Getting Comfortably Out of my Comfort Zone

Ok, so I was at this meetup in Paris, and this being a sewing meetup, I was ogling everybody’s clothes to see which ones were self-made. (I only wore my Cordova jacket, all the rest was bought. For shame!) One garment that caught my eye immediately was this fabulous mustard yellow skirt:

Fabulous!

In the course of the day I found out that it was indeed self-made and that its name is Jade. Lisa (to whom these gorgeously long legs belong) had designed the skirt and was offering it for sale. I did not, however, rush home and buy it immediately, as fabulous as it is. This hip-hugging design was just way out of my comfort zone. I was afraid this eyecatching design would make my saddlebags glaringly obvious. Nevertheless, I couldn’t get the design out of my head.

Therefore, when Lisa looked for reviewers for the improved pattern, I jumped at the opportunity! So there you have it, I got the pattern for free and boy am I happy I did!

Saddlebags? – Nope, not here!

Looking at the finished garment on me, I think either pregnancy has smoothed out the kinks a bit, or it’s just a good design. I would guess the latter. :D Every time I wear it I get at least one compliment, so that also helps! It’s also like wearing pyjamas, thanks to the ponte di roma I used.

The (pdf) pattern, which I think is correctly labelled intermediate, prints on 28 pages (there is also a copy shop version). At first I thought this was quite a lot, but you know, it’s an asymmetric pattern, so of course the pattern pieces aren’t mirrored.

Big Butt? – Yep, but you know… I like big butts…!

The pattern seemed quite straight forward to put together, so I was tempted not to follow the instructions. But this being a review, I did things properly and I’m glad I did. I learned a new and quite ingenious way of attaching the lining and sewing the side seams all in one go! Thanks to the lining, there is also no hemming involved. Double plus!

I initially had some troubles folding the folds (horrible sentence, but, erm, folds are folded… :P ). For that Lisa has helpfully included a folding practice piece that you can print seperately. (Which I didn’t use. I’m stubborn that way.)

Oh, Hi There Stray Thread!

I would usually make a knit garments with my serger/overlock, but because the folds are stitched down, used my regular machine. Too lazy to switch back and forth…

I had never been happy with the zigzag stitch for knits, as it always, always broke after a few wears. So finally I dug out the manual to my 1977 Bernina 831 and found that it has a stretch stitch. IT distorts the fabric just slightly, so I will have to experiment with it further, but it did the job wonderfully insofar as none of the seams has broken so far (that’s 2 weeks of excessive wear).

All in all it was a fairly quick make. I needed a bit of a breather after making about 10’000 muslins for a special dress and the coat you see a bit of in these pictures. While it wasn’t technically a project you can just sew mindlessly, I managed to power through it in 1 evening (cutting) and the next day (sewing), while still caring for the bean.

Final verdict: I am exceedingly happy with this skirt! I think it looks flattering even on a pear shaped figure. Plus, it’s a very eye catching design that’s gotten me tons of compliments already!

The Traveling Never Stops

The Traveling Never Stops

Though the blogging apparently does. Or should I say “takes extended breaks”? :P Again, usually I wouldn’t have written up this post 2 months after the trip (eeek! Where does time go?) But again, it was something special, so I want to document it. :) After we got back home from Paris, we had three weeks of rest. We celebrated Christmas (at least the part when Santa Claus gives the presents) together with our neighbours in the common room. Then, for new year we went to Lapland. This was our third time (first trip here, second here), so we knew the drill: take overnight train to Rovaniemi, then 3 hour bus ride to Levi, where we met my family. This time we had rented a cottage that could accomodate all 8 of us:

The Lumovaara – Highly recommend!

Usually I would go to Switzerland for Christmas, and then spend New Year’s Eve in Italy. But to save the bean that stress, my family decided they needed to see how dark it can get in Lapland. Answer: it gets dark, but not as much as we expected:

Mid-day Sun – Just below the horizon

So day doesn’t technically happen, but there is a beautifully colourful sunrise that morphs seamlessly into sunset.

While there were some activities outside (not for me, mind you, I’m way too lazy :D ), we just enjoyed hanging out together in the evenings. My family got to know the bean and vice versa:

Family Hangout

Once we ventured out all together, to go on a cozy (if slightly cold) reindeer sleigh ride:

Reindeer Sleighing – In a Winter wonderland!

