Thursday, 22 September 2011

Draping class 1, a simple blouse

Courses are liberating! Sewing-courses in particular seem to be very good for my creativity-levels!

Draping class 1 finished. We draped a basic blouse, with a short sleeve and a collar.

I was increadibly lucky, the original teacher dropped out a couple of weeks before the course was meant to start, it was therefor delayed a week which meant I didn't miss out on the first class after all!

The new teacher is good, and nice, and very knowledgeable. He is the head pattern cutter at the most prestigious theater in Stockholm (Dramaten, where Sweden's most famous film-maker Ingmar Bergman used to direct his plays) and has worked at Dior and Balenciaga. He likes to tell us about quirky details of costumes and historical clothing (very much appreciated by me!).

The class consists of 7 pattern construction teachers from a Design High School, two designers from H&M and three amateurs (I'm one!), out of whom one has taken the course before and showed us some great things she had made then. The other one (who's not a professional designer, I mean) recognized me from Burdastyle. Fun!

And now dear readers, I shall try to forward all that I've learned to you ;-)!

To prepare the toile for draping you need a few lines as a guide (to get the grain straight and make marking the pattern once it's don easier, my guess).

To drape a simple blouse, the toile-fabric needs to be at least the length you want it to be, and long enough to cover the dress form around the shoulder + quite a bit of excess fabric. For me, that means about 70 cm's.

First, you draw a line a line about 4 cm's from and parallel to the edge of the fabric. This will be the center front (marked MF in my sketch).
Then another line about 10cm's from the first one. That is the normal distance between the centre front and breast point for someone of size 38 (considered the "normal" size). When designing for a particular person, measure!

Finally draw a perpendicular line that makes a cross at the breast-point, make sure there's enough fabric above it to cover the shoulders of the dress form!

The back piece is simply marked with a line parallel to the edge, a few centimeters from the edge. That will be the middle back (MB).

Time to drape! First pin along the center of the dress form. Then smooth out the fabric and pin across the breast-point, and on top of the shoulder. The fabric should be smooth but not too stretched.

Shape darts with your hands, and pin (I pinned along the seam-line but you can also fold them and pin them flat onto the dress form).

The darts on the front piece should always point towards the bust point!

Add ease at the side-seam. Make sure the fabric is straight grain along the side seams (the teacher stressed how in couture it's vital that the fabric is always on straight grain in all pattern pieces, ie perpendicular to the floor, unless the garment is cut on the bias).

Once you're happy with the shape and fit it's time to cut off excess fabric, but not all, leave quite a bit along the side and shoulder (for future adjustments).

To make the sleeve, prepare a simple sketched sleeve as a guide, if you like (I did, but ended up not using it).

This diagram is for a size 38, with a calculated width of arm 32 cm's. My arm is 26 cm's but I still used the size 38-diagram for my sleeve, no problem.

12 cm's is a quite low sleeve cap, which will make the blouse comfortable to wear. 

If you want to be more meticulous, measure around your arm, add some ease, and divide the measurement in two for the front- and back of the sleeve. Place a bit more at the back of the sleeve (the back of human shoulders is fuller).

And then you just pin, and drape the sleeve to the toile already on the dress form. Only pin the part of the sleeve that's visible, not the part that's underneath the arm! That part you just make markings to indicate the seam line once the toile is done. Fold along the seam-line and make a fold along the seam-line (as the fabric is in a finished garment, with the seam allowance tucked in).

That was a very brief description of how it's done, the same procedure, step by step and in more detail is available at Cornell university. Read about the bodice here, the sleeve here, and a collar here

Here's my blouse!

I first made only one dart in the front and one in the back, but later separated them, as a design element (it looked too boring before).

The sleeve is pleated along the sleeve cap, and I cut it off to form a flutter-sleeve, it kind of reminds me of 1930's fashion.

I think I would have made this kind of blouse without a collar, but it was part of the exercise to drape a collar (the lady next to me, Stacy, helped me get the grain right, I had no idea how to turn the fabric). And now I quite like it with the collar. I think I may need to work on my use of collars (it basically doesn't exist, I thing it should).

The back.

I deliberately made the darts that are closer to the middle longer than the darts closer to the side seams. I thought it looked better.

