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?

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Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2017

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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!

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From scratch

The Vogue dress

Either out of laziness or because I’m too impatient, but I hardly ever try new patterns these days. I made an exception recently with the Vogue 1341 and I am pretty glad I did!

I bought this pattern a few years ago and have been looking for the right fabric every time I entered a fabric shop. I finally found a fairly big piece of this mauve/deep purple fabric in a charity shop, on sale for £2, so even though the only colour out there that I really don’t like is purple, I still went for it.

 At home I realised that it’s a bit less than the length I needed, but by ignoring the grain lines on the sleeves, and cutting one of the sleeves out of two pieces, I managed to make the dress out of it.

It’s probably the most challenging, yet fun pattern I have ever worked with. The front and most of the back of the dress are made up of one pattern piece that has darts and pleats to control the drapes. Once the sleeves are set in, they make up parts of the back.

I was supposed to insert a zip into the back seam, but even after taking in a lot from both the front and back seams, it was loose and stretchy enough for me to just pull it on over my head, so I decided not to. There is still some excess fabric at the lower back, but It doesn’t bother me much, and since the back and the front are the same piece, taking in more fabric at that back seam could have an effect on the drapes on the front too.

Once the dress was sewn up, it didn’t quite look like it did on the photo. The folds were not exactly where they were supposed to be, and the draping seemed way less dramatic. I saw very few dresses made up on other blogs, but I remember one where the lady decided not to insert the lining and just wore a slip underneath. I was quite reluctant to make the lining too, but as soon as I sewed the lining and the dress together where the seam line is in the front, everything fell into place and it looked just like the red dress on the photo. I think it’s an amazing little trick, but there should be a note to let sewists know that lining the dress is not optional, it’s the key to get the design! 🙂

I really love this dress, it came together in a night, but right now I am really struggling to find a place, or the right occasion to wear it to, mostly because the shoes that would go with it aren’t really meant for daily wear, and at this point of my life I am not willing to sacrifice comfort for style, so for now it stays in the safety of my wardrobe. 😉

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To fulfil one of my New Year’s resolutions for last year, I decided to make a quilt as a Christmas gift for my boyfriend. (Now if you think that’s a rubbish gift, I’ll have you know that I thought that too a few times while I was in the middle of sewing it… 🙂 ) Knowing that it would be made for a guy and stumbling upon a box of good quality merino & other wool suiting fabric off-cuts in a Goldhawk Road fabric shop solved the fabric selection problem. I took home 7 pieces of fabric for a mere £10, while saving them from ending up in the landfill.

Inspired by the lack of time and my new-found love for modern, contemporary art-like quilts, I arranged the fabric pieces randomly, adding a bit of red to make it more interesting. And by randomly, I mean I measured each piece and mapped out how they could be cut up and sewn back together in a way that allowed me to cover the desired size.

I attempted to quilt it using straight lines, following the seam lines and running parallel to them, but this quilt is massive and the straight lines turned into wonky ones, so I decided to just let it go and make it look like it was all totally intentional.

Luckily the receiver really appreciated my gift (even though I did not have time to finish the binding to this day…), and I am quite happy with how it turned out too, even if I am definitely not tempted to make another one in the near future. 😉

Uncategorized

My first quilt

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Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

From coat to skirt

Going to a vintage pound sale weekend once or twice a year has become a tradition for me and a good friend of mine. It’s usually in a warehouse somewhere in East London, we usually plan to get there first thing in the morning on the Saturday, and usually end up arriving hours after the opening on the Sunday.

We usually still have to queue up, which is a great opportunity to catch up, and we usually end up being a bit disappointed with the offer, but still manage to walk away with some goodies. Usually. Around this time last year, those goodies were these two leather coats for £1 each.

I must have spent over an hour searching for them, as most of the jackets on sale were mouldy, cracked  or had been made up of small pattern pieces. These two have seen better days too, but after dismantling them, I had enough material to make something wearable out of it.

I already have a leather-like skirt, which I don’t really wear because I don’t like the shiny material, so I knew there was a gap in my wardrobe that I now had the fabric to fill.

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The pattern is a self-drafted one, based on the also self-drafted basic skirt block I made using Winifred Aldrich’s book (I bought the old version for a couple of pounds, but psst: it’s also available for free in PDF somewhere online…). 😉 It was supposed to be a simple A-line skirt, but I had to make modifications according to the size and shape of the pieces I had from the disassembled coats.

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It has an exposed zip on the side, a simple waistband and no lining… which decision I may have to reconsider. I have worn this skirt a lot, especially during Me-Made-May last year, but somehow I keep forgetting that it sticks to my tights while walking and how annoying that is. So next time I feel bored, I may add a lining and see if that resolves the issue…

 

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From scratch

Valentine’s Day sewing

I don’t think I personally know anyone who takes Valentine’s Day seriously, yet when it comes to the 14th February, all of a sudden people kind of feel like doing a little something for their loved ones. That is pretty much my attitude as well, although this year turned out to be a bit different in many ways…

First of all, I decided to take part in this year’s Secret Valentine Exchange. Then I found out that the surgery I was waiting for would be right before I was supposed to send the #2017sve gift off, so I was left with a few days to plan and create said gift. And lastly, I happen to have someone special to spend this particular Tuesday with, which gave me another reason to make something.

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For the Secret Valentine Exchage I got to make a present for Stacy, an artist in the US, who seems to be really good at using natural dyes to create beautiful fabrics and yarns. She likes earth tones, and natural fibers, so half way through sewing a kimono robe for her, I realised that it may come out looking nice and perfect to make Valentine’s Day a little special, but ultimately the colour and texture are very far from what she would be happy to wear, so I decided to make something else.

I love making bags and I always wanted to try dyeing with something I can find in the kitchen, like turmeric, so I ended up doing both.

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I used this brilliant pattern & picture tutorial, and managed to finish it in about 4 hours from drafting the pattern to sewing the final hand stitches. I have saved the pattern as it makes for a very neat bag, although in future I think I would make it slightly deeper and a bit narrower.

The turmeric dyed fabric turned out to be bright yellow, and not the ochre shade it looked like while wet (picture on top), which was a big surprise, but I was still pretty happy with how intensive the colour was. I don’t know a lot about dying fabric, so other that using an aluminium pot (does it even matter) for the dyeing process, I don’t think I did anything to make it colour fast, so fingers crossed it won’t cause any trouble while washing it…

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I got a big box of goodies “in return” from Regina in Pennsylvania. It included 2 little zippered pouches, 3 fat quarters for quilting, two fabric marker pens, a thread wax and a lovely letter. The little bags are so impeccably made I could hardly believe they were not fed through some industrial machines calibrated just to make things like these. I really love the fabric choices as well, they look exactly like things that would catch my eyes in a store.

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The fat quarters are really fun too, and what’s best is that I don’t actually have any proper quilting fabric at hand, so they really do fill a gap in my stash.

What I was also missing until now were those marker pens. I have never been a fan of the tailor’s wax or chalk, so hopefully they will end up being as useful as I imagine them to be, just like the thread wax which I am already familiar with. Thank you so much Regina! 😀

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Since the surgery, I have been home-bound, so when my boyfriend mentioned that Valentine’s Day is coming up, I thought it would be best to use my time making a little gift, just in case he feels like surprising me (he did 😉 ). He has to wear a suit to work, and sometimes he even puts on a tie, so it seemed like a good idea to try to make one.

I picked out two fabrics for the project from my stash: an African print waxed cotton and a silk sari with a really bold print. Since I was doubted he would wear the latter one, I decided not to cut into that sari just yet, and went for the blue and red cotton fabric.

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Using this pattern (with some modifications), and some of the instructions from Purl Soho’s tutorial, I ended up with something very much resembling a tie. It feels super long though, so we’ll find out tonight if it actually works like a tie is supposed to…

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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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