Friday, August 17, 2012

Birthday breakfast and Kraftwerk

Thank you for all the birthday wishes! I had a splendid weekend, going to a festival and celebrating the birthday all weekend was a great combination. As usual we had plenty of fun, with the music being just one part of the fun puzzle, the rest is hanging out with friends. Also my 13-year old daughter was finally old enough to join us and luckily she doesn't mind (at least for now) hanging out with grown ups. On the other hand I'm not sure she always sees us as proper grown ups. When I asked about it afterwards she said that we weren't like ordinary grown ups, we were kinda special (special as in odd I think!).

Here are some photos from Saturday when I had my little party and we saw Kraftwerk.


We started off with a birthday cake breakfast. Since it was a festival we had to have the party early, hence the breakfast. The cookies in the front with raspberry jam is a classic Swedish butter cookie that I will post the recipe for in another post.


Stella is replenishing her fuels for a third day of music festival. 



Parts of our gang. 


In an inspired moment we decided to emulate a Kraftwerk cover. I don't think a photo that I've posted  on Facebook has gotten this much likes before so maybe we had some success, hehe? You be the judge. The daughter was the talent behind the camera.



Yes Kraftwerk put on a 3D-show. Pretty awesome.


Kraftwerk was a truly a mind blowing experience, unlike any other concert I've been to. All the visuals and the fantastic sound put the audience in an almost meditative place. It was a concert that I never wanted to end. The critics raved too afterwards. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Looking back on a decade



Today I turn 40. Yes I survived the 30's reasonably intact! The photo to the left was taken the month I turned 30. The right one is a few weeks old. I am kinda struck by how young and innocent I look in the left photo, no anti-age procedure can replicate that sort of youthful glimmer. And if I said it feels just like yesterday that I turned 30 I would be lying. Apart from the fact that I'm back in the same apartment again and still has two kids, pretty much everything else has changed. And when the first photo was taken I was a parent to a three year old and a newborn. Now I have a teenager and a 10-year old that sometimes acts more like a teenager than the actual teenager.

Even though I like to make lists, I never made any "40 thing to do before I'm 40"-lists. But even though I never had any age related goals and predictions, I am still surprised on how much has changed in the last decade. I've gone through a divorce and subsequently remarried and am in a much better place today romantically and emotionally. I feel so much more invested, open and satisfied in this relationship and this has been a very new experience for me. Another thing I am pleased with is that the career I was just embarking on when the first picture was taken still pays my bills, in fact I'm damn proud that I've been making my living as a journalist for over 10 years straight now. Something that seemed nearly impossible when I first switched careers.

So what else has improved? I think I'm even more confident now and assured of my abilities, I seldom think that something is impossible and if I really want something I can usually make that happen in some way. Though maybe my dreams are just more grounded these days, perhaps I have simply adjusted them to reality, thus making them easier to realise? But I can still feel things like if we wanted to move to, say New York, I could totally make that happen.

But you'll never hear me say that everything gets better with age and one thing that has bothered me lately is that I have gotten more vain. Which in turn is due to that my body is really starting to show the signs of aging. There are more and more grey strands in the hair, the nails has gotten some age related ridges, the cuticles keep cracking, the facial hair is getting darker and longer (hello beard and mustache!) plus I also have some pretty visible wrinkles in the face. And I can feel the wear and tear on my body more, especially when I exercise.

My hope right now is that this iffy, vain feeling soon will pass, I don't like to spend time thinking about how I look (apart from my clothes, will never give up that!). And since the changes will just become more and more drastic I just need to get over it in order to keep my sanity,

The plan for today is to visit the yearly huge music festival here in Göteborg. The line-up consists of bands like Florence and the Machine, Blur and Kraftwerk (can't believe I just wrote that last word!) and I'm pretty sure it will be awesome. That is another thing I'm surprised about, that I'm going to more concerts now than ever before. So again you can't really tell how life will be, so the only thing I can say is that I hope it will continue to feel good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pattern magazine nostalgia




As I might have mentioned before I started sewing clothes at a rather young age, I was only 11 when I made my first pair of pants and as a teenager I was already making a substanal amount of my own clothes. If this makes me sound like child prodigy, trust me I was not. In fact I was horrible at sewing for the first 10 years or so. One reason I sucked for so long was that I was completely self thought. But also this was before the internet, remember? So the amount of information, inspiration and information sharing was much more limited. In hindsight a sewing class would have been great, but for some reason I never ended up taking one.