Now the bonuses!

Bonus knowledge 1:

On garments from around the 1890/1910's, the shoulder seam was moved quite a bit back on the shoulder, and slanted backwards. This made it possible to put the grain of the fabric on the front piece perpendicular to the seam - which makes the front piece less flexible - and the grain is automatically on the true bias along the shoulder seam on the back piece. That makes the back piece very flexible, and consequently gives the garment a better fit, both in the front, and the back.

I must try it sometime!

Bonus knowledge 2:

In Dior's New Look, the sleeves were very narrow, and the sleeve openings tiny!

Without a bit of fiddling, this would make it almost impossible to move the arms. The trick Dior used to make the sleeves/bodice more flexible was to add ease in the bodice, right next to the sleeves.

I just looked at some pictures of the New Look jackets, and it's quite obvious, easy to see, now that I know about it.

And bonus knowledge number 3:

Whaley's (UK) is a great source of muslin/toile for draping (also organic, and loads of other fabrics needed for couture and finer sewing). According to our teacher the cheapest place. And the muslin should be unbleached... not white and striped like mine (but i like it)!

I love insider secrets....!

Next week we'll drape jersey, can't wait!

Berlin, Berlin!

Oh Berlin, such a nice suprise! Such a friendly city, so polished but still a bit rough around the edges, right where it should be! Loads of history, but at the same time a very contemporary place.

Did I mention friendly (I'm still a bit stunned about it, the 14 of us cycled around the city for two days and no one was irritated about it, no car drivers tried to run us down, no pedestrians yelled at us for cycling on the sidewalks... amazing!)?

Since I went there with work, on a study-trip, I had no time for sewing related shopping, except for a brief but very rewarding visit to The Corner Berlin, a big, nice boutique with almost all my favourite (in theory, I can't afford any of them) brands. And a classy perfume corner with niche brands, including Le Labo, a new acquaintance  for me, but oh so lovely (I'm a pefumaniac)! I had a sniff of a few scents, enveloped myself in two lovely ones (this and this one), and then had a closer look on a bunch of very interesting clothes by Lanvin, Alexander McQueen, Ann Demeulemeester, Balenciaga and the list goes on... 

My biggest find was that raw edges, exposed zippers, draping and wedges (shoes) are still IN, and that the construction of the clothes was surprisingly simple, but very sophisticated. Inspiring. 

The two dresses above are by Lanvin and McQueen; draping and raw edges...even the darts on the Lanvin are a feature, they're on the outside of the dress, with raw edges. It felt wrong to photograph the clothes when I was in the shop, these picture are through the shop window from when I discovered it (loads of ooohs and aaahs from me then, my colleagues didn't quite get it!).

And tonight I had my first draping class. Also inspiring! More about that later....!

Since I did no fabric shopping or anything I have no other hints or tips to share, but Katarina at She Sells Seashells is from Berlin and has made a great miniguide to fabric shopping and thrifting in Berlin, to be found right here!

I do recommend a visit, and I must return myself, if nothing else to visit some of all the interesting museums. And eat loads nice food at great prices again, of course!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Draping ahead! + draping knowledge online

I'm thrilled, excited, bubbly in the tummy!

I've signed up for a draping class at the same school (Folkuniversitet) where I took my pattern construction class about ten years ago!

Here is the draping class I've signed up for. Sorry, but the information on the website is all in Swedish, even though the class will be taught in English. It runs for the first time this autumn, from what I can see, and there will be a follow-up class too, so I can study draping all autumn if I like (well, at least on wednesday evenings)! Yey!

Unfortunately, I'm going to miss out on the first course date (one out of only 6 course dates actually, but it had to be worth it), so I've tried to find information on the internet to fill the void that will be!

First, a big hello, a lot of admiration and most of all a big thank you to this lady (my idol btw, she's not only a great designer, but a kind hearted power-woman, a greenie and a habitual bike-rider):

photo from AP via Riding Pretty

Vivienne Westwood. La grande dame, the master of draping. And Lady Cool, in so many ways (she even matches the colour scheme of my blog in this picture, how cool is that!).

