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Portugal Fun

Hey everyone!

I am back from my wonderful 10-day holiday to Portugal for nearly two weeks now and it feels like it all happened ages ago. Probably  the autumn really kicking in here in Estonia makes it hard to believe that just some days ago I was sweating on a bicycle ride along the coast of the Atlantic ocean.

Portugal is amazing, it was my first time there and I was lucky in several ways – first of all, having enough time to explore the country, secondly having maybe the best travel companion with me and thirdly, the itinerary we had set up enabled us to see a great deal of Portugal.

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Out of the ten days we spent four in Lisbon, then headed to South to Albufeira and from there up North to Porto via Coimbra. From Porto to the oceanside Figueira da Foz and then on the last day dropped by Obidos as well.

A few photos (most of them in this post have been taken by my friend Triin) here before getting to the fabric stores :)

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Yeah, to the fabric store then…

The first thing that I noticed and it kind of struck me was that being as busy as I was before departure, I didn´t find a moment to do any research on the fabric shops in Lisbon or anywhere else, but as it turned out, there was no need, as it is impossible to miss them in any city center. I guess it has something to do with the history of trading that Portugal is known for.

The first one of the many in Lisbon was Feira dos Tecidos, very close to the Rossi train station. It is a peculiar shop, lots of space but really not so much variety to choose from. Some fabrics are sold as 1,5 m coupons, some are on the rolls. However, they had some interesting faux leather and some doubleknits in beautiful autumn shades.

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The whole touristic city center of Lisbon is full of smaller fabric shops, that are not always very welcoming for photographing so I cannot show you many photos, but once you find the Feira dos Tecidos and then wander around the network of streets around the area, you will run into most of them anyway.

Some of them are pretty modest on the outside, but hide great, expensive fabric treasures, especially lace. There are also streets lined with small shops selling haberdashery, but I cannot buy buttons without a certain fabric and pattern in my mind, so I passed them with a heavy heart.

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As we were on our way to Porto, we made a stop for a lunch and stroll in Coimbra.

An once again, a fabric store suddenly just stood in front of me! As I discovered later, Avenida 7 is a whole chain of high-end fabric retailers. They mostly stock designer fabrics, expensive silks and amazing lace.

The following photos are taken in their Coimbra shop, but there is also one in Porto. Neither of them can be missed if you happen to walk around in the city center!

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As you can see, in addition to the goodies I got from Lisbon, I couldn´t resist the ones in Coimbra, either.

Altogether I got three fabrics:

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The mustard fabric is from Avenida 7, I am not sure about the composition, however, it has lengthwise stretch and it is quite heavy. I loved the texture and color and I imagine a nice fall skirt made of this.

The quilt-effect sweater jersey got me with its color combo. I only got a small piece and I should sew up a sweater asap, combining it with some plain black jersey.

The striped one is probably viscose. Again the colors where what sold me, I think I can recall a RTW maxi dress made of a very similar fabric. As it was sold in coupons, I got 3 of them, each 1.5 m wide and long. Hopefully enough for a dress at some point.

Unfortunately I haven´t had much time for sewing recently and it makes me stressed. I wanted to finish one interesting summer dress right on time for the trip so that I could have taken beautiful photos, but work and fun (and also the heatwave of early August) got in my way so I have a few unfinished projects waiting for their turn. I cannot afford all this fabric gathering up in my little flat, should turn it into garments at a faster rate!

However, I wouldn´t exchange my trip to Portugal to no matter how much time for sewing because it was a real time-out and I am also very grateful to my dear friend Triin, who put up with my fabric stores tour, did the driving and also took these beautiful photos!

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Zig Zag Zipper Dress

Hey!

I am usually not into using the same pattern repeatedly, but after stumbling upon some discounted bright turquoise blue double knit which I just had to have, I needed a simple pattern to show off the color and avoid visual overkill.

I immediately thought of my Zig Zag Znake Dress and McCall´s pattern 6243, view C.

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Since the pattern was already prepared, I needed a few evenings to nearly finish the dress, but still had to stitch the last 20 cm of the hem by hand in a few minutes before a concert I attended last Sunday.

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It seems now that this celebrated the last summery evening of this weird summer, where the weather has been into extremes only – either very hot and dry or then pouring rain like there is no tomorrow. The concert took place at yet another beautiful manor of Estonia, this time a wooden one called Kõltsu. If you are interested, check it out here.

