Tag Archives: recycle/upcycle

For free and for bad weather

I have had this project finished for already a couple of months. But  somehow  all of a sudden it got warmer and warmer, too warm for it. Although I have to admit, at some point in between I might simply have forgotten that I still had and wanted to photograph it.


But I’ll start at the beginning. On a visit to one of my favourite charity shop, it must have been two years ago at least, I checked the few items in the “for free”-box in front of the shop. And what I found was a brown midi-skirt made from pure new wool, size 38.
I don’t know about you but to me it screamed 30s the moment I saw it
Size 38 equals international size S, which mostly is a little large for me. Additionally, this skirt was a 1990s-skirt to wear on the hips, not at the waist. Doesn’t sound like much work to do, but obviously already too much as it lay on my to-do-pile until this winter. But a few months ago I finally tackled the task. I removed the waistband, re-shaped the darts and side seams to fit the skirt at the waist (not the centre back seam as I didn’t want to touch the invisible zip), re-attached the lining and the waistband and I was done. Well nearly, as obviously I had measured badly and it was too tight. So I removed the waistband again and re-sewed it while stretching the skirt as much as I could. The few centimetres I won were enough to make it wearable.


After having worn it one day I topstitched the button-band in the centre front (yes, you don’t need it and still it was perfectly functioning, but tended to gap whilst sitting) and closed the walking slit in the back just until it ended appr. 20cm above the hem.
Now I have a perfect, beautiful and beloved pure wool skirt in a 30s style without paying a bit. And I am happy about the return of April weather for finally getting to wear it (yesterday was beautiful and sunny, but today it is cold and heavily raining).

This is how I found it
This is how I found it

Auf Deutsch:
Dieses Projekt hängt schon seit geraumer Weile in meinem Kleiderschrank, aber irgendwie war auf einmal schon Frühling und das Wetter zu warm für so eine Jupe (Disclaimer: Ich lebe in der Schweiz, ich schreibe nach Schweizer Rechtschreibung, ich benutze Schweizer Worte. Eine Jupe ist ein Rock 😉 ). Zwischenzeitlich mag ich sie aber auch einfach vergessen haben.
Von Anfang an: Es muss vor etwa zwei Jahren gewesen sein, da fand ich in der Gratis-Kiste vor einem meiner liebsten Trödelläden eine Jupe, Midi-Länge, makellos, Grösse 38, reine Schurwolle.

Nun, 38 ist mir etwas zu gross, dazu war es eine dieser 90er-Jahre-Jupes, welche man auf der Hüfte tragen soll und eben nicht wie eine aus den 30er Jahren in der Taille. Nun ja, klingt trotzdem nicht nach viel Arbeit, verschwand aber erst einmal eine ganze Weile im Projekte-Stapel. Nun, wie gesagt, vor einen Monaten befasste ich mich dann einmal eingehender mit dem Projekt. Bund abgetrennt, Abnäher und Seitennähte neu geformt (nur nicht die hintere Mitte, den nahtverdeckten Reissverschluss wollte ich schön in Ruhe lassen) so dass sie schön in der Taille sitzt, Futter wieder darübergeheftet und den Bund wieder angenäht. Hatte mich leider zu früh gefreut weil ich meine Taille dann doch etwas überschätzt hatte und die Jupe partout nicht mehr zu bekam. Also noch einmal den Bund abgetrennt und so stark gedehnt wie nur irgend möglich wieder angesetzt. Die gewonnenen Zentimeter reichten zum Glück aus.

top: fogal – skirt: bardehle, altered – belt: my mum’s – shoes: flea market

Nachdem ich sie einen Tag im Büro getragen hatte, habe ich dann noch die Knopfleiste abgesteppt (ja, man braucht sie nicht, aber sie war voll funktionsfähig) und den Schlitz hinten bis auf 20cm geschlossen.
Damit habe ich nun eine sehr schicke, heiss geliebte Wolljupe die aussieht wie aus den 30ern importiert ohne auch nur einen Rappen dafür zu bezahlen. Und damit macht die Pause vom Sommer draussen endlich einmal Sinn, weil ich euch noch vor dem Herbst Fotos zeigen kann (nachdem es gestern noch sommerlich warm war freuen wir uns hier heute über 11°C und Regen).

See you soon, bis bald


Lace to keep you warm

Yes, it’s been a while.
And to be honest, at some point I wasn’t sure I really wanted to keep on blogging. I am still not entirely sure now, but at least I am writing a post, I assume this is a good sign.

These gloves I bought already years ago, I don’t know if I paid anything at all for them, if I did, certainly it wasn’t much. I really like them because they are sewn from a woolen fabric, normally you find either sewn leather gloves or knitted wool gloves, but I haven’t come across gloves from wool-fabric too often.
Unfortunately the fabric is very worn and so I decided to embellish them in some way. Because of this they lay in my UFO-pile for a long time until I rediscovered them last year. As they were bleak but perfectly wearable, they moved into my glove box and this was the move they had needed, as they couldn’t be forgotten again and only a few weeks later I had an idea what to make out of them. I can’t remember where I saw this kind of decoration, but I liked the idea of lace paired with wool to face the cold, I assume it was some kind of 40ies advertisement or film. These were all lace-leftovers from my stash so this project cost me next to nothing but an hour of hand-sewing.


Ja, ich gebe zu, es ist ein Weilchen her. Und ganz ehrlich war ich zwischenzeitlich kurz davor, das Bloggen an den Nagel zu hängen. Wirklich entschieden habe ich mich immer noch nicht, aber ich schreibe einen Post, das ist doch kein schlechtes Zeichen.

Diese Handschuhe habe ich schon seit Jahren. Ich weiss gar nicht, ob ich überhaupt etwas für sie bezahlt habe, wenn dann sicherlich nicht viel. Ich mag sie sehr gerne, da sie aus Wollstoff genäht sind. Normalerweise findet man ja genähte Lederhandschuhe oder gestrickte Wollhandschuhe, aber genähte aus Wollstoff habe ich persönlich noch nicht so oft gesehen.
Leider hat der Stoff schon bessere Zeiten gesehen, weshalb schnell klar war, dass ich sie in irgendeiner Weise dekorieren wollte. Daher lagen sie lange auf dem UFO-Stapel und gerieten in Vergessenheit. Irgendwann im letzten Jahr fand ich sie dann und legte sie zu meinen anderen Handschuhen, sie waren zwar alles andere als schön, aber doch immerhin tragbar. Durch diesen Umzug hatte ich sie dann ständig vor der Nase und offenbar hatte es genau das gebraucht. Nur wenige Wochen danach hatte ich eine Idee. Ich weiss gar nicht mehr woher, aber mir gefiel die Kombination von zarter, heller Spitze und wärmender, schwarzer, grober Wolle. Gut möglich, dass ich die Vorlage aus irgendeiner Werbung oder Film aus den 40ern habe, irgendwie erinnern sie mich zumindest daran.
Genutzt habe ich ausschliesslich Spitzenreste aus meinem Vorrat, mal abgesehen von etwas Handnähen hat mich das ganze Projekt also nichts gekostet.


See you soon,
alles Liebe


Sorting through my stuff…two things become one

Nothing big going on right now, I’m busy and oftentimes it is too warm to do anything, sorry for the lack of showstoppers.
At the moment I am going through my stash, looking for new projects, finding old and abandoned Ufos and long forgotten shirts I loved to death but couldn’t bear to part with, so they went into the “maybe I can use it someday”-drawer.

