Birmingham blogger meetup

Saturday was such a great day. Marie and Kat organised a sewing blogger meetup in Birmingham. Check out Marie’s blog post for pictures. We shopped, ate noodles, swapped a ton pf patterns and fabric, and then shopped some more. But absolutely the best bit was talking to like-minded sewists all day about fabric, sewing, and patterns.

So what did we buy? Quite a few of us bought some of this sparkly heavyweight knit from the Rag Market. When I saw Kat’s I had to get some of my own. I’m seeing this as a cowl-necked, long-sleeved knit dress worn with a big belt.

Sparkly heavy knit

This one came from the Rag Market too. It’s a really bright blue with a hint of purple. My camera insists on rendering it as a sort of sky blue. I tried reading the camera manual, but no amount of fiddling with white balance and lighting was effective so what you see here is courtesy of the GIMP. The fabric itself is a lightweight, silky texture and very narrow.

Strange blue fabric

I think it would work well as something like one of these two patterns. The 80s one is one of the ones I got from Katie in the swap! And coincidentally it has a layout and yardage for 90cm fabric. Were fabrics narrower in the 80s or something?

Possible patterns for strange blue fabric

I got bright pink lining for my chartreuse coat. Claire and Alice spotted it in the Fancy Silk Store. Here are the two fabrics together. Yummy.

Coat fabric with lining

I also found the fabric for my sister’s birthday dress which was lucky because her specifications were somewhat exacting. I’m not posting a picture of it just yet because she ought to see it first, but suffice to say I’m certainly looking forward to sewing with it. (And if she doesn’t like it after all I have an alternative plan for it…is that bad?)

Thanks again Marie and Kat and everyone else who came along!

Swirly thing alert

I had a day out in London with a friend yesterday. Now technically we were supposed to be looking for furnishing fabric, not dress fabric. But we found ourselves having a quick look in the shops down Berwick Street, and she pointed out this amazing viscose knit, and it was reasonably priced.

Viscose knit print

Viscose knit print

So it had to come home with me. And now I need to find a pattern for it. I really want a maxi dress; I’ve seen some fantastic Pucci silk jersey maxis out there on the Internet and I should have enough of the fabric for that sort of style: floor length, long sleeves, and a very deep v-neck. However my fabric’s four-way stretch and very slinky so I need to pick the pattern carefully.

Having spent the day going through my entire collection of Burdas, the big four websites, and all the vintage maxi patterns on Etsy, I think my best option is
Vogue 8489 (line art below) because the interfaced bands around the collar and V-neck will provide some support. I’ll probably double up the fabric in the bodice too. The pattern’s not a maxi but I ought to be able to lengthen the skirt quite easily.

Vogue 8489 view F line art

I suspect I’m going to have to do something to stablize the shoulder and armsyce seams. I’ve heard about sewing clear elastic into them but that sounds like it might turn out bulky. Or is clear elastic much thinner than regular elastic? Anyone out there got any recommendations?

Claire’s Walthamstow meetup

Hah, I wrote this on Saturday, having just got back from Claire’s Walthamstow fabric swap and shopping meetup. I was so tired I forgot to press publish. But it was so much fun!

I got some wonderful things in the swap. Thanks Karen, Jane, Rachel and Zoe!

Patterns from the swap

And some gorgeous fabric…

Orangey-red cotton for a shirt dress.

Orange cotton

Amazing acid green, black, and white chiffon print. This is probably going to be a Vogue 1240 for a wedding I’m going to this summer.

Green, black, and white chiffon

And this pink, green, and red peacock feather print which is going to be a maxi dress.

Peacock feather print

But best of all, lots of chatting about sewing and fabric with like-minded sewists. List below shamelessy cut-n-pasted from the wonderfully organised Claire. She had a clipboard. And pictures of everyone. And maps. And a tape measure. And cake. Two sorts of cake.

Thanks everyone for a great day. And especial thanks to Claire for organising it – you are a star!

