Tag Archives: fabrics

Tour of Ecuador: Fabrics in the Making

I recently went to Ecudador in order to visit Child 1, who spent an exchange year there. But as she decided that she didn’t really have a lot of time for mum (teenagers, ey?! Eye roll…) I went on a combined language course/trip through the Andes and I LOVED it!

I won’t bore you with my stories of the well trodden path of my journey through the Andes, but I went to a tour of a local weaving mill which might interest you.
It started off quite touristy, but when the owner realised I was really interested in their craft rather than seeing the tour as one step on the tourist trail she spent a lot of time with me explaining everything.

IMG_3211This is the llama wool fleece before it’s spun and the plants and berries they use for dying the fleece.

IMG_3212Natural dyes can be a bit gruesome I learned – one picks the fungus off the cactus in order to generate a dye, so an indigenous weaver can’t be too particular about yucky things.


The fleece has to be combed in order to clean and prepare it for spinning. It’s a process that is A LOT of work – so I completely understand why fine wool knitting yarn is so expensive.


I was particularly excited about seeing the looms in action.

This is the fabric she was producing:


The gap in the middle of the fabric between the blue and the beige part, is there on purpose: it helps the resulting ponchos to fold over on itself so it will drape around your body more easily.

IMG_3216This loom is used sitting on the floor. The lady told me that normally this job is only been done by men, but she’s a bit of a feminist, so she has learned the craft do (at least I think that what she said, my Spanish is improving, but it’s a process…)


Normally the weaver know the patterns by heart, especially as they produce traditional pattern over and over again. But this lady decided she wanted to preserve these patterns for her children and grandchildren and therefore she created these charts.


Of course I also went to the indigenous market in Otavalo, the village that is most popular for its Indian crafts


I did buy a few things there, but to be honest most of the fabrics and ponchos, sweaters and cardigans weren’t really to my taste. It’s all very traditional and really a little boring, for me at least. It’s such a shame, given that the crafts people are so talented and work so very hard.


I think if they updated their products a little they could make a fortune on the European or US market, but I also guess they don’t need to, they seem to be doing well enough as is.

This leg of the journey was really exciting: My Spanish teacher Vanessa took me to a local market. This one is not geared to tourists at all, so you really see Ecuatorian life as it is in the Andes.





If you are in the market for a llama …


or some sheep, you are in the right place.

If you don’t want to commit to buying a whole animal, you can buy fleece too:


Mind you, it still needs to be washed…


Alternatively you can buy almost anything else there. And yes, the red hair on the left hand side belongs to Child 1, there are no red haired Ecuatorians, at least not indigenous ones!

I was all excited about the food market as well:



Ecuatorians eat a lot of carbs, mainly in the form or rice, but they eat a lot of pulses as well. In the market you buy them by the pound.

Oh, and bananas! So many bananas!


In Cuenca I also went fabric shopping. I only bought a little bit, much of the fabric was a little too glitzy for my taste, or too sombre (a lot of dark wools)


Most of the prices weren’t great, I could probably get similar fabric at similar prices and Germany and of course a lot cheaper in the right places in the UK. And again, like in Barcelona there wasn’t much that struck my fancy.


Though if you like drama in a wedding dress you’ve come to the right place! Or indeed if you need golden tresses. I should have bought some in order to brighten up the Russian General Coat, but of course I only realised after I’d come back home.


All in all I can say that I loved Ecuador. It’s been my first time to South America and I was really nervous before going, but everybody was so nice and welcoming and I really hope to be back one day.


Well, I’ll leave you with the sight of my behind in the Andes – special treat, you know?!

And if you need to recover now, take heart from these wise words: “Refresh your day with a Pilsener in your hand!”




The Beauty of Expectedness

Look, look, LOOK!!!!! Look what’s landed on my doorstep this morning:


You see, when the girls of By Hand London did their kickstarter campaign last year I helped fund them and as a reward I knew I was getting some of their goodies. So I knew what I was getting, no surprises there, move on, nothing to see.

But then: Isn’t this amongst the most beautiful sights in the world?

IMG_0843And then fabric!

IMG_0845Yes!! I was allowed to order 2 metres of their print on demand fabric! How very, very exciting. Originally I had thought that I would upload my own design, but quickly realised that designing my own fabric exceeded my skill and time set by far and so I plumped for their gallery pink flamingo fabric. I’m happy to report that the print is exactly like it looks on their site, print crisp and clear throughout the entire piece of fabric.

At first I was a bit worried when I noticed that the print does not go all the way to the selvages:


But then, of course, how can it, obviously the printer needs an area to grip the fabric while feeding it through its works. Doooh!

You do get a full 148cm width area of usable fabric, so I think that is perfect, no more worries.


So I think I’ll spend a very happy hour thinking about what I could turn this fabric into.


In other sewing news, my spring coat is coming on nicely.


That Peter Pan collar is a work of beauty, if I say so myself.


I’m at that (for me) tricky point where I prepare the lining for bagging. I always run into trouble at the bottom edge:

IMG_0839I dutifully leave 7 cm of the lining unattached to the facing, but when I turn the cloth I always get some sort of organised chaos.

Here, I just sewed as I thought was fit and it’s kinda working ok, but never as perfect as in a shop bought coat.

IMG_0840But how does this even happen??!!


I really, REALLY measured the lining to be 1.5cm shorter than the shell. I compared the lining to the shell before attaching it and yes, it was 1.5 cm shorter than the shell. I wasn’t drunk, I wasn’t tired, it wasn’t dark. So HOW CAN THE LINING NOW BE LONGER THAN THE SHELL? AND IF IT IS LONGER WHY ISN’T IT A UNIFORM AMOUNT ALL THE WAY AROUND? WHY DOES THE WORLD NOT MAKE ANY SENSE?

