Posts filed under Sewing

Oldtimer Rally Gear

I mentioned a few posts ago, that my dad and I took part in an oldtimer endurance rally in Iceland last April. At the time I had conflicting emotions about the experience, because of a few personal things that happened around that time, but looking back it was a really important experience.

My dad was the driver and I was the navigator. I had never done something like this before, and it was hard work! I hadn't expected that. You get up early (as our car was the second-oldest, we were always second to start), eat a quick breakfast, look over the directions for that day, mark some important things (like gas stations!), put on 45341 layers of clothing and then off you drive! As the navigator I had to follow the instructions in the road book using a tripmaster (counts the miles you drive), use two stop-watches to time the regularities (certain sections of the route, where you have to keep a prescribed tempo for certain intervals, sometimes as short as 0.2 miles, with unpredictable check points, where every second you're off the prescribed time deducts points!) and tell my dad to drive faster or slower, navigate us through tests (small obstacle courses that are about speed), get our time-card stamped at check-in points and make sure we left on on time.

The first day we were awful! Late to everything, lost the trunk lid during a very bumpy regularity, overwhelmed by the regularities, freezing (because the car we rented from the rally organisation didn't have windows, a fact we only realized once we saw the car in person... and we were in ICELAND! In APRIL! haha)... I was feeling really grumpy around noon - I just don't like being bad at things! I told my dad "all this competition stuff is stressing me out, lets just ride along the route to see the country and enjoy ourselves and not take part in the regularities and all that". But my competitive side took over, and that night I spent two hours working through the road book, taking notes and calculating times.... and so our second day was much better! We still had a lot of car trouble (our car was an 1938 AC 16/80 March Special), with fuel suddenly leaking out of the motor, the constant use of headlights (mandatory in Iceland) causing the battery to die, the tripmaster not working, the speedometer not working... but I was getting the hang of the competition stuff, and my dad and I turned out to be a really good team! We'd make mistakes but then we'd just find a solution, and find our way back to the correct route. And all the participants were from around the world! A really interesting mix of people, all with a love of vintage cars. And even though technically it's a competition, it's more about the fun of it, exchanging stories etc., and whenever anyone has a problem, everyone tries to help as best they can, there's really a sense of "fellowship" :)

Iceland, of course, was amazing and beautiful. It's not the quaint, lush beauty of Switzerland, it's a raw, sometimes terrifying beauty, that makes you feel so small and inferior to nature.

 A detail shot of the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja

A detail shot of the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja



 Someones stone collection at a farm in Höfn

Someones stone collection at a farm in Höfn



 This waterfall, Gullfoss, was the most impressive to me!

This waterfall, Gullfoss, was the most impressive to me!

The rally tok us all around the Island on Route 1. We got to see a lot, but I'd like to visit Iceland again someday, to take everything in with a little more time to enjoy it. The food was also really good!

 After crossing the finish line at Harpa!

After crossing the finish line at Harpa!

I'm not sure I'm allowed to post official rally photos (they hired photographers, who would climb mountains just to take the perfect picture!), so if you want to click through there's an article with photos on I'm just going to post one picture of my dad, me and the car in action:

 Source:  HERO ; photos: © Francesco and Roberta Rastrelli and HERO

Source: HERO; photos: © Francesco and Roberta Rastrelli and HERO

All in all the Rally was a great experience, and I'm doing another on with my dad, this time in Scotland! I've never been, so I'm really excited :) We're renting the same "Arrive & Drive" Car from HERO, we might have fallen in love with it a little bit during our Iceland Adventure :)

But now to the real reason I'm posting about this: What to wear!

In Iceland, I'd bundle up in borrowed ski pants, layers, a thick down jacket, a scarf wrapped around my neck and face to cover my nose, and a wool hat. Getting dressed too forever, because I had to layer everything in the right order so it would stay put, plus have my phone, two stopwatches and pens stored away so I could access them quickly.

So in preperation for the Scotland Rally, I want to sew some things for myself:

I plan on making:

  • a very tight sort of tube scarf (jersey, reversible with the other side being grey, I might interline it with another layer of white jersey, to make it thicker and warmer) that extends upwards to cover the mouth, and has armholes to keep it from riding up (mint)
  • long sort of gloves to go over some nice leather gloves I plan on buying (green)
  • a thin, collarless quilted vest (silver)
  • a coat
  • a hat (salmon colored)
  • a halterneck collar-vest-thingy (blue) possibly lined with sheepskin or faux sheepskin

The color cloud in the middle is just a loose sort of color scheme, incase I can't find certain colors. On the right hand sketch you can see skin between the gloves and tube-scarf thing, but in reality that would be covered by whatever I'm wearing underneath (most likely ski underwear).

My inspiration was this Tamara de Lempicka painting:

 so glamorous!

so glamorous!

Long time readers might have noticed that the coat is a reworked version of the Blanket Coat that I wanted to make. Because of school work, I'd never gotten around to making it, but since I'm on vacation now, I can finally do it! I still have the muslin, and will change the sleeves, so the horizontal seam is further up the sleeve (as it is in my new sketch above). I'm thinking about underlining the lower sleeve part with a thick canvas to help it keep its shape.

 the muslin I made in the fall of 2014

the muslin I made in the fall of 2014

I'll add pockets, and the front closure will be hidden, fabric covered snaps (if I can find those!). I want to add an inverted box pleate to the center back at the nape of the neck, to give me more room to move. I want the coat to be a sort of cocoon.

I'm still researching ways to make it really warm, and so far it looks like I'll be ordering thinsulate from somewhere. Does anyone have experience with thinsulate? I think I'll interline the whole coat with it. I'm also thinking of ways to make the coat wind proof, since there's so much wind when driving in an open car, and the blanket doesn't seem like it'd be windproof. Does anyone have tips for that? I could use some sort of technical, polyester jacket fabric, but I want the coat to be breathable, and the layers are starting to add up - blanket, poly fabric, thinsulate, lining.

The other pieces shouldn't be too hard, the hardest part will be drafting the patterns. I haven't made many hats, so I'm excited for that one. I'll try to drape a pattern on a styrofoam head I have.

I'll try to post updates on this little side project of mine!

Dali At The Disco - 3rd semester & project

This past semester was the most intense but also the best so far for me. My first year there were a few traumatising events outside of school that definitely upped my stress levels. Plus, as I found out a few months ago, I'd been suffering from "severe vitamin D deficiency" (whatever that means, doctor), and after drinking two bottles of vitamin D around Christmas, I felt like a new person in January! I've never worked as hard as I did on this semesters project, for which we only had 3.5 weeks, and even though I worked an average of 14 hours for 14 days straight, I never had this moment where I felt like everything was going to fall apart, or that I couldn't keep going (which happened alot last year). Even when I couldn't rationally imagine that I would be able to finish everything on time, or when I serged into the bodice of a jacket, I was able to stay calm and just keep working (alright, I did freak out for about a minute after the serger incident, it was around midnight, but then I calmed down and dealt with it).

I definitely think my suddenly much greater capacity to deal with stress has to do with the vitamin D, so if you feel fatigued and depressed (during the winter months especially), get your blood checked for vitamin D deficiency! *end of PSA*

The second year focuses on variation: his semester there were two garments that we focused on, because now it's no longer just about elaborate prototypes - we get to make actual clothes! Yay! We learned to correctly sew a pair of pants and a shirt or blouse, and we each had to take an existing pair of pants / shirt, and cut it up, add stuff to it, basically use it to drape a prototype (a variation of a pair of pants / blouse), that we would then cut apart and copy onto pattern paper. Then we'd sew a muslin, fit it, adjust the pattern as needed and sew the final garment. We also did shoes! Learning to sew leather was pretty exciting, I certainly learned a lot of new skills this semester. The projects were quite stressful, because we didn't have a lot of time, but it was so good to finally make real clothes!

We started with pants: I chose to make wrap-pants, meaning the side seams are open, the back pant ties at the front (or in my case it closes with a hook and bar fastening, the hook attached to elastic for extra comfort), and the front pant ties at the back. I also wanted to make pockets, inspired by this image i found on pinterest:

For my pants, the pockets are part of the back pant leg, and the front pant leg has a cut out that lays over the pocket. I also wanted to experiment with pintucks similar to the ones in the image below, except with a rounded shape:

Below is the sketch for the pants (middle), along with two looks to compliment the pants.

And these are the finished pants (and boots, but more on those later). I'm happy with them, except for those wrinkles!! Ughh, I wish I had better pictures, with freshly ironed pants.... man, that fabric loooves to wrinkle! It was a kind of thin moirée fabric intended for interior design, and I love the moirée, but it has to be fused to something to work properly for fashion (which I did for my project). The construction of the pants was really complicated, so many facings!! So many curved edges! And weird cut-outs! And even though I adjusted the crotch after making the muslin, it still isn't right (hence the wrinkles...). But I'm happy I tried something new! I like the wrap pants, but I'm not sure about the fabric choice. The pockets kind of disappear, I should've used a contrasting fabric or something to highlight that detail. And the wrinkles! Gaah!

