And I’m off!

When you read this, I’m on the train to the south of France… Heading to beach, sun, ocean, seafood…. I’m ready for a break and I can’t wait to do nothing. Blogging included – I haven’t scheduled any posts! I will post some snapshots on my Instagram account, so make sure to follow me if you want some summer impressions  :) I hope you have a nice time as well, see you in two weeks!

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protoyping

It was my last week at the internship and it was intense – I worked almost twelve hours on one day (we did have pizza and prosecco at the end)!  But it was also very rewarding, we finished a lot of projects and it looks like everything is coming together now (and now I’m leaving, perfect timing, hahah). I also finished the protoype of a special new product – I love it. It’s so pretty :) Above is a mini-preview… more to come!

Loden Steiner

Loden

First and foremost: Loden is not felt. Yes, the fabric is felted, but (and here is the difference) it was a woven fabric before. Felt are just loose fibres pressed and matted together. Loden is finer, has a higher quality, takes more effort to produce and is also more expensive. My boss (I don’t like to call her that, because we speak on the same level and this sounds just way too formal, but what other word could I use?) is very particular about this distinction – she works with Loden and is not very pleased when people confuse the two :)

There are  a handful of companies that produce authentic Loden in Austria and one of them is Steiner1888. Located at the border from Salzburg to Styria, in the shadow of the Dachstein, it is a typical Austrian family business, now in the 5th generation. Personal connection: My Grandfather was good friends with the son of the founder (my father is from Schladming, which is only 6 km away). Steiner doesn’t only produce the Loden itself (which they sadly don’t sell individually), but also blankets and pillows.

Steiner 1888

I visited the factory the other week together with my boss, because she is currently working on a new product for a creative/innovative competition (more about that once it is official, because I made the pattern, protoype and gave a lot of general imput and obviously want to share that with you). And she wants to use a special Loden for it: ‘Schladminger‘, a beautiful mottled cloth, a very tradtional fabric and my personal favourite (click on the link for a picture). So we discussed terms, talked about possible collaborations and where quite successful.

After the meeting, it was time to visit the factory – I love these kinds of things. Going behind the scenes is always the most exciting part! I was surprised to learn that they produce everything in this comparably small building. And they do everything themselves, from fibre to finished cloth. We started at the very beginnig: The mixing of the wool. They use sheep, alpaca, angora and mohair, and tend to blend several different fibres, to get the best results. They don’t dye themselves, but the wool is dyed before it is spund – on that day, there was a mix of white and black, which is later on turned into the classic ‘Bergen‘ Loden – a slightly mottled, beautiful grey. At first, the flocks are turned into a loose fleece, which gets then slightly twisted (called teasing) and eventually spun. (excuse the phone pictures)

flocks - loden steiner

teasing - loden steiner

spinning - loden steiner

In the next floor are the weaving machines. The fabric is woven rather loosely, the felting later on makes it thick, dense and durable. They use a plain weave (with several derivations)  or a broken twill weave (so they don’t  get visible diagonal lines) for their fabrics. Remember when I visited Linz Textil last year? The procces of spinning and weaving is essentially the same.

yarn - loden steiner

weaving - loden steiner

schladminger weave - loden steiner

The next step is where  the magic happens. The cloth gets fulled – it’s treated with water, heat and pressure and turns from a coarse, loose fabric into a soft, luxurious, beautiful Loden. ‘Bergen’ and ‘Schladminger’ are still produced on the original Hammerwalke – The old felting hammer that came into service in 1888.

hammerwalke - loden steiner

loden - loden steiner

Finishing touches are applied (napping, trimming, pressing) and the the fabric is ready to use: Either packed and shipped or turned into blankets and pillows in the workshop on site. The full breakdown of the production is also described on their website, I would recommend you take a look (there is good/full picture of the felting hammer, which looks awesome in real life).

As I said before, I love having a look behind the scenes and seeing the production of this wonderful fabric was exciting and interesting. I so wish I could buy the fabric! Maybe next time, if I ask nicely? I would make an Albion coat out of it, I bought (and already printed) the pattern a couple of weeks ago – it would be an absolute dream :)

 

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steiner 1888

What a week! Very busy, very tiring, but mostly good (see below). I went to Mandling (very close to Schladming, in Styria) with my boss, where she had a meeting with the manager of Steiner 1888 – a company that produces high-quality Loden. She uses their fabric for her products and discussed some new projects and possible collaborations. Afterwards, we also got a tour through the factory – I’ll post more about that next week!

