The Secret Costumier - The Hungarian Parliament Building ©Robbie Packer

The Secret Costumier - Budapest

The Secret Costumier - Budapest

The Secret Costumier - Budapest - The Hungarian Parliament Building ©Robbie Packer

The Secret Costumier - Budapest

The Secret Costumier - Budapest - The Hungarian Parliament Building ©Robbie Packer

The Secret Costumier - Budapest

The Secret Costumier - Budapest

I’ve spent a weekend in the city where I grew up, and for the first time in my life I got to look at it as a tourist. I moved to London because I felt more at home here than I ever did in Budapest, but I guess the distance, the time spent away and the urge to show le boyfriend a good time, allowed me to see the city in a whole new light.

Budapest is full of pretty buildings, but other than the main attractions, nothing beats getting lost in the Jewish quarter and looking at all the little details on the buildings there, some of which are housing apartments, others hiding those famous “ruin bars”. When I mentioned to my friends that I am planning to take Robbie to Szimpla (the first and most famous such bar), they seemed unimpressed with my choice, because locals think it’s too touristy. It does have more tourists than locals I must admit, but for a good reason. It’s the still the quirkiest, biggest, most fun of them all, and the farmers’ market on Sunday morning with live jazz and great quality food was just unbeatable.

We also went to the biggest bath in Budapest (Széchenyi), which in spite of the freezing weather was a fabulous choice. There’s nothing quite like chilling in a pool of hot water, outdoors, after spending a day walking all around the city.

There are way more dishes to try than patience in me to mention them, but if you’re only gonna eat one meal, have a lángos. It’s a salty dough, fried in oil with different toppings, but the one I would strongly suggest you to go for is the sour cream & cheese one. It. Is. Divine.

Long story short, I think what I am trying to say is that I had an amazing time, especially because I was able to totally be in holiday mode without all the struggle of making decisions about where to go and what to eat. So if any of you Ladies and Gents are planning a trip there, I’m more than happy to shower you with recommendations. 😉

Travels

Budapest

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Ready & waiting

2017 – Resolution time!

Here comes the ever so late new year’s resolution post for 2017! By a twist of fate, this post was published automatically while it was still a draft, so now I feel like it would be flat-out cowardice to delete my very first, most intimidating resolution, so here it comes:

1. Start my own business.

I think whoever learns how to create (anything at all) and really enjoys doing it, gets to a point where the idea of turning the hobby into a dream job pops up. Ever since I have discovered the joys of sewing, I hoped that one day making clothes, and listening to music while doing that, would be how I spend all day, everyday.

I don’t want to give away too much just yet, as I’ve had an eureka moment recently, and realized that I need to sit down and talk the idea through with somebody with actual experience, but I promise you’ll be the first to know if I ever manage to turn this into reality.

2. Learn a new skill: Embroidery.

More specifically, learn the beautiful technique that is on the verge of being forgotten and what technically is appliqué, not embroidery. It’s coming from the small village where my mum grew up, called Buzsak, and where my grandmother was often commissioned to make table clothes and pillows for special occasions.

I love this resolution, as it hopefully will give me a chance to learn from my mum, who might end up enjoying it so much that she takes it up again herself.

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image source: kezdi.info

3. Learn to play 3 songs on the guitar.

The guitar case is great, but I guess the reason I got the guitar in the first place was not so that I can sew a case for it. Or was it?!

4. Finish the Wardrobe Architect project.

Now, more than ever, I feel like I need a total wardrobe rehab. Not because I am bored with my clothes, but because after doing 3 Me-Made-Mays I have a very clear idea of what clothes I am actually wearing, and I can’t stand looking at those I don’t wear. So the first step forward will be to get rid of the unused clothes (aka donate to charity shops), and to get rid of all the fabric I’ve had in my stash for years without having a clue about what to do with them.

Question 1: Should I donate my me-made clothes as well (I am worried that they won’t fit anyone else and will be discarded), or should I try to reuse the fabric (we all know what this means though: more stash!)

Question 2: What’s the best place to sell/give away pre-cut fabric pieces, especially when one is unsure about the fabric content?

5. Travel to one of the top places on my bucket list.

I am dying to go to a lot of places, but Bali, a cycling holiday in Puglia (Italy), and a road trip to LA-The Yosemite National Park-Vegas-San Francisco-The Big Sur have all been on top of my list for years now. I decided not to go a couple of times because I didn’t want to travel on my own, or because I can’t drive, or because of some other excuse, but really I just didn’t want to leave my comfort zone. This year should be different! 😉

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Image sources: Bali, Puglia, San Francisco

6. Reach level 52 on Memrise.

Just get there already. 🙂

7. Post on Instagram once a week.

I have been a very passive Instagram user for years now. I found it a bit overwhelming to look at it daily (in addition to my Pinterest addiction) and didn’t feel inspired enough to contribute much either.

Then came the #sewphotohop organized by Rachel from House of Pinheiro. It was really inspiring to think about ways to answer the prompts with a picture every single day, but what really made a difference was discovering the massive sewing community on Instagram. I am now following so many people with very different styles and skills, that slowly but surely checking what everyone is making has become another addiction. According to my 2016 #bestnine, my most popular posts were the pictures taken for MeMadeMay2016 and posted during the #sewphotohop… 🙂

etemiotubu

8. Get a tattoo for your 30th!

Oh yes. I am turning 30 this year and I am planning to mark the occasion with an actual mark. Whenever I imagined getting a tattoo, I was looking for some wise words, but never managed to find anything with a timeless meaning… And then I stumbled on a very minimalistic tattoo, which may not be the most original, but it’s fun, interesting and symbolizes the one activity I can’t imagine my life without: sewing.

9.#2017makenine

picmonkey-collage

I decided to join all the crafters who will #makenine projects this year, and come up with a list of 9 things I will focus on. Half of these are already planned out/toilled and they should also fit in with my wardrobe plans. Here is a little breakdown of what is on my sewing/knitting list in 2017:

For the image sources click on the links below.

  1. Embroidered summer dress/top – with the above mentioned Buzsaki appliqué.
  2. Bra – I am already working on a muslin for this.
  3. Little French jacket
  4. Little black dress – I actually have 4 little black dresses, but none of them are comfortable, elegant, and a wee bit sultry all at the same time.
  5. Slip dress – I have been slightly obsessed with making camisoles cut on the bias lately, now I want to go a little further…
  6. Knitted turban – I love turbans and this should be a quick knit. Win-win!
  7. Culottes – My favourite kind of trousers, I definitely could do with another pair.
  8. Military jacket – I’m planning on making a short version of my beloved military jacket, with this lace up detail.
  9. Napkins – They are pretty and simple and make dinners feel extra special. 😉

10. Stop being late. Aim to be late as rarely and as little as possible. 🙂

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Ready & waiting

So long 2016…

Since the first week of 2017 is coming to an end, I thought it was high time I took a look at how I did resolution-wise last year.  I decided to cut myself some slack and instead of ticking things off the list, or not, I gave myself a score judging how far I’ve gotten on the path of completion. 😉

1. Make a Little French Jacket – 10%

In 2015 I managed to get to the stage where I ordered my first 20 samples from Linton Tweed. In 2016 I got another 40 of them, got super confused and decided to just chill out and make a guitar case (pictured unfinished below) from all those samples.

The Secret Costumier - Handmade guitar case

I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out whether I should go with a goes-with-everything-little-black-jacket or something fun and colorful. I then ended up buying 3 meters of some really interesting looking, white-blue fabric from Linton for less than half the original price.

Now, of course, I can’t see the logic behind this move and I’m thinking that on the long run it would be worth buying the black fabric that I really want, if I’m gonna spend 80 hours making it. I have already spent about 4 hours on the toile alone and I haven’t even started the fitting, so that number does seem to be realistic!

2. Try lingerie making – 100%

I really wanted to try making my own lingerie for a while, but I didn’t think I needed to take classes to learn how to. However, when I found out that the pattern cutting class at Morley that I was about to sign up for wasn’t going to go ahead, I sort of panicked and enrolled for a bra making class instead.

Best. Decision. Ever. Carol, our teacher, used to work for brands like Coco de Mer and Agent Provocateur, so I knew I was going to learn from someone with a similar taste, but I had no idea how fun she was! And so were my class mates.

The Secret Costumier - Handmade bra

Long story short, I have almost finished a wearable muslin and I finished a bra made of some vintage lace. I think it turned out great (I’ll show you soon), it’s my best fitting bra ever, and I’m already working on the next one! 🙂

3. Continue learning French – 61%

Resolution: Reach level 52 on Memrise by the end of the year.

Result: Reached level 32. Way to go, but the real achievement here is not giving up on it! 😉

4. Watch a play once a month – 100%

This brought me so much joy last year! I bought a “passport” to one of my favourite Off West End theatres, so I watched half of the plays there on my own, and caught the rest in theatres all around London, sometimes with friends joining me.

The best show was definitely Yerma at the Young Vic (probably one of the best plays I have ever seen tbh), and apart from 2, I have enjoyed all of them. 8 out of the 12 plays had the same theme, which says a lot about the whole year I think: terrorism and the refugee crisis. (You can read a brief description of the plays by clicking on the images below if you’re interested.)

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

 5. Knit a jumper! – 100%

The Secret Costumier - Knitting

I’ve done it!!! 3 years after learning how to knit I have finally finished something I could actually wear! I will take some photos of it soon, but in the meantime I might try to improve it a little (boring neckline + bulky arms).

6. Make a quilt. – 99%

The Secret Costumier - Quilting prep

Done. 99% means that some threads need to be tied and the binding needs to be finished by hand on 2 sides. It was a Christmas gift to the wonderful guy who makes me not want to spend all my waking hours sewing, because he really needed one.

7. Finish the UFOs. 0%

Did not even touch them, just created more…

8. Drink more water! 50%?

Since I did not come up with a tracking system I have no clue, but to be super honest I don’t think I did very well.


I have now compiled a list of resolutions for 2017 too, as I really like having a plan for the year ahead, but there are a number of factors that could change how my year pans out, so I’ll hang onto them for a little while…

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Tanzania34

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Tanzania is probably the closest it gets to paradise on Earth. The safari, especially in the Ngorongoro Crater is breathtaking, and Zanzibar has the most beautiful beaches you can imagine. Stone Town is a very lively city with amazing architecture, and you can definitely find peace and quiet in the fishing villages on the East side of the island.

Trying out surfing and snorkeling for the first time by the Mnemba Island made me instantly fall in love with the sports, in spite of being so scared of the fish beforehand that I was considering staying in the boat. 🙂 We had the most amazing time, mostly because we were lucky enough to find the nicest people whenever we needed help.

I somehow feel the need to mention that there is another side of Tanzania too. I have been to many developing countries before where I felt bad about being on holiday, enjoying the beautiful surroundings while the locals are struggling to make ends meet, but this time for some reason I felt very strongly about actually making a change in the way these things work. It may not come to anything, but maybe one day I can share my grand plans here… 😉

 

Travels

Zanzibar

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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

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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… 😉

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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

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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.

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