2014 Sewing Plans

HappyNewYear2014_2

Firstly, Happy New Year!

Well, aside from the recent Christmas Baubles I’ve just not been sewing. Nothing. At all. With two weeks off for Christmas I’ve had time to catch up on the happenings in the sewing community online and finally do some sewing.

I turned by attention to finally sewing a test piece of the Colette Hazel dress using Calico. Most sewing bloggers did this about a year ago and my original plan was to sew it over the Summer but clearly that didn’t happen. So I’m sewing a summery dress in December/January and really wishing it was July *sigh*.

Anyhow, I’m keen to keep learning so here are my sewing goals for the year:

1. Participate in a sew along. What is a sew along? It’s when a group of sewers decide to make something at the same time e.g. when a new pattern comes out and they blog about their progress online and support each other. For a beginner like me it would be great to be a part of!

2. Sew gifts for friends and family. Where time permits I would love to give handmade gifts this year (including handmade cards).

3. Make clothes I can wear regularly and buy less ready to wear stuff.

Sounds acieveable I think!

Have a wonderful 2014!

Vintage Christmas Baubles

I made some decorations for our Christmas tree! I learnt how from this blog. The instructions are in English as well as Russian.

russian_baubles

These were my first attempt and I forgot to buy matching thread so used navy blue instead. I won’t do that again. I think they’ll make cool Christmas presents next year.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Fabric Shopping Across the Channel

Paris_street_art

So to make the most of the Summer before returning to part-time study I went on holiday this month. Hurrah! I knew I wanted to incorporate a first time journey on Eurostar and from there it became a trip to Paris, Florence (on an overnight train) and onto Viareggio in Tuscany. Much fun it was but this is a sewing blog so let me focus on that.

paris_owl

 I see owls everywhere, do you?

I researched the bloggersphere thoroughly for info on fabric shopping in Paris and thankfully there’s much guidance here, here and here. So while there I went to Montmartre, the location of the beautiful Basilique du Sacre Coeur and numerous fabric shops. The first two – Marché St. Pierre and Tissus Reine were the largest fabric shops I’ve ever been to. Floors and floors of all types of lovely material. I was overwhelmed by the choice and so with no particular bargains to be found I had the sinking feeling of being too early in my sewing adventures to fully appreciate all the delights before me and make wise purchases.

I visited all the fabric shops in the locale that I saw. Some were stronger on home furnishing fabrics, another a haberdashery with some fabric. The busiest shops were the two ‘coupon’ stores. This is where pre-cut fabric is sold in 3-4m and priced up ready to purchase. Again lots of choice but more affordable this time. These shops were very busy, clearly popular with the locals so I joined the hunt for bargains. I bought these:

paris_fabric2

The red and pink check/plaid on the left is 100% cotton and cost 18 euros. The middle one is a much brighter green cotton print than my camera phone has captured. it’s quite bold and I do have my doubts about it. It was 15 euros and the third is a neat woven cotton ideal for a smart skirt, a smaller piece that the others this was less than 10 euros.

In the shop were I bought the red and pink fabirc there was a wonderfully colourful range of tweeds. Lovely to touch and screaming Chanel style suit! I decided to buy some on my next trip when I’ve more sewing experience. That’ll be something nice to look forward to.

I did research fabric shopping in Florence and two websites mentioned an amazing fabric warehouse called Gori Tessuti. It didn’t seem far away so worked out a route from central Florence by bus. It was beautiful – huge room full of rolls and rolls of fabric but dear reader, I couldn’t buy any of it. The blogs I’d read failed to mention it was wholesale/traders only! Oh the woe. There was fabric as far as the eye could see:

gori_florenceGori Tessuti

I left emptied handed but chuffed at my navigation skills (got to and from central Florence without any problems). I didn’t see any other fabric shops in Florence as the warehouse was the only place I had planned to visit.

Fabric shopping in Paris was lovely and Florence a disappointment but really this was a small part of the trip. I did so much – went to the top of the Effiel Tower, joined the scrum to see the little Mona Lisa, Michaelangelo’s statue of David and ate plenty of gelato to name but a few things. It was a lovely holiday.

effiel_towerThe Eiffel Tower

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The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or Il Duomo di Firenze

viareggio2Viareggio

1st Make Done

Perfectionism can be good and a real pain at the same time. Keen for my brother’s cushions to be, like, shaa-amazing I’ve wandered around fabric shops, hand on face and muttering to myself trying to pick well. In my last post I mentioned buying fabric in Hackney – well, on second thoughts it-was-too-thin-and-required-lining-and-really-cushion-covers-are-made-from-thicker-material-so-let’s-try-again. So two weeks ago I decided to make my long intended visit to Goldhawk Road in Shepherd’s Bush. A good excuse to see the fabric shops I’d read so much about online and pick up some new fabric for the cushions.