The non-highlight (which I’m mentioning, because, hey, that doesn’t happen to me all the time): I cut my finger. Badly. And I didn’t  just cut into it…. I wasn’t careful enough with the rotary cutter, and when I realised what had happened, it was already to late. Oh well, at least it doesn’t hurt anymore….. The lesson learned – keep your fingers away from the blade and not too close to edge of the ruler, if you’re using one!

Off-White

easy summer top

What do you do with less than a metre of fabric, a remnant of a past project (my graduation collection, in this case)? Well, I made a simple summer top this time. It’s loose, breezy and was super fast to make… A winner!

The fabric is 100% cotton batiste, slightly sheer, very light-weight, in an off-white, creme colour. The pattern for the top is self-drafted, it has darts at the bust, and grown-own sleeves. The wide neckline was actually an accident (I didn’t want it to be that wide), but I’m really happy with it now – I can wear it off-shoulder, or just on one shoulder, however I want. Neckline and hems are finished with tiny rolled hems, the sides and shoulders are sewn together with french seams.

There’s not much else to say about this top, only that I wear it whenever I can: It’s simply perfect for summer! And so easy to make… Sometimes I just need these instant-gratification projects, they give me a real boost :)

easy summer top

easy summer top

easy summer top

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re-upholstered

This post is so, so late and the reason for it can be seen above: I spent Friday to Monday re-upholstering this couch. The old cover was already torn and the fabric had a busy pattern that was slightly irritating – my brother always covered it up with a blanket. But he decided he finally wanted a new cover and enlisted me to do the job.

The first difficulty was finding the right fabric and we ended up at Ikea, were we bought 6m of 100% linen (in grey) and 3m of the plaid fabric (100% cotton). The second problem – the cover was ‘permanent’, not meant to be changed, so I had to rip everything off and completely open the back of the couch and screw parts apart so I could reach all the seams. That took quite some time and was harder than it sounds. After sewing (there are few actual seams), the electronic tacker was my best friend. I could not have done it without one.

All in all, it was a lot of work, but I think it paid off. The couch is completely transformed and while it might not be perfect (why are there folds? we pulled it so tight!), it works and looks fine. My nieces approve! :)

Jumping with Joy

A while ago, I promised my younger sister to make her debutante dress – she was opening the ball of a dancing school (and several other balls) and needed a long, white dress. I think it was my Christmas gift for her, the ball was at the beginning of February and we finally took some pictures of the dress when I was in Salzburg (almost a month ago). But because it took us so long, we decided to have some fun (she suddenly started jumping)…

debutante dress

The dress is By Hand London’s Anna dress, with some modifications: I created a new bustier neckline, by simply redrawing the neckline in the front and back, making sure it would be high enough to cover her bra. I did mess it up underneath the arms, the curve there isn’t right, but if I hadn’t told you, you might not have noticed. She also wanted some lace details and I had purchased some wide lace trim – basically netting with embroidery along one edge. I originally wanted the lace to be horizontal, but then she couldn’t move her arms above her head, but that was absolutely necessary  for the dance. So after many tries, pinning and repinning, I came up with the idea to cut the lace in two pieces and join them again, with a small seam in the front – you can see the result below.

The fabric is a cotton sateen in white (not the brightest white, slightly broken, but it looks blinding in these pictures) and has a very subtle sheen. It is otherwise completely plain, which is exactly how my sister wanted it. Also, the dress is fully lined – that made finishing the neckline a lot easier and the sateen is slightly sheer on its own.

What’s more to say? She obviously had to wear it with long white gloves (I hate them) and her dancing shoes, so the dress is a bit shorter than your average long dress – 3cm above the ground, but that really depends on the hight of the heels. Anyway, I think she really liked it, I think it looks good and shooting the photos was fun (and crazy). What more could you want?

debutante dress

Some more serious pictures, so you can actually see the dress :)

debutante dress

debutante dress

debutante dress