Silent tribal outfit

I made a belt a while ago but did not wear it to perform because it did not match the others’ outfits. It is made from two layers of sturdy cotton, with a belt pattern that is slightly curved. I layered velvet, tablet weaving trimming I made some time ago, obsidian shinies and black fringe. And I made lace flowers that cover the belt closure.


64 bytes from mantis

Apart from posting the occasional blah about some sewing I did, and the scheduled Food shame post, there was really little motivation to talk.
I still try to support my sister and my mother, and I feel as if even more of all the little things that might have annoyed me before, are now of no consequence. Also I try to appreciate spending time with the people I like more – an important part of which is to never part in anger (and luckily there never have been any issues that would justify such behaviour).

In any case, maybe I’ll return to a more regular writing behaviour now, we’ll see.

Sewing with a plan

During reading To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle*, I tripped over a concept I suspect to be so old that it was welcomed as great new guidelines when Lynn Cook wrote an article for the Australian magazine “Stitches” in 2003:  sewing with a plan (SWAP).

It boils down to

  • concentrate on two solid colours, add a third complimentary colour, and accentuate with prints that match the first two solids
  • cover all basic garment types: tops, trousers, skirts, jacket
  • choose simple patterns but use top-quality fabrics
  • a two-step implementation
    • “make 11 garments. These are:
      • 2 pairs of pants;
      • 2 skirts, one in a solid colour, one in a print or check;
      • 2 simple tops, one solid, one in the above print;
      • 4 tops, in colours which coordinate with the solids;
      • 1 simple cardigan jacket in a solid colour.
    • make the following 10 garments
      • 1 cardigan in one of your basic colours
      • 3 long-sleeve tops in tones that coordinate
      • 1 long skirt in a print
      • 1 blouse or top in the same print
      • 1 knee-length skirt in a solid colour
      • 1 dress (print or solid)
      • 2 more pairs of pants in tones that blend with your palette” [1]
  • don’t quit, do finish the two steps
  • any additional pieces should match at least 3 pieces of the basic wardrobe

Another great point Lucy Siegle’s book makes is to curate one’s wardrobe, a concept which is built into the SWAP approach as it enforces you to create coherent pieces that go together.

In my case, the dominant solids are definitely black and gray. A second pair of solids is based on brown and green. The complimentary colour would be red, or maybe ivory.
Then there’s some bright red, and of course all the pretty “berry” colours (purple, wine, and so on). Bright red goes best with black, and the berries like grey as supporting colour.

I am currently looking through my sewing output and the first insight I had is: I certainly am putting off the making of trouser patterns, lazy me.



* this book really brings some disturbing facts to the table. I at least vowed to try and change my clothes consumption – less buying, more research who made the piece, where did the materials come from…

I am sick => filler

It always amuses me when Tom and Lorenzo present the Miss Universe National costumes:

2010: one, two

2011: one, two

2012: part one, two, three

2013: part one, two, three

2014: part one, two, three, four

and when they scream their thoughts at fashion pictures from 2014 Golden Globuli like a crazy person on the subway.



Tribal in black and bling

May I present an outfit I made for a show in April: pants, red skirt (bought), a fabric belt, a black bra, and a shrug (bought). The self-made items are the interesting ones, so:

It’s my first tribal bra, so I hope the next one will be better. I found many good tips here, and I browsed a lot of dancers’ pictures to decide how I wanted it to look, and to glean their little secrets. The before:


I cut off the straps and promptly doubled the remaining back/horizontal straps with pretty velvet because they were very stretchy. I also added some fabric to the sides of the cups to keep everything under control there.

I then added D rings and new shoulder straps made from soft batiste (4cm wide, so they would be comfortable, and 110cm long to leave enough for tying in the back) and tried it on to see how the straps tied in the back  – this is the look I was going for.

When I was satisfied with the fit, I started sewing on stuff (below: some examples of stuff).


And more stuff. And some metal pieces I got from Melwen.

And some more. And then some. Until:


The belt I made did not match the others’ outfits, so I borrowed one for the show, and I made a set that’s more oldschool later.

