Life of Johanna

My new work studio

Friday, October 30, 2009Johanna / 7 kommentarer

It has great lightning and a big work table with just the perfect height. Oh, and it also happens to be the washing room in our rental apartment building. I'm not sure this use is entirely sanctioned, but until I run into a grumpy neighbor I will continue using this handy facility. No more painful "crawling on the floor" cutting sessions! Also this neat setup has cut my cutting time in half, and that in itself makes a nightly trip to the basement worthwhile.

Fashionable movies

Coco Chanel

Wednesday, October 28, 2009Johanna / 0 kommentarer

Coco Chanel is a tv-drama that tells the story of the young Gabrielle Chanel (roughly the same story as in Coco avant Chanel) and her designer comeback in the 1950's. As for being a made-for-tv production I have to say it's pretty decent. Not too much cheese and with better acting and higher production values than similar tv-dramas that I have seen. It's not a knockout movie by any means and the tempo is at times painstakingly slow (not to mention that it's 3 hours long!). But I kinda like this movie and the effort it makes to tell a really thorough story about a very fascinating designer.

The elderly Chanel is portrayed by Shirley MacLaine. I have mixed feelings about that choice of actress. MacLaine totally commands her part, and sometimes it feels like Shirley is just acting like Shirley. Also she speaks American English throughout the movie. But she does gives Chanel a lot of authority, which I think is true to the real Chanel. Shirley's air time is however pretty small in this movie.
The young Chanel is played by Czechoslovakian actress Barbora Bobulova, and she is much more timid and restrained which sometimes makes it hard to see that the two Chanels are actually the same person.

One thing that I found a little mind boggling was how the story in this biopic differs from Coco avant Chanel. I did some research and it seems like Coco Chanel is more historically correct than Coco avant Chanel. But it's clear that both movie makers has used some creative freedom when writing the scripts.

So can I recommend this movie? Well, if you have a great interest in the life of Coco Chanel, I think you will find it worthwhile. As I said it's not a high class drama by any means, but it's perfectly decent. But I do think that it works better in a three part tv-format, since 180 minutes of this film can be too much to handle in one sitting (it actually took me three sittings to finish it).

Other fashion movies that I have reviewed:
Coco avant Chanel
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

Fabrics Shopping

Fabric shopping with children

Tuesday, October 27, 2009Johanna / 6 kommentarer
Stella examining a black and white distressed fabric while showing some subtle enthusiasm over a black rayon/lycra knit.

Normally my children would rather clean their room than accompany me on a fabric shopping trip. I think I must have damaged them at an early age! But my eldest wants to make a tulle dress and we needed some black stretch lining for that so I was able to lure her with me to a local fabric fair on Sunday. And you know what - she enjoyed it. She was especially intrigued by the high end distressed and "punctured" fabrics that seems to be all the rage right now in the fabric stores around here.

Some of these stripes went home with us.

We ended up shopping knits for her and her stripe loving little sister and if there is one thing that Swedish fabric vendors do well it's catering for children. I saw so many fun and colorful fabrics with great prints. Didn't go all in though since there is just too little time to make all the stuff I want.

Edit: For all you locals, the fair is called Symässan and is now located at Kviberg near Gamlestaden in Göteborg. But the next one is not until spring unfortunatly. The fair has gone through a huge improvement since last year, with much more sellers and a bigger venue.

Three fair sellers with on-line stores that I can personally recommend (ie I am a happy customer).
MG tyger

Italienska modetyger

And the winner is...

Sunday, October 25, 2009Johanna / 3 kommentarer
Congratulations! I will email you tomorrow.

Thank you to all the participants and also to Anja and Stella who helped me facilitate the draft.

Made by me Setting up shop

Taking orders

Sunday, October 25, 2009Johanna / 0 kommentarer

Yesterday I finished the two orders that I got for the sailor sweater. Making stuff for others can be a little nerve wrecking, that's for sure. It's easy to fret over every little detail, and I went through a lot of that last night. Today I feel much more pleased though, the end result looks good and I really love the style of the sweater. As for the design I think I must have subconsciously channeled the early 20th century - in the other Chanel movie (review coming up, promise!) Coco wore several cardigans with similar sailor collars.

Celebration give away

Friday, October 23, 2009Johanna / 17 kommentarer
To celebrate the blog birthday I want to host a little give away. The pearl appliqués above are up for grabs. Just leave the comment "I'm in" and I will randomly draw one name on late Sunday evening (European time) and ship them to wherever you live. The appliqués are from the same vendor as the ones I used on my cardigan.

They have changed the design a bit since then, but the ones I own washes very well. I just put my cardigan in a net bag and throw it in the washing machine using the wool cycle program.

So if you want to spice up a cardie or some other garment, just leave the comment "I'm in" and you can get lucky!
Life of Johanna

Happy blog birthday

Friday, October 23, 2009Johanna / 5 kommentarer
Today is the one year anniversary of The Last Stitch. I'd say it's a cause for celebration, since this has been so much fun and I am really struck by the response that I have gotten from you guys. And I always feel very excited when someone takes the time to comment on something that I have written.

I was originally toying around with two blog names simultaneously and designed headers for both of them. Here is the other header that I made:

But after a quick poll (just my boyfriend really) The Last Stitch won over So sew me! I think it was the right choice, although I have to say I still really like the cheeky retro vibe of my "other blog".

Life of Johanna

Hey you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009Johanna / 7 kommentarer

Can't believe it's been a week since I last blogged. Time goes by fast sometimes. I've been to Stockholm for a few days and have been busy in general. I do have tons of stuff to blog about, but I'll start by doing the meme that comes with the award that Antoinette and Sue so kindly gave to me.

1. I am very very scared of snakes. My phobia even spills on to lizards as they kinda reminds me of snakes.

2. I used to be a librarian. But it wasn't the right fit for me.

3. This Monday, after a co-worker's suggestion, I applied to a televised quiz show (they where looking for female contestants). On Tuesday morning a producer called and asked me 20 questions. I had to get at least 10 questions right to qualify, I scored 11 (just barely scraping by here!). So now I'm gonna be on national television, and the whole thing feels really weird.

4. I used to cook, preserve and bake like there was no tomorrow. But now I just don't have the time or energy anymore. I think sewing has eaten my kitchen time.

5. I am 37 years old. I feel very comfortable with my age, but I am also someone who likes to leave at least a toe in the door of my younger years. It was crazy and sometimes hard, but I also had a lot of fun!

6. I can give Seinfeld a run for the money when it comes to being a breakfast cereal aficionado. I always have several kinds at home and sometimes when I go to bed I long for the morning when I can have my cereals again.

7. I am addicted to coffee. But I have no plans to kick that addiction. Coffee just gives me too much pleasure.

BTW, tomorrow marks the day of my 1 year anniversary as a blogger. I plan to do a little give-away to celebrate so stay tuned!
The jeans project Tutorials

The Jeans project - Pt 7 Side seams

Wednesday, October 21, 2009Johanna / 1 kommentarer
This time we are gonna talk about side seams. Forget all about the usual way of sewing together the legs of a pair of pants. The proper jeans method has a rather different approach. The result will look really professional and be very sturdy, the only downside is that it's nearly impossible to fit the jeans as you sew, so make sure they fit properly before you embark on this adventure.

First sew together the two back pieces at the crotch seam. 

Then serge the seam together.

Turn the back pieces to the other side and top stitch the crotch seam to reinforce it. I used two rows.  

 Time for the outer side seams. Just sew both outer legs.

  Now serge the seams. Close the seam if you want to top stitch the outer seam (The way Wrangler is made). Or serge the pieces individually and press them to the opposing sides (Like Levi's).

Top stitch the outer seam if you use the Wrangler method. I used one row of golden thread and one row of navy.

 Your jeans should now look like this.


Next step is to sew the inner seams, from one foot opening to another in one sweep. This is explained in Wendy Mullen's book Sew U and it looks like most jeans companies use this method.

Before you sew the inner legs together, make sure that the pressed front crotch looks like this (see Part 1 zipper tutorial)

And the back crotch is like this

Just start at the left foot opening and don't stop until you have hit the right foot opening. Then serge and press as usual. 

