Sunday, 16 September 2018

A Dirndl for a little lady

Our oldest daughter is starting school this autumn, so I wanted to make something special for her for the occasion. I've been planning to make this Dirndl for her for months and managed to make one for Little Miss No 2 already, so making this one was easier.

The sizing is very precise, I cut a size 98 in width and a size 116 in length for her (according to the size chart) and it fits just right, but not one centimeter too much. The blouse runs a bit tight, especially when you make it to pull it over the head, I had to let out all of the seam allowance. And it only just fits...

If I made it for her again, I would probably go up one size (both Dirndl and blouse) - luckily she didn't have a growth spurt just before school started.

All in all the pattern is really good, if you keep in mind, that it runs rather tight, it's super. The instructions are really good, lots of photographs. It's not a supertraditional way of making a Dirndl, but it's as close as you get if you want to finish the dress in a reasonable amount of time.

The pattern is from
The fabrics (pink and blue) are from here
The fabric for the blouse used to be a bedsheet and the litte trim is from the local arts and crafts shop.

I had a little bit of fabric leftover, so I made a Mini Dirndl for the Nora Doll, too. :) I used a dress from the Mariengold oh girl! book and winged the apron. It was a really nice quick and easy project. I will try and post a picture of the dress for the doll soon.

ePattern: 8,50 Euros
Fabric and notions: 30,00 Euros

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Premade Pattern vs Self-draft pattern

When I started drafting patterns, I thought something like "wow, this is so cool, I can now draft EVERYTHING I would like to sew/wear". And while in theory, that is true, the reality of it is a little different.

I am not a seamstress. I need instructions. I can now draft patterns (a little), I can put them together somehow and I understand a lot better now, what changes are neccessary to make them fit better. (Which is why starting to draft patterns and making lots of toiles is a great way to get to know your physiognomy and fit issues and how to solve them)

But I lack the actual sewing skills. There are so many ways to put garments together and to construct them - I don't even know where to get all of that information. Even my Vogue sewingbook, despite being very full of information, didn't really give me the answer how to construct a garment.

And that's when Premade patterns are really good. If you have a premade pattern from a company that gives lots of help and hints on constructing the garment, you can go further from that. (I really like the instructions from closet case patterns, scroop patterns and ottobre design, just to name a few)- I love learning from them and getting to know their methods of assembling clothes. The little tricks and good shortcuts. And hints, where you really should not take a shortcut...

I've now drafted a few garments for myself, but for me, the advantage of a premade pattern are clearly the instructions.

Funny enough, I only understood what "a good fit" is, when I got into my little bit of 18th century sewing. If the bodice crumples over the stays, it is just not good. That's not the way it is supposed to be. If the stays are uncomfortable - they don't fit. It took me quite a while to get from historical clothing to modern sewing ... but now I am enjoying even more to make my every-day self-made wardrobe. The way I want. Not what fashion magazines tell me to wear. And RTW that doesn't fit anyway.

I can only encourage everyone out there to do a bit of pattern drafting (e.g. a basic pencil skirt and a basic bodice) and then after understanding your bodyshape - go for indie patterns!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Knickerrrrrs!! (and a horse)

there is absolutely no way I show you my bottom in self made undies.
Have a look at this cutie instead. 

Hi guys, as you can see, I am going from one project to the next in no time. From Ginger Jeans to knickerrrss!! The steep... erm.. difference in complexity makes me laugh. My crazy patterns make me laugh, too. I've got very happy underwear now (fabric remains from nearly every knit project I've ever made...) Is there anything better? :)

I used this pattern from "So, Zo...", it's free and comes with easy instructions. Perfect.


As far as I know there is also a free pattydoo pattern but I've not tried that.

It is fun.
I've played a bit with pattern designs, because I wanted to try out 1. enclose the gusset and 2. have a bit of a leg, too, which all works fine.

The good thing about cutting the gusset piece extra is the even more economic use of fabric. And it  also looks neater.

I can strongy recommend making knickers. It is a brilliant project to use up knit jersey scraps, is very satisfying (because quick) and hey, any complaints about fitting knickers EVER heard? No. See. Make knickers. Even if they don't fit, they won't be worse than storebought AND you can improve the pattern.