Two items that have lived with me already quite some time: a Souvenir-handkerchief from the Swiss Museum of Transport from the 1960ies or 70ies I always thought too beautiful to use and a dark-blue velvet pillowcase that only needed one small part of a seam re-sewn. I had bought it in an antiques shop with a special shelf: grab a bag, fill it and pay 3€ for the whole, no matter how much stuff you managed to get into it.  As you can imagine, only being interested in a few items led to at least one full bag in the end, you can never know when something could be useful and hey, its paid! That’s how I came into the possession of a not particularly beautiful and slightly damaged 70ies velvet pillowcase.

hanky-pillow. parvasedapta.ch

Because the blue in the print of the hanky matched the velvet so well I thought it would be lovely to combine the two. I quickly repaired the damaged seam on the pillowcase an ironed some interfacing to the back of the handkerchief. Why this? I had some reasons: The fabric is very thin, so the dark velvet was shining through and it didn’t look white at all, second the fabric is very thin and I wanted to give it some support and third I feared the velvet’s pile could cause the thin fabric to move, this would have caused wrinkles on one side of the hanky and I wanted to avoid this risk. Oh and because it made things a lot easier. The fabric could easily be stretched and shifted in all directions (did I mention it is thin?), supporting it with the interfacing helped a lot while sewing it onto the pillowcase by hand.

Don’t know more I could tell you about such an easy and small project. So if you have some beautiful hankies lying around, why not decorate your pillows with it? Upcycling at its easiest 😉
And no, it usually doesn’t sit on this step stool, but on the stool in front of my sewing machine, even though I try to find a place in my flat where it is treated better, it is so much more than a seat cushion 🙂


Auf Deutsch

Zur Zeit läuft hier leider nicht so viel. Ich habe recht viel zu tun und in der Hitze nähen macht auch keinen grossen Spass. Also sorry für die eher mageren Projekte derzeit.

Momentan gehe ich ein wenig meine Bestände durch und finde neue Ideen, alte und verlassene unfertige Objekte und alte Lieblingsshirts, von denen ich mich lange nicht trennen konnte und die deshalb in die “ich finde sicher noch eine Verwendung”-Schublade wanderten.

Zwei Dinge die sich schon länger mit mir eine Wohnung teilen: Ein Stofftaschentuch aus dem Verkehrshaus der Schweiz aus den 60er oder 70er Jahren welches ich immer zu hübsch fand um mein Näschen damit zu putzen und eine Kissenhülle aus blauem Samt, der lediglich ein kleines Stück defekte Naht fehlte. Diese hatte ich in einem kleinen Trödelladen mit einem speziellen Regal gefunden: eine Tüte mit Dingen aus dem Regal für 3€, egal wie viel man reingestopft hat. Ihr könnt euch vorstellen, das Interesse an wenigen Teilen führte trotzdem zu prallgefüllten Beuteln, kann ja immer nützlich sein und hey, es ist bezahlt! So kam ich in den Besitz dieser nicht unbedingt schön zu nennenden und leicht angeschlagenen 70er-Jahre Kissenhülle.


Auf die Idee, diese beiden Fundstücke zu vereinen kam ich, weil das Blau in dem Druck des Taschentuchs so perfekt zum Samt passt. Also reparierte ich schnell die beschädigte Naht und bügelte Vlieseline auf die Rückseite des Taschentuchs. Warum? Aus mehreren Gründen: Der Stoff ist recht dünn und das dunkelblau schimmerte durch, was das Taschentuch ziemlich grau erscheinen liess, zweitens wollte ich den dünnen Stoff ein wenig stabilisieren und drittens hatte ich Angst, der Samtflor könnte das Taschentuch in eine Richtung schieben und damit Falten an einer Seite des Tuchs werfen, wenn dieses aufgenäht ist. Ausserdem machte die Vlieseline das Aufnähen sehr viel einfacher. Weil der Stoff so dünn ist (erwähnte ich das schon?) konnte man ihn in jede Richtung verschieben und ziehen, die Vlieseline hält ihn in der zugeschnittenen, quadratischen Form.

Tja, was soll ich euch sonst noch darüber erzählen, ist ja wirklich ein sehr kleines Projekt. Aber vielleicht hat jemand von euch auch alte Stofftaschentücher rumliegen und weiss nicht wohin damit, dann nehmt das hier als kleine aber feine Upcycling-Idee.
Und nein, eigentlich wohnt es nicht auf dem Tritthocker, sondern auf dem Hocker vor meiner Nähmaschine, auch wenn es langfristig einen besseren Platz finden soll, als Sitzkissen ist es mir doch ein wenig zu schade.

See you soon, alles Liebe


Journey to the far east…

Well, were should I start….

Back in 2012 I read a beautiful post on 1950ies Sari-dresses on Tuppence Ha’Penny Vintage. Obviously the 1950ies loved the gold-decorated fabrics and mixed them as well as some Sari-style elements with european contemporary fashion.

This put me back even further in time. In the early 2000 my father worked as as service technician, traveling half the world to install and repair the machines his company sold all over the globe. It must have been 2005 when he travelled to Pakistan for a couple of weeks. As you can imagine we children, my brother and I were always very curious to hear from his travels and sometimes he even brought us some gifts. This time he brought me a traditional garment he found at a Pakistani market. I always thought of it as a Sari, but obviously it is a Shalwar kameez with a dupatta: wide trousers, a long top with slitted sides and a matching scarf, I am sure you know this kind of garment, though you didn’t know its name.


Unfortunately he was neither able to talk to the seller nor able to read the sizes on the wrapping. So when I unwrapped it I found myself face to face with a huge, huge! page of trousers and a not quite as large top (the trousers are meant to be wide and are gathered with a cord when worn, but this was still much too large for me).
Of course I was happy nontheless, thinking I could alter it sometime in the future ( I had just started sewing). So it went into my closet. Here you can see it hanging behind me in 2005, during me moving into a new apartment (therefore the wardrobe still misses its curtains).

18-year old me, deciding which old greeting cards should be discarded
18-year old me, deciding which old greeting cards should be discarded

And there it hung for years. At some point I actually planned to fit it, but then I thought ‘when would I wear it’ and my motivation was gone the same second. At the same time I liked to fact of having three different, but matching fabrics, although we could argue about their beauty (still have to think of 1990ies nightgowns somehow).
Until the above mentioned post. As soon as I saw the dresses made from Sari-fabrics I had to think of my own oriental garment in the wardrobe nearby. But it took me until 2015 to actually realize this plan. Ten years, four moves, tree diploma (the university-entrance one from school and two at two different universities), two countries, this Shalwar kameez has seen a lot of my life.


I knew I couldn’t turn this into an evening dress as the examples linked above, mine wasn’t silk fabric with gold embroidery, but printed cotton. So I searched for a pattern to make something like an everyday dress. I found it in my 1955/6-Lutterloh-book (see Klara, sooner than I thought!), a blouse with a matching skirt. I enlarged the pattern using my measurements and it fit without any alterrations (!). What I did alter a little was the skirt: I knew I wanted to use the scarf as a ruffle at the bottom. Because it was very wide I cut it in half and gathered it until it fit the width of the skirt pattern at half length (well, actually 2/3), the top part I cut according to the pattern.

