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

Cropped Cotton Sweater

Allgemein, knitting, recycling, vintage

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I started making this improvised cropped sweater last April, and it was supposed to be done for last summer… I stopped at some point when I realized I wouldn’t finish it in time for summer, and there it sat in my unfinished projects box until I finished  it last week! Also, I have to admit that even though I really like the linen/cotton mix, I didn’t really enjoy knitting with it as it is a bit hard on the needles and to the touch.

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I initially wanted to a cabled pattern, but in the end I decided to stick to plain stockinette, as it brings out the lovely texture of the yarn beautifully. I am wearing it on the photo with a quickly refashioned linen shirt that I picked up at my parents on Christmas. It has these great side pockets but had huge sleeves that I just cut off. Bam, new shirt! Maybe this will be my next favorite summer outfit!

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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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A Cherry Fuzzy 80s Sweater

Allgemein, knitting, vintage

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I already finished this cardigan early this year, but never came around to write about it (or attach buttons…). I love vintage knitting and sewing patterns and clearly have a soft spot for 80s fashion and this cardigan combines both. I found the pattern browsing in the Drops Garnstudio Pattern catalog, it is in one of the earliest collections from the late 80s. I highly recommend having a look at the patterns! They are all for free and available in many languages. There are some great 80s and Norwegian sweater designs…

Travels: an Estonian Wool Mill

Allgemein, inspiration, knitting, vintage

dsc03057Last summer I was so lucky as to travel with my Estonian friend Liis around her home island, Hiiumaa. Hiiumaa is the second largest island of Estonia and a beautiful place to visit. There is not much Tourism going on, and the general atmosphere is quiet and relaxed. Fishermen’s villages, Lighthouses, a Baltic German manor house and the yearly weekend of open cafés are the main attractions here. It is easy to visit in two days, and one of the most interesting (at least for knitters!) is the wool mill Hiiu Vill. The family run company is running since the late 19th century, and the original polish machines are still running.

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The wool is from robust local sheep that are running everywhere on the island and the wool is not quite soft, but sturdy. Visitors can enter the mill and watch the process, there is a small shop where the wool and some sweaters and socks are sold. Sadly as we arrived in August, most of the hand knit sweaters and socks were already sold out to summer tourists. I bought socks and yarn to make some slippers, like the Simple House Slippers by Temple of Knit. I am happy to report, that this is the first clothing project where I will have seen the entire process, from the sheep to my feet!

Quite well fitting for Slow Fashion October and the topic for the fourth and last week: Known Origins. Most of the DIY blogs that I follow are from the US, and for this reason most of the locally produced yarn that I read about is from the US also, obviously. Even if I could afford these wonderful yarns that everyone seems to knit with, there is always shipping and taxes to add, and the whole idea of knitting your sweater with locally produced, low impact yarn is kind of lost. For this reason, I will try to round up a list of european yarn and fabric suppliers that I know of for later this week. But first: some more impressions from Hiiu Vill and Estonia!

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Guest Post: How a piece of clothing changed my life

Allgemein, feminism, inspiration, vintage

Exciting times! This is the first time someone else than me is writing on my blog! Eve asked me to write about her favorite jacket, so here we go:

Really honored to be a guest writer, thank you Clara, for giving me the chance to write about my best clothes experience of 2016!

For years I was looking for a jean jacket, but couldn’t find THE ONE. Too big, too short, the blue is too dark, the fabric is not nice, it is too expensive… As you can see, I was picky, but one day the perfect jean jacket crossed my way and since then we are inseparable.

Helsinki, July 2016. On an empty street, shortly before catching the ferry, stood a second hand shop. This is where I fell for what became MY jean jacket.

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One day wearing it and I wondered what I did all these years without it. I discovered the joy – yes the joy – of stuffing my money and my Opinel in the front-right pocket, and my keys in the front-left one. I can even put my smartphone in the pocket inside and still use my side pockets to put my hands when I don’t know what to do with them.

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All of that and still looking stylish!

This is truly a revolution for me, a woman who grew up in a society where fashion is constantly disabling women. Countless pants and jackets without pockets (or worst: with fake ones), sweaters too short and too thin so that women can be cute, but cold the whole Winter. Shoes not made for walking and so on.

BUT time of carrying wallet and keys in a bag is O-V-E-R! I feel independent and free in public space by simply having everything I need at hand. The fear of pick-pocket in the subway is also over. If I have to run for my life, I don’t have to worry for my bag anymore.

AND I slowly learn to take the strict necessary: money-keys-phone, the three winners in a good old jean jacket!

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all photos by Eve Jégou

Slow Fashion October: A Refashioned Skirt

Allgemein, recycling, sewing, vintage

As I was writing in my post for the second week of Slow Fashion October, my main source of great vintage fabrics are full, midi to maxi length vintage skirts. Last year I got some great ones in the sale of my local second hand shop.

If you want to try this yourself, my recommendation is to go for long and full skirts, the fuller, the better. Pay close attention to the seams, the less seams the skirt has the better. Go for the ones that have a seam in the center back for the zipper and side seams. Skirts that have multiple panels or set in parts are not as suitable for refashioning.

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I found this big skirt for 1€ in the sales, I didn’t want to wear it like that, but could well imagine it as a sleeveless summer shirt. It just had seams at the sides and the center back, and when I cut off the waistband I was happy to see the fabric opened up to a perfect rectangle:

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I made a sleeveless Grainline Studio Archer Button-Up with a mandarin collar from the fabric, and even had some left over! I followed the excellent tutorials for the mandarin collar and the sleeveless version, and it worked out perfectly. I made this shirt for my girlfriend, thanks for modeling, Eve!

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Project Summary:

Pattern (Grainline Studio Archer Button-Up): In my stash
Fabric (Vintage Skirt): 1€
Buttons: In my stash

Total: 1€

 

Slow Fashion October: Long Worn

Allgemein, inspiration, knitting, recycling, sewing, vintage

This weeks theme of Slow Fashion October is Long Worn, and how we can make most of the clothes we own, store bought or handmade. I like mending and I love altering clothes that I don’t like anymore and for this post I collected some ideas on how to give the stuff we own another life.

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This skirt is SO ready for its new life!

Dye it!

This is maybe one of my favorites and to be honest I am not even getting very creative here. I always dye clothes black in the washing machine (there is a goth hiding inside me…). The faded out black basic t-shirts and pants get some fresh color and some pants in a weird blue get wearable and fit in my wardrobe. The only tricky part with this is that most store-bought clothing has seams made of polyester thread which doesn’t take the dye, so be aware of that when you dye something bright.

Mend it!

I wrote about mending socks with giant holes, but I also mend tiny holes, ripped seams, moth holes in sweaters and all sorts of other damages.

Refashion it!

I admit: All shorts I own were long jeans once. It is not perfect, as most pants are a bit too tight around the legs, but they will do. I actually have a jeans waiting right now in my to-do-basket to be cut into shorts!

Refashioning vintage skirts into tops is another favorite of mine. If you happen to catch a sales day at your local thrift store you can get fabric for a summer top for one euro! On top of it you have the endless choice of excellent vintage prints.

Too short or ill-fitting t-shirts make great underwear, by the way.

Unravel it!

Last winter I unraveled a sweater I bought on the flea market, it’s a very slow but satisfying process. I still didn’t figure out what to do with the yarn, but inspiration will come. I tend to be quite radical with things I knit as well: If they don’t fit me, I prefer to unravel weeks and weeks of work than leaving a sweater in the corner because it is too short. I love knitting for the fact that you can make and remake something over and over again, until you find the perfect garment. The material is minimally cut and can take all sorts of new shapes. Making is not only about the finished product in the end.

Inspiration: Nina Leen’s LIFE Magazine Photographs

Allgemein, inspiration, vintage

I don’t remember where I first saw Nina Leen’s photographs of artists of the 60s, published in the LIFE Magazine under the headline „Old Crafts Find New Hands“ in 1966. Leen was born in Russia, studied painting in Berlin and emigrated – as so many – to the USA in the 30s. Like many of her female colleagues she was never included as a staff photographer at LIFE, but nevertheless provided countless covers and images to the magazine. In this series, she portrays the artists of the folk art revival of the 60s in the US.

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Artist Francesca Tyrnauer

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The article that accompanies the photographs is an interesting read and, as always, history seems to repeat itself.

The whole movement runs startlingly counter to the drift of our times. Working with the simplest of tools (no electronics), using the oldest materials (no plastics), tending all the work himself from design through execution, the American craftsman today is busier and more highly regarded than he has been in almost a century. A revival of pottery, weaving, woodworking and metalworking is taking place everywhere throughout the U.S.

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I love the atmosphere of the muted colors and her way of creating scenes that are filled with strong primary colors, mostly blues, reds and purples. The artists seem totally immersed in their work, always surrounded by signs of daily life, cats, children and random supplies.

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The rich texture of the rugs and tapestries immediately makes me want to start weaving or knitting, explore the history of arts and crafts and the artists portrayed…

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all images Nina Leen/LIFE magazine

 

Some Thoughts on Me Made May ’16

Allgemein, knitting, recycling, sewing, vintage

When May arrived this year, I was quite excited to participate in Me Made May this year, as this is the first „internet event“ that I chose to participate in, blogging. But how life goes, May was an incredibly full month, I went to two conferences, prepared an academic article for publishing, was sick for a week… So in the end it feels like I wore three real „outfits“ (my pyjamas are handmade, but I didn’t really want to show them off online), and I didn’t have the time to publish anything over here. And additionally I have been working with some friends on a secret project that will be revealed super soon (so excited!).

So in the end, all I did was posting four awkward mirror selfies for Me Made May and looking at all the other posts and articles of people who seem to have much more time to photograph themselves in nice positions and with nice backgrounds! However, the whole thing got me thinking as well: I realized my handmade (and general) summer wardrobe is very limited, and I wore the few summer tops that I made last year so much, that I need a break and some fresh things. With that I went on quite a big fabric shopping trip, and will hopefully fill in some of the gaps that I discovered.

So here are my Me-Made Outfits of May 2016, I am already looking forward to #memadesummer and #memadeeveryday anyway, with less pressure…

I really have to work on my self-portrait skills…

I am wearing, a self drafted boxy top from recycled vintage fabric with my improvised alpaca cardigan, an upcycled vintage silk blouse with handmade summer pants, my flower archer button up, and the grand final: handmade pants, with another self drafted boxy top and my freshly made dark grey bomber jacket. Not too bad!