In the past few months I was fairly quiet here, but not because I lost my sewjo, but because I was working on something super exciting. 😉

Ever since I started sewing I dreamt of turning this hobby into a full-time gig, so when I found out about a new project where a disused car park got turned into studios in the heart of Peckham (where I live in London), I knew I had to apply. Fast forward about 2 years I submitted my application, got invited for an interview, and signed the paperwork for the studio in July. Since they had a large number of applications I got offered a shared studio, which luckily worked out beautifully, as Jam, my studio buddy is the most talented and coolest guy I could have asked for.

We were supposed to move into Peckham Levels at the end of September, but we ended up getting the keys in January this year. With both myself and Jam working full time it took a little longer than expected to get all the painting and flooring, and furniture assembling done, but with the help of our families and friends, we are finally all settled in. On Levels 1-4 there are 50 studios with a nice mix of mostly local creatives, while on Levels 5-6 there are co-working areas and some pretty cool restaurants and bars.

I will be running sewing classes, creating bespoke garments and starting a sustainable fashion brand at some point, which is why the name Atelier Otubu seemed like a good fit to sum up what this little space of mine will be about. I am currently working round the clock to get the new website in shape for the Open Studios this weekend and I thought it would be great to open the doors virtually too, since this whole sewing love began right here on this blog. I will share how the event goes, but if you are in London on Friday or this weekend, it would be great to see some familiar faces. 😀

From scratch

Atelier Otubu


Well, this last photo says it all really… I am usually very bothered about what a handmade garment looks like on the inside, as I think that’s where you can spot all the care that went into it making it, but I was too excited to finish sewing this and could not be bothered enough to change the bobbin thread every time I had to sew the elastic on… hence the ugly white zigzag stitching on the black elastic. 😦

Carelessness aside, I used the same pattern as for my other/first ever bra, with some modifications. I elongated the band and the bridge, and attached the straps to the upper cup differently. It’s still a really well-fitting bra, although the band bunches up a little, since I did not add any boning to keep it straight.  The only reason I don’t wear it as often as I could, is that the elastic feels a bit itchy. I am not sure if it’s the elastic itself or the stitching, but it doesn’t feel smooth enough on the skin.

I used some leftover lace from a christening dress I made last year, and lined it with the silk dupioni from the same dress. The mesh lining of the lace is an off-white colour, which is quite visible on the pictures, but luckily it makes no difference when the bra is worn.

All in all I am still quite happy with how this turned out, especially as there is always an option to change the things I don’t love about it. Maybe in one of those empty hours when there are absolutely no other things-to-be-sewn competing for my attention… 😉

From scratch

Bra no. deux


Last time I spent a long weekend in Portugal was convincing enough to decide that just over 2 days in Porto will be worth doing. And boy, was I right!

The trip got off on the right foot when the lovely guy we were chatting to on the plane offered to give us a lift to our Airbnb, and it turned out he lived on the same street! We were staying right next to the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal where we spent our first evening sampling the craft beer at a little festival.

Saturday was spent by walking around the hilly streets of the city, marveling at the murals of the Sao Bento Station, strolling along the Douro, across the Dom Louis I Bridge, and by going all the way to the beach aboard the old tram.

We had dinner at this amazing restaurant that looked like a curiosity shop, had live music, and the best duck I’ve had since the last time I’ve had the best duck – in Lisbon. 🙂

On Sunday we checked out a few of the port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia, but in search for something a bit more authentic or at least less touristy we decided to walk all the way up the hill to Graham’s. It was the best decision ever. We joined one of their cellar tours and wine tasting sessions, and enjoyed the beautiful view.