I watched a documentary about her this Friday (Vivienne Westwood: Do it Yourself!), was even more impressed than before (I have tried on her clothes and can only deem them magical) and slowly began to realise that I must (must, must) learn to drape clothes, and that I need to take classes to be able to learn (I've intended to teach myself for way too long now). Thus, on Monday I googled draping courses in Stockholm, found the course, applied and got the last spot, it's now fully booked. 

I feel lucky...! Thank you again, Lady Westwood! 

This is what I mean. I want to be able to make this kind of things, by draping (I spent a couple of hours trying to drape something like the skirts below on Friday night, result: well, I draped something!). All Vivienne Westwood:

Sigh. I wish I could buy some of them, in a study purpose, of course!

As I mentioned, I will need to catch up before I even start, since I am going to miss out on the first class. Here's what I've found:

Cornell University has a very good site with tutorials on how to drape a number of basic styles, step by step. Skirts, bodices, a basic shirt and pants. I think it would be quite easy to follow the steps (maybe not the pants without a dress form... ouch!) and to learn by doing.

Threads Magazine (as always) has some excellent information:

An article about Charles Kleibacker, who was a master of draping on the bias. I've got the issue the article's from, I had never heard of him before, but I was very impressed by him when I read the article.

Instructions on how to drape a skirt sloper.

And finally, instructions on how to transfer the draped pattern to paper (very useful knowledge!).

Most information about draping on Youtube is in Japanese. It's still very informative, at least to get an idea of the priciples of draping.

Teruoka15, has posted 2 video's (in Japanese), on how to drape two dresses with different designs. Quite easy to understand even if you don't understand Japanese:

Sung BNK Studio - I think a fashion college in Bangkok - has posted a great video-tutorial in Thai, totally comprehensible for non-Thai-speakers too, on how to drape a chiffon skirt with soft pleats along the waistline:

Looks kind of do-able, right? I like the trick of first pinning the material to the chest to make it fall right, and then cutting it off above the waist. I wouldn't have thought of that.

The last video, Shingo Sato (TR Pattern Design Studio, Transformation and Reconstruction) in action. Another visual video in Japanese. It's not really draping, but very inspiring, and definitely useful for aspiring pattern designers. This video I found thanks to Evelyne at Hand Sewn Home Grown (I am so jealous of your garden, btw!).

And finally, because this post, after all,  IS a tribute to and celebration of Vivienne Westwood; in her own writning, how anyone can do it oneself (of course, you all can actually sew your own clothes!).

I agree more and more with her last advice: there is status in wearing your favourites over + over until they grow old (patina) or fall apart (I'd like to add: and then us crafty girls - and boys - can make ourselves new copies)!

Image from FOXYMAN via Bits and Bobbins

If you want more of Westwood, read SHOWstudio's in depth interview with her.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Baby Blue, denim shorts

I always seem to lack shorts, and I tend not to buy any since I feel uncomfortable (self conscious) in most of them.

But even in Scandinavia, shorts are a big must for summer! Ie: problem.

A couple of years ago I found a pair that I really like though, a sample pair from Swedish brand Whyred, high waisted, rather tight, with short legs. I love them! Such a rare feeling for me to relate to shorts (love). I tend to just... not like them. On me at least.

So I figured high waisted shorts might be my thing.

I was thrilled to see clioscolors’s version of pattern 111 in the June-issue of Burdastyle magazine (found here). They looked quite similar to my favourite pair in shape.

I've already tried to make a copy of the Whyred shorts once, it took a load of time and I ended up not finihing them. There were too many pattern pieces, and I had too little time, summer was over and I forgot where I put the pattern.

Therefor, the option of a simpler pattern that looked like it fit just like the one I tried to copy seemed like the perfect solution: quicker and still good. That, I like.

Said and done, I picked out the last bits of scraps from a pair of sailor pants I’m working on (a copy of my authentic navy pair), and I had just enough to make myself a pair (it just happened to be almost exactily the same colour as clioscolors’ shorts). I used version b (06/2011 Short shorts with back pockets #111B)

Obviously, I omitted the back pockets! 

For once I used size 36, the size I should use according to the size-charts (it usually turns out too big) sinze I wanted them loose rather than tight, which was fortunate because size 34 would have been tiny! Now they're tight but not too tight.