With the first few pairs I made a few mistakes: Because I feared the waistband would be too tight (and didn't trust the elastic and my sewing skills), I didn't stretch the elastic enough so some of them sort of roll away from by lower back. Which looks stupid. I also used a slightly too wide binding.I've used 19mm width first, which is just a tad too wide. The second batch was made with 14mm wide FOE (fold over elastic) and that is just perfect.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

We're all unique - Beauty and Drama

Found on

Quite a while ago now, I've posted about my endeavours to draft a pattern for a jersey shirt and make the adjustments necessary to find the perfect pattern for my shape. I also included a bit on why normal t-shirts/clothes don't fit me really well. I also made jeans, that fit me well, but didn't trust the pattern I graded, because it looked so curvy... And when in shops, I try on beautiful things - just to look at myself in disbelief, and see how they don't fit. Or how jeans are uncomfortable and don't fit.

So I thought I'd write a bit about off the rack clothing. And body shapes. Basically, if you don't have the measurements that the manufacturer uses to make these clothes, they are not going to fit you perfectly well. And whose body is exactly what the manufacturers make things for?

When designing a garment, manufacturers also take into account how to get the maximum amount of shirts or jeans or whatever else from the given amount of fabric, to cut economical, to make it "sort-of-fit" a majority. So basically we are walking around in garments, that just "sort-of" fit. And that might sacrifice fit and design to a more econamical use of fabric.

And because that's all we get out there, we don't even notice the difference. Just sometimes a manufacturer will have measurements that approximate our own a bit more while another one caters more for another shape. Or it is just chance. I don't know.

I find getting clothes that fit me, really difficult. Jeans are a nightmare. Shirts acceptable but a good fit is different, they usually crawl up. Dresses are usually too long in themselves and if the top fits the hip usually doesn't or the waist is where my hip is, ...

Anyway, I found these sizing charts (international) really interesting, which also explain, why most clothes can't fit. Because a sizing chart for a whole nation - how likely is that going to fit me?

Even if you buy a pattern, you will find, you will have to make a lot of adjustments to achieve a good fit. So why not draft a pattern from scratch, which is at least as close to you own body as it can get and then work on those base patterns until they are perfect. You will learn about your body, about how clothes are constructed and understanding this will make it easier to alterate patterns and/or clothing in the future to make them fit better.

Let me tell you a bit about my own unique body shape.

I am small. I have slim shoulders, a slim chest, smallish boobs, a very slim waist and relatively wide hips and a round bum. I have a sway back and a little bit of a belly (which is due to the fact that I have two gorgeous daughter and my waist circumference in pregnancy was more than 100cms, I am still in awe, how the body manages all those changes!). I have slightly sloping shoulders (which I noticed gets a lot better when I do yoga regularly...)
I have a relatively high waist, an upper body that is slightly on the short side (I suppose being smaller, it's the normal length...), and thus a relatively long hip. I also have strong calfs. And small feet.

In numbers (all in centimeters, just the important ones)
I am 159cms tall.
shoulder width 10cm
Bust 86
Underbust 72
waist 66
hips 102
hip point 27
shoe size EU 35-36  (very important measurement for sewing...) :)

If you compare this to Standard German clothes ...
I am all over the size chart, from 36 to 42 (although I should say 18-22, because I need short sizes)  (US size 6 and 10 - but standard measurement differ here...). Drama. Nothing fits, of course not.

Since I started making clothes, I've come more and more to the point, where I found it was SO much more comfortable to make my own clothes. Yes, it is rather costly (or is it? how much would you have to spend on made-to-measure clothes these days...), yes, it takes a lot of time... but I enjoy the process and I enjoy the result. It feels like a full circle, I started making my first "own" clothes in 2001 (dress up) - made my wedding dress - continued with historical clothes, got more into fitting and clothes constructions - until I've finally arrived at making "modern" clothes for every day life.

It is such an enjoyable thing to make and wear clothes, that really fit. That are just completely "me".

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Liberate yourself from Minimalist Thinking!

Photo by Catherine McMahon on Unsplash

2 years of Make and Mend and "active Minimalism" are over. And while I really enjoyed the conscious decision-making and reflecting on purchases and researching consumerism and its critique, it is now time to say good-bye to this challenge. Why? Because living a challenge the whole time makes it less enjoyable. I don't want to force myself into something the whole time. I've done it for 2 years and now I want to see, whether I've learnt to live it.

The thing about my ban on consumerism and "just shopping" is - it is still "there" in my mind. And frankly speaking - I've had enough of it now. Because I have too many more things to do and see now. I haven't got time for this whole shopping stuff any more.

Thinking about Minimalism is still thinking about stuff! How mad is that?!

So now it is "goodbye Minimalism" and "welcome life" !

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

My "loud" Twister dress

t's asymmetrical, it's loud, it's weird, it's as comfy as pyjamas and I couldn't care less what other people think about it, because THIS is the most comfortable dress EVER!

I'm in a bit of a sewing frenzy at the moment... I am amazed, how many project are suddenly coming together without any stress. And I am grateful for the joy it is giving me.

My latest project is the twister dress. It is a free pattern by apfelbluete, who is also the host of the brilliant sewinggalaxy blog

Here is the link to the free burdastyle pattern she provides in size 34-40
Neon Twister Dress
And the link to the full-figured version, also free
Twister Dress Plus Size

It takes absolutely no time to put the dress together. It uses a minimal amount of fabric (1,2m length x1,4m width) and anyting goes, as long as it is stretchy. I've bought some fabric on ebay which turned out to be wonderfully soft to wear and also great to work with. It is 95% cotton and 5% elasthan. I chose a fabric I usually wouldn't go for... my husband calls it a "loud" pattern - I agree. But somehow it works for me for this dress. In fact it is so incredibly comfortable, that it might be my favourite pattern of the year. I am already dreaming of another one with a supernova-space inspired pattern.... or just black with glittery stars? Or electric sparks or something like that? Oh my goodness, imagine this in sequins... gasp.... *love*- I think I am starting to hyperventilate here... 😍

I didn't make many changes to the pattern. I've cut a size 40 and lengthened it a bit (about 5cms) and I made the right sleeve tighter. Other than that I followed instructions. Including washing and drying the fabric it took me 2 days. The cutting and sewing was about 1 hour.

I think I was trying to run away half through taking pictures... 

total: 20 Euros
Pattern: free downloadable pdf, paper, printer
fabric: 1,3m Jersey 19,50 Euros
notions: all in stock

Sunday, 3 June 2018

The End of my Second Year of Make And Mend

Finding the middle way. 
So my second year of Make And Mend is over.

I will now officially stop the challenge for myself. It was a superb exercise that came at the right time in my life to make some thorough changes. But now as I've not had such a hard time to stick to the make and mend challenge rules but am really living it (at least most of the time), it must be time to let go of the strict rules. Which I already did. 

The challenge was meant to be an extreme way to help finding the middle way (I really recommend looking into this buddhist concept) in times, where overconsumption is the rule rather than the exception. To some people it comes natural to live outside this pattern, some have been brought up this way. Some are forced due to financial reasons to change (some don't and go unhappy or run up debts...), some choose a different way because they see that happiness does not lie in shopping trips and money.

For me, it was a combination of a lot of factors and I am happy that 2 years of Make and Mend worked. Sometimes I still find it hard to resist something "pretty". But then again... that's normal. The 2 years of consciously not spending on "luxury" items (or at least trying to) were good for me. Now it is time to live the new attitude that I think I have acquired. To also consciously give in and buy the "pretty thing" every now and again. Not as a rule. To appreciate that luxury. Theoretically even those pretty things should have some sense and not just be "stuff" that will be thrown away. I am curious what the next year will bring.

But before this new year starts, here is a review of the past 12 months.

We have spend quite a lot on the garden and DIY stuff (because we like to make things also with the children) and this year of "make and mend" was also the year of unexpected bills. So. But having the car fixed was definitely cheaper than buying a new one. :)

* this star indicates items, that were not necessary at all. I could have been stricter on myself.

What I bought for myself
- pack of 6 knickers
- pack of 6 pairs of socks (socks seem to disappear...)
- pack of 3 pairs of socks (where HAVE those other socks gone?!)
- 4x make-up/foundation (it's really amazing, how much make up/foundation I bought this year...), one of them the wrong colour - FAIL -
- 1 tub of loose powder (replaced empty one)
- 2 mascara (replaced empty ones)
- 3 eyeliner (replacement of empty eyeliner, 2 of them smudged so badly, I had to throw them away - FAIL-)
- 2 eye shadow tubs (replacement of empties, shell colour and brown, both matte)
- 2 new lipsticks (replaced empties)

- 2 pure linen jersey shirts dark blue*
- 3 cotton tank tops black*
- 1 pair of black leather boots (christmas present)* 
- 1 knitted waistcoat (sooo cosy...)*
- 2 bandeau bras (which turned out to be uncomfortable...) . -FAIL - *
- 3 wire bras*
- 4 triangle bras*
- 2 eyeshadow palletes* (rarely used but very very nice)

Handcraft connected
- a book on knitting (kate davies "yokes") (second hand) and 3 of her knitting patterns via ravelry download
- a crocheting pattern for a red riding hood cape, multisize (ebook)
- a book on making waldorf dolls (ebook) #
- a book on making bendable dolls (with wire inside) (second hand)
- a book on making lanterns (second hand) #
- a book on making christmas decoration (second hand) #
- christmas window transparents shapes to trace (pdf) 
- a book on making window transparents (pictures) #
- a book on window transparents (rosettes)
- 2 books on festivities and traditions throughout the year (one of them second hand) #
- 1 book on games and ideas for children's birthdays (second hand)  #
- a magazine on Dirndl making (with patterns, modern Bavarian style)
- Dirndl pattern for kids # 
- a book on Dirndlmaking (with pattern drawings, 1980s Vienna/Austrian style, second hand)
- padding material for tailors dummy #
- 5 burdastyle download patterns (trousers and winter coat)
- ginger jeans pattern with flare extension pack #
- morgan jeans pattern
- vintage hat cones in a private sale
- a single hob (for millinery) #

- 4 packs incense (nag champa and goloka)
- 4 tiny vases and a normal sized one
- 2 pieces of minerals
- 2 postcard sets (eugene grasset, la belle jardiniere and Elsa Beskow calender cards)

What I made for myself (clothing)
- black ruffles skirt (material from stash)
- Otari hoodie (new material)
- self-drafted t-shirt with enormous amount of sheep on it (material from stash)
- Ginger Jeans (new material)
- Twister dress (new material)
- knickers (stash material)

What I mended
- Jeans (2x)
- tights (2x)
- woollen pullover that the moths had a go at... tiny holes though... barely visible after mending. :)
- 2 children's pullovers and trousers and leggings (repeatedly...)
- Curtains (ok, I just shortened those)
- lengthened sailor trousers, I had hemmed them just a tad too short.. that was a quick fix!
- ballet trikot for Child 1
- lengthened Child 1 trousers
- shortened straps from tank tops (had them for years... very embaressing...)

What I made otherwise
- Gretl witch as a present
- little lavender heart as a present
- Dirk the dragon (again, I wasn't happy with the first version) by lalylala
- Baby waldorf-like doll with clothes present (for KiTa)
- Waldorf-like  dolls with clothes for my children (Nora for Little miss No 1 and Aurélie for Little Miss No 2) and baby dolls also - because they begged me and I couldn't say "no" and loved the fact that they wanted something Mommy-made, and clothes for those dolls, of course
- Another proper Waldorf-like doll (40cms) for the darling daughter of a wonderful friend (the doll is called Alina now)
- Whitework embroidery picture
- lined african wall hanging (Fabric from Africa, present from my minimalist husband) :)
- lots of paper stars and paper lanterns (for us and for the kindergarten christmas market sale)
- window transparents (winter 2x, 1x christmas)
- dungarees for Child 1
- Ileana Dress for Child 1
- Vroni Dirndl for Child 

What went (from my stuff)
I sorted out a few more T-Shirts and vest tops, a light Pullover, a hooded sweater jacket, a dress, 2 skirts, 3 pairs of trousers that I never wore and/or made me feel uncomfortable when wearing (due to poor fit). They went to the Charity Shop.  One shirt I threw away - the fabric was so thin and had lots of holes it was beyond repair and even to thin to be suitable to be a cloth. Also some old socks went that were beyond repair, too. I do mend holes, but don't have many. They just go totally thin underneath and at the heel and then see through and then have had it. And some socks just seem to disappear.