Philosophical questions, I know. So will I sit down to answer them or will I just cut off the lining to the required length?

I think you know the answer to that…

But just to make sure, please do take my little poll:

Burda Easy A/W 2014 #4C: Blouse from Deep Stash and a Stash Diet Update

I have been a good, good girl! Egged on by all your encouragement about my mini stash diet I’ve been digging through the outer regions of my stash and I found 1 1/2 metres of some powder pink mystery fabric. It feels like a sandwashed viscose pique (if such a thing exists), but have no expertise judging fabric content other than deciding what it feels like 😉
I used one of the patterns from Burda Easy Autumn/Winter 2014, view #4c :

It’s a cowl-neck woven blouse with a waistband, consequently it has a zip, although on a thin day I can just about get it on without opening the zip.



I made this without alterations of any kind, cutting my usual size 40.


Although I haven’t worn this out yet, I’m not sure I’m going to make it again. I love me a good cowl neck, but this seems a little roomy all over the front, so I wonder if doesn’t make me look bigger than I need to be.

But still, for now, with the first spring air on the wind I think the colour will go well with my usual first spring pastell phase, so I’ll wear it a few times before I decide if this is a keeper.

In other sewing news I’m unexpectedly enjoying my stash diet a lot! I’ve rummaged through the stash an found a number of fabrics that I have found homes for right now. I’ve even started cutting stuff in advance! Look:

IMG_0745All those boxes do not contain utter chaos – au contraire! Each box holds the precut parts for one project together with notion, instructions and the pattern pieces. The top box has already been turned into pyjama bottoms – took me all of two hours on a weekday night, given that all the prep was alread done. And once a project is finished, the pattern goes into the “out” box on the left:

IMG_0746So everything in the out-box can be tidied away should the fancy take me. It never does, don’t get me wrong, but a girl can hope!

So yes, against all expectations my stash diet is going well and I’m enjoying it. I “found” a blouse worth of red viscose in the back of a cupboard that I pre-treated in a gelatine bath yesterday, so I might soon be the proud owner of a red pussy bow blouse that came out of nowhere.

So yes, in spite of everything I said in the past, a little bit of a diet can be a good thing!


Burdastyle 9/2007 #116 : “Because I’m Happy”-Skirt

If you’re telling me this is ridiculous, I would readily agree. It IS ridiculous to wear a skirt has has bambis jumping out of your crotch and pink roses adorning the unspeakable place where the sun don’t shine. And even more ridiculous to have a strapping young lad with a silly hat sniffing those said roses!



But still: wearing this just makes me so happy, inspite of all the hilarity! It is basically a metre of fabric happiness, all pattern-“matched” into a “I don’t care” skirt that is more than a little nod to Oona, the muse of all dangerous pattern placement.

I made up the pattern a few times before (but never blogged it) and what can I say, it’s one of my favourite skirt patterns. I like a pencil skirt as much as the next woman, but always find them difficult to fit across those hips. This has the pegged in look but a lot more wriggle room for the booty.


I should have included a walking vent, but only realised when it was too late. Well, no running away in this skirt, I’m going to have to look all those people who point at me in the eye.



By the way: in case you’re wondering what’s happening with that hair and why I don’t give a hairdresser the job they so clearly deserve – I’m trying to let it grow a little. But because I have had short or very short hair for basically 30 years I’m in some slight confusion as to what length I actually want to grow it to. So at the moment I’m going with straight out of bed hair and call it a look. Because that totally makes it a look, right! Right????….

IMG_0723So there: tummy in, chest out and bottom-roses at the ready… 🙂

Giving it up for Lent: A Mini Stash Diet

I’m not even religious, but I’m still a big fan of Giving Something Up for Lent, much more so than the Catholics that surround me here in the south of Germany. You see, I have a scizophrenic relationship with consumerism: on the one hand I love stuff as much as the next person, I love getting new stuff, and also I have the financial means to buy stuff without having to go without food or other necesseties. On the other hand I am very conscious of the fact that consumerism and the capitalist mantra to make the world tick on by buying more, more, MORE leads to environmental and social damage that might lead to the exact opposite of the world ticking on.

Rather than having any Great Solution to these problems I’ve fallen into the habit of Giving It Up for Lent: For six weeks I try to do without some of the things that have become second nature at all other times. Alcohol, sweets, meat are the obvious candidates. To anethesize my anticapitalist tendencies I also have included what I call “gratuitous shopping” in my list. In previous years this used to mean all sorts of clothes, shoe and this and that shopping. But of course I don’t really buy a lot of RTW any more, so giving this up wouldn’t really make any difference. This for the first time EVER I’m comimitting myself to a stash diet – a minute one. I vow not to buy and fabrics from today, Ash Wednesday, to –  but not including – 18 April, when the next local fabric market will take place.

The hardened stash dieters amongst you will laugh out loud at me, I know. Especially as I’m giving myself leave to break with my diet should I chance upon interesting fabric shops in my upcoming journey to the south of Italy in late March (you see, real Catholics always have a way out, in this case by making travels a diet free zone. Neat, ey?!).  For me, it’s baby steps: two months of not buying fabrics and sewing only from my stash. Not sure I will emerge from the experience spiritually healed, but at least my fabric chest might have enough room to accommodate the fabric market haul.

How about you? Stash diet going well? Does Lent have any place in your life? Do you think my slight anxiety attacks at the thought of NO MORE FABRIC SHOPPING FOR TWO MONTHS are ridiculous? And what fabric would you buy first after those two months?