Friday, February 25, 2011

Not quite right wool sweater




Made this wool pullover super quick yesterday. I need a new wool sweater since my old hand me down pretty much fell apart earlier this winter. But this one won't make the cut as a new wardrobe staple, mostly due to the fabric. I ordered the wool rib knit from Denver fabrics (Fashion fabric club) and it was a mess to work with. It has zero stability, stretches like crazy the minute you touch it. You can see some of the waviness in the hem in the first photo. Sometimes I wonder why they bother making these kinds of fabrics, as they are pretty much useless, both to wear and to sew. Maybe this was a failed factory sample that Denver got hold off? I've ordered a few things from them lately and I have to say it has been mostly duds and the descriptions are so sparse and not entirely accurate either which makes purchasing a gamble. I much prefer shopping from vendors like Emma one sock and Gorgeous fabrics, the quality is higher and they really take the time when working on descriptions, which is invaluable when you can't touch the fabrics.

However I'm happy with the style as such and I think it looks okay in the photos. I used Wendy Mullen's raglan pattern from the book Sew U Home stretch and it went together very well. I drafted the turtle neck myself. So I will buy a better sweater knit and do this pattern again in time for next winter. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Behind the scenes


There are plenty of sewing going on in the background, but not much to show for. February has been a busy month for Floremark, so I spend a lot time in front of the machine when I get home from my day job. Running a business on the side when you have a full time day job is no picnic for sure, but then again I don't think any kind of circumstances makes running a business easy.

I sometimes get questions on what it's like to turn your hobby into a job and if it's hard to get the sales rolling, so I will try to answer those questions as best as I can.

As for switching from hobby to paid work, I do miss sewing for myself sometimes. Or technically I still sew for myself, but instead of just making one blouse I might make five or ten. Also since the Floremark range is limited to mostly knitwear I have found myself buying more clothes than usual. Like jeans and a winter jacket - things that I would normally make myself. I sometimes feel conflicted about that, being so used to making pretty much all my own clothes.

As for making sales, I would say it is pretty hard. On Etsy for instance there are some super successful sellers, but many many shops who has been there for years might still only have 5-10 sales. The good news is that sellers who put a lot of effort into every detail, from product concept to design to marketing to photos, still has a chance to make it in this overcrowded market place. I've seen clothes sellers who came after me and just took off like crazy after a few months. What they all have in common is a very strong niche and aesthetic and they are all probably doing an insane amount of work as well.

As for the the reward, for me it is that I really love working on new designs, tweaking concepts, fine tuning production techniques and interacting with customers. It makes me very stimulated, has enriched my life and boosted my confidence. I sometimes wish I could be that sort of person who didn't have big dreams and ambitions, I think it would have made my life easier. But I am not that person, never have been and probably never will.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cocktail dress exhibition

Elsa Schiaparell and  Hanae Mori

Christian Dior

 Ossie Clark

Woke up this morning feeling a bit reckless so I decided to cheer myself up by taking a trip to the new Cocktail dress exhibition at the local design museum. It was a small exhibition, just 30 dresses or so, but the range was good, from Elsa Schiaparelli to Pucci to Hussein Chalayan. Of course this being a small museum in Sweden the collection doesn't feature the best and most known works from each designer, but I appreciate seeing less iconic styles. My favorite find was Japanese designer Hanae Mori who had the most beautiful black and white silk coat in the exhibition (see the first photo). Sorry for the grainy mobile photos, let's just say that I didn't comply with the photo prohibition. Perhaps I will get an angry email if they ever find this blog, so enjoy the pics while they last!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prym pliers




Sometimes, the right brand really makes all the difference. I've been scratching my head for years trying to master the craft of attaching snap fasteners. But the hammer method has regularly failed me, resulting in wonky snaps. A year ago I purchased cheap pliers at a discount store, ignoring the recommendation of a supplier that Prym is the only way to go. Of course my cheap pliers was useless, in fact the result was worse than with the hammer method. So yesterday I decided to finally bite the bullet and get the Prym pliers anyway. And what a difference! Everything went super smooth, no wonky placements or ruined fabric. You do need the adapters that are included with the Prym rivets and snaps packages, but I tried the pliers on some generic snaps also, and it worked just as well.

Of course I do have a track record with bargain silliness. But at least this post might prevent someone else doing the same mistake.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Triangles everywhere


Suddenly triangles seem to be everywhere. I love geometric prints so this is very good news.

1. Fabric for the Floremark spring/summer collection. 2. Bekväm clothing custom Keds. I'm hope this talented designer will make this print available to the public soon too. 3. Samples from my Etsy friend Liinas jewellry line A spoonful of mint.  4Eley Kishimoto for weekday 5. Fashion blogger and tv-host Elsa Billgren wearing a triangle print dress from H&M.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An ode to a secret place






I've talked about this little place before, and now it looks like it will soon close down forever. So this post is a heads up for all readers in the Göteborg area and also a bit of an eulogy to the kind of stores that becomes rarer and rarer. The store is called Normi garn and opened in 1953. The current owner is the daughter and she is heading for retirment. She too is a rare creature, being quite an eccentric. She is a secretive (she even refuses to say her real name), a smart ass, can come off as rude, but still it is hard not to like her and her fabulous store. It is best known for the yarns, but you can also find rows and rows of fabrics from the 60's and the 70's at unbelievable prices. And there are great notions too to be found if you take the time to dig around for a while. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fabric notebook


Speaking of notebooks, I went looking for a new one this weekend and was thrilled to find a series that uses classic fabric designs as covers. I opted for the plaid suiting version, but I also really liked the houndstooth print that they offered. The notebooks are from a Swedish company called Rationella media.

Monday, February 7, 2011

How to mark pleats with an awl


Thank you for all the comments on the Karl Lagerfeld skirt. I wore it to work today and it is just as comfortable as I had hoped for. Obvislouly this is a skirt that will only work in seasons where opaque tights is suitable, but since I live in Sweden that means a pretty good chunk of the year.

The skirt has kick pleats and I wanted to show a simple method for how to mark the pleats using an awl. A few years ago I got really tired of tracing paper, they are messy to use and don't work on fine fabrics. So I decided to try using the awl method instead, apparently this is a standard procedure in the garment industry. And for kick pleats and such this is really a fantastic and quick method. And don't worry about ruining the fabric, mostly you'll just push away the threads and after washing (or just a dab of water) most holes will be invisible. Also I have two awls, one smaller for delicate fabrics and one thicker which is great for sturdy fabrics


Usually folds are marked with dots on the pattern. Just poke holes through the dots using the awl.


Clip the upper edges where the pleats should meet.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Karl Lagerfeld skirt

 



I spent all of Saturday night being entirely consumed with sewing the Karl Lagerfeld skirt and today I spent a disproportionally large amount of time searching for a the missing fourth button. But now all is in place finally. For the lack of better wording: I just love this skirt!! I love the detailing, the comfort (yay for elasticized waist) and the great mix between stylish and utilitarian. This truly is a mini skirt, only 33 cm long (just over 1 foot). For reference I am only 160 cm (5'3) and didn't do a petite adjustment and it only just covers my butt. So if you are any taller, adding length might be a good idea.

I had originally planned to make it in dark navy, but the wool pique I ordered from Denver fabrics was a dud (too thin, too much lycra, and a weird surface). So I had a bit of a meltdown and then yesterday afternoon I rushed to make it to a nearby fabric store. 1.58 PM, two minutes before closing time, I entered the store and began frantically searching for a fabric that both has body and some stiffness while being soft at the same time (as stipulated by the sewing instructions). That turned out to be really tricky so in one last desperate move I switched from the blacks, greys and navys that I was perusing and saw this fabric. It was perfect, except for the colour, but at that point the store manager was picking down the "Open" flag so I just grabbed the roll off the shelf and then took the first buttons I laid my eyes on the wall. Now I'm really happy that I thought out of the box for once. The fabric is a wool/poly gabardine, apparently a remaint from the high end garment industry. It feels great anyway, I normally prefer all natural fibers, but this mix was way better than any pure wools and cottons that they had to offer.

Blouse: Made by me, using the Pattern Master boutique software. The fabric is cotton eyelet, and I did this blouse 4-5 years ago.
Skirt: Made by me, using a Burdastyle by Karl Lagerfeld pattern. 
Shoes: Ecco

Update: Here is a review of the pattern.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A first taste of spring





I may be overly optimistic but I suddenly feel a whiff of spring in the Swedish air. At lest the snow are gone for now. I am also sort of working on a few spring styles for Floremark. This being the first. I even managed to catch some rays of natural sunlight in the bed room when I took the photos. It was nice to not having to rely on the flash for once. I'll keep you posted with more info as I progress.