Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bringing light(s) in the dark

The dark season is definitely here in Sweden. I love and hate it. The darkness makes me very tired and sometimes I go into a funk that lasts for weeks. It is also very annoying driving a car during the dark season. The sun (when it is up) is so low that however you try to avoid it, you get blinded. Is there really anything to like about the dark? Well. I do like snow for the most part, but where I live I should be lucky to get some. A more certain thing to get excited about is all the candles and tea lights!!! To be fair, they require darkness to maximize the coziness :-)

SO... What candles and tea lights do I burn? Previous years I would just have bought the cheapest ones I could get my hands on. These days, however, being all fussed about the environment and health and all - I really want to avoid anything related to paraffin (which most cheapish candles and tea lights are made of). I don't want the fumes in my house either.

The easiest way to avoid paraffin is to buy candles made of stearine, but that means they are derived from animal fat or from palm oil, both of which I don't like the idea of. Neither do I like the idea of candles made from soy, since it is usually pretty bad farming in a global sense. And when it comes to tea lights I don't like all the aluminium used for the tiny holders. Yes they can be recycled but it takes a lot of energy to produce it and it just seems unnecessary.

"You are such a PARTY POOPER", you think! Well, guess what - I have found a solution!!! For the tea lights there is a fabulous option around! Just look at this:

Light rock, powered by rapeseed oil.

This "light rock" is essentially just a lump of clay with a hole in it and then you pull a wick through, pour some oil (anything in your kitchen such as rapeseed, olive, corn etc) and light it!! I got them here. The glass tea light holder I got at IKEA. These can be used for ever!! I love them. They are cute and quirky and they light up the room far better than a regular tea light. Just look at this photo:

They are light! This photo is taken in daylight, mind you!
I am in a good mood, I mean who wouldn't be? So here are a few more cozy pics from me to you. 

Happy 1st advent, ya'll.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Big butt adjustment (BBA) - another round of Thurlow pants! (kind of a tutorial I guess)

I made a pair of Thurlow pants a little while ago somewhat successfully. I blogged about them here. They are not bad. Since that blog post I have added one more belt loop at the back and added buttons to the welt pockets. That made the fit a lot better.

Pocket button.

I have since then used them a lot. Almost every day, actually. But I am only 95 % satisfied. The rest of the 5 % is gnawing away at my brains. Oh, the pain of gnawing at brains!! ;-D
I'll show you:

Issues to be resolved.

I still need some more booty room and the angle where the legs hit the butt is not quite right. The new belt loop and the buttons solved parts of the fabric droop, but still left things to be desired. This gal ain't happy until she's happy if ya know whatta mean!!

Time for round 2!

Since I had modified the pattern quite a bit before sewing last time I decided to compare my pattern with the original pattern sheet. And I was really surprised that I actually made pants SMALLER THAN SIZE 0!!!!!!! - except for the butt. I have never worn a size 0 in my life. That sizing chart is bent if you ask me.

Modified size 6 = smaller than size 0!

Anyhow.  I have now decided to start from scratch, from a size 0, and then do what I will call a Big Butt Adjustment (BBA). I know some call it Full Butt Adjustment (FBA). But I think it sounds kinda gross (constipated much, anyone?) plus it can be confused with Full Bust Adjustment (FBA).

I will do it pretty much like shown by Coletterie here.

Note! The BBA is done only on the back pattern piece!!

#1 - Tracing a size 0. 

Marking the seam lines to make the changes within the "finished garment" and not in the seam allowance area. In this pattern 1,5 cm seam allowance is included.

Dotted lines mark seams.

 #2 - Marking the cutting lines. 

This isn't an exact science. The green pivot circle should be places a good inch below the dart point though (roughly where you think your butt cheek apex is) and the vertical green line right through the dart. All other pivot points (circles) are placed on the seam lines. I'd suggest the angle of the turquoise line should be determined by how far down on your thighs you feel the need for extra fabric. The read line is for adding length to the crotch line.

The great thing about adding butt room this way is that you don't change your side seams at all. That means that all the pattern pieces will still go together like a dream. Cheers to that!

Marking all the cutting lines and pivot points.

 #3 - Slash 'n' spread! 

Cut along all the lines STOPPING at the pivot circles!

Now, to get the right amount of spreading I compared my old pattern piece with the original patterns and found that my butt requires roughly a size 6. The difference in width between 0 and 6 is about 2 cm (less than 1 inch) so that is the amount I am spreading.

If you don't have an old pattern piece like me, you can try to measure the pattern across where your butt is at its biggest, double the measurement (minus seam allowances). Let's say that adds up to 40 cm on the pattern in the size you've chosen. If you now measure your ass in the same place with a tape measure, you may get, say, 46 cm. That is 6 cm more than the size of the pattern. Which means you need to add about 3 cm in the BBA (since we're doing half a butt on the pattern).

Comparing with the old pattern piece.

#4 - Tape in paper and redraw lines
When you're happy with the alignment above, tape in paper and redraw lines.

Before I cut the paper, I measured the pocket marking to 13 cm. I make sure now when I redraw the pocket marking that it is still 13cm. If you look closely below, you can see the old pocket line penciled in. The dart is redrawn by just following the old dart legs until they meet again (blue lines, not the green). They should now meet the pocket line, just like they did before.

New dart and pocket line in blue.

#5 - Verify the crotch curve.

When I compare my old pattern (which I had altered a bunch of times) I see that I need to deepen the crotch curve a good deal, thus making it more L shaped. I am marking this on my new pattern and then cut. 

Old pattern, on top, has a deeper curve than the new pattern.

BUT. I wasn't entirely happy with how my butt pushed the fabric down, remember! I suspect I have a low hanging butt (nice, eh). To find out how my crotch curve REALLY looks I got a tip from a friend to roll up some tin foil and then form it against your body (along the crotch line). 

Placing my pattern pieces together (overlapping the seam allowance and then adding my foil roll shows the truth: Yes, I have indeed a low hanging butt. And this is even after I did the above adjustment... 
The pattern pieces shouldn't follow the foil roll exactly, but the shape should be the same. See the difference in the angle (black lines) and the size of the yellow arrows?

I draw a new line that better reflects my body. Purple curved line below:

Finished pattern piece!!!

The daddy.

Just for fun I will now compare the finished pattern with the old one:
In this pattern we see the biggest difference is actually the crotch line and the size of the dart. Everything else is kind of the same around the butt. Remember I said I thought they were just too tight? I figure since I now started on a size 0, and the old front pattern pieces were actually a good deal smaller than 0, i will gain the extra room around the body by not altering the front pieces. This should make the side seams better positioned than last time too.

The real difference is when I compare the whole pattern piece!! Look at the angle of the legs!!! You know when you pin out fabric here and there, weird things can happen. Hopefully this will now take care of some of the drooping fabric behind the legs too.

Anyway, it just goes to show that it is easier to take a smaller size that fits most parts of you okay, and then add extra room where you need it, than going for a larger size and then pin out all the excess. THAT should be famous words, my friends. Just compare FBA. Same thing there. Am I right?

Now I "just" need to sew them up, and that will take me a couple of days. I'll let you know how it went. I will also go against my better judgement and skip doing a muslin. I need pants NOW and whatever saves me time... (famous last words).

So long!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Back from holiday and a Badger sunscreen review

Back from a week in the sun. It was amazing and very relaxing. I managed to stay completely offline all week and it was a nice change, although it's good to be back.

Before we went, I did lots of research on sunscreens and settled for Badger. Here comes my review.

We used it mainly on the kids and I am happy to say it really did a good job protecting from the sun. I know that for a fact because the kids spent about 7h/day in the pool and we only put it on twice/day. They got tanned but not burned. I did forget to put it on their ears though - and their poor ears got FRIED! Sorry girls. I have only been a mom for a little more than 9 years now so cut me some slack ;-)

Any cons? Yes. It is extremely drying. The girls have never had issues with dry skin, but now I had to grease them up a lot in the evenings with coconut oil. As for myself. I used Badger on my face and my already dry skin went bananas. I don't know if it is the zink that is super drying, because all the other ingredients shouldn't be? Does anyone know? I think I need to find something less drying for myself or I'll have to smear butter on my face for weeks.

Now that I'm back with my sewing machines I'll continue to work at my winter SWAP. A post about Big Butt Adjustment on Thurlow Pants coming up.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Packing for a week in the sun

Soon we're off for a precious family holiday and a week in the sun. So, what do I bring?

First, I am delighted to show off my holiday wardrobe - because it is ALL MADE BY ME! Even the bikini!! Did I hear awesome!! ?

Secondly, I'd like to share my toiletry bag, because I believe that you can be pretty organic even when you're away (yes I know this is like a fart in space compared to the environmental stress caused by actually getting there, but you gotta do something, right?):

The beauty box itself is made from upcycled vintage fabric, not made by me though. I actually bought it from a crafty person on Facebook. I love it!!

- Sunscreen: after lots of research with contradicting information I have decided that the least bad shit you can use against the harmful rays (other than clothes) contain no chemical filters (only physical) and are based on zink as opposed to titanium dioxide. And maybe the most important factor: no nano particles! The choice for the kids came down to Badger, found here. For us parents we have decided to use the stuff we already have, but try to use as little as possible. Staying in the shade is pretty effective too, as is wearing clothes of course.

- Then, as I keep raving about coconut oil, going on holiday without it is not an option. It actually offers low sun protection too, about SPF 7.1, so it should work during late afternoon instead of the regular creams.
- Olive oil, for removing make up and facial cleansing. Also offers about SPF 7.5 naturally by the way.
- Conditioner, "no poo"-style from Faith in Nature. This is used by the entire family, or at least those of us who have any hair...
- Aleppo soap for body and hand wash, for everyone.
- Shampoo, dry cake from Lush Cosmetics. Parabene free but contains SLS. Used by the rest of the family. Bonus feature - you don't have to carry any heavy water!

  • Wooden hairbrushes.
  • Tooth brushes made of bamboo and organic toothpaste.

Also, we mainly use GLASS travel sized containers. Won't they break? God, no! These are VERY thick and durable. They add a little extra weight compared to plastic, sure, but it is worth it. I have actually had both exploded plastic shampoo bottles as well as cracked ones in my luggage in the past. No issues with the glass ones.

For the small baby we have to bring some special stuff, like diapers. We use cloth at home and cloth away. The only thing we change is that when we travel, we pretty much only use flats (muslin squares) instead of all-in-ones or pocket style diaps. These are very easy to clean, even without a proper washing machine, and they dry in 15 minutes in the sun - no kidding. Just need to remember to bring a washing line and some pegs in case we need more drying space, and a little washing powder. We also bring our glass baby bottle and a cotton bib.
Flat diapers from Småfolk and Minimundus.

PUL-bag for dirty diapers and a bunch of cloth baby wipes.

Very soon I'll be hanging out here:
Photo borrowed from Bahia Principe's website.

Have a nice week people! In the meantime you can check out my Green Stuff section - it is now updated and covers everything in our bathroom. Next area will be kitchen, stay tuned!

Peace and love!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New sewing gadget!

For some time I have wanted a tape binder to the CoverPro machine, and today I got it. I bought it from a gal I found on Facebook for a decent price. Immediately I started dreaming of all the quick and easy projects I could now do with no sweat!! Just step on the pedal and be done with it, right??

But it is CRAZY difficult to get it right! I have now read a thousand blogs with handy tips on the matter and seen a fair number of youtube tutorials too, but seriously - it looks like crap so far.
My spirit is broken, people!!

The gadget in all its shiny glory:

And the glorious results:


Friday, November 8, 2013

Passing it on to the child

My 9y old daughter is now old enough to actually get involved in the process, not just to tell mummy to make something for her. In about a week we're off to the sun for some family vacation. The girls' closet inventory was pretty sad - man, they have grown! Some tank tops, shorts and skirts were needed.

So now I'm passing on the controls to the 9y old. She selected the patterns herself, traced them (I did help with the rotary cutter though) and she'll sew them herself this weekend. I love that she really seems to enjoy it - an interest we can really share!

Da child in action.

And when kids are getting busy, there is time for mama to do some things of her own! Like printing, cutting and taping 42 sheets of paper!!!! Those pdf- pattern downloads are always so nice in theory...

Soon, soon I get to start on my fabulous Hazel Dress from Victory Patterns! It is so amazingly beautiful, yet simple. I have bought really great quality viscose fabric with a beautiful drape - dark emerald in the upper and black in the lower part of the dress. This will be my winter party dress!! You can tell my expectations are pretty high. Failure is not an option, friends!


Have a nice weekend. I just started the Friday night by smashing a glass of red wine all over the couch. That was just not right.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

FBA for garments without darts - tutorial, part 2

The swedish version is found here

This post on FBA is not done only because it's fun, but because I haven't found anything satisfactory out there - and I have searched a lot. I had to develop my own method, and it works!

For FBA introduction I recommend reading part 1. It is found here.

I will now show you how to make a full bust adjustment (FBA) on a garment without darts, such as a t-shirt. The pattern I'll use is 'Rose Top' from the book Sy! Från hood till skjortklänning by Jenny Hellström Ruas. This tee is cut with a slightly A-line.

The first time I made Rose I did the classic mistake, i.e. cut one size larger (size L) to give the boobs enough room. Then I ended up with this amazing (hmm) piece:

You can clearly see that it is very tent-like around the shoulders and waist, but still tight across the bust. This is not what we want, unless taking the family camping - just bring the tent poles and get installed!

Here we go.

#1 Select your size and trace your pattern

If I go by my waist and high bust measures, I end up right in the middle of size M and L according to sizing table (my real bust measurement puts me between L and XL, but that we ignore for now). I will sew my top in a stretchy jersey so I choose to start from a size M.

According to the pattern table I would have to increase my bust width by 8 cm (just over 3 inches) = 4cm(1,5'') /half pattern, but the stretchy fabric makes me doubt that I need that much and I now decide half of that should be sufficient. That is 2cm/half pattern.

Trace your pattern.

Front size M, no alterations. 

#2 Finding apex

If you're sewing in non stretchy fabric then you can "wear" your pattern and mark apex, but for stretchy fabric this is not so simple since it tends to have a life of its own when worn. If you don't belive me, put on a stretchy top and mark with a pin your apex. Remove the top and compare with the mark on the pattern. I bet you they are not in the same spot! For me they are a good 3cm apart, see photo below. 

Yellow points at apex for stiff fabric, blue points at apex for stretchy fabric.

Now I will continue my work from the blue apex.

#3 Do FBA

Time to cut and spread! In common fashion we now mark the FBA lines to be cut, but since we don't have any darts we only have to bother about the apex. 

IMPORTANT! Before you cut - measure the sideline of the pattern carefully. Write it down. If you have any notches (I do) then measure the distance to it from the armpit and write it down. You'll need these measures later.

My sideline is 42,5 cm and the distance to my notch (I only have one) is 14 cm.

Now you can cut, spread and tape your pattern!

Adjusting for my 2cm as planned.

But HOLD YOUR HORSES!! What were you thinking? We didn't want any darts! And if we don't have darts, we are making the waist wider and the sideseam longer, right? RIGHT??

Yup. Pretty much about here most tutorials end, but calm yourself, I won't leave you hanging - now we have some fixing to do! :-)

#4 - Adjustment to avoid altering the waist

Now there are a couple of important steps.

First, grab a tape measure or a ruler and measure on your body the distance between your armpit and your waist. It doesn't need to be super accurate. I measure roughly 30 cm /12''. Mark this on your pattern.

From the waist marking and down to the hem we want to remove the same amount as we added through the cut, 2cm in my case. This is the dotted line.

Now grade the dotted line from the waist to the bust cut - we want the boobs to fit now, don't we. Mark your new pretty sideline all the way up.

Now the garment will get the waist size it was designed for, but have plenty more boob space. LIKE.

#5 - Adjustment to avoid altering the length

If you remember the boob drawing from tutorial part 1, I explained that a bigger bust needs more fabric down the front for the garment to keep its length. So far in this FBA we have made the entire front longer, since we don't have any darts. That would make the front hem look like a sour mouth. We don't like sour mouths, we like indifferent, straight mouths. So now we need to take action.

In step #3 I told you to write down your sideline measures. Now we need it.
Measure the side again along your new sideline.

My original measure: 42,5cm
My new measure: 44,8 cm
Difference = 2,3 cm. (approx 1'')

Now mark, from the bottom along your new sideline, the difference you measured (2,3cm).
Grade towards the waistline cut, see the blue line in the photo (psst, ignore the red line down the bottom. I am blaiming the baby). Now, just to be sure, measure your sideline again, between the armpit and the blue line so that is is identical to your original measure (42,5 cm).

Blue line marks the new hem.

Now that this is done there is only one thing left. Adding your notch to its new location. In step #3 I measured it to be 14 cm below the armpit so I measure and draw it in place.

New notch location.

All you have to do now is cut around your altered pattern or trace it again and you are done!!! You have now constructed a nice pattern that goes together like a dream - the sleeve and the back pattern pieces won't have a clue what you've been up to! Sneaky, sneaky!

Just to prove this alteration visually I've placed my new size M pattern on top of the old one, the unaltered size L. If you look closely you can see that the size M has smaller armholes, slimmer waist but MORE bust allowance!!! That's just perfect! 

#6 - Moment of truth

Results? Strike a pose...

And just a little historic reminder from times when things were suckier:


  • If you have a very large bust you may actually want to sew a bust dart. The fabric will try to form one anyway. It is a matter of how much wrinkles in the side you can tolerate. If you do make a dart then you'll skip step #5.
  • If you have a tummy that fancies a little extra fabric you may be tempted to skip step #4. That's okay BUT you'll have a quite big adjustment to to in step #5 then. If you're sewing a striped fabric, like me, the hemline will show that it is not cut straight off. If you want you can make this less obvious by doing half of the step #5 adjustment and instead make the backpiece longer until they match up. Note that it would make the garment longer.

Good luck!