A visit to Contrado

The weekend before last I had the absolute pleasure of joining Kate and Rachel from the Foldline along with some other lovely sewing bloggers –Marie, Jane, Katie, Elena and Charlotte – to visit Contrado – a very exciting, UK-based printing company with so much to offer.

choosing fabric at Contrado

The Day began cozied up in a room with tea, sticky buns and more lovely fabric samples than one could possibly shake a stick at. Already sold! We’d each come armed with a design in mind and we were going to print our very own fabric. It was almost too exciting to bear.

Looking at fabrics

Chris and the gang gave us an introduction from whence they came to where they are today and I was effortlessly sucked into his mesmerising world of print-on-demand on pretty much anything with a turnaround of just a couple of days, in most instances.

We uploaded our ’tiles’ and chose our fabric. I’m making that bit sound easy but when you’ve got a choice of over 75, so generously care of Contrado, it was such a tough decision. We watched the scheduling process as it happened on the big screen. Upload to print. Just like magic.

Next stop was to see them emerge from the printer. What? Already? I seriously wasn’t expecting to take mine home the same day.

fabric emerging

A little trot past the photo studio and around the trampoline (I didn’t ask that question) and into the print room where all the magic was happening. I was amazed at the silence of the operation. Smooth-running synchronised inkjets dancing back and forth in a clean and cool room. And not smelly at all!

The transferred fabrics were coming out and as I turned the corner, there was mine, printing onto actual cotton satin fabric in front of my very own eyes. The natural fabrics get printed onto directly whereas the designs for synthetics are transferred.

While this was happening, we were shown some of the great garments available for customisation. A dressing gown, espadrilles, a baseball cap, some lucky pants, swimwear, kimonos, all printed and handmade right there on the premises, to order.

printed dressing gown

It really is incredible. But seeing how speedy the seamsters were upstairs it was completely plausible. We oooed and arrred at the machines a lot. I can still hear the Randomly Happy squeals of delight. And just check out this bad boy!

contrado sewing machine

And it’s not just about garments. Though clearly that’s what we were all most interested in. It’s about product too: Hairbrushes, X-Box controllers, clocks, deckchairs, foam cubes, roller-blinds, shower curtains, phone cases, trays, biscuit tins… it would have been easier to ask what they don’t print on!

The next room was where the fabrics were heat-sealed (for durability) and packed. Though most of us chose not to have ours packed and instead, just folded for immediate cradling. You can just imagine the squeals in that room!

And so here are the fruits of my humble tile! Plans for a 50s wiggle dress of sorts have promptly entered the queue!

contrado_fabric_1

We all had such a brilliant and inspiring day. I left not only with an armful of amazing fabric but a head full of design plans for more. I love that this is a UK-based and family-run company. And I’m completely smitten with the strength of passion that passes through the team. It matters that communication is good when you are working at creating something so unique and precious. And so to meet such an approachable team in person was not only reassuring but it was truly an absolutely honour.

sewing bloggers

With much thanks to Rachel and Kate and the Contrado team.

 

Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear: book review and Giveaway!

classic tailoring techniques for menswear

Today I would like to share a review of a great book that is already my best friend and bible for #Blazerof2016. The lovely people of Bloomsbury Publishing have not only sponsored me this fabulous book but have also sent an extra copy for one other lucky reader!

The title of the book is Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear: A Construction Guide. And this is the 2nd edition written by Roberto Cabrera and Denis Antoine since it first published in 1983.

My bookshelves are home to all sorts of sewing literature but when it came to ventures in proper tailoring techniques, none of them books scratched that itch, if you know what I mean.

I am a woman on a mission with a man’s jacket to make before June is out. Jamie has already completed his stunning plaid blazer and panic was beginning to set in fast. But now I have my trusty guide I feel the journey will be easier.

If ever I was doubting the ‘why’ of tailoring, the short and concise intro reassures the reader of the unsurpassable techniques over faster more modern ways to achieve that impeccable finish. It gives a brief but insightful history that inspires a preparation for a very slow but satisfying journey ahead!

classic tailoring for menswear intro

The contents include the following chapters: Tailoring; The Pattern; The Fit; The Fabric; Layout and Cutting; The Jacket; The Pants; The Vest; and Alterations.

There then follows an extended table of contents which allows the reader to go straight to the finer points within each chapter. The Jacket is clearly my primary concern and so when I come to pockets, I now have all the necessary information to create a welt, cash, patch, double-piped or double-piped pocket with flap should I choose to add one… or all of them!

As a book designer myself I’m very particular about presentation and I am a stickler for levels of information. So I’m very happy to report that I found the inside layout to be very clean and concise. The font is classic and unfussy, a good size with comfortable space and set in good readable chunks.

I must admit, at first I was disappointed by the black and white photography. It does appear take away some visual interest but on further inspection, all becomes very apparent. The hand-stitches which are crucial to the tailoring process along with other key marked areas are highlighted in red against the greyscale photography and therefore are easily recognised without distraction. It’s a more sophisticated approach than the sole use of line-drawn illustrations and diagrams which can sometimes be too graphic and disassociated with the real thing. Colour photography would have looked lovely – especially to see some of those coloured tweedy fibres – but style over substance would have been useless in this instance. I’m after good, clear and immediate instruction and this is what this book delivers.

The reality of the photography delivers on other levels too: you can identify the lay of the fabric, how it ripples, how it rolls, how it behaves. You’d never get that across with any amount of linework!

That said. This book also displays some fine line drawings which hone in on the tiniest details.

