Friday, 6 June 2014

Fitting my fitting-aid

May was just as busy as I thought it would be... We had two major events (a white tie event at the university and the high school prom) as well as the start of the wedding season these past few weeks, so the entire staff has been working superhard. I've worked 12-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, and my boyfriend has come to the shop after his regular work to help me out. It has been loads of fun, I've met so many wonderful people and it's been deeply satisfying to see both the gentlemen and the ladies in their attires after we've fitted the garments! While I've enjoyed it, and look forward to next year's crazy May, I'm also a wee bit grateful we're moving into normal summer - meaning loads to do, but hopefully I'll be free from work one day each week, and I'll just need to work late evening once or twice a week.

All right, eunough about work! I started drafting this post in January/February, but never came around to publish it. So here's a little story of how I fitted my new dress-dummy!

A few years ago I got a dress dummy my grandmother had found discarded. It's been a huge help over the years regarding hemming and for storing delicate projects over night. But I never got around to making it a proper body double, as the back at it's smallest was still too wide and too long. This of course also made it a bit inaccurate when I measured hemlines.

Apparently I'm a very, very lucky girl, for my mother decided she didn't need her old dressdummy and gave it to me! It's a size or two smaller than the red one, meaning the back can be made to fit. Here's how I went about to shape it!

First I set it to a measurment close to my own (a bit smaller), making sure that none of the other measurments got distorted along the way.

One important part was getting a correct distance between the bust apex'es (tricky to pad out later).

Second, I draped a close fitting sheath for the dummy, so I'd have something to sew the filling to. Also kept the lines of filling smooth over the "gapes".

Third, I made a skin tight sheath for myself, using my block patterns and reducing the wearing ease from them. Some say it's better to have the dummy with the ease included, but I think that depends on what I want to make. For jersey and bias cut I think it's easier to see how it will really fit on my measurments, not my measurments plus ease. And wovens are easier to get on and off the dummy when it's in my size =)

After finalizing the sheath in toile fabric, I cut it out in a home decor brocade that's unlikely to stretch over time and that can also withstand pins.

Pretty tight, huh? Let me tell you, there was no way to sit down in this thing =)

Fourth, stuffing the dummy! Gee, it was a lot to stuff! One gets a whole other take on body proportions when skulpting them out on a dress form... For the bust I used an old bra, carefully measuring as I went along to make sure the bust measurment equaled mine.

I had really planned to sew all the filling to the bottom canvas sheath, but I was so tired of this project and just wanted to SEW something that I left it, promising myself that I will fix it. Later. Hmm, perhaps I need to set a date for that? Before fall? Yes, that sounds like a plan =) I also need to add more padding, it's a bit too small right now. As you can see below, the sheath is much looser on the dummy than it is in the pics of me above.

The outer sheath closes with a zipper down the back, making it easy to go in and adjust the filling if it starts to slide around. Also, both sheath and filling is fairly easy to adjust should I gain or lose a couple of pounds.

There we go! A dress dummy that can actually function as a fitting aid, help me measure hems (I took the hem-guide from the red dummy, this one's has been lost over time) and that doesn't look too bad on it's own.

Love, Erika

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Hold on to your hats, I'm now a business ownner!


I've opened my own shop! This is why the blogposts has been even more sparse and random than usual (wich is pretty bad considering my usual infrequency). I've been dying to tell you why, but didn't want to jinx it by shouting it out to the world before the deal was done.

So, what's the deal with this store? We sell weddingdresses and full length dresses (prom, fancy weddings, special occasions at the university), we rent out fancy men's wear (tailcoats, smokings, jaquettes etc). We also have some childrens clothes.

That's what brings home dinner, but what makes this shop so different is the in-house sewing shop. To be able to make the dresses fit each customer, to alter the rental wear so that it looks like it was made for each man who wears it, we do a lot of sewing. We also take on alterations and mendings, both for retail stores and private individuals. Overall, there's a lot of sewing! =)

I never saw myself as an entrepeneur, and definitly not as working in a shop, but this feels so right. We don't just sell clothes, we sell/rent wellmade clothes that we alter so that they won't be as everyday bad-fitting as RTW tends to be. It feels good to go to work and know that we make clothes more wearable, and that the mending we do prolongs garments lifes.

Oh, I said "we"? That's right! This shop isn't new, not by a longshot. It was founded in 1946, sold in 1997 (yes, the original owners ran the shop for 51 years!) to Margaretha, who is now closing in on retirement and wanted to hand the business over to younger hands. I bought the shop April 1st, but Margaretha agreed to continue working (part time) for a few years. There's also a very talented seamstress who was and of course still is working half time. Don't know what I'd do without them! As a new business owner, it's wonderful to have someone to guide me. Basically, Margaretha is my Yoda =)
It's also superfun to have collegues! I've mostly worked in solitary professions, for example as a receptionist you meet a lot of people, but you most often work alone. Now, we're a small group working together, and it's so much fun, the days just fly by! I'm also learning tons of neat sewing tricks =)

I have done a little bit of sewing at home this spring, and I'm sure I'll get around to snapping some photos of it, any year from now ; ) Seriously, May is the most intense month for us, so I'll coninue to be scarse online, but I'm reading blogs on the phone on my way to work, trying to stay a bit on track with the online sewing community, and I'll try to post something once in a while.

