My first ever complete sewing project: ta-da!

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I loved the top on the Selfish Seamstress, and she very unselfishly shared the pattern here.

I made it up in a rayon jersey. Comparing it with the original version, I would prefer to use a double knit if I make it again – the drape of the cowl looks more elegant that way.

Okay, first reaction: What Was I Thinking?!

This took absolutely forever. If I spend an entire afternoon and evening on a ‘super easy’ top, I might as well forget about sewing my own wardrobe any time soon! And that was after I had already cut out and modified the pattern. (I slashed it at the high waist to make it longer, and also broadened it a bit along a straight line passing near the bust/shoulder blade points.) I had no idea that pinning is so time consuming.

Further reactions:

  • Cutting the fabric was surprisingly difficult. It probably didn’t help that I was working on a 1 square metre area on the floor. I ended up pinning the pattern to the folded fabric, catching both layers, and just cutting around that. I didn’t find that very precise though – the fabric inevitably lifts a little compared to the pin near the edge of the pattern, and I had errors of several millimetres. Also, I didn’t find a use for my tailor’s chalk.
  • The sewing itself was easier than I anticipated. I used a straight stretch stitch and a special stretch stitch foot. (Say that fast!)
  • The only part I visibly  messed up, of course, was the most visible part, i.e. the front cowl hem. I first hemmed it towards the right side of the cowl. 🙂 When I realised the mistake, I turned the seam on itself and topstitched, so the cowl didn’t lose any length. Because I was working with such a narrow hem at that point, the edge kept getting caught in the foot, and the stitching is not too straight as a result.
  • Setting the cowl into the neck also presented a challenge. I tried to line up the back seam with the centre back, the front with the centre front, and the side edges with the neck seam. That somehow resulted in more cowl material than neckline material in the front, and the reverse situation in the back. I was wondering setting a sleeve is similar to this. I did a good job at the back, not such a good job at the front, but the cowl covers that up.
  • The neck-shoulder seam on the back piece was a bit longer than on the front piece. Is this usual in tops? It looks fine in any case.
  • The armhole sticks away a little and I am not sure why. Perhaps I should have pressed it over a tailor’s ham? The material also doesn’t lie perfectly smoothly. I stitched another row around the first effort on the seam allowance, and that helped a little.

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Az első remekművem!

Enyhén pofára estem az időzítéssel. Azt hittem, sitty-sutty megleszek. Ehhez képest egy egész délutánt és estét igénybe vett az elkészítése – és ez már azután volt, hogy a szabásmintát kivágtam, és a saját méretemhez igazítottam. Fogalmam se volt, hogy mennyi időt fölemészt az anyag tűzködése. A varrás maga az egész folyamatnak elenyésző része volt.

Ha még egyszer elkészítem, akkor vastagabb dzsörzét használnék, hasonlóan az eredeti mintához (ami itt található).

A nyakát egy kicsit eltoltam, de nem tragikus. A hónalj pedig egy kicsit eláll, de arra nem tudok rájönni, miért.


Tan shoes

21Feb10

You won’t guess where I found this pair of Nine Wests! (Yep, they are from eBay.) They sport padded soles, mid-heels and a round toebox that avoids looking childish. I have high hopes for them.

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The camera is perched below hip level. I haven’t found a better spot for it yet, but hopefully from a normal viewing angle the skirt looks a bit longer.

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Nem fogjátok kitalálni, hogy hol vettem a cipőt! (Igen, ezt is az eBay-en találtam.) A talp ki van párnázva, a sarok középmagasságú, és az orra kerekített, de nem gyerekes. Nagy reményeket fűzök hozzá.


Purchased on eBay, originally by one of the classical British tailoring houses. Since it is not a popularly known brand, and very few people search for it, you can pick up fantastic quality at a tiny fraction of the original prices. I love the cut of the bottom half of the jacket. I don’t so much love the top half – it drapes oddly over me, and the patternmaker probably had broader boobs in mind. Looking at their website though, the jackets also drape oddly over their models.

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To be worn with something high waisted (or a dress!) and without my belt peeking out.

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Az eBay-en vettem, a klasszikus brit szabóháznál található eredeti áraknak körülbelül 1/20-áért. A zakó alsó felének a szabása tetszik. A fölső fele kissé furcsán fekszik – több, mint valószínű, hogy szélesebb mellekre tervezték. Bár a honlapjukon a saját modelljeiken is ugyanilyen furcsán fekszenek a zakók.

