Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Another Year, Another Sewing Top 5

Another year, another Sewing Top 5!

It took me a while to decide to take part in Gillian's Sewing Top 5 this year, so I guess I'm a little late to the party. But after missing out last year, because I was feeling quite stressed out, I find myself in a place now where I want to get into blogging at least semi-regularly, and I think a bit of reflection is a great way to start the year! 
So I guess I'll start with the (non-sewing related) highlights, because they're a huge part of the way 2017 went.

2017 Highlights
  • I got pregnant, and had a little baby girl in November! We've agreed to keep her off social media and the internet for now, but be assured that she's healthy and wonderful and I love her to bits. :-) I'm lucky enough that we have a very good parental leave system in Germany, so I'm staying at home for a year to care for her, before going back to being a doctor. :-)
  • I also got married! That has actually been a long time in coming, since my man and I have been together for over 15 years. However, we never quite saw the need to exchange the rings, so to speak. With a little one coming, and issues like custody and last names on the horizon, we decided that it was easier to just make an appointment at the registry. ;-) But I did make a dress for the occasion. (And he did pop the question in the most romantic way possible, on a trip to Paris, on a dinner boat, while the Eiffel tower was glittering in the background...)
  • That blasted thesis, that took an inordinate amount of this year's free time, finally got very close to being finished! (Ok, so it took until Jan 2, 2018, but I finally handed in the finished draft to my supervisor, now I'm just waiting to get it back and do a final round of corrections.)
I'd say that's the top highlights of the year, although there were lots of other good things around. In anticipation of the baby, hubby and I took quite a few extended weekend trips, and we visited Copenhagen, Paris, Rome, the North Sea coast, Mainz, and Vienna, and I also took a trip to Lisbon with my family in early spring. We were also on the lookout for a new flat, or possibly a house, now that our little family is getting bigger. We finally found something both fitting and affordable shortly before Christmas, now we're waiting to see if it all works out... so exciting!

2017 Hits

I haven't managed to crunch the numbers, but all things considered, 2017 was more prolific, sewing wise, than I would have thought. What with everything else that was going on, and being tired for weeks on end...

  • I'm counting this Lillestoff Lola a hit, because I wore it pretty much all year long, from spring almost to my due date. Who would have thought that the French Terry was so elastic? :-) I'm a bit sad that I probably won't be wearing it this year, since it doesn't allow for nursing access...
  • Hit no. 2 is the Sallie Jumpsuit by Closet Case Patterns. I wore it a lot this summer, and always felt effortlessly chic (or at least very well put together), which isn't all that easy when you're pregnant...

  • The softshell Cookie Blouson also was quite a hit, fitting my belly until the end. I wore it from its inception in September pretty much all the time until my due date. Now it's waiting for spring, and a baby carrying panel.
  • This is my wedding dress! I'm going to blog about it soon(ish), I wanted it to be light and summery and "me", so of course it needed to be a polka-dot McCalls M6011 (on of my few woven TNTs)... hacked for a pregnant belly, obviously. ;-)

  • I'm counting the cloth diapers I made as my last hit, because they're in constant rotation and really very cute. I didn't quite know if this cloth diapering business would work out at all, but after two months of it, I'm still quite happy, and starting to sew the next size up. :-)

2017 Misses
It took me a while to think of any actual misses this year. Possibly because my sewing time was limited, and I mostly stuck with what I knew. I actually still have four or five projects/UFOs cut out, that warrant a little more time (like a Bruyere shirt in a gorgeous polka-dot chambray, and a Sew Over It Vintage shirt dress), but that I never got around to sewing up...

  • I made three of those Lupita tank tops, and while the A-line silhouette means that they fit until the end of my pregnancy, I never actually really liked wearing them - though to be honest, at some point I felt it was enough to wear something comfy that covered the belly. ;-) I think I'm going to slim down the side seams and see how that works. Worst case scenario is that I'm keeping them as sleeping shirts...

  • I'm also afraid that my first nursing top didn't turn out to be a hit. It's made of French Terry and while I pre-washed it, I think I underestimated that it might still shrink in the second/third wash, which means that it's now borderline short and the overlap at the bust tends to gape. I still wear it plenty at home, because it's comfy and practical. But I'm definitely adding length in my future versions!
  • That's my "frumpy nursing nightgown". It also gets worn regularly, but the fabric, while plenty soft and comfy, bags out like nobody's business and has already developed little holes. Also, the colour isn't exactly flattering either - but that's also irrelevant in a nightgown. It's fine since it was intended as a wearable muslin anyway, and I'm regularly wearing the second version, which turned out much nicer.