The pants that are worn underneath are made from 2m of teal fabric with a diamond pattern. I managed to picture it like its sister fabric, in the lightest shade of blue:


but it’s very teal, really.

The making of is easy: take fabric, cut two rectangles – if the pattern allows for it, the fabric width is leg width, so the height is determined by leg length. Fold rectangles in half and cut quarter circle to accommodate your buttocks. Sew leg seams, then sew legs together. Attach waistband and add elastic band. Tada!





I have a strange habit of buying too little of pretty jersey, but here’s a solution: loop scarves (howtos for one colour, two colours). The flowery one is actually made from two fabrics, but the black jersey is not as interesting.



The violet one is 160cm long, which makes for comfortable wrapping around. The other loop is only 140cm long which is almost too short (and no, my head size is not the problem).

And a small bag like this one, made from black twill with pretty lining


I don’t add tote straps because I prefer using the shoulder strap. Also I’ll create the inner pockets from folded lining fabric to achieve a sturdier construction (more layers -> less floppy)
The bottom gets boxed corners.


More skirt experiments

I saw a nice striped skirt which made me theorise about how it’s made. I’ve ordered 4m of this fabric (150cm wide)


and will make two layers of skirt, along with a volume layer made of tulle.

First I determined the length of the two skirt layers (65cm resp 55cm), then I cut 2 pieces (180cm each = 2×55+65, plus 5cm seam allowance) and made a huge fabric tube with 3m circumference. I folded the layers into the tube



and added a double layer of tulle into the bubble skirt part.
Then it was already time to add a jersey waistband, as already practised in [1].
The fabric is rather heavy though (160g/m²), so the poor waistband will get elastic band support. The last thing to do is to add a small trim to the longer skirt layer (the skirt is not as fire-engine-red as the picture claims)


and then:


A new semester of dancing

We’ve ended the winter semester with a hafla, and it was great fun with awesome pieces.

I wasn’t at the top of my game during the choreo, and I already know why that is: not enough practise during the winter holidays  because total anti-motivation (not dance-specific though). However we’ll continue working on the choreo during the summer semester, so it’ll be fine.

I also danced in one of the impro groups, and we had maps of Tasmania! :D


Next week the summer classes start, and I’ll just continue with Impro II, III plus the choreo class. It’s two evenings of coming home late, but it’s worth it. Resolutions are obviously: improving choreo, and improving impro style (getting more proficient with skirt moves, better posture).

There are some big events coming up as well: Tribalconvention in April, and Caravanseray in August. Manca Pavli will give workshops in April, and I’ll have to check which ones are suitable for me.

At Caravanseray we’ll see workshops with Samantha Emanuel and Lamia Barbara among others. I’m just waiting until the schedule is released, then I’ll decide.

Books 2014

  1.  The Rainmaker (John Grisham)
  2. The Prague Cemetery (Umberto Eco)
  3. God is not great (Christopher Hitchens)
  4. The Oracle Glass (Judith Merkle Riley)
  5. Notes from a small island (Bill Bryson)
  6. The Children of Húrin (J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien)
  7. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
  8. A cautionary tale for young vampires (G.D. Falksen)
  9. Starter for ten (David Nicholls)
  10. The Facts of Life (Graham Joyce)
  11. Soon I will be invincible (Austin Grossman)
  12. I’m a stranger here myself (Bill Bryson)
  13. The Lost Continent (Bill Bryson)
  14. Sand Omnibus (Hugh Howey)
  15. Blood in the skies [Hellfire chronicles] (G.D. Falksen)
  16. The Long Earth (Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett)
  17. Infidel (Ayaan Hirsi Ali)
  18. Daughter of Isis: The Autobiography of Nawal El Saadawi
  19. The Long War (Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett)
  20. Auferstehung der Toten (Wolf Haas)
  21. Der Knochenmann (Wolf Haas)
  22. Komm, süßer Tod (Wolf Haas)
  23. Silentium! (Wolf Haas)
  24. Wie die Tiere (Wolf Haas)
  25. Das ewige Leben (Wolf Haas)
  26. Avatar: The last airbender  – The Promise
  27. Avatar: The last airbender  – The Search
  28. Fortunately, the milk (Neil Gaiman)
  29. Brennerova (Wolf Haas)
  30. The Long Mars (Stephen Baxter, Terry Pratchett)


Actually I’ve already read the Brenner books years ago. But they are so agreeable that they warranted a re-reading session.