In 1987, when I was 15, I begun to buy pattern magazines as they provided a much better value than envelope patterns. Back then Burda magazine was a dowdy stale publication with really boring, unfashiony clothes so instead I bought the now defunct Neue Mode magazine. I did tons of clothes from these magazines, much more than I do today and browsing through them I see that I usually made 2-3 styles from each issue. The only downside was that in the 80's and early 90's there were usually just 1 or 2 sizes, so some great styles never happened since the pattern weren't in my size. I thought that I had thrown all these issues away, but it turns out I didn't! Mary Nanna wrote a great comment on how she felt about every new Burda issue, and I felt the same kind of buzz when Neue Mode hit the stores. 





The 80's were much more restrained and subdued than I remember, at least in the Neue Mode world.  


But it wouldn't be the 80's without some lamé!


If you think the sheets in pattern magazines are crowded, I can assure it was way worse back then.








Some of the garments that I made. I really put these magazines to good use.


Neue Mode is sadly no more. But Sewingpatterns do sell a large chunk of their old envelope patterns, and again I am struck by how timeless many of the designs look.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Testing a tubing turner







On a lark I bought a cheap tubing turner today. The design is pretty nifty, just push a hook through the fabric and pull. But after a quick test run I am not entirly convinced. The hook is rather flimsy and kept opening up and getting caught in the fabric instead. I had to use a lot of control and some gentle guiding with the fingers to stop the hook from opening. After about three tries it did get easier, maybe it's mostly a handling issue, but I had expected the tool to make it much easier. 

My usual method is to close one end of the tubing and then gently push that end with a blunt object, normally a chopstick. My least favorite method is the needle and thread, because unless the needle is really blunt, it keeps piercing the fabric, plus I find it hard grasping the needle when it's inside the fabric. 
Which is your favorite way of turning a tubing? 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Yes, I bought yet another summer dress



I did one day trip alone to Lisbon. Mostly to do the stuff that works best doing alone, i.e. hit the shops. Just like Barcelona and Paris, Lisbon has a fancy tree lined avenue where the high end stores are located. Along Avenida da Liberdade you'll find brands like Burberry, Prada and Louis Vuitton. But getting into these kind of stores where this is a security guard at the door and no visible customers but tons of sales assistants  is just too intimidating for me since I don't have the means to actually buy something there. That is why I prefer department stores for checking out designer garbs. I especially love examining the seamwork, which can truly be exquisite sometimes and very inspiring. Luckily there were some mid price designer stores along the avenue as well, like my favorite Spanish designer Adolfo Dominguez. I bought the most brilliant beret from him in Barcelona seven years ago, it's hard to explain how great it was and I lost the hat on the bus a few years ago. Maybe my husband has some photos of me in that beret that I can show you, I wore it all the time when we first got together. 

Anyways I visited the Lisbon store hoping to find something similar, no such luck though, it's still summer after all. But I did find this dress with a nice reduction so after a long debate during which I calculated the remaining vacation budget, I decided that I had room for a little splurge. Plus I already felt frugal since I had just decided not to buy a gorgeous dress from Marc by Marc Jacobs that was reduced by 50%. Though I did send a text to my husband jokingly telling him to say to the kids that it will only be water and bread for the rest of the vacation. What I didn't know was that Anja, my 10 year old, was in possession of his cellphone and ended up reading that text! She had apparently been very concerned about it. Oh well. 






