What is going on?
It seems that lately, I’ve not been doing much blogging (understatement of the year). Of course, this is partly due to the fact that it is winter, and it’s hard to find a moment to take pictures of recently created things while working 40 hours a week. You know the deal, you leave the house in the dark and you come back in the dark. All that is about to change for me though and this is the main reason I’ve not been blogging. I’ve been busy googling the hell out of Switzerland.
Yes, Switzerland, the tiny country in the heart of Europe. After a few years of my husband freelancing while I was employed, we are now reversing roles. Well, sort of. I will certainly look for employment once we have moved, but as of next month, he has a steady job while I will be unemployed/preparing my venture into building a business.
In a way, this is much needed. Not only am I always moaning that I don’t have enough time to fulfil my sewing needs, I’ve also been wanting to dedicate myself to selling self-created things on the internet. With a full-time job, I have just about managed to make clothes for myself. I feel guilty for taking time off in the evenings and on weekends, but I also know that I need that time or I go a bit loopy.
Oh, and did I mention that I really don’t like my full-time job? I wanted a way out for a long time, but never really had the balls to jump in the deep end.
So you just move to Switzerland?
Essentially, yes. It may seem a bit crazy, but I am really looking forward to changing country. I have absolutely loved Berlin for the 6 years I have now been here (6 and a half, to be correct), but this is not the first time I move to a different place.
When I was 22, I moved to the UK. As is always the case, I was meant to be there for 6 months, but ended up staying 3 years. I very much love the UK and there are certainly things from there that I cannot live without now (my husband and UK Hardcore are on top of the list here), despite being German.
Logistically, however, this move will be a lot bigger and take a lot more time. When I took off for the UK, I had one suitcase full of mostly clothes. Now that I am married and have furniture, a move is a completely different animal.
We need to find a flat first, then move our stuff, our kitty and ourselves, while making sure our old flat is whistle-clean and painted a perfect white for inspection by the landlord. I’ll be very glad once I have stopped working, as it will give me more time to sort some of this stuff out.
Why a cat bag?
I guess no one in their right mind should ask themselves why it is necessary to have a bag shaped like a cute cat face, but I shall make this query anyway.
For a few years, I was the proud owner of a cross-body bag shaped like an apple. Even though people sometimes mistook it for a cherry or even a strawberry (because of its red colour) I loved this bag so much. I took it with me to all my adventures, to clubs and festivals, concerts and fine dining.
That however, was also its demise. It is now a very scruffy-looking, faded old bag. And I still love it, but it’s probably time to say goodbye to it.
So before I went to Amsterdam for Uproar in the Dam, upon inspection of said apple bag, I realised (too late) that I needed a new bag. Googling for “cat bag” did not bring any results that I liked, so I thought I’d do what I always do when something I want doesn’t exist yet, I will make it.
I bought some silver and black vinyl to make this from. This was my first time working with anything pleather/vinyl-related and it was certainly a learning experience!
You cannot put pins in vinyl, as I had learned from numerous sources around the internet long before I ever thought I’d actually use it. I used bulldog clips, which I had taken home from the office. They might have been pretty low-quality though, cause they weren’t great at keeping the layers together.
The eyes are glued on bits of black pleather and the nose is a baby snap.
I backed both sides of the bag with a dense, thick felt, of which I still have about 2 metres lying around.
The lining is made of a camouflage cotton lawn. I had made a dress from this (which I must photograph, so I can show it off) and had about enough left for this small project.
My topstitching is not the best. Not just for this, but in general. I have definitely made neater things with better topstitching, but it is a very important part of working with this material and I absolutely need to practice it. I am ok (for now) with the terrible stitching on the straps, as this is my first time working with vinyl, but I will make sure to get better.
Since I worked with this material for the first time (did I mention that before?), I needed some help along the way. Even though I ended up making a pattern myself, I was heavily influenced by this tutorial. There is a lot of glueing involved, which I replaced with sewing, but it was a good pointer in the direction I wanted to go.
I also had a look at a blog showing me how to do straps. Her topstitching is so neat! I didn’t do exactly what she did, especially as my straps were going to be longer, but the tutorial taught me that I can sew four layers of pleather together. (I was a bit worried about my machine not handling that much, but it was fine.)
Butterick B5797 is not a very popular pattern. It is a so-called “fashion corset”, which will NOT give the support or desired waist-cinching effect of a real corset. It definitely offers some support though.
However, I was looking for something I could wear out dancing (currently preparing for Uproar in the Dam), something that would give me the look of a corset, while also offering light support. Most importantly, I didn’t want to deal with grommets or clasps. I wanted something I could whip up and then close with a zip.
Seeing the pattern, I thought it was perfect for me. I really liked the option to put shoulder straps on, although I ended up not doing it, as I found it supported itself nicely (with a bit of additional boning) and stayed up without any problems.