Skirt experiments

After reading some tutorials I came up with a simple recipe for bubble skirts:

  • take jersey fabric and sew a waistband (about 3/4 of hip circumference, for me it’s about 75cm wide, and  20cm long, to get a 10cm wide waistband)
  • take a rectangle of about 100x200cm, so you get a finished skirt with about 50cm length and a seam of 200cm
  • sew to a tube at 100cm side edges
  • start the skirt seam: fold one end of the tube to 120cm (a very generous measure of my lower hip)
  • add pouf: take 3 layers of tulle (I just folded 1.5m of tulle to get 3 layers of 50cm length) and pin it to skirt
  • fold skirt fabric tube in half
  • fold remaining raw edge of tube to match the skirt seam (for me it’s 120cm again)
  • pin waistband to skirt seam
    • you have to stretch it to match skirt seam
    • I rotated the two folded seams 90 degrees because I hoped this would give the skirt more volume
  • sew skirt and waistband together using a straight stitch
  • voilà


No. 1


No. 2 is a bit longer, but with narrower hem  (140cm), and rotated 180 instead of 90 degrees, which resulted in a tulip shape


And something completely different: a recycled men’s long skirt cut down to match my body




The mantis garden W2014

Gestehen wir uns ein: dieser Sommer ist Geschichte. Daher habe ich mich schlau gemacht, ob und wie man diverse Gemüschen überwintern kann.

Zucchini sind einjährig, daher gibt es nicht zu überwintern.

BlackAngels Tomatenspende ist riesengroß geworden und hat verhältnismäßig wenig getragen, daher überlege ich mir noch, ob ich es kommendes Jahr noch einmal versuchen werde -j etzt wo ich weiß, was Ausgeizen ist, könnte ich die Staude ja besser kontrollieren :)
Die nondeskripte “Naschtomate” hat sich trotz Blattlausbefall und auch sonst sehr lausigem August so bemüht, daß ich die gewonnenen Samen aufbewahren, und auch ev. gleich ein oder zwei davon einsetzen werde, um zu sehen, wie das im Winter funktioniert. An und für sich sind Tomaten ja mehrjährig, sie vertragen nur keinen Frost.

Hatte ich heuer im Sommer keine, aber es spricht nichts dagegen, ein paar Samen auszusäen und zu schauen was passiert. Aus einer gekauften Biopaprika (Gelber Stierhorn) habe ich etliche Samen gewonnen. Ich werde kommendes Jahr im Herbst welche säen, weil man Paprika angeblich überwintern kann.

Basilikum und Koriander wurden einfach ins Warme gestellt und beerntet.
Minze, Petersilie und Schnittlauch wurden mal versuchsweise im Freien überwintert, aber irgendwann sind sie dann doch vertrocknet.

Following his dreams

My brother-in-law has been dead for over a year now. He was 52 when he died of lung cancer. He had smoked for years and years as young adult, so that might have been the cause.

He and my sister were married for over 20 years, after they met at his workplace; she often took the tram he operated to reach her workplace, and he helped her (she is blind). They got a flat together, had two kids, then managed to fulfill their dream of buying a house to have more space. Later on they moved back to where he grew up, and built their own house nearby, completely made of wood. They were not even finished with the interior when he was diagnosed.

I remember him as a family man; he quit his job and stayed at home to help my sister, and he started selling the things he made as a self-trained wood worker. As soon they started living in a house, he always had his own work room filled with wood, machines, half-done figurines, and wood chips on the floor and the smell of cut wood everywhere. He was a do-it-yourselfer and fixed many things around their house, and he made beautifully carved furniture.