On to the shoes:

Again, excuse my German, it's just a lot less work to use excerpts from my documentation, it's just a lot of in-depth rambling about the process. The pictures show a bit of that: we basically buy shoes and cut them up, glue stuff over them (in my case). We make a pattern by sticking painters tape over the entire shoe (I added paper for the shaft of the boot), removing it (cutting it where we want seams), and smoothing the big pieces of layered tape onto cardboard. It really isn't as hard as I thought, but it takes time.

They turned out well! The only problem was my placing of the holes for the laces to go through, since they're not places symmetrically, the laces pull the leather in a different direction from where they were supposed to go. Live and learn.

After those two small projects we had a photography workshop, where we worked in groups. Below my favorite images from that:

Next up: the blouse!

I wanted to have a sort of dropped shoulder seam, with the sleeve gathered into it in folds. After sewing the muslin, I realised I needed to make the folds much, much bigger for them to stand out.

 These are the variations of our blouse we had to draw (we did our first technical drawings this semester)

These are the variations of our blouse we had to draw (we did our first technical drawings this semester)

I knew from the start of the semester, that I wanted my project to be titled "Dali at the Disco", which is why I tried to let that influence the pants, shoes and blouse. The buttons on the blouse are stacked beads that look like eyes.

Which leads us to my project:

Last summer I listened to a lot of disco music, and I really wanted to design a collection to go dancing in. I never experienced the real disco era, but I love to dance to disco music, and the only reason I ever go out on the weekend, is if there's good music to dance to! But I wanted to add something to make it more modern, and (I don't remember how exactly) I came up with idea of sending Salvador Dali to the Disco and looking at the spectacle through his eyes.

 my mood- and concept-board

my mood- and concept-board

Now for this project we had to design a 15 look collection, and execute two blouse variations and two pant variations. I choose to make a blouse, a pair of pants, a jumpsuit and a light jacket.

I designed the same way I did last project: by drawing the garments seperately, scanning them, and using photoshop to dress the croquis in as many combinations as possible. Then I choose the best options, making sure every garment only appeared once (it's only a 15 look collection after all...), and drew more garments to fill the "holes" in the collection. I arrived at this:

From these 15 Looks I choose the second to last, the green jacket (but switched up the front opening to a split placket), and the 5th look (to wear under the jacket).

Taking the blouse I'd made before as a base, I developed the patterns for the blouse and jacket. The blouse was tricky, because I wanted the white "melted" strips to hang down, and I wanted the purple fabric underneath to extend past the fold (where the white hangs down) and act as a facing on the other side of the white strips. This wouldn't have been a problem if the seam had been straight. I could have just cut the bodice pattern piece apart, and added mirrored, symmetrical melty shapes on both pieces. But the seam is rounded and includes the bust dart. This meant that I had to make the curve of the melted shapes return to the seam at certain intervals, to make sure the seam could still curve across the bust. And it meant that the two pieces (the white upper bodice and the purple lower bodice) are curved slightly diffrently (the bottom I think was more spread out.). This is really hard to explain in words, so if anyones interested let me know, i can post pictures of the pattern pieces.

The melty shapes were a pain to sew, trim and turn, especially since the white fabric is cotton, and the purple a silky lining fabric (couldn't find a nice silk in the exact color). But it was so worth it! The blouse is my favorite! It has eye buttons and for the sleeves I made cufflinks from blue teddy bear eyes! I also really like the belt bag - it attaches to the leg so it stays put while dancing! I made it using leather and a really nice fake fur I got from after ordering swatches. It's the faux fur bobcat beige/brown, and the quality is so much higher than the other swatches I ordered! And the pattern is really beautiful and natural. I ordered 3 yards I think (since shipping is so expensive to Switzerland I ordered a lot, I'll be able to use it again).

The pants are made from the same fabric as my wrap pants, except in pink and I interfaced the entire fabric to make it sturdy enough to hold its shape. After interfacing it with a thick woven interfacing, it was really nice to work with! And no more wrinkles! I used the same fabric for the jumpsuit, but in blue. I used a wrinkled poly fabric for the top of the jumpsuit, which I had to simplify severely because of time constraints... The jacket is made from interfaced silk. The interfacing made it drape beautifully! It looked much thicker.