For the top part of the skirt as well as for the facings of the blouse, I used the trouser’s fabric, the blouse itself was cut from the top fabric. I made bias binding from the trouser fabric to finish the sleeves and the hem and added a pocket into one of the skirt’s seams (Lutterloh patterns are very basic, they include the major pattern pieces, but things like facings, waistband or pockets have to be added and drafted yourself). The front parts and the collar of the blouse as well as the waistband are enforced with fusible interfacing. I only had three of the white buttons so I went for an assymetric closure instead of the two-row variant shown in the pattern. The skirt closes with a clear plastic button and two press buttons (the pleats hide any opening, so a zipper wasn’t necessary).


The two parts together are really…special. I don’t think I will ever wear them like this, the colours are a little too wild for my taste, therefore I styled it a little over the top. But I can easily imagine wearing the skirt with a white blouse or maybe even the blouse with high-waist-trousers. At the moment I wear a navy blue cardigan with it, so only the collar is peeking out. Like this and with matching navy shoes it might even work as a standard outfit.

Whilst the fabric pattern isn’t really oriental and the term Sari is wrong, I still think of it as my Sari-dress and it makes sitar-melodies stick in my brain. This and the fact that today’s post will be the last one in march because I will use the two weeks off work to come as two weeks off blogging and will maybe spend some days away from home, it seems fair enough to link to this month’s Krea-Kränzchen, themed “Fernweh”, so wanderlust.
I won’t be posting here for the next two weeks. Because I start a new job next month I don’t think I will be able to hold my twice-a-week-post-frequency, but have to limit it to one post a week from April on, I’m sorry.


So…wo fange ich an…
2012 las ich einen sehr schönen Post über 50er-Jahre Kleider aus Sari-Stoffen auf Tuppence Ha’Penny Vintage. Offenbar mochte man damals die gold-bestickten Sari-Stoffen und nähte modische Kleider mit exotischen Details daraus.

Das widerum warf mich zeitlich noch weiter zurück. In den 2000er Jahren arbeitete mein Vater als Servicetechniker und kam mit Reparaturen und Inbetriebnahmen in der ganzen Welt herum. Es muss 2005 gewesen sein, als er für wenige Wochen in Pakistan arbeitete. Wie ihr euch vorstellen könnt waren mein Bruder und ich immer neugierig, was er diesmal zu erzählen wusste und manchmal brachte er uns auch etwas mit. Dieses mal bekam ich ein traditionelles Gewand, welches er auf einem pakistanischen Markt gekauft hatte. Lange dachte ich, es sei eine Art “Alltags-Sari”, in Wahrheit nennt sich dieses Gewand aber Salwar Kamiz und besteht aus Salwar, einer Hose, Kamiz, einem langen Oberteil und der Dupatta, einem langen Schal. Auch wenn man den Namen nicht kennt, gesehen habt ihr dieses Gewand höchstwahrscheinlich alle schon einmal.


Leider konnte sich mein Vater mit dem Verkäufer absolut nicht verständigen und verstand auch die Größenangaben auf der Packung nicht. Als ich mein Geschenk auspackte, sah ich mich daher mit einer wahrhaft gigantisch großen Hose konfrontiert sowie einem geringfügig weniger großen Oberteil (die Hosen sind weit geschnitten und werden zusammengebunden, aber es war trotzdem viel zu gross).
Natürlich freute ich mich trotzdem und war zuversichtlich, das ganze irgendwann mal auf meinen Körper anzupassen. Daher wanderte es erst einmal in meinen Schrank. Oben seht ihr ein Foto das während eines Umzugs 2005 gemacht wurde, hinter mir im Schrank seht ihr es hängen.


Ja, und da hang es erstmal. Zwischendurch nahm ich mir dann wirklich vor es zu ändern. Dann überlegte ich, wann ich so etwas tragen würde und meine Motivation sank zugleich wieder. Gleichzeitig gefiel mir der Gedanke, drei zusammenpassende Stoffe zu haben, auch wenn man sich darüber streiten, ob sie so schön sind (ich muss bei der Farbkombination die ganze Zeit an 90er Jahre Nachthemden denken).
Bis ich dann den oben verlinkten Post las. Bei den Sari-Kleidern musste ich sofort an das lila Mitbringsel denken, das da neben mir im Schrank schlummerte. Aber es brauchte doch bis dieses Jahr, bis ich das Projekt endlich in Angriff nahm. 10 Jahre, vier Umzüge, drei Abschlüsse (Schule und an zwei verschiedenen Universitäten), zwei Länder, dieser Salwar Kamiz hat sehr viel von meinem Leben gesehen.


Mir war klar, dass ich kein Abendkleid aus diesen Stoffen nähen könnte, es ist keine gold-bestickte Seide, sondern bedruckte Baumwolle. Daher schwebte mir eher sowas wie ein Tageskleid vor. Fündig wurde ich in meiner Lutterloh-Ausgabe von 1955/6, eine Bluse mit dazu passendem Rock. Den Schnitt habe ich mit meinen Maßen vergrössert und komplett ohne Änderungen genäht. Einzig den Rock habe ich an die Dupatta angepasst: Ich wusste, dass der Schal als Saumrüsche Verwendung finden sollte, also schnitt ich ihn in der Mitte durch. Danach war er immer noch so breit wie ca. 2/3 der Rocklänge. Ich rüschte ihn auf die laut Schnittmuster erforderliche Weite und ergänzte den oberen Teil mit dem Stoff der Hose. Aus demselben Stoff schnitt ich die Belege der Bluse sowie Schrägband für die Ärmel und den Blusensaum. Die Bluse selber schnitt ich aus dem Kamiz.

Lutterloh-Schnitte geben nur die absolut notwendigen Schnittteile an, Belege, Bünde und ähnliches muss man sich dazu basteln. Daher fügte ich auch direkt noch eine Tasche in eine der Rocknähte ein. Der Rock schliesst am Bund mit einem durchsichtigen Knopf und darunter mit zwei Druckknöpfen, durch die ganzen Falten reicht das vollkommen. Bund, Kragen und Belege sind mit Vlieseline verstärkt. Da ich von den großen weißen Knöpfen nur drei hatte entschied ich mich für diese assymetrische Lösung, abweichend von der Zeichnung.


Nun, zusammen getragen ist es wirklich sehr…speziell. Die Farben sind mir auch einfach zu viel. Daher konnte ich nicht anders, als es für die Fotos absolut over-the-top zu stylen. Mit einer weißen Bluse stelle ich mir den Rock aber tatsächlich sehr schön vor, oder auch die Bluse mit einer Hose. Grad trag ich eine dunkelblaue Strickjacke drüber, so schaut nur der Kragen raus. Zusammen mit dunklen Schuhen könnte das sogar alltagstauglich sein.