How can I resist? Bargain patterns in Derby

Thank-you all so much for the advice about trouser fitting! I feel a lot more confident tackling this now. When I used to wear RTW trousers I could usually find ones that fitted apart from the leg length so I’m hopeful this is going to work out.

Not that I’ve actually started yet. I can’t get to my ironing board because it is covered with the results of a shopping trip. I was in Derby at the weekend and while it’s not a noted Midlands shopping destination, it’s got some things that are definitely of interest to sewists.

First up: the Eagle Market has fabric stalls. This is the market in the Westfield shopping centre. There is another one in Derby Market Hall which has some haberdashery but not fabric. The Eagle Market is not as cheap as the Birmingham Rag Market, but the fabric tends to have better labelling. I wasn’t intending to buy fabric, but I came away with 3 metres of a rather nice medium weight grey doubleknit.

However the best thing is a haberdashery shop called Hook and Eye. It’s not the sort of place you’d find very fancy gadgets, but they have an impressive and reasonably priced range of things like buttons, zips, thread, and elastic. They also sell patterns, and in the shop they have a countertop of boxes absolutely stuffed with recently out of print patterns. They are selling these for two pounds fifty a pattern. That includes out of print Vogue designer patterns. You know, the ones that would have been fourteen pounds when they were in print. And they have a lot of them, many of which I recognised as fairly recent. I only managed to look through two of the boxes. I came away with three. The Chado Ralph Rucci (V1135) is one I’ve always wanted since I saw it on Pattern Review. The Michael Kors (V1191) looks like a useful classic work dress. And the Easy Options (V2218) is for my sister who expressed a liking for it earlier this year. I hadn’t realised it had gone out of print since then so I’m really glad I spotted it.

Out of print patterns from Hook and Eye

Hook and Eye doesn’t have a website but its sister shop Strand Wools does, at http://www.strandwools.co.uk/, and that site includes some of Hook and Eye’s stock. If you’re a knitter, Strand Wools itself is apparently well worth a look too.

I will sew shorts this week at some point. I really will. And now to start putting things away.

Does this look familiar?

Here’s my new coat, Vogue 1276 by Sandra Betzina.



Here’s the pattern envelope photo.

And this I found while browsing on Net-a-Porter. It’s from Rick Owens Lilies, one of my favourite lines.

While strikingly similar it’s not quite the same style. The Vogue has a much fuller skirt and lacks the extra-long sleeves. But it has all the features that appeal to me in the Rick Owens coat. Pure serendipity!

Lovely bookshop

London used to have an excellent book and magazine shop called R.D. Franks which catered to fashion students. It sold all sorts of interesting things, including La Mia Boutique and every fashion mag I’ve ever heard of. I only got to visit it a couple of times before it closed down last year, and since then I’ve been on the lookout for something similar.

Yesterday I was in London and visited Claire de Rouen Books on Charing Cross Road. It’s a ‘photography and fashion’ bookshop and while it doesn’t stock any sewing magazines, it does have lots of fashion mags and some very good sewing-related books. I bought Drape Drape 2, and I noticed the Pattern Magic books were also there. The selection of photography books was also great, for those who are into that.

I’d still like to find somewhere in London that stocks the more exotic pattern magazines though. If anyone knows of such a place do tell!

High tech solutions

As I mentioned before, it took me most of a day to cut out Vogue 1239. It’s a complicated pattern with a lot of pieces, but at least part of the problem is that I am really slow at cutting. My usual method for a big pattern is to put up both leaves of the dining table and cut on that, weighing my pattern and fabric down with food cans. This involves moving all the houseplants into the garden and rearranging the living room to find space for the dining chairs but there’s not a lot I can do about that.

The main thing slowing me down that I can actually do something about is that I find the food cans get in my way, so I have to keep rearranging them to avoid bumping my hands into them while cutting. A while ago someone (I wish I could remember who so I could link to them) mentioned on their blog that they use large washers as pattern weights, which would solve that problem nicely.

