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When I’m not sitting behind the sewing machine, I work full-time as a psychologist. This is why I every once in a while share a mental health-related post on this blog.
Have you read “6 Reasons why sewing benefits your mental health”? – I think you might enjoy it!

***

Lately I’ve noticed the sewing blogs quieten down a little. All life seems to take place on Instagram nowadays, which also seems to apply to sewing blogs.

I admit it wholeheartedly – I love Instagram. And there’s nothing wrong about loving Instagram, spending time on Instagram and sharing posts with others.

But the new habit of swipe, swipe, double-tap for a heart and then quickly continuing to swipe really changes the way we absorb information. In just a few minutes we can look at hundreds of projects, ideas, inspiration and quickly tap to show appreciation. Sitting down with a coffee, reading a handful of detailed project posts on your favourite blogs and then taking the time to type up a comment in the end – almost sounds like an inconvenience compared to scrolling through a conveniently condensed feed of pretty photographs.

The result-oriented, ever so efficient way of the world with its clean, neatly arranged flat-lay look has reached Handmade Land.

As I said, I’m not trying to throw shade on Instagram – I love it myself. It’s just a reflection of a far greater process. But I do mourn the slow-pace of the pre-micro-blog era. Not just as a blogger myself, but also as a reader. The result-oriented, ever so efficient way of the world with its clean, neatly arranged flat-lay look has reached Handmade Land. Not a big surprise, but it seems to defeat the purpose in a way, don’t you think?

Last year I’ve written a long article about how sewing can really benefit our mental health. Because, essentially, it’s about being mindful. Being mindful is very important in today’s ever-accelerating world in order to keep your balance and peace of mind. It gives a sense of achievement and helps increase self-esteem.

But what happens when we cut out the process and only focus on the final product? When handmade things must look store-bought (because you can buy things that look handmade, vintage and shabby chic in stores)?

A lot is lost when we squeeze a major project into a micro blog.

Hobbies are super important. Hobbies are there to balance out our stressful working lives. It’s where we find peace and quiet and sense of self. When we start to set the same standards on our hobbies as we are required to do at work, it becomes work. And your work-life-balance tips towards more of a work-work-balance. Once that happens, the stability of our mental health is at risk. Exhaustion, discontent, high stress levels etc. can quickly lead to more severe problems if we do not have something to balance these out.

And not just for mental health reasons  – as a psychologist I keep going on about them – but also for the love of the slow-paced manual work that gets completely lost behind a shiny picture of the finished product. A lot is lost when we squeeze a major project into a micro blog, sadly.

We do not see the work involved any more. The hours and hours spend on the smallest little project. The nerves and sweat it sometimes takes. Or even the big-time fails. I have a big heart for big-time fails. We most often do not see those on Instagram. All we get is the shiny end product. It can make us feel pressured and sometimes sets unachievable expectations on ourselves.

I sometimes get overwhelmed by all that content and then loose my sewing mojo completely for a few weeks. What helps me get it back is shutting out the outside (or rather social media) world completely. I sit down in my sewing corner and as slow as can be start sorting out my table, tidying things, looking through boxes, touching and moving about fabrics. I take my time with my projects now. If there’s a couple of weeks (and sometimes months) without a blog post, then so be it. When I feel like it, we go and shoot some pictures of finished garments. Only then it’s fun and I enjoy looking at the images when I edit them for the post.

Do you sometimes get the feeling you “have to sew because you haven’t in such a long time”? You have a sense of fear of loosing your productivity or even getting  increasingly estranged from your hobby? I get that all the time and then feel really pressured. It’s quite silly, I know, but it happens often.

I now have a rule: hobbies are fun and you only do it when you enjoy doing it. If you don’t feel like it and don’t enjoy it, stop! It’s not work and this is why you are in control and allowed to do whatever pleases you. Don’t worry about loosing your sewing mojo permanently. You just need a break, so take it and enjoy it doing other things you love.

A few years ago, sewing and knitting was more or less reserved for the elderly and it seemed an extraordinary thing when someone walked around in their own handmade clothes. With technology taking up more and more of your lives, there’s been a trend of finding a way back to our roots. Of filling the gap of manual skills and manual labour technology left us with. It only seems natural that we found our way back to sewing and knitting and making things, creating things with our own bare hands. We just need to learn to block out all the other things technology left us, too, from time to time. We need to ignore social media looking over our shoulders while we sew or blog or do whatever we love. Sewing is such a big resource of calm, quietness, sense of self and mindfulness. It’s a great way of connecting with others in a meaningful way. It’s our happy place. Let’s not get something in the way of that.

