I think this is more ‘me’

First up, thanks everyone who commented on my winter coat muslin. You’re all so funny and lovely and clever. I laughed, I cried, I nodded vigorously throughout.

The overwhelming consensus was that this coat is not working for me at all.  The collar is too big, the raglan sleeves too low, the swingy voluminous shape too voluminous for my small frame and the length waaaay too long. Plus, there was some very sage advice involving swelling bosoms, breast feeding and avoiding complex sewing while heavily pregnant.

So taking all that on board I’m going to put my winter coat plans on ice until next year. Any tips on storing three metres of beautiful expensive wool without getting perma folds in it?

And in the meantime, I’ve purchased… this!

Simplicity 7805I decided that something more fitted would suit me and my frame (even if I do end up a bit chubbier) and I love anything with an empire line. When I saw this I just thought of Moonrise Kingdom and fell in love instantly. I’ve actually bought it in a Bust 36 to accommodate any potential extra boobage I might be lucky enough to get.

Isn’t View 1 totally adorable with that double collar?! God I so want this coat to be made up now. But patience is a virtue and what a fantastic goal to get me back in shape post partum.

A nice sit down

Greeting crafters! Hope you’ve been making the most of your weekends so far. I’ve literally just finished a project and I just had to write it up because it’s one of those projects that makes me bloody proud to be crafty (and cheap).

So I was looking for a chair that would be ideal for nursing in, and I found a beautiful Ercol rocking chair on eBay going for a song. I eventually won it for £41 and it was delivered last week. It’s a gorgeous chair and the cushions are so comfortable… but they were a bit… eighties shall we say?

Original cushions

The original cushions – grim!

Pretty grim huh? It was time for a makeover.

I had this lovely vintage cotton I picked up at a market in Crouch End a few months ago. I’d been saving it for cushions but when I realised how beautifully it went with the dark wood of the chair I was committed.

Vintage fabricI just traced around the original cushions directly onto the fabric, noting where the zips were. I used some ready-made piping I had in my stash and hey presto, three hours later, we have a transformation!

New ercol cushionsI’m so so chuffed with this! It’s weird that a little project like this can make you so happy isn’t it? I can’t wait to get crocheting in this later tonight!

Do you find little projects can have a completely out of proportion impact on your sewing mojo? What’s been your proudest crafty moment recently?

Stop press: New sewing accessory range at John Lewis!

So I made my usual lunchtime pilgrimage to John Lewis yesterday to stock up on wool and generally just lust after fabrics and whatnot in the haberdashery dept, when I was quite literally stopped. in. my. tracks. after witnessing the wonder and awe that is the new ‘Vintage by Hemingway’ range of sewing accessories exclusively for John Lewis.

I’ve been looking for something to keep my growing collection of yarn and crochet hooks in. I did have my heart set on a vintage style knitting basket (basically a fabric bag set on a wooden frame), but then I saw THIS:

Vintage by Hemingway Sewing/Knitting box

Isn’t it amazing? I love the superbly elegant art deco illustration and check out the inside print!

Filled with crochet goodies!

There’s loads of room for wool, needles, accessories – all sorts. And it stands up beautifully on my Edwardian fireplace…

On the fireplace...

At £30 I think this is a bit of steal. There are similarly vintage-style purses and bags priced from about £9 I think. I wish I could show you the full range but I can’t seem to find it online.

I wonder if the release of the range has something to do with the new 1920s-style ad campaign by John Lewis? Wouldn’t it make a perfect gift for a fellow stitcher? Oh why can’t there be some sort of community place where significant others and family members of us seamsters can go to get ideas of what to get us for Christmas and birthdays? I suppose Amazon wish list is a bit like that as I think you can add items that aren’t necessarily sold on Amazon. Does anyone know of any specifically crafty alternatives though?* I would be amazed if someone bought this for me, but too late as I simply had to have it, there and then!

* Flash of inspiration later – what about a shared Pinterest board!!?? I may have to set one up immediately (sighs at potential hours wasted invested in setting up of said board).

That was the week that was

It’s a sunny Sunday morning here in London – the end to a perfect week of beautiful weather and loads of exciting stuff going on.

If you don’t know by now, the Olympics came to London this week and the torch relay did the rounds of every borough in the city in the run up to the opening ceremony. (BTW did you watch it on Friday night? Bonkers and brilliant!) The torch visited Alexandra Palace on Thursday night so we headed up the hill to see it go past.

Torch at Alexandra PalaceUm – I took lots of pics but not one of them had the torch in it. See that guy in the white tracksuit? He’s holding the torch – in his RIGHT HAND, which is OUT OF THE FRAME!

My mum was staying with me this week so we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to enjoy a day by the seaside. Brighton beach!

Brighton beachWhilst in Brighton we took a stroll through through the North Laines and came upon Ditto fabrics. well of course I had to nip in and check out their sale which isn’t available online. I picked up three metres of this cute elephant print viscose for just over £15. It has a lovely silky drapey feel to it.

Elephant print viscoseWe also found a brilliant bric-a-brac shop in North Laines, where I came upon a fantastic collection of vintage buttons and threads. I picked up these little babies.

Vintage threadsFinally, I promised my mum  that I would knock her up a Colette Violet while she was here, and I managed to do it! Here’s Jean proudly modelling her very own bespoke blouse, made with cherry blossom cotton from Fabric Tales, all the way from Japan! Hope you like your blouse, Mum! It was my first bout of selfless sewing in a while and I loved it. xxx

Mum is her Colette Violet

Women! Know your place!

I simply had to share this – some vintage Pathé footage of a Butlins holiday camp competition.

The challenge? To make your own bikini from scraps of fabric and a bit of string, then model it proudly as 100 men in dodgy shorts look on lustily.  Nice.

Although it’s all terribly sexist and objectifying, when you compare it to today’s wet t-shirt competitions and worse… it all seems rather modest and innocent, non? If entirely wrong of course. You’ll find no nostalgia for sepia-toned sexism round here.

Warning: This post contains fabulous vintage fabric

The Shop, Brick Lane

Shelves bursting with fabric

Hello pop-pickers. Have you all recovered from the style-fest that was the weekend? Not only did we see a multitude of amazing OWOPers on Tilly’s post; we also had the most glamorous round-up of Mad Men dresses ever from Julia Bobbin. My, these posts just keep on giving – every time I go back I see something else I want to sew or another blogger I want to add to my reader. Thanks to both Tilly and Julia for a dazzling end to March.

In other news, I went for a wander around Brick Lane on Sunday with some friends who were staying with us. If you haven’t been over there in  a while and you like vintage clothes, great music and fabulous food, I can heartily recommend it.

We dandered down the main drag, pottering off into little streets to explore tiny boutiques and hidden markets. There’s tons of stuff to do, see and buy. One shop I recommend seeking out is just off Brick Lane at 3 Cheshire Street. Called simply The Shop, it stocks an amazing range of vintage fabrics, clothes and trinkets, plus lots of gorgeous Scandi-style linens for making up adorable aprons. I’m looking at YOU House of Pinheiro with your fantastic vintage apron tutorial! Plus The Shop has one of the biggest range of silk scarves I’ve seen in London. That’s a pic above of some of the shelves – good for a rummage.

Here are my finds:

Floral cotton poplin

1 metre of seventies-style floral cotton poplin, to be used for cushions in the living room. I’m thinking hot pink neon piping. Just £3.50.

Peach square

2.5 metres of this man-made fabric (not quite identified) from Rose & Hubble – to be used for a dress I think. Crucially – it doesn’t feel nasty. A snip at £9 for the lot.

Silk dupioni

My favourite – just under 2 metres of this gorgeous silk dupioni. I’ve been looking for a checked silk dupioni for ages (I was thwarted trying to buy some of this from Harts – they informed me it had sold out over three weeks ago but rather annoyingly seems to still be on the site hmph) and whilst this is a different colour scheme from what I wanted I think it could be a very pretty dress or a luxe tulip skirt? A bargain at £7.50.

I love finding vintage fabric – any tips for other shops/markets in London? Share ‘em!

The best laid plans…

…can easily be derailed by the arrival of some new treasures. I had previously scheduled all my sewing projects into a nice well-ordered list. But these little beauties are just crying out for some attention and threaten to disrupt ‘the list’. Oh well, never mind. But look at the shiny new things!

Striped seersucker

I went for an innocent browse in The Cloth House in Berwick Street last week and ended up coming home with two metres of this charming striped seersucker. Isn’t it just so Missoni? I love the colours – they’re unusual together and the texture of the fabric is so tactile. I keep stroking and scrunching it. I’m so enamoured with the vintage pattern I used for the Mad Men dress challenge (Simplicity 5961) I’m considering making another version using the seersucker almost straight away. Speaking of the Mad Men dress – here’s a better quality sneaky peek than the one I put up last week. You can tell I’m dying to reveal it can’t you?

Mad Men dress

I also received a couple of delightful vintage patterns in the post last week:

Simplicity 6535

This is such a sweet little A-line dress, especially with view 2’s neckline. I’m thinking of using this wonderful Japanese cotton that was donated to me by a lovely lady named Cassy. Possibly with a cream/ivory contrast neckline.

Japanese cotton

I’ve been searching for a pattern to recreate this blouse. It’s a vintage blouse from either China or Japan and it’s got the most beautiful ruffled neck which is one of my favourite looks.  Sadly the arms are a bit tight and the fabric is becoming a bit bobbly in certain places so it’s time to try and recreate the magic! A good look at the design reveals it’s actually just a simple low collared shirt with ruffles attached.

Vintage blouse

and here’s the pattern to (hopefully) do it:

Vintage Vogue pattern

What about you? Do you find your plans are constantly being reprioritised depending on what pretty new thing has caught your eye?