I have used zippers for the diagonal seams. It was a random idea that occurred to me as I was wandering around the fabric store and trying to picture the dress in my mind. At first the idea was to use golden zippers for some extra bling, but the ones that I managed to find did not look nice when unzipped, the teeth appeared yellow instead of golden, as if the gold was only sprayed over the zipper.

I finally went with a matching shade and got two 80cm zippers, of which I only used a half on each diagonal seam. The hardest part was removing the zipper teeth from the seam allowances.

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As you can see, I am repeating myself not only with the pattern, but with the color combination choices as well. I do have a LOT of shoes, but when it comes to turquoise color, I only seem to be able to match it with some kind of a pink. I also thought of a pair of golden wedges, but for this particular event I felt more comfortable wearing flats.

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I am not very satisfied with how the dress looks on the backside. The nylon/spandex double knit is lighter in weight that the cotton one I used for the previous version (the Zig Zag Snake Dress). As a result I should be very careful with my underwear choices the next time I wear it and I am also considering adjusting the dress even more for my swayback.

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The fabric doesn´t fray at all so there was a great temptation to leave the hemline and arm and neck holes unfinished. In the end I still went the traditional way and stitched them by hand but didn´t bother to finish the seam allowances on the inside.

The front zipper in more detail:

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All in all it is a great summer project to make – quick and fun!

I will be off for holidays in a few days, so most probably the next post will be tagged as “Travel” again ;)

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The Green Sweetheart Dress

Hey there! Just a few days ago I had a great opportunity to visit Padise, one of Estonia´s many manors and enjoy a concert in the ruins of a monastery nearby.

For that event I finally managed to finish a dress that I had started exactly a year ago! I don´t know how it happened or why did I stop, but really, it took me year to get my act together and finish the zipper side seam (the zipper was actually already set in!) and the hemline…. oh well. But I am very satisfied with the result, the only regret is not having finished it earlier!

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The dress is  model 116 from BurdaStyle 4/2013, aka the Sweetheart Dress on burdastyle.com.

116_0413_B_large (1)116_technical_large (1)As you can see, I have omitted the small bow and the waistband. However, I am in search for a fuchsia pink belt to match with the shoes. I have always liked the contrasting combination of green and pink :)

I cut Burda size 38, but I might have left wider seam allowances for the hip area to ensure that I can make it fit. I cannot be really sure, because I started sewing the garment already a year ago….

I think what eventually made me stop halfway was the bodice and the shoulder seams, although it is ridiculous because the most difficult part was done by this time last year. Maybe I just ran out of energy for this project, but yes,  cannot say that the bodice is so easy to make, especially if you want the corners of the front and back shoulder straps to look sharp. In my case, it was also the rather thick, pique fabric (cotton mixed with some elastane for slight stretch) that I chose, a souvenir from my last years trip to Austria. It was rather tricky to get it fit right with all the facings and sharp corners.

With hindsight I think maybe the dress would be better if I had bothered with a lining instead of the facings that I had to bias tape one by one, adding quite some bulk like that.

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I also planned to make it a bit longer at first, but while trying to determine the perfect length, suddenly the shorter look seemed more fun. I guess it supports the playful colour of the fabric.

Some details of the bodice and the texture of the fabric can be seen here:

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 If anyone is wondering about the shoes, these bright pink silk shantung Ralph Lauren espadrilles are another souvenir from Austria last year. There are lots of shades still available on amazon.com. Very nice, but for narrower feet, just like mine.

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As you can see in the photos, we finally have some real summer here in Estonia this year and I am so glad for it, I can finally wear my dresses and not only the raincoat! I hope all of you in the northern hemisphere are enjoying your summer as well!

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Fabric Shopping in Vienna

Although it seems that this year Estonia forgot to apply for summer weather and we have watched the whole June go by pretty much like October, there have been so many things to do that I haven´t even had the time to say a few words about the rest of the trip to Vienna in the end of May.

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As some of you may remember, I also visited Austria last year exactly the same time, and I loved the country. I felt that there were so many things left to do in Vienna that it deserved another trip this year, and to sum it up, it might easily happen that I will go again next year.

Because it was the first time for my travel companion to visit Vienna, we did some of the must-see attractions as well, like Schönbrunn Palace and Belvedere. The latter has several works by Gustav Klimt, so it was no problem for me to go and see them once again.

