Friday, 24 October 2014

crafty in cooler weather

We've been so lucky to have a very long and warm autumn here in London, but with the cooler temperatures came a bit of relief and excitement - to finally stay inside and get stuck into a few projects in the evenings without that nagging, "go outside it's beautiful!" guilt...

 From top left, clockwise: I've sewn a couple of easy "work skirts" using rectangular fabric remnants (more on these to come); got started on some Christmas stockings based on projects in Scandinavian Needlecraft; I was lucky to spend a couple of hours in a jewellery making workshop at the Southbank Centre drinking wine and learning from the very creative and inspiring Hariet from Tatty Devine; I finally covered a bolster that needed refreshing with this architectural fabric - a belated cotton anniversary gift for my hubby (who am I kidding, it's for myself...)

I'm really excited about a couple of new projects I'm starting for the winter using some nice and sturdy cooler weather fabric I scored recently - I think I'll draft one myself and for the other use this Burda pattern.

Anyone else get excited for rainy, cooler days?

Have a cozy week-end.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

oktoberfest dirndl

Thank you for the lovely comments on our wedding photos! In the autumn after our wedding we celebrated Oktoberfest at Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart, a wedding gift from a dear cousin and her husband.

I had plans to go the whole hog - sew a complete Dirndl with vest and blouse, but in my last-minute style I ended up whipping up this BurdaWiesn Dirndl pattern, the morning before our flight.
As you might imagine, we were a too busy singing, drinking and oom-pah-pahing to stop to take any very good photos...I shall leave you with these...
A super week-end.  But, if  I ever get a do-over, I'm going to make that vest.  And the hubby is getting a pair of Lederhosen.

I think a wheat beer is calling my name...
Ein Prosit!

Monday, 22 September 2014

my wedding dress

Did anyone else catch Channel 4's "This Old Thing", hosted by vintage clothes lover and journalist Dawn O'Porter, this summer?  The show aimed to get people to try vintage instead of fast fashion, and as part of it she took vintage-phobes into their mother's / grandmother's / aunt's closets and turned dated but sentimental pieces into something new and fresh.  I was completely hooked.

My own mother has held onto a few key pieces that I've been lucky to wear through the years - the first was a LBD for a highschool formal when I was about 16 (and still wear today)!

A more recent score was for a very special day a couple of years ago...
...the dress my mother wore on my parents' wedding day - a late 60's lace shift with sunray pleats.
I need to confess that I LOVE weddings.  I've been planning mine since I, in diapers, watched on TV as Princess Diana climbed the steps of St. Paul's in her meringue confection.

My actual wedding turned out differently - we eloped on short notice with only four guests.  My mom had the foresight to bring her dress, which she found while packing, "just in case".  Luckily the only adjustment I needed was a blue velvet ribbon from John Lewis, turned into a belt.   
I did toy with making my own, but realised nights spent over my sewing maching was not the kind of stress I needed with the clock ticking.  (By the way, hats - or veils -  off to the bloggers who have pulled it off, like Selfish Seamstress, Orchids in May, Julia Bobbin, So Zo...I'm sure there are many more. I am in awe.)
My veil is by the ultra talented Myra at Twigs and Honey
You could say, sometimes the perfect frock just needs a little love.  (Sorry, couldn't resist :)
Has anyone else out there raided a family member's closet for a vintage piece?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Look mom, no hem!

I made this silk dress for a wedding we're going to in Spain.  If you look closely you might notice that something is missing...

Have you spotted it?  A hemline without a seam!  I don't know about you, but sewing a hem is probably my least favourite part of the sewing process, especially when I'm using delicate fabrics like silk. It drives me crazy.

My hubby, knowing my hang-up, got to talking to someone who laser cuts all kinds of materials and hey-presto, I have a silk dress and I don't have to stitch the hem!

Now if only he could find me some fairies who fit and insert center back zips...

Happy week-end x

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Travel Skirt

I really wish I could take credit for this one.
A couple of summers ago at home in Canada I experienced a bit of sewing serendipity.   I was in Fabricland admiring a bolt of bright flowered fabric, when an elegantly dressed "grand-mรจre" next to me (think the French Canadian version of Anne from the first series of Sewing Bee) started talking to me (in French) about the qualities of the brightly bloomed fabric.  Most importantly, she thought, it was the perfect match for a skirt she just finished sewing, and pulled out from her purse a compact bundle of accordion folded fabric.
I watched in awe as mon amie carefully unfolded each panel to reveal a knife pleated linen skirt and (still oblivious to the fact that I was not bilingual) went on to excitedly list the merits of the pattern.  I used my best Grade 12 french, along with some arm and leg gestures, to learn this clever little skirt was ideal for traveling:  it folds up neatly in a suitcase, doesn't take a lot of space, resists wrinkling, is light and cool in the summer heat but slightly structured with a bit of "je ne sais quoi" about it which, of course, would look perfect with the aforementioned fabric (the flowered fabric is too loud for a dress, mon amie insisted, but would make a great blouse.  I wonder if she would approve of what it became!)
 The image of  my elegant friend and the enthusiastic way she talked about the pattern stayed with me for a long while until earlier this year I finally sat down and, with an exhaustive Google keyword search, discovered the pattern:
It turns out the pattern was designed by the talented and accomplished Kathryn Brenne of the Academy of Sewing and Design who, I also discovered to my delight, lives a not far from my hometown - which makes it all the more special to me.  (See Kathryn's profile in The Guardian, here)
The Travel Skirt was easy and super satisfying to sew and simple to modify to your size, made up of a number of panels.  I just added an extra panel to get a perfect fit.
Whether you're far from home for a short or a long while, crossing cultures or crossing a canal on a slow boat, I think every seamstress needs a Travel Skirt in her wardrobe.
Bon Voyage!

Friday, 20 June 2014

the eve of summer

If you're looking for a quick sewing project this week-end to officially welcome in the northern hemisphere summer, why not try this pattern shared on Burdastyle by member ginasophia, and originally from the Japanese pattern book Nonchalant Feminine Style by Sasahara Noriko.
 I loved ginasophia's crisp white sleeveless version so much I made mine exactly the same, with the help of some soft oxford shirting from Ray-Stitch 

 Happy summer and happy sewing!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

cutting corners tutorial

Hello everyone!
Here's a quick tutorial I put together before the Big Move and never had a chance to post.  It's a how-to on sewing corner pieces together - have you tried this?  
I didn't even realise that I didn't know how to sew corners like this, until I sewed myself into one  (more mentally, than physically) and was rescued by a brilliant sewing instructor who showed me the way out of my right-angle traffic jam... and then the possibilities opened up.
 For this tutorial, Fabric 1 is the flowered fabric and Fabric 2 is the pink fabric.
See diagram below:
*Lay Fabric 2 face down on top of Fabric 1 (right sides together).  
*Match the edges of the first seam you are going to sew. (Here, the top edge of Fabric 1)  
*Stitch down the length of your first steam and stop at a pivot point, where the two corners diverge
*When you get to the pivot point, drop your needle in the fabric and lift your sewing machine foot.
*With scissors, snip the top fabric only (Fabric 2) close to the needle, but not all the way through to the needle.  
*Pivot both pieces of fabric clockwise 90 degrees, so that the second stitch line is in sewing position.  Open the top fabric (Fabric 2 - the one you just snipped) and pull it around clockwise so that it matches the edge of Fabric 1.
Don't overthink this -- as my wise sewing instructor said, "it will be obvious!"
*Sew down the length of the second seam.
It's really worth practicing this a few times before you try this on your favourite fabric.  
I got a little impatient on this blouse and didn't do a few practice runs first...with this there's really no going back!
This is a handy little trick when you have two pieces of fabric, neither big enough to be a blouse on their own.  Simply draw seamlines onto an existing pattern, add seam allowances and stitch together as above.

Happy Sewing!