Archive for the ‘My Sewing Diary’ Category

Paco Peralta Pattern – wow!

June 4, 2011

A few days ago I fell in love with the box pleated skirt pattern from Paco Peralta and bough it. At quite a sensible price I might add. I paid 12 Dollars and 4 Dollar shipping. Etsy charged me 9 Dollars for shipping, which I didn’t question in the slightest, but then I received an unexpected 5 Dollar refund from Paco because shipping within the EU is lower – very fair, I think.

The pattern arrived very quickly within a few days and now look at this:

The patterns is pencis-drawn by hand and labelled by hand in English and Spanish, how cool is that? And I even got an embroidered Paco Peralta label to sew into the finished garment.

I am very impressed and can’t wait to make the skirt.

Gracias Paco, estoy muy curiosa como la falda resultará 😉

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Intercultural (or transcontinental) perception

May 10, 2011

Is there a difference in the tastes of Americans and Europeans?

I often read in American blogs that the patterns of Burda Style are so much more stylish and have “continental chic” whereas German bloggers tend to find them dowdy, boring and endlessly repeating.

On the other side, the Americans are often criticizing the Big 3 patterns as boring, not stylish enough and repeating while in German blogs and forums people are craving the Vogue patterns for their elegance.

Why is that so? I think, that the reason is not really the patterns per se but a different point of view or a different taste in style. On the other hand, one should assume that a German pattern magazine would meet the European tastes better than an American pattern company, so it may also be the thrill of the exotic or the international flavor.

To be honest, I can comprehend neither opinion. Neither the Burda patterns nor those of other companies are more stylish as a whole. Burda Style has it’s moments but also has a lot of the same old stuff which we have seen gazillion times over the years and so do the BMV patterns.  The more sewing experience I gather, the less patterns I reall “need” or even crave. I tend more and more to using my TNT basic patterns and add fancy details and if you look closely at all the patterns out there you will see that 80 percent of them do the same thing.

10 Facts About Me

March 22, 2011

… which you didn’t know but now are forced to find out 😉

This seems to be a trend in the blogging world and since I have been told that all bloggers are exhibitionists anyway, here we go:

1. I love to sew. Really? You’ve got to be kidding.

Ok, joking aside.

1a. I live in Germany and work in Switzerland. Between my home and the place where I work lie exactly 308 km of motorway. Therefore I am not at home during the week, I have a room in Switzerland and spend my lonely evenings sewing, playing on the ukulele and waching DVDs of films which men don’t like 😉 .

2. I work in a small Swiss company selling measuring and testing equipment for surface properties. My job is sales and cutomer consultancy and I have a lot of field time, so my car is my second office. I took some time to get used to this “unsteady life” of being away from home so much, but now I love my job because I have a nice boss, nice colleagues and even nicer cutomers.

3. I’m the singer of a band called “Lazy Lizards”. We do Blues and Jazz standards, sometimes also oldies and stuff from the latest charts if we like the songs. And since a few days I have also been officially appointed the ukulele player of the band since I am actually allowed to play along for a few easy songs.

4. I have two cats. You only ever see Miss Bifi appearing on the blog who is always hogging the spotlight but we also have a tomcat namded Susi (I know, I know). He isn’t appearing on the blog much since he is rather shy but I love him just as much. He is MY cat in the sense that he has chosen me as his personal slave, food provider and door opener and he misses me terribly when I am away. On weekends though I can hardly make a step without tripping over Susi.

5. I have been sewing for 8 years. I learned it as a teenager from my mum but my first efforts were … odd to say the least and I lost interest in sewing. I only started again when I became interested in the fashions of the 1930ies and 40ies, at first only because it is hard to find really cool original vintage stuff, but gradually I became completely hooked on sewing and now I cannot imagine NOT sewing.

What, only 5 items? Dear me, there are not as many facts about me as I thought … let’s stick to sewing for the rest 😉

6. Least favorite sewing activities: transferring patterns, cutting and transferring markings. If I were really rich I would hire my personal pattern transferrers and cutters.

7. Favorite acitivities: planning of new garmens and the actual sewing, that is, putting together the pattern pieces.

8. My sewing machings. Yes I have a lot.

My everyday machine: Toyota ESG 225

Serger: Toyota SL 3487

My “large” embroidery machine: Brother Galaxy Disney … I really don’t know how it is called exactly because I bought it as a used machine. It is an embroidery/sewing machine with a 13 x 18 cm embroidery area.

My Swiss sewing machine: Brother Super Galaxie, an older embroidery/sewing combo machine, very sturdy and realiable with a 10 by 10 cm embroidery area

Swiss serger: Privileg Overlock 454D –

My toy: UK-made Singer Featherweight from the 1950ies

And the most recent acquisition, which has not even arrived yet:  a battery operated toy sewing machine REGINA. I bought it for 6 Euro on ebay last Sunday. It is completely useless but it is pink. 🙂 I’ll show you pictures some day soon.

9. Last year I took a class with Claire Shaeffer in Palm Springs, California: „Couture Tailoring Details“ And I have booked another class about making Chanel jackets which will be held coming June. I learned so much last year, I came home with ideas and new things to try to last me for the next 10 years. Claire hinted that she will probably retire soon so I decided to taken another class as soon as possible. She’s a great teacher and has a vast collection of couture garments which she allows her students to inspect in detail and I am looking forward to the workshop very much.

10. My favorite sewing books:

* Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer
* The Complete Book of Sewing Shortcuts by Claire Shaeffer
* Pattern Fitting with Confidence by Nancy Zieman

And the best book on sewing in German is in my opinion this one (out of print unfortunately):

* Alles selbst genäht. Das praktische Handbuch für jede Frau.

Slow Sewing …

March 16, 2011

… after my relaxing vacation things are going slowly. We will be attending our largest trade show in 2 weeks and and everybody is frantic and nothing is finished yet. Last week I worked for 14 hours 3 days in a row, proofreading our catalogue. And it wasn’t finished on the weekend so I kept reading and didn’t finish my black pants. I’ll need them for the show, but there’s still next weekend.

At least I re-measured my favorite pants pattern from the German pattern magazine Sabrina woman. I made a lot of pants with this pattern and the fitting results were, well, mixed up to now. I found out that I need 14 cm more crotch lenght – this explains a few of the strange results I had.

In the past I have just been cutting and sewing things and kept complaining about bad fit – silly, I know. Since a few months I am measuring before cutting and making alterations according to Nancy Ziemans book “Pattern Fitting with Confidence” which I can highly recommend – works great for me and I have produced not a single “accident” since then.

So, following Nancy’s instructions I made part of the alterations at the waistline (center front and back) and the rest at the crotch and this is, how my pattern looks now (black = original cutting line, red = new cutting line).

That’s a lot, isn’t it? I cut the pants yesterday evening and I am very curious how they will turn out. If everything fails, I still have a second piece of black fabric 😉 .

Little Leo

February 24, 2011

My last finished project before our vacation.

After an hour of practising on the ukulele last night my fingers hurt so much that I fell back on my major passtime: sewing. From leftover scraps of my Fashionista project I made a little cosmetic bag, the pattern is from one of the Tilda Books. I had to piece the lining as there where only tiny little scraps left but I wanted it to match the lining of the large bag.

And once again I had a fierce fight with the stiff interfacing, but this time I won. It was no fun to sew but I HAD the interfaced fabric, wanted to use it and I can be very stubborn, so I managed in the end.

I ended up sewing in the lining by hand because it kept slipping out under the presser foot and I couldn’t get any pins through the interfacing. Furthermore the seams are all a bit lopsided, sewing with stiff interfacing just isn’t my thing AT ALL.

Anyhow, here is the finished mini wildcat. It’s hoping to get a bigger sister soon.

From the outside the bag looks super tiny but I can easily put in a powderbox, lipstick, handbalm, blistex, a mini brush, a little jar of aspirin and some “femal hygienic products”. So it’s obviously bigger on the inside than on the outside – magic!

