Friday, January 25, 2013

Geranium dress (#1)

About 2 weeks ago, Made By Rae's Geranium dress started popping up everywhere. The first 4 times I saw one (I think that was here, here, here and here), I restrained myself. Didn't I have very similar patterns in my Japanese sewing books? Wasn't this something I could try and draw myself?

The fifth time, I gave in. I couldn't resist the Power Of The Geranium Dress. It haunted me in my dreams.
About a week later, my first Geranium dress was ready. I chose the version with  faux cap sleeves, and the little Icecream Dress notch in the front. Fabric is Echino Lion double gauze (from Fabric Tales).

The pattern is super versatile, and the instructions very detailed. I made only 3 changes: I had to deepen and widen the notch in the front a bit (it was too small to turn decently; the double gauze might be the reason for that); I replaced the buttons with a blind zipper (because it's faster), and for the skirt I used one wide rectangle instead of stitching 3 smaller ones together (so no seams at the sides, which makes the print run through perfectly).

Can't wait to make a second one. And a third. And a...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

Ashley and Emily from Frances Suzanne have nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award! Thank you, sisters, what a great honor! You can check out their Liebster blog post by clicking here.

So, what is the Liebster Blog Award?

"The Liebster Blog Award is an award given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers, most of whom have less than 200 followers (or have been blogging for less than 6 months). It is to show newer bloggers that they are appreciated, and to help spread the word about new blogs. It was created to promote appreciation and recognition among the blog world. Liebster translates to “dearest” (or favorite/best) in German. It is also known as the Love Blog Award."

The Rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose  11  3 to 5 new blogs you love and link them in your post.
5. Please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you!

Okay, so here are the 11 random facts:
1. I live in a house built in 1900.

2. I live in Antwerp (in Belgium) and people from Antwerp are known for being very proud of their city. In Antwerp, we have this saying: "Antwerp is The City, and the rest (of Belgium) is just parking lot". Yes, we are known to be quite arrogant too.

3. I don't just make clothes, I also make furniture. So far I've made: cupboards, desks, a supercool washing machine laundry sorting unit thingy in our cellar, and a drawing table and a little shop for Norah.

My DIY  washing machine laundry sorting unit thingy

4. My husband and I travel a lot for our work, and for pleasure, and we pride ourselves in taking Norah wherever we go, instead of leaving her with the grandparents. So at age 3, Norah has already been in: Los Angelos, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Boston, New York, San Diego, Phoenix, Sevilla, Vienna, and Hamburg. And Chicago and Berlin -  when she was still in my belly.

5. I suffer from a freaky little condition called night terrors. While nightmares are something you have in your deep (REM) sleep, night terrors occur in your undeep sleep. Which means that you can talk and move during your dreams, and that the dreams are also set in the place where you are actually in (i.e. your bedroom). Most of my night terrors are about insects or spiders being in bed, but I've also had one about a giant iguana on the bedside table, and one in which I spotted a CCTV camera hanging from our bedroom ceiling. What generally happens next is that I start talking to my husband, trying to alert him for the dangerous situation (Hey, hey! Don't move! There are caterpillars in our bed. Wait. I'm going to catch them. Don't move. I'll catch them. Etc.) The worst one was when I dreamt that I was covered in a web of spiders. Still asleep, I ran into our living room and started juming up and down like a freak, trying to shake off the imaginary spiders. My husband had quite some difficulty trying to wake me up. The night terrors are harder on him than on than on me, by the way, because he's the one who is woken up by them, while I generally sleep all the way through them, and don't even remember them in the morning. When the first thing he says to me in the morning is: "Hey, you're a freak, you know that?", I know I had another one.

6. I'm obsessed with spending every minute of the day usefully. I never just watch tv; I'm always doing something else at the same time: blogging, cutting fabric, cutting patterns, ironing, ... On the train I always work, except when I'm too tired; then I cut fabric. Yes, people stare. No, I don't care.

7. I'm crazy about American drama series. Mad Men is my absolute favorite, but I also love Breaking Bad, The West Wing, The Sopranos, Modern Family, and The Wire. Other programs I like are Flight of the Conchords, Extras, and The Office (UK).

8. I learnt a lot more English from watching TV than in school.

9. Hong Kong is my favorite city in the world. I've been there twice.

10. I love blind zippers. They used to scare me, but after I had used them once, I started using them for everything. They're so easy to put in, and so much faster than buttons!

11. Mustard yellow is my favorite color.

Here are the answers to Ashley and Emily's 11 questions:

1. What are your top five ‘must-read’ blogs?
Apart from my three sewing buddies S is for Sewing, La Inglesita and Cotton Candy, I would have to say:

Groovy Baby and Mama: Danish blog with very original designs. One of those bloggers who developed her own, distinctive style. When you see her creations pop up at Pinterest, you immediately think: 'Hey, bet that's a Groovybaby design'. And it always is!

Skirt as Top: her designs are original, fun, and she is one of the nicest commenters on other blogs (including mine - thank you Kristin!)

Sanae Ishida: classy, original, and a great minimalistic blog design.

You and Mie: cutest little outfits AND cutest little model in the blogosphere!

Miss Matatabi: as the owner of a Japanese fabric shop, Frances has access to the most beautiful fabrics, and makes supercute creations out of them.

2. Do you have a phobia? And if so – what is it?
I have only one phobia: being late at work. In the first year I worked in the Netherlands, there were serious problems with the trains, which meant I was late for class almost every week. It traumatized me. Even though the trains are fine now, and I haven't been late in three years, I still have nightmares in which I am already late for work, yet still cannot leave the house.

3. What is your favorite fabric? This might be a certain designer’s look, or a particular style / texture you are drawn to....
Texture: tana lawn and double gauze. DesignersNani Iro and the latest and upcoming lines of Birch.

4. What is your most tried and true pattern in your stash?
Citronille's Violette dress: it is simple and allows for so many variations. I have made versions with short sleeves, long sleeves, and no sleeves, I have shortened and lengthened the bodice, replaced the buttons with a zipper...

5. What is your dream job?
Designing children's clothing of course, or, if I can be even more unrealistic: architect of landmark buildings.

6. Share a tradition that you and your family enjoy.
One thing we do very often is going to the Antwerp Zoo, which is just a 10-minute bike or train ride away from our home. In Summer, we visit it every week. By age 2, Norah knew her way to all animals perfectly!

7. Name one thing sewing-related that you haven’t tried…but want to learn how to do.
Knits. I'd love to make Norah a pair of pyjamas in knit fabric, but I just can't get round to getting started.

8. What is your favorite month of the year and why?
July and August. Great weather (well, by Belgian standards), travel, bbq, ...

9. If you had the opportunity to do a guest post, what series would you want to participate in….or, on which site would you like to guest post?
Mmmmm... so many. All the blogs mentioned in question one! And maybe a guest post at Project Run & Play? 

10. Where do you get your sewing inspiration (be specific – for example: a particular pinterest board, blog, children’s retail, etc.)?
Pinterest is a major source, of course. Celina Bailey always posts gorgeous children's clothing - so inspirational! Belgian clothing brands are also a nice source of inspiration (see my pinterest board: Kids' Clothes Belgian Style).

11. What has been your greatest “sewing find” to date?
Etsy! Fabric is incredibly expensive here in Belgium (the same fabric costs about twice as much here compared to in the US), plus there is limited choice of course. So I buy most of my fabric from American online shops. Small Etsy shops generally have the best prices, as they don't just send everything in a flat rate envelope, but take the trouble to find the cheapest way of sending stuff. Same goes for Japanese shops (Miss MatatabiKicoli!).

11 questions for my nominees:

1. What music do you play while sewing (if any)?
2. Name one trend in children's clothing which you absolutely adore.
3. Name one trend in children's clothing which you absolutely dislike.
4. Is there a sewing-related mistake you keep making, over and over again?
5. Name you 5 favorite sewing blogs.
6. Which celebrity should start sewing and blogging about it, and why?
7. What is the nicest compliment you ever received on your creations?
8. What is the most dubious compliment you ever received on your creations?
9. What are your favorite online fabric shops?
10. What is the best sewing tip you ever got?
11. What is the best blogging tip you could ever give?

Now, according to the Liebster blog rules which are being sent around these days, I have to nominate 11 young blogs. Finding 11 new blogs I like is not that difficult, but many of my choices already received an award. 
This is hardly surprising. I don't have a degree in mathematics or anything, but relying on my high school math knowledge, and on my Casio fx-92 calculator, I figured out that, if everyone nominates 11 blogs, after only 3 rounds 1.331 blogs are involved. After four rounds: 14.641. So I googled around a bit, and here I read that originally, you had to nominate between 3 and 5 blogs. That makes a lot more sense. 
So I'm being so arrogant as to change The Rules back to how they were. Hey, I'm from Antwerp, remember? 

And the five awesome nominees are...
Sew Bubble
Sanae Ishida
All this for them
Suburbia Soup
Kleertjes Zelfgemaakt

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bubble skirt: Free pattern and tutorial

Today, I'm guest-posting the tutorial and patterns for the bubble skirt over at the amazing SewMamaSew-blog!

The skirt does not have a zipper nor buttons, but simply an elastic in the waistband.
The patterns do not work with age-groups, but start from the exact measurements of a child's lower body. The largest pattern should fit an average six-year-old; the smallest one a newborn baby. 

Go check it out here  :-)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunki in Echino Buck

Figgy's Sunki pattern probably doesn't need an introduction: almost instantly after it was released, it became a huge hit. I couldn't resist Figgy's beautiful photography and graphic design either, and bought my own sunki pattern almost a year ago at DryGoodsDesign. It took me quite a while to find the right fabrics, but a few weeks ago I finally did.

Echino's Buck fabric must be the funniest fabric to be made recently, and it looked perfect for a fun little dress. Even Mr. StraightGrain, who is notoriously indifferent about fabric, spontaneously said he loved it. Champagne, please! I bought it over at Miss Matatabi's, and combined it with grey linen (Wrinkles? Where??)

Norah really likes the dress (It has pockets! POCKETS!), but what I see most is room for improvement for a next version. I used the 2/3 year pattern for Norah (who just turned three) but the neckline and shoulders are too wide for her tiny frame. Next time I'll also have to widen the bottom of the dress, as it is too much of 'tube' in this version. 

If anyone else is planning to make the dress, I can really recommend this extra tutorial on Figgy's wonderful blog, which helps you through the most difficult steps in the instructions (the pockets). 
Next projects: Rae's Geranium dress, and Clever Charlotte's Olive dress.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

One trick pony / Liberty Love

You know I like bubble. Bubble dresses, peplum bubble dresses, and bubble skirts.

I wasn't really happy with the bubble skirts I made so far, though. There was just something wrong with the shape. So I made a new pattern from scratch. From drawing the peplum bubble dress, I learnt that a rectangle is a better shape for the (outside) skirt than a round one. I applied this in my new bubble skirt pattern, and now the shape looks more the way I intended it.

I made two skirts, both in a fat quarter Liberty of London tana lawn - ideal fabric for bubble garments. The one above is in Ellie Ruth, the one below in Mauverina. Both are from this lovely French webshop.

The skirt has a waistband with an elastic - no zipper or buttons. Making one skirt takes me a good 2 hours.

Patterns in different sizes are on their way :-)


Before: foam play mat in hideous colours, highly convenient but a real eye sore.

Between: sewing a play mat in Holly Zollinger's Owls In Mint (Spoonflower) combined with grey linen (Rotterdam market), to be put on top of the eye sore.


Now we can sit in our living room without having to wear sunglasses!