Last time I spent a long weekend in Portugal was convincing enough to decide that just over 2 days in Porto will be worth doing. And boy, was I right!

The trip got off on the right foot when the lovely guy we were chatting to on the plane offered to give us a lift to our Airbnb, and it turned out he lived on the same street! We were staying right next to the Jardins do Palácio de Cristal where we spent our first evening sampling the craft beer at a little festival.

Saturday was spent by walking around the hilly streets of the city, marveling at the murals of the Sao Bento Station, strolling along the Douro, across the Dom Louis I Bridge, and by going all the way to the beach aboard the old tram.

We had dinner at this amazing restaurant that looked like a curiosity shop, had live music, and the best duck I’ve had since the last time I’ve had the best duck – in Lisbon. 🙂

On Sunday we checked out a few of the port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia, but in search for something a bit more authentic or at least less touristy we decided to walk all the way up the hill to Graham’s. It was the best decision ever. We joined one of their cellar tours and wine tasting sessions, and enjoyed the beautiful view.

After all that lunchtime drinking we headed to the beach again, this time with the intention of checking out the pools in Leca de Palmeira and braving the ice-cold Atlantic Ocean. We could not leave Porto without trying the famous Francesinha of course, which is a bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries (Wikipedia).  I do like meat, and it sure is really unique, but I doubt I will ever have it again…

I’m sure it’s clear to see that I fell in love with Porto, just like I did with Lisbon, and this time Fado was not even on the menu, so I would definitely recommend you put it on your bucket list. 😉

 

Travels

60 hours in Porto

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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?

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. 🙂

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Oh la la, I made a bra!

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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. 😉

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My first quilt

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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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It’s been almost 3 months since I last shared anything in this little corner of the internet. It feels like the longer break you take, the harder it is to find something meaningful to say.

Pretty much from May till September my sewing and personal life were the busiest and happiest they’ve ever been. By October my workload got really out of hand, I felt exhausted and didn’t handle the lack of sunshine and free time very well. Long story short: I still don’t feel the urge to get out of bed most weekends, but I do want to be an active member of this community, because come rain or shine sewing is still the one thing I cannot stop thinking about.

I’m wishing you all (a very belated) happy holidays in my impromptu Christmas jumper! 😀

Refash.

Well, hello world!

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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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