January Stash-Stats

4314475543_38eeaf4f36_oI love me some statistics, especially when they involve sewing. I thought it would be fun to try and keep tabs on what I’ve sewn each month, and how the stash is looking. I’ve even done a little table!

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 16.59.09

Resolutions
Make (and finish) something every month
I made three things this month! I think that is a record!
Try and have my fabric stash down to 50 metres by the end of the year
Alas, my stash is now up by four metres. I’m going to India next month, so I doubt that will help with the stashbusting.
Make a quilt
I’ve put all of the fabrics I intend to use into a little bag. That counts for something, right?
Keep the WIP/Refashion shelf-of-shame under control
Yes! I took a look through my pile of UFOs and chucked one which was making me particularly sad. I then completed one of my WIPs, as well as a (very simple) refashion, so this area is looking pretty good right now.

What did I Make?
A bed for Alfie (-1m stash fabric)
Deer and Doe Belladone (-1 WIP, -1m stash fabric)
Trousers to Shorts refashion for Ben (-1 Refashion)

What did I Add?
I fell off the wagon in the last weekend of January and bought:
2 vintage sewing patterns from a local charity shop (£1 total)
3m purple ponte from a local charity shop (£5)
3m tulip print cotton from Fabric Land (£12)
TOTAL: £18 – I can live with that

What are the Plans for February?
Some last minute holiday clothes!
Several items of my Seasonal Sew Wardrobe (see the Facebook Sewalongs group for details – I’ll do a proper post about my plans soon).

Photo credit: Deb Stgo

 

Advertisements

Wax On, Wax Off. Or, Just Wax On.

_DSF8518I bought this wax print in Goldhawk Road last year, and I struggled to know what to do with it for a while. Ben deciding that the print looked a bit phallic didn’t help (I like to think of them as anchors or some other nautical thing). I have a habit of buying lovely fabric and then worrying about what to do with it until I get fed up of looking at it and buy something new. At the end of the day, there was six yards of this, so an exploratory skirt wasn’t going to hurt if I hated it.

simplicity-sewing-pattern-1365-1970s-vintage-halter-neck-tops-p6787-14682_zoomOnce I decided on the skirt, I also considered making a halter neck top to go with it (or apart from it). This dream has yet to be realised, but I still like the idea. I just need to make a muslin of Simplicity 1365 and see if there is any way that is going to work for me without a bra. Anyway, I couldn’t wait to show you the skirt, so you will just need to contain your excitement for a while longer (estimate: a year at current sewing speed).

Anyway, that’s enough about me and my ability to procrastinate. I’ve borrowed some questions from Pattern Review to tell you all about it.

_DSF8513Pattern Description: 
Dirndl skirt from Love at First Stitch

Pattern Sizing:
Self drafted (ish)

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Yes

_DSF8519What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The instructions were clear, and drafting a skirt based on my own waist measurement was a revelation – it fits!

Fabric Used:
Wax print cotton // £18 for six yards // Somewhere on Goldhawk Road (A-Z Fabrics?)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
– Normal zip instead of the invisible one recommended. This was purely based on what I had in the stash.
– Belt loops added because my waist measurement fluctuates wildly on a day to day basis, so I can wear it on both fat and skinny days (these photos were taken on a skinny day and I think it still looks fine when cinched in by the belt).

_DSF8521Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

Yes. I would probably make the waist band slightly narrower if I made it again, and I might try moving the zip to the side so I could cut the back piece on the fold. I might also experiment with a maxi length one.

Conclusion:
Very happy with this. It’s always nice to have a cheerful summer skirt in the wardrobe. I’m also quite pleased with my pattern matching on the side and back seams.

Moving on up!

hD96A198D

Hurrah! I am back! And I am accompanied by my new life mantra – chill the fuck out!

The past couple of months have been exhausting. I started a new job with a three hour daily commute, We bought a flat, decided not to hire removal men, and then, unsurprisingly, I got sick three times in six weeks. So, yeah, time to chill the fuck out.

IMG_2356

I’ve got space for a sewing area in the corner of our bedroom. It’s not that light, so I’ve added a lamp to the desk and also on top of my trusty Billy bookcase. I took this picture at night – it is normally a bit better than this. I’ll eventually replace Billy with some shelves attached to the wall (he has to stick out into the room a bit because of a plug socket in the way). We’re going to redecorate the bedroom at some point, so I’ll probably wait until then to make any changes.

Most of the furniture is from Ikea, because we bought it in Belgium, and there were very few (cheap) options I found for buying furniture there. I’d like to update it with something more interesting at some point. I got the chair when my old company in Brussels updated their meeting rooms. I have two of them, and I think they are probably 1950s-60s. I’m not a big fan of leather furniture, but I’m also quite reluctant to recover these; they’re a bit scuffed, but I think it adds to their character. They’re really meant to go around the dining table which we haven’t found yet, but I tried another chair at my desk and it wasn’t very comfy. Maybe I should go back to Belgium and see if they have any left in storage?

IMG_2371

After setting up my sewing area, I promptly sat down and finished off a few repairs and a skirt I’d been making. I then sat down and had a think about what I want to sew next. I want to get back on track with the wardrobe architect thing because I really want to sew things which I can wear all the time, and I don’t do that right now. I’m lucky to work in an office where I can wear anything I want, so I should take advantage of that, and make exactly what I want to be wearing.

I’ve got a couple of pre ‘personal style revelation’ makes to show you, but apparently I get less and less photogenic as each day goes by. I’ll reconsider the pictures I’ve already taken when I’m feeling less grumpy about my face.

Is taking pictures of yourself the worst thing about having a blog for you? If not, what is the worst? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS FOR TAKING A DECENT PICTURE!!

