Tag Archives: shopping

#sewdowndewsbury – The Aftermath

My god it was good! #sewdowndewsbury was just the most amazing meetup – I had such a good time! So much so in fact that I didn’t even stop to take pictures, but I’m sure you will have read other accounts (and if not, have a look at Ali’s picture gallery). From her post you will know that not only did she help me organise my stay and answer all my many questions, but she also organised a day walking in the moors with expert guide Brian! Isn’t that amazingly nice?! Thank you so much Ali! And thank you Brian for making sure we didn’t get lost and putting up with all our sewing talk!




This was my first time in Yorkshire (apart from the usual touristy whistle stop in York) and I’ve fallen in love with the people! Everyone was just so nice, happy to help or just have a little chat. And now that I’ve realised that it’s just so doable to travel to Yorkshire even for a few days (can you imagine that plane-metro-train-journey to my house on the way back took 2 hours 32 minutes? Absolutely incredible, ey?) I’m hoping for many future visits. Fabworks, I know where you are!

Of course I came back invigorated and inspired and with so many plans! I’ve already made plans for most of my fabric haul – I’m sure you are interested 😉

So here it goes:


The only item on my shopping list, a light wool suiting which will become pleat front trousers. I’m not alone in thinking they are a great idea, Shauni thinks so too (and she even has much the same images on her pinterest wall that I do, so we must be onto something).
Patternwise I’m either going for this from Burda 8/2016


Or this from Ottobre 5/2015


What do you think? Right now I’m leaning more towards the Burda pattern. Around the hips both are much the same, with slanted pockets and two pleats, but I think I prefer the slimmer legs of the Burda pattern.

This is going to be my Hila top:


Hila bought the same fabric for a dress, I only bought 1 metre, so the fabric has already decided it wants to be a cowl neck top. I have made many sleeveless ones, but I discovered a really nice short sleeve version on Lucie‘s blog, so I think this is what I’m going for.


This fabric told me it wants to be a short sleeve blouse. Does your fabric ever talk to you? Mine sure does and I’ve learnt to heed an order from fabric, so I have decided on this Burda pattern from 2010:


This version has a weird collar which I don’t care much for, I’ll swap out a normal collar from another version.


This cotton lace wants to be a sleeveless top of some kind. I wonder whether to make it a quite fitted sleeveless classic shirt with darts or something more drapey. So far, the fabric was not available for a statement, so I’ll have to prevaricate for a little while.



This one, however, is spoken for: This is going to be the Teresa blouse. You will have guessed it: Teresa bought this fabric too, so I’m delighted to be her fabric twin. It’s asked to become the blouse version of a dress in the latest edition of  Maison Victor. I seem to have mislaid the foto right now, but if you are interested I could to a review of this magazine.

So this is it: my #sewdowndewsbury report. It was so nice to have met so many likeminded people and to be made feel so welcome. The day has definitely put Dewsbury on my (until now rather shady) map of the North. Here’s to many returns!





Burdastyle 11/2012 # 107: End of Summer Trousers

At the end of July I spent a week in London – touring with 20 students, so I didn’t get a huge amount of time to  follow sewing pursuits. But I did get a change to visit both Goldhawk Street and Walthamstow Market and TMOS (Karen will be able to tell you all you need to know about him).

After I’d been to TMOS first there wasn’t much that exists in the world of fabrics that I had not bought yet, so I only bought one fabric in Goldhawk road, which told me it wanted to be made into a pair of late summer trousers..


They are, of course, completely OTT, but isn’t it the most fun fabric all the same? Unfortunately its quality is not very good: it grows considerably during wear and although I have worn those trousers only twice it has already started pilling a little bit where the legs rub together. So they might well be the trouser of only one summer…. We’ll see! That’s what you get for buying cheap fabric, I suppose.


I used my usual trouser pattern, Burdastyle 11/2012 #107. I made the pattern so many times, but this time I decided to try a side zip rather than the front fly. I thought this would be a quicker make and more flattering to the tummy. The later may be true, the former certainly wasn’t as the zip broke after the first wash and I had to replace it. That’s what you get for buying cheap zippers of some guy off ebay… Lesson learned, I only buy the expensive OPTI zips (one for the price of four off ebay) now, after three of the crappy zips broke on me in a row.



Let’s not talk about my need for a racerback bra – I only included these pictures to show how those trouser fit.


The sweater is one I knitted about five years ago and probably only wore once or twice until I forget about it. I recently did a bit of a wardrobe purge and came across it again. During the purge I tried to follow the Mari Kondo mantra of “Only keep what sparks joy!”

I found joy a bit of a strong word for the purposes of tidying. I get joy from my family, from nature, from a sunset at the beach, an evening with my friends, I don’t really associate joy with clothes (although there are very clear exceptions, as the Siena dress proves.) 🙂

But of course I get the point behind the Kondo approach: get rid of stuff you don’t like, that doesn’t make you feel good. A few things in my wardrobe fell prey to that, but with a few others I really didn’t know. One example is this sweater, so I decided to wear it a few times in order to decide whether to keep or chuck it.

