Monday, 24 March 2014

A simple checkered dress

I made this last year! In fact it's this dress I posted about before because I had to take out a giant bib in order for it to fit me above the waist:

These pictures show the giant bib quite well. While that was a bit of a set back, this turned out to be quite a good make. I still have no idea how to transfer that onto a paper pattern.

It certainly fits me well (the bib might have had something to do with it). I have enough room in the bust area, meaning it doesn't ride up, and the skirt section looks good too, despite my body being less than model-perfect. Actually looking back to these pictures and knowing what I had to do to get a good fit, I'm pretty convinced that I do need a FBA on most things.

I wore it out a day this week, and had Mr T take some photos of it. Apologies for the graininess, as you can see they were taken at night:

It's a very simple shift, made from a vintage pattern - I could tell you which pattern if my stuff wasn't still in a container - unpacking due April 2nd - only 10 days left, which is very very very very very exciting.

I wear it with a belt because otherwise Mt T complains it looks like a sack, and I have to say I agree with him. The fabric is some cotton with stretch on the cross grain I picked up at a fabric shop in the town where my grandmother lives. I don't see the stretch affecting things much.

The fabric is a very fine check, with a major color going through it as well. It's mostly brown, although the pictures don't show it - it's more visible below. I picked up the belt in Kenya.

Despite this dress being one of the best fitting things I have ever made, it has two downsides as well, which are quite visible in this close up of the top:

First, I realized that the shoulder seam is about 2cm too wide, which makes for pooling at the underarm. You can see it quite well in this picture, on the left side (my right side) - the correct alternation here is to make the shoulder narrower by 2cm, and taper to nothing at the bottom. I seem to remember I increased the shoulder width on this pattern so this might be fully self inflicted. I guess I'll see in 10 days.

The second problem is that I used interfaced self-fabric for the facing, which in retrospect turned out to be a huge mistake. The top is way too stiff, and by looking at the photo above you can see it comes through to the front as well!

I am planning to take the facing off when I get my sewing machine back, decrease the shoulder width, and make the facing again, in a lighter fabric.

However, even without all these problems, I'm very happy with this dress. Granted, I'm mostly a jeans person, but it's nice to have the option to wear something different..

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Hello Totoro!

I actually finished these about 2 weeks ago but have been racking my brains on how best to photograph ever since. Well, no more  - I decided there's no good way to photograph this while wearing them so I'm finally going to post something about them.

Drumroll.... here are my Totoro trousers:

One leg (the right one) features the big Totoro, the other one features the two small ones. I just used Google Image Search for templates.

The big one took about 8 hours to complete. Here's a better shot with completely messed up focus:

What I did here was to cut the big outline from jeans, cut the smaller outline from the wrong side, embroider the little Vs, the whiskers and the eye. Then, I attached the smaller outline using  fell stitches, and the bigger outline to the jeans also using fell stitches.

Because I wasn't happy with how the Totoro was visible, I then went around the whole thing with embroidery floss - 2 strands cream, one strand blue - using a back stitch. I also put fray stop around the whole thing to make sure it doesn't fray too much.

I took loads of pictures while doing this, and this is what Google Plus kindly put together:

For the small Totoros, I went embroidery only, and didn't keep track of how long it took me - I certainly spent a few hours on a plane just working on this. Here's a close-up:

First I fixed the jeans (this was the main purpose after all), and did mostly back stitch, with French dots for the eyes and one of those filling stitches for the center. I should have filled the small white Totoro with white as well but I got bored. It's not too bad, but bad marks for lack of completion.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

A couple of pictures of Switzerland

I just thought I'd do a check-in of life in Switzerland. So far, so good. We're adapting - found a place to live, but not moving in until April 1st.

In the meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures from Zug, a quiet little town 30 minutes away from Zurich. As you see, the Swiss really love their fountains-in-the-middle-of-the-lake:

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sneak peek

I'm not done with this one yet, but Google+ made this movie of the pictures I took so I want to share it with you.

I'm still going to have to fix the other leg, but this is now fixing leg 1 of my trousers went:

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Stuck with a crochet pattern

I'm making the free pattern that came with the crasftsy "Beyond Basic Broomstick Lace" class. It's a cute wristlet pattern that has broomstick lace insertions.

Here's the pattern on ravely, and here it is on the Stitch Diva website (that's where I got the photo above).

The only problem is that I'm stuck. Unfortunately, since the pattern is free, there's no where on craftsy to ask a question about it. I asked the question on ravelry but I'm not sure anyone will answer.

Here is where I am with this:

The instructions now say:

"Take a look at the glove at this point. You will see tiny imperfections at the beginning of each round. Orient the glove on your arm so that this side lays to the outer, palm side of your forearm when your arms are laid on the table.  Put clip-on mrks on the 2 fpdc at the base of the thumb"

Which I understand to mean that I need to mark two adjacent stitches, like so:

However the next instruction line says:

"Next 5 (5, 6) Rounds: Increases - Sl st around post of first st from front to back, ch 3, fpdc around each st to st before first marker, fpdc around marked st and transfer marker to st just made, fpdc around same st so that 2nd st is on TOP of first st, fpdc up to and including next marked st, fpdc BEHIND first fpdc made in marked st, transfer marker to fpdc just made, fpdc around each st to end, sl st to top of beg ch-3—46 (50, 56) sts"

And I have no idea how to interpret this. I thought I might have been wrong about the marker but having two different stitches marked does not help.

Any ideas on how to proceed here? Not really sure what TOP and BEHIND mean either.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

My "Zara" shirt

The Christmas before last I got my dad a very cute Zara shirt, although - shock! it didn't fit. Suits me right for buying a size smaller. One thing led to another and in the end I didn't end up taking it back. It did not fit Mr T and by the end of August, when I knew I would be moving, decided it was time to do something with it.

You might remember me posting something about it circa September. After posting these photos, it stayed unfinished for a while longer, until I finally decided to make it up right before the craziness started.

The first few modifications were simple enough. Darts were the first thing I looked at. I toyed with the idea of taking fabric off where it was needed but in the end settled for bust darts only.

It became clear very soon that the back would need to be taken up a bit, which is what this seam does. 

I then thought carefully about making a sway back adjustment, however in the end decided against it. I also removed quite a lot from the shoulder width, although interestingly enough not that much at all from the side seams apart for what I lost when cutting the flat felled seams. For the sleeves I didn't do anything fancy, I just cut a bit from the top (similar to what I did with the shoulders).

In the end, I settled the sway back problem, as well as the bust dart, in a much mode convenient fashion - by reversing the front and the back. So I have a sort-of-button in the back (it's stitched down though!), and a nice empire waist in the front. I think the front could have been done better though, but I can live with it.

I finally took pictures of the finished product this week. I did a simple gathering job in the front, although as I said, I could have done better - I finally decided against a bust dart, but I think that might have been useful (although unclear if there was enough fabric?). The front is quite long, but I find I like it like that:

The sleeves can only really be work at 3 quarters length, because although they are long enough (barely) to be full sized, I did not rework them at all, so they are obviously too wide for me - I like the extra room in the biceps area though, so that's an area to consider for alterations in the future. This is what it looks like from the side.

At the back you can see I left a little "tail". I really like this feature but I'm now considering cutting down the small replacement buttons:

Here's a better view of the back, where you can see loads of excess fabric. I don't really mind this because it allows me freedom of movement. I think I do need a broad-back adjustment of some sort on most wovens, and plan to start working on figuring out exactly what that is soon (there are several ways to do one). You can also see the side towards the buttons is pulling slightly. I have this feeling that if I hadn't stitched it down one would see there's not enough room there.

This fact, combined with the fact that there's too much room in the front, makes me think that what would have been more successful would be to have created a side gusset (is that what you call them?). That would have allowed a bit more room in the back around the empire line - you can see where in the side picture above - it's lined up correctly at the top, towards the sleeve, and at the hem, but some type gusset would work in between.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Planning to fix my jeans...

I really love my jeans long so when I had to hem a particularly long pair I hemmed them a bit long too. They became my favorite pair as they're super flared... I'm planning to make a pattern of them soon, based on the Jean-ius Craftsy class.