Here are some photos of the muslins:

To make those wavy shapes I had to sew elliptical pieces between the highest points. <and to make the shapes really stand out I edge stitched around the seams from the outside (you can see in the front view of the muslin, which hasn't been topstitched, that the silhouette isn't as clear as in the back).

SHOES! I'm still really excited about these shoes, because they turned out perfectly! I was really relieved, because I wasn't sure this technique was going to work. I basically used rope and zigzagged it together at certain points to make it form a sort of squiggly net, with loops at the front to put laces through. I got the original shoes from asos (the dark ones in the first image) and covered it in a sparkly, stretchy fabric. To do this I used painters tape (the pink stuff in the second image) to cover the area of the shoe I needed to cover, made a pattern from that, used a hairdryer to warm up the sole and slowly remove it from the shoe using a screwdriver, glued the fabric onto the shoe around the edges, stretching and folding it over, and then glued the sole back on.

I used a leather sewing machine to attach the first two rows of rope to the shoe, because it needed to be attached really well. I didn't use the pedal though, I used the handwheel all around to have enough controll around the edges... that wasn't very fun for my wrist, but it was worth it. Then for the first few rope ornaments around the edge of the shoe, I sewed by hand, and once I got far enough to somehow lay the rope under the zig zag machine, that's what I used to sew the ropes together in certain places. I always held the shoes together to copy the ornaments, so they'd be as symmetrical as possible. It's not perfect, but it's good enough! And they're actually comfortable to wear and dance in! Here my mom is modeling them:

Above some of my beauty/hair/make-up/styling inspiration. Most of it is wishful thinking because I don't have the skills and/or equiptment to make this work, but even so - dream big!

An these are the two looks! The photos were made the day of the presentation, you can also see the blouse and wrap pants from before the project worn by Prisila in one photo! I'm wearing the pink pants and the blouse, and my friend Jana (who's in her first year) is my other model wearing the jumpsuit and jacket (the color is off in the two pictures of her, it's more green, like in the right-hand pictures)! I couldn't have done this without her, because she helped me sew on zippers and install snaps, cutting out pattern pieces and ironing on the interfacing... She's a lifesaver, because I really couldn't have finished in time without her! So shout-out to Jana: Thank You!!

I know the photos aren't the best, I need to do a proper photoshoot to take pictures for my portfolio, and of course I'll post those once they're done.

Kollektion & Fläche 2 / Collection & Surface 2

In this semesters “collection & surface”, we were given one of our sketches (mine was a crystal collage) from last semester, had to extract different designs from it, decide on one, and use old clothes to quickly drape the design. We then cut that first “toile” apart, traced a pattern from it, and sewed a first prototype.

I had to work with one of my crystal collages, and I picked the one below. Our teachers wanted us to make something with lots of volume. To the right of my collage you can see the different designs I tried out (we only had about an hour for this step...)

I ended up with a mohair sweatshirt with large folds or wrinkles and softshell panelled pants, with a band that’s attached at the front, holds the pockets and passes over the back of the legs. The pants have a tulle understructure (like a petticoat, but pants) that supports the volume.

Next I printed the design a couple of times and tried different color combinations. (seen above image, those on the left side are my favorites, on the right the rest).

Below you can see my technical sketches, and the draped, frankensteined first toile (it was held together with pins and marked with tape). I marked the toile, cut it apart, and traced a pattern from it. That took quite a while… 2.5 hours for the frankenstein toile, and then about 5 hours for the pattern. Walking the pattern took forever (well it was more measuring than „walking“, because, seam allowances). I also drafted the facing and pocket pieces.

Because our teachers stress the importance of accessories, we had to experiment in 2D, how different accessories (hair counts as an accessory too) change or add to the design, which is what I did here:

Now to one of my favorite parts! I learned how to use a knitting machine! I’m not quite sure what the actual technical term is, semi-automatic? I mean, you have to drag the yarn back and forth across the loops, but it’s really fast! And I figured out a way to create these organic wrinkles in the knit. At irregular intervals I’d hook some of the already knit fabric back onto the current loops, to be knitted into the fabric again (sounds complicated, but I think the pictures make it easy to understand).

I made a prototype of the sweater by sewing two sweaters together to make one really long one, then attached strips of jerey to the inside, to wich I could sew the large folds (I made an illustration of that „technique“). I then pinned the knit fabric sample to different parts of my prototype, photographed it and photoshopped it together to see what a sweater in that fabric would look like.

and this is the finished prototype!