  • Miss no. 5 is something that never even got finished, a black tube dress that I spontaneously cut out a few hours before our "pregnant belly" photoshoot. However, it was a slapdash job, the fabric wasn't great quality and I didn't manage to finish, so in the end I just wore something else. The fabric will probably be recycled into knickers or a tank top at some point...
I think I'm saving reflections and goals for another post, since the baby is starting to make hungry noises and this is already quite long...

Here's to a fun and happy new year 2018!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A couple more maternity makes

I'm rapidly nearing my due date (two-and-a-half weeks to go!) and there's still so much to do, but I thought I'd show you a couple more maternity(-ish) makes I've been regularly wearing for the last few weeks.

The belly really is ginormous, although I'm still managing to get around fairly well, including tying my own shoe laces ;-) (all that maternity yoga is doing some good, I think). I actually still have quite a few garments pre-dating my pregnancy that fit fairly well: two spring/summer Lola dresses and a couple of jersey tube dresses that stretch out well enough, although now that it's getting colder, I wish my long-sleeved, cozy winter Lolas were made from more stretchy sweatshirting. Oh well.

I'm making do with layering up instead. Leggings and jersey skirts and tanks and tees and cardis.

What I also really needed was a jacket that fit the bump. My regular ones stopped fitting a couple of months ago, and while wearing it open is a fine choice when the weather is nice, it's really not when it's cold and rainy... ;-)

I got a fleece lined softshell fabric with the express purpose of making a jacket with a pregnancy panel, that could be converted for babywearing, at the Holland fabric market in summer, and after thinking for a bit, decided on the Waffle Patterns Cookie Blouson, which I've had in my stash for quite a while.

Sewing with softshell isn't the easiest, it doesn't press well and I was hesitant to use too many pins, so as not to damage the water resistance. Although in the end, I chose to topstitch a lot of the seams, and it hasn't gotten me wet, yet. I've managed to not get into a downpour, and the water resistancy works well enough for "regular" amounts of rain and wetness...
What I am missing in bad weather is a hood, to protect me from the rain. I've been thinking about making one that snaps onto the back at some point, but I'm not sure if I like the idea of exposed snaps along the back neck... then again, I'm usually for function over prettiness...

I also haven't made a panel yet, because I can still get the jacket closed over my belly (which I'm guessing can't get much bigger). A baby wearing panel is still in the plans, though, and I've already got a pattern that should work with most jackets.

Pattern-wise, this was a good pattern to sew, with clear instructions and no major hurdles. I made a straight size 44 according to my pre-pregnancy measurements (because it was already cut out, and I thought a panel would take care of the rest). I'm guessing it will be a bit roomy on non-pregnant me, but in this style of jacket, that's fine. I like the zippered pockets (they get a bit lost in the busy print), which have enough room for bits and bobs, like a pair of gloves.

Another go-to garment for the last weeks has been this Dolores batwing top, by Zoe. I actually wasn't quite sold on it, when I first made it. I'm really not quite the batwing kinda girl, and the jersey fabric I used for the bodice 1. shows every bump and 2. reminds me a bit of surgery scrubs... I may try the original pattern with a more stable fabric in the future, but what I did with this one is shorten and slim down the batwing sleeves, and I quite like wearing it like this. I also added a contrast band instead of a hem, because I like how it sits snugly under my belly like this.
Again, I didn't use the maternity version that's available for this pattern (because I already had the regular version in my stash), and I sewed my regular size (a 16, in this case), but with the stretchy fabric, it still works out.

The last garment that's fairly new in my wardrobe is this navy-and-white striped Seamwork Oslo cardigan.
Another pattern that works without any maternity alterations, although I did the same alterations as with my last few Oslo cardigans: slim down the band that goes along the front and neckline (I like how it hangs open like this) and slim the shoulders/raise the sleeve heads for less of a dropped-shoulder look (yup, I'm really not much into dropped shoulders...). The sleeves are also a bit slimmed down.

I've also been doing quite a bit of sewing for my sister's wedding, which was at the end of September. Woven dresses! It's been quite a while since I last sewed something like that. ;-) I haven't gotten all of the photos yet, though, so the blog post about them will have to wait for a bit.

Right now I'm quite busy with sewing cloth nappies/diapers and a couple of nursing-compatible comfy clothes...
What are you up to at the moment?

Monday, September 4, 2017

This year's summer makes

It looks like this year, summer had had an extra sharp eye on the calender, as it seems that with the beginning of September, the (already rather rare) warm days are over. Not that it has suddenly turned really cold, but the night temperatures have dropped quite a bit and that sharp, autumny smell has already started permeating the air - enough, that I'm longing for hot tea and spiced apple cider, and thinking about the pumpkin dishes I could make this week.

