I went to RegentTweet 2014!!

RegentTweet is a one-day treasure hunt meets marathon event happening on Regent Street, for professional bloggers. Apparently, I am one of those. I have been blogging since the late nineties, and running my SeamstressSophie blog since 2008. A few years ago i also added a blog to my main website (eurydice13.com), just because I wasn’t busy enough, clearly!

What happened….
The day started at Zedel, the french brasserie hiding under piccadilly… Sort of. It used to be a hotel, then things got bombed and it closed down… Only to be finally artfully restored and reopen barely two years ago! Speedy service, very good food, and the most old-world glamorous decor I have seen in a long time.

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I happily discovered through twitter that a friend was also attending, and as soon as we had registered, we snuck off to Godiva for some breakfast strawberries.

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That was a most excellent idea, because we then had to pose for the photographers…. And doing so on a stomach with strawberries in is a much better experience!

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The rest of the day was a blur of running from shop to shop, trying things on, discovering new brands, talking to shop owners, personal shoppers, sales assistants, and more. Here are some highlights, including the cutest miniature Paris Brest that goes with the “café gourmand” at Zedel.

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We finished the day at illy, at the north end of regent street. I love that caffe. It has inspiring and uplifting decoration, delicious coffee, excellent service, wifi, and huge windows that allow the light in. Heaven! Oh. And to die for sandwiches.

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And, lastly, thank you RegentTweet for all the wonderful things I got to take home on the day. I think my top three favourites have got to be the Brooks brothers non-iron shirt, the bootcut GAP jeans, and the illy art collection espresso cup! (the one thing not in the photo). I loved all gifts, these are just the three that I will most definitely keep forever and use the most.

A special mention should go to Karen Millen for the surprisingly well packaged yellow purse, and to Hackett for the wonderful monogrammed luggage tag. I LOVE it!!!

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The teal silk dress

A long overdue post, because I finished the dress and wore it in July.

This dress posed three huge challenges.

1 – I’d never worked with sandwashed silk before, and it’s a very delicate fabric

2 – I lost my trusty shift dress pattern, and had to create a pattern using my own body measurements from scratch

3 – My mother’s sewing machine was eating my fabric and tearing holes in it last time I used it. She confirmed it was “broken”, and so I was left with needing to hand-stitch every single part of this dress.

How did it go? Well let’s just say I’ve never worked harder in my life on a dress. And I made a friend’s wedding dress last year! This was harder. Less stressful, because I did have a backup plan for what to wear… But harder, for the three reasons listed above.

How did it go? Scroll past the photos to read a short version of the highlights.

I was lucky enough to have found, a few days before leaving, this amazing book on pattern making. It’s very simple, has practically no instructions, but for someone who can solve complex mathematical equations and likes building IKEA things without instructions (or, ok, confirming her guesses before ending up with a table instead of a bookcase…), it was enough.

One of the photos above shows me being creative and trying to use baking paper as my pattern paper. An excellent idea. Except I pulled the paper out of the roll, and had about 30cm in my hand. It was empty. And as I started this on a Sunday when shops are closed all over Greece… well… I was lucky to find some IKEA craft paper nearby.

The first version of the dress had no straps on the shoulders. Seeing how it sat, however, I had to do something, and decided to add straps. I made them by hand, each stitch done by hand, and flipped once I was done. I used an interesting trick and stitched thread inside the tube. I’d attached it at one end, kept it inside the tube I was stitching (while inside out), and when it was ready to flip, I used that thread to pull it inside-out! Worked like a charm 🙂 Of course I had to be careful and not tug at the thread until I broke it. It was more about using it to help ease the fabric through. It made a huge difference though!

The fitting was a bit difficult, as I had limited assistance from my mom. She likes things very loose, I like them well-fitted. In retrospect, having had dinner in the dress and danced for more than 5 hours wearing it, I should have made it a little bit looser. My stitches held beautifully (I was more surprised than you are), and the dress looked amazing.

Another trick I used to help the cowl drape properly. I noticed the dress was falling backwards. Normal, given how I’d cut it. So I decided to weigh it down on the front. I made tiny pouches from the same fabric as the dress, put three loonies ($1 coins from Canada) in each, and stitched them closed, and to the base of the straps on the front of the dress. I had to secure them on the sides, too, as they had a tendency to dangle and get in the way. They held really well through the night, and even through the subsequent handwashing of the dress. I didn’t have to tug at my neckline, it stayed where it was supposed to be, which was great!

What I learnt:
– You CAN make a dress entirely by hand. But you really don’t want to. It takes forever.
– If you’re going to dance in a dress and feed in a dress, leave yourself a couple of inches of room for it.
– Making a pattern from body measurements involves some guesswork and 3-dimensional magic (which I’m not sure I possess)
– You can make a gorgeous silk shift dress with barely 1m of material (at £15/m, this is a bargain dress!) and it looks stunning. I did spend a good 20 hours making it though, so your call.

Final sketches and draft handmade pattern for a new dress

I want to make a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding this weekend. Yes. This weekend. In 5 days. I’m not sure I’ll manage, but my sketchbook looks more optimistic.

I have the fabric, the zip, the matching thread and the dress idea.

Alas, mother says the (terrible anyway) sewing machine we have here is broken. And, more critically, i do not have a pattern to make the dress with. So here i am exploring designs, taking measurements, and trying to make my first ever pattern from scratch. Well. First ever non-jersey pattern.

