Finished at last!

So here it is at last – my pencil skirt – subject of many hours of blood, sweat, tears and blogging.

The pattern is Burda 109 from November 2011, modified for a simpler waist band and no front pleats.  Previous posts detail the problems I had fitting and I think it worked out well in the end.

The fabric came from Borovick fabrics in Berwick Street and is a lusciously soft cashmere mix herring bone tweed.  I added a lining (nothing special just from John Lewis) and reinforced the front vents. 

If I am being totally honest with myself I am not completely happy with the finish on the inside (no I’m not going to show you!). I got a bit bored with it towards the end and didn’t really finish the seams as well as I could have.

I think this will be a useful skirt for work next winter and now I know how to fit the skirt I may make others using the same pattern


What should I do with this fabric?

Last year, around the time I started sewing, I bought this fabric from the V&A website.  It is a very pretty reprint of a Horrocks fabric, not as stiff as a quilting cotton but not as fine as a  lawn.

I had thought to use it for a skirt but when it arrived I discovered that the stripes are horizontal not vertical.  Internet shopping doesn’t always get you what you want; I couldn’t quite see myself wearing a skirt with horizontal stripes (although a lot of the Horrocks’s dresses were made with horizontal stripes).  The V&A kindly offered to refund me the cost of the fabric but I thought it was nice enough to keep for something else.  The question is what?

I’m thinking of Jasmine by Colette patterns which is very pretty, much prettier than my usual style.  It is also cut on the bias which would mean the stripes would form a chevron across the top.

What do you think?  Should I try this pattern or do you have any better suggestions?

P.S. I see the V&A have the same fabric in a pretty lavender colour way on special offer at the moment

Pink flowery top

I haven’t blogged about much sewing recently, not that I haven’t been doing any but I seem to have three projects on the go and as I’m so slow none of them are near worth blogging about.

I did, however, run up a top out of an Indian block print fabric from Cloth House and some pink bias binding from McCulloch and Wallis. The pattern is Sorbetto from Colette with sleeves from Sew Incidentally.

The fabric is lovely, quite a thick cotton which almost feels like a linen. Although the colours in the fabric are mauve and red the hot pink bias binding sets it off perfectly.

Once I had printed and cut out the pattern (my printer took forever grrrr) it was relatively quick and easy to put together.

I have a few fit issues which I will look at if I get around to making another one: the shoulders need widening slightly and the armscye is a little on the tight side. It could also do with being a bit longer. Untucked it hits me at a rather unflattering point.

Overall I am quite pleased with this top. Summer has finally arrived in London and after sitting on a hot tube I still felt relatively smart.

Christian Louboutin at the Design Museum

First of all I must start by explaining my antipathy towards the Design Museum. I’ve been to several exhibitions there and they have all been as dull a ditch water. It’s not the subject matter that’s been the problem, it’s always the way the exhibition is displayed.  You know how sometimes things are so achingly hip that it feels like all life has been drained out of them? That’s what I thought of the Design Museum; too many brilliant white walls, too many tiny little signs offering very little in the way of explanation, an approach that was intellectual to the point of exclusion, no interactivity and no theatre.  So when they announced they were planning a Christian Louboutin retrospective I instantly decided it wouldn’t be worth going to even though shoes are my favourite thing.

What persuaded me to change my mind was this short film on Vimeo explaining the making of a hologram with Dita Von These. Somehow it didn’t seem like the Design Museum’s thing at all, so a couple of friends and I popped over there late yesterday afternoon.

Anyway I have been proved completely wrong! This is the most amazing theatrical exhibition.  One floor of the Design Museum has been completely transformed with dark red walls and subtle lighting to show off the shoes.  Dominating the first room is the hologram of a shoe which turns into a dancing Dita von These which turns back into a shoe.  There is a carousel and various other stands all displaying the most amazing shoes and boots each with their own little light.

At the back there is a small room showing videos, again video installations are not one of my things but as it was a day to eat my words I found these very entertaining and could have stood for hours watching them.  Another room is an atelier which goes some way to explaining the design and fabrication process which goes into each shoe.  The last room is the fetish room and has all sorts of extraordinarily kinky shoes; not for the fainthearted.

The exhibition is on to 9 July and I urge you to go.  Personally I will be dream of owning some of those red soles for a long time to come!

Lace (and some Yellow)

Another trend I’ve been admiring on the High Street is lace.  I spotted this tart citron skirt in Anthropologie the other day and am very tempted.    I love the almost neon colour which looks very cheerful, particularly as London is so grey at present.

For some reason everything I have been attracted to this month is yellow.  For example the Karina dress from Reiss which has a fabulous cowl neck and open back and this tweed dress with black piping from Whistles.  Being a pale blonde I’ve never thought of myself as a yellow person but maybe I should give it a try.

Anyway this post is about Lace not Yellow!

Zara have some pretty lace skirts too.  I like the way this one on the left has used the lace to create a picot hem. The skirt on the right comes from Jigsaw and in it’s dark fabric is a bit more understated than the others.

All Saints also has lots of lace, I like this dress, teamed with the jacket which stops it from being too frilly.

Burda had a mint green lace skirt in May’s edition and I’ve seen some lace for sale in some of the fabric shops in Berwick Street (although mainly in whites and creams not in any of the bright colours available in the shops but I suppose you could dye it).

The main thing that is stopping me is that although I love this style I am not sure I would actually get much wear out of it.  Maybe I am becoming too practical in my old age!  What do you think?

Reinforcing the vents

My pencil skirt (which I have been making forever and has been the subject of several previous blog posts) has two front vents to enable you to walk.  On trying out the toile I worked out very quickly that these would need some industrial strength reinforcement.

Alice very kindly pointed me to this tutorial for Arrow Head tacks but I thought these would look a bit busy on my herringbone tweed. In the end I went for simple triangles sewn with a bit of bias binding at the back to strengthen them further.  I think they look quit neat!

Burda June 2012

I spotted the June edition of Burda through our local newsagents window this week, once again it’s turned up earlier than I expected.

I have an awful lot of unfinished and unstarted projects in the pipeline so it’s probably a good thing that there isn’t a huge amount that I particularly like this month.  I’ve noticed that several other bloggers have raved about jacket 121, with good reason, although I am not totally convinced this picture does it justice.  I like the fit of the jacket and the asymmetric front with the buttons running at an angle up towards the shoulder.

I also thought blouse 125 was very pretty with lots of feminine details.  I particularly liked the little ties on the shoulders and the ruffles down the front.  The light, white fabric and the khaki shorts make it pretty without being too girly.

In the plus size section I thought this tomboyish skirt (144) would be useful, although again I am not sure the picture does it justice.

I can imagine this being quite stylish in an understated sort of way if it were well fitted (I think it looks a bit big on this model) with something like a vest top.

Lastly there is a bubble skirt (123)  which personally I think looks cheap and unflattering in the the magazine (so it’s probably a good thing I can’t find a picture on the internet!). However I did wonder whether with the right fabric you could use this pattern to make something like this  skirt from All Saints. What do you think?

What did you think of this months magazine. Where there any other garments you particularly liked?

Digitally Printed Fabrics

Has anyone else been drooling over the digitally printed dresses that seem to have been in all the shops over the last couple of seasons? This one on the left is from Ted Baker and is probably my favourite. I love the subtle way the print has been blurred with the colour running into the top.

Another Ted Baker dress, this time with a sensational print which at first looks abstract until you see the butterflies:

Whistles  and Reiss also have lovely digital prints (sorry I couldn’t work out how to put the photos on the blog).  and these humming birds can be found in Monsoon

I visited Our Patterned Hand in Broadway Market yesterday and they had a very small collection of fabulous Italian digital prints however this is the only place I have seen them for sale.

Do you like these fabrics?  Do you know where they can be bought?

Incidentally am I the only person that goes into Ted Baker just to look at their lining fabrics? And where do they get them from?

Late update you might be interested in this article from February’s Guardian


Inspired by Catherine Daze I thought I would use today to start making Burda 117a 02/2012 using some grey jersey from Cloth House in Berwick St.  Unfortunately they were out of the wool jersey I had originally had in mind for the dress but sold me some polyamide jersey which felt very similar.  It was quite a stable jersey so should have been perfect.

The instructions were to wash it by hand which I duly did. When it had dried I was a bit surprised to find it much thicker and fluffier than the original piece of cloth but I thought I would go ahead and try making the dress anyway.  On laying out the fabric, however, I realised it had shrunk a bit; in fact it had shrunk a lot by 30cm nearly 20%!

Have you every come across this situation? Obviously I made a huge mistake in buying the polyamide jersey know but how would I have known what the best fabric to buy would have been?  If I had bought the wool jersey I originally wanted I would probably have dry cleaned it rather than worried about washing the fabric. Should I get all jersey fabrics dry cleaned in future?

**Update**  Brilliant service from Cloth House – I wrote to them yesterday explaining the problem and they responded early this morning with a promise to replace the fabric!