Life of Johanna

The Semla

Wednesday, January 26, 2011Johanna / 12 kommentarer

Normally I don't blog about edible things, even though it's a major interest of mine. But it's semla season in Sweden and I wanted to talk a little about this iconic Swedish pastry. It's a wheat bun spiced with cardamom and filled with almond paste. On top there is a generous serving size of whipped cream and the whole bun is finished off with a lid and powdered sugar. It's one of my favorite pastry, with a very harmonious blend of tastes, and very filling, almost like a meal. Traditionally it was eaten at the end of the fast and it's supposed to only be eaten on the "Semmelday" in late February/early March. However nowadays it's sold from the January to April. I prefer to eat it the traditional way with warm milk, but I'm not too picky about that.

Most Swedes loves this treat, but I'm curious on how others reacts to this, somewhat overpowering, specialty. I know that a couple of expats reads this blog so I would love to know if someone has tried semla.
As for me and my eldest daughter, this was our dinner tonight (though we did eat a carrot too). Sometimes it's nice to give the wholesome cooking a rest and be a little irresponsible.
Fashionable movies

Beyond Biba

Friday, January 21, 2011Johanna / 1 kommentarer

Seriously all I want to do right now is watch movies and tv-series as the winter months are totally wearing me down, as usual. So I was very happy when my copy of Beyond Biba arrived in the mailbox earlier this week. I just love Biba and the mastermind behind this iconic, but somewhat short lived British brand, Barbara Hulancki. Decades before Anthropologie and the likes, Biba managed to build a lifestyle brand including everything from clothes to furniture to food, with heavily nostalgic influences. When Biba closed the London flagship store in 1975, Barbara Hulancki and her husband moved on and she then became one of the key player in the Miami makeover that happened in the 80's, where she used her designs skill to revitalize many art deco hotels. 

This documentary covers it all. Most books and articles about Barbara Hulancki just talk about her clothes and the Biba years, but she has lived a very fascinating life both before and after Biba. So I really appreciate the directors ambition to cover it all. Unfortunately the 58 min format is a bit short, so if you are a total Biba fan you might be a bit disappointed that this part of the story is not very long. However the movie is called Beyond Biba after all, and the rest of her work is also really fascinating - she is clearly a renaissance women with many many talents. And I love watching persons like her, that are 70+ and still very vital and curious, she feels like she hasn't aged at all. Funnily her dress style is very similar to Karl Lagerfeld. Another senior citizen that has somewhat frozen his age.

So I really recommend this movie. And while I'm usually not impressed by fancy packaging,  the Beyond Biba DVD is really beautifully designed and you even get some of Barbara's drawings printed on glossy thick paper. Score!

Early morning

Saturday, January 15, 2011Johanna / 3 kommentarer

Woke up really early this morning, before everyone else. I will probably be exhausted later today but at least I got the tracing for the Karl Lagerfeld skirt done. Still waiting for the fabric though, woven piqué is apparently not to be found in Sweden so had to order from the US.
Magazine madness

Lula magazine

Friday, January 14, 2011Johanna / 4 kommentarer

I bought this issue like a month ago, but as I said before, things has been moving at a slower pace than usual here. Anyways I thought it would be time that I reviewed this coveted magazine that has a strong cult following. To preface - I have been hesitant about buying Lula, mostly because of the magazine tagline "Lula-girl of my dreams". To me that sounds like a name on a toy geared towards little girls, like Barbie or something. Also, when it comes to many things in life I prefer a bit of realism over total escapism.

However I was pleasantly surprised with Lula. This issue is curated by the Rodarte sisters and features interviews with Vivianne Westwood, artist Sophie Calle, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and many more fascinating women and some men too. It reminds me a bit of Gentlewoman, but with less stellar writing. As for the fashion spreads, they are indeed girly and dreamy. Lots of young models in soft focus shots wearing pastels, bows and lace. Not all spreads are like that, but the fashion is clearly geared towards the young, with a couple of exception.

I guess that each issue will differ since they seem to rely on guest editors (but I could be wrong). It's a pricey little thing Lula, £7.99 and it even more here in Sweden, but the ads are few and far between unlike most other fashion magazines. If you want to know a little more about the Lula phenomena I recommend this article.
Fabrics Shopping

A guide to Tygriket

Tuesday, January 11, 2011Johanna / 4 kommentarer

I got a few questions on my post about Tygriket (The textile empire) so I thought I should put together a little guide to the stores that I find worthwhile visiting. Most stores are focused on home decoration fabrics and yarns, but there are some finds for clothes makers as well if the nearby city Borås is included in the trip. I guess this post are mostly relevant for Swedish readers but if you are visiting the Swedish west coast this might be fun excursion for fabric fanatics.

In Kinna. The biggest and the best. A huge selection of both clothes and home decoration fabrics. The focus is on day wear fabrics, so the silk and wool selection is slim. The fabric quality is fairly high in general, it's pretty much the same fabrics that you can find in city stores for way more (Skroten is 20-50% cheaper on most things). They even sell some organic fabrics, again much better priced than in the city. I also like to stock up on Gütermann threads and Coats overlock threads when I'm there.

Also in Kinna. If you knit, embroider and crochet you will love this store. The selection is amazing and very cheap. This is also one of the best button stores I have ever visited. The selection is huge and most buttons cost only 2 kronor each. Also they sell the discontinued line of Stil/Neue Mode patterns for a song (at least they still did the last time I checked). There are also some cheap ribbons and trims there.

Situated in Knalleland in Borås, the Swedish textile center. This is a great little store for those on the look out for bargains. The selection is a bit random, but there are great finds if you take the time to go through all the bolts. Also a great and cheap button selection. Laces, ribbons and other notions are also nicely priced.

Furulunds modetyger
Also in Knalleland Borås. A big store with a great selection of fabrics, from basics to high end materials. Priced higher than the ones mentioned above, but still worth a visit I think. This is where the fashion students at the Swedish textile university do some of their shopping. Also has a big notions selection.

This one I have not visited, but it is apparently very good if you are looking for wool suiting bargains. They are a factory outlet and sell remnants for low prices. Only open once a week (Wednesdays).  Also located in Borås, and they do mail orders as well.

Café Skrädderiet
Not a fabric store, but a wonderfully quaint café in Kinna that is decorated almost entirely with vintage furniture and paraphernalia. And in the summers you can sit in the lovely garden. Perfect for a replenishing fika after Kinna and before Borås.

Here is a map of the stores located in Tygriket (not the Borås ones). Most stores included on the map are home dec fabric and clothes outlets.

Hope you find the guide useful. I regularly get questions about fabric shopping in Göteborg too, so I will try to put together a guide for that as well in the future.
Etsy Floremark Made by me

Long sleeves and a new year

Monday, January 10, 2011Johanna / 7 kommentarer

Hope you all had a great holiday. I have been going easy on the sewing machine lately, last year was so intense, must have sewn around 60 garments, including a bridal dress, so I definitely felt a burn-out in December. My new slower pace has meant that I have yet to list a few long sleeve versions of Floremark garments that I cranked out during the holidays. I got a few request for those so I thought it would be a good addition. I'm also working (in my head mostly) on a few new designs for Floremark and also have a few Burda patterns (like the Karl Lagerfeld skirt) in the pipeline. It was good to have a little break, as I am slowly seeing my sewing urge coming back again.