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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TheSecretCostumier - Knitting in progress
From scratch

This knitting thing…

I was going to knit a jumper while on holiday in Japan. At first it went alright, on our 12 hour flight I did knit for about an hour and a half (and was actively trying to force myself to sleep for 10.5…). Then I did knit while my mother and sister dozed off during our train journeys, but surprise-surprise: I did not finish the jumper. I didn’t even finish the back of it.

But it’s okay. I tried to incorporate some colours and textures, but then I also wanted to make something I would be able to wear with most of my existing winter wardrobe. See-through jumpers are not such items I figured. So the last picture of the failed experiment is the one below (the addition of the different yarns is barely visible), just before I dismantled it on our little Airbnb’s balcony with the coolest view of Tokyo in the background.

TheSecretCostumier - Knitting in progress

TheSecretCostumier - Tokyo skyline

Long story short, I now have finished the back of the jumper (top picture), and started knitting the front too. I really want to finish it by the end of this month, but I’m actually writing this post when I was supposed to be knitting, so…it may just not happen. 🙂

Now I only have one question for those of you who knit regularly:

How long does it actually take to knit a jumper?

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From scratch

Au revoir 2014!

After going about 3 months without sewing, I finally found my sewjo again. I already have some plans that I sometimes find terrifying after abandoning the craft for so long, but if I think about how I spent my last week (in bed, playing Farm Heroes) and how I’ve spent these past two days (sewing like crazy!), then I’m quite optimistic about those plans. So instead of reviewing my makes from 2014, I decided to take a look at my resolutions from 12 months ago, to find out how well I’ve done this year, before I set new goals for myself for 2015!

Tick1. Start a Fashion Design course

I signed up for this course as I wanted to find a way to put all the inspiration into action. I haven’t done any new projects since the one we had to work on for 3 months, which is a bit of a shame. At least if I had the right idea, now I know I could start developing designs using the techniques we were taught.

My collection was based on the Tarahumara tribe living in Mexico. I’m planning on writing a bit more on this, but here are a few photos of it for now:

Tick2. Start learning French.

Je ne parle pas français. Still. I did try it for 3 months, but I only realized that learning a new language as an adult, in a group, is too frustrating and somehow slow at the same time. For me, at least. I haven’t given up on the idea totally, but this is not a priority right now.

ex3. Start playing cello from September.

Did not start playing cello. Will not start playing cello in 2015. Will keep on listening to this one though. (No need to look at the video. Really.)

ex4. Make a wedding dress for a friend.

This is a fail, but I did not chicken out! My friend got married sooner than we both expected, so instead of making a wedding dress, I ended up making a baby sleeping bag-turned-blanket for her. It will hopefully come in handy to take the little one home from the hospital. I’ll show you pictures of the finished blanket with the baby inside, until then, here is what it’s made of:

fashion design pic 11

ex/Tick5. Finish my UFOs & use up my stash.

I did not manage to touch my “core stash” (that box below) unfortunately. However, I managed to use up quite a few larger scraps I have been hoarding for a while.  I made 4(!!!) garments this way, one of which is probably my all time favourite piece of clothing (not pictured).

I also made a habit of posting sneak peaks of projects I was very excited about at the time, just to give up on completing them right before the finish (adding buttons, hemming, etc.), but going through the posts I realized that I have finished just about as many as I left unfinished this year. Here are a few of these:

All in all, there is definitely room for improvement on this one, so I’ll be trying hard to come up with a good solution for this year and get rid of the contents of this box…

stash diet1

Tick6. Make a dressform.

Done! 🙂

ex7. Try fabric dyeing.

Not done.

ex8. Make/wear handmade jewellery.

Nope. I did buy/wear some awesome (mass-produced) jewellery though…

Tick9. Dress more adventurously.

I think the evidence of improvement in this area is my newfound addiction to vintage Japanese kimonos. I bought these 3 beauties in the past 3 months and the 4th is on its way… Now all I need is warm weather!

ex/Tick10. Be more consistent with blogging/ stress less about failing to do so.

Me Made May was an amazing challenge that helped me get used to posting more frequently than ever before. Then came the summer. Then 6 weeks of 7 day work weeks. Then the Christmas holiday…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I was – at some point during this year – more consistent with posting. BUT. I did spend the second half of the year rather guilt-ridden for not making blogging (or sewing, for that matter) a priority. Sooo…apparently I still don’t have a clue how to get this right.

Tick11. Join a sewing group, preferably create find a local one.

Success! Kind of. Ladies and Gentlemen, I co-created a knitting club in 2014. Yup, it runs every Thursday at the local pub, we have dinner, gossip chat and knit for a few hours after work. The members are actually my colleagues, including my boss (she is the pro!). I have just learned how to knit properly (my mum had previous attempts to teach me, without much success), and I managed to pick the hardest first project ever. Obviously I have already ditched the pattern and started freestyling, so if it all goes well, I should have a top by May. 🙂 Oh, and out of pure jealousy of other club members (who are on their 3rd scarves already), I’ve also started making the simplest snood ever. See?

fashion design pic 10

fashion design pic 9

ex12. Sell something I’ve made.

When I started sewing about 3 or 4 years ago I had this eureka moment. I still remember making my first dress, without knowing anything about dressmaking at all, listening to jazz in the background and having this unexplainable smile on my face. I just knew this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. So 3 (or 4) years on, even though I quite like what I do for a living, I would still love to do something in the future that involves sewing. As for now, after spending this past year with half-heartedly coming up with business ideas, I decided to give myself a break and keep sewing for what it used to be: FUN.

Tick+1: Fall in love.

Well, this was a really exciting and fun year in this department, but I did not actually fall in love…just yet! (I will still give myself a point for trying!) 😉

And that makes it even! I have succeeded to do just as many things as I have failed to do. Do you guys have any recycled or new resolutions for 2015? Any tried and trusted methods for making yourself finish what you have started?

Btw, happy New Year!

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