Oh well. It's a good thing I like the fall season. :-)

As I said, this year's summer felt a bit half-hearted, with lots of cloudy and rainy days, and just a few of those brilliantly hot ones in between. Being pregnant (and working until the beginning of August, and trying to get my thesis done in between), I guess I wasn't too sad about it, as it also meant that I did quite well with my usual complement of jersey/maxi dresses (which thankfully still fit pretty well) and the few "maternity" items I made.

I'm putting the "maternity" in quotes because I didn't use any special maternity patterns, and only one of them is slightly hacked for better belly coverage. I still have to say that I went a bit out of my comfort zone. My wardrobe attests that I tend to prefer fit-and-flare dresses/tops and a rather closer fit in general - and no trousers if I can avoid it (although my two pairs of Ginger jeans are well loved in spring and fall).

The two pairs of summer trousers I made got a lot of wear though, since they're breathy and comfy, even though I don't think they look "flattering", exactly. They also went well with pretty much any kind of weather, from slightly chilly to warm and humid, so definitely a win.

I didn't go for a special pattern, since someone on Instagram (sorry, I totally forgot who it was!) suggested modifying pjyama pants to get that slouchy summer trousers look, so I took out my copy of Tilly's "Love at first Stitch" and copied the Margot pyjama trouser pattern. This one I did modify, by adding a couple of inches to the front and back sideseam at the waist, tapering to nothing  at the hip. Because of fabric restrictions (I wanted to use the two pretty summer-weight prints I've had in my stash for a long time), both the rosy blue rayon version and the black cotton lace print one were shortened a bit - which was alright, since I don't have very long legs, anyway. Both versions have elastic waistbands and ankle seams, and side seam pockets, of course.
I don't think there's much more to say about these, they're really quick makes and the baggy fit makes them very forgiving (for growing baby bellys, ice cream, cake, chips and most kind of fitting troubles).

The tops I made to go with them are from a German indie pattern designer, Milchmonster's Lupita tank&dress. It's designed to be a simple A-line jersey top, tunic or dress, and works well with a baby belly. I actually made three versions, the one with the dots and the solid blue one, plus one in a nice medium blue interlock with white stripes, which I haven't managed to get any pictures of, somehow.
I'm not a hundred percent convinced about the A-line in tank tops, although I guess without a baby belly, you'd get a bit of a flowy line, which could be nice especially in lighter, drapey fabrics. As it is, I'll probably modify these three into regular tank tops at some point - but they do work well at the moment, and will transitions into fall and winter as layers for warmth.

The last couple of summers, one of my favorite things to wear has been maxi dresses. They look effortlessly chic no matter the time of day and work for all kinds of weathers, you can even slip on a pair of leggings underneath if it gets chilly in the evening, with no-one being the wiser. So it's probably hardly surprising that I made another one. I've been meaning to make one with spaghetti straps for a while, so for this version, I got out the Closet Case Files Sallie Jumpsuit & Maxi dress.
I love that it's got pockets, and the elastic waist works well both to give a bit of a waist illusion and to hold the maxi skirt up. I used a very soft, lightweight jersey with a star print, perfect to let a summer breeze through. 
And it really is the perfect summer garment - and took no modifications at all to cover my baby belly.

All these photos were taken on our vacation at the north sea, by the way. I'd never been before, it's beautiful (if very windy and occasionally chilly).
I'll finish up with the most surprising hit of my summer wardrobe sewing: the Sallie Jumpsuit.
I didn't think I was a jumpsuit person, but this feels so comfy and chic at the same time. It's a feeling I get with maxi dresses as well, but even with wearing my lacy Bandelettes, some days I have wanted to feel my legs separated by a layer of cloth - as funny as that may sound. ;-) As I said, the jumpsuit is a new look for me, but one I've grown to like. It helped that I get compliments for it, pretty much any time I wear it. ;-)
I didn't self-line the top, because my piece of fabric was too short (I even had to piece the shoulder ties), which was probably not the best idea. I sewed clear elastic to the neckline and turned&stitched it instead, which looks ok but was difficult at the v-neck, and definitely isn't as polished as lining it. Oh well.

It also features pockets and fits my baby belly unmodified, although I have been thinking about trying a modification with a looser, flowier top, where the elastic sits underneath the belly. Alas, I currently don't have the perfect fabric in my stash, and my to-sew-before-birth list is miles long, so probably not this pregnancy. ;-)

The next items on my to-sew list are the two dresses for my sister's wedding (a maternity Dirndl dress and something flowy and purple...) as well as a fall-appropriate jacket that is able to cover my belly. With three weeks to go, I guess I should get down to it (and that thesis that is still lurking)...

What are your plans for fall sewing?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

(Not so recent) Sewing and other news

Oh hi. So, it's been a while since I blogged last. Actually, there has been very little blogging at all, this year. And I never quite know how to begin after a hiatus. But I've thought about not blogging at all anymore, and it doesn't quite appeal to me, either, plus I may have a little more time in the next few months, so.

Boy, there's been a lot of stuff going on in recent months, RL wise. The biggest part of which, I guess, is: I'm pregnant. Yay! (That was quite a longer time in coming than I envisioned in my innocent youth...) I'm just about 22 weeks along, with the tiny person due in mid-November, so I guess I'm joining the the mommy blogger brigade before too long. (And coincidentally I've been enjoying reading the Ease into Motherhood series over at the blogs of Seamstress Erin, MexicanPink and SewFearless, which is going on during the month of July!) I'm also just about entering the stage where maternity clothing plays a role (let me tell you that my fit&flare jersey dresses have held up very well for the first half of this pregnancy) and branching out into pattern types that I never quite thought my style, but which are great for a growing baby belly (like elastic waist trousers, jumpsuits and lose kimono style tees) - fun!
I actually managed to get very little done (besides working on growing a tiny person) during the first 4 months of my pregnancy - apart from working full-time and writing the first 20 pages of my thesis (which is really, really supposed to be finished before the tiny person pops out). While I was daydreaming lots about sewing, what I usually managed after work was eat and fall into bed, sometimes with a book. But it's been a lot better for the last few weeks! I'm also starting some vacation time, and afterwards my maternity leave is beginning a little early, since my employer insisted that she'd rather be safe than sorry, considering the risks of doctoring. ;-) While finishing my thesis really is a priority (which may be challenging, given that in the time until November, I have planned three weeks of vacation plus one week of special training in psychosomatics, which I need for my GP qualification, plus my sister is getting married at the end of September and I'm the maid of honour. Oh, and we're currently looking for a new flat.) I had better not tell you that I'm also meaning to do some more regular exercise (in addition to my current 15 min of pregnancy yoga - swimming would be nice), volunteered for some video-editing of my last vocal ensemble concert, started on knitting a baby blanket (which is great for knitting in front of the TV, and on vacations, I suppose, so not actually taking any time away from other projects), and we still need to re-arrange our bedroom-with-sewing-nook into a baby-and-parents-and possibly-some-sewing room... And of course, apart from some maternity and post-pregnancy nursing appropriate sewing-for-me, I've now also fallen in love with the idea of making a use-up-all-those-fabric-scraps crawling quilt, and possibly sew a whole lot of cloth diapers for the little one. Ahem. And maybe finally do some blog renovation?

Not sure if that's a smart to-do-list.

But we'll see what sticks in the end.

I've losely planned about monthly sewing updates from now-on, instead of even trying to blog individual things (which tends to paralyze my blogging mojo as soon as projects start to pile up). Thich sounds fairly do-able, I guess, provided I can get myself to take decent pictures - another of the reasons my blogging has been so sketchy in the last months.

So with minimum fuss, here's some of the stuff I've been sewing during the first part of the year - spring sewing, if you wanna say so. Which is actually still pretty weather-appropriate around here, even in July. Oh well.
A glittery bird dress: My usual pattern (which by now is so modified, I hardly know where the original parts came from). I also forgot where I got the fabric. Possibly idee.?
Giant flower dress: same pattern, this time in a lillestoff fabric. Actually, in the 3/4 sleeved version, this feels a little louder than I'm comfortable with, sometimes. I'd think I'd do contrast bindings and a midriff band (in solid blue) next time...
Giant flower maxi dress: I cut this out with my baby belly beginning to show, and miscalculated a bit, since the fabric has less stretch than what I used for my last few maxi dresses. Thus, it has a bit of a curved side panel, which isn't terribly noticable in the busy print at least. I also must remember that basting is a good idea with wrap-style bodices... even though I added some stitches to secure the neckline, this one gapes quite a bit, but it's fine with my tank-style nursing bra underneath.
This year's flower Lola: I had to retire a couple of my older Lola dresses, because they were getting a little short and tight from all the washing (the woe of using sweatshirt fabric), so I made a replacement using some lillestoff summer sweatshirting fabric. I heart this one quite a lot.
This is actually last year's Christmas velvet dress. Well, velour. Velveteen? Which was an inspired idea, because it's comfy like secret pyjamas, and it does look really nice, doesn't it? The fabric is also warm enough even without sleeves (for an overheated house at Christmas or New Year's). I think what I used as a pattern (since it's a stretch fabric, it looks like sweatshirting on the left side and is just as comfy) is my regular jersey dress pattern, without sleeves and with a straight-ish skirt. (I really need to start taking notes while sewing...)