Apart from this, we also rented bicycles for a day, which gave us an opportunity to see the city from a different angle; visited the Prater amusement park and some great exhibitions at Albertina, saw a rather touristic Mozart concert (mostly for the venue – the Golden Hall of Musikverein) and checked out the oldest zoo at Schönbrunn. In addition to that, I could not leave Vienna without making a purchase at the famous Komolka store.

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I will not repeat my last years description of the overwhelming experience, but it was truly overwhelming even for the second time. Some examples below:

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I bought two fabrics and matching linings:

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The first is a turquoise-gold-white bouclé at a very good price (just EUR 7/m) and a matching lining and the second light blue-beige very stretchy net-like fabric with a matching stretch lining. By the time of writing this, the first one is nearly finished as a Chanel-inspired jacket and the second one will become a dress one day.

I think my love for Vienna is only growing, visiting this beautiful city (and wonderful Austria)  may easily become a spring holiday tradition for me.

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Fancy Pants (in Vienna)

Hey!

It seems that this blog is slowly turning more into a travel blog rather than a sewing one, so I will start with the latest finished project, photographed in Vienna, and later write another short post on my holiday trip to Vienna and fabric shopping at the famous Komolka store.

So, the pants:

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 Maybe some of you can already guess, the pattern is from BurdaStyle 3/2014, model 115, the Floral Skinny Jeans pattern on Burdastyle.com.

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I cut size 40 at the hips, although my regular Burda size is 38, because my actual hip circumference is just about 100 cm and the tight fitting pant would not allow me to get away with some playing around on the fit. Due to this I had to shave off a lot of fabric on the waistline, I think altogether maybe 5 cm.

Tight fitting pants with all kinds of prints are really popular now and I had been wanting to make a pair myself. It was actually a risk, since several of the ready-to-wear pants have been just awful on me, sometimes the print really underlines details of the figure that I´d rather hide.

I guess I was lucky this time, because the heavyish stretch cotton I got from Stockholm seems ok to me.

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Some close-ups as well:

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I used a special thicker thread for topstitching (like the typical orange/yellow you see on jeans) and lined the side of the machine foot up with the first stitched line so that the distance between the two rows would be equal over the whole course of the seam.

For the pockets, I decided to use the off-white shade of the four elastic lining fabrics I got last year from Poland. I did so because I figured that if I followed the instructions and used the main fabric, I would end up with a lot of bulk to stitch through. I think it was a good idea, it is also easier to slip the hand into the pocket due to this little detail.

I finished all the seam allowances with a very thin cotton-looking polyester bias tape and used my beloved Threads magazine front fly tutorial for the zipper.

The golden button is also from the trip Sweden:

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I enjoyed sewing the pants as they came together easily and I am happy with the fit. It took me approximately two Saturdays to get them done, although I must admit that as I wanted to shoot them in a different enviornment (on my trip), I pushed myself slightly harder than usually.

As you can imagine, I didn´t leave Vienna without any new fabrics, more on that in the next post!

Discovering Stockholm

Last weekend I had a chance to briefly visit Stockholm.ImageImageImageImage

My mom and her two friends needed a fourth person to fill the cabin for a short cruise to Stockholm and I thought some fabric shopping in Sweden wouldn´t hurt, so I joined in.

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I have visited Stockholm before and seen or visited the main attractions so this time I decided to look for fabrics and just enjoy the day.

I was so busy at work before the trip that I had no time to run a proper search for the stores so I ended up with a few I found on a random post on a discussion thread somewehere on a website, I cannot recall.

What I like the most about fabric shopping while on a trip is that it makes you go to areas and places that you would most probably not visit as a regular tourist. This is why going back to a city you have visited before can be even more enjoyable because you are free of the pressure to see the most important tourist attractions and landmarks.

With a map in my hand and a metro ticket in my pocket I ended up in Södermalm, to find a tiny fabric shop that I knew from my internet source was owned by a Greek couple. The shop is called Karmosin, they also have a very basic website here.

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They bring their goods from Italy and the little place is stuffed with rolls of different fabrics, from wedding dress silk to plain printed cotton. They are also selling some dresses, that have been sewn using the fabrics on sale. Although the selection is not huge, I found a beautiful heavier type of polyester for a dress or a skirt. I love the color combination:

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It was a very nice experience to speak Greek after some time away from Greece and not having used the language on a daily basis.

