TheSecretCostumier - Embroidery book review
Ready & waiting

Sew hot, sew lazy…

    I did it again. After having so much fun during Me-Made-May, connecting with lovely bloggers and setting myself goals for the 10 days without any disruption, I kind of burned out. I wish I could say I’ve been in a beautiful sandy beach with no internet connection and no need to even think about making clothes, but I wasn’t. Sure I’ve been busy with work and seeing people, but I’ve also done my fair bit of lying in bed pinning for hours. One of my resolutions this year was to post content more consistently AND not to worry too much if I fail. So I’m trying to just take my time, chill out and try to figure out why I’m blogging in the first place and how to move forward.

    Until I get there, let me show you this little book I picked on a marvellous Saturday afternoon, from the bookstalls under Waterloo Bridge for a fiver. This is the kind of book  that you don’t even know you need, but you realize that you have to have it the moment you hold it in your hands.

   It’s called Design for Embroidery – The Fine Art Approach, and it is what it says on the tin, and then some. I have a soft spot for embroidery since my Grandma was a real talent when it came to the pretty famous Buzsaki embroidery, and I’m a sucker for the contemporary versions too, but the techniques displayed are not the main reason I like this book. I’m a lot more drawn to the design development demonstrated through the projects. (Click on the images to make them larger.)

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TheSecretCostumier - embroidery

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The book is divided into 3 sections:

  • Concepts (1.Shape, 2.Line, 3. Colour, 4.Texture, 5.Pattern, 6. Form),
  • Application (7.Large Scale Works from paintings 8. Large Scale Works from photographs),
  • Threads, Equipment and Techniques (9. Threads, 10. Equipment, 11.How to enlarge a design, 12. Finishing).

I think this approach could be applied to using any kind of inspiration and turning it into all kinds of different techniques and garments. There is a broad range of examples of inspiration, techniques and projects which makes me look at places for ideas where I wouldn’t have thought to look before.

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This wedding veil tutorial below, takes you from sketching the design, and cutting out the patterns to sewing it on the veil. I probably bought the book because even though it was written 16 years ago, I think this veil, and the most of the projects, still look pretty modern.

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Surely this guy’s hairstyle gives the era away, but I couldn’t resist showing you this patchwork waistcoat. I would probably make something more practical with this technique, but it’s a great idea and it’s really neatly done as well.

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TheSecretCostumier - embroidery9

    Is it just me and the unusually hot London summer, or do all of you tend to abandon ‘da machine’ for a chance to sit in a rooftop bar for hours to catch the last rays of the sun? Do you have any sewing related activities when the heat related procrastination kicks in and you just can’t be asked to make a mess?  (You guys are more than welcome to not help me justify my laziness, but it would really make those hours spent on Pinterest pretending to be creative much sweeter… ) ;)

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From scratch, Refash., Stash diet/Scrap busting

Sewing, uninterrupted

It’s kind of what I’ve always longed for. 10 days alone at home. The sewing machine constantly set up, the cutting mat covering half of the kitchen floor. There’s a constant flow jazz in the background and there’s no stopping until 3 in the morning.

My mum and sister has abandoned me to visit family in Nigeria, and although I’ve realized that even though I’ve always wanted to live alone, I’m willing to admit that it’s definitely not for me. I might -weirdly- be more organised on my own (if I don’t do the washing up, nobody else will after all…), and I might have all the time in the world to do my own thing, but I painfully miss having someone around to talk to. But enough of the self-pity, I hope they are having the time of their life, and there’s only a couple of days left until they come back, so I’m planning to make the most of the remaining time. In between hosting sleepovers and dinner parties, I came up with a couple of projects to finish until next Tuesday.

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Set up dressform

I’ve made a dressform guys. Again. This time around I’ll just have to show you how it was done, as there’s so much you can learn about how NOT to make one. I would like to experiment in draping, so I’ll mark the Centre Front, CB, etc. and make a basic bodice block first, to see how close it comes to fitting my real body.