All the tailoring and understructure supplies you will need are clearly listed and defined along with necessary techniques and hand-stitches. And there is a  very well explained section on how to take measurements. The repeated photo of the man in white pants is a little distracting but as I mentioned before, far more preferable to a line drawing. It’s easier to see exactly where on the body those measurements should be taken. Nothing left to the imagination here!

classic tailoring taking measurements

And fitting is obviously a major part of the process. This section does good to address posture and body imbalance and how to identify the issues. I’m focussing on the jacket here and where wide shoulders and a stooped posture adjustment might come in dead handy, but should I venture into tailoring trousers in the future I’ll be ready for any amount of bow-legs, knock-knees and flat bottoms!

There is brief but great insight into the world of wool fabrics that are used in tailoring. The weights, the textures and the usages; naps, shrinkage and how to straighten a grain. This section may have benefitted from some colour just to see those checks and stripes pop, but again. It’s just the information I need. I can go see and stroke any amount of fabrics up the Goldhawk Road for that kind of fix!

Laying and Cutting Out covers exactly how the professionals do it. Great to see the hands at work and of course a vital section on matching plaids/checks and stripes.

classic tailoring for menswear

When I got to the Jacket section I was a bit overwhelmed. So much stuff to learn. But that is the whole point. I want to learn. And I want to have reference to it all. I want to get good at this and there is no fast track way. Just slowly and properly and remembering to enjoy each little step-by-step instruction. I’m really looking forward to making some shoulder pads. There’s a great how-to with a pattern at the back of the book. Incidentally there are also traceable patterns included for a French fly and a French tab and some other elements that I’m not going to pretend I know what they are yet!

The Trousers and Waistcoat sections are just as detailed. Covering the classic tailored processes for each stage. No stone unturned, it would seem.

The final section covers Alterations, which will prove invaluable if I ever I fancied some more unselfish sewing further down the line. And already I am inspired to pick up on the advice for relining a jacket. Something I have been putting off for so long (see this Boer War jacket). It is so simply and brilliantly explained that it makes me feel daft for every doubting my capabilities! And if you ever need to alter a pair of trousers for the man who has muscular inner thighs, look no further.

In fact, it’s all there: what you need, and what exactly you need to do to achieve each stage of a perfectly classic tailored jacket, waistcoat or pair of trousers. Brilliantly presented and clearly explained… in black and white (and red)!

If this little review of Classic Tailoring Techniques for Menswear has whetted your appetite, click here to be taken to Fairchild Books – an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing– where you can buy one for yourself and peruse all the other amazing fashion titles they have on offer.

Or if you fancy winning yourself a FREE copy, simply leave a comment below and let me know how you are getting on with #Blazerof2016 or indeed any other tailored garment you have plans for. Entries will be drawn on 30th April and the winner announced on 1st May 2016. It really is a fabulous prize – good luck!

Both the review and the giveaway copyies of Classic Taloring Techniques for Menswear were kindly given to me free of charge by Bloomsbury Publishing. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

ooobop review: Burda Style August 2015

Burda Style August 2015 cover

Grab yourself a cuppa, some delicious snacks and pull up a chair. This may take some time. The little gasp of joy I inhaled when I picked up the latest issue of Burdastyle is about to manifest itself as an exhalation of excitable word spray!

That said, the cover is probably the least inspiring of images. I don’t know, something to do with a grubby looking pink jumper teamed with a skirt that doesn’t make much sense but don’t diss that skirt till you see it later on…

The first section is titled ‘Call of the Wild’. It’s mostly about animal print but get behind that if it scares you, to see some of the sophisticated lines that are very camouflaged by it.

Burda Style August 2015 magazine
For instance this sheath dress (A). The print totally hides it’s streamlined seamlines but what a shape. Further on you’ll see some colour blocking to illustrate them. I love the neckline. Not too dissimilar to the BHL Flora dress which we all know and love. Skirt (B) is a classic pencil with gold buttons along the front two dart lines as far as I can make out. They are kind of hidden in that print too but it’s a nice detail all the same.

The choice of contrasting blue pleated panel with the print on dress (C) is a little mind boggling to say the least. I don’t hate it, I don’t think. Just not really sure about it. It’s an add-on rather than an inset. I much prefer the version that comes later.

Animal print parka (D) I can deal with though. This one’s made from polyester poplin so it’s very lightweight and it’s got lots of pockets too!

I’m loving the contrast of ribbing against animal print chiffon in this shirt (E). I’m loving that it’s described as easy to put together too!

So here is that skirt from the cover (F), teamed with a top that also has ‘an enhanced added panel’. It makes much more sense altogether, if you like that sort of thing. Definitely better balanced. But perhaps still a little odd!

Not so keen on this flared jacket (G) though. I think I’d prefer a more cropped look like the Vogue jacket I made (and have since lost… I’m so gutted!!). It kind of looks a bit maternity at this length.

Next section is Western. Fringe, kilim, wool and leather. Not generally my style but there are still some lovely things going on here.

Burda August 2015 Western

I can just picture the envy of all my camping buddies if I were to turn up in that blanket coat (H) Its made of Jacquard and leather. A most special kind of parka!

The dress (I) is all a bit too much for me. The kilim design and the long bodice. I’m sure if the accented rib knit sat on the actual waistline it might appeal more. In a different fabric though.

This funny little garment (J) is classed as a waistcoat. It’s not for me, I’m afraid. But the urban western leather suit (K) totally is! I’ve only ever done an alteration on a leather skirt, never sewn one from scratch so all the topstitching on those panels scares me but excites me in the same breath! There’s a sewing class included for the jacket too.

And could this tailored blazer (L) be any more stylish if it tried? I properly love this jacket!! And I don’t even mind the ruffles that poke out on the little top (M) Though I foresee a nightmare and an expensive tantrum if 100% silk chiffon were indeed to be used! The ruffles on top (N) only decorate the front.  but looking at the back view, I quite like the way that only the sleeves are ruffled.

