Fabrics Shopping

An exercise in restraint

Sunday, October 31, 2010Johanna / 6 kommentarer

Like many sewing fantastics I suffer from a fabric shopping addiction. There is no way I would ever find the time to sew up all the fabrics I crave. Unless I quit my job(s), sell all my possessions (except my fabrics and sewing tools of course) and move into a shed.

But somehow fresh fabrics are always much more exciting than the ones that are hovering in plastic containers deep down in my closet. I am aware of my addiction, but still I find myself always prowling for new fabrics. I also like to apply some twisted logic on my purchases, like that some fabrics simply has to be bought because they are so unique. Though my criteria for unique is loose to say the least, and pretty much applicable on every kind of fabric. 

Anyhow, yesterday I faced my demons once again and visited the twice yearly local fabric fair. And man did I find some fantastic fabrics, especially the ones in wool. I kept touching, lifting, asking, fondling, crunching numbers, going away, returning, going away, returning. I could easily have blown a huge amount of money there. But somehow I didn't. I just bought a small rotary cutter, some rickrack and on my way out I stumbled on a real find, narrow tube knitted soft grey wool, that I will turn into a scarf.

Still I can't let go of that navy double knit wool that would turn into a perfect cardigan jacket or that 2 meter wide (!) marled plum wool jersey from Italy. Or that....
Etsy Floremark

Competition time

Friday, October 29, 2010Johanna / 1 kommentarer



I used to be an avid sewing competitor on Pattern Review (and did the now defunct Timmel Swap before that). Not so anymore, let's just say that I got too much on my plate as it is. However I have (after some deliberation) decided to do an Etsy related competition. I belong to a team (ie Etsy seller network) called Indie Free Spirits and they regularly arrange competitions for their members. And the current one is aptly called Best song ever. The brief is: Create a piece inspired by one of your favorite songs ever, then photograph it, then list it on Etsy. 

I have several favorite songs, and one of those is The Model by Kraftwerk, as I think it's an optimal song in many ways, that set the standard for modern electronic pop music. Plus after listening to this song for over 25 years, I have yet to grow tired of it. And it's fashion related, which makes it even more fun. 
So that is what I am doing. I am not expecting to create a sensation here, making good looking clothes based on songs is not easy, let's just say that going literal is not necessary a great idea, unless you are doing a t-shirt with a screen print of the lyrics or something like that. While I have done that before, this time I want to a design a garment from scratch.

One of the components that I had initially planned for was the pleated silk, but after much researching (pleated silk it doesn't seem to hold water wash very well) I will probably make gathers or pin tucks instead. It will most likely be in red and black (based on the album cover) or grey/black and possible look a a little early 60s (like in the video). Nothing too fancy, as I want to it be in line with the rest of my things for Floremark. The deadline is the November 12, and hopefully I can start sometime next week. Though I still feel really lost about what design I will actually make. But since I am now blogging about it, it feels like I have made a real commitment to this project.
Magazine madness

Burda October issue

Thursday, October 28, 2010Johanna / 2 kommentarer

I finally picked up the Burda October issue, mostly lured by the Karl Lagerfeld patterns. And I have to say he didn't disappoint! The jacket and skirt that he showed looked very much in line with his Karl Lagerfeld line. I also liked that it was a mix of a really intricate piece (the jacket) and a quick, easy sew (the skirt). I just love the skirt with the folded hem, and it has elastic in the back lining. Cool and comfortable - that's my favorite combination.

As for the rest, I would label this issue as a very trendy issue - at least for being Burda. Instead of pushing their usual aesthetics, they really have focused on strong trends for fall, ie aviator, amish/rural, leather and late 50's/early 60's retro glamour.  I felt a bit lukewarm about the October issue at first, but it is gowning on me. Living in Sweden, the home of sparse and clean lines, it's can sometimes be a bit hard to swallow Burda's more central European aesthetic. But this issue is one of those that feels more in line with what appeals to me.
Fashion Shopping

The Perth ascot

Tuesday, October 26, 2010Johanna / 5 kommentarer

I just bought this beautiful merino wool ascot named Perth from Etsy seller Yarn over Movement. I don't think she has any more in the store right now, but hopefully she will add more of this clever scarf. I think the design might stem from the 30's or 40's originally. I really like Tara's interpretation of this retro gem. Even though I can't knit or crochet to save my life, these crafts are a huge deal for me, and I almost always buy things like scarfs, mittens, socks and such from local artisans or Etsy sellers.

Life of Johanna

Silk crush

Monday, October 25, 2010Johanna / 6 kommentarer

If I say I could achive a similar result using hair perm fluid, a microwave oven, a radiator and a baking oven, would you believe me? While I can't personally vouch for this method, according to this link it will work (I especially love the warning "While working with the microwave and baking oven, the windows should be OPENED WIDE! You will need to keep the air circulating in this room to get fresh air!" )

I really want to permanently pleat some black silk for a project I will soon blog about. But this method sounds scary, plus I'm not sure my boyfriend will allow me to use his precious microwave for this project. I guess I could simply skip the step of telling him, that is always a nifty strategy, but since I think he still reads this blog from time to time (and I am so daft that I write about this beforehand, could we call this blogger stupidity?) I guess this project is doomed.
Etsy Floremark Made by me

Red Olga

Sunday, October 24, 2010Johanna / 5 kommentarer

Red Olga - sounds a bit like a secret spy code, doesn't it? Again I am working with organic GOTS-certified  cotton jersey. My aim is that the lion share of Floremark's fabrics should be organic and/or locally produced. There are still way too little organic options on the market and I feel that I can fill a little niche in that regards.

The new Olga will be up in my shop soon I hope, listing on Etsy is always a time consuming task.
Made by me The jeans project Tutorials

The Jeans project - Redux

Thursday, October 21, 2010Johanna / 2 kommentarer
Pants that are made with my jeans tutorial method.

Last year I embarked on a pretty ambitious jeans tutorial, but I somehow lost my way after part 6 and sort of forgot about it. Until a reader wrote to me this weekend asking about it. So I revisited my image library and decided to finish off the tutorial. I have now added the Part 7 - Side seams and will do the waistband and belt hooks soon.

The complete tutorial (zipper, pockets, rivets etc.)
Etsy Floremark Life of Johanna

Busy before the hibernation

Wednesday, October 20, 2010Johanna / 7 kommentarer

Got a little further along with the sample for my new holidayish Olga top today. Lately I have been feeling super energetic, I got a great flow at work, I am going to the gym really regulary (and even walking 7km to work at least once a week) and on the sewing front I have a similar rush of energy and excitement. The scary part is that I know it won't last much longer.  As much as I love living in Sweden, the long dark winters are always hard to deal with. So I try to get as much done as I can now and hope I will still be able to keep a sense of fun this winter, even though I won't have as much energy as I do now. 
Magazine madness

The Gentlewoman

Tuesday, October 19, 2010Johanna / 7 kommentarer

As I written about before I sometimes feel icky when I read too many conventional fashion/women magazines. There is something about that all too smooth surface, the celebrity worship, the cult of youth and consumption and that constant talk about body and weight that leaves me feeling a bit disgusted. Another peeve is that constant push for improvement, you and your life are never really okay, there are always 10 things you can to do improve [insert whatever].

Still it's a hard reading habit to kick. But I'm always on a lookout for magazines that has a more genuine and less surface obsessed take on things. Therefore I got curious when I read an interview with the editor of the new magazine The Gentlewoman (in the excellent Swedish magazine guide SID). It's a British publication that takes itself and the people they feature seriously, without making it boring. In this issue (no 2) there are great interviews with Yoko Ono, Ashley Olsen, Meena Pathak (the driving force of the indian curry paste brand Patak) and photographer Ines von Lamsweerde among others. After reading the magazine from page to page I felt really inspired and like I have learned new things. Some interviews and their subjects were so good that I found myself returning to the same pages. Plus I don't think I have ever seen such a balanced blend of ethnicity and ages in a magazine. Clearly this must have been a conscious choice from the editors.