The bean came with us, wrapped up well in an extra blanket and inside my jacket:

Family Picture!

All of this was exceedingly nice, but the occurence that made this trip extra special was this:

Finally! Aurora Borealis!

Yep, three time’s the charm! Now I will never ever have to go to Lapland again! :P (Just kidding! Kind of…)

It was pretty amazing, even if it lasted only about 10 minutes. I’m sure, now that the pressure of having to see them once in my live is gone, I will see them quite often. ;)

Also, with that out of the way (just wanted to induce some jealousy :D ), I leave you with a picture from the bus trip home:

Sun Pillar – apparently a rare occurence as well!

A Long Cropped Sweater

Oh hello there! Long time no see! And to top it off, a make that has been finished since the beginning of November (as you can easily tell from the location of these photos). Usually I wouldn’t bother to write a post about something that “old” and “long ago”, but this one is special. How so? Well, may I introduce you to the sweater that has helped me deal with labour?

Pleased To Meet You! – Being silly in the Jardin des Plantes

But how can a sweater help someone through labour? Well, I had cast it on two days before giving birth and was knitting quite ferouciously up until leaving for the hospital. I was still so focused on it that whenever I needed to take my mind off the pain during labour (that is right before epidural and top ups kicked in) I was picturing this sweater and coming up with outfits. That’s how it got it’s ravelry name (Labour Celtic Hill).

Have Some Side View – To break up the text :)

It’s “Celtic Hill” a design from knitwear designer (and IRL friend) Kessa Tay Anlin. When she published the pattern I knew immediately that I wanted to make it (so bought it within two minutes of seeing it). What can I say, I love cables (both the look and knitting them).

However, I was 3 months pregnant at that time and knew that I wouldn’t be able to wear anything this body conscious in quite some time. So I postponed. When the bean took his time and I got more and more anxious, I needed something to calm my nerves. Knitting cables was exactly what I needed!

Back View – Just because

After coming back home I wasn’t really able to work on it for a few weeks. By the time we went to Paris, though, I started having little pockets of time to myself. Add to this the lack of a sewing machine and it took me almost no time to finish! It is not a difficult knit if you know how to do cabling, and the one fiddly part (grafting the cables) is explained very well in the pattern.

However, from purchasing the pattern, to starting the project, to actually finishing it, it took me a very long time, hence the title of this post.

Cable Detail – try to spot the graft (I can’t)

The yarn (Drops Merino Extrafine) was acquired at the epic closing sale of my favourite LYS. It can therefore be considered as using up stash yarn, even if it was in there for less than half a year. :)

Also, because of the sale, I only got the last 7 skeins of this dyelot. I knew it was not going to be enough for the full length, but was hoping I could get it to at least waist length. As you can see, I suceeded in that, though I used up every last bit of what I had. I love the look of cropped sweaters on me, so I am really, really happy with the outcome!

The above outfit is how I wore it a lot since completion. For the other outfit ideas, I have to get cracking with the sewing machine, as all the high waist pants I own don’t fit me right now. My “to sew list” is very long, though, so who knows if they ever get done! (Keep reading to find out! :P)

What is the longest you worked on an item? (UFOs don’t count) How do you take your mind off unpleasant situations?

Living The Fabulous Life Of…

…a mathematician’s wive. Why fabulous, you may wonder? After all we have our permanent address in the rather lovely, yet unglamorous Jyväskylä (thanks to mathematics). However, if you have seen the tab at the top saying “trips” you know that we are pretty much traveling all the time (this, too, thanks to mathematics).

I am quite a traveler (thanks to having traveler parents), but this time around I was extremely nervous. After all, it was the first trip for the bean, and by airplane! (I don’t enjoy flying all that much) I was so worried that I might even have cried on the first flight. He, however, seems to fit perfectly into our jet-setting live ( :P ) and fell asleep immediately after boarding. We were also lucky that the flight was quite empty and we were able to let him sleep in the car seat.

So where were we heading this time? If you read my blog recently, you know it was to the city that is widely considered one of the most glamorous cities in the world:

Paris!

Yes, it is true that the architecture (at least in the center), shopping and fashion is great here. Even the children are fashionable! But if you have ever spent more than 10 minutes in the metro, you know what I’m talking about when I say: “Paris stinks!” I might also have declared a few times that I don’t like Paris much. (I’m a country chick, so it was just too much (noise, filth, people…) for me). However, I actually liked our stay this time around! A lot of the enjoyment had to do with our accommodation:

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Entrance to Our Apartment Building

The place is in the 5th neighborhood (where the Quartier Latin is) and was found and paid for by the institution in which PHD was attending a research trimester. It is a convenient 15 minutes walk from said institute.