What's to come:
I already know that two of my winter coats will have to go soon. One of them has holes at the armholes/wrists from wearing it so much - which makes me a bit sad because I really really like this coat. And the other one does not have the holes yet, but is about to go that way. Might still make another winter. I am thinking about copying the pattern of that favourite coat and making one myself. Also 15 years ago I have seen a coat with a really cute cut (that I didn't buy...), which I am thinking about making. It was of a red "salt and pepper" sort of patterned wool. Tweed or so.  With really interesting tiny arrow shaped pleats on the back. Cute. 

Both of my jeans (I own 2 pairs) are on the way out. I am mending them, but they are overall just on the way out. So making jeans myself really was necessairy (and I did - see my ginger jeans!)

Conclusion Make and Mend II:
I did buy quite a lot of things for myself, mostly books on DIY and sewing. I try to get them second hand. The DIY things go on my "max 20 Euros/month budget" because it is so easy to get carried away with DIY supplies. I didn't use that budget for the jeans patterns though (I think that's called cheating....).
I was surprised how much make-up/foundation I bought. 1 of them turned out to be the wrong shade (it looked ok in the shop, but seems to turn darker the longer i wear it... might be good for summer ... i bought it in February...). They discontinued my favourite make up (nude magique, eau de teint by l'oréal), which is a real shame, that stuff was perfect as far as I am concerned. texture and colour and all. Of course I don't HAVE to wear make up, nobody does, so those expenses are argueable. 
As for the other things (the ones with the *), I have totally good reasons for them. Or excuses, which ever way you look at it. :) Like the boots were my christmas + birthday present together (we don't buy each other big gifts), and the woolly vest (hand knitted, pure wool) was half price and soooo cute and practical. And I've always wanted pure linen jersey shirts and found those as a bargain. Our summer 2017 was really hot with nearly 40°Celsius, so I thought it was a really good idea. What about those bras... yeah, well, I go carried away... I've found them mainly on ebay for just a fraction of the original price (like 50-70% off) and I just couldn't resist. I tried. I've left them sit there for weeks. The prices got even better. And then my resistance crumbled and crumbled and broke. French lace for 15 Euros including postage...

I've worn everything I bought a lot already, so nothing of it is just sitting in the wardrobe waiting for better times. (Apart from those ill fitting bandeau bras/boob tubes or whatever they are called..., which are ok though every now and again under slightly see through shirts...)

Quite a bit of money this year went into the new household (like gardening stuff, we've never had a garden before... and you just don't get all plants as a present... but we are taking it easy here,  the garden will grow in size and number of plants with each year). And things breaking (car, teeth).
And curtains (including curtain rails... it took me a year to give in to my husbands suggestion to install curtains...). Parasols also for the kids protection (which I think is a reasonable thing...) - oh, and we bought a small charcoal grill. Brilliant investment. 
Arts and crafts take up quite a bit of our budget, but we think it is worth it. We also take pride in using up whatever we can find in the cellar (or the bin...), like paper, cardboard, ... but sometimes you just need the real deal. :) 

I am officially ending the "make and mend challenge" for myself now. As you can see from the list, I wasn't horribly strict this year. Actually I think I was shopping quite a lot. Mostly books and bras. What a combination... 

Good luck to all of us to find the middle way!!

* these items are a "PLUS", not at all totally necessairy.
# means "I made something from that"
- FAIL - well... money gone out of the window I'd say...

Friday, 1 June 2018

June 2018 seasonal table

Maybe it is a bit "cool", bit with outside temperatures of nearly 30° Celsius, this is refreshing. I've had a real go at the peppermint that is taking over our garden and took a few stems to put them on the table. Now the room is filled with nice refreshing scent of peppermint. :) I still haven't managed to get a piece of fabric the right colour but I like it the way it is.

The June picture of Grasset's "La Belle Jardinière" is lovely light and summery, too.

Have a wonderful month of June, wherever you are!

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Free 1961 Pattern drafting book!

I've come another great resource for drafting patterns. I was actually looking for ways people adjusted Ginger Jeans, when I came across this blog Kat Makes and she's doing a lot of great stuff and despite the fact that she has a completely different shape to me, I found lots of really cool stuff on her page. So check her out.

She's also drafting her own patterns and is using this free(!) and downloadable resource, which I recommend. It has the same sort of feel my "Dorothy Moore" book has, but is so much easer to access. :)

Pattern drafting and grading (by Michael Rohr, 1961)