Back to the dress. What made me fall head over heels was all the wonderful detailing, I am such a sucker for those sort of things. Like the piping, the patch pocket with flaps, the epaulettes and the matlassé stitching on the back yoke. Plus the fit was perfect, which is unheard of when I shop for garments by Swedish brands since they all are making clothes for people taller than me. But in Spain and Portugal the women still seem to be rather petite. It's for sale on his website too, now with an even bigger reduction.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A very Vogue obsession



I thought that I had threw them all away, but either due to forgetfulness or resourcefulness I have one banana box left up in the attic. I am talking about the magazine that in some ways defined my 20's - American Vogue. Yes it's now a stale fashion magazine with too much New York socialites and fluff stories. But growing up Vogue provided me with a much needed escapism, that I forever will be grateful for.

I bought my first issue in 1990 at a used magazine store in my hometown. That marked the beginning of an addiction that would last over a decade. The issue featured Cindy Crawford on the cover and also had a fascinating profile about Chirsty Turlington and Linda Evangelista. Yes this was the issue where Evangelista was quoted saying that she never wakes up for less than $10,000. Though it was clearly a joke, that quote kinda helped define the image of the supermodels as greedy creatures without any sense of reality.

I never found another bargain issue and soon I was buying Vogue at full price, which was ridiculously expensive here in Sweden. I was a 18 year old student with no part time job, so buying expensive foreign magazines felt kinda insane. But even when I was unemployed on the youth dole and survived on porridge, coleslaw and rice, I still kept Vogue as my one indulgence each month.

Plus I was living in a terrible, scary relationship at the time which Vogue helped me to deal with in some ways. I kept reading the stories about the rich people over and over, savoring every word, getting my fix of escapism, dreaming about a better life in New York. One of these stories was the interview with author and heiress Marina Rust, I wanted to have her life (and look like her too).

Oh Marina, why can't I be you?

And I was also entranced with the beautifully decorated house that Evi and Randy Quaid  lived in (though I was always wondering how a b-list actor and his wife could live such excessive lifestyle - well turns out they couldn't!).

Evi at home, before it all went horribly wrong with the drugs and aliens.

During the 90's I changed boyfriends, apartments, friends and cities so often that I feared I had some commitment issues, but Vogue remained a constant. The stacks kept getting bigger and bigger and the moving boxes more and more heavy. The obsession started to taper once I got my first child, but I still bought every issue. Then around the time I had my second child I started to forget some months here and there. And when I did remember to buy a new issue, the thrill I had once felt was no longer there.

I think it is mostly due to growth, that first rush of passion seldom lasts. But also the staleness that I mentioned earlier. While Vogue still employs some brilliant writers (love their Up front section and Jonathan Van Meter's very observant and non-gushing celebrity profiles), the fluff and puff articles that are just thinly veiled promos for different treatments are getting way too common.

I still buy Vogue from time to time though. Mostly out of nostalgic reasons, but it also can work as a quick fix when I feel a little blue, because I still associate the act of purchasing the magazine as a form of happy making. And I am very glad for the fine times that we have spent together.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Pradaesque fabric find


Love this print from Prada's fall collection. Though I wouldn't want to wear it as a trouser suit ensemble.



Luckily I was able to find something very similar in a fabric store in Lisbon. But instead it's a soft lovely rayon fabric and perfect for a fall dress.


Fabric shopping turned out to be surprisingly great in Lisbon. Plenty of fabric and notion stores smacked in the middle of the city center - unheard of in other European cities I have visited. And the selection was very good, with lots of glamorous (and pricey) Italian fashion fabrics and great bargains too with distinct prints, like this rayon fabric. Unfortunately I was on a tight budget so the trip didn't turn into a fabric shopping spree, the kids has to eat and whatnot after all. Plus I ended up buying a dress too. But I did take some photos and will put up a short guide to fabric shopping in Lisbon another day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Summer dress from Burdastyle




I've been really putting my issues of Burdastyle magazine to good use lately. This must be the fourth project in a row that comes from my magazine stash. Being a pattern magazine hoarder does have it's benefits, and I do think a lot styles stands the test of time, or at least they still feel reasonably current after 3-4 years. This pattern is from 2009. And I recently made a discovery in the attic where I found my old pattern magazine stash from the 80's and early 90's. Stay tuned for a blog post about them.

