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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Refash., Thrift Store Thursdays

Shirt refash!

Have you heard of the Refashioners? I’ve stumbled upon Portia Laurie’s blog about a year ago, while checking out a pin about a stunning upcycling project. She invites bloggers every year to – you’ve guessed it – refashion old pieces of clothing. This year round there’s even a competition with an absolutely amazing amount of sewing related prizes, and what’s best, everyone is welcome to join in.

So for this month’s Thrift Store Thursday, I decided to show you what I’m entering the competition with… and you know, if there’s going to be a vote, feel free to choose my dress if you like it! 😉 )

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

I got this plain, blue Marks & Spencer shirt in one of Brighton’s many vintage shops for £1. I had no idea what to do with it, and I was just gonna use it to make a toilet for the final version, but I thought I was running out of time, so I just I went with this.

I wanted to make a folksy/boho summer dress with loads of details. I was looking for embellishments on Pinterest that could be recreated quickly. Originally I was going to get guipure lace and appliqué it on the dress, but I couldn’t find red in the shop, and after eliminating black and white, that was the colour I was going with.

I knew already what shape I wanted the dress to be like, but after assembling the top bit (quilting it, attaching the piping, attaching the ribbon, then the lining), I realized that the front and back piece alone wouldn’t be enough for a gathered A-line skirt. I played with all the remaining pieces (the cuffs, the collar, etc) until I could work out how to make a bigger piece of fabric. I wanted to have pockets and I actually had to have pockets, as there was a slit on one of the side panels – where the placket was inserted into the sleeve originally.

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

TheSecretCostumier - £1 shirt turned into summer dress for #therefashioners community challenge

The fit is not exactly perfect as the skirt dives down at the back, but it doesn’t bother me too much. I am quite happy with how it turned out as it’s super comfortable and I really love how the red pops on the blue.

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From scratch

This is not a quilt…yet!

This is a potholder. I know you know, I just wanted to set the record straight for those who think I’m busy making  a quilted bedcover. I have no idea where the obsession came from this time, but I am crazy about quilts right now, so I decided to make one using up my scrap fabrics. This will actually be my third time trying patchwork(ing?), but last time I used very different types of fabrics, and it was way more spontaneous. This time I gathered inspiration first…

…and tutorials for the cuttingpiecing, pressing, quilting and binding, and soon realized that it is a lot of work!!!! I did the maths for a quilt that would cover my double bed and started cutting, when I found out that I’d made a little mistake while I was trying to cut corners, and ended up with a bunch of half square triangles that were too small for the original project. And that’s how the potholder was born. I think it’s the perfect project for experienced sewists to take a break from dressmaking, as well as for beginners to make something that provides loads of opportunities:

  • for customization,
  • to practice straight stitching,
  • cutting accurately,
  • top stitching,
  • feeling what it’s like to work with relatively thin and bulky layers,
  • and to make something useful yet complicated enough to make you want to buy yourself a drink and celebrate your newly discovered talent!

TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork potholder front

TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork potholder back

TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork potholder detail

TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork potholder detail

TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork potholder detail

So go ahead guys, make a potholder today!

Image sources for the quilts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

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From scratch

The patchwork journal cover

Lately I’ve discovered a few traits and habits that I inherited from my Dad, other than the habit of not finishing things we start. Like this sewing thing. He is just as obsessed about woodworking right now, watching videos for hours of a man cutting wood with different machines, as I am about dressmaking. He has always been like that, but only now I can see this connection. And then there is the journaling. It turned out that keeping a journal runs in the family, as my late Grandfather used to have them, my Dad has precious little books for phone numbers, calculations and notes to himself, and I started keeping one 5 years ago too.TheSecretCostumier - Journals TheSecretCostumier - Journals TheSecretCostumier - JournalsI bought the first one when I moved to London for the first 7 months, and from then on, buying a fresh, new notebook was the highlight of my Decembers. Honestly, some of them are more than half empty, like the Moleskin London edition, but the rest work as the most helpful self-help books I could ever read. Whenever I feel empty, bored or tired of life in general I just open one up and read through how I saw my life at certain times. It helps putting my current struggles into a different point of view, and reminds me that if nothing else can help, time solves absolutely everything. This is why I’m so worried that I’ve neglected the writing habit this year, even though so many important things happened to me already. In a bid to inspire my journal writing (and try my hand at quilting again), I decided to make a patchwork cover for my 2013 notebook.TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork journal scrap fabrics TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork journal pattern TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork journal piecesI drafted the pattern on an A4 paper, numbered the pieces and wrote the colours on them, cut them out, added seam allowance on the fabric, and started sewing the blocks together. It has pocket on the inside and a little pen holder. It would have turned out neater if I didn’t pick the bloody green stretch velvet fabric, as even though it looks awesome (since it’s velvet!!!!:)), it pulled the other fabrics, and seriously misbehaved… Apart from that, it was done in a few hours from planning to squeezing the journal into it, and it looks like a magician’s little exercise book from Harry Potter, so I am quite pleased.TheSecretCostumier - Patchwork journal

Apart from making something absolutely useless, I’ve started sewing a dress as well. 😉 More on this tomorrow!

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