Obwohl der Stoff nichts orientalisches hat und die Bezeichnung Sari falsch ist, in meinem Kopf bleibt das mein Sari-Kleid und ich muss die ganze Zeit an Sitar-Musik denken. Das und dass dies  mein letzter Post ist, bevor ich mir zeitgleich zu zwei arbeitsfreien Wochen auch zwei Blog-freie Wochen gönne (und vielleicht sogar ein paar Tage wegfahre), machen dieses Projekt einen schönen Beitrag zum diesmonatigen Krea-Kränzchen mit dem Thema “Fernweh”.
In den nächsten zwei Wochen wird es hier also sehr ruhig sein. Da ich ab April zusätzlich einen neuen Job habe, werde ich den 2x-die-Woche-Rhythmus wohl nicht beibehalten können, nach der Pause geht es dann wohl mit nur einem Post pro Woche weiter, sorry.

blouse and skirt: ette with Lutterloh-patterns – hair veil: flea market – flower brooch: nos, gift from mum – belt: from my family – gloves: antique shop – shoes: Siemes Schuh Center – fragrance: Stella McCartney-Sheers

 See you in april, love


No plastic is good plastic

As you might know my blog’s title includes the motto “caring for tomorrow”. This may not become obvious or be in the spotlight in every post, but it is a very important aspect of my life.
Maybe one of the biggest steps towards a more sustainable life is to realize what plastic does to our planet and to our health and that we do good avoiding it as good as we can (I won’t go much into detail here because I don’t want to proselytise. If you want to inform yourself a quick online-seach should give you a good start) This is anything but easy, in fact so much of our daily life is made from plastic, it is next to impossible  avoiding it completely. So the best we can do is to check our every day routine, where can I avoid plastic with little effort, what can be substituted with something else and so on.

One of the easiest and yet most important things is to do without plastic bags. The vast majority of plastic bags is discarded after having been used only once. And during my years working in a bookshop I have even come across some clients who complained about being used as an advertisement panel when carrying plastic bags, really, what a first world problem! We are used to not forgetting our keys, our handkerchiefs, our gloves at home, but I always encounter the same excuse “I simply forget to take a cotton bag with me”.
Interesting how our brain works sometimes, for me it’s all about prioritising and if I don’t want to forget that bag, I won’t.

I don’t want to talk about cotton bags today, I do have too many of them and I don’t sew any more of them as long as I have all these that somehow gathered in my broom closet over the years. And yes, I do keep one with me in my handbag, always.

But sometimes, a cotton bag just isn’t the right mean of transportation. Think of berries and salad from the market or a cake from your local bakery. So when my mother asked me last year if I was interested in an old basket I said yes immediately. I had planned to get a basket for already some time, but I thought this was something I could easily find on a flea market or in a charity shop and didn’t want to buy a new one, so when my mother said she had been given this old one and didn’t need it, it was just the perfect timing.

My joy ceased abruptly when I saw it the first time:


This was most probably the ugliest basket I had seen my entire life. That yellow stuff you see at the sides is yellow pvc-tablecloth and was supposed to cover the basket but the elastic inside was a little out of shape, so it just hung down very poorly, looking even more horrible.
The naked basket I liked much better:



But it has a little problem: As I said, it is old. I don’t know how old, but old enough for the  material to get brittle. It still can hold weight, but the single stalks break very easily, especially at the bottom. Carrying a bottle of milk is fine, but you have to be careful not to throw anything directly onto a single stalk or it could break, therefore destabilising the whole basket. Here you see the problem:


Well, I had two choices: Leave it as it was, knowing that the basket would be completely damaged and unuseable in the foreseeable future (and risking to cover the street with my groceries one unlucky day) or I could face and solve the problem.
You can imagine that I wouldn’t write this post if I would have went for the first option 😉

I decided to copy the pattern from the ugly yellow cover and to add a lining (could you call this a lining in this case or is there a more appropriate word?).  The bottom piece of the lining I attached to a piece of cardboard, so that the basket underneath would be protected from anything heavy falling on one single stalk.
I used an old lavender coloured tablecloth I got years ago for free because it has some stains. I wasn’t able to cut away all the stains, but they are on the lining so not visible because of the cover (and I can’t wash the lining, so it will be even more stained in the future, I suppose). The tablecloth had a darker stripe woven around the edges, some 10cm away from the hem, I placed these stripes vertically in the lining (below the handle) and included it in the design of the cover as well.

Somehow I made a massive mistake when calculating the lining, you see I had to add a quite wide strap to make it fit. Here a photo how it looked before I added the cover, you can see the dark woven stripe below the handle:

parvasedapta.ch - Embroidered Basket V
Let me tell you, sewing something onto a basket is NOT funny. I attached the lining with a straight needle and it was not easy at all, for the cover I used a curved needle. I have to admit, it worked better, but my fingers started to cramp because of the unfamiliar form. I am quite sure  that this was the first and the last basket I ever made a cover for.

parvasedapta.ch - Embroidered Basket I
I decided to add a little embroidery to make it less plain. I went for a design I found in an early 20th century pattern sheet for machine embroidery, I already briefly mentioned it in this post. I searched for the book it belonged with (“Das Sticken mit der Nähmaschine”) online and it is dated around 1910-20 (no year was printed on it, these are the seller’s guesses) And no, I didn’t machine embroider it, but used back and stem stitches which resulted in a rather naive and plain embroidery effect, but I like it pretty much.

parvasedapta.ch - Embroidered Basket III

You can see how I included the dark stripe into the design.
I overlapped the two sides as the yellow pvc had done also, don’t ask me why the two sides look so asymetrical, they should be identical (and it is on purpose that I didn’t put one side on top of the other, this would have looked even more odd).

parvasedaota.ch - Embroidered Basket II
The edges are the original hem of the tablecloth, on the back of it I attached some cotton ribbon to thread the elastic through. Now it closes properly again.

The pattern sheet I copied the embroidery from is in a very fragile condition and tears when I unfold it, so I will try to use it at little as possible in the future. The pattern I used for this project I had traced onto tissue paper. To keep it, without manipulating the pattern sheet again, I digitalized it. And because I am so kind I will share it with you, klick on the image to enlarge it (and tell me when you makee it, I am curious to see your version):

parvasedapta.ch - embroidery pattern


I like the result very much and love to take it with me to the market. And though I know I won’t try to sew with baskets again, it was well worth the effort.
parvasedapta.ch - Embroidered Basket IV
See you soon, love,









Underneath the Mango tree…

Deutsche Version unten

While I flipped through my piles of old paper to find some Christmas images to post last december, I found a very cute tutorial for a little christmas gift idea, a thimble holder. The tutorial was labeled as something easy to be crafted by children to make a little present for their mums.

tutorial thimble holder, parvasedapta.ch
The thing on the left (from: Ringiers Unterhaltungs-Blätter, December 19th 1925)

All you need is some cardboard, an empty matchbox and coloured paper and pencils to decorate.

The little thimble holder is a humble craft for boys or girls. Two rectangles are cut into the matchbox in that way, that they stay connected to the matchbox  on one side to be put upright, so that the cardboard-back can be attatched to them through slits. For the thimble a round cutout as seen in the picture is sufficient. After the cardboard-back has been prepared, it is connected to the box with adhesive tape on the back and the bottom. Now it can be decorated with white and coloured paper and painted. In the openings on the sides the donor puts small needle wrappers.

I skipped the adhesive tape and used glue for everything. Today not only suitable for mummies for Christmas, but also as a little present for a good sewing friend.

