Monday, 29 July 2013

We’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of...

...Goldhawk Road! Ok, so admittedly that makes no sense, but it was magical and all on one road, which, in certain lights, you could pretend it was yellow. No? Ok, moving on...
This weekend, for the first time ever, I visited the infamous (in the sewing-sphere) Goldhawk Road, and, as I predicted, fell madly in love! Forgive my gushing review if you are a frequenter of this street, but with it being my first trip, I felt like Charlie stepping into the Chocolate Factory (do I want to reference anymore classic films in this post?!*)
Fabric shops lined both sides of the street and they were filled with people – it was great to see so many people who love to sew all in one place (for the most part, watching people fighting over remnants can wear thin after a while...)
Where I live, fabric shops are in short supply and when you do find them, the variety can be limited and you can expect to pay on average between £7-£17 per metre. One of the reasons I make my own clothes is to be cost efficient, so when you are spending more on materials than it would cost to buy a dress on the high street, this justification is hard to make. Though, as my friend Sophie who came with me asked; “why do you need a justification to buy fabric?” An excellent point, my friend - I will shop with you again!
Sadly (and stupidly) I didn’t make a note of the names of all the shops I went to, instead we searched each shop in turn and mentally made a list of our favourite prints, if I had been on my own I would probably have bought something in each shop, only realising afterwards that I like something even more in the next one - I think this has been another lesson for me – don’t buy fabric alone!
Each shop had more fabric than I could fathom, sometimes, this almost became a hindrance, I probably missed some lovely fabric because I was blinded by all the others - oh well, I guess I'll just have to visit again, what a pity! In one of the shops, the owner was telling me that there is a chance his shop, and 3 others around it, may be redeveloped, he didn’t go into great detail, but I really hope this doesn’t happen! If anyone knows anything more about this I’d love to know.
Once we had revisited each shop (twice) we took a slight detour to Shepherd’s Bush market on a hunt for feathers resembling a hummingbird (as one does) and somehow found ourselves in another fabric shop tucked away behind one of the stalls - oops. In my world of excitement, I completely forgot to check the name, but I know exactly where it is so, I will definitely find it again! (I've just realised how very unhelpful this post is "I once went somewhere I can't remember which was near somewhere else the name of which escapes me..." - sorry everyone!)
In the shop, we were swiftly greeted by a man who revelled in telling us that the store was family owned and had been there for 94 years, he was such a character and was so passionate about his work and fabrics – particularly in telling me that one of the fabrics I was looking at was only for “old ladies” to buy – I’m frequently told by my boyfriend that I am old before my time, so this didn’t faze me at all! Aside from the great personalities in the shop, I was/am staggered by the prices, which ranged from £1 – £1.25 per metre!! (I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaws up from the floor) there is no way that you can go wrong at prices like that. Do the prices of fabrics as mentioned earlier stop me from sewing? No. Do they stop me experimenting with different projects and fabrics? Maybe. So when I found sheer fabrics that would make beautiful blouses and silky textures that I have up until now avoided, how could I refuse? As I discussed in my Miette post, choosing fabric for a project stresses me out, so being able to stock up and barely spend a thing took this pressure away and I am so excited to experiment!
Goldhawk Road “I’ll be back” (*yes, I do!)
I am in love with this bird print fabric! I have to make sure that whatever I create with it is really special.
Apparently, this fabric was also bought by a Buyer for Topshop - no pressure!
I think this will make a beautiful dress - the colour and pattern will look great all year round!
I love the cute flowers and am very into mustardy yellows at the moment.

   I couldn't resist this lovely yellow and blue - especially at £1.25 per metre!
I think that the pattern looks like tiny life rings

For a long time I have wanted to make a sheer blouse but have been afraid to - with such a bargain, I'm prepared to give it a go!


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Miette Skirt

Miette Skirt

It has taken me a while to get round to writing this post, but things have been pretty hectic and I wanted to do it some justice – to be honest, I also wanted to get some posts under my belt first so I could find my blogging rhythm – has anyone else struggled with that when starting out?
Anyway, not to add to the pressure I've already piled onto myself, I’ll get to the point: For my birthday last month, after I had opened my cards and received a lifetime supply of buttons (to be discussed in a later blog) I opened the last envelope from my parents, which revealed that I was booked on to Tilly Walne's Miette Skirt sewing class! When I unfolded the booking confirmation, I'm pretty sure that my squeals of excitement were heard by those down by the pool (we were on holiday, alas, I don’t have my own pool).
Back to the gift, I have, for a long time, been a big fan of Tilly's blog Tilly and the Buttons and her Mathilde Blouse has been one of my favourite makes to date (seriously, I've made it twice already - see here -  and am even making it into a dress!) if anyone hasn’t heard of Tilly’s blog, firstly, hello! Where have you been?! and secondly, you have to take a look – it is a must for anyone interested in sewing. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, Tilly was also one of the contestants on this years’ amazing Great British Sewing Bee!
The skirt I was to make was a beautifully simple wrap skirt, with no fiddly zips or buttonholes to have to contend with (perfect for all skill levels) finished off with a gorgeous bow that fastens at the centre front. The pattern includes optional patch pockets at the front, cute, flirty and practical!
I was sent through an email in advance of the course, advising me of what I needed to do in preparation. I had to print off and assemble the sewing pattern which was sent through as a PDF. Having made the Mathilde blouse, I was comfortable with piecing together the pattern, so nothing to cause any stress.
What did cause me a little personal crisis though, was my fabric. As soon as I saw the gorgeous pattern, I pictured using a cute pink polka dot fabric I have had in my collection for a while. Thankfully, I thought to measure the material to ensure I had the right amount, only to find that I didn't - eek! I did deliberate over using the material anyway and hoping for the best, but concluded that, if ever there was a time to have the exact amount of fabric specified on a pattern, this was it! To the fabric shop I went! One of the things I struggle with before starting a project, is what material I should use, I have been known to spend an hour in a haberdashery (yesterday morning) whilst deciding on what fabric to buy, so having to change my fabric plans at such short notice was less than ideal!
In the end, I went for a greenish-teal colour, perfect for the summer and I could picture some ideal tops in my wardrobe to wear with it. (I won’t lie though, midway through making the skirt, I feared that the colour made it resemble anything from hospital scrubs through to a gardening apron – but I quickly quashed these fears by mentally accessorising in a way that would look completely inappropriate in both a hospital and a flowerbed!)
Armed with my new fabric, rolled up pattern and matching thread, I set off for the Thrifty Stitcher in Stoke Newington on my crafty quest! Once I eventually found the unit (I have been described as geographically challenged by some) I was instantly excited by the line of sewing machines, fabrics and patterns pinned on the walls – my ideal setting!
There were only four tutees booked into the lesson, myself and a wonderful mother-daughter trio from Belgium who provided numerous entertaining anecdotes throughout the day. I was comforted by the small number of tutees, as I knew straight away that any questions we had would be answered and there was room for everyone to gain lots from the class.

The pattern came together so easily and time flew by, with Tilly answering all of our sewing related queries throughout the day. Tilly was a wonderful tutor, her instructions were clear and she took the time to really understand the skill level of the group, explaining things really clearly, but by no means in a patronising way.
Before we got to the ‘head scratcher’ part of the assembly, the eagerly anticipated waistband, we were fed yummy cupcakes to give us some much needed sugar sustenance. I think that because of the cake, the task of assembling the waistband was greatly simplified, and with a little concentration and willingness to practice stitching in a straight-line, it came together perfectly (if you ignore the small bit of unpicking I had to do in order to press my seams beautifully flat - shh!).
We ran out of time right at the end of the class, so my skirt was left unhemmed, but less than half an hour spent the following day on this and my very own Miette and perfect summer skirt was complete - and I absolutely love it!! - without further ado, here it is!

I learnt a lot from the course, some of which was just such simple pointers and explanations as to the importance of grain lines and steam pressing (NOT ironing!) as well as a sneaky chopstick trick to turn through the waist ties. One of the greatest things I gained from the day though, was expanding my network of other sewing enthusiasts - it's so exciting to talk all things fabric and trimmings! I would seriously recommend that anyone interested in sewing enrols themselves onto a class; there are so many great ones to choose from! The world is your pincushion! (yes, yes, I know, terrible joke!)
To prove that I’m not just saying that I love the skirt, I made a second one! This time I excluded the pockets, and by doing so, I was able to use the pink polka dots that I had pictured all along!
With the Miette and Mathilde patterns firmly pinned to my favourite’s board, I can’t wait for Tilly’s next pattern! Here are some more pictures of both skirts - please excuse the awful creases in some of the green skirt pictures, I first wore it the day Andy Murray won Wimbledon and I was on and off my chair more times than I can remember!

Things I've Made

Things I've Made


"Mathilde Blouse" - Tilly and the Buttons

I ADORE this pattern! Honestly, I am completely fan-girling over it! I have made it in four different forms already - and I am in no way finished! You can read more about these creations here.


"Elephant Dress"- New Look 6968 (view B)



"Tea Dress" - Great British Sewing Bee

I bought the GBSB book as soon as it came on sale and, being a sucker for a dress, was instantly drawn to the beautiful tea dress. I made a couple of changes, most notably by gathering the dress at the neckline - I hadn't planned to do this in advance, but my shoulders are quite narrow and I found that the standard pattern sat too close to the edge of my shoulders. I have found that I need to wear a belt with the dress, as it's quite unflattering on me without it!

"Shirt Dress" - Burda 7179
AKA, the nightmare collar dress! Maybe its just me, but the process of making this collar almost reduced me to tears! After a lot of stitching, unpicking, re-stitching, more unpicking, and a whole loada coffee, I have to say, I'm pretty proud of it!


 "Strawberry Bow" - A mixture of New Look 6106 view B (skirt), New Look 6968 view A (bodice) and a pair of scissors!

This dress was a bit of an experiment, as I mixed a skirt pattern, with a dress pattern, to make a unique garment! I also cut out a section in the back and added a bow to add an interesting feature - I was really influenced by the pictures in the collage below. A few alterations were needed to improve the fit, but over all, I am really pleased with this dress!

"Spotty Pencil Skirt" - New Look 6103

Miette Skirt - Tilly and the Buttons

I loved this so much I have written a whole other post about it!

 "Soft Furnishings"

Some cushions and blinds I have made for the home.

Itty Bitty Baby Dress - Made by Rae

It's just such a cute pattern!! Every girl needs a pretty dress collection, so it might as well start early with a homemade one!