Seattle Part IV

Thursday 8th May

_DSF6700

We met in the morning for brunch at Oddfellows. I went for biscuit and egg, which turned out to be a scone with some scrambled egg and, confusingly, jam.

_DSF6738

After filling ourselves with noms, we headed to the exhibition space in order to set up for the evening. It was hard work, but we managed. We had an extra pair of hands when the lovely Ashley from the International Bipolar Foundation arrived. They were instrumental in helping with this project, so it was nice that she could be there to see the exhibition.

_DSF6782

Ben was lucky and avoided any of the heavy lifting as he was the official photographer for the event (actually the reason we were in Seattle in the first place). He was in charge of taking pictures of us dragging gigantic babies around, holding up boards, drilling and assembling various pieces of complicated hanging equipment.

_DSF6819

The show went really well. There was a great turnout, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I got to meet some friends of friends, as well as some strangers, and a man who kept looking at my boobs.

_DSF6969

Ellen Forney came along!

By the end of the night I think we were all glad to have a bit of a sit down after a day on our feet!

_DSF7020

Friday 9th May

_DSF7046

With feet still aching from the exhibition the night before, not to mention the fact that we hadn’t stopped walking since we arrived, we headed for breakfast at Top Pot (classic), before gingerly walking downtown to the aquarium. It began to rain half way, so our feet were glad to stop for another coffee break!

Seattle Aquarium took a little bit of finding. We ended up exploring quite a few levels of Pike Place Market on our way down, but it was worth it. The first section includes a section where you can touch some of the creatures of the deep, but they all looked a bit minging, so I decided to leave well alone. As well as various fish, I spotted a couple of octopi, watched the feeding of the harbour seals, and spent a long time cooing over the sea otters.

DSCN0675

In the evening, we met up with Tom at Dick’s Drive In, where we devoured a couple of burgers each, before heading to Rhino Room for cocktails (for the boys) and wine (for me).   After a couple of drinks, we headed back to the exhibition to see how Missy and Kim were getting on during their second night. Again, it was pretty busy, and they seemed really happy with the turnout. It was a bit chilly in the venue, so Ben, Tom and I decided to head upstairs to chill out with a second dinner, before heading home in a cab.

Saturday 10th May

After packing up, we arrived at Kim’s house in time to help everyone unload the exhibition from the van. We had a spot of lunch before helping out with a shopping trip to buy food for the Eurovision party which they were having later that day. Sadly, our flight time meant that we couldn’t attend the party, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t help out with our knowledge of european food and drink.

Finally, we waved goodbye to our friends at the airport and caught a flight home, looking forward to not walking anywhere for a few weeks!

1PPW: Birthday Dress

_DSF7143_2

Yay! I finished my birthday dress! Happy birthday to me! Oh, wait… my birthday was two months ago. I’ll be honest, all I needed to do to get it ready for my birthday was a tiny bit of hand sewing and the hem… Could I be bothered? No. Thank God for the 1PPW challenge!

This is actually my second #1ppw, but the first one is proving impossible to take pictures of. You’ll just have to contain your excitement a little longer!

Still a couple of weeks behind, I have finally got pictures! With accessories! We took the photos at the King Alfred Centre, our local swimming pool, because it looks a bit 70s, although it was built in the 30s – it was used as a training centre for the navy during the war, and went by the name H.M.S. King Alfred. Quite why they gave it a ship’s name, I’m not sure.

_DSF7135_2

I’d initially planned to make a Peony from this fabric last year, but as I am now on my second toile for that pattern, with no real hopes of getting it to fit in the foreseeable future, I’m glad I didn’t. At the time when I bought the pattern I was not a toile maker, so I’m very pleased that I now am, and that I didn’t ruin this beautiful Joel Dewberry Notting Hill cotton.

After looking at the fabric a bit more, I noticed a decidedly 70s vibe (I can find a 70s vibe in most things). I quickly dug out Dressing Chic: Revisite les 70s, and decided that the robe trapeze would be an acceptable choice.

_DSF7136_2After examining the slightly bizarre shapes of the pattern pieces, it turned into a more than acceptable choice – there are awesome little pockets built into the waist seam, and I find them the cleverest thing in the world!

