a norwegian sewing meet-up

Preface: This is a lengthy post and so I decided to break it down into two parts:
1. A re-cap of the trip 
2. My Wiksten Kimono

The Trip:

….this spring I asked Allie if she wanted to head over to Norway with me to visit our friend Fleurine……she said yes and we booked it…..

Allie and I met up at the O’Hare airport on August 1st in Chicago and wound up in Oslo, Norway approximately 14 hours later. We crashed that night and thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary, but heavenly decadent, breakfast spread the next morning. I ate my body weight in smoked salmon (laks) and some sauce that I couldn’t get enough of. I needed an intravenous supply of coffee that morning, but apparently the Scandic hotel chain doesn’t have that available. I chugged about three cups of European style coffee and we headed to the Viking Museum, followed by an al fresco lunch at the harbor in Oslo.

That evening we boarded a plane to our final destination: Tromso. I let Fleurine know that our flight was on time and her response ended with “….and Gjert is making moose for dinner”. I spent the whole flight wondering if she was serious or not……but kind of knew that she wasn’t kidding. I was eating moose for dinner and I was pumped! Little did I know that I’d also be eating reindeer and whale before I left the island of Tromso.

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Fleurine and Isak (she pronounces it eee-sac) gave us a warm welcome at the airport and  as we emerged through the airport exit, Allie and I simultaneously exclaimed “Oh my God, look at those mountains!” That stunning landscape that you see in Fleurine’s pictures is visible from 360 degrees wherever you’re standing. Awe-inspiring beauty surrounds Tromso and it’s breathtaking.

We devoured our moose dinner (think beef stroganoff but with moose meat) and headed to bed around 11pm, even though sun light still poured in through the windows.

Over the next few days, Fleurine and Gjert were the most gracious of hosts. We went fabric shopping, yarn shopping, and ate lots of bread and cheese. Fabric, yarn, bread, and cheese. Sounds nice, right?  Specifically, brown cheese which is a Norwegian staple. Brown cheese is made by boiling the whey from goat’s milk down to the point where the sugar caramelizes and thickens. It was dense and delicious.

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During all of our outings we just chatted on and on about sewing, the sewing community, baby stuff, hiking, Norwegian culture, American culture, more sewing.

Our friendship just comes so easily and it’s amazing to think that it started from double tapping photos in our Instagram feeds.

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The highlight of the trip was the scenery! We went on two unforgettable hikes. The scenery of Tromso is indelibly etched in my memory. It was so serene and beautiful and calming. The water was deep and clean and crystal clear. It wasn’t as salty as other oceans I’ve been to. The light was so different. It was indescribable and the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

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Allie and I left August 8th to head back to Oslo for one more night. It was a sad goodbye and I miss Fleurine and baby Isak. They were so fun to be around and it was amazing to watch Fleurine as a mom. She’s so good with that sweet baby.

Thank you, Fleurine. I couldn’t have asked for a better time in Tromso. You were the best hostess and such an amazing friend. I can’t wait to hang out again.

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For our last night in Oslo we went fabric shopping at Stoff and Stil which was so fun! We were pretty good and didn’t buy too much, primarily because we were low on room in our suitcases! We ate dinner and headed to bed early.

We left Oslo early that next morning for the long trek home. It was long indeed but we both made it home safely! The icing on the cake was getting to meet Teri Dodds in real life! She picked us up from the airport, ignored our weary, sticky state and took us out for hot dogs. It was magical and just what we needed to get over the next leg of the trip! She’s just as fabulous as I imagined!

I was with Allie for nine days straight (some of those days were very taxing and tiring) and I can tell you that she’s an incredibly smart and gifted person. I couldn’t ask for a better friend and travel companion. We travelled well together, which is a sign of true friendship.

The Wiksten Kimono

During our second hike, Allie snapped some pictures of my Wiksten Kimono. This fabric deserved to be photographed with a breathtaking backdrop.

This Wiksten Kimono is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. I bought the paper pattern from the lovely ladies at Hart’s Fabric. I wanted to make this pattern for so long but could never decide on which fabric to use which was strange for me because I’m usually decisive about my fabric choices.

When Stonemountain and Daughter posted this handwoven ikat I knew that it was THE fabric and no other that I wanted to use. Note: I got a message from Catherine at SMD saying that this fabric is sold out but it’s available for pre-orders here!

It has a higher price point than what I was used to but it’s handwoven fabric, stunning, and I will never ever tire of it. It was worth it to me. I would like to offer two recommendations for this fabric:

  1. If you plan to pre-wash this fabric (which you should) you must serge or zigzag stitch the raw edges. Because it is handwoven, the edges will fray quite a bit if you don’t do this step. I washed mine on a cold/warm delicate cycle and dried it in the dryer on medium. It came out beautifully soft and luscious.
  2. The weave is taught and stable on the right side of the fabric but has a looser weave on the wrong side. Because of this, I would recommend choosing a pattern with a lining so it can protect this loose weave. Otherwise it could get caught on things. I really think the Wiksten Kimono is this fabric’s ideal pairing.

This fabric presses well and was easy to work with. Even though it was lined, I still serged all the raw edges of the ikat AND the linen, just to prevent fraying at the seams. I think that was probably overkill but it made me feel better.

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I made a size XS. My measurements are 35, 28, 39 and my muslin for the size small was just a little bigger than what I wanted.  I decided to cut the size XS and used the vertical grade from the size small for a little extra length. The construction of the jacket was very simple and the instructions were clear and easy to follow. The lining fabric I used was a 55/45 linen/rayon blend from Joann’s.

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I made it semi-reversible. I downgraded it to “semi-reversible” because I didn’t add pockets to both sides. I love the black linen side as well and the pockets are so large on the inside of the jacket that I can still access them easily.

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This trip was unbelievable. While I was on the trip I was fully aware of how lucky I was to be on a trip like this, but it’s only now after a couple days of being home that it’s really sinking in. I encourage you to foster your relationships with women you meet in the sewing community. Every women I’ve met on my sewing journey has improved my self-confidence, knowledge, style, and awareness in some way or another……the connections I’ve made have even taken me halfway around the world and that’s pretty spectacular.

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6 Comments

  1. Your trip sounds like it was totally amazing! I am constantly amazed at how great my online sewing friends are and have quite a few that I hope to meet in the future. Your kimono is beautiful and so are all of these photos. I am adding that to the long list of things that I want to make in the not so distant future!

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  2. What an amazing trip! This sewing community rocks, and it’s so awesome to see the friendship develop and grow! And your Wilksten is absolutely gorgeous, especially surrounded by that scenery!!

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  3. It looks like an incredible trip! And the scenery, such drama and looks like something right out of Lord of the Rings. The kimono is gorgeous. Great fabric choice, and sweet that it’s reversible. Two outfits in one totally justify that fabric purchase.

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  4. Wonderful post. Love, love the kimono. Your post brought back wonderful memories of a family trip to Norway with our son, daughter in law and 2 teenage grandchildren in 2009 planned by my Norwegian cousin. We began in Oslo for several days then a flight to Tromso for a day and then a cruise down the coast to Trondheim and then a week long drive through the interior of Norway. In addition to the spectacular scenery we found fabric and yarn shops at every stop. Thank you for bringing back those wonderful memories.

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