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Showing posts from 2011


2011 was a good year. The year I started sewing - from non-straight lines to iffy makes to some pretty makes. I'm still learning. Like everything else in life, sewing nice-looking things takes experience. And experience takes determination and perseverance and not stopping at the first bad make.

The best looking things I made this year were out of the Colette Rooibos. I also made some t-shirts and blouses and at least one decent skirt. I plan to do much more in 2012. As far as sewing goes, I have very simple New Year's resolutions:
1. Make muslins
2. Press, press, press

These 2 things will get me far, I just know it. I also plan to keep track of what I spend for sewing. I absolutely need to do this, because I have a feeling I spend far more than I intend.

Personally, I'm otherwise quite happy. I just got a promotion and things are looking good. I lost 8 kg this year, and I want to lose another 3 next year (I need to keep my weight above 50 for personal reasons). Three kilos…

Shop, shop, shop

Haberdashery is really cheap around here, so I made sure to stock up on zippers and lining today. I bought 10 zippers (4 dress, 6 skirt), 6 of which were invisible, for about 3 pounds. I love it how here I said "dress zippers" and "skirt zippers" and they didn't ask about length or anything - they just sold me the "dress" and "skirt" zippers on stock.

I also bought some olive-houndstooth-like fabric. I got 2.5 meters so it should be enough for almost everything in the patterns I own. I'll decide what to make when I get home. It will probably be something to wear over pullovers like the previous ones.  It also occurred to me, but only after I left the shop, that I should get some muslin. Perhaps I'll order some when I get back to the UK.

In other news, the Pastille dress has seen better days. I was zipping a boot the other day and it snapped at the underarm, and not even in a seam. That was a bit unfortunate since with all the other i…

Non shopping spree

I went to this huge store in Bucharest, which has, amongst other things, lots of fabrics and such. I came out empty handed, but at least I got a feel for pricing.

Fabrics are similar to stuff I would find in the Brixton shop in terms of prices. Probably this holds for the Goldhawk Road/Walthamstow Market. Most wintery fabrics were around 10GBP/m.

What was fairly cheap was the linings, at around 2GBP/m. I think that's a real deal. I also suspect haberdashery stuff will be cheaper than the UK.

It is quite sad that I left empty handed, but I had a bit of a tummy ache and didn't feel like standing around much. But at least I know what's out there now.

Dress form evening

Oh boy, things are going to get moving starting tomorrow - I've got one less day than I thought I would in Bucharest so lots of meetings with lots of people will happen. And some shopping, I hope.

I spent this evening in front of my laptop looking at dress forms. It seems that the only real options out there are made by this Kentish company, adjustoform. I also toyed with the idea of making a mold after myself but ended up dismissing it as too much hassle.

I've finally decided on getting a Lady Valet, which comes in two colors, black and cream. Truth be told, I prefer the cream version more, but the black one is cheaper and it also comes with some seemingly useless things (flimsy-looking hem-maker, brush, measuring tape). Well they probably aren't useless, but I haven't had a problem with my hems yet and I already own the other two things. The cream is prettier, however, I suspect I will need to pad it at the waist line, so the black one would end up looking cream anyway…

Price per kilo

I managed to finish A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin today so before starting to read something else (DnD Guide?) I thought I'd research fabric shops in Bucharest for tomorrow. Turns out there are the normal, Berwick-street like shops in the centre of town, which I will definitely visit tomorrow. But you also have some small, "storage" shops which are not quite close and which sell good quality fabrics by the kilo instead of the metre, if the forums are to be believed. I think they can be believed, and I'm sorely tempted to visit one. Hopefully I will have the time.

Bucharest, at last

There was quite a bad storm yesterday around Heathrow and the plane was quite shaky until we crossed the Channel. But in the end all was good and we had a smooth flight.

I brought the Pastille dress and the Grey Rooibos dress for my grandma to see. She was quite happy with them but noticed ALL the flaws. You can tell she used to be a dressmaker, she went over everything millimetrically and saw all the little things I knew were there but assumed no one else ever would. And then some I didn't notice. I think she didn't really expect I would have actual sewn garments, and she kept saying how well they look for my first creations. Last time I saw her, over Easter, I wasn't even considering sewing, I was still only reading blog posts.