In the last installment of this tutorial I will attach the waistband and the belt hooks.
Made by me Setting up shop

Zero degrees from Project Runway

Thursday, October 15, 2009Johanna / 5 kommentarer

As some of you might know I am a massive fan of Project Runway. I store all seasons of the US version on my hard drive and I also collect other versions from around the world (my faves these days are actually Australia's and Canada's PR versions). So yesterday I was thrilled beyond belief when I found out that my sailor sweater was featured on the same Etsy finds page as PR season 3 contestant Alison Kelly who now has her own Etsy shop. This is definitely the highlight of my design career :)

Also I have just finished with my first order and next up are orders for the Mariner sweater. I have the day off from my day job tomorrow - but it looks like I'll still be working!

Leslie no 2 - soon to be shipped.
Made by me

Hello headband

Tuesday, October 13, 2009Johanna / 0 kommentarer

Good morning everyone! Today I am wearing my first Heather Bailey headband to work. This one is made in an Amy Butler fabric from the Lotus collection.The headband takes about 20 min from start to finish, so if you are burned out on sewing lined jackets and other time consuming projects, I strongly recommend doing this for some instant gratification.

The only thing that stumped me was the instructions to do the ties in a square knot (a square what?). Luckily my eldest daughter is a scout and she recognized the knot (it's a råbandsknop for you Swedish readers) and subsequently tied it for me.

The elastic does the work in this headband. The ties are there mostly there for decoration.
Setting up shop

Got my first order today!

Saturday, October 10, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer
My personal favorite - Leslie the corduroy cardigan - was sold today in my Etsy store! As you can imagine I was pretty surprised to get my first sale in less than one week. Etsy is such a huge marketplace and it's very easy to get drowned by the vast offerings. So I am very excited and flattered about the response.
Made by me

Maud skirt

Saturday, October 10, 2009Johanna / 3 kommentarer

I wore my newly sewn Maud Fredin Fredholm skirt to work on Friday and it's soo comfortable. This is gonna be a wardrobe staple for sure. I first toyed with the idea to sell it on Etsy since I have fabric to make three more. But now I have decided to create a more elaborate knit skirt design for the store, so that it's more cohesive with my other garments.

Hooray for headbands

Friday, October 09, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer
Headbands and hair pins are two things i just can't enough of. I don't dye my hair, and generally don't do any proper styling either (just wash and go) so I like to put a little accessory in my hair now and then. The designer Heather Bailey offers a free pdf-pattern for a very cleverly designed headband that have been on my to-do-list forever. And now I feel like it might actually happen. I got some nice shirting fabrics that I think will be awesome for this, and a headband is a great way to use up scraps too.
Fashionable movies

On my review desk today

Thursday, October 08, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer

Yes another Coco Chanel movie! It's a three hour TV-special featuring Shirley MacLaine among others. As you might remember I was slightly underwhelmed by the movie Coco avant Chanel (despite gorgeous visuals and a fantastic actress). I was however very taken by her life story and how she challenged so many norms in the society. So when I saw the dvd Coco Chanel - She conquered with style as a magazine freebie today I went ahead and bought the magazine. Have any of you guys seen it? I plan to review it later this week, just need to find 180 minutes of uninterrupted time!

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

Life of Johanna

A skirt in progress and other stuff

Wednesday, October 07, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer

Right now it's just some fabric and ties pinned to a dress form, but it's a start anyway. I plan to make a drawstring skirt out of the Maud Fredin Fredholm fabric that I purchased two weeks ago. I am a sucker for skirts in knit fabrics, I have done about half a dozen over the years in everything from printed rayon jersey to heavy wook knits. The knit skirts are the ones I tend to reach for in the mornings - you know easy-care (no ironing) and comfort. I can be such a granny sometimes. Though I have yet to embrace the whole navy polyester double knit look!

The skirt will also have pockets, a partly elasizised waist and be all around super practical and comfortable.

Also I have started a Facebook fan page for my line if you want to join.

Setting up shop

Etsy shop is up!

