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

UPDATE: Since Burda has remade their homepage, the pattern has unfortunately disappeared. Which is a real shame. I do not own the rights to the patterns, so I do not want to put them online, however as long as sewinggalaxy (see above) is up, you might want to try to contact the lady who put the pattern online originally. 

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!