Saturday, May 4, 2013

Moved: Both On- and Offline


Lately, it's been quiet around this blog. Why? Because I moved! I no longer live in Vienna but can now be found in the beautiful South West of England: in Exeter, to be precise.

The move, as you can imagine, was somewhat stressful. Especially as I would just not part with either my sewing machines, patterns, sewing books or fabric. But fear not! They have all been safely transported and a new sewing corner has been set up in our lovely tiny little apartment in Exeter. And finally after weeks of moving boxes and sourcing furniture and storage space this little place is beginning to look like home and I have managed to go back to a somewhat regular sewing routine.

I've taken this opportunity to start afresh not only offline but also online and have renamed my blog and moved it to a new blog address. I can now be found on the Starcross Sewing Blog at this address:

I've redesigned the new blog a fair bit, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, teaching myself the basics of Inkscape in the process (a great program!) and love my new design. I hope you do, too.

All content from my old blog has been moved over to the new blog, but some comments have unfortunately been lost in the process.

I've also added some nifty social media buttons to my blog, like all the cool kids have these days:

You can find them to the bottom right of my header. You can use them to continue to be signed up to my blog either via the bloglovin button or any other blogreader of your choice via the rss button. You can also contact me via my new e-mail address, which you can find by clicking the mail button.

The rest has pretty much stayed the same. Not all links have been updated and some might still lead you back to the trusty old address. It will remain online as is but all commenting on the old site is closed and the blog will no longer be updated.

I hope you join me on my new blog venture and you will hear from me and my new endeavours in the English Westcountry soon again.

Happy Sewing!

For comments please go to Thanks!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Floral Sweetheart Dress

I made this dress some time during the summer last year. I drafted it using my standard sloper and used a really beautiful Egyptian cotton, I bought in a fabric shop in Oslo on my last visit.

I love having an interesting neckline, without actually having a neckline. It's kind of a little like a tromp l'oeil effect. I cinched in the waist by tying a ribbon through a channel along the waist. This makes the dress really comfortable for summer but it still doesn't look too boxy. And in the back I left open a large slit, so I can fit my head through the neck opening and attached a little button at the top.

Inspiration: So many sweetheart necklines and beautiful Colette Macarons everywhere.
Pattern: My own
Fabric: Egyptian printed flower cotton and black cotton.
Notions: 1 button from my stash
Time to Complete: ~ 7-8 hours including drafting
First Worn: Summer 2012
Wear Again: I wear this dress loads and have started adapting it for the colder seasons with a turtleneck and tights. It works. 
Total Cost: ~ 8-10 €

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Self-Drafted Skirt with Pleats + Help Wanted for Hemming Skirts

Just so you don't think this has become solely a crochet blog, here is one of my newest sewing projects: a self-drafted grey skirt with buttons down the front. I drafted the skirt myself but was heavily inspired by Megan Nielsen's Kelly skirt. My skirt has more of an A-line shape than my inspiration skirt and box pleats at the front and back.

The fabric I used was a grey wool/polyester blend suiting fabric, and I think I managed to make the fabric look less business-like with the shape and buttons I chose. Normally, suiting fabric is too formal for my taste.

I also like that the skirt is gray, because I can pair it up with my vast collection of colored tights and as you may notice I'm also wearing my skirt with my crochet cherry brooch I posted about earlier this month. I think it goes well with the skirt and tights.

I messed up the button holes on the skirt, but fortunately the lovely vintage buttons neatly cover up my mistake (Note to self: be patient when sewing and do not sew past midnight!) - and then I managed to cut the lining a wee bit too short (Note to self: see above!). I did, however, sew a very sturdy waist band, which includes a waist stay sewn to the seam allowance inside the waist band. That was well before midnight, when my judgement was not clouded by sleepiness.

I used about a 5 cm hem, because I prefer wide hems over narrow hems but find it difficult to hem wide skirts with a wider hem. I used bias tape on the hem and then catch-stitched it invisbly to the inside of the skirt.

But as you can see from the pictures, the hem in not really invisible from the outside. You can clearly see the ridge, where the hem ends on the inside. Do you have any tips for avoiding this? How do you hem wide skirts? I was thinking that perhaps hem lace/hem tape would solve this problem, but I have never tried it, because it is not available where I live. Do you have any tips for me? I really love this skirt a lot but the hem bugs me and I would love to redo it in a nicer way. If hem tape is the solution I might order some online.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Review: "The Happy Hooker" by Debbie Stoller

As promised I' m reviewing the beginner crochet book The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller. This book is part of the Stitch'n'Bitch series and two knitting books were previously published by the same author. I found the book in a second-hand shop and jumped on it, because it seemed to contain all the basics I wanted to know for being able to crochet from patterns plus a full range of patterns.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is an introduction to crochet and inlcudes everything from a short (very interesting) history on crochet, an introduction into different yarn weight and hook sizes, basic stitches, understanding gauge, more complicated lace and textured stitches, decreasing, increasing and crocheting in circles and even a short introduction into tapestry, filet and Tunisian crochet. And most importantly there is also a section on how to read crochet patterns, which used to be a mystery to me but seems quite simple now that I know what the abbreviations and diagrams mean.