The sizing on Butterick patterns is relatively confusing to me. I tend to go for a US size 14, which would put me at a UK 16. Famously, there is usually some ease calculated into the pattern size one is meant to choose. If I went by their sizing chart, I would end up at a size 20, which I would absolutely swim in. As B5797 is only available in size 6-14 or 14-22, I thought I’d rather take in something that is too big, so I went for the bigger one.
I made the size 14, but graded the chest area up to a 16. It fit pretty ok when I made a muslin, but it was very hard to see the final form before putting the bones in. Once I had done that, I ended up taking the back and front seam in by about 1 cm each.
I must say though, I am pretty glad I got away with using the size 14. There is almost no pattern I can use in just one size without either grading it down in the waist or grading it up in the bust and hips, but I find Butterick especially difficult and often find significant sizing differences between their patterns.
I used black duchess satin for the outside of the corset and lined it with a purple owl print cotton. The satin is quite thick and a lovely quality. However, I overlocked all the edges on it, as it frays terribly.
The owl print is so cute, I could wear the corset inside out. It is possible, although closing and opening a zip from the inside is quite hard. Also, unfortunately, the lining has some wrinkling issues.
The boning I used was Rigilene. It is very lightweight, but gave exactly the support I want. Contrary to the pattern, I added boning channels on the outside of all the seams (except the front seam) by making my own binding out of the satin I used. I also added additional boning by putting two more boning channels on the inside of either side of the garment, as well as two boning channels next to the zip.
Rigilene can be sewn through. It feels a bit like cheating, but it was the only way I could get additional boning in, as I decided to do that quite late. Some of the boning channels cross, so with steel or even “normal”plastic boning, that would have been a much more difficult task. In addition, once I did the topstitching, I could just sew over the ends of the boning to secure it.
Making corsets is fun
I very much enjoyed making this and will probably make it again. I really like the look it gives me without being uncomfortably tight. I plan on wearing this with a colourful tulle skirt, which I am also currently working on, but I am sure it would also look good with jeans or a circle skirt and petticoat.
I know it is not perfect. There is an amount of rippling in the fabric that any corsetmaker would snuff at, my topstitching is never entirely straight and the lining has all sorts of wrinkling problems. For my very first corset, I thought it was a great project though.
This week, I am well excited. After what seems like an eternity, my new camouflage coat finally came together. And as if that was not enough, the weather decided to get colder and give me a chance to wear the coat out every day now. I am so happy with this one, I would have hated to leave it hanging in the wardrobe.
Yesterday was a sunny day and I got my husband to take pictures of me in the coat! He seems to like it a lot, as he keeps telling people that it is really nice.
A bit about the pattern
This is my third time working with Burda 6921 and I decided to change a few things and also add a hood. What I love about the pattern is the way the collar/back of the coat works. Even though I didn’t do a collar at all, the hood still stands up somewhat against the back of my neck, so that I never get too chilly there.
Burda 6921 is pretty well-suited to an hourglass figure, which makes it a great base pattern for me.
The sizing is fairly accurate. I am a German size 42 (UK 14), so that is what I traced and cut and it fit me pretty well. This seems to be true for all Burda patterns, or at least the ones I have encountered before. The only adjustment I made is grading down to a size 40 (UK 12) around the waist.
I pretty much never go off the size charts on the back of any pattern, as that would put me at a UK 22. I did this only once, with my very first pattern, which ended up looking like I was lost in a stylish potato sack. (I am currently working on a Butterick pattern and there the size is always such guesswork…) With Burda at least, I know I can use my “store” size.
On the other hand, Burda patterns require you to add seam allowances. That’s ok when you do it once, but every time I get this pattern out, I have to do it again and it’s starting to annoy me. Next time, I will make new pattern pieces on Swedish tracing paper that will include seam allowances.
What did I add?
I self-drafted a hood. This is my second time attempting a hood and I think I did rather well. It is definitely big enough for my head and would have probably accommodated my dreads when they were longer as well.
I also made some small alterations to the width of lower half of the sleeves, as I thought that a wider sleeve would suit the look of the coat better.
I widened the lapel and added a zip to be closed on the side front of the coat. Again, I didn’t think buttons would be suitable for this coat.
Normally, the inside of the lapel is meant to be made of the same material as the outside of the coat. However, my husband convinced me to use the lining fabric instead and I think he was absolutely right.
The Fabrics I used
The outside fabric is a ripstop I bought from ebay. It is very sturdy and originally meant for military uses. It’s wind-resistant and shower-proof.
For the lining, I bought a shiny polyester satin. While it was cheap and looks really nice, it was certainly a pain to work with and kept fraying very very badly. Next time, I will overlock the edges before working with it.
And here it is in all its glory
I do apologise for the dorky faces I pull…
And here is a bonus picture of the grumpy jerk that tried to prevent this coat from happening 😉