Saturday, 22 November 2014

sewing for an 11-inch doll

I had to interrupt my regular sewing when I got call from Canada requesting Barbie clothes for Christmas ... My niece is only 5 but she discovered, in my mom's house, the box of Barbies my sister and I played with as kids - and now there is no turning back.  

(Luckily I had some scraps of pepita fabric from my coat project.)

 I hope this fits my niece's vision, because the last time I was home she had very definite ideas about what Barbie should wear, and even drew the pattern pieces out for me.
I wish I had brought these drawings back with me! They were so cute, I should have framed them.  
Hopefully this McCalls pattern for a cape with matching trousers, a hat and a purse will do the trick. Who knew there was such a thing as Barbie sewing patterns?  

In the meantime I hope to finish the adult size version this week-end.

Happy sewing everyone.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Burda 3/2012

I finished the first of my planned two coats last week-end and took it for a spin on a goregous leafy autumn day in Hyde Park.  
It's Burda's Collarless Open Coat, an easy and satisfying pattern to work with.  I found the fabric for the top part of the coat in a remnant bin, for about £12.  There was less than a metre to work with, so I had to split the pattern in two. I sourced the charcoal grey wool for the bottom from my local fabric store.  With lining the whole thing cost me maybe £30 (I've seen similar collarless coats are selling in Zara for £89)
 I love having the flexibility of a centre back seam, for a relatively quick sewing project.  I was too lazy to make a muslin for this (I had to get it outside before the leaves fell!) and from experience knew the back was going to be a little wide on me - it was easy to take out another inch of fabric after sewing and then modify the pattern for the lining.
It was really the perfect autumn afternoon and we couldn't resist trying to capture the feeling on camera.  If you don't care for self-indulgent-frolicking-in-the-autumn-leaves photos, look away now...
This is one I will make again, though I might put some heavier interfacing at the centre front, to stop it from popping out a little.  Or, maybe add a hook and eye closure.  Does anyone have a sure fire solution for this?

Happy week-end and happy sewing, I am getting started on coat number two!  

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!