Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas and the tale of a red coat

Dear Readers,
Here it is, Christmas Eve. The last minute rush through overcrowded supermarkets and shops has come and gone. Food and presents have been bought, holiday leave arranged and a last bit of sewing squeezed in. I'm also moving so I've been packing up, sending off and giving away my things. I have taken photos of my bicycle and - gasp - sewing machine to put up on the 'for sale' notice board at work in the New Year. Before I sell my machine I want to make one last thing, a cheerful red duffle from the Burda November issue.

Burda 111.11.2011

It is a very simple pattern, not much shaping, loose, easy, right? I'd had it in mind ever since I first saw this issue. I even set off to Amsterdam to meet up with European sewing friends and go to the huge fabric markets there with the aim of buying some red wool fabric expressly for this pattern. I did buy wool but not a woven. I fell in love with a thick double sided knit with a little bit of stretch. The stretch wouldn't matter, would it? I could stabilize it right? Well dear reader this is what comes of putting oneself under time constraints and not listening to the inner sewing voice. I preshrunk my fabric, got eye strain tracing the fiendishly crowded pattern then found I did not have enough interfacing in my dwindling stash to interface to whole thing and decided to go without. This coat was coming back to the mild winters of Sydney. 
I ended up with this. Pardon the laughter-shaky pic ..

To say it is too big is an understatement. I considered chopping it up into something else entirely, then I started playing with it and folding bits back. It wasn't so bad after all. I love the colour and the spongy texture of the fabric.

I did like the style buried underneath all the volume

and the giant hood.

To end the story, I unpicked every seam and took 2cm off everything. I may not have this finished for Christmas but I will finish it.  Merry Christmas to you all.

I have a feeling that 2012 will be a very good year. xx
Thanks for being part of my blog.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

My Image Magazine

Dear People
Recently I did a little review on PR of a quick knit dress that I ran up form My Image magazine.

Dress M1163

Me attempting to model. Heidi Klum's career is not in danger

Click on the pattern Review widget on the sidebar to read the review. Dear reader, apart from being pleased that I had knocked out a dress that worked with no fuss I did not think any further about it. I didn't even mention it here or put a link on my review. I had a new winter dress to wear to church on Christmas day and that was it. I thought the magazine had been around for ages and was just another sewing mag that all the European girls had access to for a few euros *sigh*. Then I got an email from My Image thanking me for my nice review and saying, in effect - we are new please please mention us on the web! Who could resist that? So here goes .. drumroll .. My First Gratuitous Plug, er review. Be assured I would not do this if I thought the mag was crap. Here goes.

My Image is a new sewing magazine that comes out quarterly for each season. It is written with instructions in four languages, English, Dutch, German and French. I don't know where the magazine originates. The cover was in English and the English instructions are very good. There are clear line drawings and nice photographs that allow you to see the actual garment.

There are only sixteen patterns per issue but they are sixteen different styles - not repetitions or variations of the same thing. There was enough of a mix of trendy and classic styles to keep a woman of aahem certain years happy. The patterns are not crowded and are easy to trace. The pattern pieces of the dress I made were meticulously drafted and went together very well.

There is much that I like in this magazine. I would buy it again if the shipping costs are not prohibitive. I must admit I thought of it as a one-off travel treat.

Martin I hope you like the plug!

I mentioned in my PR review that I'd bought it in a delicious lingerie fabric shop called KantjeBoord in the Netherlands. I may as well give them a plug too.
Kantjeboord is a wonderfully poky shop crowded floor to ceiling with material, notions, trims and bra making stuff. There is enough to keep non -bra makers like myself happy too. There is a good selection of knit materials, fake furs, feathers, magazines, even some quilting materials. There are friendly staff and a cute boxer dog behind the counter. He is fenced in but he is friendly. See Cidel's post about Knatjeboord Oops that's supposed to read "Kantjeboord"

That's all folks

Friday, 9 December 2011

Calling Mary Nanna!

Here we are on the evening of Friday 9th December and I am about to announce the winner! Firstly thank you for all of you who stopped by and showed interest. All were good reasons but points were deducted for trying to talk me out of my own give-away, points were added for flattery and attempted bribery! 

Mary Nanna, email me! You've won the giveaway.