This sort of style with a raglan sleeve and a gathered neckline is called singoalla in Sweden, after a novel about a gypsy woman named Singoalla. Does this design has a special name in English too?

For more about this dress and pattern you can read my review.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stencil printing - a little messy and a lot of fun


A while back me and Cattie got together to print our personal roller derby tank tops. Here you can see Anja supervising Cattie's print process. Notice the red wine in the background. This might explain my less than stellar result. 


We used old school stencils that was kindly cut out by a teammate. The stencil is made out of overhead plastic sheets and the sponge is just some cheapo scotchbrite. 


My white tank top looks better than the black one (which was a mess and I also forgot to photograph it) but even on this second try there are still blotches of colours here and there.



Cattie's vest. She clearly has a better knack for this than I do, or maybe she just deals with the combination of wine and stencil printing better?

Anyways it was a lot of fun and while I would normally be kinda disappointed making something that was less than perfect, but the punkish/DIY nature of roller derby somehow makes the end result suitable.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Making a grosgrain ribbon waist facing


The Burda magazine shorts that I made last month had a rather messy solution for waist facing. Or maybe it was just my having a hard time grasping how it should be sewn together?
But to be honest: "Burda, It's not me, it's you" 

So instead I decided to opt for a grosgrain ribbon facing. Which made me realize what a fantastic way this is to create a smooth, and stable, waist. Plus it feels a little luxe.

Here comes a quick tutorial on how to do it:



First attach the grosgrain ribbon by top stitching it onto the seam allowance (I use a 6mm allowance). I use a blind hem presser foot to make the seam more precise.


The waist after the top stitching is done. Look how discreet the seam is.


On the the flip side. Not as slick, but it will soon disappear. I created a self fabric hook for the button.


Fold the grosgrain ribbon over and press into place.


To secure the ribbon I sewed a line of stitches in the ditch of each seam (including the darts).


What it looks on the other side. This will keep the ribbon in place.


The finished shorts. I used the them plenty in Portugal and the ribbon facing really kept the waist from growing. I normally have problems with this, even though I use interfacing and stay stitching.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

My season in sports

With the Olympics in full swing I thought it would be timely to take a look at my own sports accomplishments lately (okay, that was just a lame excuse to finally put together this post that I have been meaning to do for a month. I've been trough a blog drought lately which has created a loong backlog of blog posts).   


The running season started off with a 5K run with my roller derby team. As you can see I love my aerobics during the warm-up. This was a great race, both because we had such fun and because I made a big improvement compared to last year. Running has been kind to me lately.


Which boded well for my 10k run which took place in June. My time was 53:34 which was over 7 minutes faster than last year's 10k race. Yes I'm the one running in a pale blue polo shirt. Notice my winner's gesture, that was when I saw the clock. I'm such a competitive person and can't help showing it.



After failing the roller derby qualifying test twice I finally nailed it. Three times a charm as they say. To be honest I was about to quit if I didn't make it. Because even though I can be pretty determined, one needs a little encouragement from time to time. The downside was that all that intense training resulted in a knee overuse injury, so now I haven't been able to train properly for a month. This sucks so bad, and my running has been cut way back too. I do think I am recovering now and I've been pretty zealous with the rehab work. But the real proof will be when I return to proper derby training after the summer hiatus.

So right now I am in a bit of limbo training wise, as I'm not able to train at the intensity that I'm used to, which makes exercising feel less rewarding and thus less fun. My next goal is to be fit enough again to do good in the 12h skating games in late August. I'm not actually skating for 12 hours though. We compete in teams of six and take turns during 12 hours. I think it will be mostly inline skaters competing, but our roller derby team is doing it on classic roller skates of course!