Loving the dropped hem on this midi skirt (O) and especially how the centre front seam is embraced with diagonal stripes. A cotton/wool mix – I bet this skirt feels amazing.

The Timeless Beauty section brings forth polished cuts, sophisticated fabrics and delicate colours…

Burda August 2015 Timeless Beauty

Here’s that funny little waistcoat again (P). A little more classically acceptable in leather, wouldn’t you agree? But I don’t like ruffles enough to deal with a full length dress worth of them! This dress  (Q) just says ‘pain in the backside from beginning to end’ or ‘patience of a saint’ however you look at it!

Here’s another version of that top and skirt (R). A touch more casual but still very elegant. The sweater/slacks combo (S) is not really my thing though.

And just look how much more elegant that kilim dress gets to be in grey poly crepe (T)!

Shirt with accent and skirt with buttons (U) are a good office combo and I even like the variation on that blazer in velvet with details (V). Or do I?! Maybe it is a bit odd. But the classic sheath dress (W) is not only good as a classic staple, it’s designed for tall sizes too. This issue is definitely teaching me that there is sophistication to be found in plain colour dresses. Step away from the print!

There’s some cute little Cowgirl tunics and dresses in this issue. Some lovely details going on and I adore the fox purse. Surely that’s not for children alone?!

Burda August 2015 Cowgirls

The next section is called The Art of Colour. Lots of colour blocking with high tech fabrics.

Burda Style August 2015 Colour

For instance you can now see some of those seamlines in that first sheath dress that were previously hidden by animal print, in this colour blocked version (1). It’s made from a high-tech reversable jersey, though you’d have to have darned neat seamwork to reverse this I would have thought! I find the blocking of this top (3) is quite jarring and unnecessary. It’s like one of those optical illusion vase pictures where you’re not sure whether to look at the black or the white bits. But, strange as it still is, because of the different colours employed, I’m quite diggin’ the weird pleated panel on this dress (4) now.

Whilst dress with no pleats is refreshingly, classically simple (5).

The giant pleat of fabric in the teal top (7) quite appeals now. Just with that contrasting neckline. Turns a very ordinary T shirt into something far more interesting.

There’s a lovely choice in the Plus Fashion section this month.

Burda Style August 2015 plus fashion

Who doesn’t love a shirt-waist dress (9) ? I’m currently working on a second version of the 60s shirt dress I made but I’ve already got sleeve and pocket envy, looking at this one.

The pretty cape collar dress (10) is so pretty but this fabulous bohemian knitted coat (11) is a total winner. Just imagine how cosy that would be in Astrakhan (71% new wool, 19% mohair).

I love the lace cuffs on that blouse too (13). Guipure lace in case you can’t see. Totally poshes up a peasant blouse! That neckline is repeated on the tunic dress (15) and the short sleeved version (16) too which incidentally works beautifully with leather strides. I think I want some.

And that just about wraps it up as far as this months gorgeous garments are concerned.

Did you get your issue yet? Any thoughts? Any faves?

ooobop review: Burda Style June 2015

burdastyle june 2015 cover

The skies may be grey and the sun may not be out but the June 2015 issue of Burda Style magazine most certainly is. And that’s enough to brighten my day!

There’s all sorts of summer fun going on this month. Opening with a cool, light and breezy dress (A). I’m not so sure I can pull off as much elegance as the model wearing it, but with a careful fabric choice, perhaps. I’m intrigued by the wide collar top (E). Moreso that it’s linen. I love linen.

Burda june 2015 section 1

Dress (G) looks like a comfy number. I don’t do comfy as a rule but if I can get over that fabric choice I think a plain colour jersey would make more of that gathered front detail.

The floral dress (B) is for teens and definitely not for my pear-shaped bod but I’d quite like a lace dress like (B). Burda suggests adhesive bra pads to avoid a bra strap. No big pants allowed here either!

Once again I’m having to get past the crazy print on top (C) to envisage a slightly translucent white or black lightweight cotton fabric. The skirt looks fun and easy though.

Great to see some teen designs in this issue. Almost always the kid stuff is for the little ‘uns. Just how cool is that Sergeant Pepper jacket (H)? I so wish my daughter would let me make that for her. She’s more likely to go for the parka though.

I’m so tempted by the jumpsuit (D), even though I haven’t worn a pair of trousers in years. Sold by the midriff. I do like a midriff! I might have to do something about the halter pieces though. Looks like a lot of fabric going on there.

I do like the seamlines on dress (F). Bit difficult to see here but they are panelled seams in corset-style. But I like dress (J), more. The front rouching and the neckline has a certain Asian chic about it. It’s made of jersey, would you belive it? So no zipper going on here!

The Happy Hour section takes us on a night out with lots of black and gold going on.

Burdastyle June 2015 section 2

I love the contradiction of a lace bomber jacket (K)! The interesting front seams are highlighted with satin binding and it has pockets, of course.

Top (Q) looks very elegant tucked in here but the contrast definition with the skirt doesn’t work for me. Especially with all that front drapey pocket business. Too much volly where I really don’t need it!

Ah see… I much prefer this dress (L) in one colour. Though I don’t think the shot does it as much justice. Looks a bit lop-sided here with one shoulder shorter than the other. It is an ‘easy’ make so it might be worth a try.

Cute little tube dress (P) here for all you daring ladies. And this certainly would be an easy one to put together for an emergency going out dress… just two side seams needed in that metallic jersey print.

I love how Burda fills the void in my lack of fabric knowledge. This dress (O) is made of metallic twill! Never have I come across such stuff.

And I love the corsetted detail on dress (N). One would totally have to pay attention to perfect fit and stitching on this one though. That satin highlights every glitch.

Lace is a great choice for this elegant top (R) A shortened version of dress (L). The armholes and neckline are beautifully bound with organza. Not sure why the hem would stay raw though.

And I maintain my love for the jumpsuit (M). Especially if I could get my hands on some gold metallic, viscose linen weave! Super stylish!

Next up is the Sunshine section, kicked off with this pretty shirt dress (S). A Peter Pan collar is enough of a change to give it a cute edge but I think I’d ditch the lower flounce. Not sure why that section appears to be cut on the bias too. Bit jarring with those stripes.

Burdastyle June 2015 section 3

Love the paper bag shorts (T)! Not sure if I could carry them off with a detailed top section though. It would have to be a plain T or similar.

Really like the yellow ensemble (Y). Especially now I can see more detail on that skirt. The buttons could contrast and be a lovely feature. The collar feature adds a little vintage-style twist. Gorgeously cool for picnic days in the park.

Love the shirt dress (W) cropped to a shirt too.

However I’m not too impressed with the colour section. Mostly because I don’t like the chosen colour palette. All too much for little old me, I’m afraid. And I’m finding it hard to see past the colours to focus on the designs. Short of my latest make, I tend to have black or red as a base colour and work up from that. My pick would be the Kaleidoscope tube dress (6). In black, probably. Call me unadventurous!

burdastyle june 2015 section 4

Plus Fashion goes all out adventurous on us though . . . on safari…with some mad sleeves!

Burda style june 2015 plus section

You can’t really see the detail in dress (9). The volume of fabric is concealed by the detail of the print but you can hopefully pick out the rouched seams all the way down to the wrist in dress (12). My favourite piece in this section of the mag is the ankle length lace coat. Or ‘chasuble’ as Burda calls it. Learn something new every day!

So whaddyafink? Have you got yours yet? Have you already whipped something up? Do tell x

 

ooobop review: Burda Style March 2015

Burda Style March 2015 cover

Can you feel that spring sunshine, desperately trying to squeeze though your bedroom window in the morning? Well if that isn’t happening, the March 2015 issue of Burda Style magazine will do it’s best to brighten your days.

There’s some lively goings-on this month, with all sorts of asymmetric, geometrical, hankerchief-hemmed and draped goodness!

Beach Pearls sets some scenes for a summer wardrobe: I just love that maxi dress (A). It’s not dissimilar to the viscose jersey one I made here, but the bust detail is right on the money! A lot more support I would think and what a flattering silhouette!.

beach pearls burda march 2015

It also translates into a lovely strappy top (B).

Now I like where the asymmetrical skirt (C) is coming from but not quite where it landed up! Way too much like a sack tied round the middle for me. Further on it is redeemed with some better styling, I can assure you.

Nice Jumpsuit (C), btw. If jumpsuits are your thing. You might want to add some ‘fashion tape’ to the list of required notions, though. Click here: Hollywood Fashion Tape if you’re interested in buying any from Amazon!

Flared trouser suits (E)? mmm…and bat wing empire-lines (F)? double mmm… Lets move on to the shirtwaist dress with ‘maxitail in the right seam’ (G). I do like that. And I love the biker-meets-Mao jacket too (H)!

Uh oh. There’s that batwing-empire-line again (I). Swiftly moving on to the Flowers and Stripes section!

Flowers and stripes burda style march 2015

I’ve never made or owned a pair of culottes (A). But I bet they’re a far safer than a full skirt on a windy day. And looks lovely in a largish print. If you like that sort of thing.

And there’s that shirt-waist dress (B) again with ‘cut-on-dipped hem’ like last time! It would be better to use a fabric that has a reverse as good as the good side, I would have thought.

Look how that lovely maxi translates to a cute beach dress too (C).

This month features a chic wrap dress (D). There is some assurance of a button at the side and concealed snap fasteners to keep the wrap in place. Potential for a Bucks Fizz moment there!

The peasant top addict in me (see two of them here and here) is quite drawn to this ‘relaxed tunic’ (E)! Would need a fine drapey jersey to pull off with any sophistication I would have thought.

And there’s some more geometric delight in the shape of a simple v-neck dress with symmetrical ‘cut-on tails’ (F)!

Any weddings occurring this year? Loving both these bridal party dresses (A) in The Big Day section.

The Big Day Burda March 2015

The bride’s dress (B) is the same as (A) with a flowy underskirt of crêpe chiffon. That’s if you haven’t been put off by the chiffon adventures in The Great British Sewing Bee recent episode.

Can’t help thinking this dress (C) is a bit cake-like with all the tiers an’ all.

And although I usually embrace a bit of invention, I still wouldn’t want to look like I’d been dragged behind the wedding car, en-route in this dress (D)!

This fairytale dress (E) is far simpler and much more sophisticated though. Just get rid of the batwing-empire-maid who’s ruining the photo!

Oh this is much better (F). Lovely wide-dipped hem again. Bust darts for shape. Cotton lace overlay, crepe satin underlay. I’d wear it with cowboy boots. Or even DM’s. Or is that just the hippy in me?!

Now there’s that asymmetric skirt again (centre, G), styled much more favourably with a gorgeous jacket: standing collar and 50s style winged lapels. See, it does have potential to work. Nice suit on the right too!

I’ve picked out the following three from the Reader Favourites section:

reader favourites burda march 2015

Jumpsuit (A) made short for all you lovely long-legged people!

Lovely floor-length dress (B) in striped jersey with side slits and a ‘hankerchief hem’. I can definitely feel some more maxi’s coming on this year.

And a cute little dress (C) based on the short lace wedding party dress design. Not my cuppa tea fabric-wise, but I’m always sold on a midriff piece!

Not overly inspired by the plus section this month I’m afraid, though the trench coat is rather amazing, I must say.

plus size trench coat burda march 2015

But, there is cuteness for small people at the back.