The second part of the book contains 40 patterns, both simple and more involved and complicated patterns. I don't like all of the patterns included (but that rarely is the case) but I still found a few that I would consider making. As you saw in my last post my first project were the fingerless gloves included in the book.

There is a good mix of wearable projects and accessories, like hats and gloves and scarfs and bags. I particularly like this pattern:

You can find pictures of many of the other patterns in the book here on ravelry.

All in all, I think this book is an excellent introduction to the crochet newbie and although the book might not be exhaustive, it really explains everything you need to know when you start and gives you a good overview of the different types of crochet. And that's really all you need from an introductory book: a good overview.

The only thing that might be a downside to the book is that all crochet stitches are explained in drawings and diagrams rather than in photos, which would sometimes have been more helpful. However, in the youtbe age videos for all sorts of stitches are only a mouse click away.

Do you have any good crochet books at home? How did you learn to crochet, if at all?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More crochet, anyone?!

The cherry brooch I posted about here was my first crocheting project and was soon followed by a more substantial project. I decided to buy a book on crocheting, since it was beginning to get annoying and unreliable to switch between youtube videos for stitch explanations and I was lost as to how to read a crochet pattern. I bought the book The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller in a second-hand store and found it really useful as a first introduction into crochet. I'm planning to review the book later this week.

After some practice stitches I decided that my first proper project would be these fingerless gloves.

They didnt use a lot of yarn and looked as though I could reasonably finish them in a timely manner without getting too frustrated. The shop I bought the yarn in only had one type of fingering weight yarn in only one colour: so the gloves were destined for gray cotton.

All in all, the pattern was relatively easy to follow as a beginner and the lace pattern in the front made them more interesting to crochet than a pattern of endless single crochets. I'm generally a believer in making things that you really want to make even if they are difficult instead of making things because they are simple but not really getting excited about it. Did that make any sense?

The gloves are more stylish than practical and are perhaps better worn as a spring accessory rather than an actually functional cold weather item. But as the proud newly-born crocheter that I am I have worn them plenty even though their practicality may be debatable.

I have also joined ravelry and you can find my notes on the project here.

Happy crocheting!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Copycat: H&M Top

I have this H&M top I bought yonks ago -- before I practically started boycotting H&M for good. I really like the shape of it. The flowery fabric is not so bad either but it's 100% polyester and I just don't like wearing too much plastic so close to my body. It feels like being wrapped in a plastic bag.

But since I liked the shape so much I decided to trace off the original top and make a new one out of better fabric. I mean if H&M can copy patterns, so can I.

I had the ideal fabric in my stash: really loose and and drapey cotton jersey that would have looked terrible in most other projects but worked just fine for this.

Sewing and ironing this sort of slippery and drapey jersey to precision is somewhat difficult. So I just accept its general slouchy and slightly wrinkled look.

And I leave you off with a back view just for good measure:

Oops, a bit too much length in the back. Ahh, it's only a t-shirt!
Copied anything recently?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Look, I Can Crochet: My First Crochet Cherry

I was sick and travelling a lot over the Christmas holidays. And both those things are not very conducive to sewing. So I thought that it was about time to teach myself a more portable craft that can be done lying down in bed watching TV or sitting on a plane or train. Crochet to the rescue!

My first foray into crochet was inspired by a project in making magazine (issue 3, January 2011), a copy of which the lovely blogger Suzy sent me.

The instructions were pretty confusing for a beginner crocheter despite some accompanying (but rather confusing) drawings and explanations of the necessary crochet stitches. Alas, I had to enlist my dear trusty crafting friend, Youtube; and sure enough I found ample demonstrations of every imaginable crochet stitch possible that even a complete beginner can understand.

The result: a cute little cherry brooch!

I love this brooch and once you have figured out how it works it is easy and quick to make. And sure enough these little cherry brooches might go into mass production here at The Naked Seamstress HQ, because seemingly every female friend or family member wants to have one of their own. My usual response would be: "I'll show you how to make one yourself." But then again birthdays will be creeping up on me soon and present ideas are usually pretty exhausted after Christmas.

If you do not have this issue of making magazine and want to make one for yourself, you can peruse of many a youtube video to teach you various leaf shapes and cherry sizes. You will also need to improvise a bit on the sizing depending on the yarn or needle you are using. Had I followed the instructions in making magazine to the letter I would have ended up with a cherry the size of my right boob. So do be careful that the cherry size is to your liking. Here are some youtube tutorials that I found useful:

For the cherry:

For the leaves: 

Happy crocheting everyone!


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