Monday 31 December 2012

A Shirt for Rob

This is McCalls 6044, a nice and simple men's shirt started ages ago and finished just in time to wrap and give to Rob for Christmas. It's my second make of this pattern and aside from a few mistakes it went quite smoothly. I think he likes it.
I hope you all have a lovely end of 2012 and I hope to be back stronger and happier in 2013! Love you all, thank you for sticking with me through my good and bad moments.

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas my dear readers! I thought I would share some of my lovely presents with you.

My first presents were opened earlier in the month, when I celebrated Christmas with my lovely knitting group. Secret Santa was involved and look at what gorgeous and talented Julie got me. Believe me, I had tears in my eyes! It was so unexpected and I have been struggling with my mood/ confidence lately so this was very special.
Next is another Secret Santa, this time the amazing one organised by the also amazing Kat. Look at that pattern. Swoon!!!

And finally some other lovely presents I go from my lovely husband :)
I'll be back before the end of the year to show you some photos of a recent make. Till then, be merry!

Monday 12 November 2012

Tale of Three Skirts: Part 1

I finished this cute little number some weeks ago, and have already worn it a few times (including to the fantastic Birmingham meetup). I got this fabric on a swap at the Walthamstow meet up and even thought it is a synthetic fabric, it was a delight to work with. Thank you so much Karen, for wanting to get rid of it!
The pattern is from the August 2011 Burda Magazine. It is my first make from a Burda magazine and also my first make following Portuguese instructions (I learned to sew in English so do not know all the technical terms in Portuguese, even though I am Portuguese). It is a wrap skirt so really quick to put together. I spent a Saturday night catchstitcing the hem. If I may say so myself, this is gorgeous work!
I still have plenty of fabric and will be making another skirt. Stay tuned, I'm going to rock this Winter in skirts!
Last but not least, I have stalled with my Couture dress (reasons for it later) and have decided to very slowly start the below beauty. Very scary, as will be using some expensive wool flannel. Might post some muslin and progress photos as I could use your help and support on this make. My confidence is a bit shattered.
Have a great week ahead!

Saturday 27 October 2012

Black & Blue Soul

Black and Blue Soul because Alma means soul in Portuguese. I have finished this Sewaholic Alma blouse sometime ago but only today managed to photograph it. I have been sort of out of sorts (if that makes sense) and some things take much longer to do.
I am really happy how this Alma turned out. Shame that the weather is turning too cold and I have to wait till next Spring to wear this again.
I used a very soft cotton-like fabric which is a bit of a nightmare to work with. I decided to go with contrasting black cuffs and collar and love the result. I planned on doing the black belt as well but the fabric was so fiddly I decided to ignore that. I'm happy I did as I botched up on the narrow hem and will not be using this blouse untucked. I love it with some high waisted trousers!
I'm slowly getting back to sewing (and knitting) regularly. Have quite a few projects on the go now. Focusing on getting one ready to wear next Saturday for the great Birmingham Rag Market meet up.
Will try to keep you posted on how it goes!

Sunday 30 September 2012

My Stripy Alma blouse

Finished a few weeks ago, I waited and waited for hot weather to photograph my first version of Sewaholic's Alma blouse. But the weather didn't warm up so I just wore this for a few hours in the house to take some photos.
The aim was a wearable muslin and a wearable muslin was achieved! As usual with Tasia's patterns, the instructions were a breeze and the blouse a pleasure to put together. I used a piece of soft cotton fabric swapped at the Brighton Me-Made June meet-up. It came for Zoe's stash, so a very special piece indeed.
Mid way a sewing run, I realised I didn't have any suitable zip to go in. I tweeted my despair and Lizzy  mentioned that some people didn't use a zipper so I decided to baste and see how it went. What a delight, zipper-less it went.
The one thing I will change when I make the short sleeved version again is reduce the cap size. On my tiny shoulders it will look better a tad smaller.
I'm already making my second Alma, this time the long sleeved version in a gorgeous petroleum blue cotton type fabric with contrast cuffs and collar. Might be ready in a week or so and hopefully will still see some wear this year.

Have a lovely week ahead!

Monday 17 September 2012

Currently, on Suzy Patterns!

Not much, I'm afraid. Back in June I had a fantastic plan in place for Suzy Patterns. I knew what I was doing and I knew when. But then... I got married!
Fear not, Suzy Patterns has not been abandoned, my head is still full of ideas and my drafting pad full of (awfully drawn) sketches. But I'm out of capital and without that I can draft as many patterns as I want but they will not make it to you. Grading, digitising, printing, packaging all costs and at this stage I simply cannot afford it. You might notice I say printing and yes, whilst the Antoinette Dress Pattern is available as a PDF it was always my desire and plan to move quickly to printed patterns. I, for one, don't really like pdfs (even though I admit they have many qualities) so keen to make my patterns available in good old paper.
So, being more realistic than ever, it might be another year or so until a design from Suzy Patterns comes out. Disappointing, but on the positive side, it will give me a chance to improve my skills and come out with a better product.

I thought it might be interesting to have a small weekly feature in my blog to share with you all the process of working towards Suzy Patterns and towards improving my skills. Kind of like a diary, sharing with you the good bits and the bad bits, my skills and my lack of! What do you think?
PS: I have disabled the annoying Captcha on my posts!

Saturday 8 September 2012

Vintage Patterns Sale

Shameless plug relating to some vintage patterns I am selling on Ebay. Me and Rob plan to go to Japan for our honeymoon but boy, is it expensive! I had planned a clear out of patterns I know I'll never make  and those whose size is too different from mine and now is a perfect time to do it. There are also a few books and a super board (and some sewing unrelated stuff).

A lot of these patterns are in a sad condition and many have something silly missing, like a facing or a tie belt. I'm hoping they'll find someone who will cherish them.
Click here to see items!

Monday 3 September 2012

Red Renfrew

This Summer hasn't been the best sewing or pattern making wise. I started by feeling really guilty but then accepted that there is nothing wrong about wanting to do other things, rather than sewing. But I have finished one item, started absolutely ages ago and finished just before I got married. The very comfortable and stylish Renfrew top by Sewaholic.
Please ignore the somewhat blanket look. Today was not a easy day at work. I was feeling very tired and a bit low. Also ignore the bare look behind me. We have spent all Summer landscaping one corner of our back garden and it's slowly getting there. We have a rock garden and plan to plant some trees by the fence.
The making of this Renfrew wasn't the best. I managed to sew the pieces for the cowl wrong and only noticed when the thing was almost assembled. I contemplated leaving it as it was and use it at home only but couldn't bare to waste this gorgeous jersey. It's a length bought in Portugal of very good quality soft jersey. Feels very lush and comfortable!

Now that the days are getting shorter I know I'll be back to the sewing cave. I'll blog very soon about Autumn/Winter Sewing plans, the next instalment of Photography Fun and an update on Suzy Patterns.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Wedding Photos...(photo heavy!)

Happy to be sharing why you all some of my wedding photos, it was such a lovely day! The dress was custom made by the lovely and talented Bea from Vintage Inspired by Beatrice Winter, shoes by Miss L Fire,  makeup and hair by the also talented Siobhan Drew working for Pretty Me Vintage. Last but not least, photography by Phil Bourne

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Sewing Mojo Rescue

My sewing mojo has taken quite a severe hit! It all started in May time, when I suddenly swapped the dark sewing room for the back garden. After that initial hit, came the anxiety ridden last minute preparations for my wedding. I had absolutely no motivation or time to sew. Now I'm finally married (photos to come, including details of a very special dress made by a very special seamstress) but my sewing mojo is still affected. It is quite annoying as I am itching to sew but just can't seem to get myself sewing. Hope is on the way though, thanks to the talented Tasia from Sewaholic and a yet unknown to me but I'm pretty sure talented Megan Nielsen.
I received the Alma Pattern on the post yesterday and it really fired me up to do it. The plan is to do a wearable muslin out of View A followed by a version of C (with collar). Fabric is chosen!
Megan Nielsen most recent pattern release, the Kelly skirt fired me too. It's adorable but what won it for me was the high waist. I placed an order from Australia so it might be a few weeks to get it. Very curious to see how these patterns sew up and fit.
What do you think of these patterns? Planning to sew any of them?

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A bit of housekeeping only. I never new what it meant but I know now! I have claimed my blog on Bloglovin.

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Saturday 4 August 2012

Photography Fun: Equipment

Before I can start talking about tips and hints and ways to improve your photography, I need to talk about equipment. Not meant as a ultimate guide or anything of the sort. Simply the tools I will be using throughout these series. The important thing to remind yourself is that you do not need a super expensive camera to take amazing photos. Creativity is very important as well. Saying that, there are some things you simply cannot do in a phone camera and understanding your limitations is important.

The Camera
I will try and cover 3 very broad camera groups. The compact camera, seen at the far right, the DSLR with it's multiple different lenses (2nd and 3rd from right) and lastly the ever so handy phone camera. Alls these will perform differently but all do the basic: they take photos. As a note I took the photo above with Rob's camera, which is also a DSLR.

The Light
Light is so, so important in photography and there are many sources that can be used and controlled to achieve what we want. You have the flashguns (above left) that can either mounted on a SLR or off camera (with a transmitter), you have your inbuilt camera flash which can be too harsh so little little controllers such as the ones above in the centre scan be used for. There are also reflectors that can be used to maximise existing ambient light. And let's not forget the sun :)

The Props
Props for me are the fun part of photography. They help you tell a story, but most important they will help you feel relaxed and get a great photo. Don't know what to do with your hands? Grab a book! Feel the background is too bare? Add something to add interest. We'll explore how anything can be used.

So what equipment do you have and use?

Monday 9 July 2012

The guilty pleasure of a break

I think I haven’t touched the sewing machine in about a month. “Oh my gosh, what is wrong with her?!” I hear you say. To be honest I asked myself the same question to start with. I felt something was wrong with me, I felt guilty! Guilty because I wasn’t sewing and I love sewing so something must be wrong. But then I relaxed and though to myself: sewing is supposed to make me happy, it’s supposed to be done at my own pace according to my needs and whims. And if I need a break, why not! It’s a hobby after all! I know Suzy Patterns is in the making but it's not a  secret that I want to take my time with it (for now I can do that and with some  limits of course). So what has happened?

After my holiday back in May, my day job went overboard insanely busy. I really struggled to hold the fort between tight crucial deadlines and low staffing levels. Things are a bit better now but new targets and deadlines are pushing the envelope quite hard. I spend much of my time in the evenings doing nothing, just lying on the sofa, watching TV. To be honest I am close to being completely exhausted. I can’t wait for my holiday and dare to say I anticipate the time off more than I anticipate my wedding. 

Something else happened. I  started to crave spending time outside. It’s my first Spring with a garden of my own and suddenly I felt the urge to be out and about planting stuff. I tend to go overboard when I find out I enjoy something, so much time has been spent in the garden. Sewing allows me to escape and relax but gardening allows me to do something that doesn’t need to be precise, something I can do with my other half and most important something I can do in natural light.  I love my sewing room but it is a cave as it faces north and has a tiny window. Even on a sunny day I might need to put the light on. Spending time outside till 9 or 10pm has won.
I’m starting to really miss sewing, so I think I’ll brave the cave soon to continue work on my Couture Dress. And don’t worry, I won’t bore you with gardening stuff. I started a blog especially for that ;)

Thursday 28 June 2012

Photography Fun: Intro

Photography is such an important part of our world. A lot of memories are nowadays made by photographing the world around us, and our experiences.
If you are a blogger you probably know how important good photography is in attracting, captivating and retaining your readers. And if your blog is of a fashion or sewing nature, photography becomes even more important.
One thing that attracts me to a blog is good quality, interesting photography. I want to be able to look at an overall interesting image of a beautiful garment. With sewing blogs, I also want to be able to look at details clearly. Us seamstresses can be quite nosey of other people’s sewing ;). The most disappointing experience, for me personally, is to see a beautiful garment but to be unable to see any details because the photo is too small or fuzzy.
I have promised many times (some of you might remember) a few learning/ tutorial/ tips type posts on photography but I've been shortcoming. Photography is such a vast subject that I have struggled to organise this successfully. However with me, I need to start first and organise later (dreadfull I know!) so this mars the first post on Photography Fun.
Every month there will be a post on  photography and the following themes will be explored:
  • Equipment
  • Concepts and Jargon
  • Exposure
  • Light
  • Composition
  • Colours
  • Etc.

These posts will focus on portrait photography for bloggers and my aim is to cover these themes wether you have a small compact camera or a digital SLR,  although some posts might be redundant for compact camera users.
You might be wondering what on earth do I know about photography! Well, I am far from being an expert but have done photography for some years now and even though I am self taught, I have learned quite a lot. I know some areas can be seen as a matter of opinion, so I hope no one gets upset over anything I may write. I’ll allow some self indulgence to direct you to my old photography website (not recently updated as I haven’t done much photography since moving out of London).

So my dear readers, do you have any burning questions on photography and any area you’d like to see covered?

Wednesday 20 June 2012

My Vintage Red Polka Dot Dress

I finally took some photos of this beautiful dress I finished over a month ago! I had plans to take photos wearing this dress whilst on holiday in Portugal (1st week of May) using my grandmothers treadle sewing machine as a prop. But then I fell ill and couldn't do it! I then had real trouble combining a time I could go out and take photos with a time of hot weather. In the end I ended up taking indoor photos.
But on to the dress! The pattern is a the vintage Advance 5756, Size 9 Bust 28 seen below. Yes, that is right Bust 28. Now I need to say something very, very important!! If you have any Advance Patterns from the 50s that are a Size 9 Bust 28 please tell me!! I will buy them off you and will pay well. This is the first vintage or non vintage pattern I have made that fits me everywhere just right without any alteration to the pattern.
I have to clarify I am not a size 28 bust, I measure 32 at the bust so there is 10cm ease on this pattern. I would say 5cm would be enough, if not less for this style.
So the fitting was perfect (wrinkles below are due to arms position) and the sewing was pretty straightforward too. Instructions were scarce but there was nothing too challenging.
There's not much more to say about this dress really so I'll leave you with a couple more pictures, a repeat of my pledge for 1950s Advance Pattern in size 9 (i really want them) and a question: Have you found your perfect match on a sewing pattern size or company? Something that will fit straight out of the envelope?

Monday 18 June 2012

Accepting delays

How good are you at setting timeframes and deadlines? Are you one to plan carefully and realistically, bearing in mind foreseen and unforeseen obstacles or do you just wing it and go with the flow?
I confess I am more of the latter, which I must aceppt now, it a real problem in certain areas. Even though I feel frustrated that something hasn't moved along as I wanted, I find accepting it quite liberating. It means now I can re-think and re-plan.
I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for me to release my summer pattern in August. So what has caused delays and what is in the way?
 - I’m getting married in about a months time (OMG!) and even with a very small number of guests there is SO much to organise (unbelievable!!)
 - I work full time in a target driven environment with deadlines looming frequently. I do end up doing extra hours in evenings and are often exaustead by the weekend.
 - I "suddenly" discovered I love gardening and have spent some time outdoors. First spring with a garden, you see!

When I get excited with something I want to do it now; here and then. I am extremely impatient! And that often means I‘m overly confident in doing it quickly. When obstacles arise and I can’t progress I get demotivated. Silly isnt’ it?

I am super motivated to take Suzy Patterns forward, but I rather compromise timings than quality. I am making great progress tackling grading issues and quite positive these will be gone with my next pattern. But to make sure I need more time. A few hours with excel and I feel I’m on track.

The next Suzy Pattern will be for a Autumn/Winter design with a tentative late release early to mid November. I’ll keep you posted on progress!

Thank you for your understanding!

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Violet & Clover

A few days after publishing my last post I hit a serious stumbling block with my new pattern design. It is easily fixed but fixing it means losing some of the main characteristics of the design...which is very annoying! Understandably so (I hope), I felt unmotivated and a tad down. I decided on a mini break from pattern drafting. I lounged around doing nothing for many evenings, which felt good, and with the big weekend approaching I decided to sew for myself. I give you slightly fuzzy photos from Violet and Clover, as worn today.
I missed a buttonhole...duh!!
It was the 3rd go at the Clover trousers. I fiddled further to improve fit of the pattern but not sure it paid off well. I was looking at my Maroon Clovers for alterations but this fabric behaved very differently. It's a lovely soft and comfortable stretch cotton drill (I think) I bought in Portugal.
The Violet blouse is part of my "plan" to sew more blouses and shirts. I used a lovely soft and lightweight fabric of unknown content I bought very cheaply at the Walthamstow meet up. Sleeve insertion had its dramas as did buttonhole making. General speaking though, it was an easy make. I though I wouldn't like the boxiness of the blouse but actually I quite like it. The only issue I'm having with this pattern is the collar. It doesn't seem to lay properly and even though I fiddled with it a lot, I haven't managed to be completely happy with it. Anyone else with collar issues?
I'm still working along to my Couture Dress (slow is better for that type of projects) and will probably sew a couple of jersey tops using Sewaholic Renfrew. And yes, back to pattern drafting!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Suzy Patterns: Design Inspiration

The main inspiration behind the next design for Suzy Patterns is the 1950s, the sea and the summer! All elements I adore.
Even though the first years of my life were spent far from the sea (inner Germany to be more precise) I moved to southern Portugal when still a child and remained there until I moved to the UK. Hot weather and the sea were natural and somehow mundane things. Popping to the beach at lunch time for a quick swim or after work was very normal and summer was always from May to September, uninterrupted.
Lazing on the beach with constant trips to the sea for a refreshing swim were a favourite of mine. And I loved the feel and taste of sea salt in my skin.
My parents are not "yacht" rich but I was lucky to have some friends whose parents were and those day trips out to sea were fantastic. On a hot day (proper hot, like at least 30 Celsius. No nonsense talk about 20 Celsius being hot ;)) feeling the wind as you travel by boat and diving in the cool sea water is beyond description.
(Sigh) Now I live in the UK where I am very, very happy but I do miss the hot weather and the sea. And I love to bits my other half but he's with the nonsense crowd of "20 Celsius is so, so hot";). There's no convincing him of Summer holidays anywhere southern of UK.

I decided to bring all these memories, inject some vintage elements I adore and create a pattern for the Summer. I've had delays: had to change design elements 3 times (once quite dramatically), my full time day job is reaching crucial deadlines and key staff has left, meaning many days working 8am to 8pm. I am also organising my wedding and the date for that is fast approaching. Saying that I am hoping I can pull it in time for Summer. Wish me luck!


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