A Week in a Day

I’ve been a bad blogger this week. I’ve been doing lots (as you’ll soon see), but working every weekend for the past three, plus the weeks in between, and some out-of-town trips have all really sapped my enthusiasm to write! So I’m taking the lazy option out and catching you all up with a little roundup – a week’s worth of posts in a day…

Like the Wind workshop

Cult running magazine Like the Wind approached me a few months ago to ask if I’d like to run a “sew your own leggings workshop” at the week-long popup they were throwing together at the end of October. I’d known one half of the husband-and-wife team that run the magazine, but I’d never met Julie before this. Once I found out that she not only owns her own overlocker, but bought it when she sewed her own wedding dress with it(!), I knew we’d get along just fine.

We had five runners who’d only done a small amount of sewing before, but had never touched an overlocker before, and certainly not a coverstitch either! They each picked their own fabric from FunkFabrics’ range, and walked home in some very stylish leggings at the end of the afternoon!

Georgina picked a “Gotham” print, so of course she just had to pose with the Batman art in the gallery!

And here’s the finished set! I saw quite a few little “omg I’m so happy in my leggings” dances at the end, which really reminds me why I love teaching so much. Lucy posted a great writeup of the street art tour and my class, too.

There may be another Like the Wind workshop in the new year if we can work out the logistics, but there will definitely be more up at the Thriftystitcher studio in January and February, to be announced very soon! The classes are very similar, so if you’re a runner you can come learn at Thriftystitcher, or non-runners vice-versa at Like the Wind.

But I was so jealous of all their finished leggings that I treated myself to some Funkifabrics lycra this week (it was difficult, but I settled on this geometric aqua number in the end, because it reminded me of a Lamb album cover!).

Random sweatshirt sewing

When I was pulling out supplies to bring along to the workshop, I came across pieces for this sweatshirt that I’d cut out in February when I was trying to deplete random bits of leftover sweatshirting that was taking up too much room in my little sewing cave. The lavender “sacrificial sweatshirt” came out of that same cull, but for some reason I never quite got around to sewing this blue one together at the time.

A Wednesday weekend day in Brighton

When you run your own business, sometimes you’ve got to work weekends. This past weekend I worked all day on Sunday, so I tried to make a “weekend day” sometime during the week. It all came together yesterday, with the weather forecast set to be 24C and sunny, James at a conference down in Brighton, and me not completely swamped with work for once. So I declared this Wednesday to be a weekend day and grabbed the train down to Brighton for the afternoon!

My first taste of life in the UK was in Brighton, when I spent my study abroad year at Sussex University, and the city still feels like home whenever I visit, which these days is once a year or so. Instead of doing the usual tourist things (I realised after I got home that I didn’t even see the sea, ha!), I headed directly to the North Laines area. I love that there’s a whole area in Brighton where pedestrians rule and all the little shops and cafes are independent, quirky, and great for browsing! There’s really no need to spend any money in a chain store in Brighton.

Of course my first stop was at Ditto Fabrics, which is quite possibly my favourite fabric shop anywhere in the UK, where I had a great chat with the owner Gil and learned all sorts of stories about her buying trips to Italy to get the good designer stuff for us. I went with the aim to buy some coating and lining for the StyleArc Audrey coat, and indeed I did!

I bought some wool/viscose coating in Navy, though they had a bunch of really tempting other colours, like pale purple, pumpkin, camel, off-white, and black, off the top of my head. Ditto only have a fraction of their in-store fabrics listed on their website, but these wool/viscose coats are pretty well represented online, and the colours look pretty true to real life.

And then I discovered the vintage Italian silks upstairs. oh. em. gee.

A double gauze day dress

A while back I’d heard of a fabric called “double gauze” that was supposedly perfect for hot weather, but at the time it was really only available imported from Japanese shops and really expensive at that! Fast forward a few years and it’s now much more readily available locally, so when I was in Brighton last August I bought some of their muted teal double gauze fabric (also available in a bunch of other colours), keen to try it out. Double gauze is two layers of cotton gauze/muslin fabric joined together with stitches in a grid pattern which creates a sort of seeersucker or quilted texture. It also means the two layers may not be 100% on grain to each other, and it really likes to shrink in the wash so be sure to pre-wash it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it though until I saw the perfect day dress in the May 2019 edition of KnipMode magazine (#11, though #12 is a longer version with longer sleeves). The pattern is available to buy online, too, though be aware the instructions are in Dutch.

My bias silk 40th birthday gown

Happy 40th birthday to me! Since it’s a big birthday year I kinda felt like I just had to celebrate big, too! So we rented the whole of a private members cocktail bar near Kings Cross, invited a bunch of people, laid on pizzas, and let the rest just happen! Every year I like to make myself something special to celebrate my birthday, and I felt like I should sew a big, glamorous dress for myself to feel like a total star at the party, too.

I happened to have four meters of gorgeous copper-coloured silk satin (charmeuse) in my stash which I’d bought from Truro Fabrics back in 2015 with the intention of sewing a gown for the World Transplant Games gala dinner in Argentina. But I didn’t quite have enough time to sew it before we left, and the silk has been in my stash ever since. I still had the receipt in with the fabric, too, and the price reflects the incredible quality of this silk – I’d paid about £75 for it.

The Sewing Weekender Number 3

No sooner were we back home from Iceland than I was on my way up to Cambridge for my third Sewing Weekender! The first year I was lucky enough to buy a ticket, then last year I gave my “Sewing for Movement” talk as a speaker, but this year I was determined to attend again and set my alarm in order to buy my ticket as soon as they went on sale.

No joke, these tickets were hotter than Glastonbury – we crashed The Fold Line’s site and tickets sold out in like ten minutes despite having doubled capacity this year to 100 places!

My birthday animal-print Cycling Top

Happy 39th birthday to me! (And coincidentally to Rosie DIY Couture, though I don’t think she’s as old as me!) Yesterday was my birthday, and thank you so much to everyone who wished me well on social media – I’d planned to get this post up on the day itself, but I ended up spending my day packing and hefting boxes as we moved into the temporary flat we’ll be living in while the boat is being renovated! We only really took these photos as we were loading my bike into the rental van to move it to the flat (you can even see it in one of the shots!) so please forgive that the photos aren’t as clear or comprehensive as usual – they were taken very quickly on my phone on a very tiring day!

Every year I like to make myself something special to celebrate my birthday, and often these garments get so closely tied in my memory to that time in my life that I still refer to my green silk dress as “my 30th birthday dress”, for instance, and it means I get to do a bit of selfish sewing for myself, too!

This year I decided to make something I’ve been planning for months and months – ever since I bought a length of pale pink & lavender leopard (or is it cheetah?) spotted activewear fabric from Stoff & Stil in Oslo back in November. I then realised I hadn’t bought quite enough to make the Cycling Top I had envisioned in my head, so I had to order another meter from Stoff & Stil online, which ended up being from a slightly different dye lot (it’s only noticeable if you get really close!).

The Sewing Weekender 2017

Sewing retreats are fairly common in America from what I can tell, but up until last year’s inaugural Sewing Weekender, there’d never really been a large scale sewing retreat here in the UK. I was lucky enough to snag a ticket for myself last year, and I had SUCH a great time as a punter that I knew I wanted to go again should Rachel, Kate, and Charlotte plan another one.

Luckily, out of the writing of my book I realised that a lot of the points I made about sewing activewear were also heavily applicable to anyone with a body who moves (so, err, everyone except possibly the comatose) so I approached the organisers months ago saying I’d love to talk about Sewing For Movement at the next event if they were planning one. I’m glad I got in touch early, because as it turns out, this year’s Weekender sold out in under 20 minutes!!

The ombre denim Gimlet birthday dress

Happy (slightly belated) 38th birthday to meeeeeeeee!

My birthday was on Saturday and, after the stinker that was last year, I had a blast! I have a tradition where I like to sew myself something special to celebrate the occasion, and this year I decided to make myself a cocktail dress – rather fitting since I invited my friends out for cocktails on Friday to our favourite little whisky bar.

I’ve been utterly enchanted with the Gimlet dress pattern from the moment Capital Chic released it. Granted, Sally is a friend and I respect her work and design aesthetic so much, but this dress in particular was just too “me” not to make! I mean – sheath dress (tick), asymmetric (tick). And that’s pretty much all I need to add it to my To Sew list, ha!