He had a short temper when he was younger, but he learned to control it, and I remember the many amiably discussions we had when I visited them – for example he had a thing for reading von Daeniken, about ancient astronaut theories and the like, and we would argue animatedly our respective points of view. He loved to motocycle and would often take me for a ride during summer. And he loved to cook and to have lots of people sitting around his kitchen table.

His family loved him very much, and he will be remembered.

Everyday sewing fortnight

Just like the historical sewing fortnight (HSF), I made an everyday wear list for myself. I like comfortable clothes, and my colour palette is mostly limited to black, greys, and berry colours, sometimes shades of green.

Some outfits are half-done and need some editing, others are in the planning stage.


#1 The sheath dress: I have a nice Burda pattern for that, and the fabric as well.

#2 Wardrobe update: way back I made a simple skirt from wool and some heavy upholstery fabric. And I made a very big jacket with Victorian overtones which is half-finished. And now I don’t like the jacket very much anymore, which calls for a creative salvation process.

#3 Wardrobe update: a red skirt. No, it did not die. It just refused to come together in an outfit until now (see also #8)

#4 Skirt: I have no warm little black skirt (LBS), but I have the fabric. And inspiration such as this felt skirt.

#5 Wardrobe update: there’s a shirt and a green skirt which are done, and plans for a jacket, but I’m no longer sure how I want it to look.

#6 The grey skirt: there it is. I haven’t worn it since the wedding, so it clearly needs some styling.

#7 The night out: I have fabric for these leggings.

#8 The black jack(et): yes, I need one.

#9 The irritating case of making trousers: I really need to make a simple pattern for trousers.

#10 Wardrobe update: a green dress is being revived.

#11 The dark mori: simple and comfy.

#12 Wardrobe update: a maxi skirt.

#13 Dark mori layers: this shawl/poncho looks easy enough, but this one has a better shape..

#14 Romantic pullover. Knit for knat…

#15 Dark mori layers: striped grey knitwear for a sleeveless dress/tunic thingie.

#16 Accessories: loop scarves and a bag, small but nice.

#17 Dark mori layers: voluminous skirt (doubles as petticoat)

#18 Dark mori layers: sleeveless (under)dress with lace seam. Useful also for hot summers.

#19 A quilted vest: a vest like this one, but made from wool/felt.

#20 Wardrobe update: a maxi dress.

#21 Recycling: I turned an XL men’s long skirt  into a me-sized short skirt. Bonus: it has pockets!

#22 A coat: I like this one als well as this coat pattern.

#23 skirts: DIY bubble skirts and a stripey skirt I only sew because I want to test a theory.

#24 a piece from Pattern Magic: Stretch fabric.




Wardrobe rescue: a crotchet maxi skirt

On sale a whim, a few years ago I bought a beautiful layered Lip Service skirt. I rarely wear it because I am not sure about styling it to its best effect – it is high-waisted, and the high waist is styled as a wide off-white – cummerbund? that is tied at the back or at the sides. For my taste it’s too much fabric, so I simply removed the high waist and shortened the zipper.

Here’s the cummerbund-thingy after the operation:


I added several rows of lace at the skirt bottom seam, for good measure (skirt was a bit too short for me :) )




Isn’t the crochet lace just beautiful?



Ghawazee coat

As I try to keep the contents of my clothing containers to a sane level, some creativity happens whenever I find something I made years ago, cannot/do not want to give away, but will not wear anymore.

Among other things, there’s a fantasy dress that falls in this category of clothes.


It would be really easy to turn it into a Ghawazee coat. At least that’s my theory. I cut the dress up in the front, next step: shaping the top seam.



Eat like a pirate day

September 19, time for a hearty stew:

Fry up 100g of smoked tofu and 1 small onion, add 3 cloves garlic, and add half a bottle of dark beer. Simmer for about 20 minutes after adding 200g of mushrooms, 1 stick celery,, 1-2 carrots and one large potato, and some thyme and rosemary.

Eat, drink lots of beer and sing pirate songs. ARRRRRRRR!