Posts filed under behind the scenes

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!

Fashion Photography Course

In December we had three weeks of "orientation courses" (we could choose a course to see if we would like to study that subject) and I spent 9 days in "fashion photography". We spent the first 4.5 days reworking an existing garment into something new (pants into top, blouse into dress etc.), and the next 4.5 days building photo-backgrounds and taking pictures (with the teachers amazingly expensive awesome camera and lighting equipment!) of our garments. It was super stressful (mostly the last 4.5 days, because I actually only had 3 days to prepare my shoot, because I was one of the first to photograph so I had to be done earlier) but so much fun! And I'm so happy about the pictures!!!

But first a bit more about the garment I made:

I took an old mens jacket and turned it into a skirt. You can still clearly see the lapels, I found them the most interesting design aspect of the jacket. I ripped out the sleeves and sewed the armholes shut horizontally, to exaggerate the hips. I opened a sleeve used it as the rest of the front opening. It took a little longer than you'd think, because the placket on the sleeve was fake. I had to rip out the buttons, open the sleeve and sew actual buttonholes, but it was worth it! I made the folds by draping the fabric on the mannequin (really annoying, slippery, plastic mannequins...), basting them shut by hand and then sewing them by hand from the inside so the stitches wouldn't show. I did so much hand sewing on this as we had quite a lot of time and it gave me more control.

I actually had a bit of trouble getting started, because I really dislike altering existing clothes and I'm so used to making patterns. I've also gotten used to wanting to make everything "perfect" and washable with clean seam finishes. But the teacher really wanted us to take inspiration from the existing garment and use the mannequin to work in 3D. I was really frustrated at first cause I had chosen a men's shirt and it was not inspiring me at all. I'm so glad I switched to the jacket, I feel like the course really helped me think outside the box a little and let go of the "perfect sewing" aspect in favor of just experimenting.


I made a matching bustier but used another one for the shoot to make the outfit less soft.

For the pictures I wanted to create a stylized, dramatic office environment, because I can see the skirt being worn in a modern theater play version of Snow White, where the step-mother is the CEO of her dead husbands company and terrorizes everyone who works for her. And so we build white walls from cardboard, wood and hot glue. It sounds easy but it was really stressfull to make cardboard look like a wall...


My gorgeous friend Vicki modeled for me, she did such a great job :) I love photographing people who can act! She agreed to be my model for the garments I'm working on at the moment, so excited! It was quite a challenge managing this shoot because of my six other friends who sat still for an hour even though they all had to rush off afterwards (4 people cancelled or tried to cancel like two hours before the shoot, it was a little nerve-wrecking...), I had help from the teacher who checked every photo for small details like if someones head was covering someone elses, plus his assistant who was in charge of lighting. It was definitely a good experience, and I feel like my theater background helped me deal with the situation (even though I was soo hyper and stressed...).

Again, sorry for being a lame blogger, in January I was busy working on an installation, I'll share pictures soon (and a little table DIY)!

Amazonian Crown

I want to share some of my school projects on the blog, and I'll start with what I made in the second week (last august), which we spent in the metal workshop. The assignment was to make a trophy, whatever that means to us. I spent a long time figuring out what I wanted to make until it hit me: a battle-helmet-crown! Then I sketched my design, made a paper model (which was pretty much like pattern drafting), and transferred the paper pieces onto a flat sheet of steel.


I worked with pretty much all the machines in the workshop. There was a saw for free hand cutting, a wheeling machine to "roll" the metal, there was one that helped you form "domes", welding equiptment and grinding machines (or are they called sanding machines?). They all look really scary at first, but we our teacher was great and by the end of the week I felt very comfortable using the machines. That was one of my favorite weeks, I had so much more fun than I'd expected!

I'm really happy with how the crown turned out :) On my last morning I also made some wrist protector/elbow stabber thingies and tried to make a metal bustier (wasn't enough time to properly work on that).

I'm planning on using that workshop again in a few weeks, when I have a 7-week module where I can work on my own project. I'd like to work on a collection using metal as a material (a leather/metal harness would be really cool!).

Posted on January 8, 2014 and filed under behind the scenes, DIY & Crafts, design school.

Project Runway & Armor Jacket Update

I've been catching up on project runway in the last few weeks (i once started watching season 9 when it was on tv in 2011, and actually ran into a couple of the contestants while fabric shopping in new york!) and while watching last weeks episode I had such an "omg" moment when I saw Michelle's Dress:


I love that leather breast plate harness thingy! I personally would prefer normal leather to patent leather, but I really like the quilting detail.  And she used wool for the dress! Like I'm using for my jacket! So weird.

