Saturday, 6 December 2014

pepita pepita, olé!

I've been mesmerized by all of the black and white hounds-tooth fabric we're seeing everywhere lately and nearly scaled a wall of fabric bolts to reach this bold black and white pattern.  My mom told me it's actually called "pepita", which it turns out is named after Pepita de Oliva, a 19th centurty Spanish dancer who toured under her stage name, Josefa de la Oliva.  The pattern is meant to mimic the pit of an olive.  How cool is that?
Since the fabric is named after a sassy flamenco dancer, I felt obliged to lift the hemline on my pattern and add a splash of fiery red. I dug out my beloved red heels (who also spent many early mornings on the dance floor WAY back in the day....) A great excuse to take them out for an encore twirl with my Pepita coat!

 

   


Muchas Grazias, Pepita de Oliva for putting some more sass into sewing!

 Source: http://budapestiensis.blogspot.co.uk/

Monday, 1 December 2014

not quite ready-to-wear

I have to start this off with a disclaimer - the information below may be glaringly obvious to a community of sewers, and I hestitated writing it...but maybe someone out there is in the same boat!

Ready-to-wear trousers always have the same fit problem on me - snug in the bum and too wide around the waist.   I usually bring them to a professional to take away the extra fabric in the waistband and centre back, rather than doing it myself - it always seemed to scary to try.

 Last week-end I finally broke down.  I armed myself with my seam ripper, a pair of scissors and a strong cup of coffee and attacked the centre back of a waistband on pair that I've been holding up with a belt for too long.
You know, it wasn't that scary!  It was kind of like unfolding the paper on a Christmas present and putting it back together to look like no one noticed...or maybe a piece of Japanese origami...

If you haven't already tried this yourself, here are some things I learned:

-  Baste, baste, and baste again (before you cut anything).  I used safety pins first, established the fit and then basted and took them off and tried them on again.  (A step I've always had to skip when I go to the tailor!)

-  When you are trying them on, walk around, sit down, do a downward dog, dance a jig...and do it again!

-  When you do sew, make a few rows of machine stitches for strength.  (You can never bee too sure)

- I used my ironing board to keep the back of my trousers flat as I hand stitched everything back together as it was.  (I never even had to get out the measuring tape)




If you have the same issue with your trousers, and you haven't tried this already, I promise it really is straightforward.  I wish I had done this years ago!

How do you guys feel about alterations?

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?