This isn't quite all I got around to sewing, but it's what I have nice pictures of, so it'll do for now.
More about maternity sewing next time, I think. :-)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I'm taking part in Me-made May 2017

Oh. Um, hi. Is anyone else slightly amazed that it's almost May already? I can't believe I wrote my last post in January, which is already like, four months ago!

So yes, lots of stuff going on. Mostly life, and work, and working on my thesis, which has kind of racked up on the scale of importance, since my supervisor told me at the beginning of the year that she was changing universities, and I'd do good to finish my written work around September, since she wasn't going to be around much longer. Ok then. This has actually put a bit of a dampener on my sewing mojo, since I start to feel guilty when I do more than half an hour's sewing instead of thesis-related stuff.

The garments I did sew (and yes, there are a few!), I haven't really managed to take decent photos of, since our home office, the one decent place for photo taking in our flat, is in total chaos, and I never quite found the motivation for a trip outside involving a camera and tripod and remote and whatnot. But - a lovely friend lent me his home studio yesterday, in the times in between showing me how to make real French croissants (a birthday gift from last year)! So some garments now have been photographed and I may even find the time for blogging about them soon-ish.
So, about this year's MeMadeMay. I thought a while about taking part in it again this year, for the same reason as in the last years. I do pretty much consistently wear my me-mades daily. Actually, there's probably only a handful of days each month, where more than my bra, socks, tights and outerwear are RTW. In addition to that, I have a few outfits dedicated for office-wear that I don't vary much. They need to be non-restrictive, smart-ish and fit under a lab coat, so I have appropriated a couple of jersey dresses for that purpose. Which is fine enough, but doesn't make for an exciting me-made challenge. ;-)
Some of last year's MMM outfits
Then again, I really love looking through the pics of the last few challenges, and it's always nice to see which outfits work and if there are any wardrobe gaps. And document the weather. So, whatever. Once more into the breach!

 'I, Alessa (http://farben-freude.blogspot.de, @farben.freude on Instagram), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear me-made outfits (except for bras, tights and outerwear) each day for the duration of May 2017. I also endeavour to finish three of my cut-out UFO projects and wear them at least once during the month of May.'

So yeah, I'm also going to try and finish some UFOs. I have kinda started cutting out garments, so I have everything together to start sewing, and then I don't, because it seems easier to just cut another one. Strange but true, I have at least 6 cut-out garments lying around, as well as two or three that are almost complete but not quite... I'm thinking that maybe, if I sew for 30 minutes after coming home from work three or four nights a week, I should totally be able to finish at least two or three during May. That would be nice. We'll see how it works out, since I'm also trying to establish a 30 minute Yoga routine 3 or 4 times a week...

I'm probably not going to document my outfits on the blog, or maybe just a collage at the end of the month, but they'll definitely be on my Instagram, if you're interested.

Are you taking part in MeMadeMay this year?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Keeping warm in a good cardi

This is actually last year's sewing, but first it took me a while to take decent photos, and then another while to have a few minutes for blogging. Sometime in early summer last year, I lost my blue Oslo cardi, and since it was such a versatile garment, I immediately vowed to replace it. I couldn't get the exact same fabric (a beautiful rayon jersey with a slightly nubby, silky texture, from stoffe.de), so instead I made do with some soft polycotton jersey from the Turkish fabrik market.
Like my last Oslo, I modified the sleeves and shoulders to fit a bit closer, although they still work well as a layering piece even over long-sleeved tees and dresses.
Navy works as a beautiful neutral in my wardrobe, matching just about everything (alright, almost), so this has been one of the most worn garments since I made it. It's nice for colder summer evenings, and for fall and winter works well as a layering piece over dresses.
 After being completely blown away by how useful cardigans without a front closure are, I also wanted to try a different pattern. I've had the Julia cardigan in my stash for quite a long time, so I chose this light blue and slightly glittery poly-rayon jersey to try it out.
I really like the shape, but it turned out that I'm not a huge fan of the fabric. It feels slightly stiff because of the glittery threads, and the colour is just a bit too pastel for me to reach for it often. It works well with navy, as you can see, but not with too much else...
I'd love to try the pattern in another colour, though. I think I could do with a couple more basic black cardigans.

What's your favorite cardi pattern?