Sunday, October 04, 2009Johanna / 8 kommentarer

Phew, my shop is finally up and running on Etsy. While the listing process is pretty straight forward, there are still a lot of stuff to consider when setting up a shop. I am really grateful for the Etsyhacks that makes listing items on Etsy much easier. Another shout-out goes to my resident proof reader (aka the boyfriend) who helped me straightening out the kinks in my shop today. And the third thank you goes to all you guys who have left encouraging comments about my clothing project. Please feel free to poke around the shop and report to me if anything seems wonky.

Some stuff in the making:
  • I am going to open a shop on the European option Dawanda too, but that will happen another day.
  • More garments are on the way and if you want to get notified about that and other tidbits you can join my mailing list over at my Floremark blog.
  • I plan to start a Facebook group for the same purpose, but again that is for another day.

Now I'm gonna let the shop set for a few days so that I am sure everything is working, then I plan to start spreading the word around. We'll see how that works (feeling a little nervous here!). Oh well, one thing at the time...
Made by me

Parfait is not just a frozen dessert

Friday, October 02, 2009Johanna / 20 kommentarer

I finished the Parfait dress! And it's love all the way. Though I will confess that I was at times a little overwhelmed by the large amount of pattern pieces that the dress consists of. My small corner in the living room went into chaos mode and I regularly had to perform international searches to find all the tiny pieces that got lost in the mess. But the actual assembly of the dress went super smooth, it's a rather easy dress to sew. And I am floored by how well it looks and fits, Sarai of Colette patterns has done an amazing job with this design! And she is just a one-person indie pattern designer, which makes me even more impressed. Every little detail is very well thought out.

Smaller cups. I graded the bodice down to a size 0 since the the pattern is drafted for a c-cup. I am happy with the fit now.

It's nice to wear something more fitted for a change. While I'm not exactly curvy, my body goes in and out all over the place and I think that styles like the Parfait dress does my shape a favor. That said I'm too much of a comfort freak to fully embrace the fitted look. But it's nice with a style switch once in a while.

Faux fastening. The original fastening consists of two buttons, of which one is hidden. But since I made the strap a bit too short there was no room for a two button fastening, so just attached the button without making a buttonhole.

Wardrobe remix. I feel slightly awkward doing outfit shots, but I wanted to try something else visually this time. The cardigan is also sewn by me.

Fashion Shopping

Pin tucks are go!

Friday, October 02, 2009Johanna / 1 kommentarer
Suddenly they are everywhere, those narrow pin tucks. And I find them in rather unlikely places - like on the sleeves of this winter coat.

From MQ.

Another example that I want to plug is the blouse from Boden with pin tucks on the collar that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Luckily the talented artist Emily Martin followed my style advice (eeehh, I wish!) and bought the blouse.

Emily Martin.

So if you are aching to try a new sewing technique this winter I'd say go for pin tucks. And as a bonus from this impromptu fashion blogger you'll get a photo of me looking seriously scary while trying on the MQ coat during my lunch break today (if Count Dracula was texting, this is what it would look like).

Fabrics Shopping

Fabric fair envy

Thursday, October 01, 2009Johanna / 4 kommentarer

Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that the best fabrics are being withheld from us, the home sewers? Well, after a visit to the Nordic fabric fair I can confirm that this is exactly the case. Dang! I got a free student pass to the fair and got both overwhelmed by all the choices and consumed with fabric envy. Want some organic denim from Japan, bouclés that looks like they came straight from the Chanel runway or some blue/white sailor striped wool jersey to make an authentic fisherman's sweater? Well it's all there folks! And many other amazing fabrics, I was especially taken by the wast selection of organic fabrics and sweater knits, stuff that is super hard to find in regular fabric stores.

The biggest Liberty fabric selection I have ever seen. Even the Liberty store in London doesn't have this much fabric.

Organic fabrics from Japan. Drool.

The atmosphere was totally different than the public fabric fairs I have been too. It was really quiet and subdued with discreet deals being made at the booth tables among fabric swatches and ring binders. Also the prices was of course much lower than in stores, no middle men mark up here, but the minimums were often pretty high. Though you could order sample lengths (5-10 meters usually), but then the price was often higher.

Want a zipper with stripes? No problemo.

Books filled with buttons.