Friday, February 28, 2014

Industry Insiders - Lone, Dressmaker (theatre)

Today I have a treat for you. 
My lovely friend Lone (yeah, another one of those Danish names, ha) has one of the most fascinating jobs I know about. She is a dressmaker (with specialty in costumes) at the Danish Royal Theatre (the link should take you to the English version - otherwise look for the little flag in the right top corner to change it).

 The theatre was built in 1748 so you can probably imagine what an impressive and fascinating historic place this is. 

All the amazing people working there are the very best within their specialty and all with an amazing passion for making sure to turn the different play's costume designers' visions into absolutely stunning and long lasting costumes. But also costumes that can be danced in AND easily altered if a new actor/dancer/singer has to take over. Yeah phew, that's a lot of criteria for one piece of clothing.

I think you have to have an extra amazingly patient personality to do these things. Personally I would cry if I had to spend weeks on the same piece of clothes, I do not have the patience for that, and that is what makes these ladies extra fascinating. I cannot get enough looking at their truly is wearable art.

Lone is the type that everything she decides to do turns out perfect. really is lucky she is such a sweet and hysterically funny person because otherwise I am not sure I could stand it, ha!

Okay, I think it is time to hear what Lone has to say, right!
Take it away!

Name, age, civil status, kids:

My name is Lone, I'm 38 years old and married to Jesper and we have two kids - Laust who is nine and Ella who is 5 1/2 years old.

Education (where, when, what):
I am a formally trained dressmaker.
I began my education at CPH WEST, and chose the dressmaker-line. (Mie and Rikke started at the same time but choose the seamstress/sample machinist line).*

During my education I was lucky to become a trainee at The Royal Danish Theater, and I am still here today 14 years after. 
*(A super quick explanation of the difference in the two lines: Dressmakers sew custom made clothes using traditional tailor techniques and lots of hand sewing. The finished clothes is made to last a lifetime. 
The seamstress/sample machinist learns to sew all types of ready-to-wear clothes using industrial/modern methods. 
Of course back then, we spend way too much time discussing which line was the best...and I am sure we have all realized by now that you can't really compare and there is a need for both in the world of fashion and clothing in general.) 

Current job:
In the costume department we are approximately 35 dressmakers, tailors (men's wear), textile color experts and miliners whom as well as hats do jewelry, flowers, masks and everything else wired and wearable that nobody else seems to be able to make.

Lone told me this photo is a rare opportunity to see the tutus hanging the right way around. Normally they are being stored upside down so that they keep looking like this above when the ballet dancers need to wear them - year after year. 

What do you like the most about your current job? And the least?:

What does a normal work day look like for you:
I loooove my job... I earn my money by doing what I love the most. If I had more hours a day I would probably be sewing. I feel so lucky. I make all kinds of fantastic, delicate and 
amazing costumes and my days at work are rarely alike. 

One day I make leotards and those kind of basic costumes for the ballet dancers, the next I make delicate ballet costumes in ultra lightweight silks. Other days I work with stiff flat tutus, heavy opera costumes and delicate historical costumes for plays.....aaaand then of cause there are the days where we maintain up to 30 years old costumes, which has been worn hundreds of times, and still look amazing on stage. 

From Sleeping Beauty.

But the variation is great and the best thing about it all is that we, because our costumes has to look great on stage for many many years, needs always to be sewed in really good quality materials.

A thing that makes sewing of theater costumes special is, that it has to be able to be changed to fit another artist in a hurry (for example if a ballet dancer get enjured and another dancer has to take the part). We have certain techniques and ways in which we sew. And here one has to remember that even the lightest and most delicate ballet costume is work-clothes in which the dancers will sweat and really wear out. At the same time we strive at making our costumes really nicely and that the details are really well made.

We sew a great deal by hand as well. It is for example easier and less time consuming to replace one hook sewed in by hand than if we used those premade ribbons with rows of hooks already pre-attached.
If there are beads on a costume it is very important to hand tie every single bead separately. We have to ensure that if one bead goes loose during the play/dance, twenty beads will not fall of as well and cause an accident on stage, etc.

TOP:  English lady's from La Bayadere MIDDLE: The Lady of the Camellias. BOTTOM: The Nutcracker

When all the good things about the crafts are said, I have to say that the work environment is not bad either.  I have the greatest colleagues (she is right, I have met a lot of them - funniest ever. Edited to add.).
And who would not love to pass the studios every morning and see the dancers do their morning ballet classes and rehearse the different shows to the sound of live piano music.

If you could forget about logistics, family, sleep, money etc: what would your dream job be:

I actually think it would be hard to find a more attractive place for me to work in Denmark. I actually have my dream job here. The only other thing I could dream of here was to try to work in a place where they make real haute couture. Without all the theater techniques and in a more light and fashionable style. For example the Danish designer Ole Yde, who makes the most delicate and beautiful things.

Should I dream of something even bigger of, it would of course to go to Paris to work for one of the great fashion houses. Or the Comedie Francaise (in Paris as well) where they sew in correct historical ways to Moliere-plays or Cosprop in London where they also do everyting 100% correct historically - (for example no overlock - everything is sewed  by hand - only straight seams on machine) They deliver costumes to big film productions all over the world for example the Jane Austin-movies like Sense and Sensibility and Hollywood-productions like Pirates of the Caribbean.

With my work we have visited both Comedie Francaise and Cosprop and....Oh boy....we were in sewing heaven.  

TOP: Femke Mølbach Slot in a dress that Lone has made for the Frank Sinatra play Come Fly Away. MIDDLE, LEFT: Front of a wedding dress. MIDDLE, RIGHT: Detail shots. BOTTOM LEFT: Lady Marion in Robin Hood. BOTTOM RIGHT: Back of the stunning wedding dress.

Oh and one last thing. Should you one day visit Denmark there are guided tours that passes through the workshops (womens, mens and hats & jewelry-departments) at The Royal Danish Theatre, if anybody should come by some day - come and say Hi...I will probably be there for the next thirty years or so - if they don't kick me out before. ;-)

TOP: The original Danish Royal Theatre (now mostly used for ballet and where the costume department is). MIDDLE: The Opera House. BOTTOM: The Acting House. 
The Opera and Acting house are both fairly new buildings - as I am sure you have already figured out from the architecture.

Lone THANK YOU for sharing your job and passion with us!
You and your colleagues are nothing less than AMAZING!

After this posted I got a question about how they keep the costumes clean? Good question since they make them to last for years!
I asked Lone and this is what she told me:

"All the costumes gets dress shields sewed in and they are being replaced as soon as they start to smell.

Sometimes the inside of a costume is being taken out and sent to dry cleaning.

They also have something called an ozone cabinet (I really hope I am translation this correctly). It sort of sterilizes and send a lot of air thought the clothes. Only problem with that cabinet is that is ruins all elastics, so that would need replacing afterwards (if the costume has elastic).

Some costumes they also sew with a little removable/washable shirt inside.

They are also asking the actors to wear thin t-shirts under their costume."

WOW, thanks again Lone!

Next week we are meeting Stine who has started her own women's clothing line The Baand together with a friend, making high quality fashion basics with eco-friendly materials in a sustainable production in Nepal and Peru.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Industry Insiders - Rikke, Technical Designer.

Today I am starting a new and ongoing series...well, ongoing until I have been through all my friends and friend's friends and their interesting sewing and fashion related jobs.

I feel like I have already told about my own story way too many times (and in case of the minimal chance that you missed it, you can catch up HERE) so I decided it was time to tell you about other jobs and directions from the world of fashion and sewing. It can both seems like a very closed world but it is certainly also a world with tons of directions and opportunities and ways in! And today we are looking at one of them.....

The first one up is my very good friend Rikke (yeah, this is a very typical Danish name but if you are English speaking don't even try to pronounce it - just ask my British husband, ha). 
We have the same education (that's where we met and became friends over a delicious curry dinner (not eaten while sewing)) and her story is a very good example of how you, with the same starting point, can end up somewhere completely different career wise. 
We have even shared an apartment in Copenhagen at some point and we designated the biggest room to sewing room, ha. 
After we moved apart we continued sharing various workshops where I worked on my business and Rikke did her freelance sewing work (for various small designers) in the evening and weekends while working during the day at her first job that she is also telling you about below. She always came back teaching me all these tricks she learned from her colleagues - many which I have shared with you here on the blog - and I always think of her when I am sewing something she taught me.
FUN times as you can probably imagine.

Okay, I think it is time for Rikke's story:

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Rikke, I am 37 years old. 
I am married to Soeren and together we have 3 1/2 year old Matias (cutest kid EVER) and then we are expecting a baby brother this summer. (yay)
We also have Soeren's son, 17 years old Victor in the weekends and on holidays. 


I am educated a seamstress (not the type who works in a factory - you can read more details HERE, edited to add.) with Mie in 2003 from a school near Copenhagen, Denmark.