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(Also posted on exintaris.com)

2010 Xmas fun…

While I was on holiday in Greece, I had a play with my mom’s new electric sewing machine. I’d never really used it before, as she bought it in Canada a little while ago. That machine was bought in canada, and runs on 110V (not 220V) and 50Hz (not 60Hz). So i had to use a voltage (and cycle) converter. Then the plug of that converter was much too shallow to fit into the deep greek sockets, so I had to find a way to extend it. The result is as below:

Then I played around a little with one of the stitches on it (it has 15, my 1919 Singer has 1) and made this large-scale monogram for a friend’s Kindle. It’s “K” for “Kindle” and for his initial. (convenient that they match!)

A bit cheesy, but it was fun to do.

Since then I’ve only cut the pieces of another dress which I was certain I’d photographed, but the phone seems to have eaten the photos!! 🙁 So I have nothing to post. I have done first-pass assembly (sewn the 8 princess-seam-dress pieces together) and do not intend to line it, as it’s already very heavy. The next step, therefore, is to cut out the pieces for the neckline and armholes in the same fabric as the dress, and iron out the seams flat. No time for that yet (I commute for 12 hours a week, on top of a regular working week’s worth of hours) but hopefully soon. I’ll make sure to take photos when I get around to it!

Bow tie, anyone?

Bow tie

Bow tie attempt

Well, I tried.

My boyfriend has his Christmas party tomorrow night, and it’s black tie, and my dress is red, so I figured I’d save us a few pounds and make him a red bow tie. How hard can it be, right?

Well, I found a bow tie pattern on Burda Style, and printed it out.

I went and bought £1.25 of red satin fabric from our local Singer shop.

I cut the pattern, cut the fabric,  sewed it together and all…

I thought it would be easy. But noooooooooooooooo!

a) Sewing such a small detailed thing straight? Not easy.
b) Flipping it inside out? Not easy.
c) Flattening it because the satin is totally poofy and rotating back in on itself? Not easy.
d) Getting a professional finish at the place where the 2 long pieces join? Not easy.
e) Convincing my (italian) boyfriend that a shiny red bow tie doesn’t make him look effeminate? Impossible.

So today i went and bought him a real black silk bow tie from Debenhams.

Can’t win them all.

Blue dress: unhemmed, but done!

Blue Jersey dress (almost finished)

Blue Jersey dress (almost finished)

My ploy worked! Hurrah!

Flipping the dress inside out and hand-sewing worked out like a charm!

The only tricky bit was the join under the underarms (quite a bit of fabric there, some last minute embroidery scissor chopping required).

Am fairly proud of this 🙂 It’s my first foray into patternless dressmaking. Well, there were the 2 other incarnations of the dress in strapless and sleeveless versions, but this one adds sleeves and a more complex neckline, so there. Woo hoo!!

Tonight I hand-sew the hem, and I just need to wash it and I can wear it as of next week.

Blue jersey dress (shoulder detail)

Blue jersey dress (shoulder detail)

Very excited!! In great part because I can now move on to the next project, and in this case I have a choice of 2, for variety!

  1. Dress for a friend who’s going to a wedding in the last week of October.
  2. Handbag for me in dark brown. Chanel 2.55 shape in oversize, Dior cannage quilting, dark brown snakey pleather fabric.

Sisyphus' pattern-less sleeves

Are you familiar with Sisyphus? It’s this guy from ancient greek mythology who was condemned to push a boulder up a hill to get it to the top. That was his aim. Unfortunately, the hill was so shaped that as soon as the boulder got to the top, it rolled off and down the other side. So Sisyphus spent eternity in Hades rolling a boulder up a cliff again, and again, and again…

Blue jersey dress

Blue jersey dress

What’s that got to do with sleeves? Well, if you’re attempting a dress without a pattern and with sleeves, a LOT. See I’m making this jersey dress. I’ve made it before. Twice. Once I left it strapless. Once I lifted the fabric up and made it into a square-shouldered straight-neckline sleeveless thing. This one I was hoping to make into semi-raglan sleeves. All this, without a pattern, or any pattern-making skills.

Thankfully I have a book about making patterns, thanks to a great crafty friend of mine. So I used the book to find the base sleeve pattern. Measured everything. Drew it up and all. Then I modified it to be a raglan sleeve, blindly. I had no bodice points to attach it to or to measure from. And that’s where the nightmare began. (A raglan sleeve is the one that extends to on top of the shoulds, and has a seam on the shoulder, and the sleeves are attached to the bodice in a diagonal line from armpit to neckline. A very sexy cut, popular in the fifties.)

I measured, I drew, I trasferred, I cut, I basted, I tried it on. Shoulder was lovely. Arm was lovely. Sadly, they were too far apart from each other with an armhole going from my armpit to (almost) my elbow! *chop chop* come the scissors.

I cut off the raglan shoulder bits, as those were a lost cause. I try to attach the sleeves to the mannequin. Armhole is too far out, giving a modern but undesirably slouchy shoulder overhang. *chop chop* come the scissors.

I undo those seams, then attach them again. Seems better. So I try it on. Sleeves are too poofy on the front, and the back piece is slightly over-extended on one side. *chop chop* come the scissors!

I undo those seams, chop the bodice and sleeves some more, and sit down in defeat to watch tv.

The armholes, all chopped up

The armholes, all chopped up

Thanfkully, la nuit porte conseil, and this morning I figured out what to do. I’ll pin the sleeves at the shoulder and armpit, and attach them progressively to the (now reduced) armholes. I will do this with the dress and sleeves both inside out, so that the resulting dress will be ready for machine sewing after being tried on for verification. Well, anyway, that’s the plan. And if all else fails… *chop chop* come the scissors!! And I’ll have yet another sleeveless dress 🙂