Setting up shop

Getting graphic

Tuesday, September 29, 2009Johanna / 7 kommentarer

Next week I will most likely start selling my clothes on Etsy. Though I don't dare to give you an exact launch date right now - in the spirit of promise less, deliver more. In the meantime I want to share the story behind the brand name and design profile of my soon to be small clothing label.

The story behind the name

Floremark is a tiny village in the north of Sweden where my relatives had a house for many years. I lived in that house for a while when studying at the university in the mid 90's. I always loved the name Floremark, even before I lived there, and for my line I wanted something that has a connection to my heritage and my life here in Sweden. As for the actual meaning, flore could be something dialect, but also possible related to the latin word flore, ie. flower. And mark means ground or land.

The story behind the logo

It's really short! To keep down the expenses I decided to use the service of a generic label maker company. To my disposal I had about seven fonts and a few dozens of symbols. I tried out some ideas, but didn't like them much, so I asked my boyfriend to also have a go. He came up with a version that included the dry cl
ean symbol for petroleum solvents - F with a circle around it.
I really liked the look of his design, but we were a bit unsure if it could be misinterpreted (i.e people would think it was a dry cleaning symbol!). So using the same principle, but with a different font, I created another (and final) version.

The labels
I ordered 50 sew-on embroidered labels. The font is Century Gothic which I find very nice and balanced.
Since I had to pay extra for getting the logo on the labels I skipped that and just put the name on the label. A lot of designers do that anyway. I ordered from a Swedish site but I have heard good things about Fancy weaver (who also offers custom labels). The only drawback is that the blue on the labels are a bit different than it showed on the preview, so my colour profile isn't entirely cohesive. Oh well, you live and learn.

The hang-tags
They are actually business cards that I have punched holes in.
I ordered them from Moo cards . Moo offers lower minimums (50) than most buisness card providers. The paper quality of Moo is great, really thick. The red tint in the blue colour bled a bit though, I probably should have consulted someone at work to help me pick a "safer" blue for prints. The one thing I was a little disappointed with was that the design is not aligned, somehow they cut more one side of the graphic than the other, which bugs me. But overall I am happy with my choice of card maker.

And finally: Some thoughts on DIY vs having someone else print the labels and tags
An ink printer makes it possible to print both fabric labels and business cards at home. That way you can do super small runs and have a lot more design freedom. But even though it sounds like a a great proposition I was never tempted to take that path. Why you might ask? Well because I have gone down that road way too many times in the past. 9 times out 10 it has ended up being a huge hassle before I got it right and I've had to throw away so many failed attempts, which adds up in the long run. Not to mention that the quality of home print is inferior. But if you are curious on how to print labels at home and have more patience than I do, just google, as there are many tutorials out there.

Indie fashion show

Sunday, September 27, 2009Johanna / 2 kommentarer
By designers Emma Melin and Sara Larsson

Maybe it's zeitgeist or simply because it's fall, but my hometown is suddenly swimming in fashion related activities. So yesterday me and my friend Anita went to a fashion show for freshly minted independent designers at Underjorden. The show was in a punk/alternative community house, but the stuff that was sent down the runway had much more mass appeal than we had expected.

Designer unknown (sorry!) and Malin Ortmann, the latter is only 18 years old!

If I should pinpoint any trends among the young designers - I would say short and sexy with a vintage flair. Most skirts were full and hit well above the knees. The 50's was also a prevalent theme, I saw a lot of wasp waists and skirts lined with tulle.

Evelyn Frantti and Sara Larsson

The range of models was good - from thin and tall to short and curvy, which made the show much more entertaining and diverse. I was especially thrilled to see a label catering for us gals 5'3 and under - the line was called Petite handsewn. Petite sizes are otherwise unheard of in Swedish fashion, all clothes are made for those who are around 5'6.

Petite handsewn and Emma Melin.

(sorry that some pictures are a little dark and blurry, but the stage was super dark so it was a struggle taking decent photos)
Fashionable movies

Coco avant Chanel

Thursday, September 24, 2009Johanna / 8 kommentarer

Coco avant Chanel is a textbook example that a compelling story, the perfect actress and gorgeous visuals doesn't necessary equates a fantastic movie. If I hadn't been the consummate fashion geek that I am I would probably have been bored with this movie. Heck, even though I am a fashion fiend I found the movie slightly dull at times. Maybe my expectations was too high? Coco avant Chanel is not bad, but it's mediocre.

As the title suggests it's mostly about her life before she became a designer, but her clothes still runs like red thread throughout the movie. The movie makes a good case of Gabrielle Chanel being a pioneer and how the designs was closely linked to her views on women's liberation.