So for the love of blogs (and sewing), take some time to slow down again every once in a while. Don’t let yourself get rushed, pressured to keep up or overwhelmed by content.

What do you think? I would love to know your thoughts and views on the matter! Please share them and leave a comment below.

Now grab a coffee and enjoy your very own Handmade Land.

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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CARMOUFLAGE PANDA

Oh, I love this sweater! It’s one of my favourite makes this winter and – hooray – it’s actually mine to wear and not a gift I made for someone else. I got to keep this baby!

pattern: self-drafted variation of Coco (Tilly & The Buttons)
fabric: fleece-backed sweatshirt by Königreich der Stoffe 
amount: ~ 1m
cost: 14,99€
duration: ~1 hr

Tilly and the Buttons Coco and Agnes patterns turned out to be my pattern base for all sorts of self-drafted sweaters, shirts and sweater dresses. They really come in handy this way. I used the Coco as a base to draft this little sweater. I wanted a very minimalist sweater silhouette to showcase this really cute glitter fabric.

So I made the bodice quite boxy and widened the sleeves a bit more. Apparently, I didn’t account for the fleece-backed sweatshirt fabric having basically zero stretch, so they ended up a bit too tight nonetheless. The knit-look of the fabric tricked me. I really should’ve noticed the missing stretch before cutting, though. But hey – these things still happen even after over 7 years of sewing…

The fabric is brilliant, right? It’s from Königreich der Stoffe, a German online shop (shipping international) I gushed over before. It was quite expensive, but I had a massive gift card to burn that I got for my birthday last year.

The sweater’s been in the wash a couple of times and so far the gold glitter doesn’t come off. It’s super warm and cosy and the fabric breathes well, as it’s a 80% cotton/ 20% poly mix.
I got some really lovely comments whenever I wore it and most people didn’t even notice the panda bears!

Really loving this project! I will wear it as often as I can before it gets too warm.

Do you have any pattern recommendation for our current sweater weather?

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Fluffy Dots!

Oh, dear! I completely forgot to post these cute makes for my nieces from Christmas 2016 (!!!). I just found them while editing photos of my most recent makes for them. Better late than never!

This little jumper deserves its own post. It turned out really cute and my niece loved it.
It’s a La Maison Victor pattern. I used some scrap sweatshirt fabric for the bodice and cuffs. The shoulder insets are a faux suede jersey in blush pink. The little felt poufs are from a craft store. I pre-washed them to make sure they wouldn’t bleed and stain the fabric in the wash. So this whole project didn’t cost much at all.

Although I took care measuring and cutting the pattern and fabric, I had a feeling the neckline wouldn’t be wide enough to fit comfortably. I couldn’t be bothered to take the neck binding out again, as I had already overlocked the edges, so I had to come up with an alternative solution. This is how this quirky little keyhole opening came about. I found some matching pompom trim and button in my stash. It’s not very well done and a bit wonky, but it did the job! (My nieces aren’t very harsh judges anyway.)

I had such fun making this little quirky sweater. Unfortunately, they grow so fast at that age. It’s sometimes hard to consider whether it’s actually worth putting so much effort into a tiny little toddler sweater that won’t be worn more than just a couple of times. Well, luckily a nephew has been born just before Christmas – so I will make gender neutral clothes now that can be handed down the line.

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Classy Comfort

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you all had a great start into the new year. In Germany we say ‘Have a great Rutsch‘, whishing you a lovely skid into the new year… I’m starting 2018 by sharing my Christmas and NYE outfit. I sincerely hope you guys are not too tired of hearing about holiday outfits by now!

Isn’t this a beautiful combination of patterns? Before I get into too much self-praise, let me tell you how this outfit came together.

Last December I was approached by the lovely folks over at Stoffe.de (also known as myfabrics.co.uk) offering to sponsor my holiday outfit. Yup, December and I didn’t already have one. I’m a classic last-minute sewer, so I had neither an outfit nor plans for one (yet).

I wanted to create a festive look that would work both for Christmas and New Years Eve. But how to do formal and casual in one?

I went for quite festive fabrics, combined with a more minimalist and casual cut. Well, you know I love my pencil skirts for every occasion. They can be worn two ways – top tucked in or left out. It creates two very different looks.

I paired it with a jumper pattern – mostly for comfort (and to have enough room for all the holiday meals).  I’ve followed the newly arisen velvet craze and wasn’t too big a fan at first. Velvet can look outdated very, very quickly. But I thought I’d challenge myself a little and use fabrics I hadn’t used before: animal print plus velvet. If this isn’t stepping out of your comfort zone, then I don’t know what is.

A Pattern Dream Team

Let’s get into all the details, right? Pattern-wise I combined an old love with a new one! My beloved, fitted-to-death  Ultimate Pencil Skirt pattern by SEW OVER IT, which I loooove to pieces. I stopped keeping track of how many I made so far. Roughly ten, I guess. I suppose I could sew it in my sleep now. I won’t go into too much detail, as I’ve been gushing over this skirt for years now. Well, it’s a classic and therefore qualifies as perfect base for any two-piece outfit.

Since moving back to Germany, I slowly make my way around German sewing blogs and indie pattern companies. There are so many amazingly talented people out there, it’s unbelievable. I wish I had the time to follow more and try more patterns.

For this project, I tried the wonderful LaLinna jumper pattern by SCHNITTGEFLÜSTER (‘pattern whisperings’), who’s made it her goal to create super minimalist, basic patterns for all sizes. Their patterns range normal to plus size and are available as PDF-Download. They’re also very affordable and easy makes for beginners. As an advanced sewer, I had a lot of fun to use this cut as a foundation to add some fun details. Man, they have just SO many gorgeous patterns to gush over, I bet from now on you’ll never hear the end of it. I see a whole Schnittgeflüster year coming. Brace yourselves, I warned you.

LaLinna is perfect tucked in or casually worn over the skirt. The batwing-sleeves are very comfy, add to a beautiful drape and look quite elegant with narrow cuffs. I changed the neckline to a boat neckline and lengthened the cuffs to make them appear even narrower. The hemline drops down at the back, adding even more volume and creating a gorgeous silhouette. The jumper looks great worn over skinny jeans, too. I wouldn’t mix it with really wide-fitting trousers or A-line skirts, though.

Who Said Animal Print and Velvet Isn’t Cool?

Let’s talk about these fabrics now, shall we? I really went for something I haven’t tried before and picked a crushed stretch velvet in antique silver (HERE‘s the link for you German folks) and a leopard print stretch jacquard in black (which appears to be out of stock, unfortunately!). Both fabrics are courtesy of Stoffe.de (also known to UK folks as myfabrics.co.uk).

Despite having heard many horror stories about sewing with velvet, this wasn’t one of them. The velvet sewed like a breeze and wasn’t sliding around at all. It’s got a very lovely soft texture with an elegant shine.

The leopard jacquard is perfect for sewing close-fitting skirts (or trousers) as it has a nice amount of stretch. I used a stretch lining fabric (link for Stoffe.de) to go with it. The jacquard has a nice sheen and matches the velvet perfectly.

So far so good, I’m VERY happy with this combo. I’ve worn the LaLinna jumper loads since the holidays, mostly with skinny jeans to work and can’t wait to rock that skirt again some time soon.

Did you make something for the holidays? Also, if you have some great pattern recommendations for me to try in 2018, please share!

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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COSY CHRISTMAS

Hello sewcialists! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Having some time between the holidays I could finally get around to take pictures of quite a few of my recent projects.
This cosy jumper is one of them. I made it as a Christmas gift for my best friend who designed it and picked the fabric herself this year.

The fabric (‘Anemone’ by Albstoffe) is from a German fabric online shop Königreich der Stoffe (Kingdom of Fabrics). I only recently discovered this shop and really love it. They have the most amazing prints and a gorgeous selection of knit fabrics. They ship internationally, so do check them out on you’re next shopping spree!

The fabric was quite expensive (26€/m), an amount I rarely spend on fabrics, but ohhhh, it’s so soft and cosy! It’s worth every penny. Unfortunately, this beauty traded hands just after Christmas Day!

The pattern for this sweater is based on Tilly & The Buttons “Coco” and a sleeve hack from their “Agnes” pattern which I also used for my Star Wars sweater last year. I added cuffs and made it a bit wider at the waist and sleeves. Here I’m wearing it with my Mia Jeans and handmade beanie hat.

I have more and more completely handmade outfits and I’m planning to make more matching separates next year. My To Sew List is full of sweaters, jeans and blouses. If I’m lucky, I get half of that list done! 

My Christmas & New Year’s Eve outfits are 100% handmade this year! I look forward to sharing them with you soon. What are your sewing plans for 2018?

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Happy weekend, everyone!

(He’s such a cutie, right?)

Today I have another one from the DOG DIY category for you! I really enjoy these doggo DIY projects, but there are only so many things you can make for your pup that you actually need. For us this is mostly leashes, collars and toys. We don’t dress our dog up (if a multitude of different style collars and leashes don’t count…) so I always look for other fun sewing projects that are useful.

We had someone make a costum-made dog collar for Aslan that was super cute. It was quite costly and only took the lady 10 minutes to make on her industrial machine. Unfortunately the collar ended up being a tad too tight after only a few days (!) and I had all these cute ribbons and I’m addicted to sewing… so what can I tell you? Off course I had to copy that thing as best I can and add a few tweaks and end up making four dog collars in a matter of only a few hours. Matching leashes will follow.

Here are a couple of close-ups:

(Did I mention matching dog tags?)

I made this cute leather address tag in a very short time. I followed a tutorial in Burdastyle Magazine, the process is fairly simple. I lined the leather with some flower-print cotton I fused onto it before cutting out.

But back to the dog collars! The unicorn one is my favourite by far!

As you can see in the picture below, these collars are made to slip over your dog’s head and they tighten once you pull the leash. These are no-choke collars, which means even when pulling, the collar has about one inch wearing ease. This is small enough for your dog not to break free when pulling backwards but not too tight to choke him. To not accidentally choke your dog it’s actually better to make a bespoke slip collar yourself than buying one that might be too small (so-called half-choke collars).

For safety these are extra wide (approx. 3.5-4 cm). A dog collar should be wide enough to cover at least the width of two neck vertebrae, which roughly is 3-4 cm for larger dogs.

As some of you requested on Instagram, there will be a tutorial for making these (plus matching fleece-lined leashes) on the blog soon!

So keep your eyes peeled if you have a doggo yourself or want to make pupper Christmas gifts this year!

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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GOODBYE SUMMER

Hello everyone! We had a super warm and sunny weekend here in southern Germany – I suspect it’s gonna be bye bye summer clothes from tomorrow on for good. Before I get into the mood to get out all the knits and wools I want to share this cute little top I made this summer.

I made this top with less than 1 metre of cotton fabric and it only took me around 30 minutes to make! I followed Elisalex’s tutorial for drafting a very quick little pattern.

Instead of making the full-length dress I decided to go for a little top. I made quite a few dresses last summer, but found that I actually prefer wearing separates at work and at home. This is why I made a bunch of tops and jeans this year.

Making this top requires only a minimum amount of fabric. I used less than 1 metre plus some trim and elastic. This top has very few seams and doesn’t necessarily require hemming if you hide the overlocked raw edges under a cute trim. No darts, no fitting! This is the perfect Sunday morning project.

I love how this top works both off and on the shoulder. The fabric I picked is fairly stiff, even after a few washes. I’m definitely going to make this top again, but probably a drapier fabric next time.

I really love the lace trim at the bottom! It makes this top so much prettier. 

You seemed to really like my new labels, so the lovely folks over at Dutch Label Shop have a discount for you all to use if you want to create your own! You can use the code “thisblogisnotforyou15” to get 15% off your purchase in the next 30 days! 

Have a great week everyone!

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Summer is almost over and I haven’t even shown you any of my summer makes yet! I made a couple cute summer tops this year I’ll share nonetheless, because they’re just too cute not to.

This one is an oldie but goldie! You all probably know the Sew Over It Silk Cami by now. I’m pretty late to join the party – but as I said, better late than never. I always knew this little pattern had massive potential to become a wardrobe staple in many ways, but for some reason it took me a couple of years until I finally bought it. I have no excuses. I probably thought this pattern was too basic to spent money on, but these are actually the patterns you want to invest in! A basic, well-drafted pattern is perfect to first get to fit right and then use as base for endless variations.

The Silk Cami comes together super quick and is perfect to show off really cute prints that don’t work well with garments that have a lot of seams, darts and pleats.

So this top was the right companion for this super cute fabric I have had in my stash for a few years now. I bought it at the first SewBrum Meetup in Lauren’s shop, Guthri & Ghani in Birmingham. It’s 100% cotton and was something around 18£/metre. I normally don’t spend that much money on cottons, but the print was love at first sight. I kept it in my stash for ages, because I was waiting for the right project to come along.

For me, the longer a fabric sits in my stash the less “valuable” it becomes. At first, I hesitate and dare not cut into the more expensive ones, but give it a few years and I will use them for wearable (well, mostly wearable) muslins. I know this makes no sense.

Well, this is why this gorgeous cotton ended up being used for my silk cami muslin. And guess what? It doesn’t fit! Good thing is, it fits my best friend perfectly and she’s more than happy to take it off my hands.

It’s just too tight around the bust and gaping a bit at the back neckline. I adapted the pattern accordingly and the second and third top I made are a great fit. But I have to say goodbye to my bear-behind-a-tent-fabric. Life is tough!


Another great thing about this top – it colour-matches perfectly with my new labels. I’m so, so happy about them that I had to give them some more screen time on the blog. Here we go!

These wonderful labels are courtesy of The Dutch Label Shop who kindly approached me and offered to try out their costum-design labels. I was getting tired of my old ones that I’d been planning to update for a while, anyway.

I picked a sew-on label with very practical end folds –  so I could use these as a coat hook for lightweight cardigans, as well. I’m very happy about going back to the sew-on type. I had some iron-on ones made a few years ago by a different brand, that come loose after a few washing circles.

These labels might certainly be quite an investment for some, but the quality really shows compared to other brands.

What I really love about the ones from Dutch Label Shop is that you can upload your own design, costumising fonts and colours as well. This made it possible to incorporate parts of my blog’s design into the labels. Don’t they look fantastic?

I have 200 labels now – I’m probably not anywhere close to having sewn 200 garments over the years – so these will last me a looooong time! I already started to sew these into some of my older handmade garments, just to take off some of the pressure, hehe.

Falling leaves or not, I’ll share some of my other summer makes soon!

Have a great week,

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Hi there! It’s been a while. We’re back from our summer vacation and the weather is finally cooling down enough for me to be able to use my sewing room again. (The drawbacks of having a very light space…) I did get some sewing done, though!

Today I’m sharing one of my most recent makes plus one make that was finished two years ago but never got any blog time.

I made these fabulous Burdastyle culottes a while ago. They turned out really neat, but were way too tight at the waist, although I had made a muslin before I started. So I had these really neat culottes that I couldn’t wear. Two years later they fit me well enough to be put on and photographed, but the fit is far from perfect. I won’t be wearing them any time soon.

The pattern is Burda Style Midi Culottes 04/2015 #113A.  If you’re interested in a more detailed review of the pattern, check out the wearable muslin I made. I used a medium-weight midnight-blue cotton, that was a breeze to sew with. I overlocked all the raw edges and used some purple satin bias binding to encase the edge of the seam at the waistband.

Oh, and check out my new amazing labels! (Courtesy of The Dutch Label Shop – there’ll be another post giving more details soon!) I had them match my blog layout, which I’m super happy about. I’ve got so many of them, I seriously need to up my sewing game now! But winter’s coming, so there’ll be plenty of time spent in doors way too soon!

But now on to the blouse!

That second little pattern is the wonderful Ella Blouse by Sew Over It. It’s a pattern they’ve released quite recently. It’s a fairly simple and super quick little project I cannot recommend enough.  It doesn’t use up much fabric and a nice cotton or rayon fabric will do the job just fine. Another plus, no inserted sleeves, no zips or buttonholes! Which makes this project extra quick and pretty much fail proof.

I’m really happy with the fit. I was a bit concerned about gaping in the front, but there’s been no nipplegate yet. The only drawback I find is that you need some super high-waisted trousers or skirts to match with it, otherwise it’s not appropriate for work. Unfortunately, most of my high-waisted skirts are patterned, so I will have to make more plain skirts or more plain Ella blouses. I guess, I’ll end up making both!

So…what’s next on my sewing list?
I’ll certainly make a few more Ella blouses, just because they are so easy to make, but as I said, I need more matching skirts! Also, there’s a Sew Over It Juliette Blouse already cut out waiting to be sewn and a few more Silk Camis planned. So quite a few SOI patterns! When I’m done with those, I have some really great autumn patterns lined most which are mostly going to be from Burdastyle magazine. (And there’s knitting to be done!) I definitely won’t be bored!

What are you sewing at the moment?

xx

Charlie

Happy sewing!

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Congrats to Ros and Joy!!!

You are the winners of the giveaway!

Ros, you’ll get a copy of KNIT NORO 2, and Joy, you’ll receive a copy of 60 Quick Knitted Toys!

The lovely folks over at Sterling Publishing will get in touch with you soon, to send you the books. Have lots of fun knitting!

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments!

Have a great week everyone!

xx

Charlie

Happy knitting!

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