To be honest I still don’t know.


Let me leave you with a little flower and a look at the state of my nail varnish testing:

IMG_2458And a question: Should this sweater continue to have a home in my wardrobe or should it move on to a better place?

All shipshape and Bristol fashion

Don’t be disappointed: no sewing to be had in this post! But I’m sure you’ll be happy to bear with me while I get to grips with the local wildlife:


or whatever limited means of transportation there is:


At least the navigation is competent and ever vigilant


and I get to spend time with some half clad crew


So yes, not much sewing to be had…


However – I did get to do some shopping! With the course of the dollar against the Euro being what it is money is syphoning off through my prettily varnished hands more quickly than I can say “She sells seashells by the sea shore” and  I didn’t throw myself into fabric shopping with gay abandon (plus, here in South West Florida there don’t seem to be many fabrics suitable for a Northern European autumn). But I did stock up on quilting supplies:

IMG_2289 (Haha, just on a side note, can you see the empty note pad at the top left of the picture? Yes, that would be the one I brought to prepare for the coming school year and the philosphy exams I am meant to be taking in the spring. And yes again, I only used one page – to scetch out the American kitchen complete with ice cube making fridge that I now know I need as a matter of urgency 😉 )

Anyways, I completely fell for a new to me quilting thing called One Block Wonders . Basically, you take only one fabric, preferably with a hideous print, like so


and then you cut it all up in triangles which you rearrange in cunning ways in order to make a stunning quilt like this:


Because I don’t trust myself with the whole process just yet I bought a fabric that is actually nice, the flowery one in the picture above along with loads of other quilting supplies (and nail varnish!). I went to Joann’s, with was an experience in itself and now I have coupons burning holes in my wallet where my dollars should be. Oh well, apparently it’s the plastic that pays it all.

In order to make up for the sins of the present I have gone along with Teresa of Navybluethreads and committed myself to a three months ban on RTW shopping. I might even add a half hearted stash diet as well (with the exception of the bi-annnual fabric market in Fürth, of course) because I have a feeling I should push the philosophy exams to the top of my agenda rather than autumn sewing. And did they want me to start work again in 12 days? Hmm, not sure – I might have to go and ask el Presidente.


Apparently, Monday, which is Labor day here in the US, marks the end of summer. It hardly feels like it here in Florida, but I’ll take their word for it.

What have you been up to during the summer? And wild sewing plans for autumn? Or do you plan to be good like I do? Famous last words….

BHL Elisalex/ Burdastyle 9/2007 # 116 Frankenpattern: The Siena Dress

Remember how I made the Amalfi dress especially to wear at Easter on the Amalfi Coast? Well, that didn’t happen – given that my dress was neither suitable for fog, nor for pouring rain, nor for the snowstorm that greeted my ascent of mount Vesuvio on Easter Monday.

Mind you, I was on a walking tour, so the bad weather wasn’t too bad once I had switched on the old frontier spirit: you get warm once you walk briskly enough, clothes will dry on the body, wool warms you even when wet and what gets wet will eventually get dry.

On the plus side, when I got to Tuscany a few days later to visit a dear friend the weather had turned warm enough to at least do some fabric shopping at the weekly market in Siena, thus using the get of of jail free card my stash diet rules had provided me with.

Let me tell you, there were a LOT of very nice fabrics at the market – but let me also tell you that they were asking Italian prices for them, so I only came away with 1.5 metres of a cotton pique that cost me more than any other fabric I had ever bought before. To be honest I was a little bit traumatised by the thought of ruining 50 euros worth of fabric by making a silly mistake, so the fabric stayed in my sewing room for days, untouched – not something that happens a lot at Said&Done HQ!

After much deliberation I decided on a frankenpattern of the BHL Elisalex bodice and my trusted skirt TNT pattern Burdastyle 9/2007 # 116.  I just love that skirt!

So, to cut a long story short, may I introduce the Siena dress:



I cut a size 14 for the bodice following my measurements, but the muslin showed there was quite a bit of gaping at the back neckline which I resolved by taking out two wedges angling from the shoulder blade at about the middle of the neckline down to the armscythe. Other than that the bodice fit well, I only took out a little bit under the bust at the princess seams to remove a little bit of extra fabric.

Because Italy was too cold for a lot of ice cream I caught up on my duty to Italian culture when back at home:



Oh yes, this neckline does fit!! Can’t quite be said about the invisible zip, which I did not manage to make disappear at the waist band where a double section of fabric just refused to bend to my exact specification. You can’t win them all, can you?!


And because I know you come to this blog for the splendid fotography ;-), here’s a style shot!

Before leaving for Italy I said I would eat ice cream and drink prosecco and I didn’t do either of these things – I felt more like grog than prosecco. So get this:


Prosecco at my local pizzeria! I feel quite like the cross-cultural ambassador!