Well, maybe my expectations were a little high, but it wasn’t that easy as I had thought, working with something as small as a matchbox is tricky even for my small hands, I can’t imagine it being easier with clumsy children’s fingers. Maybe this was meant for children a little older than I imagined.

thimble holder, parvasedapta.ch

Maybe you wonder why I didn’t post this for Christmas? First because I thought even though it is labeled a gift idea it could be made any time of the year as a random gift. Second because I wanted to try this and had neither time nor matchboxes. Yes, you heard right, all I had were matchbooks or the modern, small matchboxes, but not the old-fashioned large ones. It is easy to buy them at the supermarket by the dozen, but I had enough matches and didn’t want to buy that many more. I finally found a little box only slightly larger than a matchbox and brand-new vintage-styled mini-matchboxes in a hipster-shop (1,50CHF for one single matchbox, really? This is what I do for you!). So my two versions are a little smaller and a little larger than the original size should have been, imagine a size in between 😉

parvasedapta.ch, tutthiholIIparvasedapta.ch, tutthihol

When I was done with the first one it looked indeed like the drawing but I hadn’t been aware until then it strongly resembled a tombstone. Don’t you think? For me this was a quite creepy thought, imagine a child giving some tiny cardboard tombstone to its mother on Christmas eve, with her initials on it?! Maybe I’m making things up and a mother would never see something like this in her offspring’s bricolage, but adore the thimble holder as it is.

thimbleholderIII, parvasedapta.ch

Anyway, I decided to give the second version a completely different design. Maybe it is because I am longing for some warmth, maybe it was too late in the evening and me being ridiculous, this is what my mind came up with:

thimbleholderII, parvasedapta.ch

This time I hid the straps beneath the palm’s trunks. The red around the thimble is meant to be a fire, the thimble being a cauldron with the dinner cooking inside (as I said, it was late).

I don’t know why the original tutorial kept the straps visible, but of course, if you cover the cardboard completely, you could as well hide the straps beneath it and make a design completely independent (but it is interesting to think of designs with them as well, imagine a thimble holder bearing the Spanish coat of arms with the Pillars of Hercules on each side, how very elevated).

Deutsche Version

Als ich kurz vor Weihnachten ein schönes Motiv für einen Weihnachtspost suchte, stiess ich auf diese niedliche Anleitung, eigentlich gedacht für Kinder, um ihrer Mutter eine Kleinigkeit zu Weihnachten zu basteln. Es ist ein kleiner Fingerhut-Halter aus einer Streichholzschachtel, in die Spalten an den Seiten kann man noch kleine Nadelbriefchen stecken.

Weihnachten war dann doch etwas knapp um das noch nachzubasteln, zumal ich keine klassische Streichholzschachtel finden konnte, nur -heftchen oder diese flachen Schachteln. Am Ende fand ich eine leicht grössere Schachtel zuhause sowie eine auf vintage getrimmte Mini-Schachtel in einem Hipster-Laden (für 1,50CHF, pffft).
Die Originalgrösse dürfte also ziemlich genau zwischen meinen beiden Versionen liegen.

Für euch brauch ich die Anleitung ja nicht übersetzen, klickt auf das Bild oben, dann sollte alles gut zu lesen sein.

Das Basteln ging dann recht schnell, allerdings war es doch ziemlich friemelig und ich kann mir kaum vorstellen, dass kleine Kinderhände das ohne Hilfe und Frust basteln könnten (alleine diese Streifen aus dem Deckel schneiden in der Grösse), möglicherweise bin ich da aber auch zu sehr Perfektionist und ein Kind hätte so etwas nicht so schön komplett mit Buntpapier bezogen.
Als ich dann mit der ersten Version fertig war, sah es zwar aus wie auf der Zeichnung, aber irgendwie erinnerte es mich sehr an einen Grabstein. Vielleicht sieht eine Mutter nur die liebevolle Bastelei ihres Nachwuchses, ich sehe wie ein Kind seiner Mutter zu Weihnachten einen Papiergrabstein mit ihren Initialen schenkt. Wie aufmerksam!

Wie auch immer, ich beschloss, das zweite Design sollte ein wenig anders, weniger friedhöflich sein.
Möglicherweise liegt es an dem Sonnenmangel Ende Januar, vielleicht war es auch einfach etwas spät am Abend und ich albern wie ein übermüdetes Kind, heraus kam die “Wie eine einsame Insel sicher nicht ist aber jeder sie sich vorstellt”-Idylle.

Man beachte die roten Dreiecke um den Fingerhut, erkennt man, dass es ein Kessel mit Abendessen über dem Feuer sein soll?

thimble holder, parvasedapta.ch

Man kann sich noch eine Vielzahl weiterer Variationen einfallen lassen, wie beispielsweise diesen geschwungenen oberen Abschluss anders formen, so dass er nicht mehr wie ein Grabstein aussieht. Oder man kann, wenn man wie ich das ganze Ding in Buntpapier wickelt, die Kartonlaschen komplett verschwinden lassen und ist dann ganz frei in seinem Design. Aber mit den Laschen rumzualbern macht auch Spass, warum nicht einen Fingerhuthalter mit dem spanischen Wappen, gehalten von zwei Kartonlaschen den Säulen des Herakles.

Auf jeden Fall finde ich es nicht nur ein niedliches Geschenk für Mütter zu Weihnachten wie es 1925 mal angedacht war, sondern auch ein schönes Mitbringsel für eine nähende Freundin.

Und weil so ein Projekt Erinnerungen an gemütliches Basteln an kalten Wintertagen wach ruft und weil meine grössere Variante dazu passend auch noch ein wenig Sonnenschein verbreitet geht es mit diesem kleinen Papierprojekt zum Krea-Kränzchen von Kaffeeliebelei und Palandurwen, dessen Januar-Motto ganz passend “Warme Gedanken” ist.
Und weil es ja auch ein Upcycling-Projekt ist, darf es auch zum Upcycling-Dienstag im Februar.

See you soon, love


Sweater makeover inspirations

Despite some warmer days in between snow and frozen rain, the northern hemisphere can’t deny that we will have to face another few weeks of cold and wintery weather, although we grew tired of our pullovers and wool scarfs and the other stuff our winter wardrobe consists of. Maybe one of the sweaters even caught a little hole or stain during the Christmas dinner, but buying a new one feels like asking the winter winds to stay even longer, what is the last thing we want.
Below a page to help us out of this misery. Wether we grew tired of the old sweaters or are just bored because the grey outside seems not to have changed since the middle ages and we need something to brighten our day as long as the sun is on holiday. Or if we need to cover a little accident on an otherwise perfectly loved garment 😉

This page I found in the “Marie Claire”-issue from november 8th 1941, a french fashion magazine that is still published today (though they don’t include DIY-ideas anymore, maybe because this category has its own spin-off today, the “Marie Claire idees”)

parvasedapta.ch - Marie Claire, Nov. 8th 1941
click to enlarge

(clockwise from the upper left)

The rays:
Add ribbons or strips of felt to the sweater, make large stitches with buttonhole- or embroidery thread to attach them (the original advise is to use cord, but I imagine this being a little too thick to work with. And when you use felt keep in mind that the felt is either washable or that you won’t be able to wash the pullover anymore).

The monogram:
Cut sleeves, shoulders and the letters of your monogram from old socks with a tartan pattern or use a piece of jersey fabric in a contrasting colour for this, attach to the sweater as shown (no advice, but I love the idea of giving old patterned socks a second life).

The riser/inset
Use an old piece of knitting, a jersey fabric leftover or some wool to turn into an inset, add a white collar.

The diagonals:
Crochet a cord to attach to the sweater as shown. Put the pullover on to pin the cord in place before sewing it (to use a crocheted cord is not a bad idea considering the pullover to stretch when worn. Elastic lace could maybe serve as an alternative. If you want to use ribbon, try first if it really works when worn).

The little bows:
Arrange little bows made from narrow ribbon in different colours on the front of the sweater and sew in place (isn’t it too cute?).


I hope you like the ideas, let me know if you try one of them,
see you soon, love,


History is at my feet (HSF #21)

I know this post is a little late, but I had to find some of the older pictures of this project to get it done. So I only posted a little image on facebook to officially complete the challenge in time, but of course it will get its own post.