Tokyo: Nippori

After visiting Japan recently, I’ve decided that instead of doing my usual diary style posts about our trip, I’d separate my posts by neighbourhood, rather than day. It’s the sort of thing that I would find really useful if I was going somewhere, so I hope that others might, too. First up, the last place we visited…

Nippori-map-1-723x1024

It’s unusual for me to be able to combine my two big interests (at least blogwise) in one post, but a visit to Nippori Fabric Town allows me to do just that! Luckily, Sally gave me a special dispensation to buy fabric in Japan during the Summer Stashbust, otherwise this would have been a very sad visit.

Ben and I caught the metro to Nishi-nippori (C-16 on the Chiyoda line)and then walked for about ten minutes down to Nippori station (JR Yamanote line), where we met Paul and Jamie. I was conscious that nobody else was very interested in fabric shopping, but I was willing to take advantage of their politeness and make the most of my time in fabric heaven. While we waited for Paul and Jamie, we enjoyed a spot of people watching, including these children and their plants.

_DSF7422

The fabric shops are located on or near Nippori Chuo Dori, which runs directly east from the square outside the station. I found the map at the top really helpful for locating the places I knew I wanted to visit from blog research, although you should note that Japanese maps put the direction you’re facing, and not north at the top of the map. It makes sense after a while. Oh, and you should bring cash, as a lot of the shops don’t take cards.

I wanted to visit Mihama, as I’d heard a lot about their discounted and precut bags of fabric. You can’t open the bags before buying, but people seem to have a lot of luck there. Sadly, I… um… well, I couldn’t work out how to get into the shop. It may have been shut. Tokyo is really confusing, and there were so many other places to visit that I decided to move on, rather than force my way into what could have been somebodies house.

_DSF7424

Fortunately, I was soon cheered by the discovery of the first of five(!!!) Tomato shops. Each shop has a different theme, although I didn’t find this immediately obvious during my visit. There’s Notion (selling notions), Arch (selling sale fabrics, and housing the “1 metre for 100 yen” section), Main Building (with more metres for 100 yen, as well as multiple floors of fabric goodness of all sorts), Interior (selling curtain and home furnishing fabrics), and finally Select (selling some more fancy stuff, including organic cotton).

It always takes me a while to get into the swing of a fabric shopping trip, but by the time we got to the second Tomato shop (the main one, I think), I was ready to start buying! I wasn’t sure whether the language barrier would be an issue, but the shop assistants were polite, helpful, and very efficient, even if we were holding fingers up at each other to signify lengths. I made an early decision to buy three metres of everything, since that would cover most eventualities. I’m not sure if it’s possible to buy half metres, since I didn’t know how to express that with my hands.

_DSF7427_2

A nice light fitting in the nana shop

I think we visited all of the Tomato shops, but I only bought from two of them (the main one and Select). I also browsed in a lot of different shops, buying from one other place (I don’t know which one – it was between Interior and Select). That shop had some nice traditional fabrics (which I didn’t buy) and a lovely old nana working there. I wanted to take her home with me, but apparently she wasn’t for sale.

We also looked into a shop full of buttons (including some awesome sewing, skeleton and cat themes ones), but I struggle to get excited about notions after a nasty childhood encounter with the dragon lady who ran the button stall at our local craft fair. I was accused of muddling the buttons up into the wrong pots, which I so wasn’t doing and it was all very unfair and traumatic for six year old me.

I’m really pleased with the fabrics that I bought. I didn’t want to buy for the sake of it, even if the prices were low. There were some really cute fabrics available, but I only bought things which I could really see myself wearing. Want to see?

380 yen (2 GBP – why has my pound sign stopped working??) per metre from Tomato. I’ve given this to my mum, who is planning to make a dress.

380 yen (2 GBP) per metre from Tomato. Not sure if you can see the second layer of geometric print in this picture. Current plan: dress (maybe a Megan or a Lilou)

Foxy fabric. I can’t remember how much it cost, but it will probably become a blouse. This came from the nana shop.

Reversible spotty chambray (the other side has anchors, but they don't photograph well). 850 yen (5 GBP) from Tomato Select.

Reversible spotty chambray (the other side has anchors, but they don’t photograph well). 850 yen (5 GBP) from Tomato Select. Current plan: 70s style sundress.

Gorgeous stripy cotton voile(?) from Tomato Select for 1500 yen (9 GBP) per metre. Current plan: some kind of top

Gorgeous stripy cotton voile(?) from Tomato Select for 1500 yen (9 GBP) per metre. I don’t have a plan for this yet, but it will become something beautiful.

After finishing up the shopping, we decided to retrace our steps towards Nishi-nippori station in search of a place for lunch. As it wasn’t such a touristy area, it was a challenge to find somewhere with pictures outside (by far the easiest way to know what you’re ordering), but we stumbled across a place with delicious and cheap katsu basically right opposite the station. In most restaurants you get a jug of water on the table, but here we were able to help ourselves to something which tasted like a cold combination of rice tea and coffee. It was strange, but quite nice once you got used to it!

In the area: Heavy rain put us off a walking tour, but Yanaka is just on the other side of the railway track, and I reckon you could make it around both areas in a day. Having survived earthquakes and WWII, Yanaka is more historic than a lot of Tokyo. With a lot of wooden structures and temples, it sounds like a lovely place to spend an afternoon. Our guidebook (Lonely Planet Pocket Tokyo) suggested a walk starting at Yanaka Ginza, before heading in a large semi circle around artists studios, coffee shops, bars and shops. This is on my list of areas to visit when we get the chance to go back to Tokyo. 

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.