Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pay it Forward 2011

I just stumbled across a lovely post from Natasha. She is taking part in 'Pay it Forward 2011', which is a wonderful project about friendship and sharing. I love the idea of sending handmade surprises around the world to like-minded people!

This is how it works:
The first five people who comment on this blog post will receive a handmade gift from me.
The only requirement in return, you must first write a blog post explaining 'Pay It Forward 2011'.
Then, about the most exciting part, make and send a handmade gift to the first 5 visitors who comment and commit to do the same.
Don't worry about time. You don't need to send them all today or tomorrow.
Gifts from the heart take time and are worth waiting for them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Yesterday at the library, I was supposed to be gendering detective fiction and studying Russian. Instead, I daydreamed about sewing.
"I can always study later... time for a sewing break! Yeah, great idea!"

Maybe not such a great idea...

Two hours and a few BBC podcasts later, here is the muslin for my Beignet...


Once again muslins have proven to be anything but a waste of time. The general consensus with this make is that it doesn't flatter my figure. I think I just got carried away with Tilly's Beignets -- ordering the pattern and planning away my makes -- and forgetting that high waists never actually have looked good on me! (Tilly, I'm blaming you.)

So long Beignet!

I now have to find another use for my grey linen and thick cotton piqué... Any ideas?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fabric Shopping in Leeds

My wonderful day starts with a pain au chocolat and a cappuccino at the train station. It seems it can't get any better, but it does.

Beeline from the train station to the Kirkgate market: I have been dreaming about this moment for days! This is Ali Baba's cave!

We spent almost three hours in there. Poor Mr. All Style and All Substance... The shop attendant told me "He's very patient."
- "Yes, I am a lucky woman!"

I ended up spending a very reasonable £50 for two bags full, including five meters of pure wool (which, in retrospect, may have been a little excessive). I spent over £100 in London for a similar stock-up this fall, which is incredibly expensive when I convert this into Canadian dollars. Leeds market is the way to go, my friends. Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so, because we met a London designer who had come all the way to Leeds to buy several rolls for her line.

The happiest woman in the world:

Here are some of my purchases:

A type of crêpe for a blouse

Linen for a Beignet skirt. (I love the fabric, but I do regret going for the grey. I'm afraid it will be difficult to integrate in my warm-hued wardrobe. Note to self: stick to black or brown next time.)

Wool for a Rooibos dress from Colette patterns.

And cottons for facings and crafts

And finally, for the pièce de résistance, lobster madness! I bought it because the price was right (i.e., low) and it reminded me of a skirt I saw in the Horrockses exhibit this fall at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. I was thinking of making a kooky summer dress or skirt, but I now think it would be difficult to pull off without looking like a seafood-restaurant.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

First sewing lesson!

Today I gave my first sewing lesson (sewer expert now). I showed my housemate Albane how to turn her dress into a tunic.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a "before" picture, but here you can admire the end result. Not bad for someone who's never used a sewing machine before!

And the details...

As you can see, it was a gorgeous day in Hull today. We've been really spoiled in terms of weather these days, especially when I know there is still snow in Toronto. It makes me appreciate it all the more. :-)

Last Monday I went to Leeds for an academic event. What is the first thing I did there? You guessed it: check out the fabric shops. To my great chagrin, the stores were closed in the early morning and late afternoon, but they looked so promising that I shall go back to Leeds this Friday to cheer up my poor fabric-deprived self. (By the way, I never realised that Leeds was the second biggest city in the UK. It's huge.) I'll let you know how the fabric shopping goes! (Can't wait!!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Surprise from the mail

I was woken up this morning by an envelop being thrown at my head... What on earth?

From the US! My Colette Patterns!!

After seeing all the beautiful Beignet skirts popping around the blogosphere, I finally broke down and ordered it. And since I was already paying for shipping, it simply made much more sense to order a second one in the same order. (Pure logic.) I picked the Roiboos dress because I liked Karen's version in wool so much. So warm and comfortable for winter... just throw it on and start your day.

Following a suggestion from a BurdaStyle member, I decided to wear the Korean schoolgirl shirt in a bow. I certainly seem to fit in the decor of this colourful vegetarian café, where we were celebrating my friend's birthday -- Happy birthday Alessandra!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bodice Block

Here is what my bodice block looks like (using the eSewingWorkshop method). Here are some ideas and inspiration for what to do with it.

Sibeli from Burda style has designed a beautiful open-back dress with her bodice block. This would be nice for summer!

Courtesy of Sibeli

I love this one as well.

Courtesy of Sibeli

I could make one of these two dresses in this vibrant cotton I bought in London.

Finally, Sibeli has also made this beautiful dress which has in turn inspired Natasha from Natty Jane Sews. It is based on a Colette pattern, I believe.

Courtesy of Sibeli

Courtesy of Natasha

Natasha has also made another version of the dress, in a light and feminine cotton.

Courtesy of Natasha

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Madame Gray

I had made this dress last year and I realised I had never posted it for you Readers!!

This was the first dress I imagined and completed. I used basic dress pattern See & Sew’s B5168 and changed the neck opening to make it V-shaped in addition to adding a collar and cap sleeves.

I can't tell you what the fabric is other that it is synthetic and stretchy (I really must work on my fabric knowledge!). It's this type of fabric that a lot of cheap retail skirts and pants are made of, in stores like Dynamite and Suzy Shier, you know what I mean? Probably a kind of polyester with Lycra. Anyways, this fabric was extremely difficult to work with because of its slippery quality and its stubborn resistance to my iron! I will leave this fabric for the more experienced sewers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pendrell Blouse 2

Ta-daaah! My second Pendrell. Can you tell I love this pattern?

The fabric is viscose. I cut a size 2 everywhere this time, trading off a more taylored look for comfort in the back.

Another thing I did was cut the binding pieces a little bigger, because I found the ones the pattern prescribed were too small last time, for some reason. The armholes were a lot easier to bind with slightly longer pieces this time around.

I was feeling experimental and I tried different things at first. One of them was this version with no sleeves and black bands instead of frills. It doesn't look so bad on here, but it looked a little weird in real life. The bands wavered a little, and the general look was just homemade. So I opted for the frills again.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Productive Weekend

Dear Readers,

I've been extremely productive this weekend. In addition to everything I had to do for uni, and to my other obligations (such as it being my turn to clean the entire house this weekend, which took 3 hours), I managed to finish my second Pendrell blouse and to draft my bodice block to my measures.

What is a bodice block? Well, remember the pants I made for Olivier? I followed the tutorial from eSewing workshop for the bodice and drafted my basic torso pattern. I can now use this pattern to create new designs by modifying it. I should be a lot easier than the previous method I was using.

Note: Mr. All Style & All Substance is currently traveling with my laptop and I haven't yet found a way to download my pictures from my camera to his computer, so bear with me Readers as I try to figure this out.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Pendrell Blouse

I could not narrate the inner process that led me to the Pendrell blouse better than Karen, from Did you make that? Her post really made me laugh!

I decided at the last minute to change pattern, even though I had already cut my fabric for another blouse (risky, I know!). I ordered the famous Pendrell blouse pattern from Sewaholic recently, and the red floral fabric was just perfect for it, with all its drape. The website said I could expect the pattern to arrive towards the end of March, but to my great surprise it arrived four days later, so a month earlier! Tasia from Sewaholic has started her own pattern line that is flattering to the pear figure. I am really happy she is doing this because I think there is definitely a market for it. Most clothing stores – and pattern companies – use a V-shape or hourglass model. These don’t suit a pear figure at all.

My verdict is that the Pendrell blouse was indeed as great as everyone said. The first fitting was pretty close to perfect - which never happens usually. I still had to make minor adjustments:
- The chart suggested a size 4 for my measurements, but the mock-up turned out to be a little big. I made a combination of size 0 (upper part) and 2 (lower part).
- I created an extra opening at the back to fit over my head.
- I reduced the size and length of the frills. (I am now not sure this was a good idea, because it reduced the illusion of wider shoulders.)

Overall, it was a really good pattern to work with. The instructions were very clear and the style is so flattering to my figure. I recommend it warmly and I am impatiently waiting for her next pattern. (I hear it's going to be a skirt.)

Another thing I liked is that I learned a new technique for finishing neck and arm openings. My first attempt was pretty irregular, but I think I got it now. It makes for a very clean and professional finishing and I will definitely use this technique again.

I am already planning my next Pendrell blouse. I have a great fabric for it...


I’m sorry to have kept you waiting, Readers!

Here is the mock-up of my Pendrell blouse.

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished garment!

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