Hemming them long means I step on them quite a lot, so the hem now looks quite terrible as you can see above. This is how I plan to fix them. Supplies bought at the Bernina store in Zug... I'll be doing the repair by hand - as, alas, everything is still in storage.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

the promised picture

Here I am on the train home this time remembering the picture!!! As I battle zombification and a slight motion sickness from crocheting in a fast moving swiss train, the ends jump at me as if they will form into a flying crochet spaghetti monster. Here it is. It's not helped by the two projects I have waiting: the blouse and the craftsy broomstick lace wristlets

Besides the attack of the to-be-woven-in thread ends, I also can't help but notice this is turning out a lot like football socks. I might need to change gear to avoid a complete disaster.

some snapshots

First off, my scarf is quickly approaching what looks like it will be a completely unmanageable ends-weave-in process. I swear I tool a picture of this on my train ride home today but alas, Google decided not to back it up yet. I'll try again tomorrow with the photos.

Then, I managed to pick up my crochet book:

And decided my first project. Given I have no yarn stash, but seeing how I luckily picked up some yarn for mittens just last Saturday, I might get started on this earlier rather than later. In a miraculous twist of fate, I even have the right sized hooks:

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Work in Progress

While waiting for the crochet book to arrive (finally did on Friday when I was working from home... Will pick up tomorrow!), and while picking up supplies for my totoro embroidery, I decided to revisit my scarf pattern and try it out again.

Since I only have one type of yarn (in two colors) I went for that:

I'm quite proud of the v-shapes on this parrten, here's a close up:

I haven't gone too far in this, and I'll be limited in how long this turns up by how much yarn I have, that is to say this quantity:

I was wondering - is anyone interested in testing out this pattern? I've got it written down but I'm not sure I have my math right, so would love it if someone else gave it a try. I'd like to eventually put the pattern up on the blog but don't want to publish something that is wrong.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A First View of Switzerland

Nothing big, just a small movie. This is a little mountain next to the city of Zug, where I currently live. We took an automated train-thing up to the top in late afternoon.

Unfortunately the video doesn't show very well just how steep the incline was, but I still think it's pretty cool:

PS If this movie ever stops working, please let me know and I'll fix it! I had to resort to html tricks to get it to show up in the first place.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Crafting non-sewing things: a list

Yesterday was a pretty bad day, but I'm all better this morning. I decided to make a list of things I can do without a sewing machine. Turns out there are quite a few!


I bought this embroidery book a while ago, Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection, and while I did read it, I didn't do much otherwise. I'm planning to pick up embroidery again. The book, of course, is in storage along with everything else, but I'm sure the interwebs will be useful for figuring out what to do.

My first project - for which I bought supplies already - is embroidering Totoro on one of my work shirts. This is Totoro:


I really like crochet (final installment off craftsy class review coming next week!), but here I have a problem. I'm not sure what yarn to purchase. I think I understand the differences between yarn weights, but not having had much tactile experience with them it's hard to figure out what to buy around here. The choice seems limited too, so I think I need to look at online shopping.

I'm expecting Everyday Crochet to arrive next week, and then another few days for yarn and hooks and things. In the meanwhile, I want to make another scarf and finalize the pattern so I can post it here.

I also want to make this Ravelry project, but I need to order some yarn for it first - I tried to look for yarn yesterday in shops but none is labeled with the German equivalent of worsted so no idea what to buy! I'm seeing some friends who are having twins this year in about a month as well, so I'd like to make something for the little ones - I need to take a look at Ravelry to find something.


I've been thinking about this, and I think I can do fitting things with hand sewing only. I would like to get a good fit on Laurel for example, and that will allow me to do a few more reviews of Craftsy classes I bought.

Speaking of Craftsy, I also got a bunch of jeans classes, including Jean-ius so I would like to get started on copying my favorite pair of jeans. Having a pattern ready to go for what my sewing machine is back would be great.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

I do miss all my sewing things!

I've been working late and not crafting at all. To add insult to injury, I pass a Bernina store every day on my way to and from work and peek in through the glass at the machines (expensive!) and fabrics - those are probably expensive too but I haven't left work early enough to be able to go in yet.

In the absence of sewing things, I ordered Everyday Crochet: Wearable Designs Just for You from amazon, but it hasn't arrived yet. I'm hoping to make a few winter clothes-things before winter ends.

I'm really looking forward to getting my sewing stuff out of storage!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Craftsy Series: Crochet Lab (2)

Crochet Lab is a crochet class for absolute beginners, and takes people from "how to hold a crochet hook" all the way to "how to make a stuffed animal". This series tells the story of the class I watched and went back to most often on Craftsy, Crochet Lab by Vickie Howell.