The shape of the finished dress is a classic A line. It’s fitted over the bust and the shaping through the waist and hips means that it’s roomy enough to accommodate a large food baby without issues, and still flattering for someone like me, who needs waist definition like she needs air.

_DSF7139

The pattern is very nearly perfectly matched at the front, and I think the busy pattern helps to disguise it a lot. I sort of wish I’d unpicked the waist seam and corrected it, but I’ll have to live with it now. The back is less successful, and I can’t quite work out where I went wrong. I think I just need more practice to be honest. The zip is also a bit of a mess, but I think I can live with it as it’s not terrible. I do want to get an invisible zip foot at some point, though.

After trying the finished dress on, I noticed that the pattern placement over the boobs is less than ideal, but it’s a lot better than when I originally placed the other bit of the pattern over them. Ben didn’t notice until I mentioned it, so it can’t be that bad.

_DSF7141

The only modification I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by quite a lot. I’m 5’6″, and, per the pattern, this dress is shorter than I would feel comfortable wearing most of the time. At knee length, it’s perfect for most occasions.

The book is in French, and as far as I’m aware there isn’t an English translation. I speak French, so this wasn’t a problem for me, but it’s something to bear in mind if you were interested in it. The instructions are fairly visual, and if you know roughly what you’re doing and don’t mind looking a few words up, I don’t reckon the language barrier would be a problem. The patterns come in five sizes – 36 to 44. I went for a 38 and I’m somewhere around a UK 12 with the big four. 1cm seam allowances are included in the patterns, with a 3cm hem allowance (it could take a non-French speaker a while to locate that information).

_DSF7145

There are 18 patterns in the book, and I would wear at least 10 of them (I am incredibly fussy). The remaining eight aren’t really to my taste, although they’re still stylish and in keeping with the period. Of particular interest to me are a sporty A line wrap skirt, some sailor trousers, and a simple coat.

One of the highlights of the book, but sadly not one that I can see myself making, is the very 70s jumpsuit. The accompanying text reads “with a jumper underneath during the day, and a big necklace in the evening, you can wear this all day long”. Perhaps I should relax my anti-jumpsuit stance in favour of a practical all day wardrobe?

livre-dressing-chic-revisite-les-70-s

The book is really nicely styled, with photos of the outfits at the beginning, then the instruction section at the back. It’s more like flicking through a catalogue than a sewing book. Paper patterns are included in the book, although they require tracing, Burda style. I highlighted the lines I needed to trace beforehand, which made things a lot easier.

And finally, because they make me laugh:

IMG_2038

 

Seattle Part III

Wednesday 7th May

_DSF6682

There was a morning disaster when Top Pot had run out of donuts, but we soldiered on with life and walked down to the Space Needle with empty stomachs. As we were there pretty early there were no queues and we were able to catch the first lift to the top.

_DSF6675

The views were absolutely fantastic, and it was nice to be able to take our time wandering around. Although we took some of the classic tourist shots, it was also fun to take a few more unusual pictures which will probably serve as a better reminder of our trip.

DSCN0638
It was so much less stressful than our trip to the Empire State Building, and you don’t even have to pay for your cheesy tourist picture – they email the derp directly to your inbox!

SpaceNeedle_Seattle-2022406-5320348-852-H

I’d like to think this is among the top ten worst pictures ever taken of Ben and I, but I can’t be completely sure… Here’s the worst one – Empire State strikes back!

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 17.23.59

Next up, we headed to EMP, which is a music and sci-fi museum. A slightly strange combination, but they make it work. There were exhibits on Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, as well as a cool room where you could play with some instruments. We weren’t very good at that and left quite quickly.

DSCN0650

The sci-fi section of the museum was fun. I got to have my picture taken on the Iron Throne, pretend to be a raccoon, and punch a dinosaur in the face!

 

14132188365_6fda68b624_o

That evening, we went for delicious cocktails at Sun Liquor with Missy, Tom, Kim and Kathi, before walking down to Mamnoon for some of the best middle eastern food I’ve tasted. In fact, it was so good that the vegetarians in our party turned meat eater for the night. It was a surprise to find the traditional food served in such a modern setting, but that really added something different to the meal, and we all had a fantastic time sharing the plates we’d ordered (basically the whole menu). Everything was nicely washed down with crémant. I had taken some pictures of the amazing food, but they were drunk and blurry. Use your imagination. It was the perfect celebration in preparation for the exhibition the following night!

