Monday, September 08, 2014

New Look...in German

I just finished this summer top, but I probably won't get a chance to wear it until next summer. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d finished it a month ago because this summer has been quite unseasonably cool.




The fabric is cotton voile, purchased a year ago as a remnant from the Kartstadt department store fabric section. The pattern is from the Simplicity Meine Nähmode magazine, issue 3/2014, but it’s actually the New Look 6213 pattern.

When I get the magazine, I match the pictures to the Simplicity or New Look pattern. There are about 12-13 different patterns in each magazine.
 
The magazine is published in Germany by OZ-Verlags-GmbH four times a year. 


I "just" have to trace them off!
Sometimes not all views or sizes of the patterns are offered, and the patterns are not the latest ones (and sometimes OOP), but it's a great way for me to get Simplicity and New Look without having to order them online and pay full price. The difficulty of course is that I must trace the pattern, and the instructions are in German. Oh, and these are not your typical European magazine instructions - they are not brief! Also, since my knowledge of German is still fairly basic, especially for sewing terms, I had to translate nearly every word because with so much text, I could not really tell what was important or not.

The first big question I had was: are the seam allowances included or not? It turns out they are, which is not like most European magazine patterns. However, it makes sense that the seam allowances are included here - why would they go to the trouble of redrawing the pattern pieces to remove them? Buried in a page of (a lot of) information about pattern markings and tips on sewing, it says that seam allowances are 1.5 cm (5/8") unless otherwise marked - although the patterns reproduced for the magazine contain very little in the way of markings. Also, not all the pattern pieces are included. If the piece is rectangular or square, they provide you with the dimensions, just like with Burda patterns I've used. That's not a problem, except that some of the pictures and instructions refer to notches and markings on those rectangular pieces and of course you have none.

For the most part this is a simple, straightforward top to sew, but I got bogged down by the instructions for the front band and ties. I couldn't tell how the band and ties were sewn on from the itty-bitty illustrations so I had to do a lot of unnecessary translation of instructions I didn't need. I didn't have extra fabric to cut new pieces so I wanted to be careful not to make mistakes that could not be fixed with a seam ripper.

One snag I had was with a word that I thought at first was just the last word in a sentence but turned out to be an abbreviation. To translate the German, I was using an app on my phone. I was perplexed when vord translated as 19A (what???) until I realized that vord is an abbreviation for vorderseite, meaning front side. It also took a bit of searching on the internet to find the sewing meaning of the word Blende. The word is not in my Ger-Eng dictionary, and the translator tool kept calling it aperture. It turns out it refers to the band that attaches at the neck - there's one with a loop (mit Schlaufe) and one with a tie (mit Schal).

Seeing that I was frustrated with these instructions, my husband suggested a brilliant, simple solution. Make a sample. I did, and once I understood the neckline, construction of the top went smoothly from there...until I melted the thread.

I had finished the raw seam edges with a three-thread overlock to keep them from raveling, but when I went to press the seams one more time, I was horrified to see the serger thread glob together and melt. I've never had this happen before. This is polyester serger thread I purchased here in Germany, a brand I've never used before,  so maybe the thread I've been using in the past was more tolerant to heat, or maybe because I mostly use the serger on knits and don't press them (with a hot iron), I haven't encountered this before. At any rate, I didn't want to run the risk of melting the thread in the future, so I pulled out all the serger thread. Frankly I didn't like the way it looked anyway. I used a beige thread and although the color was invisible through the thin fabric, the texture from the overlock loops was noticeable. My choices of finishing the seams were now: pinking shears, Hong Kong finish and French seams. I don't have any pinking shears here and didn't want to run out and buy any, so that option was out - and besides, I think a pinked edge screams "homemade". I had just enough fabric left for a Hong Kong finish (applying binding to the raw edge) so I tried it on one seam to see how it looked, but I didn't like the added bulk. So that left French seams. Out came the seam ripper again, and I dismantled the top and re-sewed it. I'm very happy with the result. Lesson learned - use French seams on thin, raveling fabric...the first time.

So it's done. I just need some hot weather to wear it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Finding style

First - I hate you blogspot! I should have written my post somewhere else first and then posted it because blogspot ate my post! Grrrrrrr!

Well, here's take two to the post I spent way too much time composing this afternoon!

I envy women who have style - women who look comfortable and complete in their clothing and accessories. I realize that this takes effort and time.  A lucky woman might have a great wardrobe and/or a great body so that whatever she pulls out of her closet looks great, but to make it complete one still needs to know what to combine and how to accessorize it.

I have neither a great wardrobe nor a great body, but I do feel like I have style...albeit in my head. I have lots of ideas and opinions about what I like and don't like, but not much seems to make it into what I wear. If only Cinderella's birds and mice could turn my fabric and pattern stash into the wardrobe I envision!

I could use these helpers!

Of course I could just buy clothing instead of waiting for my fabric and pattern stash to magically turn into a great wardrobe, except that I really don't like to shop. I used to love to shop for clothes when I was a teenager, but these days I am overwhelmed by the volume of clothing in the department stores, and I am intimidated by boutiques. I think, probably unrealistically, that clothing in boutiques will be pricey, and everything will be smaller than size 10. I am also afraid of the boutique salesperson talking me into buying something I will regret. After all, style is personal, and the salesperson is a stranger who has nothing to go on except for the clothing style I wear coming in. (And no, I do not have any girlfriends to go shopping with.) This is of course based on the assumption that salespeople in boutiques help the customer. If I have to shop I still prefer the anonymity of the department store. Except for Nordstrom's there isn't anyone to help (or bother) you in the department store. They've cut corners. Sales are now handled in centralized kiosks, and they don't have enough people to keep the racks neat and return clothing to them. The dressing rooms are a mess, which is of course really the fault of piggy-shoppers...but I digress. I view the department and franchise stores (Zara, H&M, etc.) as a sea of cheap clothing, churning over with new styles every few weeks to whet the appetite of chronic shoppers. The prices may be low but I have no place in my closet for thin, throwaway clothes. I am also dismayed at the inability to find a middle ground between junior "sexy" and middle age boring. But most of the time when I'm shopping for clothes I think that I should be home sewing them instead!

So what is my style? It's safe to say that what's in my closet is rather boring - I did say that I don't have a great wardrobe. Since I'm not working outside the home, I haven't had a real incentive to pay attention to what I wear. Most days I just pull out whatever is clean and fits, which is typically jeans and a t-shirt type shirt. My jewelry consists of a watch, my wedding rings, and earrings. The earrings rotate among three or four pairs even though I have a jewelry box full of earrings - as well as necklaces and bracelets. My shoes are usually flat, comfortable shoes due to problem feet. My most comfortable shoe is actually a sneaker, but they're black so I pretend they're not sneakers. With all the walking I do here, both everyday grocery store runs and marathon walking when I tour the cities of Europe, comfort is paramount.

I've decided that I want to find a better style. I need to work with what I've got since I won't go shopping, and I don't think there will be any magic mice and birds to help me sew. I'm a perfectionist so I probably wouldn't want their help anyway! Today I needed to go to the produce market downtown so I dressed in my usual jeans and t-shirt. But I dressed it up just a little, with a bracelet, different earrings, a necklace, a scarf, and I put on some low heel, ankle boots since I wasn't going to be walking far. I felt better walking around, a little like someone with some style. What do you think?

Just a little bit more style to my usual casual wear

Monday, August 18, 2014

Where has the summer gone?

It's mid-August and I haven't posted since June. I haven't sewn anything since June partly because I've been busy with house guests, but also because what I wanted to sew is for summer, and now it's cold out! Well ok, not cold, but it's not typical August hot here:

 
 
I would much rather have these temps than hot (no a/c here!) but I'm not really motivated to work on the summer tops I was going to make. I traced off a couple of patterns in June, but this is as far as I got with one of them:

 
 
With some creative layout, I think I will be able to squeeze out New Look 6213. Fortunately the fabric doesn't have a direction to it.
 
 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Just a nightshirt

It's just a nightshirt, but it is another sewing project completed:



The pattern is Kwik Sew 2821, one that I've used before.

 
The fabric I used is a thin, drapey cotton-viscose (rayon) remnant I found at the department store fabric section. I was drawn to the print but immediately knew I wanted to use it as a nightshirt. I really like the way the flowers look like they're hand painted, and if I were an edgier, artsier person, I would have made an edgier, artsier top out of this fabric...but I'm not, so it's just a boring nightshirt. The print is a panel-print on only part of the fabric: the flower motif repeats every meter with nothing printed on the other half of the fabric. I used one motif for the front and decided to use the plain fabric for the back, sleeves and the bands on the neck and sleeves. I used my serger for almost every part of the construction so it was fast and easy.
 
My next project will be a bit more interesting (I hope). I'm making the BurdaStyle top in the picture below, though you can't see it very well in the model's photo.
 
 
I'm thinking of making some minor changes to the sleeves and front, but we'll see. I won't have a lot of sewing time in the next couple of months because we have trips to Croatia, Norway and Paris planned, and family is visiting. It's going to be a busy summer!
 
 
 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Spaghetti

And you thought Burda pattern sheets were bad. This is the pattern sheet in  Meine Nähmode:

 
 

Meine Nähmode is a German pattern magazine that reprints Simplicity and New Look patterns. I think the magazine is a bargain at about $7.50 (€5.50) for 12-13 patterns (especially because I can't get Simplicity and New Look patterns here), but not all sizes or views are available and I have to trace the pattern. Somewhere in that black and red spaghetti mess are the pattern pieces to New Look 6150:

Pattern envelope picture form Simplicity.com
 
 
As shown in the magazine, with the fabric I'll be using

 





How I add seam allowances

I made a short video to show how I use a 6 inch quilting ruler to add seam allowances to traced patterns. I use this method when I trace patterns from BurdaStyle and other European sewing magazines since they don't include seam allowances.




Monday, June 02, 2014

Trip to Barcelona

 

I'd been wanting to get here for many years and finally did. It was a lovely long weekend. You can see many of our pictures here on Flickr. (The Flickr interface may show you a sort of collage of all the pictures - you can click on the first one to see it and the description I wrote about it and then step through each one)

Of course I had to find the yarn and fabric stores.


All You Knit is Love
8 Carrer de la Barra de Ferro
 
Ribes & Casals
Roger de Lluria 7 
There were two other fabric stores on the same street as Ribes & Casals and they were all bustling on a Saturday afternoon. So nice to see people sewing...or at least buying fabric. Ribes & Casals was the largest with two floors - the lower floor appeared to be all thread and notions and stuff while the main floor was filled with tables piled with rolls of fabric. Though none appeared to be very high end, the quality seemed good and the prices were very nice - at least half of the prices I've seen in Germany.

My souvenirs:

Yarn, fabric and a Patrones!
 

The yarn is lace-weight merino/silk from Great and the Fibers, and the fabric is a polyester knit jersey. And of course I had to get a Patrones. I can get them in Germany but for almost 3x the price since they're imported here.