Childrens section burda style march 2015

The best design and the garment most fitting to the Colour Splash section by far, is the paint-spattered dress (A) with tying bands that resemble the sleeves of another garment. Hands up who wants an adult version? Genius!

Using Evernote to catalogue patterns & fabric stash

vintage sewing patterns

In my head, I’m a very organised and methodical person. In reality I’m not!

Actually, that’s not entirely fair. I do put things in piles labelled ‘to action’, ‘to file’, ‘to put away’ and I have even been known to put things in boxes but there remains an ongoing issue with finding things!

My precious sewing patterns, new and old, are safely filed put away in boxes. I love to get them out and look through them every now and then, just for that warm fuzzy feeling. And sometimes I even put them to work. But with the ever growing tower of pattern boxes it is true to say that I often forget what I’ve got.

But last week I discovered Evernote! I cannot claim to be the authority on this app because, by all accounts, it does so much. However, I can tell you how it has revolutionised the organisation of my sewing pattern collection.

How Evernote works for me

  • Firstly, it’s on my phone which means when I find myself in a fabric shop, I can instantly find out how much fabric/what notions I need, or if a particular fabric is suitable for the job just by scrolling through my instantly available files.
Evernote screenshot
How my sewing pattern list appears on my phone screen
  • Equally if I’m in a charity shop and there’s an amazing remnant of fabric shouting out I can see if it matches up to the requirements.
  • I can instantly check to see if I already own the pattern or not – Despite my tower of patterns equalling my own height, I still get a little buzz from an Ebay bargain!
  • You can share your ‘notes’ on social networks or via message or Email which will be a handy way of me creating a new pinboard on Pinterest or consulting fellow sewists via Twitter or Facebook.
  • You can also print straight from your device. Assuming you’d need a wireless system for that though.
  • You can tag the patterns making for a brilliant search system. I generally tag mine with: size, bust-size, era, garment style, pattern name/number and exact date of publication if I can find it.
  • You can also stack notebooks. So for instance:
    1 ‘note’ effectively consists of front and back of pattern envelope plus any notes I’ve made from previous experience.
    ‘Notes’ are grouped together to form a ‘notebook’, for instance one ‘notebook’ could be titled Vintage another could be Modern.
    ‘Notebooks’ can then be stacked under a title of Sewing patterns.
    I am currently just putting all ‘notes’ (individual patterns) in one ‘notebook’ called Sewing patterns and tagging them for easy searching. I like being able to scroll down a long list.
  • You can view each pattern as a thumbnail with it’s title alongside. It’s a little bit diddy, even on a larger than average phone screen but it syncs perfectly online and I find this is an easier way of viewing and editing from the comfort of a desk and the luxury of a larger screen.

Evernote online

And the best thing about Evernote?

  • It’s absolutely FREE! I haven’t felt the need to upgrade to a premium version yet. The benefits of which include: more space allocation, an offline editing option, multiple author permission, and pdf search facility. But even if and when I feel I’m ready to upgrade, its only about £35 per year!

Evernote is so easy to use

To upload a pattern I simply take a photo of the cover using the inbuilt camera and then take a ‘document’ shot of the back cover text. This text can be enlarged for perfect readability even on a tiny screen. I then give it a title: The pattern company and number reference. And then I tag it so It can be searched for. I currently only have the one notebook titled, Sewing Patterns and I make sure they live in there but if you had other notebooks you’d just have to check it’s in the right place.

Evernote phone screenshot
This is what the pattern cover image looks like within a ‘note’

 

Evernote screen shot scroll down
This is what the screen looks like when I scroll down for further info
Evernote zoomed in
This is what the back cover info looks like, zoomed-in on my phone

Teething problems with Evernote

I have only come up against a couple of teething problems. No biggies but worth bearing in mind to save you from pulling out your hair!

I did get excited when I saw the ‘Location’ entry box. But longitude and latitude won’t help me to find where the actual pattern is so I guess I will have to add the location to the file name (ie box 1 etc)

For a short while I didn’t understand how Evernote randomly selected an image to use as the cover thumbnail. It doesn’t select them according to first in the list, moreover the largest image.
So just make sure that the cover image is larger than the back cover document image. I do this by taking a close up of the pictorial cover and holding the camera a bit further away when I shoot the back cover. When using the document shooting facility it will naturally crop into the document text area and automatically exclude external background content, which keeps it smaller.

Using Evernote to catalogue fabric mountain

Once I’ve finished cataloguing my sewing patterns, I’m thinking of filing my fabric stash too. By taking a photo of the fabric and adding some notes and searchable tags relating to size, fabric content and potential usage. But one thing at a time, hey?!

Has anybody else tried Evernote? Are there any features I’ve missed? Or do you use another filing system?

For anyone interested in getting this app, you can either download it from the App Store or let me know, and I’ll Email you a link. Another great feature is that if you recommend a friend you earn points to upgrade for free! So once you are signed up for the free app don’t forget to recommend Evernote to your friends too.

Footnote: This is not a sponsored post, despite my enthusiasm. It is an honest review of a product that works very well for me and my purposes.

ooobop! review: Burda Style December 2014

Burda Style Magazine December 2014 issue
Over the last few months I’ve been having a spot of bother getting a copy of my favourite mag from my local WHSmiths. Well from any Smiths actually. They are getting slack in their orders of big quantities or sometimes any orders at all!

But last month and this month, I decided to order it from an online newsagent and I think this is the way forward for me. It costs an extra £1.60 for post but I get notification of it’s arrival date and it is delivered within 2 days. I love the sound of the thud of the post landing on the mat and I certainly don’t miss the queues to the awful automated cash desks at Smiths!!