I made pocket pouches and lined the waistband with a striped cotton I got for the sailor pants (them and these shorts are going to be like sisters!).  One of the more expensive fabrics I've bought recently actually, even the small piece I bought was costly, but it was the only possible choice for the sailor pants, I had to get it! I think it's the perfect match for the light blue denim.

Instead of buttons I used hooks and eyes, out of necessity really, since I had to leave for my vacation before finishing them and it seemed the easiest option to hand sew during a bus ride heading north!

Now I really like it, the hooks and eyes are more comfortable than a button (less bulk), and I like the silver coloured metal with the denim.

I’m happy with them, but I might let the legs down just a tad… they really are short!

Also in the pictures: my brand new wellington boots that I got on sale and just liked SO much more than my nice but hideously expensive Hunter boots that I've already got that I just had to buy them (they were cheap and will get used); my striped silk/cotton sailor tee from La Redoute that I liked so much that I got a second one in another colour (also on sale); and finally the favourite corner of my balcony.

Herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, pelargoniums, dahlias and a magnolia. And above it, the sky.

That, I love.

Dahlia number three. Number one was a blackish burgundy, number two pink with yellow tips, this one a strange but gorgeous red.

I'm an old lady at heart, at least when it comes to flowers.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Yoga Top v2

Well. I needed a new yoga-top since the one I made earlier this summer pulls my neck too much (it's a halter-neck), not good since I'm an OL (office-lady) during the days which results in a tense neck and back. No extra neck tension needed! 
So here's bikram-yoga-top version 2. It's loosely based on a top by Shakti Activewear, a brand popular among Bikram-yogis, so I've seen the top live and in action several times. 
I like the way the ties of their Cross-back-top run criss-cross around the back/shoulders, but the front is too covered for me (hey, there's an advantage with small boobies, lower cuts are more ok!).
No pattern was used, I made two square pieces for the cups, stitched darts to give them shape, and pinned them to the desired shape while wearing them (loads of pins!). 
See how the straps run through casings at the sides of the cups? Clever construction, I say (not my own invention, I'm a copy cat).They're stitched to the tops of the cups and (obviously) tied in the back. It looks like it would ehm, fall off quite easily, but I've tested it a couple of times and nothing fell out, no ties came untied, and I did manage to untie the ties behind my back after class (would have been no fun to have to wear a soaking wet yoga-top cycling home).
And finally I had a photoshoot full of energy after a day full of surprises, with one of my favourite playlists (at Spotify, it's right here ) in the speakers of my stereo = I couldn't resist climbing! 
Got to let you know the surprises!
First I ran into a guy that my friend wants to hook me up with. We live in the same city but last time I met him was 8 years ago! She had called both of us earlier today to arrange it all and then we just bumped into each other on the street, I'm still giggling about that! 
Then I got a surprise coffee-break with my brother who just happened to be in the same block as me when I called him, and finally I got soaking wet in the rain (a real shower!) cycling home, I LOVE summer rain! And I love to get wet by the rain, or to be splashed by the sea come to think of it. Makes me feel alive!
The shorts in the pictures are the very ones I made in my last yoga-wear-project (I know they're teeny tiny, but it doesn't matter when everyone else's shorts are too. And I used to be a swimmer during my teens, so I'm used to wearing very little among unknown people when I do my sports). 
If anyone's wondering just why the clothes are so small: they're meant for Bikram Yoga which is performed in a really warm room = everyone wears clothes similar to these :-)

Monday, 15 August 2011

The briefest post ever (pattern making-scribbles)

Well, I still haven't managed to photograph my new shorts (baby blue denim), and what I'm making now is very closely linked to a sport I had promised not to mention in this post. Add the fact that I screwed up when I partitioned the hard drive on my new computer (well, not really, but I greatly underestimated the size needed in the Windows-partition), so no photoshop yet (=I'm still handicapped).

But lo and behold, I'm at my work computer. Yey. And was inspired to help out over at Burdastyle. Not sure if my help will be used there though (not all people want to make their own patterns, I know), so I thought I'd post it here as well!

Be warned though, this tutorial is very simple, doesn't look very pretty, and doesn't cover it all. But I think it can be useful, and the dress it's based upon is lovely:

Isn't it?

