TheSecretCostumier - Barcelona main

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I might have already mentioned here that I went on a short break to Barcelona a few weeks ago. This was the first time I traveled on my own, and after a few hours of getting used to not being able to talk to someone (that’s a lie actually, I was on the phone all the time… :) ), I really did have a good time.

In a country that produces the most fashionable brands in Europe (Zara, Mango, etc.), it is quite predictable to see some nice fabric shops, but I was absolutely stunned by the variety of fabrics on offer in 3 shops on the same street.

Barcelona is a surprisingly neat city, with broad streets and pretty buildings. I, of course, am more drawn towards the colorful and messy bits, so loved the works of Gaudi, and the favourite part of the city became the Barceloneta neighborhood and the Tibidabo. A hundred years old amusement park on top of a mountain overlooking the city? That’s perfection in my book!

Ready & waiting


From scratch

The Minnie Mouse dress

It would be a slight exaggeration to say that I love Halloween, but I do enjoy dressing up in fancy dress when there’s a chance. This year that chance came along while I was on a long weekend in Barcelona. It was really surprising to see how seriously the whole city seemed to have taken the dressing up and decorating.

I decided to go to the party I was invited to as Minnie Mouse, since I have already made a toille for the dress last year. I did not finish it back then, because I got too frustrated by all the fitting issues, but they were easily resolved now that I have started a pattern making course and I’m less afraid of all the slashing and spreading.

The Secret Costumier - DIY Minnie Mouse Halloween Costume

I decided to go to the party I was invited to as Minnie Mouse, since I have already made a toille for the dress last year. I did not finish it back then, because I got too frustrated by all the fitting issues, but they were easily resolved now that I have started a pattern making course and I’m less afraid of all the slashing and spreading.

Since I had a tight deadline again (a plane to catch and all…), I didn’t pay attention and cut the pattern pieces before I could have shortened the length of the bodice at the side, but it does not actually fall off my shoulders as I expected. I also cut the skirt pieces in half by accident, hence the length I wouldn’t normally chose. I did try to match the dots, but it gets very tricky with the princess seams. I finished the waistline with some leftover bias binding.

The Secret Costumier - DIY Minnie Mouse Halloween Costume

I actually came up with this costume idea, because I really wanted to give this Burdastyle pattern a go, and this seemed like a great way to test the pattern out. I think now that I got the fit down I might make it again, although I’m not sure I could fit the style into my everyday wardrobe…Or could I?


TheSecretCostumier - Tailoring

From scratch, Refash.

Sneak peak #9

Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

60s dress…well, it used to be!

Happy Independence Day for those who celebrate it! For this month’s Thrift Store Thursdays I would like to show you what I’ve done to this poor dress I found in one of those fill-your-bag-for-a-pound charity shop events.


The dress originally was a typical 60’s shift dress, which (as you can see below) does not work well for my shape, so I decided to turn it into one of those sets consisting of a crop top and a high waist skirt. Since I didn’t have a lot of material to work with (and because I find elastic bands really comfy), I decided to use that as the waistline for the new skirt. I am now thinking about changing it to a wider band, because the crop top turned out to be slightly too short and it does leave a lot of skin on show. I have simply changed how the skirt buttons up and switched the flashy gold buttons to flat black ones.

As for the top, I turned it around, put in darts (which btw look a lot more pointy on the picture below than they do IRL) and reshaped the armholes. All this happened without using a pattern, which is probably why the new neckline is kind of choking…

To be honest I haven’t worn this together as a set yet (or the top on it’s own for that matter), but the skirt works well for work, especially worn with my favorite jumper (like I did for Me-Made-May earlier this year). I really love the material – I’m not sure if you can see it, but the blue dots are not printed on the fabric, but woven into it which gives it an interesting texture. Nice touch! :)




So I’ve found this blanket in a charity shop while looking for one to make a coat out of (more on this later). After a very brief research, I found out that the brand new version sells for a whopping £359!!! Now, what do I do? Should I try selling it and buy the fabric of my own choice (possibly for this coat AND for a little French jacket too), or should I keep it to make the coat that more special? Also, have you used a blanket for dressmaking before? Do you think this fabric (pretty lightweight) would be suitable for tailoring? I would love to hear some advice! :)

From scratch, Refash.

Decisisons, decisions…

Ready & waiting

My problems with RTW…

The red dress  the blond girl is wearing (on the left, below)  is one of the first things I’ve ever pinned on Pinterest a few years ago. At the beginning of summer I decided to have a peek at the sales with my sister, and ended up buying the dress on the right. It looks pretty similar to the one that was supposed to serve as inspiration to make something alike. It was one of the 4 garments I bought this year for myself.

One of my problems with buying Ready-To-Wear is the fit. Or the lack of it. 3 of the 4 garments had to be altered, as they were just unwearable in their original state. My sister always tells me not to buy anything that still needs to be altered, and I haven’t done it so far (except for charity shop refashions), but I really liked these clothes and the changes needed were minor:

  • Problem: The red dress looked fine, but I couldn’t do a proper before picture as I’m pretty sure WordPress wouldn’t appreciate showing nudity without warning – after taking a few steps, the dress slid all the way down under my bosoms.
  • Solution: I have now shortened the straps to avoid this!
  • Problem: These trousers did fit me on my bum and legs, but the waist was too big.
  • Solution: I shortened the waistband and took the trousers in at the center back and center front.
  • Problem: This jumpsuit was waaaay too long.
  • Solution: I cut it off and hemmed it…Then got bike oil on the legs on the way to a festival.  :(

The fit, however is not the only issue I have with buying new clothes. Walking around the shops I felt a little confused at first for several reasons. First of all, sewing is not just a hobby for me, it’s pretty much my only passion. When people say that you could just save yourself the hassle and buy clothes off the rack, it just makes no sense to me. I am actually super happy to spend time on making things for myself, however long it takes. Which is one of the reasons why buying clothes in fast fashion serving stores is not really an option for me.

Secondly, most clothes that I can afford are made by underpaid workers, in conditions that would be unacceptable in countries where the finished garments are sold in. To be honest though, I don’t think the fabric that most of us buy off the roll is made in any better circumstances. So as much as I would like to think that I am not contributing too much to the exploitation of these people by limiting my purchases to shoes and sometimes clothes I could not reproduce, sadly I don’t quite believe that is the case.

The third issue that came up while trying clothes on was my body image. It’s been quite a while since I actually bought any RTW clothes, so I had no idea how different I look in the fitting room compared to how I look at home in the mirror, or even on holiday photos. I blame the different lighting ;) , but I couldn’t help but wonder if I should strive to look good naked even if I am happy in my body when wearing the right clothes…and by strive I obviously mean dieting.

My attitude to going on diets and eating well would make for a very long story, and I think the fact that I was still not really shaken by realizing that my dress size was different to what it was the last time, shows that I can usually convince myself that what size my body is shouldn’t be something I’m concerned about as long as I am healthy and enjoy myself in it. Most of the time…

I would really love to hear how those who sew their own clothes, my lovely sewing-blogging “neighbours”, feel about these things! 

How do you feel about buying ready to wear clothes?

Do you get more tempted to buy any during sales?

Do you feel like sewing has changed your attitude towards your own body?


sixties dress

Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

Sneak peak #8