So here we are. Although not overly festive. But that’s ok.

The opening section, although very monochrome displays some lovely structure with a touch of shimmer.

Burdastyle December 2014 art deco section

A: Described as a long blazer but I think more a classy occasional coat. I love the asymmetry and I’ve seen some gorgeous silk-like viscose fabric that would work amazingly well. Could really do with one of these. I don’t have any party outer-layers! Burda suggests it could be a mini dress too.

B: I didn’t join the ‘peplum gang’ when they first got fashionable. But I might be persuaded by this one. I really line the clean lines of this top. It’s got a midriff that has sold me and I like the slit at the neckline.

C: A classic sparkly sequin jacket. But not for me I’m afraid. Too shapeless. Too scratchy. And I can just imagine all the cat fluff that would get stuck around the sequins!

D: Quite like this dress. Very classic and very flattering. It’s actually an extension of top B. But I would question that choice of fabric. Impossible to pattern match and so the optical illusion draws attention to a pokey out belly even when the model doubtfully has one!

E: Probably not that clear from this little pic but this is a sparkly turtle neck top with blouson sleeves and a lovely wide cuff. Love the silhouette and for me it’s a perfect work to night out top. There’s a tute to help the process. This one’s on the list!

F: There’s that peplum again! I’m not that enamoured with it but I like the idea of mashing some interesting fabrics together: Pinstripe suiting, lace and embroidered something!

G: This is a great skirt. The fabric choice is stunning. Graphic and structured. You can’t really see the detail but involves a hip yoke and a deep pleat at the centre front.

H: This outfit isn’t my thing. I don’t like the silhouette. I don’t do culottes or drawstring waists. Not on the list!

I: This lacy top looks so pretty in the picture. You’d never be sold by the line drawing. It looks really wide and strange but the draping effect is a winner.

The next section gets some red in with some festive flair!

There’s some cute little girls garments here but only up to age 10. LMO is 10 but wearing age 14 clothes so as much as I’d like to make her coat B, I’ll have to sort my grading skills out or just admire them on the page.

Burda december 2014 festive flair

A: Lovely simple dress with a structured skirt and a petticoat underneath. None too girly but still with a pretty fitted silhouette.

B: Double breasted child’s coat with cute peter pan collar. Sewn up in top notch wool it is truly a classic forever coat. Well at least the child grows out of it! I think I like the grown up dress too. Love the simplicity, the red, the deep pleat and the neckline. But the sleeves are worrying me. They look kind of too big at the top.

C: A raglan blouse (or peasant top in my book!) and an extended version as a dress. Like both. And they would be very simple to make for presents. Don’t have to be too precise with the sizing either.

D: Scarf blouse and skirt with ties says it all. Too much flounce for me. They are both made in crepe too. Maybe that’s what is putting me off asides from the dipped pink and coral combo all clingy like that. Proper girly Christmas wrapping!

E: But just in case that scarf business appeals, here’s another variation on a dress with longer ties to tie in two places. Genius. But not on the list!

F: I think this is the same little girls dress as A but without sleeves. I don’t mind mums semi fitted brocade number but it does look a tad mumsy at that length to be honest.

G: They lost me at ‘loose cut’! And drawstring!

H: Boxy jackets always look good on children! The simplicity of the style can make way for some statement fabric.

A departure from girly to freestyle. Some very interesting fabric combos. And I like that.

Burdastyle December 2014 Free Style

 A: Hopefully you can just about make out the giant underbust fringe! It’s a maxi top sewn in a crushed jersey knit with an asymmetrical draped collar. I don’t wear strides but if ever I did I may have to pair up with one of these. Just because!

B: This is indeed a master piece! Military made beautiful. Slightly fitted wool coat with trumpet sleeves, asymmetric collar and buttoning. And that gorgeous design you can see up one side is appliquéd lace no less. I’m still revelling in my coat from February but I can totes see myself in this. Maybe next year!

C: Described as a bell skirt. Nothing much to see here but some lovely overlaid fabric and trim has planted some seeds for sure.

D: Gotta love a cape. Proper sturdy one too. I do want a cape but not this one with its belts and panels and epaulettes. It looks a bit overly involved for me. Don’t dislike it though.

E: There’s that top again. Same as E in the first section but in a totally different fabric. Making it more jumper than blouse for a more casual approach. You wont be able to see from the little pic but the seams are ‘outwardly open’! Why? Imagine how irritating when everyone and their aunt asks if your top is inside out!

F: In interesting patched shirt using patched stretch jersey, stretch faux leather and wool. You could use any kind of combo but I’m finding this all a bit too much. I do very much like the leathery sleeves though. The skirt looks more interesting than the pencil skirt it is but even though it is relatively straight I think that top needs to be worn with a much less interfering bottom half!

G: Pretty sure this is repeated from the festive section but I love how much more retro it appears with a shorter hemline.

H: Tube dress with rolled collar in a stretch knit lace. Great on the right bod. But not on mine!

I: I like this dress. Lovely defined bodice and flouncy skirt in an overlaid lace tulle. Sold on the colour too. Eliminates girly girly and makes it more day time. I can’t decide whether I like the sporty grosgrain straps or not. Actually I do!

J: I’ve been thinking of a poncho. Not like the one my mum made me wear in the 70s but something understated like this one. In truth I’m being lazy so as not to have to get involved in a cape! Its just a rectangle with minimal sewing, yay!

Burda’s designer pattern this month comes with a nod to Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. I love these little insights into the lives of designers. JC professes to be inspired by love andcuriosity. I like that! Just as much as I like this straight cut mini-dress with its massive pocket details and topstitched standing collar. burda december 2014 JC de castelbajac dress

I’ve made pj bottoms for 3 other members of my family but never for myself. It’s just occurred to me that I’ve got the most raggedy selection of nightwear and that things must change. Here’s some pretty things and one seriously crazy pair of pj bottoms!

Burda december 2014 nightwear

 A: Cutesy bustier and French knicker set. Piping, ruffles the lot!

B: Isn’t the idea of a boyfriend shirt that you just nick one off your boyfriend? I’m not sure I can afford to invest that much time into making a proper nightshirt. Piped collar, inverted back pleat, button placket, breast pocket with embroidered monogram and inseam pockets too!

C: Lovely little ballerina slippers. Could be a lovely little Christmas present perhaps.

D&E: A traditional set of pjs. What’s not to like? Love the cool crisp blue.

F: This is a knitted coat and I want it! I don’t want to knit it though. I’d be bored of it before I finished it, I’m that slow. But I’m sure someone out there would love to whip this up.

G: And theres those crazy palazzo trouser pjs! Can’t do those. I’d get myself in a pickle for sure.

H: Camisole and French knickers. Now you’re talking. Maybe this is my Christmas present to me!

I: This nightdress is pretty too. Ruffles top and bottom are a bit cake-like for me but I like the elasticated empire line.

As is traditional, it’s the plus fashions that bring the party to the fore.

Burda December 2014 plus fashion

A: Long jacket and pencil skirt. A classy pairing. The jacket comes with an optional belt but I’d leave that out unless you want the dressing gown look!

B: Low cut V-neck tunic top. I love the contrasting black band around the neckline. Very feminine and perfect with pencils and skinnies.

C: Bit odd this ‘volant’ tunic. Burda’s word not mine! Longer at the back than the front with ruffly bits. Not really my cup of tea.

D: Described as a peplum dress but someone more sophisticated than that I feel by the way that the centre point extends. Very jewel-like indeed. I’m not keen on the colours but greens and blues would do it for me. Or blacks and reds! A lot of precision sewing though. Only for the more patient among us!

E: Ah! There’s that long jacket with the belt. See.

F: Can’t make my mind up about this skirt. Its fundamentally a pencil with satin bands that run down the back. Apparently they make the bottom look slimmer. Are big butts out now then?

G: In the right drapey material this tunic dress would be gorgeous. I’d prefer not to look like a galaxy but I do like the contrast of the black bands and a busy print.

H: This colour-blocked peplum blouse is a no from me. Too much like hard work. Too much going on in such a small space. But I bet somewhere out there, there is a quilter who is itching to get going on it!!

Well that just about wraps things up. I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek. I failed in every way to make this a shorter exercise but no regrets. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the time to look closer at each garment. And of course it always makes for a great record to come back to.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend x

 

UK v Germany: A Burda-off! PLUS a tiny feature

Burda UK v Germany covers

I’ve been an avid collector of Burda Style Magazines for three years or more. It’s my monthly inspirational treat and over the years the collection has become my now go-to library for instant pattern pieces and reference. I just love a sit down with a cuppa and a mag and a pile of Burdas at my feet. A perfect way to unwind, recharge and replace my head-soup with a wishlist of sewing plans.

Before ooobop ever was an idea, I used to drool over the projects on Burdastyle.com, wishing I hadn’t given up sewing; jealous of all the lovely contributors and the time they’d dedicated to create such amazing garments. (At the same time, wondering how the heck they found time to maintain such a hobby around work and ‘smalls’.) Then one day I could stand it no longer. I bit the bullet, signed up and submitted my first project in July 2010. I was so proud of that little jump dress. Even moreso that I made the pattern myself. It still hangs in my daughter’s wardrobe. I’d like to believe she is proud of it too and that it’s not just a case of pre-empting a breakdown if mummy sees it in the bin!

The realisation that I could make clothes that created joy for me and my daughter at an outlay of 75p was encouragement enough to carry on. I have to be honest and declare that the outlay has increased somewhat over the years but then so has my confidence and ability. And it is really so wonderful taking some time out today to look back at where I started and how things have moved on. And how I did find time.

There have been a few proud moments along the way where individual projects have been featured on the site but recently I got an Email from an editor of the German printed Burdastyle magazine who asked if she could feature this skirt and my shorts in the November issue. I have to be honest, I thought it was a spam Email at first so I didn’t reply straight away. But then I checked out the links and a little chuffed warm-glow filled my boots! Of course, I would be most incredibly delighted and honoured! Transpires they couldn’t feature the skirt because I’d self-drafted it but I submitted a photo of the shorts and here it is on the printed page!

Burda Germany shortsWhen the magazine arrived in the post I was more distracted by the quality of the magazine and quite forgot that I was in it! The German version is so much more glamorous. It is ‘perfect-bound’ as opposed to ‘saddle-stitched’. Those are the proper publishing terms but in lay-person terms that means that the German one feels more posh as it has feels more substantial and has a spine like all the high end glossy fashion mags. More substantial because there are more pages and because the pattern section is separately bound inside with it’s own cover. Saddle-stitched meaning stapled!

pattern section

This pattern section is perforated so that presumably, you can remove and keep it separately. There are images on the inside front and back cover of that section so you would have reference of the finished garments but personally I like the full page fashion shots to fire me up and therefore I would have a need to keep the two together.

Overall, the content is the same. The fashion shots identical. Though I bet the instructions are clearer in the Mütter tongue! Some of those translated terms in the UK edition have me head-scratching and reading ten times over before I’ve got whats going on. But there are additional features on accessories and a few full page glossy ads which ironically enough give it more of an upmarket feel. That’s not a hint by the way, Burda! You’ll not sell me anything via an ad in a mag!

