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Me-Made-May

Me-Made-May 2015: Week 3…or 4

I know this is a general theme among those who are doing Me-Made-May (and any living human beings really), but I’m just as surprised as everybody else about how quickly this month has gone by! I managed to wear something me-made for 6 days last week, although I felt like I was cheating a bit when I “wore” the backpack I made on one of the days. Still, I’m going strongish…

TheSecretCostumier - Day 18TheSecretCostumier - Day 19

Day 18: Wearing my green velvet skirt and a crop top that I have not blogged about yet. It was made by cutting a thrift store dress in half and modifying the top bit so that I can wear it backwards. It is not one of my better alterations as it is too short for my taste and it’s choking me to be totally honest, but I haven’t given up on wearing it just yet. ;)

Day 19: Ah, this yellow skirt again. It is still not quite finished, as you can see there are only 3 snaps holding it all together. I’m not in a hurry to finish it off though, as it’s a little too bright for my usual mood.

TheSecretCostumier - Day 20TheSecretCostumier - Day 21

Day 20: I love colour matching different garments and even though it feels a little bulky around the waist worn like this, this dress works pretty well for layering.

Day 21: So does this. Although I feel like I look a little too comfy with the baggy jumper and loose skirt, this is one of those outfits that are great for a regular boring day sitting at the computer at work for 6 hours.

TheSecretCostumier - Day 22TheSecretCostumier - Day 24

Day 22: I knew I’d be cycling all day after work, running to see a friend in the city, then to see another one at the other side of town, so comfort was a priority. Instead of going through my me-made clothes, I decided to pick the Berlin bag for the challenge.

Day 24: We attended a christening/1st birthday party on Sunday so I finally got a chance to wear the kimono dress in public. For real. The baby loved the dress, he enjoyed chewing on my shoulder more than his cake. :)

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Me-Made-May

Me-Made-May 2015: The first 15 days

Aaand I’m doing Me-Made-May too! Well, I’ve been doing it very privately up until now, but it’s time you saw my pledge and the photos documenting the first half of the month. Yeey! :)

‘I, Etemi of The Secret Costumier, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear me-mades as many days as possible during May 2015′

I must admit I was way more excited doing it for the first time – last year, but that might just be because now I have so many handmade clothes that it doesn’t feel like a big challenge anymore. Also, while I really don’t mind repeating outfits, it’s not very exciting when I think about sharing photos of them. For next year I will hopefully be able to pledge to wear me-mades only, which should make things more exciting.

TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 1TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 2

Day 1: Wearing a refashioned thrift store skirt on the first day. I love the jumper (RTW) and pretty much every outfit including it. The skirt is a pencil skirt that can be unbuttoned all the way to the top, so that I can cycle comfortably in it.

Day 2, 3 & 4: Bank holiday weekend spent at home. Leggings made in 15 minutes from an OTT stretchy material bought for testing patterns… Joy. :)

TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 5TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 6

Day 5: Wearing a draped dress, with my favourite breton top. This is a pretty versatile dress which happened to be my second attempt at draping, but the invisible zipper needs to be replaced urgently!

Day 6: It’s barely visible, but that’s one of my 3 velvet skirts. It’s a jade green colour in case you were wondering…

TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 7TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 8

Day 7: This is the second version of the backless dress which is a modified version of this Burda number. It was not quite time to wear it in its full backless glory yet, hence the 90’s styling.

Day 8: The latest addition to my velvet circle skirt family – a black one.

TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 10TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 11

Day 10: Wearing the velvet scrap top (made from the leftovers of the velvet skirt – Day 14) and the refashioned jeans. I’m not loving the top, but it makes me feel kind of good that I could save that much fabric from going into a landfill.

Day 11: It was pretty chilly, and I felt uninspired, so opted for the good old military jacket.

TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 12TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 13

Day 12: Oh those red pants! I’ve just gotten some oil on the legs while cycling to Brighton :(. In other news, it fits really nicely straight out of the washing machine, but gets about a size and a half bigger by the end of the day. It’s either plain weird or I’ve cut the waistband on the bias and I shouldn’t have. You be the judge.

Day 13: This marks my first attempt at cutting a pattern on the bias (on purpose)! It’s a copy of my sister’s beautiful little camisole and it turned out quite nicely. It’s made from some poly remnant and was supposed to be a muslin, but I realized that I can actually make it work with some bolder pieces like this skirt/trouser loveliness that I bought in Thailand recently.

TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 14TheSecretCostumier - Me-Made-May 2015 - Day 15

Day 14: Velvet skirt numero 3 – or the number one, in the prettiest rust colour out there. Still my favourite (I think I am overusing this word now, so forget the others this is the actual fave)!

Day 15: Attempting to cycle to Brighton from London. I have worn this outfit during the first week already, but I thought it deserves another mention as it took me from work, to cycling through forests (thanks for the misguidance Google) and since I got oil on those red trousers, it took me straight into the many pubs of Brighton too.

I got back from 3 weeks in South East Asia recently, which was undoubtedly the best holiday I have ever been on, and since I made quite a few garments for the trip, I will inevitably flood this blog with holiday photos at some point. So here are a few from the weekend just to warm you up. They are mostly of the area around the Ditchling Beacon (it’s this very steep hill with a nice view) near Brighton, which might not be the most appropriate route for a heavy old city bike and someone who has never ridden outside the city…

TheSecretCostumier - Ditchling

TheSecretCostumier - Ditchling

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TheSecretCostumier-Brighton

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Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

Quick mum jeans refashion

I scored these pair of jeans on a “vintage fair”. It was more the kind where you find used clothes on the floor, most of them looking unwashed, but only for a £1 each. I don’t really wear jeans, so I wouldn’t spend anything over a pound on it anyway, and they were in pretty good condition, so I decided to get them. I prefer the loose fit, and since it was on the bigger side it was a perfect candidate for alteration. Thrift Store Thursdays - Black jeans refashion

Thrift Store Thursdays - Black jeans refashion

Thrift Store Thursdays - Black jeans refashion I’ve actually worn them twice in their original form right after I bought them. Looking at the before pictures now, I don’t really know what I was thinking though… :)

Since they had no back pockets and an elasticated back, it was easy to make them fit on my waist by sewing some darts on.

I still kind of feel like there’s a bit of excess on the lower legs, but I wanted to keep them as comfy as possible and I’ve already reduced the excess twice, so knowing how lazy I am, they will stay like this for now.

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Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

Military jacket refashion

Who knows how it all started, but at some point I became a thrift store junkie. I love the hunt for the next bargain. I love the opportunities the pieces hold. I love the idea of giving something old a new life. To celebrate this new love (and to motivate myself to actually do the alterations these poor old pieces require), I decided to do 1 post about a thrift store find’s alteration every month from now on.

To start the series off, I chose the biggest project as of yet: a military jacket I bought on Brick Lane for £2.

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

I’ve always wanted a military style jacket, but instead of the ones you can buy everywhere, in every season, with the cinched in waists for women, I was looking for the real deal. Since the smaller sized proper ones were more like shirts, when I saw this huge jacket, lined with the same fabric, I decided to go for it and just hope for the best. After doing a little research, I found out that this was a Dutch NATO combat jacket, that usually sells for about £20 on eBay…

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

I started out by disassembling it (and ripping the lining at one point :( ). Then I took in the sides and the sleeves, but because I really didn’t feel like removing and resizing the pockets, I ended up with an A-line jacket at first. Unfortunately, instead of using a pattern, I just took in the same amount on the front and the back, and I ended up with the back being very tight.

I wanted to have a removable lining and removable faux fur collar, but I had to sew the lining to the coat, and attach the collar with safety pins, so that I can finish it within 2 days from start, and wear it on the Berlin trip. It looked and felt awful to be honest.  It was too tight in places and way too loose at others, there were threads hanging out everywhere, and I had to hold it together with a belt, as I did not manage to put buttons or a zip on it. But even if it looked like crap, I think I was the one complaining the least about the cold during our little wintry holiday. :)

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

When we came back, I kind of felt like shoving it in a box to finish it next year, but I didn’t. And I’m happy I chose to put all this work into it, as it’s a pretty useful thing to have, and I absolutely adore the collar.

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

So on this updated version I made a lining out of contrasting cotton lawn fabrics, with a little piping made of the golden material used for the removable lining’s sleeves. By the way, the removable lining is made of a faux shearling fabric and the golden quilted batting, and the faux fur collar is the most expensive fabric I’ve ever bought, but it is pretty good quality I guess…

There is a zipper on the jacket, hidden by a flap, with fabric covered con it. To attach the lining to the jacket, I used fabric loops on the jacket to match the buttons sewn on the lining. I inserted  metal suspender clasps into the faux fur collar, which can be clipped on the jacket’s collar. Because everything is removable, I should be able to wear it pretty much all year round in London.

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

Whoever sews will know how hard it is to admit one’s mistake and to refashion-a-refashion (or something you’ve made from scratch), but I’m quite happy I went for it. Even though removing the pocket flaps, for example, and resizing them was hard work with very little impact, it meant that I could fix the coat from being A-line to a better fitting straight one, and it ended up being something that I love to wear because I like the way it looks, and not just because it is the warmest thing I own.

 DIY - Military jacket refashion by TheSecretCostumier

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Sneak peak #4

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The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier
From scratch

The Berlin Bag

I made a bag guys! This is the first non-clothing item I’ve made that’s actually super useful and looks pretty much as I imagined it.

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

We planned a trip to Berlin with some friends (and my sis, of course), with the flight arriving at 9am and a check in time at 2pm. Since I didn’t feel like carrying my stuff around in my hand all day, I decided to make a backpack. And the endless research for the perfect backpack started. I already had a Pinterest board for bag ideas, but this time I focused on roll top backpacks. I wanted something that’s stylish, simple and expandable.

The problem with the ones for sale, apart from being overpriced, is that they tend to be more on trend and less functional in my eyes. Most of them have the vintage looking buckle fastening (which is just a hassle to open/close) and the sleek looking, unpadded leather/canvas straps don’t look comfortable to me at all. After spending hours looking at the DIY options, the handmade ones on Etsy, and pretty much every vintage looking/cycling rucksack on Pinterest, I found that  the HHI Day Pack and the Voyatzer Backpack bags that seemed to be the closest to what I had in mind.

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The bag’s top can be folded or rolled down. I thought a lot about how to close the sides under the flap, and I am more than happy with the solution, as I didn’t want to insert a zipper and I didn’t really trust putting a button there.

The leather cover on the bottom was made of a piece of leather that I scored for about £4 in Fes, Morocco last year. I bought some black cotton drill to do the top bit, but since it was a different shade of black, I got the chevron patterned wool instead. I’ve checked the measurements of other similar bags and measured my torso length before I cut the fabric out. In the construction of the straps and the back panel, this tutorial proved to be very helpful (it’s a somewhat unusual source, I don’t quite want to know what the guns are for…). I got my hardware from this eBay shop, and all I regret is not getting more at the same time (so that I can make more bags! :) ).

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

Pretty much everything went smoothly except for one thing. My machine can’t sew more than 2 layers of leather. There were parts on this bag where I had to attach 3 layers of leather, 2 layers of wool, and 2 layers of the lining fabric. It was not fun. It took me about 4 hours to do it by rolling the machine by hand…but it’s done!! Ever since then my sewing machine runs a little weird, so I’m thinking about getting a half industrial vintage one, or something more heavy weight as a replacement in the not so near future. If you have any suggestions on what machine to get next, I’m all ears!

All in all, I am pretty much in love with my little “Berlin Bag”. If it wasn’t as heavy as it is, I would definitely take it to the South East Asia trip too, but since it is, I must make another one. So watch this space! :)

The Berlin Bag - Handmade by TheSecretCostumier

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From scratch, Wardrobe Architect

2015 – Resolution time!

It has taken me some time to finalize my resolutions for this year, but I think I’m quite comfortable with these ones.

1. Finish my Wardrobe Architect project

My sister and I finally got ourselves a ticket to our first backpacking trip ever! We’ve been around Europe on city breaks and in Africa on family visits, but this will be the first longer trip we are taking together. According to our plans, we will visit Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in 3 weeks, with a stopover in Abudhabi, carrying only a backpack. A small backpack that is, as for the domestic flights we are only allowed to take 7 kilos if we want to avoid the hassle and costs of checking anything in.
So the plan is to use the guidelines of the Wardrobe Architect project and create myself a capsule vacation wardrobe that’s comfortable, multifunctional and suits my style for the trip.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 10

2. Be more mindful about my body

I’m not a beach person. I’ve never felt comfortable half-naked in public, but it’s never been a problem, as I would rather visit cities with good restaurants, museums and the likes for holiday than lie on a beach for a week with nothing else to do.

But. This. Is. Phi Phi. And Koh Lanta. And Ha Long Bay and the rest of the mind-blowingly beautiful places that I can’t possibly miss because I don’t feel comfortable in my skin. So as a new years resolution, I swear I’ll be on it. I have started a new skin care regime, I’ll try to discover some activities in addition to my daily cycling and I’ll try to eat more sensibly – no more brioche buns for a while… :(

3. Look after my two favorite machines

I love my bike and I love my sewing machine. Therefore this year I pledge to keep them in top shape by cleaning them regularly and getting them looked at when something doesn’t feel right. I have also been thinking about updating my bike, with a few new and shiny parts and maybe even with a coat of paint…

As for the sewing machine, I NEED to make a cover for it first (I know, I’m sooo bad for not having one since I bought it 3 or 4 years ago), and I might even get the vintage one out of storage and into action.

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4. Kick a bad habit & move forward…

These are the kind of resolutions that I’m a little half-assed about, but maybe if I put this reminder here, it will be easier to push myself and hold myself accountable for them.

5. Go out & do something at least once a week

Don’t let laziness get in the way of doing new things! I aim to be more active, to see and do more, be it just a new film, eating out with friends, or making the most of this wonderful city and actually go to new exhibitions, plays, to the roller-disco, or to just discover new bits of London.  On le bike of course!

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6. Empty out my closet

I have soooo many clothes that I don’t use, I just need to go through them and decide what goes to charity, what can be sold and what would be great for upcycling before I make/buy even more stuff. By the end of 2015 I would only like to own garments that I love and use.

This is pretty much it for this year, well for the next 11 months really… No more resolutions about blogging or sewing consistently, as I realized that I blog because I sew and not the other way around, which pretty much ended my 2 year long agony over this matter.

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