Former (sewing related) jobs:

Baum und Pferdgarten: Danish brand where I worked for 6 years in various positions in the production department. Sewing show pieces, sourcing supplies and being in contact with the production abroad to mention some. This is where I grew up in the fashion world and I still adore and simply love this brand.

Wood Wood: Danish brand where I worked for 4 years as a paper pattern maker. I still miss my colleagues and the work I did there.

Current job:

Moss Copenhagen. A new Danish brand.
I work as a Technical Designer. I am making the shape of the styles, requested by the designers, by sending measures, drawings and pictures to the suppliers. I have only worked here for 3 months, so everything still feels quite new.

What does a normal work day look like for you:

8:00 am: Starting the day by making a cup of coffee and starting up the computer. 

09:00 am: Measuring samples, making comments about workmanship and overall look of the styles to prepare for fitting in the afternoon. 

12:00 am: Lunch

01:00 pm: Fitting samples on a doll or a model together with the design team.

02:00 pm: making final comments and measures to send to the suppliers.

04:00 pm: hurrying out the door to pick up Matias from daycare.

What do you like the most about your current job? And the least? 

The best is that this company work with very short deadlines, so no collections, but a constant flow of new styles being born and produced.
The worst is that there is no actual paper pattern making in the office, all styles are made by measurements, drawings and pictures and then sent to the supplier. 

If you could forget about logistics, family, sleep, money etc: what would your dream job be:

I would be thrilled to gather all the lovely and very talented people I have met in my working life in one great company, where creativity and sound business practice could be united.


And lastly a few photos of some things she has sewed for her son. By the way she was the very first person to introduce me to Japanese Sewing Books and I am pretty sure these things are made from some of those books. 

Awwwwwwwww! TOO cute!

Rikke THANK YOU SO MUCH for being part of this!

And I can already say now that you can look forward to next week where we are going in a completely different direction with our (mine and Rikke's) friend Lone who is a dressmaker working for the Royal Danish Theater.
Stay tuned for separate hand sewn beads, tutus, silk and velvet...basically wearable art!
So long! 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What would Celina do? + Classic Button Placket Tutorial.

You have no idea how long I have been looking forward to this day! The day where I get to celebrate one of the coolest, sweetest, most generous, modest and talented ladies out there together with a bunch of other Celina fans. 
But also because I don't have to keep this secret anymore, ha. I am always terrified to be the one who ruins the surprise.
Celina's very good friend Laura (Craftstorming & Tichy Threads) have arranged this series and I did not even think twice when she approached me. Yes! OF COURSE I would love to participate in a secret surprise all-in-one-overwhelming-day tribute blog tour to celebrate this heroine of mine, duh!

After all she was the one who offered to help me edit my Project Run & Play photos, and at that point did we not even know each other that well. She just spend days helping me during the month the competition lasted. We ended up chatting about tons of other subjects while we were in front of each our computer and I now consider her a very close friend. 
She is a constant inspiration for me and I look up to her big time.
I have ended up learning (and still am) so many things from her about photography, editing and graphics that I really felt and saw the difference in my photos afterwards. And since my photos were in the biggest need of improvement of all things on this blog, I really really do owe this friend of mine whatever I can give her.

Let's look at which of her projects I used for inspiration for this post:

I absolutely love those two shirts with the Peter Pan collars  and I LOVE how the collars don't go all the way around.
You can find all Celina's amazing tutorials HERE including this one.

When I think of Celina's style I think COOL ROMANTIC. Her clothes have clean lines and it is definitely not over-decorated, but they usually have a touch of softness/sweetness and I think this is where her inner romantic peeks out, hi hi.
I have already made this dress before in THIS post but Celina's idea about the half Peter Pan collar made me wanting to do it again. Besides the previous one I made was for a friend's daughter, so I guess it was time to add it to the family closet too.

This amazing lavender/French blue cotton lace was perfect to add a romantic touch to this dress's clean lines. I put a light blue cotton voile under to prevent it from being see through. And then I paired it with this amazing fairly thick hunter green cotton poplin with a slight shine. Aaaaand then some watermelon colored snaps for a bit of contrast.
The dress itself is very simple with a raglan sleeve and a loose fit. The pattern is self-drafted by the way. Because this lace is quite thick it did not drape very well, so I added an inside casing using a wide bias tape and put through an elastic. And now the dress is back in shape, hahaaaaha.

