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Two announcements

Just a quick update this week, but I’ve got two bits of news that I wanted to share with you all…

First up is that the first FehrTrade Print Club fabric design – the “Head for the Hills” Laurie King print is now available to print from Digital Fabrics AU! Thank you all for your patience, as it took a while to get it set up, but future Print Clubs should be available without nearly as much delay. Honestly, I hadn’t forgotten about you, Australia!!

Fabric Shopping in Dublin and Battersea

As I mentioned earlier this week, we visited Dublin on a flying visit last week as James was speaking at a conference, and I decided to tag along to visit some of his family over there. I first visited Dublin back in 2000 when I was a student and did the very American thing of visiting for St Patrick’s Day (hint: it’s absolutely rammed with Americans and Aussies!). We went back again in 2008 to see some family and also buy an engagement ring, and then I had to fly over a bunch for work around 2011-2013 but those trips were mostly in-and-out on the same day, dealing with a difficult client. But it’s been long enough now that I’m mostly over the pain of those awful work trips, and since I had a spare day to wander around the city centre, I thought I’d revisit a few of the fabric shops I reviewed back in 2008.

While I’ve got mixed feelings that the Woolen Mills is no longer a source for haberdashery (mixed because I’m sad it’s closed down, but happy because it’s now a sister restaurant to our favourite restaurant in Dublin, The Winding Stair), I’m pleased to report that Hickeys on Henry Street is still going strong!

Friday snippets

Happy Friday everyone! Congratulations for making it to the end of a week, and in celebration, I’ve got a bunch of little updates and goodies to share. Regular readers by now will know that I do this sort of “potpourri” post full of stuff that is too good to miss, but not really big enough to warrant it’s own post…

Adventures in and around Berlin

We’ve just returned from a fantastic week in Berlin! Last time we were there was in 2014, finishing a little mini-Eurail trip of Budapest-Vienna-Prague-Berlin with my running Berlin marathon (in my just-released Threshold Shorts pattern – my, how time flies!). This time I just managed to squeeze in a little sightseeing run around the Tiergarten and along the Spree, and it was wonderful how much more relaxed it feels when you’re not stressing about running a marathon!

To celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary, we booked 2 nights at Tropical Islands as a side trip from Berlin. Now, I have no idea why no one outside Germany seems to know about this place, and frankly, we were even umming and ahhing over booking it at all, because it was hard to tell from the website whether it’d be great, or just unbearably awful.

Lots of little happenings

I’ve got a bunch of things happening all at once (on top of crazy good opportunities coming out of my ears that I can’t talk about yet!) that weren’t quite big enough for a full post on their own so I thought I’d round them all up into a fun bit of Friday inspiration for you all! I’ve also got, ohhh, four finished garments to properly photoshoot so hopefully next week you’ll get to see more of those, too.

A bacon splint cover

This may be the strangest thing I’ve ever sewn but a colleague was in a hit & run which broke her wrist, requiring metal plates and several surgeries. She’s doing much better now but hates the depressing beige brace she has to wear, so I offered to sew her a fun cover for it.

Sewing & shopping in Liverpool

If you follow me on Instagram, this might already sound like old news, but since I was up in Liverpool last weekend for the British Transplant Games, I took the opportunity to add a little sewing time into my athletics competition weekend (of course!!)!

I opted to stay in the University of Liverpool residence halls for the weekend (mostly since it was cheaper than a hotel, guaranteed me decent wifi and an en suite as well as official Game transportation!), so I decided to bring along my JL Mini travel-sized sewing machine for a bit of relaxation on Friday and Saturday. I still tend to get a bit of pre-race nerves for these shorter competitions, and I knew that a bit of sewing would help me to focus on something other than the races.

The perfect day off – fabric shopping!

I hope you’re all enjoying the holiday season, whether you’re sewing gifts for family and friends, or taking time out for yourself, or as I’ve been doing – a bit of both! I had some excess holiday days to use up at my office job before the end of the year, so I just took some random days off here and there, earmarking the last one for a “stash replenishment” trip down to Ditto Fabrics in Brighton.

I know I’ve talked about Ditto quite a bit here but they probably are my favourite physical fabric shop on earth (with Kantje Boord coming in second!) – the owner, Gill, has an uncanny eye for fashion trends, picking up great bargains from the Italian design houses and it’s just one of those places where you know absolutely everything is high quality, but the prices are really reasonable, too.

I also really like the way the store is organised, too – rather than grouping the same fibre types together, or all the same colours together, or something like that, the fabrics are placed to encourage discovery and browsing, with complimentary colours and printed placed next to each other, which I love. This shelf featured muted, pale turquoises and yellows, and I, err, bought two fabrics off this one alone!

Since I knew which day I was going down, it happened that Claire was able to join me, too, which makes shopping SO much more fun!

It was a really leisurely shop, with a tea break in the middle, then deciding on our purchases, with some of my highlights being a wool Fair Isle-esque sweater knit, a muted turquoise french terry with bows & arrows, a watercolour print silk noile that is just heaven to touch, a matte sequin remnant, some of the robot print jersey I’ve been eyeing up online, and a muted turquoise lace that I’m sure will become a dress by springtime. And two lengths of denim, because Ditto do the best denim and I’m too spoiled by it to try anywhere else now!

An epic and nonstop September Roundup

Posting was a bit light around here in September, but not intentionally so. Coming back from Argentina immediately into building work (which pretty much occupied every morning, most Fridays, and some evenings too) and being away every single weekend in September just left me flattened. A month on and I’m still exhausted, and frankly, trying to figure out if I’m ill, or if it’s diet-related, or just a really slow recovery from international competition.

So I must apologise to all the people out there who are waiting on emails from me – when I’m too tired to sit up, I don’t tend to open my laptop to write out proper replies, let along blog posts (this one has taken me about 4-5 sessions spread out over a week to write). But I did manage to get all the Sewing Indie Month posts together that I needed to, and I wanted to gather them together along with a bunch of other bits and pieces you may have missed if you’re not following me on Twitter or Instagram.

Imagine Gnats Wrap-style Bess top Tutorial

One of the few finished garments I managed to make in September was a fancy, wrap-style hack of the Imagine Gnats Bess top, which I wrote a full tutorial for, too.

I loved the shoulder detailing on the original pattern, but I thought the shoulder seaming looked reminiscent of kimonos, so I changed the front pattern piece to be a wrap-style instead.

But the fabrics in my stash that went together best ended up being a brocade skirt that my friend Pip gifted me after she lost weight, and a poly satin that (I think?) a neighbour gifted to me years ago, so this ended up being a refashion project, too!

Anyway, you can read more about it over at Imagine Gnats, and last week I also wrote an Activewear patterns roundup for Rachael, too. Definitely take a look at her shop while you’re over there – she’s a keen cyclist and has just taken delivery of a bunch of wicking lycra in some lovely colours (she’s US-based)!

Also for Sewing Indie Month, Maison Fleur interviewed me and asked a lot of interesting questions I’d not thought about before, which was nice! I may have also hinted about a few big things happening in January, which will also coincidentally start my 10th year of FehrTrade.com!

Seamwork Radio

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Seamwork magazine, having subscribed from the very first issue, made quite a few of their patterns, and written a bunch of articles for them, so I was literally dancing at my desk when the first episode of Seamwork Radio was released last week!

Fabric Shops and Sewing Magazines in Buenos Aires

We’ve been back from our Argentina trip for a while now, and now that the “holy crap I’m a world champion and world record holder!” glow has subsided a bit and I’ve had time to unpack all my goodies, I wanted to share with you the sewing-related finds from our time in Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, and Iguazu Falls (all three of which I heartily recommend visiting – even if you don’t like tango! I really don’t care about tango, but the food and cocktails in Buenos Aires were out of this world!).

Fabric Shops in Buenos Aires

Handily, the fabric shops in Buenos Aires were concentrated in one small area near the centre, so it was really easy to just pop over and buy some fabric souvenirs, even if you just have an hour or two spare in your schedule (as often happens if you’re in a city for work or on a guided tour).

The shops were much smaller than those in NYC or Goldhawk Road, but they contained a surprisingly wide variety of fabrics, and prices were cheap (but not ridiculously so). It was a pretty laid back atmosphere – no pressure to buy, but employees were around if you wanted something cut.

I paid $260 pesos (about $25US or £18) total for the 3.5 metres of fabric I bought. Prices weren’t marked on any bolts that I saw, so I have no idea of the individual prices of my fabrics, and the fibres were only loosely labelled in sections – “algodón” (cotton), “seda” (silk), etc, so you’ve got to be good at identifying fabrics by feel!


My purchases – 1m each of the printed and grey lightweight jerseys for me, and 1.5m of the coral sweatshirting to sew a Kimono Sweat for my mom

Lengths are in metric measurements (“meters” or “medio”, for half), so just know your lower Spanish numbers or hold up fingers, and most shops have calculators at the tills to just show you the price in pesos if you’re not great with your higher numbers in Spanish. Like pretty much everywhere in Argentina, the fabric shops are cash only – it’s really rare to find anywhere that takes payment by card, though cash machines are fairly easy to find in major cities.

A tour of my new sewing room!

I know I’ve been talking about my new sewing room for ages (and believe me, it feels like even longer to me!) but I’m finally moved in and so chuffed to finally share it with you!

My new sewing room is very small, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in cool points – who else has a sewing room on a boat, concealed behind a hidden bookcase door, eh??

This is the bit everyone loves – a modified Hemnes bookcase from Ikea, with reinforcements, casters (wheels), and a hidden pull latch to keep it closed. Our joiner is a genius and we’re so lucky to have found him!! The greatest thing about this is that my sewing room is at the very end of the corridor, and the way the various deck heights work means there’s a porthole just above the bookcase. So it really does look convincing, like there’s no boat beyond it!!

Once inside, I’ve put a corkboard on the inside of the door as a place to pin all my magazine clippings, sketches of designs past and present, and general mood-boardy stuff. You can also see how small the room is here – it’s only a little under 2m (6 feet) long by 2m wide at its widest point.

Also take note of the smoked oak parquet floor that I painstakingly cut, laid, sanded, and hand oiled myself. Loooouuuurve my floor! It was expensive, both in cost and effort, but so worth it.

When you enter the room, immediately on your left you’ll find Susan, my dressform (seen here wearing my Laurie King fabric collaboration VNA Top pattern), and my pattern rack, which I’ve had for quite a few years but came from the garment industry supply shop, Morplan. As you can see from the number of patterns on it, I find it unbelievably useful! Also note the cute sewing machine clock my mom sent over to me!