This is the sunny yellow tent dress by Natalia-g over at Burdastyle.

If I liked things to be loose and flowy around my waist I'd copy it in a snap, but I'm not quite there yet. Might be soon, especially with an added belt around the waist!

I’m a BIG fan of the hands on pattern-making method:

- Make a sloper of a basic bodice pattern (in material or in paper, if you make it in paper cut the pattern pieces without any seam allowance, then sticky-tape the "seams" instead of sew).

- Draw the desired shape of your finished garment on the sloper, while wearing it. I usually stand in front of a mirror to see what I'm doing, and draw loads of lines in grey-led, until I find the right one. Easier in the back if you use a dress-dummy, of the help of a friend who can draw. Otherwise, draw the front first, make markings on the back as a guideline (it doesn’t matter if it looks ugly and sketchy!), and draw the finished lines while not wearing the sloper.

-Cut a pattern straight from the sloper. In this case you need to cut and past to get the two pieces for the front, since they overlap. Just copy the missing bit, or make a mirrored copy of the pattern piece that's on top in the overlap.

Make sure you make the pattern identical on both sides (I usually do so by folding the pattern along the center front and/or center back and tracing an average pattern between the lines if the sides differ).

Now that you've got the details, here's my scribble:

Click on the picture to see a bigger version, or follow this link

Oh, and by the way, I've got a Spotify Premium-accont since a while back, which means I've got loads of Spotify invites to hand out. You don't need invites anymore here in Abba-land, so if anyone needs one, let me know! If you leave me your e-mail adress I'll e-mail you one. And if you don't know about Spotify: it's like I-tunes online, only you don't have to pay for each song, if you use the free version it's all for free (you do have to listen to a few ad's though, but it's bearable). I pay for it, to be able to use it in my Iphone (and not hear the ad's), well worth it!

Spotify is currently available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, the US, France, Spain and the Netherlands, so if you live in any of these countries and need an invite to get started, you know where to get one.

Read more here

Best thing of all, if you join, you can listen to my playlists! If you're lucky we even share the same taste in music ;-)

Spotify should pay me, really...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I'm a yoga devotee (outfit for Bikram Yoga)

Announcement: I've taken up Bikram Yoga. I used to do Ashanga Yoga, off and on since 2001, but I needed some variety. Another type of Hatha Yoga seems adventureous enough, don't you think?
Bikram Yoga is also called Hot Yoga, as in yoga in a very hot and humid room. I really like it! 
I quickly discovered though that you can NOT (at least I can not) practise Bikram yoga in capri yoga pants, I did the first time and it was painfully warm. They say it's between 38-40 degrees celsius in the room, and though I don't really believe that it's THAT warm, it's warm.
Here's a Bikram class (picture from via
I only added that picture to prepare you all for the pictures of me in my new outfit further down (I am normal!).
So, after my first, schocking experience I bought a pair of hideously expensive yoga shorts right away (after I had had to ask for help to turn the shower on after my first class)! 
Then I discovered that I really need two sets of Bikram-clothes since I don't have the time to wash them often enough to be able to work out as often as I like, the clothes are soaking wet after class. I also needed more towels, I use up three every time, two to cover my mat, they're wet too. I think it's quite cleansing, I like it. And now I can actually turn the shower on myself after class :-)
Hence this outfit, at a fraction of the price of the first one; a pair of shorts (a simple copy of the ones I bought) and a top (a copy, kind of,  of one of my favourite bikini-tops). All sewn on my serger (overlock). 
Big relief maker making the shorts: I bought a loop-turner, it's one of the best sewing gadgets I've come upon yet! It's a metal stick with a hook in one end and a loop in the other, you push the metal stick through a bias- (or non bias jersey-) tube that is to become a drawstring or strap, fasten the hook in the end of your not yet turned bias-strap, pull it through the tube and voila, the drawstring/strap is turned the right way! No safetypins involved. No swearing. The drawstrings in these shorts wouldn't be the same without it (and they would have taken a few times longer to make) Easy peasy! 
Here's the top closer up. It doesn't have any kind of closure in the back, I pull it on over my head and tie the staps behind my neck.
If I make another one I'll decrease the spacing between the cups (I have to tie it tight enough for my nipples not to peep out during the poses when you bend forward, and that's about half of them). But then again I'll probably make one in another style altogether, I like variety (even though I follow not one but two kinds of yoga with very strictly dictated series of movements...).
The shorts side drawstring closer up. The drawstring is really only there as decoration, but I guess if it's really hot I might pull it up as much as possible! But it looks better on me tied something like this.
Here's the Bikram series, in case anyone wonders what on earth this is all about. 

