Hey, look! Something happened to the blog!

A little bit of free time, and boredom while waiting for a delivery (I didn’t want to work on my sewing project, in case they rang the door at the wrong time) and we have a refreshing new look on the blog!

For those interested but that don’t want to go all the way down to the footer, it’s the Mantra theme, a bit tweaked by yours truly. Besides that, not much else. I did have fun working with the theme and finding fonts I liked on Google’s webfonts (cool thing, you can download the ttf files as well and use them on your computer). Oh yeah, some work has to happen with the sidebar, but that will be for another day, unless it bothers me to no end.

And as I said above, yes I am working on a sewing project. You’ll have to wait a bit to see it. Right now everything is cut and ready to be assembled.


So, first of January and all that. You say “Happy New Year!” (Happy New Year!), you kiss and hug, you smile, and then you make an unreasonable list of new years resolutions like going to the gym five times a week, eating seven servings of fruit & veggies and clean the house from top to bottom every month.

I am not going to make resolutions. Because we all know that most resolutions are not kept anyway. But I do want to put here things I’d like to do this year. In no order of importance, small or big, doesn’t matter. I’m not even going to call them goals, like other bloggers are doing this year. Because having a goal (or a resolution) will most likely set me up for failure. So this is just a list of things I want do do!

Here we go:

  • Getting my bachelor’s! Yes, halleluja. Moving to Belgium and finishing my studies here was the smartest move ever I think. Right now I am one exam period and one semester (with its own exam period) away from this. I still can’t believe it!
  • Sewing more, and drafting some more patterns. I want to try a t-shirt and some trousers.
  • Knit more. I am enjoying knitting my first cardigan, so I might jump in and make a second.
  • Crochet more. I’m still taking toddler (not any more baby, I’d say) steps in crocheting. I prefer knitting, but there are some things that are more suited to being crocheted.
  • Keep reading. Brain candy! Something to let my brain rest after studying in Dutch.
  • Cooking. I want to try new recipes, adapt some Belgian classics so they’re vegetarian.
  • Blog more. I wrote a whopping 5 posts last year :(
  • Getting acquainted with our Nikon D7000. Maybe even read the manual gasp
  • Be happy!

And there is probably more to it. But that covers the basics. Enjoy the year, and don’t be hard on yourself. Who’s going to love you if you don’t?

First Pattern: A-Line Skirt

On my quest to learn to draft patterns for myself (and maybe eventually other people), I’m working my way, albeit slowly, through the book Design it Yourself: Clothes. Patternmaking simplified by Cal Patch. It teaches you in 5 easy projects (with two modifications each) how to to draft basic patterns for skirts, t-shirts, dresses, blouses and trousers.

The first pattern in the book is a simple A-line skirt with front and back darts, made to measure, of course. The only modifications I made to her instructions were adapting the seam allowances to metric (1.5 cm is easier for me to measure than 1/2″), and add a bit more ease around the hips. For this skirt she uses 1″ / 2.5 cm ease for both waist and hips, which I found too little considering my hips “grow” 7.5 cm when I sit down. I took a compromise and used 5 cm ease for the hips, maintaining the 2.5 cm for the waist, since it doesn’t expand as much when sitting down.

A-Line skirt, Pattern Pieces
Pattern pieces before cutting them

To make this skirt I had decided to use one of the fabrics I scored in the Ikea Sales’ Corner, the Cecilia in white / green / black. It is however too thin and see through, so it requires some sort of lining, for which I used another Ikea fabric: Ditte in off-white. I cut one front and one back out of each fabric, then sewed the darts, folded them towards the center on the outside fabric, and towards the seam on the lining, then pinned them wrong sides together and sewed them together on all sides. From here on I treated this pieces as if they were made out of just one fabric. Inserted a 20 cm YKK coil zipper on the left seam, then sewed both side seams. To finish the seams I pinked since they were already straight stitched.

I’ve finished the waist and the hem with green cotton bias tape. Then fold the waist down and stitch in place, and fold up the hem and stitch. I didn’t do the double fold hem because it felt the double fabric was too stiff. The bias tape does add some structure to the hem without making it too heavy looking.

Skirt, frontskirt, back skirt, front insideskirt, inside back

Fabric Stash Enhancement

Today I went (virtually) for a fabric stash enhancement. I discovered the German store Stoffhaus Tippel on Sena Sews’ blog, Sew Be Do. On a note not related to fabric, I am amazed at how much German I understand now that I know Dutch. Anyway, with the pattern drafting project comes of course the sewing of said patterns. And to sew the patterns I will need fabric.

Taking advantage that Stoffhaus Tippel has a few fabrics on sale, and others are quite affordable while not on sale, I went on a spree and bought fabric enough to sew three skirts (one with underskirt) and a jacket (or two and a dress) for my mother and a t-shirt, some trousers, a dress and a skirt & jacket combo or another dress or trousers for myself. And so I don’t forget what fabric is what, and what is it destined to be, I’m listing here what I bought.

For my mother:

  • Ramie Linnen in a dark natural solid color. 100% linnen, 140cm wide, 340 grams per meter. 1,6 meters at 6,95€/m. It will become a skirt.
  • Broderie Anglaise in chocolate brown. 65% polyester 35% cotton, 145 cm wide, 110 grams per meter. 1,6 meters at 4,80€/m. It will become a skirt with underskirt.
  • Batiste in light cream. 65% polyester 35% cotton, 150 cm wide, 160 grams per meter. 1,6 meters at 3,00€/m. It will be the underskirt mentioned above.
  • Stretch Poly-Wool mix, in beige. 42% wool 55% polyester 3% elastan, 150 cm wide. 4 meters at 2,00€/m (down from 7,50€). It will become a skirt and a jacket, or a dress.

And for myself:

  • Stretch Jeans in black. 97% cotton 3% elastan, 125 cm wide. 3 meters at 2,50€. Will become a pair of trousers for myself (either jeans style or dressier).
  • Stretch Poly-Wool in grey. 42% wool 55% polyester 3% elastan, 150 cm wide. 4 meters at 2,00€/m (down from 7,50€).Will become a pair of trousers and a jacket, or a dress and short jacket.
  • Pure wool in a blue / grey / lilac flecked colorway. 100% wool, 150 cm wide. 3 meters at 2,50€ (down from 9,50€). Will become a short sleeved winter dress. It’s sold out, bummer.
  • Wool-Poly Jersey in black. 50% wool, 50% polyamid, 160 cm wide. Approx 1.9 meter at 4,00€/m (down from 7,50€/m). Will become a LBD (although not so Little since I’m not what you’d call little). This substitutes the flecked pure wool from above, that is sold out (insert pouting face here).
  • Stretch cotton jersey in red. 95% cotton 5% elastan, 145 cm wide. 2 meters at 4,90€/m. It will become a t-shirt style top, hip length.

The total came to be 64,40€ (still the same since I ordered fabric for the same value to substitute what was sold out), plus 12€ shipping. That is 76,40€, and an average of 3,67€/m 3,88€/m including shipping. I can’t complain. If I add up how much it would have been with original prices, it would have come to 129,40€ 115,05€ before shipping (in which case the shipping would have been 6€, and 6,51€/m 5,84€/m on average). I saved 59€ 45€. I can do a little happy dance and start drafting patters now!

Quirks of this shopping:

  • the store is only in German, so if you don’t speak German, be ready to use a dictionary or translation website,
  • sometimes the classification of the fabrics makes no sense (at least to me), so take your time to browse all the categories,
  • they only specify shipping for Germany and rest of Europe. If you’re planning on shopping from abroad, you’ll have to email them to check the shipping rates,
  • they only take bank transfers for payment. Forget about credit / debit cards and paypal.

Other than that, it was quite a painless shopping. I’ll let you know when my fabric arrives and I’ll make sure to take pictures for the stash.

Tools Of The Trade

I have set myself to learn a new hobby, a useful one. Pattern drafting! Yes, you’ve read right, I’m going to learn to draft my own patterns, perfectly fitted to my body (ok, and maybe someone’s else).

I got all my tools: pencils, measuring tape, big sheets op paper (or actually, a roll of white paper), a French curve, and book teaching me how to draft.

tools of the trade

Now, to start with the A-line skirt and move on to more difficult patterns. Because I have a dress idea perfect for autumn/winter.

Mandatory Monthly Update

It seems like lately I don’t feel like updating much or often. It might be because right now I have nothing to update on. Life is mostly boring and routinely for me. I’m not in classes or have a work (yet, I’m looking…). I actually was supposed to be working now, trial period, but got called that they were going to hire someone that had previously worked at the place and wanted to work full time, instead of lacking experience me that wanted to work part time cause I’ll be in classes hopefully soon.

Last week I went to Knit Flanders. And I forgot my camera so I didn’t take any pictures. Mostly we knitted, had some drinks, and some people had cake too. It was fun. I had to leave early because I wanted to go to UCT and ask about enrolling in the intensive Dutch courses. I have to go again this week after I filled some paperwork so I can enroll and take a placement test.

I also won the Free Fabric Friday over at Sew, Mama, Sew‘s blog. Which means I got a yard of the fabric of my choice. And I chose a lovely Japanese Floral Blue Full Blossom:

Japanese Floral Blue Full Blossom
Picture Credits: Sew, Mama, Sew.
Click on the picture to go to the store and buy this fabric.

I still don’t know what I will do with the 44″ wide yard (110 x 90 cm approximately) . Options that come to mind: easy peasy A-line skirt, some sort of top, bag of some kind, or just thought of decorating a bulleting board with it to hang in the studio.

Maybe next week I have more news, maybe not. Stay tunned!

Long Time No See?

I know I haven’t posted in a month and a half. Life hasn’t been so hectic as to put it as an excuse not to post, to be honest. I just haven’t been in the mood to post, and didn’t really have that much to talk about either. I still miss Macchiatto dearly, our little cavy, it makes me sad thinking about all that we could have done and didn’t know to do in time.

What has been going on since then? Not much, I have been getting used to living in Ghent with Jan, me mostly been at home doing stuff, as it was pointless finding a job for two months, then come back to Madrid for another month, then finding another job when I get back to our home at the end of the month. Officially, I’ve been marked as house-wife, never mind I’m not a wife! And that’s actually what I’ve been doing most: grocery shopping (thanks given that we have two shops within easy walking distance), cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, and so on and so forth.

I’ve also been preparing more paperwork to enroll at UGent. I need to fill in a lengthy application form and give them ton of information from my previous University. I’m hoping they’ll accept me and also transfer my credits. It’d be a great help if I only have 1 to 1.5 years left to get my Bachelors, and then another 2 for my Masters. The end is near, way closer than at my previous University, which is sad. I’m also going to enroll at UCT for either the preparatory year of Dutch, or only the levels I still need to take (3rd to 6th) preferably.

On the cooking and baking front, I haven’t innovated much or made up any recipes worth posting. I’ve kept to my staples with the savory, and not done much baking either. I made curry, and stir fries, some baked casseroles and the usual. I baked some muffins and was planning on cookies but forgot to buy cookie sheets!

I did get three balcony rectangular planters, and filled them with dirt, put some seeds in, and patiently waited for them to grow. I have Lettuce, Rainbow Chillies, Rocket, Leaf Beet (or Perpetual Spinach), Land Cress, Basil, Rosemary, Marjoram, Chives… All ready to pick when I need some. Nothing better than a sandwich with lettuce right off the plant. Or a pesto with such fresh basil (crossing fingers it grows enough that I have enough to make pesto soon).

Craft wise, I finished a beret (no pic), that still needs the ends sewn in. And I started on a lace shawlette using the Luna Moth Shawl free pattern from Elann, and a fingering weight yarn that’s a bamboo / silk / cotton blend, in creamy white. Since a post without pictures is boring, I’ll put one here of the shawl:

Luna Moth Shawl In Progress

I also got a set of funny giraffe rubber stamps. I made some thank you notes and gift tags that I plan on putting up for sale. I sewed a beach dress for me, using my brand new sewing machine that I plan on use a lot (Promise!). I’m right now waiting on an eBay auction to finish, and hopefully I’ll be the owner of 3.5m of MacKenzie Seaforth tartan to make a high waisted skirt.

I think that’s about it. Hopefully next time it will be sooner than with this post.


I Mock You Not.

It’s a smocked dress!

There is this contest where you can win a (nice and expensive Singer) sewing machine or a (nice and expensive Singer) dress form. All you have to do is sew a “swimsuit cover-up”, and post a picture on the flickr group, and you’ve entered. So I decided to make a summer dress that can double as cover-up and enter the contest. The result:

Front back

I used an Ikea remnant of Bomull (100% cotton, unbleached). Costed me 2,30€ for approximately 2,25m (normal price: 1,99€/m). A spool of elastic thread (3€), and a spool of matching thread (2€).

Yesterday I traced the pattern, loosely based on the Mendocino Summerdress free pattern, which I had to grade to my size (I am, sadly, not an L). Then I decided I didn’t like in-seam pockets, and I had fallen in love with pleated patch pockets. And finally today I cut all the pieces and got to learn how my sewing machine works (new one, cause otherwise I had to borrow one, and it wasn’t that expensive). And a few hours later, I had the dress above!