TheSecretCostumier - Embroidery book review
Ready & waiting

Sew hot, sew lazy…

    I did it again. After having so much fun during Me-Made-May, connecting with lovely bloggers and setting myself goals for the 10 days without any disruption, I kind of burned out. I wish I could say I’ve been in a beautiful sandy beach with no internet connection and no need to even think about making clothes, but I wasn’t. Sure I’ve been busy with work and seeing people, but I’ve also done my fair bit of lying in bed pinning for hours. One of my resolutions this year was to post content more consistently AND not to worry too much if I fail. So I’m trying to just take my time, chill out and try to figure out why I’m blogging in the first place and how to move forward.

    Until I get there, let me show you this little book I picked on a marvellous Saturday afternoon, from the bookstalls under Waterloo Bridge for a fiver. This is the kind of book  that you don’t even know you need, but you realize that you have to have it the moment you hold it in your hands.

   It’s called Design for Embroidery – The Fine Art Approach, and it is what it says on the tin, and then some. I have a soft spot for embroidery since my Grandma was a real talent when it came to the pretty famous Buzsaki embroidery, and I’m a sucker for the contemporary versions too, but the techniques displayed are not the main reason I like this book. I’m a lot more drawn to the design development demonstrated through the projects. (Click on the images to make them larger.)

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery3

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery4

The book is divided into 3 sections:

  • Concepts (1.Shape, 2.Line, 3. Colour, 4.Texture, 5.Pattern, 6. Form),
  • Application (7.Large Scale Works from paintings 8. Large Scale Works from photographs),
  • Threads, Equipment and Techniques (9. Threads, 10. Equipment, 11.How to enlarge a design, 12. Finishing).

I think this approach could be applied to using any kind of inspiration and turning it into all kinds of different techniques and garments. There is a broad range of examples of inspiration, techniques and projects which makes me look at places for ideas where I wouldn’t have thought to look before.

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery7

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery6

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery10

This wedding veil tutorial below, takes you from sketching the design, and cutting out the patterns to sewing it on the veil. I probably bought the book because even though it was written 16 years ago, I think this veil, and the most of the projects, still look pretty modern.

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery2

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TheSecretCostumier - embroidery11

Surely this guy’s hairstyle gives the era away, but I couldn’t resist showing you this patchwork waistcoat. I would probably make something more practical with this technique, but it’s a great idea and it’s really neatly done as well.

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery8

TheSecretCostumier - embroidery9

    Is it just me and the unusually hot London summer, or do all of you tend to abandon ‘da machine’ for a chance to sit in a rooftop bar for hours to catch the last rays of the sun? Do you have any sewing related activities when the heat related procrastination kicks in and you just can’t be asked to make a mess?  (You guys are more than welcome to not help me justify my laziness, but it would really make those hours spent on Pinterest pretending to be creative much sweeter… ) 😉

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TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect
Wardrobe Architect

Week 3 & 4: Exploring shapes & Building silhouettes

First I found this task from the Wardrobe Architect project very challenging, as I could not ignore the designs of clothes and only focus on the shapes, but once I got past that it was easy! I do have a kind of uniform for fall/winter and I am happy to expand on that, however this is not exactly the case with hot weather outfits. Below I collected silhouettes according to seasons.

Fall/Winter

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 1

Silhouette #1: I must admit I only chose this dress because of the amazing pattern, although I have a polkadot one from H&M in this same shape and that must be one of my most worn garments. I didn’t want to bore you with numerous incarnations of the same silhouette, but this is my uniform between September and May. A dress that’s cinched in at the waist+black tights+short jacket. It can be dressed up with boots and a blazer or dressed down with trainers and a motorcycle jacket.

Silhouette  #2: This is basically the more casual version of the first silhouette. By wearing separates, I can keep things balanced by pairing an everyday fabric like jersey or denim with something more luxurious like velvet or silk.