If anyone is in Umeå, drop by the shop and say Hi! =) It's Högtidskläder, on Västra Norrlandsgatan 22A. The website isn't up and running yet (there is one, but it's not quite up-to-date), I'll post a link once I get the new site online.
I'm on Instagram though, as "hogtidskladerumea", where I'm posting pictures of pretty dresses =)

Sorry for the long silence folks, it was a bit tough to start a business during the late winter months, and the last two months I've been working mostly seven days a week. But I'm looking forward to this summer, there will be a lot of sewing, and hopefully also time to relax and sew for myself. And blog!

Hope you're having a wonderful spring!
Love, Erika

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Shopping to sew

It's been all finished garments and personal stuff here for a while. But now as the light is returning and with it my energy, it's about time to geek out on sewing! See, I've been on a bit of a shopping spree for sewing related goods...

For the sewing room I got two new cutting mats! My old one was small and started to get seriously worn out. I bought it cheap, just to test if this was a method of cutting out that would appeal to me. And for cutting out jersey and fine fabrics, I totally adore it! So now it was time to upgrade =)

 They're identical, with one light grey side and one black, both with cm gridnet.

The mats are 60x90 cm (A1 size), so when I lay them next to each other I can cut out a blouse or a top without having to move the fabric or the cutting mat. Hurray!

Next item is sort of also for the sewing room; a new bolt of toile fabric.

The bolt I got two years ago is almost used up, and as we were anyway driving by Ikea... Now - hopefully - I'm good for another two years.

Toile fabric is handy, but this is Fun:

Organic Bamboo jersey for two tops. This fabric is soooo soft, I can't wait to wear these tops!

For grand finale; interlocked wool. What, it doesn't look like much? =) Nope, but it's wonderful to touch, it drapes beautifully and I've been thinking about this fabric for TWO YEARS. It's the most I've ever paid per meter, so although I knew straight away that I wanted the fabric, I really wanted to be totally sure of what I'd make and how much I'd need.

Here you can see the structure of the fabric, but the colour in the previous picture os more true to reality.

Luck favored me, and it was obviously about time I got around to buying it, as I managed to get the last 2,5 meters. Perfect!

Ok, I'm off to the sewing table. I've got new toys to play with =)
Love, Erika

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Titanic, the artifact exhibition

While in Tallinn over New Year's eve, I and the mr took the oppurtunity to visit the Seaplane Harbour and its guesting Titanic exhibition. It was really cool, to begin with our entrance tickets looked like passenger tickets:

Then there was the built up rooms:

The hallway

The grand staircase

A first class cabin

A third class cabin

Also, of course, a huge amount of artifacts, rescued from the bottom of the ocean.

These plates lay in crates that dissolved over time, so they were found laying in perfect rows on the bottom of the sea.

Loved these clothes!!! So interesting to see the details...

The exhibition is also very sad, as it brings to life the full extent of this tragedy, and also gives us some insight into some of the lives which ended on Titanic's last night.

If you're into history and have a chance of seeing this exhibition as it tours the world, I'd recommend giving it a couple of hours of your day. Or maybe you've already seen it? If so, what did you think?

The Seaplane harbour also sported a ton of other interesting things; for instance we climbed onboard an old U-boat! I've never been inside one of these, so it was quite an experience.

The dining area was quite neat...

...but the walkways not always adopted for skirts and a heavy cloak =)

This was the last of the holiday-posts, I promise =) In fact, I almost didn't post this, as it was so delayed, but felt that these photos were just too yummy to keep to myself. Next post will be about sewing! Or at least sewing related...

Love, Erika

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Long overdue

As stated previous years (it's an old song by now) at this time of the year I have very little energy and tries my hardest to avoid falling into "winter depression" due to the lack of sunlight. This year I'm doing a fairly good job, I've managed to both exercise and sew and do at least one other thing each week - but the blog has paid the price... So here's a much belated post from a trip me and the mr took to Tallinn for a few days around New Years Eve!

Having grown up just across the baltic sea from this cute old town, I'm a bit ashamed to admit this was my first visit there. Old Tallinn is lovely with a beautiful medieval city wall and lot's of old buildings. And churches! Everywhere!

Lunch at a great coffeshop by the main square. (They had real tea and a barrista machine for coffee. Way above the norm in Tallinn!)

A courtyard with many craft shops connected to it.

The main square by night. I was pleasantly surprised the annual Christmas market was still there, as we arrived just a few days before New Years Eve.

One of the many gorgeous churches we saw had an exhibition of art. Magnificent medieval altar pieces, like this one:

It can be displayed in three different ways, as it has two pairs of doors. It was huge, and done with such amazing details! 

This I just loved. It's a 14th century painting of the dance macabre. This is just the small fragment that's left of this painting, originally they believe it had over 40 figures. Ordered just after the Black plague had swept through Europe, it's a reminder of how we are all equal before death.

The first figure is the Preacher, then Death, who leads the dance. Everyone then follows by place in society (the pope, the emperor, the empress, etc) and the dance ended with a beggar, a fool or a child. (Click on it for clearer details)

The history nerd in me loved how the artist used the painting to discuss mortality, rather than just send a message. Every other figure is Death, and what's really going on is a discussion, a conversation, between Death and the mortals.

Hmm, this just got lively and fun, right? ; )
Let's add some more pictures of the lovely city of Tallinn!

I also visited the Seaplane harbour and "Titanic, the artifact exhibition".
But that's a post of it's own =)

Love, Erika