Magas derekú nadrággal, vagy szoknyával (vagy ruhával!) tervezem viselni, a középen kikukucskáló öv nélkül.


The NYT published a piece this week on ‘GDR chic’. I was a little disappointed with the article – they could have taken it to much more interesting places than “how big was the team at Sybile [the GDR mag featuring fashion shots]”. S. at academichic commented on one of the implied angles – the use of clothing as a political statement.

This is not something I really paid attention to until recently. It is hard not to register a political message if you see a Western student with a black and white keffiyeh scarf around their neck, or a flamboyant drag queen draped in a rainbow flag.  But otherwise, I wonder how many people make the move from “I am dressing as I like” or “as I must” (workplace uniform) to  “I am consciously dressing to convey a certain message”.

Even if people do not set out to do that – others will still read those messages into our clothing. And that will happen even if you don’t hold strong political opinions. Our appearance provokes assumptions about our social belonging, education,  professionalism, and so on. Maddening, yes. Unfair, too. But since it is a given, it is to our advantage to consciously control that process.

The NYT article also reminded me of an interesting book. If you look up Russia – Women – Culture, ed. by Goscilo and Holmgren, Google books provides a preview. I found the chapter on “Female Fashion, Soviet Style” fascinating, especially the discussion on the significance of rigid rules of style “for official surveillance of the individual”, the expression of an authoritarian political culture in social dicta on physical appearance, and the way  people dealt with this. Do we want to play around with that in different contexts? 🙂

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Ezt lefordítom, ha kéri valaki, de dióhéjban: a ruházatról mint politikai (és társadalmi) üzenetek hordozójáról írtam. A könyv, amit említek, a magyar (és egyéb posztkommunista) közeg szempontjából is érdekes!


Hemming a skirt

18Feb10

I found this skirt in an Oxfam store. As usual, it came up too short on me. But now I know how to lower a hem! (You don’t really need a sewing machine for this, I just hadn’t thought of working this out until I got interested in dressmaking.)

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It was going swimmingly until I started the actual sewing. The machine kept jamming the thread into the same one stitch, and the fabric would not move along. Eventually the internet suggested that I should try easing the foot pressure. And presto! It worked.

The seam is not perfectly straight. I decided that the boucle fabric will hide this well enough.

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Ezt a szoknyát egy szeretetszolgálatos “turkálóban” találtam. Mint várható volt, túl rövid volt rajtam, de most már le tudom ereszteni a szegélyt!

Az anyag vastagsága gondot okozott, mivel egyfolytában ugyanabba az öltésbe gyömöszölte a gép a cérnát. De a végén rájöttem a világháló segítségével, hogy a láb nyomásán lazítani lehet, és az megoldotta.

Húha! Lehet, hogy bajban leszek a magyar szakszavakkal. Az angol kifejezéseket még kevésbé ismertem, amikor ebbe belekezdtem, de magyarul nem igazán találtam hasznos forrásokat a hálón. Ha kisegítetek, megköszönöm!


Meet François!

17Feb10

His name is really Franz, but he fancies himself a bit French.

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I picked him up on freecycle, after keeping an eye out for weeks.

The previous owner warned that the bobbin thread skips stitches but I am welcome to try and make it work. I took it apart last Friday, and after I cleaned out the lint that was clogging up every last bit of the machinery, it was stitching like a charm. Oh, and after I realised I don’t have to lead the upper thread around the bobbin winder because that way it will keep on breaking. Ahem.

It’s just my perfect machine – advanced enough that it can do all sorts of fun tricks, but old enough to have been made of metal parts that won’t break or require frequent servicing. Yay!!

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Shoes

17Feb10

Did you know that separate left and right shoes were only introduced in the 19th century? Imagine what people must have gone through in the old days to break in their footwear.

(Side tangent: isn’t it interesting how it took us to start designing comfortable footwear – when according to cave paintings, our ancestors were already wearing foot bags around 8000 BC? The signalling function of uncomfortable vestments in suggesting privilege, leisure and discipline probably had something to do with it, but still. I’d love to read a good book on this.)