_DSF6690

 

Coming Up…

I had hoped to unveil my first t-shirt today, but Ben and I had some creative differences during the photoshoot, so that’ll have to wait for another day. In the meantime, let’s talk about fabric shopping…

The other day, my mum and I went to Goldhawk Road in Shepherds Bush for the first time. That place is AMAZING! We have quite a nice selection of fabric shops in Brighton, but they’re not grouped together and, for the most part, they’re not that cheap. Here we found at least ten fabric shops covering both sides of the street. The staff were very friendly and knowledgeable in each shop, and would always ask if we were looking for anything in particular, before just leaving us to browse if we wanted.

Obviously, I bought some stuff, and since the stash is out of control, I thought I would make a little list of upcoming projects for my reference as much as anything else. This list is subject to change as soon as I get distracted by something new and pretty, but I’m very happy with the fabric and pattern combinations below. I’m hoping that some of the other fabrics in the stash can be used for wearable muslins of all of these.

DSCN0695

I’m going to be making a Belladone in this amazing Japanese panda print for the Summer Sundress Sewalong, and I couldn’t be more excited! My first toile (bodice only) has revealed that I need to lower the bust darts by about an inch, and since it feels a bit short, I won’t take the extra length out. The hole in the back is gaping quite a bit and will need some work, but I think I will correct the front first, and see if that has any effect.

I often have issues with darts being too high and necklines gaping, so these changes aren’t very surprising. I hope that if I can get the darts right on this pattern, I can somehow use it as a guide for the Colette Peony I’ve given up on fitting. I bought the worlds shittiest tracing paper from MacCulloch and Wallis though, so pattern alterations tend to be a fraught process in our household.

DSCN0692

I left for Goldhawk Road with a vague idea about finding some patterned crepe to do my beloved Pierre Balmain Vogue pattern justice, but a visit to Al Anaka Textiles changed my mind. The owners were so helpful, asking about what I was making, and taking me off to see the new cottons they’d just got in. As soon as I saw this orange and pink paisley print, I knew it was the one! Apparently there’s a tradition in the Middle East that the first customer to buy from a roll gets a discount as a kind of blessing, so I got this for £7.50/metre. I don’t know if that’s true, but I was happy with a discount, and it’s nice to think that my dress is lucky! They were very helpful in discussing the length I would need (they thought I could get away with less, but I played it safe with the 4 1/2 metres specified on the pattern envelope). If you’re in the area, I’d really recommend a trip to their shop if you’re after some advice.

There was a recent conversation on Marcy’s blog about who we dress for, and my feeling was that I dressed for myself, although Ben had some input on his favourite colours on me and so on. I wasn’t quite sure that he would like this, and I was surprised that I was a little bothered by that. I was planning to explain about the beautiful drape of the fabric, and the 70s print being perfect for a pattern of the same era, but he declared it awesome on sight, so that was a relief. I would have made it, whatever, but it’s always nice to have a little support. He’s been commenting on how much he likes it ever since!

It’s difficult to express how pleased I am with this fabric choice. I’d spent a long time thinking about what to make this from, so it’s great to have something planned out now. And yes, I am obviously going to make the long version. My thoughts are that if I don’t find it wearable at that length, then I can always cut it down to knee length at a later date.

DSCN0690

I was very much hoping to find some African wax print fabric at Goldhawk Road and I was NOT disappointed. I think this came from A to Z fabrics, although I’m not 100% sure. The guy working there was really helpful, and happily dragged pre cut bits of fabric out of massive piles for us to hold up against ourselves in the mirror (both this shop and Al Anaka have mirrors, which is such a great idea!). I didn’t have firm plans for this fabric when I bought it, but the man said the colour suited me (I’m a sucker for flattery), I loved the little tree-croissants and at £15 for six yards, I was happy to wait and find a use for it one day. It was only during lunch that I realised it would be great for my 70s beach tunic! Any leftovers will probably become a skirt.

DSCN0691

Another brilliant African wax print! This was also probably purchased from A to Z, but was £18 for six yards. I just love the sunny nautical feeling of the print. I’m not sure what it’s going to be yet, but probably a dress of some kind (any suggestions welcome). If there’s enough left over, I am wondering about a summer dressing gown kimono thing.