There are also several fashions spreads, but the fashion is a bit too minimalistic for my taste. Plus some spreads tries too hard to look edgy, and end up looking a little silly. But that is redeemed by an beautiful almost origami like presentation that really piqued my interest. Who knew that folded clothes shot in black and white could look so appealing?
Etsy Fashion Floremark

Ric-rac love

Monday, October 18, 2010Johanna / 5 kommentarer

I am currently working on a sample for a new Olga style, this time a little holiday themed in red and black. I managed to snag a fab red organic jersey recently and decided to pair it with a black velvet ric-rac ribbon. I have a really soft spot for ric-rac ribbon and it goes back to my childhood. Even as a youngster I used to decorate some of my garments with this iconic ribbon. The best part is that it's so flexible, you can easily form it into a circle or pretty much any other shape imaginable.

Speaking of ric-rac, we saw the new Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant movie Cemetery Junction the other night. And in one scene, the female lead Felicity Jones wears a skirt generously embellished with ric-rac. I guess there can be too much of a good thing, and perhaps some will say that Felicity's skirt passed that limit, but I think it looks pretty cool. A really clever way to add some interest to an otherwise simple skirt.

What do you think, is it cool or just too much?

Etsy Floremark

Floremark lookbook

Saturday, October 16, 2010Johanna / 6 kommentarer

I spent last evening taking photos for a simple Floremark lookbook and have spent a pretty significant amount of time today editing said photos in Photoshop. This stuff is hard! We only have good natural light in our apartment a couple of hours a day during the the darker seasons, so I often have to rely on a flash that I direct towards a reflecting wall. I would rather use natural light since it's much softer.

Mariner sailor sweater. 100% Swedish made dark navy cotton interlock. 
S-M-L (also available in petite and tall)

Vivian sweater jacket. Marled grey organic 100% cotton sweatshirt knit.
S-M-L (also available in petite and tall)
Olga blouse. Cream coloured organic 100% cotton jersey.
S-M-L-XL (also available in petite and tall)

Grethe cardigan. Marled dark grey rayon jersey with knitted black lace details.
S-M-L (also available in petite and tall)
Lilith skirt. Champagne coloured 100% cotton satin.
S-M (also available in petite and tall)

Life of Johanna

Our home

Thursday, October 14, 2010Johanna / 7 kommentarer

I am currently trying to blog dailyish, so today I decided to do a little tour of The Last Stitch household. In part inspired by the current feature of Fieldguided's This is were I live. The difference is of course that those homes are much more evolved, style wise. While both me and my boyfriend are pretty aesthetically inclined, I guess we don't really have an intense passion for home decoration. You wont find us prowling home dec stores and flea markets during the weekends and none of our china matches, our apartment are mostly about jumble mumble, Ikea and hand-me-downs. 

The gas stove. It will very soon be removed since they are shutting down the gas in our town. To me it's a great sorrow and to my boyfriend it's a huge relief.

The Swedish equivalent of a Formica table. Scored at a flee store over a decade ago. Whenever I see young hip Swedish style bloggers sporting the same table - I feel pretty cool. The chairs are from Ikea, wonderful shape and colour but crappy quality.

Plants. I have a bit of a plant fetish, every window is full and I keep buying more and more. But I always forget to water them and the thought of replanting gives me angst.

Our bedroom. The croquis are made by my boyfriend.

Two in one. This wall system in the kid's room is built by my handy ex-husband. To make a long story semi short, he and I lived here with the kids for 5 years, then we split up, I moved to another apartment, met my boyfriend and when my ex-husband moved in with his new girlfriend, I moved back with my boyfriend so that the kids would still be in the apartment that they grew up in. We have 50/50 custody, which is the norm in Sweden these days, so half the time they live with their dad.

Pillows. My second home dec fetish. The sofa is already crammed so now I am working on filling out the armchairs too. The linen pillow is from Etsy seller La pomme and the arm chair is from Ikea (and is wearing a fabric cover). It's the same model as the sofa, my boyfriend had the chair so when we moved in together we suddenly had matching furniture!