Also for all you sewing geeks out there, there is plenty of sewing in this movie. And she does a couple of really cool refashion projects, like merging details from a men's shirt with a dress and tweaking a riding outfit. The movie is also peppered with background stories about her style signatures, like the bow tie, the sailor tops and jersey cardigans.

My problem with Coco avant Chanel is that I find the movie disjointed. The shifts between the fashion, the sewing, her love life, and her life story in general aren't exactly seamless so to speak. And it lacks a dramatic drive. But if you have any kind of interest in fashion history and/or Chanel I'm sure you will still find this movie a worthwhile watch.

Other fashion movies that I have reviewed:
Valentino - The Last Emperor
The September Issue
Giorgio Armani - A man for all seasons
Marc Jacobs/Louis Vuitton and Lagerfeld Confidential
Yves Saint Laurent and Signe Chanel

A trip to fabric heaven

Wednesday, September 23, 2009Johanna / 6 kommentarer
Dress and fabric designed by Maud Fredin Fredholm.

Please feel free to argue with me but in my book, Sweden, along with Finland and Japan, has the best textile designers in the world. Especially during the heydays in the 50's and 60's. The stuff that was made then in Sweden was just amazing, so visionary and really unique. And some designers, like Josef Franck and Stig Lindberg, even became household names.

Another lesser known genius is Maud Fredin Fredholm who designed both clothes and fabrics. The local design museum currently has an exhibition of her works and yesterday they arranged a huge sale of the clothes and fabrics that she has saved since the 60's and 70's. Loads of printed knits, dress cottons and home dec fabrics. So me and my mate Catrin met up for a glass of wine and got ready for some crazy battles over fabrics and clothes.

People sipping wine and shopping fabrics.

Large scale print that would look lovely as a summer dress.

Silk jersey from the early 70's. Divine.

Cotton knit with an amazing border print. This one went home with me.

Loved the print, but the jacket was too big.

Even the museum director was busy cutting up fabrics.

Catrin ended up with a full bag of fabulous clothes and I just bought 3 meters of fabric. My dream dress in the exhibition was not for sale sadly, but I got really inspired to work more with colours and prints after our fun night at the museum.

The border print cotton knit that I bought.

Prepping for Colette

Monday, September 21, 2009Johanna / 7 kommentarer
So I am finally jumping on the Colette patterns bandwagon. So many have done great versions so I just had to give in. I chose the Parfait dress, but could just as easily picked another pattern. They all look great! While pink can be lovely I want something to wear for fall so I bought a cool retro rayon print from Totally fabrics.

It's only a 1.5 meters long remaint, almost a yard less than recommended, but I'm sure I can squeeze in this dress somehow, using another fabric for the lining and interfacing if necessary.

When Sarai of Colette patterns says that her styles are fitted, she really means it. While I have a pretty defined waist, it looks like I need to add almost 1 inch of ease around that area to be fully comfortable. Even though it means extra work for me, I still appreciate her initiative to draft patterns for curvy women (i.e. big bust/small waist) since most pattern companies doesn't really cater for that body type.

And hopefully her patterns will work for less endowed people like me too. The fit of Colette patterns seems to be proper vintage (as in 50's - early 60's) and not faux vintage like the re-issues from Simplicity and Butterick that I have tried in the past.

Doing some pattern fitting. There are so many pattern pieces and steps with this dress that I just can't bring myself to make a muslin.
Made by me

Working for someone else

Sunday, September 20, 2009Johanna / 5 kommentarer

Today I am wearing a garment that's not mine to keep. It's the eyelet tunic for my friend that I have blogged about intermittently for the last four months or so. The design is very much her idea and the collaboration has gone really smoothly. I think it helped a lot that she was very specific about what she wanted. Another crucial thing was that I first made a muslin were I tried out the design ideas so that we could evaluate and tweak them.

There are over 30 eyelets in this tunic. It's been a lot of hammering!

The fabric is a slightly rustic linen/rayon mix.

While I have sewn for 25 years and probably churned out hundreds of garments, just a smidgen of those has been for others than myself. I think mostly it's because sewing is very much "me time" a creative outlet to develop my ideas and my dream garments. Also sewing for others and realizing their ideas can be a risky path to take, since some things just doesn't work out as well as one had hoped. And they are the ones who has to wear it.

How do you feel about this issue? Do you sew for others or is it something you prefer not to do?
Fashionable movies

Valentino - The Last Emperor

Saturday, September 19, 2009Johanna / 5 kommentarer

I have to admit that I have never taken much of an interest in the legendary Italian designer Valentino. Sure he makes very beautiful and intricate evening dresses, but that's about it. In fact I have been much more intrigued by his long time partner Giancarlo Giammetti who always says very interesting things in interviews.

The movie Valentino - The Last Emperor starts with the 2007 fall/winter couture show in Paris. The looming question is "when will Valentino retire?". His answers are either cryptic or snappy, you can tell that he doesn't like to be reminded that he is getting older and that times are changing.

Posh Spice gone old? No it's just a duchess friend of Valentino.

Valentino and Giancarlo are no longer the owners of the company that they spent 45 years to build and you can tell it's hard letting it all go. As Giancarlo says about the new and rather young chairman " He is a nice guy, very simpatico, I like him as a friend, but whatever he says, it has no value to me"

During the filming of the documentary the story takes a new turn. Another investor buys the business and it becomes clear that Valentino's days tare numbered. "It's another time now, it's all about money"
Giancarlo says dryly.

Lip balm break. Valentino and Giancarlo.

Giancarlo is the person you get to know the best through this movie, not Valentino. Valentino seems very distant, rather vain and doesn't say much of value. During the movie I actually started to wonder what Giancarlo sees in Valentino (except for his talent that is). Giancarlo touches on that subject in one emotional scene "He will never tell me directly how much he cares or how much he is grateful and how much he understands what I have done for him."

On of the rare glimpses inside his studio.

I thought I would love this movie, but I was disappointed. It tries to tell many stories but ends up telling no story at all. Compared to many of the other fashion movies I have watched and reviewed, this one stays on the surface, there is no passion, no rawness. Though the dresses are a delight to watch and it's interesting to hear about the company takeovers and the demise of couture. As Valentino notes when he goes through a rack of vintage dresses for a retrospective "To make this kind of embroidery today you would have to sell an Italian bank".


Gorgeous handwork

Wednesday, September 16, 2009Johanna / 2 kommentarer

Aren't the pleats on this bridal dress in silk/rayon jersey simply amazing? From the Swedish fashion house Fillipa K, as part of a haute couture inspired project. It was exhibited at a local department store last weekend. They first pleated the skirt, then created the accordion effect by hand stitching the pleats together. It took the seamstress over 60 hours to make this intricate pattern.

More (and better) images of the dress and the work process.

Tailoring Q&A

Tuesday, September 15, 2009Johanna / 1 kommentarer
I got some reader questions about my tailoring workshop experience that I'll try to answer.

Gail asked:

What is the tape used around the outer edge of the jacket?
That's white cotton tape that is mitered at the top corner and attached by hand, both along the edges and in the middle. The tailor said it was a very time consuming method so these days fusible tape is obviously the most used option.
When hand basting the interfacing, are you just picking up a thread on the inside like hand heming?
Yes, it's the same principle. But the stitches shouldn't be completely invisible on the other side, in fact those tiny thread dots are a apparently a "tell" that this suit collar was underlined by hand. She used a very thin silk thread and a tiny needle for the attachment. The technique is called "pikera" in Swedish from the French word piqué, referring to tho those tiny dots. Does anyone know the English term?

The benefit of doing this instead of using iron-on interfacing is that a natural curve is formed when you push the hair canvas between the rows of stitches, this means that the collar gets a nice rolled shape automatically. Whereas fusibles creates a flat collar that has to be shaped more afterwards.

Here is a
link to a site that shows the different materials involved.

I'm curious how long it takes the tailor to make a buttonhole.
I forgot to ask her that! I am really curious about that too. The main reason why it took me so long was that I stitched way too many stitches. You also have two rows of thick buttonhole thread underneath as a reinforcement so it's not necessary to make really tight stitches. She also showed me several buttonhole techniques that I hadn't seen in the sewing books I own. I just wished I was more adept, then I could have done a tutorial on how to do hand sewed buttonholes for tailored suits. She did gave me some homework when I left (i.e. pre-cut buttonholes), but I have been, hmm, busy.

My homework. As you can see the buttonhole is secured with machine stitches to keep the shape in check. The hole to the left is done with a puncher and the slit is done with a buttonhole cutter knife.


The tailor's apprentice

Sunday, September 13, 2009Johanna / 7 kommentarer
Basting hair canvas to a suit collar.

The only hand sewing you'll normally find me doing is attaching buttons, and even that is something I sometimes do on the machine. But today I found myself going totally outside my comfort zone. When I visited the Chanel exhibition earlier this week I saw a sign about tailoring workshops this weekend. I missed out on Saturday but today I took the tram downtown. Two workshops were offered, one on how to attach hair canvas by hand to a suit collar (while at the same time shaping the collar) and the second was how to make hand sewn buttonholes.

The make shift tailor studio at the museum.

Luckily for me I was the only student - while a lot of people stopped by at the tailor and wanted to talk about the garments, they all fled when she suggested that they should sit down and try for themselves. In fact I was so alone there at the table that some people mistook me for the tailor and asked me all kinds of questions, and one women even suggested that I should hem her sleeve that had come loose!