Silhouette  #3: This is something I wouldn’t normally wear, but I loved this skirt, I have a similar suede one  and there is a Burdastyle pattern that has this same kind of old school feel about it and I’m dying to make. The only problem with it? Not good for cycling!

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 5

Silhouette  #4: I usually feel sloppy when I’m wearing something loose on top AND bottom, but for some reason I almost always wear my beaded skirt with a loose knit top. I guess this is what kids must feel like while doing the grocery shopping (with their parents, obviously) and wearing their princess dresses and regular raincoats . The idea here is to make more fancy skirts, obviously. 😉

Silhouette  #5: This must be my favourite silhouette right now. Probably because I haven’t tried it yet! I bought a very similar pair of trousers last summer and enjoyed wearing it, but now I would like to make some for Fall and wear it with (you’ve guessed it right!) black tights. I like the fact that it’s high-waisted, loose enough to be uber comfortable and shows off your ankle. What might not work after all is the length, as at 5’5″ or 166cm I am not exactly tall, and it might make me look short, wide and too boyish…

 Spring/Summer

Shilouette  #6: This is for those cool and sunny days outside of work, and for popping out to Tesco’s, or else I wear this whenever I don’t feel like making ANY effort at all. I already own every piece from this silhouette and it is not a priority to sew basic knit tops, although you really can’t ever have enough breton tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 7

Shilouette  #6: This would be my idea of dressing up the Levi’s 501, but to be honest I’m still struggling with the fit of the jeans. I bought them when the local vintage shop closed down for £9 and love them, but I’m still debating whether taking it in at the waist and turning it into a high-waisted pair would be a better idea than leaving it all loose and boyfriendish. If I go with the alteration it would make it great to wear with silk blouses and sometimes heels too.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 8

Silhouette  #8: I love crop tops, bodies and full skirts. They all accentuate the waist which happens to be an area that I am actually happy to show off. I have tried the summery culottes already (the same shape I’ll try for Fall), but I would love to make some in more basic colors, as the one I own is in pastel yellow.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 9

Silhouette  #9: Here we go again with the evil trouser. So I attempted to draft my own pants pattern, then took it in until I couldn’t sit down in it and had to modify it so that it can be used for cycling and sitting OR standing and looking pretty. I might show you the result if I don’t go all mad and cut it up into tiny pieces… The gingham (or patterned) trousers would be made with a high waist, but I’m not sure if I can master making something so fitted that does not feel too tight, although there’s only one way to find this out…

I will definitely make at least one more shirt as I love working with light weight fabrics and it has loads of details where you can use some fine techniques (I mean topstitching. I love topstitching.). I would also love to make a camisole as it is also all about the details, it’s usually crazy expensive in stores considering the amount of fabric used, and it just looks simple, sultry, and elegant.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 10

Silhouette  #10: I own a pair of similar striped trousers and I love the boldness of it in theory, but it needs to be altered to be comfortable and I am not sure if I can ever not feel a little bit like a clown while wearing them. The other trousers are high-waisted and wide legged which I must make at least 2 of. I already have one and it’s perfect for summer, especially because it can be paired with cute and relatively easy to make crop tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 11

Silhouette  #11: I basically lived in my black maxi skirt when I was in Nigeria last year, which easily qualifies it for summer wear. I do feel a little too comfy looking while wearing it with loose tops, but usually when I have to grab this outfit I have better things to think about, like how to swipe the sweat off my face in the most sophisticated way possible.

The last silhouette is something I probably could never pull off, but as you can see on my Pinterest board I am pretty obsessed with jumpsuits at the moment. I think during Summer they could be what dresses are during Fall to me. I mean they look put together and they provide the same kind of coverage as opaque tights, so I can freely move around.

Next time I’ll be looking at the colors that I am drawn to , as well as try to define where to use solids and prints. To be honest I am getting a little skeptical about the success of this process for me, as I feel like I am sewing because I don’t want to have simple garments in my wardrobe. On the other hand, I feel like putting this all down plus the Me-Made-May might help me steer towards sewing stuff that I want to wear everyday and not just things that I like the idea of. Has anyone started the Wardrobe Architect project AND finished it already? Any luck with creating a capsule collection?