The first thing she saw on the Pastille dress was the completely off back, but she understands why I couldn't do better. She said the back darts should have been smaller - but I don't see how that will fix the issue. She says the front loo…

Pastille - finished

I left work earlier yesterday and I had time to finish the dress before we went out to dinner. I re-set the zipper (more like sewed closer to zip teeth), finished the seams and pressed everything down. The finishes don't look that great in the pictures - I will need to go and hand sew a bit of the zipper closer to the teeth for example.

I'm "fairly" happy with how the dress turned out. The lining was great (I wore it out yesterday), the skirt didn't do anything funny - my skirts always do something funny. Unfortunately, the waist does feel a bit tight after food. Not a huge issue, although it does prompt the question: perhaps I should lose a couple of centimeters off the waist ? It will be my New Year's resolution, besides dropping an additional 3kg. Speaking of New Year's resolutions, I just realized I managed to lose 8 kgs this year. Actually, I lost 9kgs but I promptly gained one back in the past 2 months. I now stand at 54kg, and my plan is to be aroun…

Pastille dress, almost done (+poor photos)

I've mostly put together the dress. Right now, I just need to finish seams and press some more.

I'm sorry about the poor picture quality - these were taken in a hurry this morning in semi-light. I'll model it when I finish it completely.

Things I have left to do:
1. press pleats
2. press facings, especially the neck facing
3. tack neck facing
4. finish seams
5. sew the zipper again - it's not "invisible" right now

Unfortunately, I won't be able to finish it before we fly tomorrow, so it will need to wait until we come back - I couldn't secure a sewing machine while I am in Bucharest. Booh.

The dress looks all right. It is a bit on the tight side at the waist - this is because the lining will not allow it to stretch as much as it could. It's not uncomfortable, just a bit on the tight side. Besides, the lining will prove invaluable in the long run.

I was afraid the hips would look off, but they don't. What does look off though, is the top of the…

Pastille update

I did a 5-hour session of sewing yesterday for the Pastille dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook.  I mostly covered the bodice (although I didn't get to the neck facing) and the skirt. The skirt now has the side seams and a pleat sewn up, and I've also got lining skirt pieces, although these are still 3 pieces.

Things I learnt:


As I had assumed, the bodice is too short for me. In very fact, the bodice pieces put together right now get to my waist, so when factoring in sewing allowance, it would definitely be too short. To make up for this, I added a band to the waist. The band is fairly wide, but it will get trimmed down, probably to the absolute minimum (which is, 1.5cm + seam allowance) tonight.


The corduroy I'm using is very stretchy! I wonder if corduroy is very stretchy in general?!?! In any case, this is great news, as it will allow me to wear the dress with all sorts of winter clothes.

The waist band I added however, is not stretchy at all,  because I …

Sewing miniatures

One of my colleagues bought this mini sewing machine for a friend but wanted to show it to me before. It is soooo cute. And it is almost fully functional - it has a foot and a working turning mechanism and everything. The only thing missing is a threading hole for the needle.

The firm making them is apparently called Bodo Henning and they seem to be German? Although I can't find an actual website for them so this might be a vintage sewing machine. I'll try to buy one for myself to put on my desk at work.

I've got two videos as well but have so far been unable to remove office sound from them so they will   remain for my eyes only until I figure out a way to do it.

Pastille dress

I was going to get started on the coat, but then I decided I might have a bit more luck with the Pastille dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook.

I'm making it out of a light-weight corduroy I picked up at Mood in NY. I didn't alter the pattern and cut a size 2 - this seemed to be ok for the Rooibos dress. It seems Sarai is making patterns just for me :) I've tested with the tissue and it seems that the bodice will hit exactly at my waist. I have a feeling I might want the bodice a bit longer in the long run but I don't think this will matter for this version, given the material -  but I might want to alter it if I make it in a lighter colour (my corduroy is very dark navy) . I prefer my skirts/dresses to hit midway-ish between my waist and my hips rather than at my waist.

I will, however, need to make sure the fit is just right - I might want to sew the darts less wide than they're shown, given that I plan on wearing the dress with a blouse underneath (as it is st…

Napkin Basket Tutorial

I've posted this over at the Crafty Christmas Club a few days ago as well.