So today I went to the hardware store and had a look. Washers are not on display so I had to ask for them. They showed me some tiny little steel things. I tried to explain what I wanted them for, but obviously failed because then they offered me rubber ones. I eventually asked to see the biggest metal ones they had. They produced these, which are 7cm across, and then looked very surprised when I bought them. I realised afterwards they must have just heard ‘dressmaking’ and have been thinking I wanted to sew them to something! No wonder they looked rather dubious.

I think these will be a big improvement over food cans.

Goldhawk Road meetup

Thanks for all the wise comments about how much yardage to buy. Good advice, which I have completely failed to take.

Karen of Did You Make That? organised a great trip to Goldhawk Road yesterday. There were about 30 sewists and we had a great time scouring the shops for fabric and talking about sewing. I am in awe of Karen’s organisational skills. She even had maps for us. And she made shopping bags!

So here’s what I got. Black cotton poplin and flame coloured lining for Vogue 1239. Black and white chiffon, the same stuff I made the Blake’s Seven top from, for Vogue 1240. And a cotton print to make a kimono – well, a dressing gown – from. That one has photographed really strangely…the print is not really fuzzy like that in real life.

So that should keep me going for quite some time. And now I’m off to catch up with all the blogs of the lovely fellow sewists I met. Thanks for a great day, Karen!

How much is too much? Planning for shopping

My muslin of Burda 132-04-2011 is still sitting there, looking at me accusingly. And I’m still pretending I can’t see it. Ever have a pattern you just can’t seem to get started with?

I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with the pattern, I know I like this style and I love the fabric. I’m just too tired right now to work on anything new. So it’s obviously the right time to start planning for fabric shopping at the weekend. I always try to take a list with me when fabric shopping because otherwise I get completely overwhelmed by the choice and make really bad decisions. But of course I will make exceptions for fabric that I fall in love with.

What I do have trouble with is buying the right amount of yardage. I make a list of the patterns I want to make, and their approximate yardage requirements. Fabric in the UK is sold by the metre not by the yard, but as I always need to lengthen patterns I just look at the number of yards the pattern calls for and then buy that many metres. And then I add a bit more on, to be certain. Can you see where this is going? My stash is full of small pieces between half a metre and a metre in length that are left over from projects where I bought far too much fabric, and my mother is never short of fabric for her quilting. On the plus side, when I do mess something up I almost always find I have enough fabric to cut the problem pieces out again. This has saved a couple of projects in the past.

Do you always buy the exact yardage? Does it work out for you? I have a couple of patterns with huge yardage requirements to buy fabric for this time around, so I am going to make more of an effort to get the amount right – just buying the yards in metres would be silly when the pattern calls for four and half yards to start with.

New Vogues and an ambitious resolution

So the summer 2011 Vogues are out, and every other sewing blogger has been picking their favourites. I’m always fascinated to see the collection through other people’s eyes so I hope you’ll put up with me posting mine.

I have a very bad habit of going on a mini spending spree when the new patterns come out and then not actually making up all of the ones I buy, so this time I have tried really hard to pick things I think I really will get round to sewing and wearing. In three months time you may point and laugh!

I think this one, Vogue 1239, is my favourite pattern of the new ones, and funnily enough probably the one I’m most likely to buy and then never sew. It looks fantastic but I’m not sure how wearable it is. The model looks like she works in a sterile room. I work with computers, which suck up dust like little vacuum cleaners and shed it when you open the case.

Vogue 1239 pattern photo

Then there is Vogue 1250. Can you ever have enough cowl-necked knit dresses?
Vogue 1250 pattern photo

I am tempted to make 1240 for a wedding I’m going to this summer. I’m not sure if it’s the pattern or the fabric that appeals to me though. I do like a black and white print.
Vogue 1240 pattern photo

Finally I think 8727 might be a good starting point for my skull print fabric. I like the full-skirted views. I haven’t got nearly enough fabric for them, so the skirt would to have to be adjusted to fit onto my yardage.
Vogue 8727 pattern photo

So there they are. I’m pleased I got it down to four. What are your favourites?