I'm back with my second post on Crochet Lab. In this post, I'll concentrate on the two staples of crochet, the two lessons on single crochet and double crochet.

As I said before, I learnt all of this from scratch: I started the single crochet lesson without knowing anything. The teacher suggests to crochet a 21-stitch square swatch, but instead I decided to be adventurous: I bought a bunch of balls of yarn when I visited Zurich in October and proceeded to start crocheting a blanket.

I mostly did this because the class on chain making taught me that if I don't practice, I will stop with crocheting altogether. I saw the first few classes in March, then only followed up with the rest in October! Chain stitching was quite boring, and also pretty disappointing since it takes practice to get consistent results. I thought the swatch making would be boring too, so decided to go the blanket route instead.

I bought 5 balls of yarn for this: 2 multicolored and 3 in a deep purple. I crocheted a chain long enough to cover one person, then set to it.

The way I made it was to crochet the two outside areas in sc, and the central one on dc. That means I had sc-purple, sc-multi colored, dc-purple, sc-multi colored, sc purple. I finished everything with a yellow border. The most interesting thing about this blanket is that the dc layer is not actually dc. I completely messed up and misunderstood the instructions, meaning the central layer is a franken-dc. Now I know better, but it actually took making this pattern and watching the accompanying video to realize my mistake.

All in all, the two lessons taught valuable skills, and were certainly the lessons I referred back to most of the whole class. I did watch some videos on YouTube as well, mostly because for tablets and phones Craftsy isn't a great platform. Still, these are the lessons I keep going back to most often.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Getting Fit: Week 2

This year I set myself a challenge to get fit. For the first three months, I'm working out bodyweight and interval training, on alternate days. My first milestone, due in April, is to fit well into my pink dress.

This week was move week, and a particularly bad week for getting fit: I didn't eat well for most of the week and I didn't exercise enough.

Since I knew Monday and Tuesday would be impossible to get a workout on, I did a bodyweight workout on Sunday. I'm still following the nerdfitness beginner workout.

I had planned to workout at work on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday but in the end I only managed a workout on Thursday at home. This was my best yet though, 3 full circuits. The reason I didn't do anything on other days is: (1) tiredness and (2) no sneakers.

I threw away my sneakers before I moved since they both didn't fit in my bags and they were pretty much falling apart. I'm hoping to pick up a new pair before next week, as the Google Zurich office actually has two gyms, one of which with strength training stuff. Overall, working out there will be much better than at home.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The scarf... the I'm-officially-ready-for-winter-scarf

I made a scarf. Unlike the beanie I made in December, this one I made entirely on my own - no pattern!. I'd also like to make a matching hat but I'm not sure I have enough yarn for one.

I didn't want a long scarf, so I kept it as short as I could - I wanted something I can make a knot with but that wouldn't be long enough to hang too low.

This, however, means I can only wear it in a few ways besides the knotting technique shown above, that is, over my shoulder, under my jacket:

or just opened:

I made it in a thickish worsted yarn that a friend gave me. I don't quite understand ask the different worsted varieties, so I won't go any further with that description. The yarn came complete with pictures of the alpacas it came from!

The pattern is my own, and this picture shows it best:

It's not the best pic in the world, but the pattern goes something like: |||V||||V||||V|||

Each V is crocheted in the chain sp left by the previous one. The pattern is pretty easy to crochet so I might make it into a real pattern and how to if you would like to see it! It just uses double crochet.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

I made it!

I'm in Switzerland! My winter preparations will come as a longer post later in the week but here they are in a nutshell:

Very warm and cozy scarf!

Craftsy Series: Crochet Lab (1)

Crochet Lab is a crochet class for absolute beginners, and takes people from "how to hold a crochet hook" all the way to "how to make a stuffed animal". This series tells the story of the class I watched and went back to most often on Craftsy, Crochet Lab by Vickie Howell.

The class has 9 lessons, and lessons are certainly on the shorter side than the other the classes I watched so far. The lessons are:
  • Introduction
  • Materials
  • Chain Making
  • Single Crochet
  • Double Crochet
  • Techie Cozy
  • Gauge
  • Half Double Crochet
  • Granny Squares

Of these, I didn't watch the last two (no interest in them yet), but the rest were quite informative. It's interesting that in the Half Double Crochet seems to have been retrofitted at a later point since Vickie Howell says at some point in the DC lesson that there won't be a lesson on it. 

