Tuesday 31 May 2011

Me-Made-June '11: Inventory and Aims

Here we are, on the very cusp of my fifth me-made/self-stitched challenge: Me-Made-June '11! I'm excited to see what all the other particpants are going to be rocking this time round, both the returnees and the newcomers. I love to see different peoples' personalities coming through in what they wear, and I really think it's more visable with garments that have been self-stitched. Because that individual was involved in lots of decisions along the way, rather than just whether or not they want to buy the garments, there's so much more creative involvement, even if the project wasn't something the sewer really invested much in.

Anyways, I just completed something that I didn't do for Self-Stitched September or Me-Made-March '11: a me-made clothing inventory. Although it wasn't a conscious decision to avoid doing so, I don't think I bothered in September because I was fresh my clothing cull. Looking at my depleated ranks of garments compared to my Me-Made-May's inventory, in which I found a lot of pride, would have been a bit depressing. And March was just cold. My aim was just to get through the month without wearing the exact same outfit (that outfit consisting of most my clothes all layered up) each day.

But over the last few months I've been steadily beavering away at the sewing machine, churning out garments whilst motivated purely by whim rather than identifying holes in my wardrobe. I thought it'd be interesting to see how things are shaping up. With a high percentage currently in the laundry and not possessing sufficient hangers, I decided not to physically collate my me-mades, like I did back in April '10. Instead, I can offer some stats:

  • 4 pairs of trousers
  • 7 skirts
  • 3 shorts
  • 6 blouses/woven tops
  • 7 t-shirts/jersey tops
  • 6 me-made or refashioned sweatshirts/knitwear
  • 5 dresses
  • 3 coats/jackets
  • 3 vests (for layering under my outfits during the day or as part of my sleepy-time wear)
  • enough pants (undies) if I keep up with the laundry
  • 2 pyjama bottoms
  • 2 jersey tops for sleeping in

So there we have it. It sounds like a decent amount, but I'm not sure if it's all particularly mix and match-able, in terms of silhouette, style or colour. Looking at my stock in the flesh, I can see some gaps already, but I'll see how I get on. It's going to be a learning curve for sure, which of course is the whole point of these shenanigans!

Aside from my pledge to wear both pairs of high-waisted shorts this month in the hope that I will begin to feel comfortable in them, what other aims do I have for MMJune '11? Well, I feel I ought to get some wear from my expanding range of dresses and skirts, or just stop frikkin' making them! I'd like to come up with some new combos of garments rather than relying on my tried and tested set patterns. Plus, identifying those gaps, as previously mentioned, and hopefully filling a couple of them up by sewing some things during the month. And after my free time analysis/revelation yesterday, I really should aim to spend more time blogging this month, as those documentation posts tend to push the other stuff I like to write about here out the way a bit.

If you are participating in this challenge(or even if you are not!), what are your aims for June? I wish you all a very happy and enlightening month! xxx

Monday 30 May 2011

Tilly's Sewing Productivity Project

So, you may or may not have seen Tilly’s Sewing Productivity Project. It’s pretty ingenious. If my interpretation of it is correct, it has been set up to encourage us to evaluate how we spend our free time, and to see if we can fit in more of the main thing we love doing: making shiz! Tilly has recognised and acknowledged that most creative people often put their favourite activities at the bottom of their list of things to do, when really something that can provide such satisfaction/stress-release/outlet for creativity/therapy/etc. really does deserve to have more time spent on. After all, the positive effects will no doubt spill into all the other areas of our lives, right? I know that after even half an hour pushing forward with a sewing project makes me feel happier, contented and more productive generally, and therefore probably a more positive person, at least in the immediate short term. If days go by and whatever reason I’ve been unable to spend time sewing (on MY stuff, not the sewing I do at work), I find myself feeling antsy and frustrated, and certainly unfulfilled.

So, I’ve been analysing very unscientifically my current sewing schedule. I don’t have the motivation or technical ability to make any amazing graphs like Karen has! Anyways, I would say that I usually sew for approx. 40mins of every lunchtime (Mon-Fri inclusive). I am lucky that I have access to sewing machinery and table space at work, so even though it would probably be healthier to spend my lunch break going for a walk around the nearby park, I much prefer to work on a personal sewing project. I walk to and from work which takes 35mins each way, so I kind of feel that’s taken care of anyway. I don’t sew every evening, but usually grab maybe 40mins a couple of times a week. I rarely sew at the weekends as I tend to visit friends and spend time with my boyfriend, and more recently going for a jog instead as this is stuff that I can’t do much of during the week so I try to pack loads into my weekends (funds permitting). Result: approx. 4 hours 40 mins a week spent sewing my own projects.

There are my observations, what are my aims then? What would I like to change? I’m pleased with how my personal sewing is going, but I’d love to get more done and make a dent in my stash. That’s a subject I want to address in another separate post in the near future. Also, I always seem to have a backlog of projects I want to do and I’d love to tick many of these off so I’m freer to develop new ideas. For example, I’m actively avoiding looking at the Modcloth, Orla Kiely or Anthropologie sites at the moment in case they throw up more inspiration for plans and schemes. AS WELL AS THAT though, I want be able to accommodate those very spontaneous projects when the right fabric and pattern suddenly come together and cry out to be made even though there are already four projects half-finished calling out for my attention! I’ve had a couple of those recently which I’ll blog about soon.

In fact I think the paragraph above has been pretty telling as I wrote it: what I really should do is spend more time blogging and expressing myself that way. I have a backlog of completed sewing projects to blog about along with lots more areas I want to explore write about. I usually find the process of writing for my blog an awesome way to clarify my thoughts on a subject, in a way that I would probably never bother to try to do if I didn’t have a blog. It’s a surprise to me how important writing has become to me, and I really don’t think that is currently reflected in how often I’m blogging at present.

So how am I going to find more time and energy for sewing and writing? My midweek evenings need to be utilised better. Less messing around on the internet, though what I get up to which makes the hours whizz by as they do, I couldn’t say right now! And less of this:

Frikkin’ Governor of Poker 2!

Friday 27 May 2011

Thoughts on Shorts

Ok, so I was harbouring a minor obsession with high-waisted shorts for the majority of last year, but didn’t have a clue where to begin crafting my own. I bought a couple of vintage trouser patterns which I thought might offer an avenue from which to begin, but I don't think I was entirely sure where I was going with it, so they lay dormant along with the plan in general. Thentowards the end of the year I snared my job making clothes for Traidremade, which has kind of engendered in me a more ‘can-do’ attitude and speed of attack. I voiced my love of the high-waisted shorts genre to my boss who directed me to get on with making a pattern for some already. Plus she furnished me with the final piece of the puzzle: a high waisted skirt pattern.

So the desired pattern got made and I have since made approximately 12 squillion variations of the first batch for our range. I was encouraged to make a pair for myself when I made that first batch, which I documented here, but then Winter hit hard and they never got worn beyond that little photo shoot. When it started to get warmer in April, I decided it was finally time to venture outside in my shorts. In that first shorts post, I voiced a concern with not knowing what to pair them with. Well, I cobbled together this outfit (pictured above and below) for their virgin mission. Not the greatest outfit I've ever rocked, but it worked well enough.

How did I feel? Pretty naked! I liked the supportive feeling round my belly, but I didn't take off my long coat because I felt everyone would be able to see my bum! I took them off as soon as I got home! FAIL.

Well, never one to put a little issue like unwearability between myself and a project, I decided to knock myself up another pair in soft denim. This pair is an inch or so lower at the waist and plainer with no added detailing, thinking this would make the whole concept of wearing high-waisted shorts more paletable. Result: the same. I've worn this pair once. For maybe two hours.

As I posted recently, I've made a very similar pair for my friend Harriet who wasted (nice pun, no?!) no time rocking her pair to various events. The lovely Scruffybadger commented that she wish she was braver to wear such things (although she totally could and I have no-doubt she would look amazing!). However, I can relate to her sentiment!

What's wrong with me?! When I look at these pictures, I think both pairs, especially the denim ones, look pretty good. No-one can see my arse and they aren't nearly as revealing as some stuff some girls wear about town when there is the tiniest hint of sunshine. Is 31 too old to rock short-shorts? My gutt reaction is 'hell no'. Funnily enough, when I lived in Spain I had little-to-no problem rocking my navy and red Ruby shorts. Maybe these new pairs are shorter? maybe it's the way they emphasise my figure more and demand the top to be tucked in rather than hanging looser over my belly area? AGH!!! My brain is mental.

So, I'm setting myself a little challenge to make sure I wear both these pairs of shorts at least once during Me-Made-June '11. Please nag me to keep up with this! I'm going to wear each pair for a whole day or a whole evening out, no matter how uncomfortable I feel to see if that's the nudge I need to get into these (literally!). Do you have any thoughts on shorts?

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Announcing: MMJune '11 Brighton Meetup!!!

Howdy peops!!! How are you doing? Exciting news: as I write this, about 100 amazing creative individuals across the globe have signed up to take part in Me-Made-June '11!!!! How incredible is that?! Can you imagine what that would look like if we all met up in Real Life in one room? Well, there is of course the MMJune '11 Flickr group where we can all hang. But sadly, the science of getting is all together in the flesh is beyond me. But I am hoping to bring such a meeting into fruition in a tiny way. Enter: The Me-Made-June '11 Brighton meetup on Saturday 25th June 2011!

Sorry all peops that live outside the UK (or somewhere within the UK which happens to be prohibitively distanced from the South East), I really wish attending was an option for everyone. Maybe you could arrange a meetup where you live if you feel there might be others in your 'hood that might be up for hanging. If you do decide to arrange one yourself, let me know the deets and I'll post about it.

Anyways, please note, the MMJune '11 Brighton meetup isn't just for people who have signed up to the challenge, anyone who is into (or would like to get into) sewing clothes is welcome. The one stipulation though if you aren't already participating in the challenge but would like to come along too, if you own a garment you've made yourself, wear it to the meetup!

The meetup will entail meeting at Brighton train station at a to-be-arranged time, then (in no specific order) going for coffee and a natter, checking out the cream of Brighton's haberdashers and fabric purveyors, snooping around a flea market and street market, having a bite of lunch and maybe a wee G&T if time permits. PLUS, if that wasn't enough to lure you down here, Tilly (who I've been convo-ing with about this meetup) has flagged up that she is feeling a bit guilty about the size of her stash, so ingeniously suggested that we add a little voluntary stash bustin'/ fabric swapping element to this meetup. As y'all know, I'm a total advocate of raiding your stash and sourcing second hand textiles for sewing projects rather than buying new fabric where possible. You may also recall my attempts to encourage giving away and swapping unwanted stash items. In short, this suggestion of Tilly's is so up my street, I'm sometimes asked to feed its cat when it's on holiday.

(image source)

I've got a fair idea of how to organise a stash swap, so if you wish to attend this meetup and happen to have some pieces of fabric that you really can't see yourself using, why not bring them along? Remember, one man's poison is another man's medicine!!! This is, of course, an entirely voluntary section of the meetup, you are in no way obliged to bring any of your beloved fabric with you if you don't want to!

So, if you are free that day and would like to come and hang out by the seaside, leave a comment with your email address or a link where I can easily find your email address, and I'll contact you a little closer to the time to arrange the details. Looking forward to (hopefully) seeing you!

Monday 23 May 2011

Poetry and Clothing Project: April

In my post last week I introduced my new project, the 'Poetry & Clothing' project, in which I plan to make my lovely friend Harriet at least one garment each month for a year. Thanks to those of you who left a nice comment about it. When I explained to Harriet about the project, I asked her to have a think about any gaps she may have in her wardrobe that I could hopefully help to fill.

Off the top of her head she came up with (in her words):

- plain but cute things!
- narrow plain high waisted skirt (PLEAAAAASE!) any colour
- feminine vintage blouse 40's 50's style or anything you like (ruffles, puffs, whatevs!) totes trust your styling
- round neck t-shirts (striped or plain, long or short sleeved)
- nicely fitted sexy dress (always thinking of that beautiful coral one you made for your cousin's wedding)
- anything and everything high waisted
- absolutely anything with a peter pan collar

So there's my brief. I'll try and tick as many of those criteria as possible before the year is out. It's no secret that I'm pretty committed to trying to live as sustainably as I can (without living in a tepee ;-)). Harriet's definately on the same page as me when it comes to such issues, so even though sending her packages via the post clearly isn't devoid of environmental impact, I will be making all the garments for this project from second hand/unwanted fabric and existing garments. These days, my main source for second hand fabric and garments is the donated stuff we get at work that my boss feels isn't appropriate for our range. The bummer is that very rarely do we receive solid coloured fabric, or at least a colour that doesn't make your feel sick in a quality of fabric that you'd actually like to wear. I'm going to have to dig deep in my stash, think creatively and pray to the gods of donated fabric so I can create Harriet some much needed plain garments.

Anyways, time to 'play catchup' and document what was sent in the first package of this project which was April's. Denim high-waisted shorts! I know for a fact that Harriet has a serious weakness for such things, so I thought that would be a solid place to start.

I used some lovely, soft broken twill denim that I'd had lurking in my stash for years (the other half of which I used for this skirt) and wanted to get busted. The pattern is the high-waisted shorts pattern I developed for work, first shown here. I've since made myself a plain denim pair a while ago also, but haven't got round to blogging them yet (slack!). I had to squeeze the pieces out from the fabric for Harriet's pair, so they didn't end up quite as high-waisted as the original pattern, but I think the end result are more wearable that way.

I was also tempted to add buttons or some sort of tab detail but decided to keep them plain for maximum outfit adaptability! Inside I added one of my little 'Electric Pussycat' labels, which I usually reserve for my bag making escapades, but I had them to hand and I love how much more special garments tend to look with a little label attached.

The second garment that squirrelled itself into April's package is a jersey top that was the result of some lunchtime experimentation. A vague garment idea that had been floating about in my head and I wanted to see how this teal stretchy stuff from my stash behaved when made into a garment. I love the look of the final outcome, but the fit was a bit wierd on my figure, so I thought maybe it would work better for Harriet. If not, no loss, as a recent email has confirmed the denim shorts are a winner and have been worn with braces by both Harriet and Lola (Harriet's 1920's tapdancing alter ego!)!

Thursday 19 May 2011

Introducing: Poetry and Clothing Project

Apparently there’s not enough challenging going on round these parts, as I’ve recently conjured up a new one for myself. The idea for it came very organically, as all the best ones do, and I’m really inspired by it. Let me explain:
I have a friend called Harriet who I have mentioned at least once on this blog (she popped up in my Barcelona story post about how the hell I ended up living there). To break things down, basically we met through the Wardrobe Refashion site in 2007-ish. At the time we were both living in East London so we arranged to meet up after work one day. Harriet turned up to the coffee shop with her massive accordion! I was in the middle of having a ‘should I leave my shitty day job to try and do something more fulfilling at the risk of ruining my CV’ type drama, and she was instantly very receptive and gave some great advice. Harriet was a great person to speak to at that time, because she is a deeply creative individual who allows this to manifest throughout pretty much everything she does. And she does a lot. Anyways, she’d been getting into sewing and makery of a fabric nature, so I told her about the London sewing group I was organising at that time. She came along to a meetup, the same one where we met the wonderful Michelle, if memory serves, and the three of us became great friends and had some lovely get-togthers until Harriet moved to Barcelona a few months later.

There really isn’t time or space to list all the interesting things she’s done, both before and after her move to Spain. Her time-consuming day job (as well as simply the number of hours in a day) prevents her currently from actively participating in every single area that interests her, but she is into poetry, photography, collage, sewing, singing, tap dancing, playing the accordion, eco-building, cooking and who-knows what else. She really lives her life in a totally explorative way, always experimenting and pushing forward. For example, Harriet felt she wasn’t keeping abreast of the news enough, so challenged herself once a week to check out the Guardian newspaper online, and then pick a story from which she would extract the words to create a poem. She blogged it, go and have a squizz! She is also heavily involved in the Barcelona Poetry Brothel, where her alter-ego Lola (a tap dancer from the 1920’s) reads poems in English, Spanish and French. A co-creator of the Poetry Machine, she is also about to be featured in a publication called Barcelona Ink, as well as creating some publications of her own. Phew!

(Harriet and me at my 30th birthday shindig)

As you may imagine, I find her energy and output incredibly inspiring. She’s always been fully behind me with all the things I have undertaken and attempted. So, to keep some of her energy present in my own creating, AND to partly repay her for all her support, AND because she has so many plates spinning at the moment her sewing has been a bit neglected of late, I have pledged to make her at least one garment per month for a year (starting last month in April). Witness the birth of the ‘Poetry & Clothing’ Project (it’s a rubbish name, but a cute logo, no?!). Both of us have stuck to our Wardrobe Refashion pledges, therefore shopping for new clothes isn’t an option for her, so I think she’ll appreciate some ethically produced custom-made threads heading her way. As an expressive person and one hot mamasita, looking good and representing herself through her clothing is as important to Harriet as it is the rest of us. So it is with this in mind, along with our commonly-held values of reusing/recycling over buying new that I go into this new challenging project.

The keen eyed among you might have realised that it is now May, which means that I should have already started this challenge. Indeed I have and I’ll create a separate catch-up post very soon. I’ll keep you updated with my progress as this project and year unfolds.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Surayya's Baby Quilt!

Oops, I forgot to share with a sewing project that I'll think you'll agree is something of a deviation from my normal stitchery pokery. This is a quilty thing I completed a few weeks ago for my mate's gorgeous new little daughter, Surayya Rana.

The little lady in question is also the intended wearer of the baby dress I made a while back for the baby shower, way back before everyone was even positive she was going to be a she! You can see some scraps from that dress fabric as my contribution to the fabric medley. At that baby shower, I asked all the ladies in attendance to bring a piece of fabric with them. Those pieces of fabric were the material used to create this quilt (along with the solid teal colour I introduced in an attempt to prevent Surayya getting a headache when she spends under or on it!).

Not having ever made a quilt before, I wasn't massively sure how to approach it. The patchwork part was time consuming but easy enough. I decided not to attempt to properly quilt it because if I did so, I'm pretty sure she would be school-age before I got it finished! So I bought some brushed cotton for the backing and some wadding and made some self-bias from the remains of the teal sateen. Stitching the layers together without missing and bits or getting and pleats or tucks was a bit of a nightmare, but the whole thing was sooooo worth it. I really hope it's something she'll use and love, and I know it's been apprciated by her parents, so I'm one happy Auntie Zo!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Me-Made-June '11 Flickr Group!!!

As promised, the Me-Made-June '11 Flickr group lives!!! So, if you have signed yourself up as a participant of this challenge and wish to document your outfits photographically and share them with the class, then head on over to Flickr group and request membership and you'll be a member within a day or two (though probably sooner).

Remember, you can still sign up as a participant of MMJune '11 and join the party. Involvement and contribution to the Flickr group is completely optional. On the flip side, if you don't want to participate in this challenge, you are still perfectly able and more than welcome to check out the Flickr group photo pool and discussions and soak up the inspiration, though you will not be able to actively contribute to them.

Here's some further pointers and guidelines for potential members of this group:

  • Please be aware that the images posted to this group's pool and discussions that take place can be viewed by the public, but can only be added to by those who are members of this group.

  • This group is for participants of the challenge to post images of their outfits/garments that were worn during June '11. Please do not use this Flickr group to display your creations, unless THEY WERE ACTUALLY WORN IN JUNE '11.

  • If members do not feel comfortable appearing in photos on a public forum such as this, they are more than welcome to choose an alternative way to display and represent the outfit/garments/accessories worn during this challenge.

  • Please limit your photo uploads to 2 images per day of June.

  • It is in no way compulsory to upload photos everyday, or even to particpate in this Flickr group at all. Participants are welcome to contribute photos to this group as often or infrequently as they like. If participants don't wish to document every day of the challenge, that is totally fine.
If you have unanswered queries or concerns regarding the MMJune '11 Flickr group, or the challenge in general, feel free to leave a comment or message me through Flickr or my blog email address (at the top right of this page). Hope to see you over there!

Tuesday 10 May 2011

New School Vintage: 50s Day Dress

Some time back I made a bunch of noise about some idea I had which I introduced under the title of 'New School Vintage'. My intention was to make a series of garments by using vintage patterns and out of vintage fabric from the appropriate era to create items that could pass as vintage pieces, rather than home-made retro interpretation. These would, of course, sit in my wardrobe next to my home-made retro interpretations.

Since vintage fabric in sufficient quantities sadly doesn't grow on trees (can you imagine!), you were never going to see these New School Vintage garments come thick and fast. However, I am delighted to present to you my second creation to which fulfills the criteria. I'm calling it my 50s day dress, even though the pattern (pictured above) is from 1963.

This pattern appealed to me for a number of reasons, the most of which being that I wasn't sure it'd look any good on me. I haven't really worn anything this blousey or voluminous for yonks, and surely there is a reason for that?! I had to find out.

Result?: I do think this dress, with it's puffy bodice and funny tie neck, looks like something my gran would have worn. But isn't that the basic aim of 'New School Vintage'?! The pattern was actually a little big for me as well, but seeing as this was meant to be quite blousey, I didn't think there was much point in grading out one whole inch from the bust measurement. But I really like this dress. This pattern is from slap bang in the middle of my favourite fashion era, but if you asked me to describe to you the style elements of that era that I enjoyed the most, NONE of them would be found in this dress! Yet it's a pleasure to wear. Hmmm... curious.

Well, a reason could be found in the fact that it feels nice on. Oh, and have you seen the fabric? Take a closer look. Cute, eh?! All I know about fabric is through my own observations, so I can't be sure that this really is from the same era as the sewing pattern, but I'm confident. Check out how close the fabric print is to the print of the illustrated dress on the pattern envelope. Plus the fabric was very narrow, another tell that it's probably pretty old. I had just enough to squeeze out this dress (oh, an a couple of extra collar pieces because I didn't pay enough attention). Aside from having an insanely cute print, it's fine and light which feels lovely to wear on a hot day.

The construction was pretty easy, however, I paid a touch more attention to the instructions than I normally would, as there were a couple of elements that were different from previous projects I've tackled. Making a waist stay from grosgrain was something new to me, but turned out to be a piece of pi$$ and something I may incorporate into projects in the future even if the pattern didn't call for it, especially if the fabric was light weight like this. The second new technique was trying a new finishing method for these grown on/kimono sleeves. I've queried other peoples' finishing methods for these before and recently been doing some investigative work inside real vintage dresses, and my jury's still out on my preferred method, so I thought I'd give the method in these instructions a whirl:

The inside looks like this:

The outside looks like this:

This seems like a good, if fiddly, method. I found a vintage dress in Snooper's Paradise the other day which also had this finishing method for the under arms, which made me feel pretty good that I'd used an authentic method (even though era-authentic sewing methods are not necessarily part of my NSV criteria). The third new(ish) construction element was inserting a side zip, which I've only done with a concealed zip when I made my Macaron. To be honest, I botched this zip a bit. It's ok but I was in a rush to finish and kind of thought I might go back and re-do it at some point. Having already worn this dress a couple of times, I am pretty sure that will not happen. I could have done some proper research of different methods of inserting a side zip, and taken my time, but mastering side zips will be something for the future. You may have noticed, I am not a perfectionist!

Before I wrap this up, may I clarify, I am aware my mass-manufactured belt (a birthday gift from a belt manufacturer (yeah, I used to know a belt manufacturer, wierd I agree) FYI) and flip flops are not vintagey in any way! But that's not trick I'm trying to pull off here. I'm trying to look as though I'm rocking a vintage dress in a modern day outfit, not trying to look like I stepped out of the original pattern illustration.

Final nugget: I wore this dress in Bologna, Italy, this weekend. It did not go down well with the locals. I'm actually quite pleased because I saw less than two people the whole weekend rocking any even vaguely vintage look, so my interpretation is that they thought I was wearing my granny's dress!

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Big Flowers, Little Skirt

I would like to take a moment of your time to share with you a skirt I recently made. This won't take long; it's not a very big skirt.

This fabric appeared at work in one of the fortnightly stock deliveries. These are when we receive all the donated garments and bits of fabric that we make garments from. When I saw this print I was almost sick, thus is the power stunning mid-century prints have on me. It came in the form of a pair of curtains, in very good condition save for a distinctly (and forgivably) musty smell. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't get 'first dibs' on all the fabric and garments that come through our studio as such, but occassionally I am permitted to take some of a large piece of fabric in exchange for a monetary contribution to the 'karma tin'. So having cut out a couple of skirts for the traidremade line, I was given the go ahead to use the last part for my own purposes.

The remainder was quite small, so I wasn't able to make a garment in a style that would be completely in keeping with the late 50's era of this fabric. In an ideal world, I would have made a delicious wiggle dress that would give a decent canvas to those massive cabbage-y roses. Alas, there wasn't even enough for a knee-length pencil skirt, so this wasn't going to be another 'New School Vintage' creation. I suppose I could have made a basic A-line mini, but then that still wouldn't have been correct with the era either, so I decided to go the other way and create a more modern shaped garment from this distinctly vintage fabric. So I turned to Simplicity 2451 (pictured below).

Those of you in possession of the keenest of memory (and have read my blog for a while, bless ya!), may recall that I have used this pattern once before. I was pretty pleased with the last skirt I made from this pattern, aside from probably needing to make the size smaller, which I did this time round. I would definately recommend this pattern. It's pleasingly quick to make, yet possesses enough detailing to make it a satisfying make. I'd even recommend this pattern to a beginner who has already completed the obligatory A-line skirt. It will help you tuck a few new skills under your belt without taking you too far out of your comfort zone. For me, having already made a plain version, I was interested to see how this style would cope with a print. Answer: pretty good, IMO.

So far I've worn this skirt once, then the weather tunred a bit colder again. I loved the fit and kept finding myself staring down at the lovely print, but it was difficult to find something to wear it with. I'm thinking maybe I could rock some mustard with it (I'm thinking something like Cecili's incredible blouse). What would you wear with this skirt? I didn't take a modelled photo because I'm pretty sure it'll pop up in MMJune '11, and I'd like to keep at least one card close to my chest for that!

Monday 2 May 2011

Handmade Brighton

Time to tell you about one of my very favourite places in my city: Handmade Brighton! I first came across this Kemptown-based shop last August on the first day of our flat hunt mission, and basically fell in love. This lovely little shop stocks the wares of over forty local designer/makers and artists and is packed to the rafters with amazing and excessively covertable pieces: including ceramics, prints, capes, postcards, brooches, fabric 'monsters', mini-zines and so much more. There is a serious wealth of talent in this area, and this shop is kind of the epicentre for the most interesting stuff this notoriously creative city has to offer.