Here is a closer look at the sewed-in collar and button placket. The placket is annoying me so much in these photos. It looks all wonky and wavy...and I promise it did not look like that when I finished sewing it - actually you can see for yourself further down in the placket tutorial - if only I noticed it when I took the photos, I could just have turned the snap back up in place (you how how they can twist/turn a bit when they are closed) and the front placket would not be slightly wavy - but as usual I was too busy clicking away before the little lady was over the photo shoot....and as I am sure you can guess that is a matter of minutes, gah.

Oh well below is the tutorial that can teach you how to make a placket, non-wonky and all, ha.

I have chosen to show you a tutorial for the placket with the easiest finished width which is two times my preferred seam allowance (1 cm/ 3/8 inch) so in this case 2 cm width. That way you just have to cut a slit in your fabric (not like a wider opening), follow the seam allowance and you got your placket. But making it wider is not that much more is all about math.

1) Here you see the two pattern pieces you need - a left and a right - or as I call them a fold-over placket and the inner placket to make it more logic to understand which piece I am talking about. And just to be ABSOLUTELY clear: the fold-over placket is the one you see when the button placket is closed and the inner placket is the one hidden (behind the fold-over placket).
The width and height of the pieces is pure logic.
Width = seam allowance + finished placket width + finished placket width + seam allowance.
Height = seam allowance + finished length/opening (minus square) + seam allowance.

And then the fold-over placket has a little extra length in one side which is of course the finishing square at the end. The reason why I am not doing the piece as a full rectangle is simply to avoid the square being too bulky. But you can totally cut it off right before sewing the last square stitch if it is confusing your pattern drafting....I know I always have to think an extra second about it every time to make sure I make a girl placket (since I usually sew for girls).

2) & 3) Interface your pieces and then it is time to cut open your garment - usually center front (CF) - but where ever you want a button placket really.
The cut have to be 3!! cm shorter than the length of the finished opening (see photo 3).
Now place you plackets (with right side) to garment's wrong side and sew.
Notice that my neck line is already finished at this point and the placket is the last that area at least.

4) Now fold your placket pieces towards the middle and iron your seam.
Then make a diagonal cut from the bottom of the slit to the bottom of the stitch you just made, stopping like 1 mm from the stitch. Both sides.

5) Fold your plackets double and close the top of the plackets.

6) Stitch your placket from the front side but only down to where you sewed it on with the first stitch (photo 2 & 3). Iron plackets after sewing.

7) Sorry to confuse you by suddenly starting to show you photos with the snaps already in but after finishing the sewing and looking at the photos I took for this tutorial, I realized I totally skip quite a few important steps. So what does a determined sewing blogger do? Yup, rips up the last stitch and takes the missing photos (you better start pinning ladies - this tutorial has cost blood, sweat and tears - kiiiidding!! But please DO pin it if you think it is useful, ha.)
Okay, back to the tutorial......we are doing a bit of folding in the next couple of photos.
So the triangle that came when you made those diagonal cuts (photo 4) now needs to be folded down on the right side.

8) Fold the inner placket to the middle.
Fold the bottom seam allowance up - using your iron will help you here so it stays put.

9) Now fold your fold-over placket over to the middle and pin the bottom square down to help you control it when you stitch.
When you have put the top pin in, take a look on the inside and see where the pin is placed. You sort of want to hit 1 mm from the edge.

10) See photo 10 for where it is suppose to be placed.
The dotted triangle is just to show you how that triangle is folded down in between the fabric and the bottom placket square and is creating a nice finish on the back too.

11) And here you see your finished placket with a square stitch that has closed it all up - on the front and back side.


I don't want to scare you by saying that sewing these plackets are kind of hard....on the other hand I don't want to fool you by saying "See, super easy". This is just one of those things where you have to slow down and take your time with every step - that is really the best advice I can give you! 
Because if one thing goes wrong - fx sewing one placket further down than the other (step 3) then the placket is going to be trapeze shaped instead of an rectangle. Or if you don't cut your diagonal cut close enough to the stitch (step 4) then you will end up with a very un-smooth area around the bottom square. Or cut too far and you will have holes in your garment, yikes. I don't know about you, but to me 10-15 minutes extra sewing time  seems worth it, right!
My first placket did not look like this, it takes practice so please don't be discouraged.
And let me know if I can help, ok!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Invisible zipper tutorial - including tips to finish the lining and waistband perfectly.

Today I am fixing a mistake I made with a tutorial I posted last summer. Okay, using the word mistake might be a bit dramatic. The problem was that the post was a HUGE and very photo heavy tutorial for sewing my wave skirt from start to finish (see that post HERE). Some might ask what in the world the problem with doing that could be....well, I actually showed one of my favorite invisible zipper tricks (or rather finishing it up with lining etc) in it and I think it sort of drowned in all the other information.
SO I have done a few improvements to it and is now just showing you the tutorial to one of my favorite sewing tricks.
The tutorial is starting with the photos for sewing an invisible zipper (without a special foot) in case you were interested in that too and the second collage is THE TRICK to a perfect finish.

* I needed a bit more space to explain this step.
SO this is a trick to sew your lining/inner waistband/facing to an invisible zipper. It is actually super simple but the result is gorgeous! 
You are probably used to placing the inner waistband - right against right side - and sewing down along zipper. Well, you are still going to do that BUT first you are going to shift out your inner waistband so it sticks out 1 cm (3/8 inches) at the very top and 0.5 cm at the bottom of the waistband (see photo). The rest of the way (the lining) you just do as usual and no shifting. And NOW you sew down along the zipper. See graphic stitches on photo.
You will need to look at the last photo in the tutorial before you see the point with the shifting....but I promise you that you won't be disappointed!

Pretty cool, huh! 
You will never go back after you tried this!

Thank you.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Shades Of Me - Green.

It's been awhile since I have been the one in front of the camera (phew) but when my two friends Hayley from Welcome to the Mouse House and Celina from Petit a Petit & Family invited me to a series full of adult sewing, and as an extra twist we were all going to pick ONE color and stick to that - but of course take advantage of all the tints, tones and shades in that color - I have since then learned that is called monochromatic color - I was all over it. Plus my kids really don't need more clothes but I could definitely need some - yes definitely!! By the way the ladies have made an AMAZING monochromatic Pinterest board you should definitely check it out HERE.

Soooooo any guesses on the color I chose? 
Okay, silly question!
It is one of my favorite colors (together with navy blue and a million others). I think it started when I for many years (and many years ago) had fire red and orange hair, and we all know how well green suits people with that hair color. If it were not for the crazy maintenance and toll on my poor scalp I would still have it today. I absolutely loved it. But then I would never had realized that my own hair color was actually not that bad either, ha. Let's see how long that lasts before the grey hairs are really taking over, ha.

This photo sums up my feelings about being in front of the camera buuuut it turned out to be so much fun this time. I had Evelyn pressing the button to the remote and it was hard not to laugh at her encouraging "Say CHEEEEESE Mom" (She also shouted "Say Cherries"!! Is that like a new official one or did she make that up??). Plus it was actually super helpful not having to think about hiding the remote all the time.

So what am I wearing? I have sewed the top from one of my own old patterns (more about that in a bit). The wool skirt and tights are from one of my absolute favorite brands J.Crew. The lovely ladies Hayley and Celina wanted us to have fun and kindly allowed us to mix the handmade clothes with store bought. Phew, loved that 'rule'!

So the top is from my last collection that never got produced (because I got pregnant and closed the company) so the pattern have only been used to sew some salesmen samples and I have always wanted to make some more versions for myself.....and here we are like 6-7 years later..... FINALLY!
I like the big yoke with only shoulder seams, and doing this top in color block is almost obvious, right!
The sleeves have a bias covered slit (see how in THIS tutorial) and finished it with some homemade bias tape (see THIS tutorial).
The pattern has a bit of gathering at the front bodice and more on the back for the most flattering fit. I have tucked the shirt in the skirt because a defined waist suits my body type the best. When I am going to wear it with pants/jeans I am going to have it hang loose but put a belt in the waist.

The fabrics are both Viscose Batiste. sells it in 21 colors. It is quite lightweight and you have to take your time when you are working with it to get a nice result. But the drape is perfect for a shirt like this, so it is worth the trouble.

The yoke is overlapped at front and closed with three mint green snaps.

And yay I have green sunglasses too. I did try to take some 'close up' photos but working with the remote has it's limits - or maybe I should have tried a bit harder, ahem. But at least you can see the shirt from the back.

I also wanted to show you a (tiny bit) better photo of my green bracelet - or at least closer. It matched my outfit almost ridiculously good. Remember my friend Ashlee's porcelain jewelry? (otherwise get reminded HERE). So I have convinced her to make a bracelet and I am the lucky one to test this beauty to see how the tiny chain works out before she puts it in her shop....and it works like a case anyone wonders.

If you have missed some posts in this series (I am second last stop on the tour) then go back to Welcome to The Mouse House or Petit a Petit & Family, they have links and teaser photos to alllll the amazing posts.

Image Map

And last but certainly not least make sure to enter this GIGANTIC giveaway they have organized. You can see all the prizes HERE and enter below: