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.

Listen to me on two new podcasts!

For the record – I freaking love listening to podcasts. I listen while I sew, walk around London, and before I go to sleep some nights. I mean, my last job was even at a podcast company!

So I was super excited when two new UK sewing podcasts launched recently and even MORE excited when I was asked to join them for a chat! And then out of sheer coincidence, both episodes ended up going live this week so you all have got no excuse for not hearing my funny trans-Atlantic accent all weekend long! 😂

Burda magazine April 2016

I’m catching up with the Burda magazine issues I missed while I was ill, so even though I showed you my picks from March’s issue last week, here I am with April already!

This isn’t the best garment photo, but I love the seaming on this dress, which Burda have very cleverly accentuated further with their use of stripes. Well done! I also live the asymmetric neckline, which makes me think of the neckline I chose for my wedding dress back in 2010!

Patrones 306 & 307 (and Plus-sized giveaway!)

Patroneses are just like buses – you wait ages for one and then they all come at once!

I was very lucky to win a copy of issue 307 from Jacquie, who bought it while she was visiting in Spain, and then right after that, my friend Pip (aka the bridesmaid in purple) went away to Madrid on business. Even though she was on Spanish soil a good month after Jacquie, she managed to find 306 and no.8 on a newsstand there!

So let’s take a look inside…

Patrones 306

This edition was the last of the summer clothes, which isn’t too practical for me in London. I don’t go out of my way to buy the summer issues, but there is some good stuff to be had amongst the shorts and sundresses…

Skipping past the beach wear, this unstructured, reversible jacket and slim trousers is very nice.

I think my favourite in this issue is this strappy dress with an added drape portion. I can just imagine it moving in the wind (I’m going to ignore how cold that wind would be right now!).

I also totally love the seaming on the strapless cocktail dress on the right (the dress on the left? ick.). It’s difficult to see in the navy fabric with the belt on top, but the tech drawing is luscious!

(Belated) Christmas gift – red leather handbag

We were supposed to meet up with my friend (and former bridesmaid!) Pip and her boyfriend back in mid-December to celebrate Christmas, but we had to reschedule due to my swine flu, so I’m only just now able to show you her present – a Nairobi bag made up in gorgeously soft red wine leather, bought in NYC from Global Leathers (I find it interesting that Americans would call this colour “burgundy”, whereas in the UK it’d be “claret”).

I sewed this up before Christmas (so you saw a sneak peek in my 2010 roundup), but she asked me to hold off posting about it until she received it. I actually made this same bag for her a few years ago in black corduroy, and she famously texted me later that night exclaiming “I can fit a whole bottle of vodka in here!”

When I made the Nairobi bag for myself, I usually leave out the strip that joins the two halves together as I find the bag is just too big for my liking with it in, but Pip asked me for the bigger size, and bigger she got!

Pre-Christmas prep

Are you ready for some random sewing goodness? Let the randomosity begin!

  • When I was at the bookstore on Brick Lane buying James’s birthday card, I couldn’t resist this reusable wrapping paper (okay, it’s just fabric to me and you!) with London streetsigns. I love that it’s a London fabric without being OMG UNION JACKS THE QUEEN TOWER BRIDGE! I figure I could use it as a lining like I did with that Japanese tea towel and my bolero jacket a few years back…

  • We were supposed to meet up with Pip and her boyfriend two weeks ago to celebrate Christmas, but we had to reschedule due to my swine flu, so I’m only just now able to sew up her present – a Nairobi bag made up in gorgeously soft red wine leather, bought in NYC from Global Leathers (I find it interesting that Americans would call this colour “burgundy”, whereas in the UK it’d be “claret”). I’m about halfway done and already I can tell she’s going to love it!

Our DIY wedding – the dresses, makeup, and final photos

Either groan or rejoice, but this is the last of the wedding posts!

The bridesmaids dresses

If you cast your mind back, you’ll remember the selection process, how I fitted and then hand-pleated, the lined, silk jersey dresses for my two bridesmaids, but even after I finished them, there wasn’t a chance to see either P or G wearing their dresses, let alone together!

It was really nice on the wedding day to be able to see both of my great friends looking so happy and nice, and comfortable, too, in the bridesmaids dresses I made for them.

Their colour choices really suited them both, too, and even though I offered to shorten them after the wedding, I know P (in purple) is definitely keeping hers as a wonderfully posh maxidress. (S was my Man of Honour, but no, I didn’t make his suit!)

My dress

You’ve seen it in pieces and finally, in comparison with my grandmother’s original gown, but here’s some more photos where you can see the seamlines particularly well: