Thursday, 16 October 2014

Greece is the Word

Another country, another fabric haul.   A slightly different blog post this time to give you a flavour of Greece and the beautiful island of Karpathos.

After a long summer full of hard work a September break was just the ticket for a tired dressmaker and I was really looking forward to dipping my toes in the sun warmed Aegean Sea and chomping some fabulous Greek food.

Lefkos Beach - clear and shallow waters - perfect for families
Our destination was Karpathos, reached via little flight from Athens (or a 9 hour ferry journey if you have a the time).  Karpathos, unlike it's bigger neighbours, Rhodes and Crete, is very untouristed and is perfect for relaxation.  The mountainous scenery is very dramatic and the beaches or even populated areas contain very little if at all, in the way of bars and music.  Activities centre around beach lazing and taverna eating yummy Greek food.

Achata Beach - pebbly with crystal water
Accommodation and car hire is priced moderately and we made the most of exploring a different beach each day. The one above had one small taverna - enough for lunch, and beautiful clear deep water for swimming.

Appella beach just had to be my favourite and is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the Mediterranean - something I can vouch for.  The road to reach this secluded paradise beach was hairy, requiring concentration for the hairpin bends and sheer cliff drops but was more than well worth it.

Glaros beach is breezy and has nice waves and a taverna with rooms of the same name where you can feast on the best Greek food.  I managed to wear my old me made strapless dress this day.


This shop in the main town, Pigadia, was a cute find and I did a bit of shopping at 10.00 pm on the day I was there.  It's a knitter's dream.

Popi's Studios in Arkasa where we stayed had an interesting car park entrance and great studio accommodation at a very reasonable price.

So, after our days of relaxation it was time to hit Athens for a spot of retail therapy.

Obviously, yours truly headed to the fabric quarter which can be found just off the main shopping street (Ermou) in a little road called Kalamioutou.

There's easily about 15 shops there with varying fabrics and something for every pocket.  It was kind of difficult to control myself but I managed quite well, only netting about 9 pieces of cloth in varying sizes for about 85 euros.

Said cloth
The yellow check taffeta was an astonishing 2 euros per metre so I bought 3 metres for a vintage style dress.  In the top right hand corner is some gorgeous Japanese style stretch cotton and my other favourite is bottom right, a heavy cream shaded wool with gold slub - perfect for a winter skirt.  The most expensive was the copper brocade at 18 euros per metre so this concoction will have to be thought about wisely before cutting ensues.  Mr P even gained 2.3 metres of striped brown wool for some 1940s trousers.

Yes, Athens definitely has a slice of fabric heaven.

So many rolls!  fortunately for Mr P there are lots of lovely little bars and, when you do get hungry, restaurants nearby so fabric shopping to your heart's delight if you're with your non-sewing other half, if definitely a possibility!

Karpathos resident
This shop in Ermou Street had a mind blowing amount of buttons.

Well methinks now I have a respectable amount of fabric to see me through winter sewing days, but have already booked next year's flight so that I can stock up on fabrics and have more Greek Island relaxation.  Who knows what material goodies will be on offer next year.

A final 2014 memory of Greece to keep me going through the winter months.

Happy sewing

Linda x

Monday, 22 September 2014

Red Hot and Chilli

It's always good when you can have a finale for one of your makes and my finale for my latest make was a trip to a vintage festival in the form of Twinwood for August Bank Holiday.

Twinwood Festival is the UK's largest vintage festival of the year and is fantastic fun if you love all things vintage with lots of music, dancing, vintage goodies to buy and pop up tea shops.  A gallery of
images from the day can be seen here.

So back to the dress,  The chilli pepper fabric was an irresistible find in Fabricland and I knew it would be just perfect for the day.  I did have to ponder for a while on what design the dress would be and had originally planned to wear a full skirted monochrome dress but it got consigned to the UFOs when it needed tweaking - that and the chilli pepper fabric got me hyperventilating with its retroness!

I eventually decided on a Patrones (issue 269), number 17, a pattern by Guess because I felt it had a forties feel and I just loved the stand collar and cap sleeves.  I completely lined the dress and added some gathers at the bodice to give a bit of detail at the bust (and give me a bit of shape!)

I'd originally planned this one as  a 40s wiggle dress but as the fabric was only 110 cm width the dress came up a bit snug on the hips so to add in a bit of spaciousness I unpicked the back seam and inserted a godet, giving a bit of a back flare.  Job done and super comfy to walk in. 

The inserted godet in all it's glory.
As well as saving the look of the back seam and stand collar I opted for a side zip - also partly because I didn't have a long zipper and by adding it in at the side it opened up the waist for ease of actually getting into the dress.

Unusually for a bank holiday the sun shone all over Twinwood so vintage merrymakers were able to enjoy all the festival had to offer, including lots of lovely classic cars.

Just in case of a cool breeze I decided on a fake fur wrap which I made from 80 cm of super soft fake fur with a cream lining, rounded at the ends and quickly wizzed up on my trusty old machine.  If you fancy the diva look there are lots of fake fur stole tutorials all over the internet including this good one from Chic Steals

The wrap took a break when the sun shone brightly.

Back view of the collar and close up of the peppers

Finally a pic of the main stage - lots of opportunities for dance divas with big band sounds.

Cost:  1.5m of chilli pepper fabric at £3.99 per metre plus 1.5 m lining at £2.00 per metre plus zip

Ease factor:  generally straightforward with the lining attaching to the sleeves being the most complex part,

I'm already collating ideas for my Twinwood dress for next year - let's hope the sun shines again.  I'd love to see any garments you sewers have made for a festival.

Happy sewing

Linda x

Saturday, 30 August 2014

I Sewed A Cake (or at least a cake inspired outfit)

Once again I'm squeezing my monthly challenge into the last coupled of days of the month but only because I didn't have enough blogging (as opposed to sewing) time.

The lovely ladies over at The Monthly Stitch certainly gave a food for thought challenge this month with the Let Them Sew Cake challenge to honour their website's first birthday.

Here's what I came up with

This little three piece ensemble was inspired by a purple wedding cake from Arabia Weddings was my inspiration as I just loved those little flowers cascading down the centre.

The top was Patrones No 266 number 42 (quite an old issue) chosen for it's vintage feel and made up from a cute heart patterned poly cotton purchased in Barcelona.  The bow give a bit of a nod to the forties and I even managed a cake topper in the form of a hat.  The trhrifted bag came in useful to carry my purchases which included some fabulous Marilyn Monroe fabric which I'll need to consider carefully what to make from.

Looking a bit creased here due to the fact that I used linen for this very first self drafted high waisted skirt , and this pic was taken after sitting a few hours in the car for the journey to the Retrofestival - a fantastic day out if you love all things vintage and retro.

After cutting the skirt out a panel was added to the centre front and I then sewed on the daisies randomly, liking the white picking up the heart pattern of the top.

The top was faced at the back and has a 3 vintage button opening whereas the front yoke is sewed into the back shoulders which took me a little longer to do while I worked out the details of how to attach.

I was so pleased my first self drafted pattern fitted so beautifully once made up.  A few pearls and a and some matching slingbacks, both thrifted, complete the forties look.

The perfect posing opportunity.  On Retrofestival day I substituted the satin heels for some winklepickers and also popped a brooch onto the hat.

A further view of the cake top hat which was a simple pillbox hat made from a scrap of skirt fabric and some millinary net.  I even managed a victory roll for this shot. If you wish to make your own pillbox hat there's many tutorials on the net.

I'm now looking at lots more vintage style makes and am happy to find there's loads of resources on the net for this.  All I can say is ....... this space!

Have you made anything vintage lately?  Leave me a link in a message - I'd love to see your makes.

Happy sewing.

Linda x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Second Lekala 4276 - Peplum Top

I was so pleased with my Lekala 4276 sewn for the Monthly Stitch's Monosewn Challenge that I decided to use the same pattern again for a long-desired peplum top, made with some lovely grey spot fabric from Ditto in Brighton.

This Ditto fabric has a lovely feel, having a slight amount of elasticity in it but I did have to ponder a while on what to actually do with it.

First came the buttons.  This beauts were found at a little sewing emporium just over a stone's throw from my sewing room.  I just loved the zingy colour.  Secondly a lunchtime rummage in one of my "local to the office" thrift stores turned up a soft cotton poplin shirt by East.  It was the perfect colour to use with the grey spot fabric and give it a lift and, being a size 18, had a generous amount of fabric I could cut into , a bargain at £2.99.

I opted for orange on the midriff and collar which, together with the buttons, gave a good amount of fabric mix and eye popping colour to the top.

I self drafted the peplum and have recorded the tutorial here for anyone tempted to have a go.

There's not really too much to say about this make.  I omitted the back zip, opting for the button back and added a placket - 2 in fact - to go down either side of the back, which I interfaced to give more sturdiness for the buttons and buttonholes.

I'd only purchased five buttons so the bottom of the peplum splays a little but I kind of like this as opposed to being just a "straight buttoned top" as it gives a bit more detail.  I also faced the top with half version of the front and back pieces as opposed to fiddly little facings and it seemed to work well.

My previous Monochrome Lekala didn't have a collar so it was fun to play around with the collar on this make, but I did end up sewing part of the collar into the shoulder seam, hence the spot fabric showing around the front of the neck (also due to understitching), but again, I like this detail.....

Note matching accessory
This is the only Lekala pattern I've used so far but I'm really impressed with the fit and would definitely consider another one!  Hey guys - do you need a pattern tester???

The peplum had it's first outing on a shopping trip to Brighton and did dance a little on windy Brighton beach, but you can't complain with so much zing!

If you like the idea of discovering Brighton and it's wonderful vintage boardwalk you might like to take a look here and plan your visit.  ..... and think of all the fabric purchasing opportunities.

Hem does need a little restitching here
I don't think this will be the last Lekala 4276 that I make so watch this space - maybe next time I'll include the keyhole in the pattern  Whatever it is you can be sure it will be a fun design.

The basics:

Ease of sewing - 5 out of 10 but only because I constructed my own peplum.

Cost:  1.3 metres of spot fabric at £7.99 per metre, £2.99 for the thrifted top and £1.75 for the buttons.

Go on, have a go at the tutorial and show off your makes.

Happy sewing

Linda x

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Peplum Tutorial

I've been meaning to make a peplum top for some time after seeing them all over lots of blogs as they're so pretty and feminine and add a nice detail to an otherwise plain and simple top.

It's easy to make a peplum to add to your favourite dress or top pattern.  Here's the basic instructions:-
(apologies for the mix of fabric in the photos - one is a test but the instructions remain the same).

Step 1
Measure around the pattern at the part the peplum will be attached to.  If your peplum willl be a continual piece remember to take out the side seam allowances.  Remember to inlcude any allowances where your peplum has a seam, i.e. back seam.  On this pattern I am adding in a midriff panel with only one back seam and the peplum will be attached to the bottom of that so have measured around this.

Step 2
Once you have the total measurement, and in this instance it was 78 cm, divide this figure by 3.14 to find the radius of the circle that you will need to create the top of the peplum.   So for a 78 cm circumference the radius will be 24.8 cm.

Step 3
Fold a piece of paper twice so you have 4 layers of paper and use the measurements to create a cone shape, or quarter circle, the point being the centre of your circle.  One you have your quarter circle pin it to your fabric, which should also be folded twice to give four layers of fabric, and mark out the cone shape.

Step 4
Then decide how deep you want your peplum to be and mark from the edge of the quarter circle to the required depth, again in a quarter circle.  Remember to add in hem allowance here. 

Step 5
You can then cut around your cone as above and around the second marked line giving you the peplum (folded in four).

Here's your peplum folded once.....

... and here's the finished peplum ready to add to your top.  Here the peplum is just to be cut up the centre back to give the centre back seam

If you'd like a graduated peplum just measure the halfway point (after step 5) of the semi circle and decide on how deep you'd like the front (or the back) to be and grade the circle so the distances and grading are equal. Here I graded from 10 cm at the side to 6 cm at the front so the mid distance as shown here .....

... would be a depth of 8 cm.  To get the mid distance between  just fold the edge into the centre as shown.

.. and here's the graded peplum ready to be attached.

I'm currently working on my second Lekala 4276 which will be a top, hence the differing fabric in the photos and will unveil this soon.  The graded peplum is from a test fabric which is an old duvet cover thrifted for the purpose of muslining - a lot of fabric and cheap at £2.99 - another tip!!

I hope you found this useful.

Happy sewing

Linda x

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Monochrome Lekala 4276 - A Daisy for Daisy

I keep surprising myself with how many new projects and initiatives I can incorporate into my sewing life and my latest post proved no exception when I decided to include myself in The Monthly Stitch's Monosewn Challenge

For those of you not in the know, the Monthly Stitch is the baby of 3 talented ladies (Kat, Mel and Juliet) who you can read about and link to here.  The idea is to share ideas, inspire and give yourself a goal, as well as reading lots of lovely blogs along the way. 

So, back to my efforts. 

I recently purchased my first PDF pattern (gosh, more firsts!!) from Lekala patterns and was excited when it dropped in my inbox.  Printing was easy peasy on A4 sheets and I soon had the pattern made up in greaseproof paper. 

The fabric was obviously meant for moi - a find on a trip to Brighton's Fabricland , which I spotted almost as soon as walking through the door.  DAISY print - can you believe it?  It's rather a soft satin cotton and I'm wanting to say it feels like a soft lint duster, but it was easy to work with and that's a good thing, right?

The dress was straightforward, being a sleeveless shift, but I'm afraid, in my eagerness not to miss the end of July deadline for the challenge, I did make a bloop.  As you can see here, the ribbon I added to the seams on the bodice did not quite make it to matching.  I think I'll unpick a little and have the ribbon matching, even though it won't be on the seam as this will be less noticeable.

I did, however, manage to fully line the dress with the same fabric, catching the zipper in between the lining and shell and neatly sewing the neck and armholes complete with understitching to give a flat finish. 

Modifications to my Lekala 4276 were not including the keyhole, leaving off the collar and cutting the neckline wider as I find  boatneck  styles much more flattering. 

The back vent was included in the pattern and makes for ease of walking, especially useful in a fabric without stretch!

I did actually already cut this pattern out as a top to use with some fabric from my Barcelona haul but as it wasn't monochrome it's had to patiently wait in my sewing cupboard until I have the time to get around to it. 

Overall I was really pleased with my Lekala pattern and my Daisy Dress and think it will be getting much wear while the weather stays in heightened temperatures. 

The basics:

Ease of sewing:  Dresses always seem easy so I'd say 4.5/10 with the lining to construct. 

Cost:  2 metres of daisy fabric at £3.99 per metre + 75p zip and £1.10 for the ribbon. 

Thank you to the Monthly Stitch ladies for allowing me to be part of the community.   Why don't you pop over and see the great makes there and get some inspiration?

Happy sewing

Linda x