On other matters, in reply to Dilliander's question,
There are two fabric shops that I saw in Tromso. One is a place where they make national dress and they have a small but exquisite range of wools and flannels etc. There is another shop but I didn't manage to get to it when they were open - too much sightseeing! BTW Everything there is quite expensive - food, eating out but it is a gorgeous place and well worth a visit. BTW the place is so small you will find both shops, don't worry! If you are a knitter the shop that sells hand made jumpers has a wool emporium downstairs that is knitter's heaven.

The national costume shop

Fabulous hand knit sweater shop 

All are in the town centre. I hope you enjoy Tromso as much as I did. 

Happy travelling

Sunday, 4 December 2011

My seriously warm little winter coat

Dear reader,
About six weeks ago I started making a coat form some pure wool tartan that I had bought on my travels in Edinburgh. I actually love tailoring. It is the opposite of quick'n'easy but ultimately more fulfilling. I like pressing and interfacing and seemingly endless hand stitching. It soothes me. I put on some favourite music and I can go for hours. Well it's December and I am glad to say the coat is finished just as the English weather cools to 6 degree days, something quite novel to this expat Sydney sider. It took a long time to make because it was interrupted by a trip to Amsterdam to see friends and then a trip to Norway to see the Aurora Borealis. No need to feel sorry for me ;)

The coat is V8754 'Very Easy vogue' here  Curiously, the line drawings make it look like the closure is off to one side but that is not the case, the button closures are central. It is a nice pattern with just enough darts and shaping to keep it from being too boxy but simple enough for my first interlining project. It ended up being fully interfaced as well and lined with black satin that I'd bought for another project. The end product is still soft and drapey enough to feel very comfortable on but warm like wearing a blanket, which indeed I am doing as the interlining was originally a thrifted fleece blanket that had been on my bed covers. I couldn't find anything appropriate to buy locally when I was cutting it out! I'll do a PR review with all the blow by blow details soon.

The coat

Here I am wearing it.

The back. that's me running to get in place before the timer on my camera went off!

And a gratuitous travel shot - me in Tromso, Norway.

Edited to add photos of the constellation of Gemini, the Aurora Borealis, and Tromso. Please respect that these are my images.

I had a brilliant time.
Happy sewing everyone.

p.s. don't forget to vote in the 'Give me a Reason" giveaway. See previous post.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Give me a reason

Dear readers,
I am getting ready to move on again. I am sorting, gifting, selling, recycling and generally getting rid of stuff before my long haul back home to Sydney. For all my European friends yes I'll be back! I just don't know where I'll be based yet.
I tend to collect books and material and increasingly now, photo equipment, but I also enjoy the freedom that de-cluttering brings. There is always stuff that is just stuff or stuff that brought great pleasure to me at the time but will surely do the same now for someone else, which brings me to the title of this post.
Give me a reason, dear reader as to why I should give you - out of all the blogger-sewists of the world - this lovely piece of vintage Liberty Hera print Tana Lawn.

Results of this contest will be totally biased and chosen by me. You have till Friday night 9th December, UK time!
Happy writing,

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sew Busy

Dear friends, readers and sewing lurkers,
I know I haven't posted for a while but I have been busy traveling, sewing, planning more travels and trying to finish my first ever interlined serious winter coat Vogue 8754 for my first northern hemisphere winter. There are predictions for some seriously cold weather with snow for Britain. I'll be ready and waiting. You may notice the pattern is rated very easy and it would be if made up as instructed. Not in my hands! I added a interlining from a recycled fleece blanket, interfacing galore, bound buttonholes and other details all done in a shifty tartan wool that crept like a centipede .. having said that it is nearly finished and  love it. The whole story will follow.

In the meantime the other thing that kept me busy was a recent trip to Amsterdam to meet up with some European sewing friends, go to an Art in Fashion exhibit but best of all go fabric shopping at a huge fabric market. It was great fun and I have had a good fabric fix that will last me a long time. So will the stash that I brought back.
Here are some pics.

Margaret, Aicha, Hilda, Valerie, Marta, Joanna, Sigrid, Me. Samira and Sheila at the Art in Fashion exhibit at the Hague.

At the fabric market, witnessing a fabrilanche.

Exploring this charming city. I'll be back.

Happy sewing everyone.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A scarf, Shepherd's Bush, and the Fashion & Textile Museum

Dear Reader,
I have no completed sewing project to show you. The only thing I have completed recently is this scarf, made from pure wool I bought while travelling in Scotland months ago. I didn't buy enough of the hand dyed yarn so I added a giant scarlet fringe. Cute, no?

The increasingly cool mornings gave me motivation to finish it. I'm not a natural knitter..