After all that lunchtime drinking we headed to the beach again, this time with the intention of checking out the pools in Leca de Palmeira and braving the ice-cold Atlantic Ocean. We could not leave Porto without trying the famous Francesinha of course, which is a bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries (Wikipedia).  I do like meat, and it sure is really unique, but I doubt I will ever have it again…

I’m sure it’s clear to see that I fell in love with Porto, just like I did with Lisbon, and this time Fado was not even on the menu, so I would definitely recommend you put it on your bucket list. 😉



60 hours in Porto

Me-Made-May 2017

Me-Made-May 2017: The Summary

It has now become a tradition to reflect on my Me-Made-May adventures a week late, right when I have recovered from the exhaustion of choosing outfits from a relatively small selection of clothing. 😉

Last year I pledged to wear me-mades head-to-toe, and I managed to do it for 27 days out of the 31 with no repeats. This year my pledge was to wear me-mades from head-to-to every day, including bras, and to do something sewing related daily (kind of failed at this, but I did sew a lot in May).

During the first few days I was feeling a bit lost and uninspired, but as soon as I took the burden of photographing outfits daily off my shoulders (by taking all the photos over the weekends), I ended up totally loving it, just like in previous years.

This year I was sharing my outfits daily on Instagram, which made Me-Made-May so much more fun, since not only did I get a massive amount of positive feedback, I also was really inspired by all the fantastic sewists I discovered, as well as by those I have already been following.

Having lovely sewing friends/bloggers who read this blog and who always found the time to say something encouraging also helped make this month extra special for me. So I would like to say a big THANK YOU, because sewing is a lot of fun on it’s own, but being part of this community is what it makes it way more than a hobby to me.

So without further ado, here is here is a look at what I wore and how my me-made wardrobe changed in a year.

I wore 31 me-made garments during the month, and while I missed posting daily outfit photos on Instagram a few times, I did manage to keep up with the challenge every single day of May. In total I wore:

  • 8 dresses;
  • 3 skirts;
  • 4 trousers;
  • 9 tops;
  • 5 pieces of lingerie and swimwear;
  • and 2 jackets.

In 2016: I concluded that I needed casual & comfortable dresses that I can wear in all (London) weather conditions.

Since 2016: I have made 7 new dresses and wore all of them except for the Vogue dress. I am really happy with how comfortable they are, but most of them are not exactly suitable for work due to the tiny spaghetti straps or the lack of coverage at the back. I do make them work anyway. 😉

I need: Nothing really, but a Little Black Dress is due to be made for the #makenine challenge, so if I find inspiration, then it’s going to happen. I am also turning 30 in July, so I feel like I should make something special like the Birthday Dress, to get more excited about the otherwise rather small celebration.   


In 2016 I wrote: “I really enjoyed wearing the lime green A-line skirt this year, and I would like to make a few similar ones of lighter materials for summer.”

Since 2016: I have made two wool skirts that are perfect for work.

I need: Again, I don’t need anything else, but I would love to have a light, button-down midi skirt in a solid colour for the summer, and an A-line denim skirt, maybe with some embroidery.


In 2016 I wrote: “ I need more trousers!!! I am taking a pattern cutting course at Morley College again, now learning about the trousers block, so hopefully I will be able to improve on this soon. ”

Since 2016: The pattern cutting class definitely made me more confident in making trousers, and so two new pairs were born. The Delpozo inspired bright blue one felt like a failure at first, as it turned out very tight and I thought it was too fancy for everyday wear. Me-Made-May however, made me see how versatile it really is, and I love that it’s impossible to feel underdressed wearing them.

The other pair I made, the navy culottes, was love at first sight. It’s practical, comfy and seems to go with absolutely everything. 😀

 I need: Finally I don’t feel desperate for new trousers. I would love to tackle sewing jeans, but I am not a huge fan anyway, so this project can wait.


In 2016: “I need more tops! I probably need to go back to the Wardrobe Architect project and finish it before I start making things that don’t work with the rest of the wardrobe. I have a few ideas already though, and after the trials and tribulations of making my second shirt, I think I enjoyed the process just as much as I enjoy wearing it, so I’m up for making more!”

Since 2016: I made two super simple tops that quickly became favourites. Since finishing the challenge, I also finished a white linen shirt, which I suspect will also be a staple.

