Bilingual Blogging – Do you do it?

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As you might have seen from some changes on my blog I have recently added a section to which I will post blog posts in German. I call this section “Starcross Sewing Österreich”. If you have been following my blog through a blog reader, you will not get updates on the German blog posts. They are separate from the main feed of my blog. If you speak German and want to receive posts in German as well you can follow this separate feed through the “Subscribe to” buttons to the right.

And by clicking on this button in the sidebar you will be taken to the German subsection of the blog:

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I plan on continuing to blog mainly in English but since I’m back living in Vienna I feel there are always specific topics that crop up or things I would like to talk about sewing-wise that do not interest an international audience and where it doesn’t really make sense to write in English.

So, basically 90% of my content will remain in English: outfit posts, most tutorials, reviews and other stuff. Sometimes, however, I will feel like writing about a topic that really only makes sense to German speakers or local people and then I will only write in German on the German subsection, which you can subscribe to additionally.

There may still be some kinks in the way this works on my page. If you find anything difficult or get wrong blog posts sent to your reader, let me know.

I have thought long and hard about how to address the multi-lingual “problem” on my blog. I started writing in English many years ago, because back then there was no German-speaking online sewing community to speak of. So it wouldn’t have made sense to write in German. I also lived in English-speaking countries for a number of years and English therefore seemed like the natural choice.

Over the past few years a German-speaking sewing community has developed and I feel out of touch with it. I have tried writing my blog in a bilingual way before – word-by-word translation for each post – but have failed miserably. It is not fun. And it doesn’t come naturally, because you speak differently to each community or audience. So, it’s not just a matter of language but also one of culture.

In order not to feel alienated from the growing local community of crafters and sewists, I have now come up with the idea of splitting my blog in two and dedicating a particular section to German-speaking interests only. So, whenever I feel like writing something in German I can – without having to worry that my English-speaking audience requires a translation of it. Because if you don’t subscribe to the additional German feed you won’t even know I’m posting in German.

I hope that this way of doing things will satisfy my bi-cultural needs and hopefully I will also find some local sewists and crafters who would like to read my ramblings on in German. It would be sad to post into the ether.

I would be really interested in hearing how some of you deal with being bilingual or, say, bi-cultural – as I very much feel I am – in the blogging world. Would you consider posting in two languages? Or do you prefer only writing in one language, even if that language is perhaps not accessible by many?

I think this is a really difficult but also interesting subject and would love to hear your ideas and thoughts.

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Is selling handmade clothes as a non-professional illegal in your country? It is in Austria.

This week an Austrian Fashion School has started a petition asking the Austrian government to deregulate the tailoring and dressmaking trade. If you live in Austria, go sign it! [You can also read this post in German here]

 

Why is this petition important and what is it about?

The status quo in Austria is that anyone who wants to open a business selling clothes that they have made themselves needs to have a master certificate of dressmaking and tailoring. This means that I, for example, could not legally sell, say, a t-shirt that I have made without having such a qualification.

The problem is that getting this qualification is a long and onerous process, and you need to be professionally trained at a high level of craftsmanship even if you only intend to sell a couple of handmade dresses on an online platform or at a market stall.

The accreditation exam tests your tailoring skills (making a ladies’ or gents’ jacket – depending on whether you want to qualify as a men’s or ladies’ tailor), your pattern cutting skills (you must know pattern cutting according to the Müller München system – no other pattern cutting system qualifies), your knowledge of textile technology and your business skills. Yes, and there are different exams for ladies’ and men’s tailors. So, if I want to sell dresses to women but then a year into my business decide to expand and sell t-shirts to men – yes, you guessed it – I will have to take another exam.

The traditional route used to be that you would get into the trade through apprenticeship and after several years of training you can take your apprentice exam and eventually after another couple of years your master craftsman exam. Fashion college is another route but does not qualify you automatically. You will still have to take this exam, no matter how skilled a designer you may be. As you can see, these entry barriers make it very hard for people who want to start a business while holding down a job.

In my opinion, the system is incredibly outdated, highly bureaucratic and is essentially a means to restrict and protect the trade by making it impossible for anyone else to compete with whoever does have this qualification. A way to circumvent the restriction is to team up with a professional and this way, by proxy, you will be allowed to produce whatever clothes you like – even without any training. But what you need for this is money. Other routes people take is outsourcing production altogether, often to a cheaper country. Again, what you need is money. And also, how exactly is that a good thing for the local economy?!