I like posture no. 3, 5, 11, 12 and 22. only because I'm good at them. I don't like posture no. 8, 18 and 23, because I'm really bad at them. My neck is as stiff as on a 90-year old and I really have to struggle in all neck- and back-bending poses, but that's why I endure. I want to make my neck more flexible!
I want to be like a dancer, like an elf... (and I want to be able to tie my own shoelaces when I get old).
No pain, no gain, they say... (I listen and obey).
Image borrowed from
Oh, if anyone else here is into Bikram Yoga, you'll know mr Bikram himself has actually banned the colour green from his studio. I feel like an Ashtanga Yoga-rebel when I roll my green mat out, heheh. Lucky me he's not there to tell me off..!

And here's the Ashtanga Vinyasa primary series. Very different it is, not. More same same but different! The first two rows show the movements in the two sun salutations that you always start the Ashtanga pratice with (I miss them in Bikram Yoga!), then follows the other poses. I never did all of them, only a selection.Image from

Ok, thank you for listening. I swear, I will not mention a word about yoga in my next post ;-)

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The perfect shrug?

Whoopee, I'm back blogging! Loooong time no see, I'm sorry I just disappeared but I got fed up with my old computer that 1. has a hard drive that is so stuffed that I need to delete something every time I want to add anything and 2. gets overheated and shuts down on a regular basis. Annoying!

Well. I'm glad I've got proof I don't over consume computers, and I've finally decided to switch to Apple. I'm a convert. This MAY be my last post on a PC (heheh). Can't wait.

I didn't stop sewing though, and now that daylight is back here in the northern hemisphere I can photograph my creations too, yippie (and I'm also less tired than in winter).

Here's my last creation, a simple shrug that is a copy of a shrug I got a big high street chain a few years ago. I think it's the perfect shrug, especially for home seamstresses; it's very easy to make, doesn't use a lot of fabric ans consists of one pattern piece only.

Add to that that it folds up perfectly flat, a big bonus for people like me who live in SMALL apartments, and great for traveling.

It also lends itself to a variety of different materials (as long as it's a knit) depending on which it may be the perfect piece to cover your shoulders at parties, or to avoid too much sun in the middle of summer. I'm also thinking of making it in a mohair knit (they tend to sell designer mohair knit remnants at my favourite fabric shop... yummy...)

I can write all that since I didn't make the design up myself ;-)

I made mine in a rather heavy cotton jersey, a genuine 1980's fabric that I got in the early 90's, left at my parents place when I moved out, and then forgot about. My mum gave it to me this easter and now it's actually back in fashion again! I love the colour and it's very comfortable to wear. The best thing? I've got a few meters of it.... I hope to make a shirt for summer too. I've got about four projects in the pipeline that I need to finish first, though..
Now, I've graded the pattern for size 32-44, and I would LOVE your help to try the pattern out!

If anyone is interested in using up one of their scraps (you need about 85cm of a 60cm wide jersey for a size 32 and about 120cm of a 80cm wide jersey for a size 44), please e-mail me on "karin.arver at" and I’ll send you a PDF with the pattern (9 pages). Mine is a size 34, so I know that size 34 is correct, but if you're a size 34 and would like to try it I'll send it anyway, of course!

Cutting and sewing should take about an hour at the most since it’s so simple to make.

Fingers crossed a few of you want to try it out and that I graded it well!

I’m hoping to be able to post the pattern in a week or so, if it works for the testers.

Update: I don't need any more test-persons, I got feedback from several of those who tried the pattern out, thank you all so much! I got some great hints on things to improve/explain better.

For those of you who want the pattern; it will be published on Burdastyle on monday 11th July, simply download it from there. And please don't forget to upload pictures of your shrug and connect them to the pattern once you're done! Thank you!
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