And Now, to Conquer the Galaxy!

Or just a bit of fabric with a night-time print, I guess. How did my conquering of the galaxy come about you may ask? Well, I’m currently waiting for what I hope will be a walking foot to arrive in the mail. I’ve been working on a sort of modified riding jacket from a striped wool-ish fabric. Almost all of the outside has been constructed, but it requires a lining. I cut out the lining, but from experience I know that sewing the particular fabric with the normal sewing machine is hellish. I also know that my overlocker is still being naughty in a corner and refuses to make nice seam. Thus, I’m reduced to having patience until the new foot arrives, which I hope will allow me to sew the lining without much shifting.

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What I needed was a simple, one evening or less project that I could actually finish and that would not end up in the corner. I have more than enough unfinished projects as is, don’t need any more, thank you very much. Enter, the loop-scarf (again). I bought some fabrics a while ago specifically for a loop-scarf project. One was a galaxy print fabric, with a black border print and the same print on white in the middle. This time, I took the easy way out. I made a little snip and just tore it along the grain; easy straight edge and about 100 times as fast as attempting to measure and cut. How I’ve learned from last time!

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I just sewed the long edges together (seam 1), pressed them flat and then open and then flat on the outside again. Next, I was smart enough to pin the black short edges together the right way the first time I tried! Whoo, progress and improvement ladies and gentlemen! Left about 8 cm open and sewed that shut by hand (seam 2). Hey presto, easy peasy scarfy-weasy. I’ve found that I prefer loop-scarves since they don’t hang in my food nearly as much. Who knows, there will probably be a few more in the near future, if I can bang them out in an hour, there’s a lot of space for making.

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Sunday marked the fifth day in a row that I finished a project. On Wednesday the graduation dress, on Thursday the shrug, on Friday the purple Viking, on Saturday the red Viking and on Sunday a dress/sweater (which you will read about once I get the person who will be wearing it (hopefully) in it). Let me now explain why we made two Vikings.

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The University I work for has a very nice international recruitment officer who happens to be my friend. She travels around the world spreading the word and talking to lots of nice people. She regularly takes pictures of the places she is at for us to put on Facebook, but the umpteenth picture of obligatory brochure stand was getting a little much. So a while ago we thought up the plan to have her take a little Viking along on her travels. Why a Viking? The student association has a Viking as their mascot, since, apparently, the Vikings landed close to here when they first arrived in the Netherlands. Fine with us, a Viking it is.

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Now, trying to find a nice Viking proved to be a little more difficult than expected. On Thursday they googled Viking plushy and I was tasked with creating a pattern to make a nice Viking. Turned out that playing with paper and tape trying to create a Viking was a lot of fun! So in the end we had 8 or so pattern pieces and a shopping list of felt colours to obtain. Returning with off-white, light gray, darker gray, beige-ish and red felt, black fuzz, black eyes and a school pin, we planned to create the Viking on Saturday.

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On Friday after the ceremony, I wasn’t ready to go to bed yet, so I decided to test the pattern with some of my own felt (cheap felt, in horrid colours). This was the birth of the purple Viking. I learned a few things, like, sew the back of the bottom, not the side by hand for turning inside out. Clip close to the stitching on those horns or you’ll never be able to turn it. And, fuzz leaves more fuzz, especially pink fuzz on a dark blue skirt – not pretty. It turned out pretty nice so I was confident enough to try it on Saturday with the pattern we made.

Purple test Viking with pink fuzz, pretending to be in France.

Purple test Viking with pink fuzz, pretending to be in France.

The recruiting friend came by and we set out, first cut all the pieces, then sewed some bits together by machine and by hand, plucked fuzz of everything, inserted some eyes, sewed front and back together, turned the horns outside out and stuffed them, attached the oval bottom, turned it outside out completely, stuffed it even more, added the pin, closed the hole in the bottom and took some pictures. A Viking was born. He is a lot prettier than the first Viking I made. Now we just have to wait and see how he holds up to the wear and tear of travelling to at least 5 countries in the coming 5 weeks. And whether he’s received well in the (international) community. Fingers or horns crossed!

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You may have seen the graduation dress from yesterday. You may also have noticed something missing that is crucial in winter… long sleeves. Now, I left those off intentionally, because I wanted to be able to move my arms (and fabric shortage was a contributing factor). I knew I could turn out a decent shrug in no time – i.e. an evening, since I did the exact same thing last graduation, although that one turned out to be superfluous.

Looking for curtains on the Utrecht fabric market, I stumbled across some very soft, very warm feeling, slightly fuzzy, stretchy, black fabric. There were four meters left, so I bought it all and spent 8 euros total. I figured at the time that I could always use it as a blanket if I couldn’t think of anything to make from it. But Thursday night, the first 50 cm or so turned into a shrug to wear over the graduation dress.

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The pattern I used was the free So Simple Shrug from Craftsy. I used the same pattern last time and had some real problems trying to get it to work. That was mainly due to fabric choice as the jersey was too fluid. This black fabric was more stable and I made some modifications to the pattern so this version turned out a lot better. Modifications included overlapping the seam between pages 4-8 and 9-13 by 5 cm to decrease the sleeve width. The 5 cm decrease was then also implemented along the original pattern on page 4 to decrease the back length. I took an additional triangle out of the center back and the side backs to create a closer fit around the body. I added a band around the outside for a nice finish and hemmed the sleeves with a double row of stitching – for the next version that will be a twin stitched seam to allow for some more stretch.


This thing more than lived up to my expectations. It was so warm! It felt so soft! It was so nice! I think I may need to make an entire wardrobe out of this stuff. I’ll never be cold ever again! Just live in the black fuzz forever. For now, I may have to settle for wearing more things that allow me to wear a shrug over the top. My conclusion about this heavily modified shrug? Pure perfection!

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Graduation – Again

Friday it was time for the last lot of students to graduate again. This clearly called for a new dress! I’d started quite early by asking a friend of mine what fabric (see the options below) and what pattern to use in November. The pattern that was picked was honigdesign Garden Dress. As for fabrics, unfortunately, I was a fool and added a fabric that I didn’t want to use. Of course that was the one he picked. I overruled and decided to choose the green on the left.


So I started on the dress, taking really good care to match the stripes within the fabric. Both vertical and horizontal stripe matching can be found in places. I also chose to use it in a different direction as I wanted as little emphasis on the pink stripes as possible. The fabric was originally a gift from a co-worker, and part of the same lot was some mustard coloured fabric. The mustard coordinated beautifully with the mustard stripes in the fabric, score!

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After cutting out the bodice, I wasn’t left with a whole lot of fabric. The project was cornered until I could figure out a solution. I plaid around with some fabric from an old table cloth to see what I could do. In the end I settled on making a high low dress top with an attached skirt underneath. The plan was to make it look sort of like a riding jacket. For the skirt, I used fabric from my old winter coat – winter graduation and all. I also added the short sleeves because I was afraid of fabric shortage.

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There were only a few changes to the bodice pattern. I added an additional cm of length at the waist and rotated the shoulder seam so that it was almost horizontal across. I only did that after finishing the front slit in the bodice, so that was raised by a lot too in the process. This did (in my opinion) improve the fit tremendously. The skirts were completely self drafted and I added some invisible pockets to store my phone and other stuff.


The hems of the green dress, the blue skirt and the sleeves were hand sewn with yellow topstitching thread. I like that element as it brings it all together and gives a nod to the lining. The dress is quite tight fitting at the top, but it feels really nice when it is on. I managed to survive graduation and the dress did too! Mission accomplished.

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And below some details of the hand stitched hem and the (dare I say so) quite decent plaid matching!

matching hems

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Christmas 2016

This year will end with one big change; I’m moving house today. This means that next to putting all my stuff into boxes, I needed to plan some things. So somewhere a long time ago I started working on my end-of-year-cards. This year they were going to have to do double duty. They’d have to be festive, for Christmas & New Year, and allow me to distribute my new address to all people on the list.

So the design process started with scouring through pinterest to find nice ideas for cards. In the end I found two pins that would be nice to combine this one and this one, all my card pins can be found here. Then I looked through a website filled with fonts. I have fairly crappy handwriting and decided that I’d wanted to have the address and text legible. Eventually I found it! Then I tried to print it and it made something hideous, so back to the fonts I went and I found my second it!

I have since managed to murder my laptop and have thus lost both the font, the Christmas list, the actual card and about 6 months worth of other data and pictures. That should teach me to backup more regularly.. [Cue 5 minutes of clicking through handwritten fonds on the internet] I’ve now rescoured the font website just for your pleasure and I can tell you that the font I used was Talking to the Moon.


Then I got paper and more paper and made all kinds of nice pastel cards with the green end sticking out of the right side. After I’d finished about 30, I figured out that it would be grammatically incorrect (the comma at the end of the sentence) and I got new paper, now more Chrismassy red and started all over again. I also added the ‘pull’ which wasn’t on the original. On the inside I printed my new address so I didn’t have to write it out 40 times. Now, the ‘fancy bit’ of this card is the activity you have to do to read it all. See my fantastic gif below!


I’m now hoping that people ‘get’ them, and if not, well, it’s the idea that counts!

So, to all of you: Jolly Holidays and a Nifty New Year!!

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More Miniature Dinosaurs

I’ve discovered the benefit of preparing to move to a different house. You find all the unfinished projects languishing in a box. Some are a quick stuff and finish, like the mini dinosaurs I’ll show you in a minute, some are a case of straight into the old rag bin and some may be salvageable with time and effort. I have by now managed to reduce my stash of 6 boxes of scraps and UFOs to only one box. I’m quite proud of this actually. It also, in a way, frees you to put your mind to other things than the old projects still hiding away in a corner.

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During the big clean up, I found a bag with some old knitted mini-dinosaurs parts in it. Back in the day (here), I finished three of them, but apparently I didn’t complete the last two. So I took an hour or two and stuffed and sewed up that last pair. They are just the simple version of a toothless T-rex, but I still think that they are quite sweet.

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I’m still trying to get all my yarn, fabrics and sewing accessories into plastic bins that I already own, so wish me luck!

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I brought the big Toothless to work in the days after I’d finished it. I felt it unfair to keep his glory all to myself. So people told me he was awesome and adorable, which was nice. One person completely missed a meter long dragon on my desk until another colleague asked why he had not commented on it yet, which was funny. Another colleague said that he wanted one too, and since it was his birthday soon, I’d better go home and start working on it. Well, it was too involved to do that, so I refused, however, I did suggest another option, a dragon (heavily) inspired by this one.

The deadline was today, and I had failed to start until about 11 o’clock at night on Saturday… I used this pattern and cut my pieces from the same fleece blankets as the original Toothless. I took some felt in green, black and white for the eyes, a zipper, thread, scissors, pins and needles and put it all in a ziplock bag. Why? Because I had plans to go to Amsterdam on Sunday to watch two roller derby games. I figured the train would be the perfect place to hand sew the Tooth-ish head together. The train certainly gave me enough time, it took from 8:15 to 12:15 to get to the place I needed to go, with some nice chatting with a grandma for about half of it.

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The roller derby games were super awesome, extremely exiting and both games down to seconds left on the period clock and the necessity to do another final jam. We were on the edge of our seats. The Amsterdam B-team lost with 1 point against the Namur B-team, while the Amsterdam A-team won with 8 points against the Namur A-team (10 points scored in that last jam!). It’s so nice to see derby in action from the sidelines instead of the screen. I was very happy I went.

I finished all the sewing in the train/at the game and at home I used iron-on hem tape to affix the eyes. I put some candy in it and wrapped it up. The reaction was nice, so I’m happy! Let’s hope the new owner also likes it! Toothless to rule the world! – So why is this one called Tooth-ish? Because when you open him up, he’s got teeth!

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