dummy without any pattern and actually succeeding to make what i had in mind! i even joked to my husband that i guess this means i’m ready to join the next Finnish Project Runway, if ever there is going to be one! 😀

that original dress i saw in Indonesia was my drizzle. the picture of the original dress & the fabric were my ripples. and this dress? this is my wave. ❤

be like bambo (shoot)

Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.” — Ping Fu

have you tried being a bamboo? i’d like to think i have, at least tried to. and to further plant it into my brain (pun intended), i even made a bamboo shoot dress!

vintage karakul fur coat (c. 1960-1970) gift from Grandmother-in-law, self-made dress and necklace, Topshop tights, COS shoes.

so this was my most ambitious sewing project so far in 2017. the story began years ago when i made this dim sum dress and much to my dismay i found out a few years ago that i had grown out of the size of that dress…. i can’t wear it anymore unless i lose like 10 kg. such is the life!

i decided that i had to make a new one. that first one was made of silk, but i haven’t found as nice-looking & affordable silk as that one, plus i wasn’t even sure if i still had it in me to make something as complicated as that dress; so i got a linen fabric instead.

i’m sure you know by now how i feel about green? come on, it’s the colour of 2017! i personally don’t like linen, because it wrinkles too quickly & too much for my taste, but since this linen had the best green colour, it would just have to do. the good thing about linen is that it’s a lot more down-to-earth so that i don’t need a special occasion to wear this dress. perfect for my new year resolution!

for this project, i used Burda patterns 8347 for the top part and 7660 for the skirt part. by using the Pattern Magic book vol. 1, i modified the top part to have the bamboo shoots pattern. that’s the name for the pleat pattern, Bamboo Shoot. and that’s why i call this dress my bamboo dress.

back then i sewed the bamboo shoots part by machine and it made them look too flat. i decided to try sewing them by hand this time.

i still have to figure out how best to iron that part with bamboo shoots, but at least i believe i made the right decision to do it by hand.

believe it or not, i just ironed the whole dress before taking these pictures. and look how wrinkled it was again already! *rolls eyes*

anyway, just a quick intermission: my accordion necklace has also now evolved into something better than the previous version, yay! this one needed about 8 meters of 2 cm wide ribbon, and don’t be fooled by the colour in the pictures. in reality, it’s neon green!

okay, back to the dress now. as with my other projects this year, i put extra attention & carefulness to sew it. for the armholes, i used black satin bias tape for a neater finishing. the neckline also has lining & i did edgestitch to make the lining stay put. for the zipper, i again sewed it to be exposed, just to add another small detail. i am still learning to love solid coloured clothes, so to compensate that i needed something to jazz it up. the hemline was done by machine, the hidden seam.

there’s just something about the colour & the shape of the dress that made me think of vintage. which was why i just had to wear my fur coat for the first picture!

before you criticize the fur coat, let me tell you that i am against real fur myself. except for the fact that this was already done back in the 60s or 70s, and i think it would even be more sinful to waste it when it was once already done. so when my husband’s aunt said no one in the family could wear it (because the women are all much taller than me) and i was the only one whose size is like my husband’s grandmum, i agreed to take it & put it to use. it turned out to fit me so well, i think! 😀

as for the dress itself, i am so happy with the result! i know there are many more successful bamboo shooters out there (i mean seamstresses/tailors who have done this pattern much better than me), but i love mine for being small, barely there, but it is there. i think this small version suits me better. 🙂

being flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, taking everything in stride with grace…. yes, i am trying to do it all with this bamboo dress. i am trying to be like bamboo. ❤

a study in stripes

i guess i have decided that this year i will be studying stripes and how to best sew them. this is my third sewing project this year, and already my second time using stripey fabric.

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self-made dress, H&M tights, COS shoes.

for this dress, i took the idea from my co-worker’s New Yorker dress which is made of rib knit/jersey. the rib knit was sewn so that the lines are diagonal on the front, and the bottom part is vertical.

crisscrossdressdetail1for my dress, i decided that horizontal stripes would be better for the bottom part. and as for the pattern, surprisingly, i again used the one from Ottobre design woman magazine 5/2016. this is now the 4th time i used it, because it’s just such a basic pattern that is so easy for me to modify.

the fabric is thin viscose jersey where the black stripes are knitted (so from the wrong side you can also still see the black stripes) and the silver dots are printed. thankfully, unlike the green-blue stripes fabric, this one actually stretches both ways! phew.

crisscrossdress4i think i did a pretty good job in aligning the stripes for this one! the only mishap that happened was when i was sewing the collar/neckline and some of the dress fabric got crinkled too much.

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also for some strange reason my super cheap overlocker has now been acting weird: the left most thread (that goes through the left needle) always snaps off when i sew, no matter how tight or loose the setting is. i finally gave up and started sewing with only 1 needle and 3 threads.

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but then again, there you go. i finally figured out how to sew with an overlocker using only 1 needle & 3 threads. i still learned something in the end! 😀

my co-worker predicted that my super cheap overlocker will break down on the second year (which is some time during this year), simply because nothing cheap can last longer than that. so maybe she’s right. but until then, i will still make use of what it can still do. and i’m thankful enough for it to still be able to make this lovely dress!

i’m super proud of this dress. everything went smoothly from modifying the pattern to the aligning of the stripes on all sides, which is a quite rare thing to happen to me! i guess it’s because these days i no longer put pressure on myself to finish everything quickly just for the sake of doing the next sewing project, and instead really enjoy all the process of making a garment.

this dress, along with the other two i’ve done this year, are already my new fave items in my wardrobe so there’s no doubt i will use them repeatedly. all is well with my 2017 sewing resolution indeed!

see what you want to see

just a little test: what’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you see this print?

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when i saw this fabric, what came to my mind was Frida Kahlo. i don’t know why, maybe it’s the bold colours and the flowers. and maybe because i like her works a lot.

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self-made dress, earrings from Tekka Centre, Little India-Singapore, second hand belt from UFF, unbranded tights, Casio watch.

but when i showed it to my co-worker, she said, “ooh, what a nice Slavic print!”. it made me think afterwards that i guess it does look kind of similar to some print you might see on a matryoshka doll.

isn’t it funny though that we always first see what we want to see, and people’s perspective about one same thing can be completely different than the others? the same goes for a lot of other things, like we only read (and understand) what we want to read, we hear what we want to hear, etc. what our brains perceive often depends on our moods, personal preference, and i guess it also has a lot to do with our own knowledge.

in this case, since i’m more familiar with Frida Kahlo, i decided that to me this dress is a Frida dress no matter what other people say about the print. 😀

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the pattern is something i’ve used multiple times before, called Drop-Waist Gather Drape Dress from Drape Drape book vol. 1. the last dress i made from the same pattern was a success because of its ease (both to sew and to wear), and since i had been using that one a lot of times, it was time to make another one.

after taking the pictures, i just realized that the seams on the sleeves were off (leftmost picture), but rest assured that they were corrected afterwards! 😀

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just like the previous dress, i made the hem 15 cm longer so i can wear this dress for work. the material of this fabric is also the same as the last one, viscose jersey.

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now that i see this picture from the back side, the silhouette & print of the dress actually kind of remind me of a Chinese cheongsam. see, even my own perspective changes easily!

fridadress4other than the sleeves’ seams, there’s really nothing new to say about this dress, which is exactly the reason why i made this: it’s a tried & true pattern, made with a tried & true type of material, guaranteed to be worn many times throughout the year. and may i just say that i had fun dressing up as Frida? ❤

second sewing project of the year is done and i’m still keeping my resolution so far! 😉

Tweedledee & Tweedledum

from Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City, we now move on to Alice in Wonderland, another fave story of mine.

every time i see fabrics that even remotely reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, i think my heart skips a beat. that’s what happened when i saw this jersey fabric from So Cute brand. it’s an Alice in Wonderland fabric without Alice herself. 😀

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at the same time, for many years–i’d say about 8–i had been waiting for harlequin print fabric. i did find some before this, but they were too colourful and all the wrong colours, the fabric was wrong (stiff cotton), or then the print was too big. by some miracle, though, i finally found the right one this year: in the form of another jersey fabric. perfect!

i honestly wasn’t thinking of combining the two, until i washed them and they sat nicely on top of each other in my cupboard. what a lovely marriage, i thought!

at first i only planned to make one dress, using the same pattern i used years ago for my optical illusion stripey dress. but after cutting the pieces, surprisingly i still had quite a lot of the fabrics even though i only bought around 1 m of each fabric. so i had yet another crazy idea to make 2 dresses using the same fabric-combo, but different style. i did them both back to back, giving birth to them at almost the exact same time, LOL. ladies and gents, meet Tweedledee and Tweedledum!

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self-made dresses, Crocs boat shoes (left), shoes from Dappermarkt – Amsterdam (right), IKEA ceramic coaster used as background.

Tweedledee is based on pattern #121 from Burda Style magazine 09/2012. the original pattern’s front piece is actually double-layered: the side piece also covers the middle front part and then there’s another layer of just the middle part sewn on top of the side piece. that’s what i did with my stripey dress years ago, which looks fine but is always a little too heavy on the front because of that.

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so this time i cut the side piece’s middle front part off and did everything in just one layer. the result, even though i actually copied the pattern 1 size smaller than my current size, is a loose-fit dress. go figure!

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when i was done sewing Tweedledee, i thought it looks so much like a Desigual dress! well, So Cute brand is supposedly a sister brand of Melli Mello, which is kind of similar to Desigual, so no surprise there. to add a little bit of the ‘jester’ touch, i decided to sew colourful plastic stones on the neckline. i love the result!

Tweedledum is more of an ‘accidental’ child, haha! it means that i didn’t use any pattern, except that i laid down the fabric, put my Marimekko dress on top of it, and cut the fabric according to the Marimekko dress. and then i added the sleeves from some ready-made pattern, and decided to cut away a small triangle from the back side just to add a little detail.

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it was supposed to be a quick & easy project, but of course mishaps kept happening: i ran out of my good sewing thread, tried to sew it with another sewing thread of lower quality and my sewing machine got jammed, sewed the collar binding too loose which made the whole dress look ill fitted.

the next day as soon as the fabric store was opened i ran there to buy more sewing thread, ripped all the seams off the neckline and re-sewed the whole neckline after work (i think it was about 10 pm when i finished sewing the whole dress. sorry, neighbours!).

though the back side is still a bit weird (me & my great idea to do triangular cut-out!), i must say, i love Tweedledum as well!

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i guess you can’t really say that they’re midi dresses, but i’m currently loving knee-length skirts/dresses. they’re just much more appropriate for all kinds of things, even for work.

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did i hear you ask out loud, would i really wear these dresses to work? my answer is, yes i would. i know, i’m lucky to work at a place which allow me to wear all kinds of clothes! 😉

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although in the story Tweedledee and Tweedledum never agree with each other, i think these dresses go along perfectly well together. at least maybe until Alice comes along.

PS. i just realized now after i finished writing the post that usually Tweedledum comes first before Tweedledee. sorry for the mix up, but i was too lazy to change the names/pics! 😀

multi-tasking on Easter holidays

this year i was fortunate enough to have 5 days of “holiday” right on Easter. and i didn’t even ask for it! 😀

before the holidays, i thought 5 days feel like such a long time, i would probably manage to do many things. but as always with holidays, when you’re actually in it, the days go by one by one and suddenly you’re at the end of it and when you think back of what all you have done… it turns out that you didn’t get to do anything much at all.

well, i was quite determined that that wouldn’t be my case, so when 4 days had passed, i multi-tasked to “save time”. :p

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self-made dress & necklace, socks from Plaza Semanggi – Jakarta, Bianco shoes.

i had kept this Harlequin fabric (the print is called Twinkle Toes) for years without really knowing what to make from it. it’s 100% heavy weight cotton, the kind used for home interior stuffs. the top part of the dress is polyester jersey.

sandalsdressdetail1

i used no pattern for this project, both the top and bottom part of the dress are basically just rectangles. for the pockets, i used the same technique that my co-worker J taught me when i copied a COS dress for my Moomin dress.

at first i thought combining these 2 fabrics is a great idea. well, in terms of colours and prints i still agree. this dress reminds me of cotton candies and little kids’ dreams of owning millions of pretty shoes & eating sweets.

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but how silly of me for forgetting the fact that thick fabric & thin stretchy fabric just can’t get along that well… especially since i didn’t use any proper pattern. you can see on the picture above (side view of the dress) that because the bottom part of the dress is stiff & thick, the waist part (the seam between top and bottom) is hanging awkwardly.

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well, the deed was done and me being me means i’m too lazy to fix anything. and anyway, silly & awkward suit me. :p

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so as i was saying about multi-tasking, while sewing this i actually had the time to do some baking as well. yes, “some”. the first one was apple roses. 😀 i’ve been making improvements on it, as i now got the hang of it. they were requests from my husband who was craving for apple.

the second one was a new recipe from J’s brother (a professional chef specializing in desserts). i had never tried this super simple but super delicious recipe for mud/chocolate cake, but even so i managed to make this in under an hour. and it was a great success!mudcake1

it may not look that different from brownies, but this one is actually much softer & more sticky than brownies, especially if eaten right after it’s baked.

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the next time we ate it, it had been cooled in the fridge for a few hours, giving it a more dense texture but still soft and just SO good. it’s also very sweet, which is why J suggested to eat it with whipped cream or some sort of less sugary icing. but my husband said this is just perfect already, and without any icing/cream it feels more lightweight (yeah, as if this actually supports my diet…).

seems pretty amazing now that i think of it, how a few years ago i was huffing & puffing & sweating when i first learned how to bake, and now i can even sew and bake at the same time! 😀 though of course it depends on the sewing project & the baking recipe, but i would say this is already a big improvement.

and there goes my long-but-short holiday! i think this time it went quite productively. 😉

proper

once in a while i get tired of my so-out-there clothes. so i try to balance it by doing ‘normal-looking’ clothes. like this dress.

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self-made dress, unbranded knee-high socks from Jakarta-Indonesia.

okay, okay, there are other reasons, too:

1. i’m trying out a new pattern from a magazine i’ve never tried before, so i wanted to do a prototype (though i’m quite lazy so this prototype had better be wearable as well!)

2. this year my resolution is back to “not buying new fabrics until i’ve used the ones already at home”. and this particular cotton poplin fabric (the dark blue one) had been waiting for its turn to be sewn for around 7 years (!!!).

but anyway… i tried to do this sewing project slowly & properly. i feel like most of the time i sew just for the sake of wearing the end result as quick as possible, and sometimes skip some tiny details because i can’t be bothered to do them. i kind of missed the way i carefully sew my garment like i did when i first learned how to sew on my own.

the pattern is from a Finnish magazine called Ottobre Design Woman, 2/2016, a combination of pattern no. 9 & 11. when i first came across this magazine about 8 years ago, i actually thought it came from another country (because it happened to be the English version that i first saw). but then i noticed that the head office is in Rovaniemi… and then not long after that, a seamstress whose blog i followed wrote about the magazine & the fact that it’s Finnish. so of course i had to do a little research about it, i can’t say i live in Finland & sew clothes without knowing about this magazine!

they have 2 magazines, Ottobre Design (Kids) and -Woman. since the first time i saw the magazine was the kids one, i never really paid attention to it. if only i knew what i was missing! every year they release 4 Kids magazines (for each season) and 2 Woman magazines (for 2 seasons at once). the price here is a little bit more than Burda Style magazine’s price, but i can clearly see that they use better quality paper for the magazine and the patterns. and of course, since it’s not as “popular” as the Burda Style (yet), it’s only natural that they have a higher production price for a more limited amount of prints. a plus point for the Woman magazine is the fact that each pattern has a vast range of sizes: from size 34 to 52! and they show how the clothes would look on different sized women AND different age ranges too. it’s like, everyone is included, not just pretty thin models, if you know what i mean.

now for the most important part: the sewing instructions. i don’t know if i’ve ever said it out loud, but here goes: i hate Burda Style’s instructions. it might be okay if they show pictures along with the instructions, but otherwise they’re usually cr*p. it doesn’t matter if i read it in English or in Suomi, i always have to go over the same step at least 10 times before i was able to MAYBE understand it. so in the end i would just skim it to know which parts to do first without knowing exactly how to do it and just go ahead and do it with my own feeling after that.

i was so happy when i tried the Named Clothing pattern as it has very clear instructions (plus pictures!). and for my previous project, when i used a pattern from Suuri Käsityö magazine, i also felt the instructions were much better than those of Burda. but this Ottobre one takes the cake. it makes the whole sewing process so simple that i was quite amazed that it was actually pretty easy to do. 🙂 there aren’t any pictures, but they use simple & clear words. i did mine using the Suomi version of the magazine, and if it was easy for me to understand it, i’m pretty sure the English version is also very easy to understand for those who don’t speak/read Suomi.

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the reason why i wanted to try this pattern was because of the back side.

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a raindrop hole on a fabric that has umbrella print sounds like such a Silverain idea! 😉

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and who can resist having more dresses with pockets?

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as always, i couldn’t resist jazzy-ing it up a little by combining the poplin fabric with a different one for the sleeves and hemline detail. the sleeves/hemline detail fabric is embroidered organza which is actually a fabric for curtains, and i got it about a year ago along with dozens of other fabrics in a big plastic bag for a mere 10€.

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i feel like such a proper girl wearing this dress, and i don’t know why but the words French and ballerina came to mind as well (even though i am neither of those!). 😀

there are still plenty more patterns from this issue’s Ottobre magazine that i would love to try this year, so let’s hope i have enough fabrics in my closet and creativity to make all of them!