When I started, I was a complete noobie - I just picked up some yarn and a crochet hook and got on with it. The first two classes are not particularly informative, other than you can crochet with anything and you need to find a hook you are comfortable with. I like the teacher though - very down to earth person, a lot of the things she was saying made a lot of sense.

Chain making was more interesting, because it was actually a skill to learn. For someone just starting out, practicing chain making is a must - I did that for a while before proceeding with single and double crochet.

The first three lessons were useful, and I did learn to make chains in them. While chains aren't very interesting in themselves, they can still be used as ribbon or hair ties. She also has an example of a jacket/coverup made exclusively out of chains.

Next week, I'll review the next two lessons, single and double crochet.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Getting Fit: Week 1

This year I set myself a challenge to get fit. For the first three months, I'm working out bodyweight and interval training, on alternate days. My first milestone, due in April, is to fit well into my pink dress.

This week I only did bodyweight training. I wasn't sure what to do on my own so I decided to just follow the beginner bodyweight training model. I plan to start interval training when I get to Switzerland next week.

The most interesting thing about this model is that it's short and keeps me entertained. Maybe I'll keep at it!


I just followed the schedule and I discovered a few things:
- I'm not sure I'm doing squats right, they're just too easy
- lunges are easy as well but I'm pretty sure I'm doing those correctly


I thought I'd get the worst muscle ache after the workout on Monday but I was fine on Tuesday. Out really hit me on Wednesday morning and I spent all day limping from meeting to meeting.

I read a post and watched a video on how to do squats and it looks I'm doing them right.  I also realized I need to learn how to stretch. That should be a priority before the next session.


I did not get more muscle soreness after the Wednesday workout, which might imply it was too easy. Actually got around to watching the video in the beginner class and it turns out you need to do the circuit 3 times! Oh well, this is going to get harder... I'm also doing planks incorrectly, go figure.

Someone was in the room I was exercising in by myself on Friday so instead of doing the body workout I went and did 20 minutes of intervals. Not the best thing in the world, but oh well... it will come in handy in the end, and doing something is better than doing nothing.

PS tomorrow - a post about a craftsy class!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Getting Fit: The Pink Dress

Last year, when Mr T and I were doing Christmas shopping, I came across an amazing pink dress that I just had to buy on the spot.  The label - Damsel In A Dress - helped a lot too. I really love that name!

This was the dress - the Abby dress from the 2012 collection. It also has a jacket, and both have pockets! Besides pockets, the dress has a full lining and Hong Kong seam finishes.

I got this dress in December 2012 and it didn't get a lot of wear - I think I wore it 2 or 3 times in 2013. Here's the dress in October 2013 - the picture was taken in front of the Crooked Billet in Wimbledon:

But the last time I wore it I did notice that it didn't fit very well on my hips anymore. I don't think it was visible, but my movement was clearly impeded. If you look at the picture above, the pull lines can just about be seen.

So, as part of the new year's resolution, I'm setting a getting fit challenge: by the time this dress is out of storage, circa April, it should fit my hips as it did when I first bought it.

For this challenge, I'm not planning to use the scales to track progress. What I want is to work my muscles, and get rid of the fat - getting on scales will not help (muscle is heavier...). I will, however, use my measurements as a way to figure out where I am. Since both my measurement tapes are in storage (go figure), I will be using an innovative way to measure, by just keeping track of lengths of string. I guess I could also buy a tape measure if I remember next time I'm in a haberdashery store.

Last time I went on a weight loss journey I did what most people do: lots of cardio and eating a lot less. However, I discovered if don't like cardio that much and have not find a suitable replacement yet.

While I was looking for ideas about what I can do, I found this website called nerd fitness. The stuff on there sounds sensible but I'm not sure it will work. Still, I'm giving it a try for milestone one. Who knows, I might just find something I like doing!

The one thing that's clear is that this will take a lot of determination! No easy way out, I'll need to really work for it.

I'll be writing up my progress every weekend. It will be interesting if my chosen method - alternating days of bodyweight exercises and intervals will work. I'm giving it 3 months, and then will revert to cardio and the like if it doesn't work.