Sloppy craftsmenship and misbehaving interfacing aside I really like the little bag and I think I am going to make another one without the stiff interfacing, using some soft fleece padding instead. Making it is quick and not difficult at all if the fabric is cooperative and it would also make a nice gift.

Not a total desaster (yet)

February 22, 2011

But it might get there any moment 😉 .

Last week I got Lisa Lam’s “Bible of Handbagmaking” and fell totally in love with the “Oversized Fashionista” Bag. I wanted to make it straight away and dived right in at the weekend. And I was successful up to a certain point.

The inner part of the bag turned out very well. The pattern only calls for a zipper pocket.

But because I love well organized bags I made a few extra pockets for phone, pens, iPod and the like on the other side of the lining. I realized that I cut them too generously and had to add a seam to prevent the pens from disappearing completely.

On to the flap. This also worked out well and looks great. I love how the lightweight faux fur looks together with the hot pink lining.

But then came the part where I had to sew through 12 layers of fabric, underlining and very stiff interfacing to attach the handle loops. My Brother machine refused to do it, my Toyota broke 2 needles and the Featherweight wouldn’t even start – the belt just slipped. No chance.

I hopped in the car, drove to the next DIY store and bought rivets and tools for attaching them. Home again. Test riveting on scrap pieces. Riveting pliers is bend and ruined, rivet is also bend, scratchy and not sticking together. Invented totally new swear words and kicked back in the next corner. My dear inhouse prince gave it another try with similar results.

I went to the local cobbler to ask if he could do the riveting. Supposedly he can put rivets in “anything”. Well, we’ll see, I’ll be taking the bag to him next Friday, it can’t get any worse than it already is 😉 .

So, working with rather thick fabric PLUS heavy interfacing is not a project for regular sewing machines, obviously, and my leo bag is on standby until after our vacation.

But since my machines were already loaded with sturdy needles I squeezed in some “utility sewing”: I made a bag for 2 foldable camping cupboards.

The fabric is lightweight cotton poplin, underlined with an ugly old fleece blanket and I am quite happy how the bag turned out. Everything is very neat and the 3 layers poplin – fleece – poplin feel very soft. So the cupboards get a cozy and well padded new home. There is a zipper closure over the complete top. I am very proud of the bag, it’s almost a waste to stow it away in the garage 50 weeks a year, but on the other hand, sewing it was a nice practice.   🙂 .

Funny thing: once I start learning a new technique, like recently underlining, all sorts of projects are coming my way where I can use it. Must be the subconscious, I probably wouldn’t have thought of underlining the bag if I hadn’t done it recently on other things as well.  😉 .

BurdaStyle: I just don’t get it

February 16, 2011

BurdaStyle is selling downloadable patterns on their website. Ok.

But: those are the patterns from the BurdaStyle magazine and they cost 5,40 Dollar PER PATTERN. Pardon?

Please, dear BurdaStyle people, can you explain it to me? Why should I pay so much for ONE pattern (which I have to print out at my own expense and painstakingly puzzle the pieces together afterwards) when I can have the whole magazine with ALL patterns for only a little bit more (or the same price if I wait a month or two and get it at ebay)?

I would understand it if they offered sizes which are not included in the magazine, like, for example something a bit larger than European 42 for the real cute things, but nope. They’re exactly the same patterns in exactly the same sizes as in the magazine. Or if they would charge, let’s say, 1,50 per pattern. Often there is really only one pattern in the magazine that really interests me and I wouldn’t have to buy the whole magazine then. But 5 bucks and 40 cents?

I wonder if people are really buying those …

The Sew Weekly Stash Busting Challenge

February 9, 2011

Mena of The Sew Weekly invites us to sew along this year: she puts up weekly challenges which leave a lot of room for creativity and I have decided to join the challenges every now and then if they are in line with my own sewing plans.
This weeks challenge is “Stash Busting”, and you get points for the following categories

  • 5 points per yard of fabric used
  • 10 points for fabric being vintage, thrifted or upcycled
  • 3 points for every pattern used that you’ve never sewn before
  • 10 points for using a pattern/fabric you’ve had for more than a year
  • 20 points for integrating a SCRAP (not a piece of fabric you cut) less than 1/2 yard into your garment

And as I already planned to do a little excavation in my Mount Fabric this weekend, I’m in!