I find it preposterous that it is legal that, say, H&M sells t-shirts made by poorly paid people in miserable working conditions in some Asian factory but that me making and selling my own clothes locally is illegal, because this could somehow harm the customer by selling them a sub-par product I have “unprofessionally” made.

It is my understanding that most countries in the EU have no such regulations, or at least fewer restrictions. I would love to know what regulations are like in other countries. If you have the time it would be great if you could comment and tell me what it’s like in your country? Could you make and sell your own t-shirts without an official qualification?

And if you live in Austria and find these regulations as preposterous and harmful to creative makers as I do, please go and sign the petition. And then go and tell all your friends and family about it too! Thank you!

Tutorial: Altering Basic Jacket Patterns for RTW Tailoring

You might know by now that I’m a big fan of Burda. I love their magazine and although the style and taste is sometimes questionable, I like that you can get a whole host of patterns for very little money every month. However, Burda magazine patterns have their limitations. Some have poor instructions, others have only the very basic pattern pieces and require you to do quite a bit of finessing and altering yourself before you have a usable pattern.

Anyways, I’m going off on a tangent about Burda, when what I really wanted to do is give you a little tutorial on how to make a proper jacket pattern out of a minimalistic Burda pattern, or any other pattern that comes without the necessary lining and interfacing pieces.

This is what I did for my RTW style blazer I sewed up from the  March 2014 Burda issue. It comes in three variations but is unlined and was missing some pattern alterations that I find necessary when making a jacket. I therefore decided to alter the jacket pattern pieces to create a proper lined jacket pattern.

Let’s have a look at the original pattern. The Burda pattern includes:

Burda tehcnical drawing and pattern pieces

  1. Front and Front Facing (overlaid and to be traced separaetelty)
  2. Side Front
  3. Center Back
  4. Side Back
  5. Upper Sleeve
  6. Lower Sleeve
  7. Collar
  8. Back Facing

I traced off all the pieces, muslined them to check for fit and when I was happy with my fit alterations I made all the pattern pieces for a proper lined jacket. Below I have re-traced all the steps for you to follow along. I’m using the above Burda jacket as an example but the process can more or less be applied to any jacket pattern.

You need to make changes to the self or outer jacket pieces and then create interfacing and lining pieces. Let’s start with the alterations to the self/outer jacket pieces.

SELF/OUTER JACKET

For the outer/self jacket pieces I added 1.5 cm seam allowance and 4 cm hem allowance to all the pieces. Then I adjusted the upper collar and front facing for turn-of-cloth. Turn-of-cloth is the extra amount of fabric you need to allow the outside of your collar and lapel seams to roll to the back so that they are not visible from the front. Some patterns make allowances for this and include extra amounts for turn-of-cloth. Magazine patterns, like those in Burda, usually don’t, so you need to add the allowances yourself to both the Front Facing and Upper Collar.

Front Facing

Below you can see the front facing piece. This piece is cut once from the self fabric and once from interfacing. I added about .5 cm (red line) for turn-of-cloth starting from the bottom of the roll line and ending at the notch, where the upper collar will meet the jacket. I also traced in the entire roll line (orange line), which I checked in the muslin fitting stage.

Front Facing

Additionally I made a mark (red circle) at the corner, where the upper collar will be sewn. This is to remind me to make a tailor’s tack there, so I can more easily and accurately sew the upper collar to the facing at this tricky corner.

Upper Collar

I also added .5cm for turn-of-cloth to the outside of the upper collar (red line), ending in the notch, where the collar meets the facing.

Upper Collar

Here I added a mark (red circle) for tailor tacking as well.

Under Collar

An under collar piece is not included in the original pattern, so I decided to make one. The undercollar is usually cut on the bias so it molds better around your neck and is then seamed at the center back. Therefore all I had to do, was make a copy of the collar piece provided by Burda (no turn-of-cloth added), draw a new bias grainline at a 45 degree angle to the CB, and add seam allowance to the center back seam.

Under Collar

I also marked in the roll line of the collar. I checked the roll line at the muslin fitting stage.

INTERFACING PIECES

Since I decided to make a fused RTW version of this jacket I also needed to make additional interfacing pieces for fusing. The front, side front, front facing, upper collar and under collar are fully fused, so no additional pieces are necessary. The other pieces only have certain areas that require fusing.

Upper Center Back and Side Back Interfacing

Only the upper portion of the center back and side back pieces are fused. I drew in a curved line, which goes below the armhole on the side back pieces and below the shoulder blades on the center back.