The thing is, I've completed the wearable muslin for my jacket (I'll take photos where I'm wearing it soon), but I'm not satisfied with how my harness thing is turning out.

 oh, hi mom! this is where I stand at the moment. as you can see I taped the harness "muslin" in place where I would like it to snap on to the jacket.

oh, hi mom! this is where I stand at the moment. as you can see I taped the harness "muslin" in place where I would like it to snap on to the jacket.

It just looks too boxy and costumey (seriously, I've been watching way too much PR, when I step back from my dressform to look at what I've made I can hear Michael Kors saying "I don't get it, where is she going? An S&M renaissance fair?") especially in the front, so I've been trying out different ways to manipulate the fabric (if you can call pleather "fabric") . The pleather I'm using to test different versions is somewhat stretchy, which makes it hard to tell what the real leather will behave like


In a way I kind of like all of these, but not for this project, it's not the look I'm going for with this. I want it to be sturdy and armor like, but without looking too costumey and without intricate details. I'm considering leaving more open spaces in the harness, as in, connecting planes of leather with strips of leather, for a "lighter" harness that shows more of the garment underneath. It's inspired by medieval armor, but I want it to be modern, futuristic almost, and just because it's supposed to read "armor", it doesn't have to actually cover up the entire upper body.

What important to me for the harness is that the shoulder and sleeve detail remain. I really like that triangular shape at the side. I originally wanted to piece that part into the sleeve of the jacket, but I was unsure if it would work and I liked the idea of it being removable. But the thing is that it sticks out at the shoulder area now, because it's just free hanging.
And I want the harness to cover up the accentuated bust. I'll see what I can come up with. There's so much harness inspiration out there on the internets, I might post some inspiration in the next few days.

Also, while wearing the jacket alone this weekend, I realized I kind of missed having pockets. I don't want to put pockets in the jacket itself (it would interfere with the design of the leather overlay on the peplum), but maybe I could incorporate some storage into the harness?

More to come!

Posted on April 15, 2013 and filed under behind the scenes, Sewing.

Armor Jacket WIP I

Finally! After having "drafter's block" in March, I'm back to sewing and patternmaking! As I explained in my post from last sunday, I just felt the need to go in a different direction for the moment. The design I've been working on is one of the sketches in sunday's post, but I went and made a more precise sketch to help with drafting:

 what's not pictured here is the leather harness-type overlay I want to make to go with this (but be removable - versatiliy, yay!)

what's not pictured here is the leather harness-type overlay I want to make to go with this (but be removable - versatiliy, yay!)

I bought some wonderful fabrics on Wednesday, one of them for this jacket, a grey wool felt. But I'm not going to cut into that (59 swiss francs per meter!) until I'm completely sure of the fit. Also, I'd like to use real leather for the harness-overlay and part of the peplum, so yes, everything needs to be perfect before I cut the real fabrics! So I bought some pleather and a polyester woll imitation that is very similar in thickness and drape to my actual fabric! couldn't have asked for more! And it was on sale too :)

I did make a muslin-muslin to start though:

 draped a basic raglan bodice to get the fitted shape I want, took it apart to make a pattern and made another muslin

draped a basic raglan bodice to get the fitted shape I want, took it apart to make a pattern and made another muslin


And in the back I wanted a slightly open, inverted pleat (to accentuate the shoulder blades, and for ease of movement), so I draped it using my wearable-muslin fabric.

This is the first time I've really used draping to create a garment. I wish I had a nicer dressform, but this works ok. 

Well, I spent a few hours sewing today, and it's looking good! I need to take the princess seam in a bit, but other than that I'm so happy with how this is turning out! Seriously, I haven't been this excited about something I'm making in a long time. Maybe because I wasn't sure if I could do it? Or because it has many details that show, compared to simple garments I make, where you can only see the hard work when you look very closely?

 The midriff I'd like to do from two layers of grey ponte knit, I'll see what it looks like, but I think the decorative seaming would create more dimension on a knit fabric, which I'd like. Ideally you would look at the waist from straight ahead and see "ridges".

The midriff I'd like to do from two layers of grey ponte knit, I'll see what it looks like, but I think the decorative seaming would create more dimension on a knit fabric, which I'd like. Ideally you would look at the waist from straight ahead and see "ridges".

Next up: the peplum!