The problem I've always had with napkin holders is that the napkins tend to fall (or rather, not stand upright) when very few are left. That, and the fact that I couldn't find a napkin holder to buy in any of the big superstores.

I've decided to make napkin baskets this Christmas. This is the finished result:

It's a fairly simple design.  You'll need two measurements:

1. size of the targeted napkin (usually a square with width measurement only)
2. basket height

To make your pattern:

The pattern will consist of three pieces.

The first piece represents your overall basket.
1. draw on a piece of math paper the napkin
2. draw 1cm (2/5") all around
3. draw a 4 rectangles representing the height; extend the rectangles to the corners (this will result in 4 squares on the corners)
4. draw the seam allowance all around the resulting rectangle. I used about 1cm (2/5")
5. using a …

Needles for the beginner sewer

After my recent debacle with the wrong needles, I figured there might be other numpties like me out there so a tutorial about choosing the right type of needle is in order. I've actually gone out and researched this one.

Needle type

You basically have 3 big types of needles:

1. Needles for woven fabrics
These needles are sharp and can pierce fabrics. Singer lists these as type "2020".
2. Needles for knit fabrics
These needles are also called "ballpoint" needles and are designed to split the strands of fabric. Singer lists these as type "2045".
3. Needles for leather
These needles are sturdy in order to pierce leather pieces. Singer lists these as type "2032".

Remember that the little needle carton will say what the needle is for!

Needle width

And you have several types of widths, from very narrow to very thick. The thicknesses, from narrow to thick, are:

1. 70/90 - these are used for very lightweight fabrics (organza)
2. 80/11 - for lightweight fa…

Christmas plans (and some sewing machine pictures)

I'll be flying to Bucharest for 10 days next Friday. I had been mulling over what to do, especially during Christmas, when not a lot of people go out. I was thinking I could rent a sewing machine and was just about to start looking for one when I realized, this morning, that I could just get my grandma's electrical machine.

Now, my grandma has two machines. One furniture-style one, a Romanian make that's at least 40 years old. I wonder if it even has a zig-zag setting:

And an electrical one which I've never, in my life, seen. She doesn't use it. However, I am willing to bet it can be moved and since my dad is bringing my grandmother to Bucharest next week anyway, what better option? I just need to remember to call him while he's there so he won't forget.

This will enable me to work on V8548 while I'm on holiday:

Napkin basket

I've written a tutorial for The Crafty Christmas Club but I thought I'd share a picture here as well. I'll put up a tutorial here at some point as well.

The napkin basket is used for napkins in our house, but it actually has several uses. I thought I'd make another one, but smaller, to hold my thread.

More goodies

I was going to buy myself a dress form for Christmas, but I've been getting so many goodies lately that I think that would be a bit over the top. I might get one at the end of January.

Two goodies arrived today:

The Colette book. The one that Amazon said will arrive between Dec 14-22? Yes. That one. Thank you Amazon, you are great! I can't wait to dive in.

The pattern is V8548. I had been musing over making a coat for a while. I was finally convinced by two things:
1. I have a ton of grey wool left over from the grey Rooibos.
2. My existing coat (RTW) is too big.

I went for V8548 in the end because I am really keen on how it looks. Besides, I've seen it attempted in several places around the blogosphere as well so I figured I might be able to tackle it too.

Embroidered leather thing

This was originally supposed to be a holder for my glasses. However, I was always rather poor at geometry and forgot to add enough space on the pattern for the thickness of the glasses. As it stands, it only holds two pencils. Good thing I just bought a new fabric marker at John Lewis on Friday!

I spent most of my day embroidering designs from Aimee Ray's book Doodle Stitching. I chose some designs from the quilt pattern and slightly modified them as I thought appropriate. I highlighted the four designs I chose to embroider. I do find this book very good. It explains things very well and has such pretty designs inside!

Cue the pictures. The whole case looks like this:

It has 4 things embroidered. The biggest bit is on the back (don't tell anyone, but it's upside down). I actually respected the pattern as much as I could here. The two leaves bottom left are the only divergence:

The flap has a single bird. It doesn't show up properly on the front of the case though. Leng…