Hem Interfacing

Additionally I made hem interfacing pieces for the center back, side back and both sleeve pieces. This illustration shows the hem interfacing piece on the side back. The interfacing extends beyond the hem fold line.

Hem Interfacing

Collar Stand

The last interfacing piece I created was the collar stand interfacing. Although the under collar is fully fused, a double layer is fused to the stand portion of the collar to give it more stability.

Collar Stand

LINING

The outer jacket and interfacing pieces are now complete, but we also want a lining for our jacket. I added 1.5cm to all lining pieces but only 1cm as a hem allowance. This is enough to allow for a jump pleat at the bottom of the jacket and sleeve hems. But some pieces need additional changes to make them proper lining pieces.

Center Back Lining

I traced the center back piece and added 2cm along the center back seam to allow for an ease pleat. I marked the seam at the bottom and top of the ease pleat with tailor tack markings.

Back Lining

The side back is unaltered and can be cut exactly as the outer piece with only a 1cm instead of a 4cm hem allowance.

Front Lining

The front lining is a little more complicated. And as you will see, the mysterious pleat along the front facing and lining seam (that I saw in both RTW jackets – see here and here) will finally make sense.

If you look at your center front piece you can see how most of the piece is covered by the facing and therefore needs no lining. However, there is a smalll section left over which needs to be lined (blue).

Front Lining Piece

If you trace of this section you can see how small and awkward it looks and how it might be more efficient to merge this piece with the side front lining.

Front Lining Illustration

If you simply lay them down next to each other you will have a huge dart that needs sewing. Therefore this dart is partially or fully closed (depending on the necessary bust shaping) as you can see in the illustration above.  The top dart is sewn and the small dart can be pleated into the facing. This way you only have one front lining piece and a little more ease in the lining. This is the completed front lining piece:

Front Lining

Isn’t that clever?

 Sleeves

I made no special alterations to my sleeves, although most books I consulted did suggest to add extra ease for width and bulk of the seam allowance to the seam at the underarm. My fabric was not particularly bulky so I didn’t think it was necessary.

Phew! And that’s it. You now have a completed lined jacket pattern with a staggering 22 pattern pieces instead of Burda’s measly nine pieces. Here is a little checklist for you to make sure you have all the necessary pieces for a princess-seamed jacket with a two-piece sleeve and collar and lapel:

SELF INTERFACING LINING
  • Front
  • Side Front
  • Side Back
  • Back
  • Front Facing
  • Back Facing
  • Upper Collar
  • Under Collar
  • Upper Sleeve
  • Lower Sleeve
  • Upper Center Back
  • Upper Side Back
  • Center Back Hem
  • Side Back Hem
  • Upper Sleeve Hem
  • Lower Sleeve Hem
  • Collar Stand
  • Center Back
  • Side Back
  • Front
  • Upper Sleeve
  • Lower Sleeve

I hope this tutorial was useful. If you need any more information on creating a jacket pattern, have a look at the blog Pattern ~ Scissors ~ Cloth, where Sherry hosted an excellent RTW tailoring sew-along which also covers the same topic. She also shows you how to alter the sleeve pattern pieces for a sleeve lining with extra ease. I wanted to check her blog today and found that it is no longer available to the public. So, unfortunately, I can no longer access this sew-along.

Have fun making jackets!

Scary, Scarier, Scariest!

Sweatshop

My interest in and concern over consumption of any form – not only fast fashion consumption – is becoming more and more pronounced. Recently I have increased my awareness of my already very limited shopping. Instead of shopping I try, but obviously don’t always succeed, to re-use and recycle wherever possible. Fabric shopping is still a difficult habit to curb but I try to do it more conscientiously.

I have also started reading the blog called “Ich kauf’ nix” (“I don’t buy anything”) by fellow Vienna-based blogger Nunu Kaller. She started her blog a couple of years back to document the experiment of not shopping for clothes for one full year. The experiment turned into a book and the blog is still alive and well today. On her blog Nunu often shares shocking articles and videos on consumerism, fast fashion and sustainability, which I’m regularly drawn into.

One of her recent blog posts included a link to a 5-part mini reality TV show made in Norway, in which three fashion bloggers were sent on a field trip to explore the working conditions of garment workers in Cambodia. It’s a reality TV show, of course. I’m sure it might lack some facts, and/or not provide a full picture, but the images and stories are pretty shocking.

Sweatshop

The show can be watched at this link and has English subtitles.  Each part is only about 10 min. long, so the programme is only an hour long in total. If you are pressed for time, watch the last part only. Despite its obvious reality drama, it’s pretty heart-breaking.