All images can be found on Polyvore among My Items.

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From scratch

That Dior dress…still in the making!

Do you remember that Dior dress I used as inspiration to make a similar one, about a hundred years ago? Well, I don’t blame you if you don’t, I would have forgotten about it too, did I not feel guilty about having yet another UFO in my drawer. So here is a quick recap of the starting point and the mistakes made on the way.

The inspiration:TheSecretCostumier - Dior dress TheSecretCostumier - Dior dress TheSecretCostumier - Dior dress

Image source: Style.com

At first I used a cap sleeved bodice pattern and almost gave it all up after I realised I should have cut the bodice in one piece with the sleeves…you know, like on the Dior dress, so that there aren’t any unnecessary seam finishes showing through the transparent fabric.TheSecretCostumier-Inspiration: That Dior dress

So I decided to draft a short kimono sleeved bodice. I also changed the base colour from red to black as I stupidly thought it will be ready by Autumn and it will go better with my black tights, but guess what…It’s still not done!

I have recently ordered a box of different sewing machine feet and I tried the rolled hem one on the neckline, but unfortunately the result is rather inconsistent, because of the thin fabric and the unstoppable unravelling…The situation is similar with the French seams, although I’m sure it’s more of a question of practice  than anything else.

I finished the edge of the front panels by zig-zag stitching over embroidery thread and cutting the excess fabric off.

Then I came up with a brilliant way to make pleats in the chiffon, attaching it to a piece of tulle, which worked out really well, apart from one little problem: the tulle is way to stiff to be sewn on top of the chiffon!TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making! TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making! TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making! TheSecretCostumier - The Dior dress...Still in the making!

I know, I know, I should have seen this coming and I kind of did, but I thought it’s just going to give it a little support. Well, it’s way too much support, so the idea is to take it all apart and do it all over again now with a chiffon & chiffon combo. But before I take it apart I’ll try to show you next time how I did the pleating!

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Refash.

Inspiration #3 – Embellished sneakers

   Well, hello again! Long time no posting… I was stressing myself with the idea of writing a post explaining my disappearance, but hey! It’s a new year, so I decided to save us all from a lengthy explanation, and just put something up that I’m working on.

   Especially because in spite of Life getting in the way of blogging, I still managed to start sewing a dress for my mum, tried out a different pattern cutting technique, made a really fancy skirt for my sister for a wedding, sew myself another velvet skirt, corrected some mistakes on my handmade winter coat, made a tailor’s ham, and began refashioning this pair of sneakers.

TheSecretCostumier - Inspiration #3 - Embellished sneakers

TheSecretCostumier - Inspiration #3 - Embellished sneakers    I bought them in Primark, and asked a former boyfriend to draw something on it, as he is a very good painter (in my humble opinion), and since I woke up listening to Sade’s ‘Moon and the Sky that morning, I very creatively asked him to draw just that. You know, the Moon and the sky!? Looking at the result, you must be questioning my ability to judge his drawing skills, but believe me, I was disappointed by his quick solution too… Fast forward about 2 years, and here I am: without the bf, with a huge interest developed in embroidery (see the evidence here), and one shoe already pimped up. So here are the ideas that I found inspiring AND doable.

Image sources from top, anti-clockwise: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

TheSecretCostumier - Inspiration #3 - Embellished sneakers

Take a peak of the almost finished shoe, resting on my lap as I am working on it. I will post a tutorial of the process soon, in case anyone’s interested! Now that I kind of established a method of doing it I am hoping to finish it by Spring. Just kidding. I’m not in a rush…

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TheSecretCostumier - Mauritanian Tea Ceremony

Ready & waiting

Mauritanian tea ceremony, with Moroccan tea in Copenhagen

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