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View From The Bedroom Window

It felt like a secret garden in the middle of the city. We also got to know some lovely neighbours pretty much immediately after arrival. Two of them are a Finnish/French couple with a boy who is only 2 months older than our bean!

The weather was gorgeous and balmy 12-18º C most of the six weeks we spent there. Needless to say it was also day for a lot longer than back home in Finland, so I often took the opportunity and went for a walk in the very close by Jardin des Plantes:

Gogeous Autumn Weather – Soaking up all that sun!

On other occasions I would take a stroll along the Rue Mouffetard (5 minutes walking distance from our temporary home). I forgot to take a picture (D’oh!), but here is one from Wikipedia:

Rue Mouffetard – Full of scrumptious food places

I very often had lunch at the famous “Au P’tit Grec” (to avoid the huge daily queue I usually went at around 11am or 2pm), or took a quiche from “La Maison des Tartes” for dinner. Even though there was a kitchen in our apartment, I very seldom cooked. There were just too many restaurants and take-aways, as well as bakeries, that I had to try. I mean, look at these delicacies:

Cheese! – Cue Wallace and Gromit

Or these pieces of art:

French Confectionery – NamNamNam!

Not to speak of the cafés:

Parisian Breakfast – En famille

I ate so well during these 6 weeks that it was quite the clunker to come back to the Finnish supermarkets and their limited Winter selection. :(

On the up side, I now cook again, which is something I really enjoy! We are already back since the beginning of December, and I have found a new enthusiasm for cooking, very probably thanks to the things I got to see and eat in Paris.

So that’s it from Paris. It only took me 1 month to write this post… -.- So, even if I can’t make up a snazzy ending to this post, that’s it for now! Have a good one!

The Home Tour Continued

Having covered the most important room in my last post, on we go for a tour of the less important rooms of our new apartment. As in the last post, I did not clean/put order before taking photographs. This is pretty much how it looks like on a regular basis in here. Of course the ad online didn’t advertise a sewing space. So what caught my interest instead was a picture of the following room:

Living Area – Includes kitchen, dining and living room

It seemed different from what is usually available on the market here. In most of the apartments we went to see, the kitchen was separate from the eating/living space. So seeing an apartment with an open floor plan was like finding a special snowflake. ;) Add to that the sloped ceiling, which gives this apartment it’s spacious feel:

Living Area – View from the kitchen corner

Though I must say it looked a lot more coordinated furniture wise than these pictures. What can I say, it’s a work in progress. And if I wait until it’s finished, you will very probably never get to see it. :D

Another unusual feature is the upstairs loft, which is visible in the second picture. The ceiling there is only 1.55m high and it therefore doesn’t count as living space. But when I saw it I immediately thought “children’s playroom”! In each of the three smaller rooms there is a ladder leading up to the loft:

Ladder To The Loft – This is the one from PHD’s office

Yes, three smaller rooms. Another unusual thing in Finnish apartments. Average apartments here have two bedrooms. I guess people looking for something bigger look for a house with garden. Since we don’t have time/expertise to take care of either house or garden, we were focusing on apartments. Which, as I said, are usually 2 bedroom affairs. This one has 4 bedrooms in total, which makes it an extra special snowflake.

It’s too big, to be honest, but it seemed quite impossible to find the goldilocks apartment with three bedrooms in the areas we were looking at. But of course we managed just fine filling all of the rooms! :D

As seen from the picture above, one of the rooms serves as PHD’s office. The next one is going to be the bean’s bedroom, once he sleeps on his own (and once we stopped using it as a dumping ground…):

Bean’s Room

It has already changed a bit in appearance since I took these pics (in October). I try to let him have his daytime naps in there so he gets used to sleeping in there. I hope this will make the transition easier, once it is time.

The last room in this row is the guest room:

Guestroom

Just like in our last apartment, this was the room that was finished first. So if you will ever visit, this is what you will get. :)

All the artwork you can see in these pictures were done by my grandfather. He was quite prolific, though never found his own style. Therefore there are a lot of painting styles I could choose from. I love the works of his that focus on a few textured colours, like the one hanging in our bedroom:

Bedroom

The fact that both the chair and curtains coordinate with the painting is a happy accident. The chair itself is another heirloom from my grandparents.