As regular readers of this blog know I live in Oxford, just far enough from London to make it a treat to go there. Every now and then I jump on a bus and go explore something new about one of the world's great cities. A couple of weeks ago I went to the Fashion and Textile Museum. FTM It is a museum that was set up by Zandra Rhodes as a space dedicated to British Designers. There is a small permanent exhibit dedicated to her as the founder but the main galleries taken up by a roll-out of temporary exhibits. I quite enjoyed this one, by a 70's Saville Row rebel called Tommy Nutter.

His designs were worn by all the cool rockers and celebrities in the 70's and you can see why. The designs are still great today.

Isn't this brocade and velvet jacket great?
Does anyone else remember Bianca Jagger's white wedding tuxedo?

Groovy baby!

After seeing the exhibit and exploring the cute streets of the London Bridge area, which was once run down but is now gentrified and horrifyingly expensive (according to prices in the realtor's window) I walked to Goldhawk Road/Shepherd's Bush. Now Goldhawk Road is a little bit of the Middle East in London, with about a dozen material shops. Off Goldhawk road is a thoroughfare called the Shepherd's Bush Market. If Golhawk road is Arabia then Shepherd's bush has a definite African influence. Whats more there are shops that sell buttons and trims and cheap interfacing and felt and ..... cheap veggies and exotic food to take home for dinner.

Happy sewing everyone,

Monday, 17 October 2011

Not So Sure About This

Dear Reader
As you can see I've sewn up the piece of Liberty cotton that I bought at Tissus Reine, Paris. I loved it as a piece of material. I love the explosion of jewel colours. The feel of the material is heavenly. I wanted something tunic length so when I saw Inkstain's blog rendition of this Burda blouse in silk, I thought it might work to show off this material. We e ell ..I'm not sure. Half way through pin fitting the side seams and not get them to sit properly I had a real bozo-the-clown moment, pussycat bow and all. Nevertheless, being a stubborn creature who does not like the term 'UFO' I persisted. It is extremely rare for me not to finish a garment, even if it goes straight to charity afterwards! Well I added a couple of bust darts and finished the blouse then took it out very early the next morning to photograph it.
I like it, sort of. I'm not sure what it needs, or if the busy-ness of the material is too much of a good thing. Do not fear, it is not destined for the charity bin. I just have to find a way to wear it. I'll put it in the back of the closet and let it marinate, as my DD call it.
It may see the light of day again. Sometime.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Charity Shop Find!

Dear sewing readers,
As some of you know, this is something of a sewing travelogue. I am back in Oxford and I am showing my DD around town. Oxford is a university city - 36 campuses! It is a book city. It is even a book publishing city. It is a student city. Therefore the second hand shops run by various charities are quite good here and several of them are nearby. My daughter was looking for second hand inexpensive read and I was just looking, as you do. To cut a long story short, draped on a wall behind a rack of second hand jeans was this!!!!

Peacock print Liberty lawn known as "Hera" circa 1975. Two metres of it! But wait, there's more. I asked the young man "how much for this piece"? It cost me one pound!
How lucky is that?

Friday, 30 September 2011

My Traveling Stash

Dear Readers,
I have been traveling for three weeks and while it was good, I am enjoying being back in my own little British city unpacking and unwinding and speaking my own language instead of struggling with guide book Spanish or French.
I want to report that Barcelona is full of unusual architecture by Antonio Gaudi, some true elegance on Passiage de Gracia, and then there's La Rambla - a walkway to see and be seen. It feels like tourists from all over pass by. It's good, bad, trashy, flashy and fascinating.

La Sagrada Familia, due to be finished in about 20 years!

On La Rambla, Barcelona

London is home away from home to me and I enjoyed showing it to my daughter. That's her taking the photo while we were exploring Harrods.

Paris could take up volumes. We both enjoyed bohemian Montmarte better than the grandeur of Champs Elysees or Place de Concorde.

We had coffee and crepes in the Jardin des Tuileries near The Louvre and people watched while autumn leaves fell.

But maybe most of all I enjoyed taking the time to get back to the streets just down from Sacre Coeur and do some fabric shopping! 
My lovely sewing souveniers are pictured at the top of this post.
The gorgeous multi coloured liberty cotton was from Tissus Reine, the black and pink cotton was a bargain table find from the shop next door to it. I finally bought a smock pattern I've had my eye on all year since Liza Jane reviewed it. here
I look forward to getting back into some sewing. It's good to be home.

Sculpture in the Rodin Museum, Paris.