In fact, 'Handmade Brighton' was initially fact a bi-monthly craft fair invented which was organised and run by Kirstin (above left). A little over a year ago, Kirstin was approached by lovely local business owner Lynne (above right) about turning the concept into a bricks and mortar venture. A couple of months later, the shop was born, and it's been doing really well ever since.

Aside from the interesting stock, for me one of the most appealing things about this shop is the financial model that it is based on. The shop itself doesn't take a cut on the majority of sales: instead the designers rent a space in the shop for a small amount. The rent for the spaces covers the shop's overheads, and the designers get 100% of any sales of their work. There are a few exceptions, like the clothing, where renting a space isn't really viable, so instead the shop takes a very reasonable cut of the sale price for these items. But for the sellers who rent a space, this effectively beomes their own mini shop; they have complete freedom of how they wish to decorate their space, how to display their wares, what prices to set, how quickly they wish to introduce new designs, etc. In a similar way to selling at a craft market, this offers a pretty unique chance to experiment and learn how best to sell their products but within the context of a shop. From the other angle, this in turn brings a real vibrancy and uniqueness to the shop itself, as so many different creatives' visions have contributed to the visual display. The shop is manned by different people on different days, and each of these people stock their produce in the shop for free or a discounted rate in exchange for giving up their time. How good is that?!

Kirstin (pictured above celebrating at Handmade's first birthday party where I debuted my Ceylon dress) has been very kind and supportive of our Brighton Craftaganza venture, offering very useful advice and being generally very lovely. She also invited me to stock some of my handmade garments in Handmade Brighton. I must admit, when I initially found the Handmade shop and realised I would soon be fitting into the catagory of 'local designer/makers' myself, I did log the possibility of approaching them with my work at some point in the future. The idea kind of got put on the back burner as the Craftaganza organisation took up more and more of my free time and brain space. But with the first of our markets nicely under our belts, and having recently sorted out all my stock for my own stall at that event, I recently took some selected pieces down to Handmade to see how they fare.

If you read my blog at any point last year, you may recall that I had an etsy shop for a while which stocked some skirts I'd made (see above, for example). Well, it wasn't a very successful endeavour, which I put down to two main things: 1) there is an overwhelming amount of stuff for sale on etsy which means items get buried quickly, unless of course you do some serious marketing to increase the amount of hits you get, which 2) I did none of! I must admit, my faith in my products took a little knock, but it was restored after the interest my products received (plus the couple of sales I made) at Craftaganza. And after an initially slow first couple of weeks, they seem to be selling well at Handmade Brighton as well. Woo hoo! Currently, I'm just trying to get some turnover of these older pieces. If they continue to sell, I'll be very pleased and maybe I'll venture into producing some new styles. Of course, you'll be kept firmly in the loop!

Sunday 1 May 2011

Me-Made-June '11: Blog Widget/Button

If you are one of the awesome and highly creative individuals who have already signed up for the latest Me-Made challenge, Me-Made-June '11, or are planning on doing so before 1st June 2011, then here's some blog candy for you!

Let your blog widget/button do the talking and announce to the world (well, your readers at least) what you have gotten yourself into! (Joke! Relax! It's going to be heaps of fun!)

So, if you would like one, follow these steps:

1# Copy the following HTML code:
href="http://sozowhatdoyouknow.blogspot.com/2011/04/me-made-june-join-me.html" target="_blank"> <img border="0" alt="Photobucket" src="http://i855.photobucket.com/albums/ab120/zozowahine/mmjlogo.jpg" /> </a>

2# (This is for blogger, not sure about other blog hosts). Click on 'Customise' on your own blog;

3# click on 'Layout';

4# click on 'Add Gadget';

5# choose HTML/Javascript;

6# paste the code in;

7# click on 'save changes'; ta da!!!!

Your beautiful new widget/button, when clicked upon, will virtually ping the clicker to the original MMJune '11 sign-up post, thus simulataneously explaining what the whole thing is about as well as aiding the passage of more potential signees. Win-Win!!!
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