Album dec. My boyfriend put a color matched sleeve collection in the hallway.

The hallway.

Living room lights. My third home decoration fetish, vintage lamps. When my boyfriend moved in he voiced some worries about the electrical safety of my lamps, and while I can see his point, I have never seen a modern lamp that I like.

So that's it. We live in a fairly small, two bedroom, rental apartment. The house was built in the 30's and is a bit of a dump, but the upside is that many original details has been persevered. I do like the way our apartment feels, it accommodating and relaxed. But since I am also a bit of a perfectionist I can feel self conscious sometimes about our less than sleek execution and our domestic messiness. But as I mentioned a while ago, we decided to hire a twice monthly cleaning service, and I can now say it's been a huge stress reliever for us. Plus it has also became very clear exactly how inadequate we are with cleaning techniques, the home now shines in a way we have never experienced before. At least for a few days!

A perfect purchase

Wednesday, October 13, 2010Johanna / 5 kommentarer

I have never felt that handbag rush, instead an ergonomical backpack has always been my number one choice. Oh and regular old pockets! Well at least until I made the Burdastyle Diana bag last year. Unfortunatly I picked a lousy fabric so  the once fantastic looking red colour canvas is now worn down, faded and dirty. But early in the summer I ran into a friend outside our local grocery store. We started chatting about fashion and shopping as usual and then the conversation turned to the wonderful small leather shoulder bag that she was wearing. It turned out that she had bought it in France, from a local Normandy artisan shop. I thought it was simply beautiful, so well crafted and the lock was unlike anything I had ever seen before. 

Soon we were discussing the possibility of her buying one for me too as she was going back to France during the summer. She also mentioned that she might buy a bigger version and wondered if I wanted to buy hers if so. I said yes, and when she came back, she had indeed bought a new bag for herself. So I ended up taking over hers. And since then I have worn this bag almost every day. There is just room for the wallet, keys, cell phone and a small note book - in other words perfect for a hoarder like me! I have never liked a bag as much as I like this one.
Book corner wedding dress

Book review: Bridal couture

Monday, October 11, 2010Johanna / 6 kommentarer

If I would ever make an acknowledgment speach about the bridal dress I did, Susan Khalje's book would get a very special mention. Without this book I would have failed misrable on so many levels. The sort of construction that this dress requires is not something that is easily found in regular pattern envelopes. As you can guess a book that is almost 150 pages thick about one single subject - construction techniques for wedding dresses - will be very thorough. The chapter on lace is almost 20 pages long for instance, and the info on boning is almost as exstensive. But since there is plenty of drawings and photos, it still makes for an easy read. I had so many aha-moments reading this book. The book is divided into three parts; Fabrication, Construction and Application. The  Application part is especially invaluable since it contains step-by-step instructions for four kinds of wedding/gala dresses, which was really helpful since one of these styles was made with a lace body.

While the title might suggest it's only for bridal dresses, the content of this book is really applicable for all kind of formal/gala wear. The book is out of print, and expensive if you can find one ($129 on Amazon!), but you can order a cd with a pdf-version, which I did and then printed the pages and put them in a ring binder for easy reading.

Edit: Bunny informed me that Bridal couture is also availble at some Joanns in the States, not sure about the price but it gotta be less than $129 !

Blog finds

Sunday, October 10, 2010Johanna / 2 kommentarer
I thought I should share two sewing related blogs that I really enjoy - both has very exciting and unique approaches.

This somewhat secretive woman takes sewing and food blogging to a whole new level - both aesthetically and in terms of skills.  She even makes her own shoes! She is very fashion forward, I love this dress/top with a neckline decorated with zippers, it almost look like metal pearls. As I am a nosy reporter I couldn't help googeling her a bit, her name is Ji Kim and she is a former Parson student

When I prowl Antrophologie and other similar similar retail sites looking for inspiration I often find myself wondering "how do they do that?" Well Suzannah of Adventures in dressmaking has the answers. I love her tutorials on how to knock off seemingly complicated embellishing and other stuff.