Thanks to Nunu for sharing!

The Most Labour-intenisve Outfit of 2014: My Wedding Guest Ensemble

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This outfit took the best part of last summer to make – 100 hours +, easily. It all started with an invitation to my cousin’s wedding. The last time I had been to a wedding, I was too young to choose my own outfit, let alone sew it myself. I rarely get invited to events that merit a special outfit. So, I decided I would savour this opportunity and use it as the impetus to sew something I would normally neither sew nor wear.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-9

It all started with the fabric. The outfit was wholly inspired by this yellow/golden brocade-like mystery fabric my friend had brought home as a present from a visit to Morocco. I had had it in my stash for ages, never knowing what to do with it, because it simply wasn’t anything you could wear every day.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-6

On the basis of this fabric, I drafted my dress, which went through several stages from kimono shapes and straight skirts all the way to becoming what it was in the end: a princess-seamed bodice with short set-in sleeves, a boat neck front and deeper v-neck back and a pleated skirt.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-8

It took what felt like an eternity to cut out the fabric because there simply wasn’t enough of it. Making matters even worse, the fabric has a repeat pattern with a big distance between each repeat. It took ages and was a real brain teaser!

Daniela Wedding Outfit-7

Also the fabric wasn’t quite so spotless in all areas, leading me to cut around various bits. It was a nightmare and simultaneously super-satisfying once I had managed to solve the fabric/pattern puzzle.

Wedding Outfit-4

I decided to underline the entire dress with silk organza. I cut the silk organza and then basted it to each pattern piece. It took hours of work but I really fell in love with silk organza during this process. It is easy to handle and provides a nice body to any fabric.

As much as I would never work this precisely when making my everyday clothes, basting every piece onto underlining and then basting each piece together by hand before machining, really gives you superior control over what you are making. It’s not difficult but time-consuming.

Wedding Outfit-1

I hand-picked the zipper. This is actually something I do often in the everyday pieces I make. It is a satisfying process which gives you a lot of control over your fabric.

Wedding Outfit-2

Since I couldn’t find any fabric that matched with the same yellow/gold/turquoise of the fabric, I decided on a whim that it is better to have something completely contrasting rather than something that does not properly match at all. I went wild and made my jacket a bright pink and used matching bright pink lining for the dress and jacket too.

Wedding Outfit-5

I was not as careful when sewing the lining of the dress. Everything was machined without previous basting, but I did hand-stitch the lining into the dress and understitch the lining by hand at the neckline and sleeve hems.

Wedding Outfit-7 Wedding Outfit-6

I also fastened the lining to the dress with a thread chain at both side seams. In this photo you can also see the silk organza underlining and the catch-stitching of the seam allowances to the silk organza (I catch-stitched each and every seam allowance to the silk organza underlining!), as well as the bias tape I used to control the hem allowance.

Wedding Outfit-8

I did not draft the jacket myself. I used Burda 7132. I wanted a short, cropped jacket, preferably with raglan or kimono sleeves and this pattern seemed to fit the bill.  I’m only mediocrely happy with the fit, but the jacket works fine with the dress.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-1

Because the jacket fabric was a wool/elastane mix, no fusing would stick properly and I decided to go the couture route here as well and underlined the entire jacket with silk organza.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-4

Overall I had run out of steam and time when it came to doing the jacket, so I was not nearly as careful with its construction.

The day before the wedding I completed this little clutch out of the last bits of left-over fabric I had. I just couldn’t find a matching bag and did not wastefully want to buy one I would otherwise never use.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-15

I used the simplest pattern/tutorial I could find because I had very little time. I found this free Origami Clutch pattern and tutorial and only added a strap and snaps.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-13

Daniela Wedding Outfit-14

Overall, I’m happy with the outfit but do see ways of improving construction and fit in the future. But this is the eternal bane of the perfectionist maker. Without the drive to perfection we would have stopped making a long time ago.

Daniela Wedding Outfit-5

If you are planning on making a special outfit in the future and would like to use more slow-sewing couture methods to make your outfit, I can highly recommend the The Couture Dress course with Susan Khalje on Craftsy (in no way affiliated or receiving money for this recommendation!). Although I did not strictly follow the course, I did incorporate new-to-me construction tips and tricks into my sewing. It was really enjoyable to learn something new. I would not use many of these methods in my everyday sewing but for special occasion garments, these methods can give you a lot of control in your constrcution.