The other shop I was looking for, was called Red Thread in English, but I was directed to Red Cross charity shop when I asked around :) I also didn´t have the precise address and was already ready to leave to go to Gamla Stan, when I suddenly noticed a sign across the street that read “tyger”. Somehow I had connected the dots and realized that this has something to do with fabric (actually it means “fabrics” in English, I now know). So I decided to check it out and ended up in a little paradise.

The shop was called Söders Tyger and they really have great stuff there! A huge selection of all types of Gütermann thread, loads of cotton fabrics in all imaginable prints, great buttons and of course, sewing machines.

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Of course I could not leave empty handed and it turned out to be one of the rare times where I have an idea or pattern already in my mind and then I get the fabric as well. Usually the process is opposite, the idea appears the moment I touch the fabric,

This time I was thinking of trying to make tight fitting jean-like pants for summer (Burda magazine produced a very appetizing pattern like two months ago) and I kept my eyes open for a suitable weight stretch fabric. This is what I found:

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I also got a golden coat of arms button for the pants and some Gütermann thread.

I really enjoyed the day, although I was wandering the shops alone as my mom took part in a tour and one of her friends went shopping at a big mall.

Now I just hope to find enough time to get to sewing soon!

 

Poodle Blouse in Istanbul

I spent the last week in Istanbul, or as Greeks still call it, Konstantinoupoli!

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The aim of the trip was a work-related scientific conference with a rather full program – from 7.30 AM to 6 PM and this from Monday to Saturday, but nevertheless, I managed to see some highlights of this amazing city.

I was especially lucky because I had a very helpful local guide (and his friend who actually works as a tour guide!!) who showed me and one of my colleagues around after the conference sessions. The local guide was a former PhD student from Turkey whom my father, who is a professor at the university, supervised several years ago in Estonia and I had his contacts after he came over for dinner in my parents house once. We had chatted maybe a few times during the past years over social media, but when the conference was confirmed, I told him I would be in town and he turned out to be extremely hospitable.

I didn´t go to Istanbul empty handed, I wanted to use this opportunity to take some photos of my lates sewing project in a more exotic environment than usually.

Do you remember this fun poodle print silk crepe de chine from my trip to Helsinki?

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Just in time for Istanbul, I turned this and a scrap of plain black crepe de silk into this:

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I have used this pattern (model 16, Patrones No 318) once before, and also wore it at the conference:

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As you can see, this time I omitted the sleeves, the result of a long debate with myself – since after my first fabric shopping in Helsinki and pre-shrinking the fabric, it lost exactly enough length and width to forbid me from cutting the sleeves, I bought somemor on my second trip….. just to decide against the sleeves in the end.

Since the shirt is so easy to make, having no darts whatsoever, it was a good project for my first ever silk sewing. To my surprise, the fabric behaved well during the process and I am especially proud of the buttonholes, that are perfectly in line and equal in size. I don´t know if and when I will ever be relaxed while sewing them!

I used French seams for shoulder and side seams and at the armholes I just folded the fabric over twice and sewed.

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Some close ups back at home:

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Of course I looked around for fabrics in Istanbul as well, but I wasn´t so lucky with this. Some of my colleagues had randomly wandered around and reached a square somewehere between the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, which was surrounded by fabric shops and actually a bronze statue of a fabric merchant unfolding some fabric was standing in the middle of it, but I didn´t manage to find this wonderland.

Instead, I found a well-kept outlet at Grand Bazaar, selling Ikat silk and silk/cotton mix. Also some other traditional fabrics, but after a lot of thinking, I ended up with 1,6 m of hand-loomed silk ikat, which is exceptionally wide  – 80 cm. You can see me holding it in the next photo:

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As you can see, the decision wasn´t easy, but I am very satisfied with the result. Believe it or not, but this is the only fabric I bought on this trip!

Walking down on Mahmoud Pasa street, I discovered some shops selling all kinds of crazy lace and glittery lycra, but I did not really stop by there. Then there were also countless shops for buttons, ribbons, bias tape and whatever you can imagine, but I cannot buy these notions without a certain fabric and pattern in my mind, so no shopping here, either. I guess there will be a moment where I will regret it, though :)

ImageImageImageGenerally, the whole experience of the city, as much as we could see it besides the lectures, was wonderful. The traditional tulip festival (tulip is the national flower of Turkey) was in full bloom with unreal color combinations and thanks to the local friends, we managed to drive around even at night, when, I dare say, the historic city center looks even more impressive.

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Live simply, travel lightly, love passionately & don't forget to breathe

I choose to collect memories instead of things. " To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, to draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of 'Life' "

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