The collar shaping was really cool - and time consuming. It even took the tailor an hour to baste both collars. And then she got loads of other hand sewing to do.

Inside a jacket with canvas interfacing. Click on the image to see all the little seams.

Inside a jacket with iron on interfacing. This jacket is several $100 cheaper.

Her jackets were amazing, yes the one with sew on interfacing cost about $1000, but after my inside glimpse of her work process, I can safely say that they are totally worth it.

The three layers of a tailored jacket collar. Sorry that some pictures are a little blurry, I used my cell phone and you need to hold it completely still to get sharp images.

She was really encouraging about my basting technique, she even said it was the best first attempt she had ever seen, and I was like "you gotta be kidding me!". She was however decidedly underwhelmed by the first row of my hand sewed buttonhole "you know it shouldn't look like concrete".

The second row fared a little better, but then she told me "you need to do 100 buttonholes to fully perfect them" and suggested I'd do another one straight away (the first buttonhole took me approx. 45 min). Oh well. I declined her suggestion politely, didn't want to risk a hand stitching burnout.

All in all I really enjoyed the experience, I learned tons of stuff in just two hours and also got to ask her many questions about tailoring. It's such a special craft!
Made by me

Kwik Sew camisole

Friday, September 11, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer

Since I worked last weekend I got a day off today. In my usual overambitious style I had a long mental list of what I should do (laundry/sort out the kid's clothes/exercise/yadayada). But after I had dropped off my youngest at school I went to bed and slept until noon. Man, did that do wonder for my energy! After I woke up I went straight to the sewing machine and whipped up this Kwik Sew camisole in less than 2 hours. I know I have raved about Kwik Sew's underwear patterns before, and this pattern (nr 2467) was no exception - great style, great fit and instructions that are super easy to follow.

I'm wearing a padded bra here and when I don't there is some excess fabric in the cup area, but not so much that it bothers me. The style is meant be a little loose around the bust.

Both the fabric and stretch lace are from my London trip. The fabric is rayon/silk/lycra single jersey, and it's almost like fondling butter, very soft and even sensuous (if a fabric can have that quality - this is what it feels like).

I strongly recommend getting this pattern if you like classic cami style tops. There is pretty good room for a fuller bust if you pick a stretch fabric (my almost B cup doesn't quite fill it). The slip looks really nice too. Don't care for the cut of the panties though, but I think if you made them more like boy shorts they could be very nice too.

Read my pattern review

Chanel exhibition

Wednesday, September 09, 2009Johanna / 5 kommentarer
Photos: Mikael Lammgård.

Yesterday a friend and I met up after work to see a Chanel exhibition at our local design museum. Though calling it an exhibition would be a bit of stretch - it was only six garments in total (five of which you can see above). But hey what can you expect from a city museum in a Swedish town with a population of 500 000 citizens (a number which coincidently makes us the second largest city in the country)

The sixth exhibition piece.

Anyhow the exhibition in all it's tininess was pretty good. The blue suit to the far left in the upper picture was designed by Karl Lagerfeld and looked like an air hostess uniform, the other five was by Coco Chanel herself. I have never seen Chanel garments up close (they were out in the open and not in a glass case). As expected they were exquisitely made. One thing that struck me was how many seams there was. From a distance they look very unconstructed and flowing, but most garments consisted of quite a few pattern pieces.

Another thing that I noted was that the wool bouclé hadn't aged all that well. There was some considerable pilling going on
. I've had some bad experience with bouclé myself and thought it was just a case of shoddy fabric, but clearly even the best ones can start to pill. I guess it's because the fabric is so loosely woven.

My favorite piece was the ivory suit to the left, it's from the 50's I think, but looked incredibly modern, sexy and had some really intriguing construction details.

Next week the movie Coco avant Chanel hits the cinemas in Sweden. I plan to see it and I'll try to review it as well (it would be my first feature movie review, but it's a fashion movie nevertheless so I think it qualifies for this blog).
Fashion Shopping

New Boden

Tuesday, September 08, 2009Johanna / 2 kommentarer

Yesterday the fall catalog from Boden arrived in my mailbox. I got pretty excited since I hadn't previewed any of the styles on their website. But after browsing through the thick catalog I felt a bit lukewarm about their offerings. There was less interesting detailing than usual, instead they focused more on colours and prints. Maybe it's a recession thing? I did however really like the three styles above. The ruched dress is just plain gorgeous and I think similar designs can be found in several Burda magazine issues from the last year or so. The collar pin tuck pleating on the satin trim blouse is also really intruging and something to be inspired by. My third favorite is the plaid Soho blazer. It would be a really stylish addition to any fall wardrobe I'd say. Maybe it's time that I upped my tailoring skills once and for all?