The 21st HSF-Challenge was “Re-Do”. This means, you could do just anything, as long as it matched one of the previous challenges (and I strongly believe with 20 challenges to chose from, you could really do next to everything). I think my project would best fit into the UFO&PHD-challenge (Un-Finished-Objects and Projects Half Done), but could also be related to the Tops&Toes-challenge.

Everything started with a little discussion on Anne Elisabeth’s blog “Munich Rococo”. I was unable to find this discussion, but it has to have been in late 2012 or early 2013. I think the context was that many things, pictures and artefacts from bygone eras can only be fully understood when used. One of the examples was a footstool, these tiny little stools you can see in what feels like every second interior scene from the 18th century onwards.

You see a footstool next to the wingbacked chair on the right Early 20th century 3D-image (damaged, armrests, tablecloth and sewing box on the far right were glued onto the image to create a three dimensional effect. The cabinet doors can be opened
You see a footstool next to the wingbacked chair on the right
Early 20th century 3D-image (damaged, armrests, tablecloth and sewing box on the far right were glued onto the image like the fringes of the carpet to create a three dimensional effect. The cabinet doors can be opened)
Chromolithography, own collection

The question was, what for was such a footstool. To rest you feet on, that’s for sure. But why? Because the feet shouldn’t touch the ground? To protect silk slippers and stockings from hard wood planks? Those who had some re-encactment experience knew the answer quite well and with it came a second answer: why did they vanish?

The answer is really so simple: To keep you warm. In rooms without central heating the floor is really cold so resting your feet on the floor would leave you with a pair of chilled bones and flesh in a very short time, leading to colds, flus and bladder infections. By resting you feet onto a little footstool, the feet were kept away from the cold surface and didn’t cool so easily. And when living, building, heating and isolating changed during the 20th century, these little helpers became dispensable.

Well, I am one of the girls that is always cold. I manage to have cold hands and feet the whole year, but in winter I am simply freezing, especially when I sit down and read a book or write something.
As you can imagine, I was destined to get such a footstool for myself.

I don’t know when exactly it was, but one afternoon a friend and I made a charity-second-hand-shopping tour in Berne. And amongst all the stuff I bought that day was this:


Cute little footstool to restore, because it was really damaged.

view from below
view from below

The straps that where meant to support the whole thing and your feet on top of it were completely torn.
When I removed the upper fabric, I found another layer below:

bullen nails partly removed, a glimpse inside
bullen nails partly removed, a glimpse inside

Both fabrics completely removed and I was left with this:


You see a thin layer of wadding inside the outer fabric, the black fabric underneath and on the far right the footstool. The edges are covered with jute. Now let’s remove this molleton thingy in the middle:


From left to right: the black fabric you already know, the removed molleton, the whatsoever plant-like filling and the disembowelled footstool. You see the straps hanging down. The jute edge was intact and because I have no experience in upholstery I left it like that.

I removed the jute straps and stapled new ones to the wooden frame:


Do you recognize what it is? These are ribbons to be cross stitch embroidered, these terrible, old-fashioned ribbons to hang on your door to repel welcome your visitors. I had these because a mother of a former friend of mine had embroidered very much back in the 80ies and gave me all the stuff she still had. They are very strong and wide enough to serve this purpose. The jute you see behind the straps comes from the same context. I didn’t want to drop the filling all over the place when using the footstool, so I added this layer to the bottom.

Like this it stayed since march 2013. I was scared to cut the new fabric and to fail. Somewhere in between I repainted it. I had planned to remove all the paint and just add some clear coat to protect it. Unfortunately the wood had changed its colour. Some parts were very bright, others remained as dark as the paint on them had been. Maybe this was low quality wood and it had always been like that, not meant to be shown ever again. Well, anyway. I had to decide for a darker colour to paint it, but I wanted the structure to shine through, so I searched for wood stain or glaze. Considering the colours of the fabric I wanted to use, I imagined a reddish, honey-like brown. Yes, I found it but only in so large tins I wasn’t willing to buy them for such a tiny project. So I went with a very dark, blackish brown. I am not completely happy with the paint but for my very first project it is ok. And then it took me until two weeks ago to move on:

Instead of wadding the outer fabric, I wadded the inner one. A red cotton leftover, wadded with pure wool, the one I had already used in my cape.



I nailed it to the frame on one side before adding the filling. Usually you use coconut fibres to fill upholstery, but this wasn’t available in a standard hardware store. In the pet division I found an alternative: hay!

you see the red fabric in the back already attached. Next step was to flap it over and attach it to the three other edges.

When I had finished, it looked like this:

cute as well, isn't it?
cute as well in red, isn’t it?

To attach the outer fabric I bought gold-coloured bullen-nails. You can already see the fabric lying in the background in the photo above. There is a little story to this fabric, too:
When I was in Lyons in autumn 2012 for a hands-on training, I was given the task to do some research on Philippe de Lasalle, a lyonese silk entrepreneur and designer of the 18th century. Every year in november, the Marché des Soies takes place in the Palais du Commerce in Lyons. When I went there in 2012 I loved to see all the different dealers, look at all the silks and I spent hours watching a group of silkworms eat their way through a bunch of mulberry leaves. Beside the silkworm breeder, one stall was of particular interest to me: Tassinari et Chatel. This enterprise is one of the oldest silk fabric producers still existant in Lyons, founded as early as 1680. In the 1760ies, Etienne Pernon, the director of this enterprise which was called the “Maison Pernon” back then, started a very successful cooperation with Philippe de Lasalle, the very Lasalle whose life I was researching. In 1779 the managment was passed over to his son Camille Pernon and the cooperation persisted until 1789, when the french revolution forched de Lasalle to flee and leave all his equipment behind. Whereas Camille Pernon was able to withstand the changes and resumed to business as soon as possible, Lasalle seems to have been unable to find a place in this now new world. No trace of any business activity can be found afterwards, the machines that weren’t destroyed during the revolution he gave to the city of Lyons to train weavers and silk designers on them. He died in 1804.*
But back to the market stall of Tassinari et Chatel. I knew they still weave some of the old designs and they offered piles of different silk leftovers (I mean, they make interior silks for walls and upholstery, so their leftover panels could be as long as 4 metres). I was unable to find a Lasalle weaving amongst them but was very tempted to buy some other designs I had come across during my research, though they were terribly pricy. Fortunately in the end I found a basket with small leftovers, approximately 50cmx50cm-large pieces of silk. Five different pieces in a bag for 25€. One of these was to become the cover of my footstool. To me it seems like a design from the first quarter of the 19th century, unfortunately I found nothing in any museum database that comes remotely close to this design, so I can’t show you anything to compare it with.

Now, I fear I have already talked to much, so I will finally show you the pictures:

Ta-Da! Baby-blue silk deliciousness with kitschy animal-putto-cuteness
Ta-Da! Baby-blue silk deliciousness with kitschy animal-putto-cuteness
the golden bullen-nails. It is not perfect, but considering haw many holes already were in the wood I am quite content.
the golden bullen-nails. It is not perfect, but considering haw many holes already were in the wood I am quite content.
while the old bullen-nails were placed diagonally on the corner, I placed them on both sides of them.
while the old bullen-nails were placed diagonally on the corner, I placed them on both sides of them.

And to show the size, it is really small.

the most ridiculous shoes I own and I couldn't resist wearing these knee highs because the colours are so close to the silk
the most ridiculous shoes I own (60ies boudoir-style) and I couldn’t resist wearing these knee highs because the colours are so close to the silk (yes, these are robots :-D)

 What the item is: A footstool. Bought the footstool itself for little money in a charity shop. gave it a new glaze, a new filling and a new fabric cover.

The Challenge: #21 Re-Do (UFOs and PHDs, Tops & Toes, Make, Do & Mend)

Fabric: red cotton, pure silk from Tassinari & Chatel in Lyons, France

Pattern: Just traced the old fabric to get the right size for the cotton layer and the right amount of filling. The silk I pinned to the cotton and cut around it.

Year: Early 19th century, though the footstool itself looks a little older with this swung legs. But it could have been reupholstered (the footstool itself might date from the first quarter of the 20th century)

Notions: Jute and strong woven ribbon, hay, wool batting, nails, bullen-nails, dark brown glaze

How historically accurate is it? Well, I can’t say anything about the carpentry. The jute and the ribbons I attached with staples rather than nails. Hay could be accurate, as could be the wool batting. The cotton cover is not acurate, the silk certainly is, though it was woven on a modern loom and not on a historical drawstring loom.

Hours to complete: 2-3, complete with painting and everything.

First worn: Stands in front of the sofa as is used when sitting on it with the laptop on my knees since last week.

Total cost: Five silk scraps in a bag cost me 25€, this was a little more than half of one, so let’s say 3€. Because I bought a lot in the charity shop the day I bought the footstool the seller asked 40CHF for everything, thinking of what I bought I would say I paid around 5€ for the footstool. Bullen-Nails, glaze and nails did cost quite a bit, so let’s say 25€?

In full glory
In full glory

See you soon,


* Sources for the above paragraph: 
Belle M. Borland: Philippe de Lasalle. His contrbution to the textile industry of Lyons, Chicago 1936 
Marie-Jo de Chaignon: Philippe de Lasalle. Dessinateur de soierie à Lyon au XVIIIe siècle. In: Soie en Touraine, Tours 2003, p. 14-21
Liliane Hilaire-Pérez: Inventing in a world of guilds. The case of silk fabrics in Lyon in the XVIIIth century. In: K. Scott [publ.]: Interiors, Decoration and Design. Essays in the history snd Aesthetics of material culture in 18th century France (no year and place given)

cheap substitute

Some weeks ago I strolled across the market in Berne. One seller is a little different than the others, his stand looks more as if he mistook the event for a flea market. All he sells is old books, fabric scraps,90ies pop cds,  more or less old and/or interesting haberdashery and some, mostly ugly, clothes. Fabrics and clothes are sold in umbrellas turned upside down and he always sits behind his goods smoking a incredibly large cigar.
Somehow I like it and I have bought multiple fabrics from him.

This time I found a red tshirt in his clothing-umbrella. Nothing special, but good quality and obviously only slightly too large (I hate altering shirts, especially the sleeves. So only a little too large means I can avoid re-modeling the shoulders and get away with shifting the side seams a little), for 1 CHF quite worth a try.

At home I altered it to my size only to realize it had some small stains on the front (yes, of course I had washed it before altering). Seemed as if it hadn’t been that good a deal at all.

Well, there is always room for improvement and I could still throw it away, so I thought why not give it a try and cover the stains.

My inspiration was Elsa Schiaparelli herself. The starting point of her career was a knitted jumper patterned with a large bow on the front, today in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Well, there is still this tiny little white spot in my crafting universe, I can’t knit! I tried it, it’s ok, it worked somehow but not good, maybe I will try again but I didn’t want to wait that long to make something inspired by this garment.

If you know me you already know what my answer to a lack of knowledge or time or patience is: fabric paint 😉

A quick image search online supplied me with all I needed to draft a bow onto the shirt front, as you see a much cuter and gift-wrap-kind-of-bow Schiaparelli used, maybe this is the key to her success, I still like it far more than my own version.

I used black fabric paint, first drew the outlines and afterwards filled it with paint. You can see some brighter spots and dark areas, it is less evident in real life. In addition I wanted to see how it looks after having been washed to make some final corrections.

DSC_0149 (2)
shirt: ette/flea market, skirt: ette/Lutterloh pattern, shoes: New Yorker, bracelets: flea market

Next time I will insist on taking the photos again with our real camera, this mobile always changes the colours and produces a weird angle.

See you soon and enjoy the sun,

love, ette

Cheating doesn’t pay, HSF #10

Well, this month’s challenge was art. Now you may think, me as an art historian, I might love this challenge and burst from ideas.

mh…not at all. Though I love art and have many works of art in mind I am sure would be a great project to recreate, I had two major problems:

1st: I only very occasionally work from the finished project backwards. I do not tend to recreate garments. I chose a pattern and a fabric and test were they will lead me. Most of the time the result does not meet the expectations I had beforehand, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the worse.

To use a garment or a piece of art as the first step and trying to recreate this, makes me feel very uneasy. I desperately try to match what I see or want to reproduce with a pattern I have in mind, so I don’t have to create one on my own. I am really cowardish when it comes to experimenting with patterns.

To spoiler you only a little, this was something that pushed me while working on this challenge and I discovered very new ways of creating garments. So this aspect really did pay.

2nd: My fabric-cupboard bursts with fabrics as does the built-in closet next to it. Additionally we will have to move again soon, so buing new fabric was strictly forbidden.

Now let’s come to the cheating in the title: Knowing I would panic when having to recreate a costume without a pattern, first thing I did was flip through my patterns and pattern books. I so hoped that Janet Arnold may have written “comparable to the dress depicted in xyz” next to a pattern she traced or that I may recognize a famous painting or an engraving in one of the dresses in Nora Waugh’s “The cut of women’s clothes”.

Well, neither was the case. So I put these books aside and had a look at all the coffee table and art books I found on my bookshelf. Because it had been months since I read the description of the challenge, I first searched only for some loose inspiration, finally deciding to catch the structure of the fassade of Santa Maria Novella in Florence in a skirt.

Fortunately I re-read Leimomi’s post before I started and realized that she aimed for a much closer connection between the work of art and the project. So my search started anew.

Soon I had to realize that my prohibition of fabric buying was a much larger hurdle than my pattern-paranoia and very quickly I used the fabric question as my main criteria to chose an artwork.

So when I finally found a painting that suited some paticular fabrics of my stash….wonder oh wonder…. the question wasn’t anymore “oh help, I don’t have a pattern” but rather “what can I do to recreate this”.

Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, La danseuse, 1898, in: Moderne Kunst in Meisterholzschnitten, around 1904
Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, La danseuse (?), 1898, in: Moderne Kunst in Meisterholzschnitten, around 1904


Now you might say: what, are you kidding? No, not at all. For years I had some light pink cotton velvet in my stash I once found in a charity shop, as well as two Ikea-mosquito-nets, one in white I had bought for my room when I was 16 and a 2nd one in pink I bought from a fellow member of the online sewing board I am registered at, still wrapped.
They had all moved with me twice and I had no idea what to make from them.
And though it is very likely that the top of her dress is satin, it could as well be velvet in this reproduction.