I’m amazed at the number of fabric shops on Goldhawk Road and in such close proximity to each other. Like the kids’ song ‘in and out the dusty bluebells’ I went between shops – it was wonderful! Shepherd’s Bush Market is a few steps away where more fabric traders can be found and reasonable prices too. For a great overview, see Karen Ball’s blog post: Goldhawk Road Fabric Fandango.

I found some fabric priced at £4 per yard for my brother’s cushions. Not to my taste but I’m pleased to say he approves and all that matters…and here they are…

bro_cushions_1

…two cushions for his sofa. Both fitted with zip openings. I’ve not sewn zips before so although not perfect (hence pics are not up close) I’m pleased with my first attempt. So is my brother. Hurrah!

 

 

A Cushty Make in Chelsea

custy_make

Booked weeks ago, I was really excited about my cushion making class. Once my new sewing machine had been delivered I searched online for a suitable beginner’s class to kick off my sewing adventures. The 3 hour class at The Saturday Sewing Session in Chelsea looked good and included making button holes – something I’d not done before. The class included all materials – fabric, thread, pattern piece and plenty of free tea and biscuits.

The class took place in a lovely small room with lots of natural light. There were four of us altogether (meant to be five as Bridget called to say she was lost but never made it). The tutor gave an introduction to sewing machines and showed us how to thread one. One learner brought her own machine – a Bernina (I understand these are the absolute best machines but with prices to match!) that had belonged to her grandmother.

I did think half-way through the class was just a little too basic and I could have picked up how to sew an envelope cushion for free online instead. However it was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning and I came away with a cute cushion.

After the class I crossed from south-west to east London, to Hackney to buy some fabric. My Mum had mentioned a stall in Kingsland Shopping Centre selling African printed fabric cheaply. Yes please! Priced at £5 for 5 yards I bought two lots. I then headed outside to Ridley Road Market to investigate the fabric stalls and a shop called Dalston Mill Fabrics.

dalston_mill_fabrics

Trips on a Saturday to Ridley Road Market were a regular occurrence when I was young, being the nearest and best place to buy West Indian food e.g. yam, green and yellow plantain, Jamaican sweet potatoes, saltfish etc. Good stuff that couldn’t be found in the supermarket but I digress…

I passed four or five stalls (nothing to see here) to Dalston Mill Fabrics – an Aladdin’s Cave of fabrics. There is much to look at crammed together. So much so my eyes darted back and forth from roll to roll.

There’s a haberdashery at the back and the staff are really friendly and helpful. I bought some blue-green paisley printed cotton fabric (£7.70 per metre) to make cushions for my brother’s flat. He has seen it and approves. Yay.

Enjoy your week!

Why I’ve Started Sewing

This is my best surviving make is a floral cushion made at secondary school when I was 14 years old. I was so pleased with how it turned out back then. I did go on to study GCSE Textiles and made a bag. A horrible bag. Ugly it was. This I realised far too late to bin the coursework and start over. I watched in envy as one friend made a suit – jacket and matching skirt. ‘What a great idea, why didn’t I think of that?’ I thought. I’ve no idea where the bag is now, binned long ago hopefully.

While at university I became interested in sewing again and bought a pattern to make a shift dress but couldn’t follow it very well and gave up in a huff.

My Dad was a tailor in the Caribbean before arriving in England in the 1960s and I grew up watching him on the sewing machine altering his trousers, sewing a patch on his jeans or replacing a broken zip on one of our cushions. My Mum liked sewing in a small way having attended classes before I came along. Both were pleased when my bursts of interest cropped up and bless them, said little when it fizzled out.

Our sewing machine was a beautiful Singer set in the middle of a wooden table. It looked a look like this one:

asingerlikemymums

When not in use the machine could be flipped over and hidden so the table could be used for other things. It’s still with my parents. My own machine is by Brother and purchased at the Battersea Sewing Machine Centre – I highly recommend making a visit there if you’re looking to buy. They repair machines, sell second hand ones and give helpful advice.

So…why the interest almost ten years on? Not one to jump on the band wagon but watching BBC Two’s Great British Sewing Bee earlier this year reminded me that sewing was a skill I really did want to learn at some point and blogging about my efforts would help me keep on task. So ta-da!