TheSecretCostumier - The peasant blouse9
Refash.

The off the shoulder top

Once I figured that I will have a large amount of fabric leftover from the Little White Dress (that used to be a tablecloth😉 ), I decided to whip up an off the shoulder/peasant blouse for our recent holiday. And by whipping it up, I mean it literally took me about 1 hour, cutting included!

TheSecretCostumier - The peasant blouse8

The funny thing is that I’ve been drooling over these tops for a few years now, ever since I saw an old photo of Brigitte Bardot wearing one. I then obviously did what every sewing enthusiast with access to Pinterest would do: pinned all the images of girls wearing off the shoulder tops onto one of my sewing inspo boards.

Once I even made a black version, but the fabric was the wrong choice and it looked like a bin bag with sleeves, so that got  turned into one of my favourite dresses (the one I’m wearing on Day 31 ).

TheSecretCostumier - The peasant blouse7

This time around there was no research beforehand, I just wanted to make a top quickly that would go with all the trousers I was planning on wearing on the trip, and I am really pleased with how it turned out.

So pleased in fact, that I’m thinking about putting together a tutorial! And that’s because this must have been the quickest I have ever made a garment (I didn’t even use a pattern), and I just think we all need a little off the shoulder action in our life.😀

TheSecretCostumier - The peasant blouse6

Standard
From scratch

The safari shirt

A few months ago I felt a burning need to sew a shirt. I have tried my hands at making one before, and decided not to bother with it ever again.:)

But then I guess struggling with sewing something difficult might be like giving birth. Once you see how well it turned out, you forget how difficult the labor was and you decide to have another one…

TheSecretCostumier - The Military Shirt2

When we booked our tickets to Tanzania and the safari looked like something that might actually happen, I started researching what to wear to one. I mean, we probably all have the same images of people in sand-coloured trousers with practical pockets, women wearing a not so practical white shirt, and the usual clichés.

As the time of the holiday was approaching I decided not to make each and every outfit I was planning to wear, but to only sew stuff I could also wear in areas less populated by wild animals, so the idea of a khaki shirt was born.

TheSecretCostumier - The Military Shirt5

I bought the cotton fabric in Budapest, and for quite some time I wasn’t sure if I picked the colour I was actually looking for. The pattern is a mix of two patterns from Burdastyle with a further modified collar.

I really liked the pleated pockets on this blouse pattern, but I didn’t like the hidden buttons and I wouldn’t have been able to do it with my material anyway. Which is why I simply copied the front with the button placements from this basic shirt pattern.

On my first attempt I finished the whole collar and turned the button facing under, sewed it in place, just to find out that I have turned it under so many times that the two front panels no longer met. I was ready to give up, but I quite enjoyed following a pattern (for once) and getting otherwise nice results so much by that point, that I decided to just keep my head down, rip the seams out of the whole collar and all the way down where the buttons are, and do it again.

TheSecretCostumier - The Military Shirt3

TheSecretCostumier - The Military Shirt4

And it was totally worth it. I am really happy with the outcome. I love the french seams, the big pockets and how light it is. I could hardly believe it, but it actually wasn’t that hot during the safari at all, so it proved to be the perfect choice.

 

Standard
The Secret Costumier - #Usedtobeatablecloth sewing challenge
Refash.

It used to be a tablecloth…

I was so amazed by the many comments that post about a tablecloth turned into the Little White Dress received, that I decided I will take Marijana’s (from Sew2Pro) advice and set up a little challenge. The aim, quite simply, is to encourage everyone out there with some old linen in the bottom of their drawer, to turn it into the ultimate summer piece.

The prize to be won is that feeling you get when someone asks where you bought that awesome dress/cute top/lovely skirt, and you get to say that you’ve made it with your own two hands…and that it #usedtobeatablecloth.

If you are interested (and I really hope you are!), here is a quick breakdown of the challenge:

The objective:

Turn an old piece of cloth (curtain/tablecloth/napkin/bed linen/etc.) into a garment. To me, nothing says summer more than a heavily embroidered, lacy, romantic summer dress/top/skirt. I think upcycling is the most rewarding way to create a garment. In this case you get to work with some beautiful fabrics, and you are actually doing good by giving a new life to something long forgotten.

Materials:

  • You will need an old tablecloth/bed linen/curtain/cloth napkins/etc. You could either use something you find at home, or you could buy an antique/vintage one from a charity shop, or from online (eBay is fantastic for this).
  • You can also add trimmings, pompoms, ribbons, or any other materials you have at hand.

What to look for:

  • Your search words should be something like: embroidery, lace detail, drawn threadwork, Madeira, Irish lace, linen, etc.
  • When using vintage materials it is very likely to get some stains or tears on the fabric. Do check for these, but don’t worry too much, with careful designing and cutting, you can get away with most of them.
  • You should also consider the shape and size of what you are buying. For example, a circle tablecloth might work beautifully with certain designs, but it could be very challenging with others.

And here comes the exciting part: what should you make out of your tablecloth you ask?

I made a dress and an off the shoulder top (see above) from mine, with some fabric still left over, but the possibilities are endless. The bigger linen you can get your hands on, the more options you’ll have.

Here are a few inspirational images of clothes probably not made of curtains or tablecloths, but they could have totally been:)

12, 3456,  78,  9, 10,  11121314, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 2021, 22,  2324,

Where do I sign up, you ask? In the comments please! I’d love to see what everyone is up to (not just tablecloth refashioning wise, btw), and if you let me know once you’re done, I would love to share your creations here. If you could  just put down your name and your blog’s url/your email address, and say if you’d like to be added to the Pinterest board -so that you can pin there too-, that would be awesome! For now you will find some more inspirational images, but I’m hoping it will fill up with your photos.

You can also use the #usedtobeatablecloth (or curtain/bed linen/whatever it used to be) hashtag on Instagram or Twitter if that’s more your thing.

Since “the ultimate inspiration is the deadline”, here is one:

Friday 27th August 2016

If you finish your piece earlier, you’ll have more time to wear it and you’ll be able to take some great holiday photos in it. If you finish it just in time, you’ll still have the Indian summer to take it for a test run.

I am making another piece and I’ll share my progress here every week, so if you’d like to follow along, in the next 5 weeks I will post about how I:

  • select the material;
  • choose the design with the fabric in mind;
  • choose/draft the most appropriate pattern;
  • cut and sew the garment.

If you have any questions, need help with anything at all, I am more than happy to help. Happy sewing!:)

Standard

TheSecretCostumier - Tanzania

TheSecretCostumier - Tanzania

TheSecretCostumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

TheSecretCostumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Lake Manyara

The Secret Costumier - Tanzania - Ngorongoro Crater

Tanzania has never been on my bucket list. Not because I didn’t think it was a place worth going to, more because I had no idea how much it has to offer.

Being on a safari with our lovely guide, Jackson, was really a once in a lifetime experience. I never thought I would be so excited about spotting an elephant or a zebra from afar, or patiently waiting for lions (merely a meter away from us) to wake up from their siesta.

We were looking for a really short safari as we were only in the country for a week, and the two days spent in the Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater were everything I ever wished for. By the way, the Ngorongoro Crater would worth a visit even if there weren’t thousands of animals roaming free in it, as it must be one of the most diverse, interesting and beautiful places on Earth.

If you only go to one place this year, I suggest you go to Tanzania!:)

Ready & waiting, Travels

Tanzania

Image
The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress
From scratch, Thrift Store Thursdays

The Little White Dress

I and 2/3 of my family went on holiday to Tanzania recently. It was undoubtedly one of the (if not THE) best holidays of our life. We signed up for a safari and booked a hotel on Zanzibar, so I had to plan clothes that will work for covering up and on the beach too.

I already wanted to make a khaki shirt, and I realized that I have enough clothes for summer that I really like, so I did not plan on making a lot of stuff ahead of the holiday. Then Pinterest happened. The beautiful pictures of the beaches of Zanzibar inspired me to make just a few more things…

The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress

I’ve always wanted to have a white summer dress with loads of embroidery, but I did not intend to do the embroidering, so I started looking at all things already embroidered on eBay. I searched through over 100 pages of listings of curtains, tablecloths and napkins until I found this beautiful vintage tablecloth that was about 2m x 3m, and it went for only £11.

When my mum saw it, she was trying to convince me that I should let it be the beautiful thing it was, but I cut into it before we got too attached…

The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress

The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress

Since I had only a couple of days before the holiday, without having an actual pattern, I just started cutting the fabric up, trying to make the most of the embroidered parts.

The skirt is made out of 2 rectangles sewn together and gathered, while the bodice is made of the 2 corners of the tablecloth. I inserted some darts there, handsewn some “lining” to the back of the cups and made spaghetti straps from the leftover fabric… and forgot to get rid of some significant amount of thread as you can see below.😀

The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress

The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress

The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress

While I quite like the look of the dress, I am not extremely comfortable wearing something with that much cleavage on show outside of beach settings. Shortening the straps might improve the situation, but now that I have tested  the dress, I think I may take it apart and make something a little bit different with it…

The Secret Costumier - The Little White Dress

Standard
MMM2016 banner
Me-Made-May 2016, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2016: The summary

The first week of June is already gone. I also can’t wait to show you all the new me-mades, but I kind of want to do this right, and figure out what I take away from a month of only wearing clothes made by my own two hands…

I wore 19 me-made garments during the 27 days I managed to keep up with the challenge:

  • 7 dresses;
  • 3 skirts;
  • 3 trousers;
  • 6 tops;
  • and 3 bags (1, 2, 3).

I decided to take a look at what I enjoyed wearing, as well as to look at the thoughts I had after last year’s Me-Made-May.

Dresses

In 2015 I wrote: “I think I have enough dresses at the moment, although I tend to wear them a lot, so I will allow myself to make more if I feel like it. I might also give that jumpsuit idea a go this year.”

Since 2015: I have made a total of 5 new dresses since this time last year, no jumpsuits still. Unfortunately none of those 5 dresses are really suitable for everyday wear, which is why they haven’t really made an appearance during MMMay.

Now I need: Everyday, comfortable dresses that I can wear in all (London) weather conditions.

Skirts

In 2015 I wrote: “I think I wouldn’t mind having a few pencil skirts that allow me to cycle in them, but to be honest I am not in urgent need of any new skirts.”

Since 2015: I made one new skirt that I don’t particularly like, but I’m cool with that since I didn’t think I needed any more anyway…

Now I need: 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.

Trousers

In 2015 I needed: “More of the comfy summery kind. It’s a shame that I am so scared of making trousers, as they are the best option for summer cycling and not that hard to make at all.”

Since 2015: I have not made any new trousers. I have also decided to get rid of the ill-fitting black one that I made using an experimental, self-drafted pattern.

Now 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.

Tops

In 2015 I needed: “More tops, obviously. Sleeveless ones for summer, a few more crop tops, another shirt, the perfect white T, and maybe some woven basic tops. I just need more tops. Simple and wearable ones!”

Since 2015: I have made two camisoles that I quite like in theory, but they aren’t the obvious choice to wear in most occasions. I have also just finished a shirt which I am very pleased with.

Now 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!


Last year the aim was to not only wear one me-made item/day, but to wear them head-to-toe, and I am pretty happy about managing to do it. The plan now, is to do a deep clean in my wardrobe, ideally by the end of summer, and get rid of all the clothes that I don’t look forward to wearing for some reason.

If I manage to do that and streamline my collection of clothes so that I only have comfortable, good looking and versatile garments that I enjoy wearing, then I will definitely wear only me-mades in May next year again…😉

Standard
MMM2016 banner
Me-Made-May 2016, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2016: Week 4

This is going to be a super quick post, because airport WiFi is not my friend… Me-Made-May is over for me. I’m on holiday, and planning outfits that will work for a number of activities AND will fit into one backpack for 10 days does not have to be made any harder.:)

However, I have made an unusually high number of me-mades for this trip (one is in the making as I type this😉 ), so I feel no guilt about cutting the challenge short. It was interesting, I think it has helped me set new goals about my sewing and wardrobe plans, but I’m going to give myself some time to come up with some conclusion. In the meantime, here is what I wore for my last 5 days:

TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMayDay23

Day 23

TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMayDay24

Day  24

TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMayDay25 Day 25

  • Skirt: Self-drafted leather skirt made out of 2 leather coats
  • Top: Modified RTW top

TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMayDay26 Day 26

TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMayDay27 Day 27 Dress: The old faithful wrap dress no 2. It’s a slightly improved Burdastyle pattern.

Standard