This leads me to the picture itself: I found it in the 1904 (not dated, but dates in the texts suggest this)  issue of “Moderne Kunst in Meister-Holzschnitten”, the translation already says everything: Modern art in Master-Woodcuts. While the majority of the pictures are black-and-white and indeed woodcuts, this is one of the few coloured plates inside. It can’t be a photographic reproduction in colour and it doesn’t seem to have been coloured afterwards, so I assume it is a copy after the original. While searching for the original I got quite confused. The artist, Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, painted a lot of ballet-dancers and the title given in my book, “Er liebt mich nicht”, that means He doesn’t love me, didn’t  show any result at all.
But after some searching online I still hadn’t found the one original, in fact I had found four! All in different sizes, different styles and some undated (there wasn’t a date given in the book, 1898 is the years the dated originals were made).

La danseuse
Forth Position
Forth Position II.

Well, I won’t start arguing about attributions here, but especially the third painting is strikingly different from the other, don’t you think? The version I have printed in my book seems closest to the first and the last link, but I can’t tell for sure.

Now, enough talk about art, let’s come to my dress.
As I already meantioned, this project pushed me out of my comfort zone, giving me not only a period I had rarely worked in, but also the task to reproduce a dress without any pattern at all. I consulted the above mentioned Nora Waugh book and studied the dart placement and the cutting lines of late 19th century garments.  After this I took a piece of cotton and started pinning on my sewing mannequin. And it worked! I am still a little baffles that I had to face neither any disappointments nor catastrophes, as I was so sure they would come.

After I had completed the cotton version, I pinned this to my velvet, using the cotton as my lining (you will laugh when you see a photo of it below. It is the rest of a baby quilt I made for my boyfriend’s cousin, whose wife had a baby in january. Therefore it is a light pink cotton printed with white bunnies and ducks).

I have seen many 19th century costumes in the past weeks and most of them had one thing in common: Today we tend to sew the lining and the outside fabric seperately and connect them only on the edges and maybe a few spots to avoid shifting. The 19th century costumes are usually sewn in one layer, so darts and seams are stitched through all layers, leaving you with the seam allowances inside and not hidden between the layers. Normally the seams are finished with hand stitching or bias binding to avoid fraying.
So this was my method to go: pin the lining, at the same time my just constructed pattern, onto the left side of the velvet, close all seams and darts, stitching through all layers at once. I had cut the lining at the edges where I wanted the bodice to end, so all I had to do was to flap the hem and neckline allowance of the velvet to the inside and sew it. I used boning in the front darts and the side seams or should I say “cable tie-ing”, because that’s what I used (I once bought a package to try it and this were the last six I had, not that I am a large fan of cable-tie-boning, it really isn’t stiff enough for my taste)?

Inside the bodice, the white thread forms the loops to close with hooks
Inside the bodice, the white thread forms the loops to close with hooks, the boning is covered by the darts and the seam allowance, the black hooks keep the skirt in place. The white square is in fact a short ribbon with press fasteners to hold the shoulder straps in place, you can attach it to your bra’s or what else’s shoulder strap you wear below.

The painting doesn’t show very good, how the bodice closes, but it looks like a wrap bodice to me, so I made the front edges a convex shape and closed it with hooks and thread loops, made from white crochet yarn.


I didn’t know how to make the shoulder-straps, because there was quite a lot of fabric and a sharp curve from the darts. While I could have made a real princess seam and seperating the front into a middle and a side part, I went for a little pleat in the strap.

here you see the only fitting issue I have, the gap below the arms. It wasn’t there when I first pinned it and when I wear it, it is even worse, maybe two cut parts would have worked better

I don’t have a seperate photo from the skirt. I just used a white cotton ribbon tied around the hips of my mannequin and pleated the mosquito nets onto it. I started at the top of the net and after having finished a round I cut it where I wanted my hem to be and starting anew, always using pink and white alternatingly. I also had real, stiff tulle, but that wasn’t pink and I could have only put it on top of this skirt to have to effect of a real ballerina’s tutu. But when I had finished my mosquito net slaughter I already didn’t know when to wear such a pink tulle skirt, so I assume I would have even less oportunities to wear an even larger tutu.

Because only for the record: I don’t dance at all, the ballet lessons I had in my life can be counted on one hand (I think it was four, I desperately wanted to learn it, but the teacher was just so bad, I didn’t even stayed during the cancellation period my mother had to adhere to).
But: I love ballet slippers and wear them at home all the time. And yes, it is always quite funny when buing them, “oh, you don’t dance…ok” 😀

Oh, I assume you finally want to see the result? Here it is:

tights: Rumpf, ballet slippers: Katz
tights: Rumpf, ballet slippers: Katz

I have to apologize, it was very bad light today and not even photoshop could help that.

Because I didn’t know how the back was meant to be, I went for a simple v-neckline as seen in some of the patterns I had looked at beforehand. When seing it now I have to admit it would have been better to include a centre back seam.


To avoid a gap between the very low hanging tutu and the bodice, I attached hooks and eyes to connect them (I only had black ones left in this size and didn’t want to buy new ones only for a fancy dress).


Now, after having finished it only this morning I have to say, the project was much larger than I wanted it to be, I made a dress I will presumably never wear but at a fancy dress party, I spent so much time making it (everything but the side seams and the skirt is hand sewn, because I didn’t want any seams to be visible outside). But I got rid of some large chunks of  my fabric stash, I learned very much and it is so much fun jumping aroung in it 😀 This is for all the ballet lessons I never took.

And only a very little fun fact to close with: Nina has a blog series called Upcycling-Dienstag on her Werkeltagebuch. Every tuesday she or guest bloggers present and collect ideas on how to turn waste into something creative, useful and beautiful. Last week, guestposter Katja shared her idea, how to turn old wooden curtain rings into small picture frames.

Both of the mosquito nets had small metal rings to attach them to the ceiling. While the used one’s resembled more an egg than a ring, the brand new pink net had a still intact one. So when I started driving crazy pushing all this tulle under my sewing machine, I stopped and made some little crafting to calm down again. The search for a matching picture ended when I found an old promotional package of a famous role play game I had never played and will never play (but hey, you can’t throw away cards, maybe there will be an occation to use them, someday).

The tiny foggy and mysthic contrast to this pink ballerina overkill





The Challenge: #10 Art

Inspiration: Pierre Carrier-Belleuse – La Danseuse, 1898

Fabric: light pink cotton velvet, printed cotton, pink and white soft tulle, aka two Ikea mosquito nets

Pattern: None, I only looked briefly at period patterns to check dart placement and the like

Year: 1898

Notions: pink and white poly-thread, pink silk thread, white cotton ribbon, white cotton crochet thread, hooks and eyes, press fasteners, cable ties

How historically accurate is it? I have no idea. I don’t know how dancing costumes were constructed around 1900, if they were boned, if they were worn with a corset etc. Some of the fabrics and materials are possible, some not, the lining is just silly. The sewing itself and the closures are accurate (though I used modern press fasteners, the early ones worked with a different technique).

Hours to complete? Maybe 15-20? I could as well say 2 episodes of “Sherlock”,3 of *The big bang theory” and the first season of “Hannibal” including bonus material (do I have to mention that I love Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal even more than Anthony Hopkins’?)

First worn: Today for the photos (though I wore the skirt for a few hours after I had finished it last weekend)

Total cost: Direct costs, nothing, I had everything in stock. The velvet was bought in a charity shop, can’t have been more than a few Euros. Same applies for the pink mosquito net, bought online. The white one was bought new, but already had had a live above my bed, so I would call this recycling. Notions I usually buy on flea markets, too. The book I found the illustration in cost me 2 CHF. 


Talking about accuracy: The letter I am holding is old, but not old enough, dating from 1921.

See you soon, love,