That said, this discussion on Corporette was rather frightening to read – one too many comments by women who wore heels through their twenties and had to have foot surgery in their thirties! Eek. I immediately deleted all of the pointy toed shoes on my eBay watchlist.

Meanwhile, I have this second hand find to present:

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My one pair of work appropriate shoes that I started with are also an almond toe pair by the same brand, Kurt Geiger. Those shoes have served me so well that I jumped on these when they came up. I don’t have a problem with buying used stuff, which also means I could fit them in my budget. I am not too keen on the toe cleavage… I hadn’t expected it, and it doesn’t exactly scream classy to me.  But, that is what we have. It feels reasonably comfortable, as far as formal shoes go.

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I came across the Britt Lintner line of work dresses after reading an article in the Times on workwear for women. Interesting to look through, if only to see some examples of formal but feminine workwear, but nothing earth-shattering. Also,  putting a ca. £500 price tag on a simple dress made of acetate and nylon? Not cool.

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Egy Times-cikkben olvastam a Britt Lintner márkáról, és rákerestem a világhálón. Annyiból érdemes volt utánanézni, hogy hivatalos munkakörökben elfogadható, mégis nőies szabásvonalakat mutatnak be, de egyébként nem állt el tőle a lélegzetem. És majdnem ötszáz fontért veszegetni egy egyszerű ruhát, amit acetát- és nejlonszálas szövetből készítettek? Ez a kollekció legmerészebb ötlete.


Two amazing Roland Mouret pieces on eBay this morning – in my size and my colours, no less! Still very much not in my price range.

The iconic Moon dress:

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And the Pyxis jacket.

I wonder how the construction details could be adapted for a work outfit… The details on the skirt in particular make me want to weep with joy.

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Két mesés Roland Mouret-darabot láttam ma reggel az eBay-en. Ráadásul mindkettőt az én méretemben és az én színeimben! Viszont még mindig nem az én pénztárcámhoz szabva.

Azon töröm most a fejemet, hogy hogyan lehetne a szabás részleteit lekoppintani egy saját készítésű, munkába illő öltözékhez. A szoknya megoldásaiért különösen odavagyok.


Workhorse shoes

08Feb10

Shoes pose their special challenge. Especially to those of us wide of feet. I have been haunting eBay for brands that I know manufacture shoes that work for my feet. In the meanwhile, I snapped these up in a brick and mortar shop:

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On the bright side:

  • the colour is very versatile
  • the shape and the toe design manage to strike a balance between looking elegant and being comfortable
  • the low heel won’t add to my height (I am already tall)
  • but it still has enough shaping to support the feet, unlike many ballerinas

On the dark side:

  • the back of the shoe (around the ankle and the heel) does not have reinforced shaping. This added to the suppleness of the leather means that the shoes might soon stretch out of shape and start slipping off my feet.
  • the sole+heel is just a shaped rubber sheet glued on to the uppers. This means that I won’t be able to re-heel them.  A considerable negative in shoes that I mean to wear regularly and for a long time.

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Given the urgency of finding short and middle term solutions for what to wear, the bright side is definitely winning.

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Megfelelő cipőt találni valódi kihívás. Különösen nekünk, a széles lábfejű törzs tagjainak.  Miközben az eBay-en keresgélek olyan márkákat, amikről tudom, hogy jól beválnak, ezt a párat egy klasszikus, téglából épített boltban vásároltam.

Előnyök:

  • a színe sok mindennel kombinálható
  • a cipőorr kiválóan ötvözi az elegáns megoldást a kényelmessel
  • az alacsony sarok nem magasít tovább
  • de elég formát ad a cipőnek ahhoz, hogy ne legyen benne kényelmetlen a járás, mint sok más “balettáncos” típusú cipőben

Hátrányok:

  • a boka és a sarok körül nincs megerősítve a cipő formája.  Mivel a bőr amúgy is puha, hamar kinyúlhat, és elkezdhet slattyogni.
  • a talp egy egyszerű ömlesztett gumilap, vagyis nem lehet majd újrasarkaltatni. Ez meglehetős hátrányt jelent ahhoz képest, hogy sűrűn és sokáig tervezem viselni a cipőt.

Mivel egyelőre sürgősebb a rövid- és középtávra terveznem, összességében meg vagyok elégedve.