I know I said that we didn’t want to deal with a garden. However, when this apartment turned out to have one, we didn’t really mind. Probably also because “garden” is stretching the definition a bit… Basically the back goes towards a wooded area, which gives us the green (now white) views of a garden, without much work involved. Conveniently there is also a terrace:

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I truly love living here and consider ourselves extremely lucky to have found this gem! The only drawback is that I don’t ever want to move away… :) (We are also very lucky to be living in an area where housing is still affordable. In Paris, Rome or even Zürich the same amount of money would have bought us something not even half this size. Granted, Jyväskylä is far from being as fabulous a city as these, but being the country chick I am, I even kind of prefer it this way.)

I hope you liked this tour of our home! And as you can see, there’s still space for guests, so come and visit while you can! ;)

An Unusual Amount of Plucking Up Courage

An Unusual Amount of Plucking Up Courage

We (yes, that’s the royal we ;) ) interrupt the usual program for a bit of sewing fangirling. This is going to be long-winded, so be warned!

The ones who know me IRL will probably know that I spent the last 5 weeks in Paris (more on that in a future post). A Finnish friend had made me aware that there was going to be a DIY expo (the Salon Créations & Savoir-Faire) during this time When looking at the vendors, I saw that Deer and Doe‘s Eléonore was going to be there. I love her patterns for many reasons, so of course I had to go! So on the first day of the expo I strapped the bean in his carrier and off we went! When I got to the booth I plucked up all my courage and asked for a picture:

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The lighting was horrible, hence the grainy picture. Eléonore on the other hand was lovely, despite being very busy! Of course I bought some patterns (as well as some fabrics from Les Trouvailles d’Amandine, with whom she shared the booth). I hope I will present a finished garment combining the two sometime soonish.

Anyway, now following Eléonore on Instagram, I found out two days later (from a comment on one of her pictures) that there was going to be a sewing meetup the week after. Of course I wanted in on the fun!

Finding information about it was not very straight forward, but nothing an information specialist (a.k.a librarian, a.k.a. me!) couldn’t find out with a little bit of digging. Once again I plucked up all of my courage and asked Lladybird (who the meeting was organised for) if I could join. She quickly pointed me in the direction of CarmencitaB, who kindly let me join.

So once again I strapped the bean to my front and got going. We were very warmly greeted by our host (who, I found out, had just won the French Sewing Bee!) and got a personalised bag of bags and goodies. It turns out I wasn’t crashing a small and private meetup (phew!), as we were 25 sewists from 9 countries:

Spoolettes in Paris. ❤️

A photo posted by Carmen Bouchard✏️ (@carmencitablog) on

I didn’t take a single picture during the whole day, hence I took the above picture from Carmen’s (our hostess’) Instagram. But if you’re interested, Julie (of jetsetsewing), Charlotte (of englishgirlathome) and Freya (of handmadebyfreya) already wrote up posts about the meetup with lots more pictures. It would be too long to mention all of the people who attended, so I won’t. :D

Of course, as seems to be usual at such meetups, we had a lot of fun fabric and notions shopping and socialising. We started off in the Sentier, followed by tea in the Maison Sajou, and ending at the famous Coupons de Saint Pierre. I did not get so many fabrics, as I made the “mistake” of buying 3 meters of wool coating in one of the first shops I entered. It was so heavy that even the thought of buying more was just too much! However, this gave me the opportunity to socialise with the other sewists without much distraction.

All the while the bean was behaving really well, either sleeping or watching his surroundings contentedly. Only when we stopped at the Maison Sajou, where we had been invited for tea, did he start to get restless. The reason turned out to be a full diaper, which the owners kindly let me change on the counter. After that he fell asleep pretty quickly again, so I could shop at the coupons sale quietly. I did get some more fabrics there, the offers were just too good to pass up! So in the end PHD had to come and help me carry everything home. :) The others went for dinner, but by that time the bean was more than a little tired and rather cranky, so we headed directly home.

The next day those of us who were still in Paris and didn’t have to work (some had just come for a day…!) were invited to Anna Ka Bazaar, which is extremely cute!

Anna Ka Bazaar – photo is from their website

Again I didn’t buy so much, but this time the thought of having to bring all that fabric to Finland kept me in check. Also once again, at the beginning I kinda forgot to take pictures, so I’m once again very thankful for Instagram:

Aujourd'hui nous avons eu la visite de couturières anglophones à la boutique #AnnaKaBazaar ! ❤

A photo posted by Anna Ka Bazaar (@annakabazaar) on

This time from Anna Ka Bazaar. Reminded by the taking of this picture I once again plucked up my courage and asked the other ladies for pictures, having regretted not taking any with some of the other sewists the day before. However, these are just for my private viewing pleasure. :P

So, my first (and probably only) organized sewing meetup was very enjoyable. I have, as is wont to happen at such occasions, met a lot of new people and have found a lot of new to me blogs. Now my blogroll and Instagram just got a lot busier!

Nursing Nettie Hack

As I said in the Jenna cardi post (way back in October) I desperately needed tops suitable for nursing. But I really prefer bodysuits in Winter. (Long torso + normal length cami = exposed mid-section as soon as I sit down = Arrrrgh!) Enter Nettie and So Zoe’s Coco pattern hack!

As so many others did, I immediately bought the Nettie as soon as I had heard of it. I therefore got the version with the wrong sizing. Not a problem in the least for me, as I was heavily pregnant at the time and had bought the pattern for later use anyway. When that later arrived (ca. 1 month after giving birth) I totally failed on several fronts.

Firstly, I didn’t measure myself and enthusiastically/naively/vainly just went with my pre-pregnancy measurements. After all, I was feeling and looking great! Granted, I had (and still have) a more hourglassy figure than before (which I love, btw), and I was still 6kg over my pre-pregnancy weight, but somehow my sleep-deprived brain on post-pregnancy hormones didn’t apply this fact to a possible increase in sizes. -.-

Secondly, I also totally didn’t apply the corrections in sizing that Heather provided. DERP!

Thirdly, I didn’t follow Zoe’s suggestion on the placement of the opening and cut the outer overlap for below the breasts (like a shelf bra), with the inner overlap over the breasts. I thought the seam would cut into the soft breast tissue and create an unflattering look. Well, I was partially right on that, but the overlap shouldn’t be too big, as otherwise it’s very difficult to access the bewbs. So, double DERP!

Luckily I tried the whole thing on before attaching the bindings and sewing the crotch. Unsurprisingly, it was too tight. But only after I almost couldn’t fit it over Berta did I start to swear (internally). It was now totally clear that this thing was never going to be wearable. So I re-printed and re-assembled the PDF (as for once I hadn’t traced -.-), took my current measurements, took a veeeerrrry careful look at the new sizing suggestions and as a result cut the pattern two sizes bigger. I also followed Zoe’s suggestions to a T this time.

Thankfully, this resulted in an almost perfectly fitting nursing bodysuit:

Nursing Nettie Bodysuit – Front view

Almost perfectly only because the shoulders are too narrow (a known issue of this pattern by now). Zoe’s hack works very well:

Nursing Nettie Bodysuit – Front view in “action”

I love the bum coverage of this pattern, no VPL, no sneaking into butt-crack during the day.

Nursing Nettie Bodysuit – Back view

The narrow shoulders are clearly visible in the above shot. I have no reason to put the next picture, apart from “look at all that hair!” of the bean, and I somehow feel I always should put a side view of my garments:

Nursing Nettie Bodysuit – Side view

Luckily the Nettie is a very fast make, even with the nursing hack. This way I was able to make two versions within one week (while the MIL was still here). I have been wearing them constantly and I desperately need another one. But unfortunately I wasn’t able to sew at all since the Italian Nonna left (that was October 14). That is, until last week, when the Swiss Grossmuetti (Grandma) visited. First, no sewing machine in Paris, and then massive exhaustion due to a suddenly much worse sleeping/feeding pattern of the bean. But did I sew what I needed when I had the occasion? Of course not, that would be too logical now, wouldn’t it? I quickly made a Hollyburn, but that’s for another post. (Somehow this sentence reminds me of a recurring one in “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende… ;) )

For the next version I plan to hack the pattern even further, making it with raglan sleeves and ballerina neckline. The bean has been slowly going back to longer stretches without feeding, which means I get more sleep during the night, which means I don’t nap as much during daytime. I am therefore quite optimistic about getting to sew more. Now I just need to kick my social media habit amd it will be smooth sailing…