And by prototype I mean it's really just the second toile. I tried something with the different colored panels, but also, I couldn't find any more white softshell, only black, so it was kind of a necessity :)

I'm not quite happy with the way the tulle supports the pants, mainly because I didn't want to spend hundreds of francs on tulle just for a toile, so I had to make the most of the tulle I had by rolling pieces into tubes, then folding them in half and sewing them onto the underpants at the fold (as the tulle wants to spring back into its original unfolded tulle, I got quite a bit of volume like this). I mean, it's voluminous, it's a monster! But the volume could be more even, and there's supposed to be lots of tulle coming out at the bottom, like a tutu.

The pants are so heavy though!! Softshell+Tulle does that though, I'm not surprised :) With the pants I'm most proud of the pocket band, which you can't see to well in the above images. I lined the pockets in a contrasting purple. I had to fuse thick canvas inbetween the layers of sofshell to make the pocketband, and because the pockets are in there, I couldn't just fuse 3 layers together and cut out the pattern piece. Technically I could do this to softshell, as it doesn't fray, but then I wouldn't have seam allowances to sew the pockets to, or you'd see stitching on the front, and I didn't want that. In this photo you can see the purple pocket if you look closely!

Other than that I'm quite happy with how this turned out! I was surprised with how well the sweater turned out, I wasn't sure it would end up looking the way I wanted it to, and I wasn't that excited abuot draping it. I think what's important for the sweater, is that the bottom "tier" or fold is very tight and form-fitting, so the sweater doesn't completely overwhelm the body. But still, I mean, it wouldn't be a sweater you'd wear on an "I feel fat"-day, it's a little dramatic, but that's what I like about it! If I made a finished version, it would be all in the same color (dark purple mohair). And I'd go with the shorter sleeves!

That's all for now. I just got back from a 10 day trip to Iceland, where my dad and I took part in an Oldtimer Rally. We drove around the island in an AC March Special 1938, no windows. It was tough, but Iceland was very impressive, I'll share pictures. Unfortunately there were also some events surrounding the trip that were very scary and sad (we witnessed a car accident, luckily no one was hurt, but it didn't look like that at first, and then we had a very shocking death in the family), and that made it hard to really enjoy it. I'm glad I went, but I'm also glad to be back home.

I'm working through the sadness, and trying to get started on my semester project, which I'll share here as well.

Spandex Mermaid Pencil Skirt

This summer I visited New York, and while I was there, I bought LOTS of fabric! The flashiest of them all was a mermaidy Spandex.

Scallops! Blue! Green! Sparkle!

I wasn’t sure what I’d make from it. Maybe a bathing suit? Would that be too literal? Last week I made it into a skirt:


I drafted the pattern, but I didn’t make a muslin, so this is the wearable muslin I guess. The most obvious issue is the waistline: I think I need a sway back adjustment! The waistline dips down at the back and rises in the front, something I didn't do intentionally. Something to remember for all my future pencil skirts. Another issue: you can see that the side seam "leans" to the back from the waist up. This is because I had to make the skirt tighter in the back halfway through sewing it (is this also a sway back issue? With me there's always extra fabric on either side of the zipper with the muslin. Or maybe it has to do with my high waist?).

Even with these issues I really like it! I've worn it with those winter shoes, tights, mohair socks and a white shirt layered under a comfy grey sweater (this one!). The fabric changes color (see the first two images) between two different greens, depending on the light. I made a walking slit at center back, so it's easy to walk in, great for every day!

A friend of mine had the idea that I could cut along the scallops at the hem, and that's something I might do! But I might make a second one anyway and use that for the hem. Also: we have a flatlock machine at school, and someday we'll learn to use it, which would be cool way to sew the side seam in this skirt!

Posted on October 28, 2014 and filed under Sewing, finished garments.

The Blanket Coat - Sketches

I have so many finished projects from the last few months to share, but I'll just add those in between current ones, so here's something I'm working on right now:

A winter coat! Made from a blanket I found at the thrift store for 15.- francs. I loved the color and though it would be nice to have a coat that feels like a blanket, so why not make it from an actual blanket?

Also, I liked this color combo and I'm considering using a dark red for the lining:

(image via)

I made the first draft of the pattern and first muslin on friday, I'll have better pictures up in the next few days. For now some instagrams will have to do:

In the second picture I've started draping the darts at the bottom, but it's not quite right yet, still working on it. (In the first picture you can see my schools sewing room!)

Also, since the blanket is very drapey, I'm going to have to interface the sh*t out of it to make it hold the shape of the sleeves. I hope it's possible without adding too much weight... I was thinking of using horsehair. Anyone have a good idea?

Posted on October 20, 2014 and filed under Sewing.