I want to make this lovely jacket from one of my 5oies Pattern magazines:


I have picked a warm and fluffy wool in bluegreen which is going to leave a large gap in my stash – yay! Plus, it has been lying around for ages, I bought it 3 or 4 years ago.

I think I qualify for the following points.

  • 2.5 m fluffy woll and 2.5 m lining -> 25 points
  • 1 as of yet unused pattern -> 3 points
  • 1 ooooold fabric -> 10 points
  • 1 equally old pattern -> 10 points
  • And I will surely find some scrap piece which I can integrate somewhere -> 20 points

48 points in total, if I am doing this point awarding systems correctly. That’s not half bad.

But, alas, it has to be done first! Tonight I am going to make the pattern adaptations and Friday is sewing day. Fun!

Upcycled Button Storage

February 1, 2011

Others may be counting beams, I am counting buttons.  😉 .

Some months ago I bought a large – VERY large – lot of buttons at ebay. You can see pictures at my German blog pages. Everything is sorted very neatly in tiny little cardboard boxes, which is nice. But most of the boxes are only half full, so they takes up very much unneccesary storage space and I had to clear out 3 shelves under my cutting table to make room for my new treasures.

Last week however, I got loads of empty DVD boxes at my job. We are making our own DVD catalogues and we’ll be attending a large trade show in March – empty boxes galore! Perfect for my not so little button collection.

I removed the center mandrels and got nice stackable transparent storage boxes whith a little hole in the lid, which doesn’t bother me at all.

On the weekend I started to thread all my buttons onto strands of sturdy crochet yarn. I am so happy that they are already pre-sorted in all those little boxes! I then put them into the DVD boxes, sorted by colors. Sounds fast and easy, right? Wrong. On 2 looooong TV evenings I managed only a third of all the buttons – phew!

But I am proud of my shiny new containers:.

Neat, eh? The black ones will get a large cardboard box, those are simply to many for the DVD boxes.

I really like the look of my new new button containers and it’s true upcycling as the boxes would have been discarded otherwise. Go green, Baby!

And those are the remaining center mandrels … maybe they could be used for a nice yarn rack?

Classic Sizing of Men’s Shirts

January 25, 2011

This gave me a headache over the weekend.

Men’s shirts are sized according to neck circumference / collar width. And I ask myself if this is really the right way to do it as it is assumed that a man with wide shoulders also has a large neck circumference and vice versa. My own experience with my partner and the boys of the band shows however, that this is not the case. Most of them need a larger collar size and a smaller shoulder size.

One of my unfinished weekend projects was to experiment with adapting the Men’s Classic Sports Shirt of Islander Sewing Systems to the luxurious body of my Personal Prince Charming. And this turned out more difficult than expected.

After thorough measurements I decided that he needs a collar in 3XL and shoulder width (and shirt size) XL. I expected something like that because his RTW shirts are either too tight at the collar or the shoulders are hanging somewhere around the elbows.

Well, to adapt the neckline of the XL shirt to the 3XL collar was not so hard, but there must be some other changes besides the neckline; because the shirt is still not fitting the way I want it to fit. The body is wide enough, but there are still some odd wrinkles in the arm area and the shirt keeps sagging towards the back, threatening to strangle DH, even though the collar per se is wide enough.

Phew, once again I got a little confused with threedimensional thinking (not my strong point). And Mr. “I am an engineer and know everything better” had a few “helpful” suggestions which only confused me more. I love him dearly, but sometimes these technical guys can just drive you nuts.

Further fitting process has been postponed to next weekend and I have booked an hour of consultation by my dear neighbour who is a men’s tailor and she will hopefully pull me out of this disaster.

But halfway through this frustrating experience I had the idea that one could possibly design a modular shirt pattern, where you could pick the pattern parts for collar and yoke independently. It would require a template to draw the neckline for the desired collar width … hm … have to think about this some more.