A New Thing: Kantan Embroidery

Allgemein, inspiration, sewing

I recently rediscovered embroidery after having forgotten about it for some time. A few years ago, when I first discovered Jenny Hart’s work at Sublime Stitching, I experimented a bit with embroidery, but I never really knew what to make out of it. The random embroidered fabric pieces went in a box and got forgotten over time.

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In the last weeks I started noticing embroidery again, thanks to embroidery artists Tessa Perlow  and Sofia Salazar, whose modern and artistic designs tempted me so much, that I bought my own Kantan embroidery needle to try out a new (and faster) embroidery method. I like the chain stitch it produces, but I still have to figure out how to best use the needle. A embroidery hoop that can be fixed to a table might be helpful, as you actually need both hands to work.

I made my first trial piece in one sitting, without noticing how the time went past, totally captured by the work. It’s definitely better suited for continuous lines than single letters.

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That’s a wordplay on the french word for lesbian – gouine!

My next plan is to create a shirt inspired by this t-shirt:

Hand-Chain-stitch-Swirl-Rainbow tee #grooveisintheheart

A post shared by Tessa🥝 (@tessa_perlow) on

I am using vintage embroidery thread that I had in my stash and some simple unbleached cotton.

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Patchwork Weekend

Allgemein, feminism, inspiration, recycling, sewing, vintage

This weekend I got into a serious patchwork frenzy. I recently organized my fabric stash and leftovers, and this made me want to play with all these tiny pieces that are useless on their own, but that I couldn’t bare to throw away. I started out with some little patchwork pieces that later became little drawstring bags, and then went on to make a bigger piece for a pillow case. I made use of even the tiniest piece of fabric! I also used up some leftover sleeves from vintage shirts, and it is incredible how much fabric comes out of a shirt sleeve when you cut it open! Cutting and arranging the pieces, sewing everything together was a lot of fun and actually felt more like a creative practice than anything else I have made in the last months. Maybe that’s why I can’t stop!

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small patchwork bags that just need strings now…

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Patchwork pillow in good company

While doing that I binge-listened to all the Have Company Podcasts, instead of watching/listening to random TV-shows as I usually do. In the podcast episodes Marlee of Have Company interviews resident artists and friends about their art, practices, how it is to be a small business owner and other things. It’s great! At the end she always asks people what they are excited about and I just wanted to write what I am excited about at the moment: A few days ago I received a little package from Little Red Tarot, including the Herbal Homestead Journal, a queer Tarot book called She Is Sitting in the Night and the beautiful Moon Angel Cards by Rebekah Erev. I am so excited about all these little things! The Herbal Homestead Journal includes simple and accessible ways of working with plants for every month and I am already looking forward of going back to this book over the course of this year.

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The first card that I drew from the Moon Angel Cards is Nr. 5 Go!

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I am also excited about this Coldcream from Weleda that I bought because I have these red dry spots in my face from the cold and it smells so good (and helps)!

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Beach tee made from leftover cotton and linen

I also made two patchwork t-shirts in my Patchwork Weekend, and reused some shirt sleeves, random leftovers from other projects and small pieces of fabric from my collection. I was inspired by this woven Geodesic Top and these Wabi Sabi tees, and again, just piecing the squares together was so satisfying. I cut 30×30 cm squares from the fabric, pieced it together and then cut out the neckline, easy! I will probably make more for summer (that will come at some point… we just have to stay optimistic).

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Patchwork tee made from all recycled silk

A Black Watson Bra

Allgemein, sewing

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The Watson Bra is something that I have been wanting to make for maybe one year now, I started trying out sizes last year and I was pretty frustrated because I couldn’t figure out the right size. I did some mistakes measuring, then I figured out a size that I thought was right and made it up in „real bra fabric“. It didn’t fit at all and it was a super frustrating experience! I realized that I normally make more loose fitting garments, and bra making really pushed me out of my sewing comfort zone, especially because I have been collecting bra making supplies in Vienna and Paris, because I found it hard to find lingerie fabric in Berlin, so I was constantly worried about wasting my precious materials.

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Also, every single Watson Bra that people post on their blogs and Instagram looks perfect and amazing (even though some people report issues with finding the right size also…), that I really got a bit anxious to make mine. So after my big failure – the cups were just way too big – I decided to jump back on the horse a day later and make another one. With just the most simple elastic that I have and in my standard bra size! And it fits! Sometimes going the easy way takes time apparently… I will go up one cup size for the next one, as I could have just a liiittle bit more coverage there, and I think I will pull the elastic a bit under the arms to avoid side-boob-gaping (don’t know my lingerie sewing terminology…).The pattern instructions are clear and the construction simple enough for a first try at lingerie making. All in all, I think this might become a big success for my bra drawer this summer!

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Simple Wool Jacket

Allgemein, sewing

Some weeks ago I stumbled upon this beautiful charcoal grey boiled wool fabric on sale in the fabric department of my local department store, I bought some and started a truly spontaneous little project. It rarely happens that I buy the fabric and spontaneously sew up a garment in an afternoon, but when time and opportunity come together it’s such a nice feeling! No planning, no overthinking.

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I drafted the pattern for this kimono-sleeved cropped Jacket last year and haven’t come around to test it before. The boiled wool gives the perfect opportunity for a quick project as the edges don’t need finishing or lining. I used some vintage buttons that I had in my collection – and done!

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A Weekend in Paris

Allgemein, feminism, inspiration, knitting, sewing, vintage

Last weekend I was so lucky as to spend a few days in Paris with my girlfriend and besides enjoying the time together and stuffing us with viennois chocolat and brioche I got the chance to dive in the magical world of Paris fabric shops and find some new treasures and supplies.

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The first stop was La Bien Aimée, a tiny wool shop that sells hand-dyed yarn and an exquisite choice of magazines. I couldn’t resist buying the Stitching Up Paris guidebook of sewing and knitting stores in Paris, it’s a really great and updated overview and very tempting.

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The area around the Marché St. Pierre is definitely my favorite! It is situated on the quiet side of the Sacre Coeur and there is a beautiful café in the old market hall.

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I got a flashy blue Field Bag at La Bien Aimée! I currently hosts my almost finished No Frills Sweater. I found some beautiful leather pieces at Sacrés Coupons, some lingerie elastic at Tissus Reine and fabric at Dreyfuss. I can’t wait to sew some mini pouches and finally make a Watson Bra. The shops are all in Montmartre, it’s really nice! You can’t miss anything…

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Beautiful vintage buttons from La Bien Aimée.

And last but not least… The feminist bookshop! I went to the queer feminist bookshop ChickLit in Vienna and since then I am constantly on the hunt for more of these amazing places. Berlin doesn’t have a feminist or queer bookshop (shocking! I know! I should open one…), so every time I am in another city I try to find one. Violette and Co is a great little shop with an exhaustive french-international selection of books (no English books sadly…) on all things feminism. I got a great book on lesbian separatist communes in the US (so hard to find books on that in Germany!), two issues of revue WellWellWell, an excellent and entirely volunteer-run lesbian magazine and two issues of the Barbi(e)turix fanzine. On Saturday evening we went to the Wet For Me (organized by the Barbi(e)turix team), and that was hands-down the best lesbian party I have ever been to. What a successful weekend!

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DIY Period Panties: The Review

Allgemein, feminism, sewing

A nice commenter reminded me the other day, that I promised a review of my homemade period panties, so here it is!

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All together, the panties are holding up nicely after about six months of use. With the special mission of testing them and writing about it, I paid extra attention when I wore them during my last periods. The lighter one I made, that just has an extra layer of jersey fabric lining the crotch is really nice to wear but – as expected – doesn’t hold up much blood. It is still way better than a normal underpants in my opinion, as it is still holding up some drops here and there.

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underpants with cotton batting layer, inside out

The underpants that I lined with a layer of cotton quilt batting underwent and passed a more serious test: An entire morning went by with a cup that was not sitting right and therefore leaking quite a bit, and I wasn’t home or in reach of a toilet. When I arrived home after a few hours I had to change it immediately, but the underpants protected my jeans! Another plus: It really doesn’t feel wet or uncomfortable.

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So my review is: I am quite convinced! There is still room for improvement though… I definitely need to make more period panties so I can wear them for a few days and I would like to experiment with layering materials. My version right now holds up for a day of minimal leaking or a few hours of leaking that would have caused a bloody drama otherwise.

A Quilting Experiment

Allgemein, sewing
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first quilted blanket!

Just in time for winter my girlfriend and I had the crazy but genius idea to make blankets. I am not a very experienced quilter, so we started the whole project with a simple sketch on which we based the pattern. We cut the pieces without measuring much, just roughly according to our sketch, with the felted wool base as the size reference. Eve pieced the top together (very talented sewing beginner!) and I quilted the top and the felted wool together, and added the bias tape. A simple idea but less simple construction… The result is a super cozy blanket that will warm us in the next months and a well accomplished cooperation between the two of us.

Here are some photos of the process:

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me, pinning the improvised quilt top to the wool

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Eve, preparing the whole thing for quilting. I can just recommend using masking tape as an orientation!

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quilting in process…

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adding bias tape with the help of metal clips

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view from the back

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Turia Dungarees

Allgemein, sewing

The Turia Dungarees were part of my Summer Sewing Plans for 2016, that I totally failed to realize. So far the Turia Dungarees are the only part of my plans that I accomplished… I guess I am just not so good at planning and then sticking to my plans!

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Sewing medium heavy denim for the first time was quite a challenge. Bulky seams, pocket placement, and installing hardware was quite a new thing to me. However, the general construction was simple enough and the instructions that come with the pattern are a bit minimalistic but still easy to  follow. For a more fall appropriate piece I chose View A, but I will definitely make a summer version next year.

DIY Christmas Wish List: Butchcraft

Allgemein, feminism, sewing

This year I have two books on my wish list for christmas and they seem to follow a topic: Butchcraft. They feature practical outdoorsy projects, lots of (handmade!) tools and beautiful photographs. They are a nice surprise in a sector that is mostly considered feminine, and a great addition to The Manly Art of Knitting. There are many exciting patterns out there with an androgynous, menswear-inspired or outdoor feel, like the new Kelly Anorak pattern, the Cooper Backpack or the classic Archer Button Up. It is nice to have some more butch patterns in book form now!

Here we go!

Molla Mills: Crochetterie – Cool Contemporary Crochet for the Creatively-Minded

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Molla Mills, the reigning queen of crochet, has outdone herself again in her latest book. Her designs feature lots of typography, geometric patterns and great colors. What I am very excited about is, that Crochetterie features the instructions on how to carve your own crochet hook! This is right up my ally – making literally everything, even the tool you use! She also writes about how to stretch your hands and body after crocheting, a great addition for this risk group for carpal-tunnel syndrome… I cross my fingers that this book will make it under the tree this year, maybe I will be able to show you some crochet projects in 2017 (I think the last crochet project I finished was a yellow mouse in primary school…)!

Anton Sandqvist: Heavy Duty Sewing

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One of the founders of the Swedish backpack company Sandqvist seems to be a passionate maker, as a side project he has published a book on how to make functional and beautiful accessories yourself and sells the fabric you will need in a small online shop. The style is similar to the ready-made bags and backpacks they sell, colorful, with leather details and a simple, timeless design. Sadly this book exists only in Swedish so far, but I have asked, and apparently an English publisher is interested in translating it. But to be honest, the book looks so great, I would be totally ready to google translate my way through it (and focus on the photos…)! If non-Japanese people are buying Japanese knitting patterns, then Swedish should be doable, no?

 

Maybe you are inspired to gift one of these to yourself or your favorite crafty butch?! I am just ignoring, by the way, that Molla Mills‘ book is dedicated to the crafty men in her life and doing a queer reading of Sandqvist’s work. Admit it, both books have a very dykey feel to it 😉 I am very convinced the outdoors, practical crafts and crafty adventures are not just for guys and women in general are very underrepresented in this field, just like the creators of Misadventures Magazine (another great gift idea by the way!). I get, that it’s interesting for (small) creative businesses to open up and directly speak to another demographic, but wouldn’t it be even greater to smash these stereotypes?

Anyway, for now I will keep my fingers crossed that both books will find their way in my christmas present corner, so I can hopefully present you some good Butchcraft in the new year! Maybe I will collect my thoughts on arts, crafts and gender for another time…

 

How to Make Longer Jeans Pockets

Allgemein, feminism, how to..., recycling, sewing

We all probably know these nice women’s jeans, well fitting, nice color… But then the usual disappointment: A move with the hands to the pockets – they’re tiny (or even worse: fake)! So tiny that your hands don’t even fit as fist, not even considering keys, phone or a wallet.

So I have these jeans, and the pockets don’t even fit the first half of my fingers. To make them more wearable I decided to give them an easy and invisible makeover (This also works for pockets that are ripped, have holes or a re worn out!):

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This is how far my hand enters! Ridiculous!

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Tiny pockets from the inside.

Step 1

Cut off the bottom seam of your pocket in a straight line, the pocket is now open.

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Cut along the bottom of the pocket.

Step 2

Chose a nice non-stretchy fabric you have leftover from another project, you don’t need much. Measure the width of the pocket opening, and how much length you want to add to your pockets. You can do this by measuring your hands, your phone or the pockets of another pair of jeans that are big enough.

Step 3

Cut your new pocket rectangles from the fabric (add seam allowances!) and start by sewing the rectangles to the bottom of the original pockets. It doesn’t have to be especially beautiful, you won’t see the pockets from the outside of your pants.

Step 4

Close the side and bottom seams of your new pocket and finish the edges as desired.

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New pockets!

Step 5

Try on and enjoy! Bury your hands in your new pockets! Stuff everything you need inside! No more annoying handbags at parties!

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This is how far my hand fits now! Success!