Happy sewing,

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Shirt into Jacket

Dear sewers and readers,
Every now and then I get a bright idea then I try to translate that idea into reality and don't quite make it. 
I know what I am envisioning, but the reality turns into something else. I had bought some khaki linen the last time I was in London and I wanted to make a casual jacket, easy, throw on, doesn't matter if it creases type jacket. Instead I ended up with a very serious looking Chairman Mao jacket.


Chairman Mao

Let me say I am actually pleased with my jacket as long as I lighten it up like this:

Or this:

There is luggage in the picture, dear reader, because I am going on holiday. I am meeting up with my DD in London tomorrow, then a friend joins us and we are going to Barcelona! and Paris! That is why I have a big grin on my face. But back to business:  this is what I had in mind, something more like a jean jacket.

I had a pattern that was similar, a V8689 shirt, vogue website  generously given to me by Sigrid at this year's European PR meeting in Brussels. You can read Sigrid's blog here. You can also look up this pattern on Pattern Review. Sigrid did not feel she had a success with it, but two other posters who have bodies a little more like my straight-up-and-down one did. Before you ask yes I did consider shortening the finished jacket but it did not work. Pockets lower down on the body (like a normal jacket) did not work either.
I spent two weeks working on this jacket. I modified the collar to sit a bit lower. I went two sizes up for extra ease on the body. I decided to interline with some cotton batik that I have oodles of to make the linen sit a bit better, then I lined the thing. I asked myself why do I do this? Tailoring is fun until you have a deadline and just want the thing finished. 
But finished it is. It is a fair way toward being what I wanted - something trans seasonal yet lightweight. The interlining does give it a bit of wind proofing and body that it otherwise would not have had. As usual, I will do a PR review when time permits.
I'm going travelling!
Happy sewing everybody.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Knits - A Fast Sew up of NL6735

Dear friends, sewers, bloggers,

This is the story of three fast knits, three non-eventful basics. What makes me very pleased with them is that I made them on my sewing machine using two rows of zig zag on all the seams - just under 2mm in width, just over 2mm in length and a decorative stitch on the hems. I read a tip in a sewing magazine about stabilizing the hems with  fusible hemming tape so I experimented on a scrap. Any stitch that stretches is suitable and most machines will have a decorative stitch that looks like triangles in a ladder, or triangles off to one side. It worked! I thought the seams would look lumpy - hems too - but they didn't. They are just fine. This is a breakthrough for me as I remember my first zig-zag attempts at sewing knits years ago not looking very good.

It is hard to photograph black! The body was eased into the self band, smooths out when worn. The pink Liberty is my next project, a long shirt/tunic top.

I bought the knits a few weeks ago. I boarded a bus and did a commute to London to catch up with a family friend who was passing through London on her way to work as a tour guide in Italy *sigh* and after a long, long, lunch she graciously came fabric shopping with me on London's Berwick Street. This is a wonderful street, fellow sewistes. It is closed off to traffic and has several fabric shops down each side and a market with fruit stalls down the middle. There is a fashion institute on nearby Oxford Street and the theatre district is nearby as well. The result is that you get shops that cater for students and costumiers and there are shops full of wool for tailoring and several shops that are something in between. Heaven to a fabric starved Aussie!

Feathers anyone?

I know where to go next time I need a feather boa .. My friend enjoyed this street and humored me as I hunted down the fabric I required. I was shopping with a plan believe it or not. My favourite three quarter sleeve black knit top had been stained with a glob of washing powder (communal washing machines..spilled powder..too hot a setting by mistake ..ack!)  I wanted to replace it and also make one in dark chocolate brown. I had packed the pattern pieces for my die-hard TNT knit top New Look 6735 in my luggage when I came to England.

Yeah, yeah I know, they look the same but this is what I live in dear reader and I am not trying to set the world on fire. I am happy with a functional wardrobe!

 I also bought some pure khaki linen from the bargain table of this shop.

It felt good to get some speedy sewing done and get three items that I need. The third was a slinky knit nightie, not going to model it! The leaves are starting to fall from the trees here in Oxford and I've agreed to stay on at my job here until Christmas. I look forward to getting a taste of a real winter. I'm going traveling on holiday in a few weeks so the linen will become a simple little jacket and maybe some pants as well. I am going to try to make the jacket from a modified shirt pattern. I have some preliminary sewing to do from the aforementioned pink ..

Here are some Oxford shots.

The start of Autumn.

Happy Sewing