So let me drink you you, dear readers who come to read this blog, to Italy – and to the Siena dress, of course!


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?


Look who’s come to stay! The Babylock – Juki Standoff

IMG_0227I’ve got new company in the sewing room! And I’m all enspired by it! After much to’ing and fro’ing I only went and bought myself the Babylock Enspire overlocker.

IMG_0228Look – it overlocks!

That’s all very good, I hear you say, but what about the air-threading??!!

Can I just say: IT IS AWESOME! I have had the machine for about a month now and you can still find me of an evening changing the threads just for fun and just because I can. I even change out the threads for a single seam now!! And that from the girl who used to sew whole projects on the normal machine because she couldn’t face wrangling with overlocker thread tension again.

Another feature that I like is the LED light:

IMG_0231It’s really bright white light which makes seeing what I do a lot easier than with my 1980s Bernina (though I wouldn’t want to diss my Bernina, she is the best!):


When I was in the decision making process it was between two machines, the Babylock Enspire and the Juki M1000. Both have the air-threading system that I really wanted and they are the only such  machines within my budget of € 1000. On paper both seem to be really similar and from reading up on the two machines I thought I might go for the Juki. But when I had a look at the machines in the flesh it was pretty clear that I preferred the Babylock.

Here’s what I found:

  • the Babylock is a lot smaller than the Juki which I thought was nice as I have three machines on my sewing table and I like to be able to swing a cat in between.
  • the Babylock is a lot faster. The Juki is more quiet, but my motto is said&done, not said&bereallyquiet, so I prefer the Babylock.
  • I liked the look of the Babylock seams better, although that might have been due to the sales assistants who showed me the machines. There isn’t a shop locally that has both models so I had to go to two different shops. Maybe the same sales assistant might have got the same seam quality out of both machines.
  • Especially the quality of the rolled seam looked a lot more consistent on the Babylock.
  • The Babylock will do a narrow piping without a special piping foot. The Juki assistant said this wasn’t possible and I would have to buy the separate foot.
  • I got the Babylock for around 100 Euros cheaper than the Juki and the shop will pick up my machine locally if it needs servicing or repair.
  • Babylock offer 4 years warranty after registration.

So far I have made a few knit garments on the new machine and that was a good experience. It is hard to really get excited about overlocking as such as it seems such an unrefined process, but the machine does as it should and that’s the main thing.

And then there is the air-threading – which is just amazing!

Burdastyle 12/2013 #107: The Job Interview Blouse

In nom-sewing news I have a job interview tomorrow, first one in over 10 years! It’s not hugely exciting as the job I’m going for is just a new part-time role (for the rest of the time I would keep on teaching at my present school) and not a change of employer or even a promotion, so no extra money for buying more fabrics (not that – strictly speaking – I need more 😉 ). But the new role would be really interesting, so of course I wanted to make new clothes to wear for luck.

Deciding what to wear was actually quite difficult. Generally speaking, there is not a lot of style around in the German education profession as stylishness is often equated with shallowness. So I did not want to go all out regarding clothes, I think that could be alienating rather than encouraging. At the same time I don’t want to go down the Female Geography Teacher route (I don’t know whether that conjures up a pictures where you are, but I’m thinking midi pleated polyester skirt, shapeless cardigan and glasses worn on a string around your neck). Also I didn’t want to do too much of the Lufthansa-look (navy suit, white blouse). So what I came up with is this:


I used Burdastyle 12/2013 #107 and the silk I bought on my last visit to Goldhawk Road.

I cut a straight size 40 and left the pattern exactly as it is apart from shortening the sleeves by about 3cm and widening the neck opening a little.

IMG_7938My dress form is broken in half waist-wise, so what the belt shows are not actually my waist measurements, I hasten to add. Honesty is the best policy 😉 !

I kind of followed the instructions, but I made every visible seam a French seam I had to change things around a bit. Have a look at the inside – I am so proud of how tidy this looks that I am almost considering wearing this inside out. Where is that anti-fast-fashion-initiative thing that makes you do just than when you need it 😉 ?


IMG_7941I even did a decent job on hand-stitching the neckband:


Do you know, I have never had a silk blouse before?! At the grand old age of almost 45 I think it’s about time! I haven’t actually worn it yet, so I am not sure how I will like it worn, but just feeling the softness of the fabric makes me happy. Classic Textiles in Goldhawk Road sell Liberty silks for 12 pounds a metre and this one isn’t flimsy at all. It’s a silk twill and actually relatively beefy for silk. I just love everything about it. Maybe it’s a bit too dark for summer wear, but it has been quite cold here, so I think I will get away with it.

So this is another make that makes me fall in love with sewing all over again. I get so much joy out of turning a beautiful piece of fabric into a garment – let’s just hope that positive vibe carries through to the job interview!