DSCN0693

I found this denim in Snoopers Paradise last month, and as soon as I saw the Delphine pattern in Tilly’s book, I knew this would be perfect. This is the next project after the jammies in the book, and I’m ready to go. One change I’m going to try is an exposed zip – I think that’ll look really cool with the denim.

DSCN0694

After the skirt, I’ll be tackling the Megan dress. I’ve had this fabric in my stash for quite a while, and I think this dress is the perfect choice to show it off.

DSCN0696

When I find the time, I’d also like to continue my mission to make each view of this Simplicity pattern in leopard print.

And finally…

DSCN0689

This shirt from the first GBSB book is doing my head in at the moment. Despite careful cutting, the pattern is all off, and I just stumble from one disaster to the next – the collar is currently wonky. This was meant to be my second #1ppw but it makes me want to punch myself in the face. I’m going to put it on the back burner for a bit. Thankfully I managed to finish my birthday dress up for #1ppw instead.

Love at First Stitch: Brigitte and Margot

_DSF7122

When Tilly posted pictures of all the patterns in her Love at First Stitch book, I knew I was going to have to buy it. With the possible exception of the Brigitte headscarf and the Mimi blouse, these were all styles which I could see myself wearing a lot. I was willing to give the headscarf and blouse a try, too – I hate having my hair in my face when I’m at home, and I desperately need some nice tops.

When the book arrived, it was every bit as gorgeous as I’d expected. I spent a couple of days just stroking it and cooing weirdly. It’s packed full of patterns and tips about not only sewing, but also making it a lifestyle and it’s just a lot cooler than the majority of sewing books out there.

After reading the book from cover to cover and examining each pattern carefully, I decided that the best thing to do would be just to work through the book, making everything in order. Each pattern comes with different variations to try, so they’re really versatile.

_DSF7129_2

The first pattern is the Brigitte scarf, saviour of bad hair days the sewing world over. I’m not 100% comfortable with headscarves, especially while my hair is fairly short and I can’t tie them in a knot at the nape of my neck without revealing the knot to the world and feeling like I’m in costume. However, the hair-in-face-at-home dilemma wasn’t going anywhere, so I decided I could try out a lounge wear headscarf and see how I got on with that.

I had some purple polkadot fabric left over from that mysterious trip to a fabric shop in France, when I bought three fabrics I didn’t like that much, and left my beloved skunk print on the shelf. Actually, this was the fabric which I used for my doomed second Sorbetto. After that disaster, it remained in my stash for a long time because I thought it was more lavender than it actually is, and I had fears that it might be cursed. Also, I don’t really like polkadots – don’t tell the sewing police!

Anyway, with no firm plans for the fabric, and nothing else that I didn’t want to be seen outside the house in, I decided that I would use it to make the Brigitte headscarf and the Margot pyjamas. I thought coordinating loungewear might be a nice thing.

_DSF7130

“Things could always be worse. At least they aren’t making ME wear the scarf…”

The instructions in the book are lovely and clear, although this didn’t stop me from misreading them and making my first attempt at a scarf much too short. Once I’d recut, everything went according to plan, and I sported my headscarf that very evening!

A few days later, I was sick, and in the midst of my delirium I decided that I’d feel a lot better if I made myself some jammies to recuperate in. On the basis that I wasn’t making a muslin and I’d never made trousers before, I decided to play it safe with my long body and go for a size over my normal waist measurement. I have a habit of making things too small,  and I didn’t want these to be too tight if they had to be done up lower than I’d intended. I think it was unnecessary, but they are lovely and roomy (Ben was confused at my decision to make clown trousers). I felt better almost immediately!

The morning after making these, I went to flop on the sofa for a good lounge, but the fabric, which is not very smooth, got a bit caught up with my dressing gown, and the crotch ripped! It is a sign of how much I already love them that they were repaired ten minutes later.

One thing I might suggest is that if your fabric is a bit rough, like mine, or you’re really lazy, like me, then an elasticated waistband might make life easier. As I’m lazy, I haven’t got round to changing mine yet, but I think I will do at some point.

_DSF7133

“fml”

So far, I’m really impressed with Love at First Stitch, and I’m looking forward to the next project, the Delphine skirt.