I need: I bought some fabric with making tops in mind (meaning= I didn’t want to spend much money, so I only bought half a meter each 🙂 ), I just haven’t figured out what kinds of tops they should be…


For the first time this year, I was also wearing me-made bras and swimwear too. When I started making bras I didn’t think I’ll ever stop making them, but somehow I managed to end the obsession after bra number 2. Even though we made a pair of knickers during my lingerie making course at Morley, and I found it way easier than I remembered, I am still not confident enough to give that a go.

I need: To finish the toile for the self drafted bra that I’ve started a long time ago. Other than that, I think I am okay in this department.

Whew! That’s a wrap. 🙂


Me-Made-May: The last week and a half

I’m sure most people are sick of seeing daily outfit posts by now, but after catching up on sleep, I thought it was time to document what got worn on the last few days of Me-Made-May – and finish what I started.

Day 22

Top: Self-drafted linen top inspired by this one on Pinterest

Skirt: Burdastyle A-line skirt

I finished this skirt quite a few years ago, and did not wear it until one of the Me-Made-Mays when I had absolutely nothing else to wear. These days I am obsessed with it. I still don’t wear it daily, but whenever I do, I feel amazing in it.

Day 23

Top: Self-drafted, tablecloth-turned-peasant-blouse

Trousers: Self-drafted trousers, inspired by a Delpozo pair

I wore the trousers again which seemed too tight to even sit down in when I finished them. I still need to be careful with big lunches, but I think I’m finally in love.

Day 24

Dress: Self-drafted, self-designed

On this particular Wednesday I was interviewing for a studio space at a very exciting new project that is opening up where I live. If I got the studio I could be part of a community of entrepreneurs and would finally have a dedicated place to make dresses just like this. Soooo… fingers crossed! 😊

Day 25

Dress: Modified Burdastyle slip dress

I wore this dress to work as it was super hot and I was running late, and while it did keep me cool while sitting at my desk, I felt the need to cover up every time I left our office, so in the future I will probably leave it for after hours.

Day 26

Dress: Another self-drafted, self-designed dress

This was my last day at work before leaving for holiday, and it happened to be another beautiful and sunny day, so I opted for this backless dress. I think I need to sew a lightweight jacket, or kimono so that I can wear these dresses to work without being scandalous. 😉

Day 27

Dress: Self-drafted dress

On our first day of holiday I wore this dress that I made with this exact beach in mind. It was a super quick make, but there is just something I don’t like about it. I don’t know if it’s the length, or the colour, but something just doesn’t feel like ‘me’ about it.

Day 28

Dress: Self-drafted Little White Dress

That’s me and my mom. I was wearing my me-made tablecloth dress after a swim. The good thing about being able to sew is that you don’t freak out when the strap on your favourite dress breaks. Especially because you knew it wasn’t​ attached properly in the first place, since you were rushing to get it done for a previous holiday…🙃

Day 29

Dress: As above

Wearing the same dress as before, this time in a very different climate.

Day 30

Bikini top: Kind of self-drafted, mixing up several patterns and instructions

Bikini Bottom: Self-drafted

After discovering the markets in town in 37°C, I could not wait to finally get into the crochet bikini top that I made en-route to Mexico, and the me-made high-waisted bikini bottoms. The crochet top is not the most comfortable of garments, but I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Day 30

Dress: Self-drafted, self-designed

I was wearing another one of my me-made, me-designed dresses for the last day of Me-Made-May on the shores of Las Coloradas, the salt lakes that were supposed to look as pink as my dress and the flamingos opposite the lakes… Well, they did not quite live up to my expectations, but the crocodile spotting more than made up for it.

Aaaand it’s a wrap!



Me-Made-May: Week Three

I feel like all I do during Me-Made-May is thinking about how fast time goes by and struggling to dress weather appropriately. 🙂 But seriously, 1 week to go and I’ll be able to wear all my me-mades PLUS all the RTW that I’ve owned and loved for many years now! Let’s not get so ahead of us though, this is what got worn this week:

Day 15

I wore my Chanel inspired suit with the linen top I love so much these days, because it was rainy and grey and horrible. I finished the skirt over the weekend, and what I thought would take about 20 minutes (hemming and hand finishing the lining around the zip), ended up taking about 3 hours. Of course everything went wrong that could go wrong, but after spending weeks on the jacket, I just couldn’t care less…

Day 16 

After the rainy Monday, we had tropical heat in London (21°C, but very humid!😉) on Tuesday, so I dressed accordingly. I wore my refashioned tablecloth top with the me-made culottes.

Day 17

Excuse my wrinkled appearance, I actually ironed this shirt before taking a photo, so I’m not sure what happened. Anyway, as for the clothes, the idea was to wear something warm and comfy, as I prepared for my second day of cycling home in the pouring rain, and this worked well for that!

Day 18

  • Camisole: Copy of a RTW
  • Skirt: Same as above
  • Jumper: RTW from Zara

By Thursday I was so uninspired by the rainy weather, that I just threw on whatever I could find. I had an uneventful day to go well with my unexciting choice of clothing.

Day 19

I wore the self drafted skirt, the RTW copy camisole and the me-made Chanelesque jacket, which I never in a million years would have thought I would wear this often. Confession time: I did not get to wear these furry sandals, because: rain. 😒

Day 20

I went fabric shopping, popped into work for a few hours and ended Saturday with my first time at bingo! I rarely wear this top, as it’s a bit short and I remembered that the top was a bit too high on the neck, but I actually had fun wearing this outfit and it was not uncomfortable at all.

Day 21

I’ve been sewing for 16 hours on Sunday, so I made an effort and chose to wear me-made lounge wear. I wear the top a lot, mostly under jumpers, but these French knickers only come out during Me-Made-Mays to be honest. I’ve had some leftover​ fabric from the top and I wanted to try lace insertion, that’s how they were born, but unfortunately it’s falling apart, so the idea is to wear it around the house until it literally falls off of me one day so that I can chuck it out without feeling guilty for wasting fabric/feeding the landfills.


Me-Made-May 2017: Week two

I enjoyed the second week of Me-Made-May a lot more than the first one, mostly because the slightly better weather gave me an opportunity to wear things I finished a few weeks ago, but were meant to be worn when it’s warm outside. I also managed to take photos of outfits over the weekend, so I didn’t have to worry about getting home before it gets dark, or about deciding what to wear in the morning.

Day 8

I have only worn these trousers on the day when we took photos of them, so it was interesting to see how they work in real life. I drafted them as my final project at the Morley basic pattern cutting course, and I found them rather stiff and tight when I finished them. I still think I probably took out all the wearing ease at drafting, so they are my least comfortable trousers, but they do look fun!

Day 9 

I wore my very summery tablecloth dress because there was a chance of sunshine and I wanted to be comfortable. I think I looked as careless as I felt, which may not be the best thing, but I am a firm believer in that if you feel good in your clothes, you will look good too.

Day 10

The culottes are the same ones I have been wearing almost every day this month (or at least it feels like that…), and the shirt is something I rarely wear these days. This shirt is one of the first things I’ve ever made and I used some pretty poor quality, loosely woven fabric, so it’s currently dying a slow death.

Day 11

I made this dress for an upcoming holiday, with strolls on a beach in mind, so it’s not quite appropriate for a London school office job. Especially because I can’t really put on a jumper over it, due to all those frills, but I did like wearing it with this jacket.

Day 12 & 13

I loved this outfit so much, I wore it twice in a row. 😀 Luckily this synthetic fabric dried super quick, and hopefully I didn’t damage my sister’s sweater from putting it on while it was still wet, but I felt so good wearing it on Friday that I just decided to repeat it for a pretty special meeting on Saturday.

Day 14

On the last day of the week it was super hot in the apartment so I dug out these cut-offs. I bought the trousers for £1 at a vintage pound sale, and they were perfect at the waist, but they were too small on my bum, so I decided to cut the crotch bit open (where the front and back meets) and inserted a piece of fabric to make it bigger. I would not normally wear them in public, but they were great for a long day of sewing, baking and pattern drafting.

Me-Made-May 2017, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2017: Week one

The first week of the Me-Made-May challenge is over, so I thought I would take a long hard look at how it went.

Day 1

  • Leggings: Self-drafted
  • Jumper: I knitted this mostly following this pattern

I spent the day at home, sewing for over 8 hours, so I had to make an effort to actually get out of my pyjamas and into something me-made yet very comfortable. The only item I have that fits that bill at the moment are these leggings, that I sewed up because I felt guilty for buying 3 meters of this fabric from the remnant box and not wanting to do anything with it.

As for the jumper, this is the only garment I have ever knitted, but I wasn’t very happy with the result when I (kind of) finished it (=see yarn hanging down at the hem 🙂 ), so I decided I will only wear it at home until I get around fixing the issues.

Day 2 

I really liked wearing this outfit, but cycling in these trousers is a nightmare and every time I go somewhere I return with more oil stains. 😦

Day 3

These culottes are fresh off the sewing machine. I am very happy about how they turned out, the only problem is that the zip is too short (long story…), so getting in and out of it is a challenge. 😀

Day 4

Even though it’s May, it’s fairly cold these days in London, so I went for maximum comfort. I honestly didn’t realise how frumpy I looked until I got home and took a photo. To be fair, I did fall asleep at 7 pm, right after this photo was taken, so for an exhausting day like that, this outfit was just fine.

Day 5

I have only just noticed that I wore the same colour combination on Day 3 too. One could think I have a thing for wearing navy and ochre together, but weirdly enough I have never worn this skirt and jumper together.

Day 6

I visited my best friend in Brighton wearing this, and the weather was so nice I actually had to take the tights off from under the culottes. I really love how these new trousers work with my older pieces.

Day 7

On the last day of the week I was actually wearing the previous outfit, but we did go out until early morning and I was wearing this. This is a tried and tested combination, with the option to go all sexy and backless if I feel very hot from all that dancing and wear the dress without the top. I have yet to do that, but I like having the option. 😉


I, Etemi of The Secret Costumier, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to only wear me-made garments for the duration of May 2017 (except for knickers, knitted jumpers and shoes).

I also pledge to do something dressmaking related each day (sewing/pattern drafting/crochet/embroidery/etc.)’

So it’s May again, which means I am taking part in the Me-Made-May challenge once again. Last year I managed to wear only me-mades for the whole month with the exception of bras, knickers, knitted jumpers and shoes. This year I’ll be wearing my me-made bras and I think the biggest challenge will be to mix my recently finished garments with the old ones, and to have some fun dressing up.

I feel like these days my main goal is to not leave the house naked, which, to be fair, also means that I am comfortable enough with the options I have, so I don’t have those “I’ve got nothing to wear” moments in the morning anymore, but I could definitely move towards wearing clothes that make me feel confident, instead of those that make me feel comfortable. I will be sharing daily pictures on Instagram and weekly summaries here.

Are you taking part in Me-Made-May? Do you feel like you need to raise the bar somehow if you have taken part before/wear me-mades most days anyway?

Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2017


Last year I signed up for a bra making course. I have been collecting inspiration for a few years now, and finally I got to learn the ins and outs of sewing well-fitting and good-looking lingerie. I mostly wear bralettes and non-wired bras, so I wasn’t very keen on the idea of making an underwire bra, but by the time my toile was done I was super excited.

I decided to use some vintage lace I bought in Brighton, and I underlined it with some brown mesh that matches my skin tone. The elastic is the only one they had at the fabric shop when I was gathering notions, and although had there been more options available, I would have definitely not picked this one, I think it works pretty well with this lace.

Needless to say I fell in love with the bra making process. You get to use up your prettiest fabric scraps, the seam lines are short (which makes it a relatively quick project), the possibilities are endless, and you end up with something very rare: a perfectly fitting bra for a very little amount of money. 🙂

From scratch

Oh la la, I made a bra!