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Finish Mum’s dress

I’ve found this fabric in Rolls&Rems in the remnants box about a year ago. It’s almost finished, but the waist line is terribly wonky, so it’s the kind of annoying but necessary alteration that keeps a garment  in the cupboard for ages. I’ve already marked the new waistline, so all I need to do is gathering the skirt bit again and attaching to the bodice.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted

Make a knit garment

I have quite a bit left from the fabric I used to cover the dressform, and I guess I got the “sewing with knits bug” from seeing all the Netties, Monetas & Mabels springing up, so I decided to join the party. I’m making a bodysuit as well, by copying a RTW garment and altering the pattern so that I can use the smaller fabric pieces.

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Make toille for the Birthday Dress

My birthday is less than a month away, and even if I don’t end up wearing this, I really want to finish it by then. This is going to be the first time I’m using boning and I can smell a disaster coming, but I’m pretty excited about it at the same time. If I can fit the toille this week, then I assume I could use that as the underlining later.

Upcycle the leather shorts

I found this real leather, dark brown pair of shorts on Brick Lane for about £1.40. It’s a tad too small and very 80′s, but the wrong side of the leather looks really nice. I was going to make a moccasin for myself, or for a colleague’s newborn baby, but I might stick to making something I can actually wear in public, like a skirt, some kind of a top/jacket or a bag inspired by my ever-growing Bags to make board on Pinterest.

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Make a bra

This is my favourite fabric I’ve ever bought, and although I have about 3 meters of it (remnants box find too!), I haven’t been able to figure out what pattern could do justice to this awesome, but very loud print. To avoid making that decision I keep coming up with small projects to use a piece of it that I cut off when I  got it. I used the flowers for the embellished trainers (still in the making…) and I’m planning on making a triangle bra this time.

 P.S.: Any advice regarding draping on a form, using boning, or making bras is more than welcome! ;)

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From scratch

The over-oversized shirt

    About 2 years ago I bought a piece of a lovely reddish pink fabric. It was right when I started sewing and I was trying to be pedant, so I shoved it in the washing machine to pre-wash it. The fabric felt a little vinyl like before, and I guess I wanted to get rid of that sticky feeling, but instead I got rid of the dye all together. A light pink, rather transparent, linen like fabric emerged from the machine. After I got over the astonishment, I decided to make an oversized shirt from the March 2012 issue of Burdastyle. I had hardly any experience in sewing at that point, but I was attending a course at the time, so I decided I knew it all and took the collar from one pattern and added to another.

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I got to the above stage rather quickly, then gave up on it as I ignored the ‘oversized’ warning and cut the largest size available…Yeah, I know! The armholes ended up being way too big, hanging off my shoulder, and it was really long.

A few weeks ago I decided to just finish it off to make some space for some new UFOs fabric. I cut about 10 cms off of the hem, and left the armholes as they were. Instead of the two pockets, I only put one on, but it feels a bit small. I opened the buttonhole bit up and inserted a piece of organza as an interfacing, because I failed terribly at my first attempt of buttonhole making without it. I decided to jazz it up with different buttons, and that’s the bit I actually like the most on it.

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The good

I realized that I actually quite like to wear shirts and because of the lightweight fabric it was easy to sew. The topstitching provides a good chance to show off your skills (or the lack of thereof when it goes all wonky…).

The bad

The collar has a huge gap at the front which looks a bit weird. The cuffs are NOT FINISHED, as I’m planning on wearing them rolled up all the time. And you know, I’m lazy like that. And for some strange reason I don’t even feel bad about it!

The verdict

The pattern is simple and pretty straight forward, and since it is an oversized shirt you don’t have to worry about fitting that much (if you cut your correct size, that is). I’ve worn it twice during Me-Made-May, but to be honest it’s rather unlikely to be a staple in my wardrobe as it’s a bit too masculine for my taste. Even if it’s baby pink…

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Just a quick question for anyone who read this far: do you guys wear anything that’s not quite done? :)

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From scratch, Me-Made-May

Me-Made-May-2014: The Summary

   This was my first Me-Made-May ever, and ever since I’ve started sewing about 3 years ago. I pledged to wear something handmade for at least 4 days a week for the entire month, and I managed to do this on 25 days, with some outfit changes wearing a total of 29 outfits including a Me-Made garment. I made one new item (the peplum top) and finished 3 UFOs (pink shirt, silky trousers, asymmetric dress). I took exactly 901 photos, mostly with the help of my sister, and discovered probably over 50 like-minded bloggers I did not know before, doing just the same. It was a bit of a hassle at times, but pretty much the most exciting May of my life so far.

   I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, that I think Me-Made-May is a fantastic idea (thank you Zoe!), it really makes you focus on the usefulness of what you make and gears you towards updating your sewing goals. What I have learned about my style and ways of using garments for more than what they were intended for, will be extremely helpful when I finally get to design a capsule wardrobe for myself as part of the Wardrobe Architect project.

   Reading through other bloggers’ summaries made me realize that we have pretty much all gone through the same challenges: changing weather, changing taste, changing bodies and the lack of certain types of garments (not enough or too much separates/dresses) and I can report on having the exact same issues. But I won’t.

   Just kidding. :) I will of course, even if you are all done with reading these, I feel like putting this all down to  use it later as a reference for when I’m just about to start making something beautiful, that I could wear every 5 years to a friend’s wedding… So here are all the outfits, and if you feel like it, check out the conclusion below the images.

   I pretty much stayed true to the tried and tested silhouettes that I’ve collected for Week 3&4 (Wardrobe Architect project), but I did try out a few silhouettes that I rarely wear. Such was the figure hugging skirt + A-line top combo, or the asymmetric dress, and they both hide my waist and bring attention my legs, so even if I didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I thought I would, I would still avoid making those types in the future. Plus they just don’t work with le bike. From looking over the pictures above, I identified what I need more of and what works already:

Dresses

The third most popular item, the backless dress proved to be extremely versatile, and I always feel a little sexy wearing it, even if it’s layered under tops and jumpers. The wrap dress was made in no time and I really love wearing it, although it does need to be shortened. As for the Kimono dress and the “Dior one”, I only wore them to make Me-Made-May a bit more interesting, otherwise they don’t quite fit into my everyday wardrobe, not even for date nights,  if I’m being honest. I still need to figure out if I just didn’t make them comfy enough, or the fabric is too fancy to pull it off with trainers…

I need: At least one more backless dress, simple dresses in solid colours. Wrap dresses, and dresses made of knit fabrics. I don’t own any jumpsuits yet, but they should be a great alternative to dresses for summer, so I am planning to give them a try.

Skirts

I only have few handmade skirts, but the they got the most use throughout the month. The most successful ones were the pleated faux leather one, probably because of the basic black colour and the interesting texture gives. The other often worn skirt was the simplest item I have in my wardrobe, the burnt orange/rust coloured velvet circle skirt, which ticks all my boxes regarding shape, length, colour and the ability to be dressed up or down.

I need: More simple skirts in solid colours, from interesting fabrics.

Trousers

As for trousers, it looks like fit is everything. The pink ones used to be high-waisted and I liked them like that. Now that I’ve lost some weight they are hanging somewhere between my waist and hip, and the fabric isn’t the best either. The black silky one would have been a good idea, but I really need to take my time to test patterns when it comes to trousers, as a gaping neckline is really annoying, but not being able to sit down in something is really the deal breaker.

I need: Well fitting comfortable trousers that work for summer. Try a palazzo style and a slim fitting one.

Tops

I can’t believe I could wear something handmade for almost every day for an entire month with having only 3 (4 with the refashion) Me-Made tops in my wardrobe. Out of those 4, 3 only work with high-waisted trousers or skirts, and the one shirt I made is a bit less than perfect, as well as pretty hard to pair with anything, due to its baby pink colour. Although I am pretty happy with my basic RTW T-shirts, there is definitely room for improvement in this section.

I need: More tops, obviously. Sleeveless ones for summer, a few more crop tops, another shirt, the perfect white T, and maybe some woven basic tops. 

Well, we are almost in the middle of June and all that documenting somewhat kept me from actually sewing stuff, so I am planning to jump back into it again. Kath, from Bernie and I, had a brilliant idea to keep us all going, by suggesting to make 1 project per week for an entire month. I was going to do it in June, but guess what, I’m running late with finishing the first #1ppw already, but as long as I have 4 finished pieces by the end of June, I will call this a success, so bear with me…

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TheSecretCostumier-Sneak Peak 2

Refash.

Sneak peak #2

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From scratch, Me-Made-May

Me-Made-May 2014: Week 5

    This is it. The last week of my first ever Me-Made-May. In many ways this was the hardest, yet most exciting week of all, and I managed to wear 7 outfits including a Me-Made item during the week (one of which is not photographed). The big discovery this week was the fact that I can take pictures by using a voice command on my phone. Oh my God guys! I’ve spent the most hilarious 30 minutes playing dressing up, as I had to repeatedly shout “cheese” or “shoot”. Obviously it does not work all the time, so I had to concentrate on pronouncing it right, trying to make my mouth look as if it was shut, sucking the belly in, keeping my back straight, trying not to cross my legs ALL THE TIME…oh, and smile! I failed miserably 99 times out of 100, often running for shelter when a neighbour walked by our window, but I only needed one photo of each outfit anyway… :)

    I’m not sure if my subconscious was influenced by seeing all the lovely Netties appearing everywhere, but I brought my RTW versions out of the wardrobe a few times too, as you can see I’m a lover of the bodysuit (wearing one on Day 26, Day 29, Day 31).

    My favourite attire this week was probably the one I was wearing on Day 27. I love wearing monochrome outfits, although it looked more cool and less lazy in my head. :)

    My least favourite was the one with the self drafted disaster that resembles a pair of silk jogging trousers. It’s everything I wanted: high-waisted, kind of snug around my bum and loose on my calves, with rolled up hems and all, but it started off as something totally different and ended up being too tight to be the comfy pants you can just throw on and still look kind of chic. I’ll take some better photos of it one day, as I have not declared it unwearable as of yet, since you know… I’ve worked my ass off making them, plus I kind of invented a way to wear the same trousers with high and low waist. Yeey!

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Me-Mades this week:

In a few days time I’m planning on wrapping this little baby called Me-Made-May up, drawing conclusions, identifying gaps, connecting ideas to the Wardrobe Architect project, you know, just the things one does after a month like this…

 

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From scratch, Me-Made-May, Refash.

Me-Made-May: Week 4

    I kind of hope that some of you missed my Me Made post from the beginning of the week. I have never gotten this close to being consistent with blogging, and I blame the weather for this minor delay. Sunday was way too sunny to stay indoors and photograph the 7!!! outfits for last week (I wore two different ones on Thursday), so I put it off until I felt so bad about not doing it, that I did what I had to…took photos of myself. Sorry about the lifeless expressions, but I am practically in pain during these sessions, as:

  • I don’t have a tripod, but use some pillows and books to put the phone to the right height,
  • I don’t have a remote control, so I run back and forth between two shots,
  • and I don’t particularly enjoy the neighbourly stares either.

But. I do love this blog, I love seeing other people’s creations and I honestly love the whole Me-Made-May project, so it is still worth it!

    Last week I wore Me Mades 6 days of the week, but I’ve only included 5 outfits here, as I could not possibly take photos of the remaining 2 (see agony above), and I also decided to wear them again this week. While I’m more than happy to repeat outfits, it’s just boring to show them more than once, isn’t it?

    My favourite ensemble this week was what I wore on Day 22, as I felt really confident and modern in the trousers (borrowed from the Sis’), short-sleeved blazer, trainers combo. Day 23′s attire is a very close second though, as I felt clever for using the backless dress as a top and underskirt. Not so much when I was riding and it was impossible to tie the bulky skirts up to avoid getting it between the wheels while cycling…

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    What I really enjoyed this week was the way I reused garments. For example wearing the draped dress or the backless dress as a top, reminded me of the Uniform Project, and how you realise that clothes can do double duty, once you are forced to step out of your comfort zone and make the most of what you have. I must admit I kind of feel like a child wrapped in a blanket, playing dress up, but I guess that’s how I discovered sewing in the first place…

Me-Mades this week:

PS: If someone from a trainers company happens to read this blog, and you are desperately looking for a volunteer to test drive some shoes, similar to the ones pictured above, then don’t be shy, send them over to me. As you can see I’d be doing a pretty good job promoting them. ;)

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