I’m pre-empting some comments regarding my absence from Burda reviews of late, so I’ll apologise up front. I’m considering a return but need to find a quicker way. It takes so much time. That time I’ve since allocated to actual sewing but I have selfishly realised how much I rely on my own reviews when it comes to planning my next makes – far quicker and easier to track back a blog post on the hop than to wait for an opportune ‘sit-down with a mag moment’! So don’t hold your breath. I’m planning a return.

However, I shall leave you with some of November’s shots in case you didn’t get hold of a copy. See. I just can’t resist!!

Burda November 2014 Black and White

Burda November 2014 Black and White

Burda November 2014 High Society

Viva La Diva Burda Nov 2014

Viva La Diva Burda Nov 2014

Key Note Burda Nov 2014

Key Note Burda November 2014

Burda Baby Clothes Nov 2014

Homewear burda November 2014

Plus Homewear Burda November 2014

Happy Bonfire Night, peeps. I’m off to watch the fire in the sky… in the rain! Keep safe.

Love ooobop x

Sewing Bloggers and Gaultier – The Perfect Rescue Remedy!

Anyone else bumbling through the school holidays? I’m quite exhausted to be honest. Don’t get me wrong. It’s lovely to see more of the children but trying to work full time and juggle child-share has had me a bit frayed around the edges this year. No holiday plans has meant no proper stretch of time off and though I’m quite used to that, I’m really not used to being so knacked that I don’t have head space to sew or even think about what I want to sew. Robbed of inspiration, I was. Until this weekend that is!

I’d almost clean forgotten that Roisin had planted a seed to go to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the Barbican on Saturday. So following a Tweeted nudge, I booked that there ticket along with a voucher for a cocktail. Well, it would have been rude not to!

The day began with an assembly and fashion parade of beautiful sewists at Goldhawk Road, of course. Emmie, Roisin, Amy, Marie, Katie, Jen and a lovely chance, fancy-seeing-you-here type meeting with Alana too! I usually arrive with a handbag and a relative amount of restraint when it comes to shopping in the Goldhawk Road. I live so near and my stash is so ridiculous that I can only justify purchases for immediate plans. And I actually have some of those, now, funnily enough.

Last week, Anne from Mercury Handmade so very sweetly sent me the August issue of Burda Style magazine which I tried so hard to get hold of and failed miserably. WHSmiths could offer no reason why they just weren’t delivered and then just when I’d given up Anne Tweeted that she had a spare and would I like one? What an absolute Angel! of course I would! And If that wasn’t enough she’d enclosed two gorgeous vintage patterns for me as a surprise. She is such a kind and generous lady and spookily knows exactly what I love.

vintage patterns tops

So I bought some fabric. I’m thinking the red leopard print and or the lighthouses for the wrap blouse. I’ll need something more drapey for the tie blouse. Oh, and I bought some shoe fabric, just because!!

fabric for blouse

The next three hours sped by and then we were en route to the Barbican for some divine inspiration!

We were greeted at the entrance by some iconic breton stripes and some freaky blinking mannequins! The live expressions were projected onto the faces of the otherwise static dummies. Quite distracting at first as we were more focussed on the faces than the garments. You get the idea from the pic below:

blinking mannequins

 

Gaulier crop top

But not for long. The outrageousness of the designs increased and the freaky faces paled into insignificance!

gaultier dogtooth allover

I shamefully realised how little I knew about this incredible man.

He was self-taught and got his foot in the fashion door by sending some of his sketches to Pierre Cardin. (Best I invest in a new Fashionary book!!) This exhibition starred 165 of his amazing garments spanning 40 years of his work

His very own first collection was released in 1976 and soon earned him the title ‘enfant terrible’ of French fashion. Street fashion was dominant throughout but the couture pieces were nonetheless exquisite and edgy at the same time.

I still have no idea why the man-skirt never took off. Teamed with some serious boots and those iconic stripes of course. Such a great look and one I’d be happy to wear today too!

Gaultier kilt

Of course there was a fine selection of construction corsetry and some incredible leather cage designs that I would so love to replicate if I even knew where to start!

Gaultier leather cage

I just love the shape of this coat and I marvelled at the gazillion green feathers that incidentally look as though they were hot-glued to the lining. Kind of puts the couture classification into question, don’t ya think? Or is that allowed?

Gaultier feathered coat

And check out this ‘pinstripe’ dress, which on closer inspection transpires to have thousands of mother of pearl buttons sandwiched in between pleats and encrusting the cuffs!

Gaultier mother pearl button dress

Gaultier button cuffs

I love a bit of contradiction. A spot of rule breaking. Rebellion even! A bit Like here where recycled camo is patchworked to a ball gown, complete with fishtail and adorned with dripping glass beads. Perfect.

Gaultier camo ballgown

And a clash of the tartans. Proper rule breaking. Love it!

gaultier tartan clash

But my favourite piece which has stuck in my head and clearly wont leave until I blatantly copy it, is the yellow tartan jacket with its wonderful sculpted lampshade silhouette. I was so desperate to touch but just knew I’d set of an alarm so I gently encouraged Roisin to stick her head up and see what was going on. She kindly obliged but alas the lining hid all!

gaultier yellow tartan jacketWe loved the pan-scourer/tin-can jewellery. And a further use for all your perfume packaging! There was even a shiny tea-strainer on the belt!

Gaultier jewelery

Of course there was the famous cone corset for Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour of 1990 and also the amazing nude sequinned suit modelled so beautifully by Naomi Campbell but I still haven’t learned to turn off my data roaming and so my stupid i-phone ran out of juice at the crucial exhibits!!

The exhibition reflected his genius talent and humour at the same time without dropping an ounce of style. Though humour was evident by his starring role in 90’s Eurotrash. I loved that!

Two floors and 165 garments examined and discussed, we made way to the Gin Joint. Yes that’s right. A bar purely dedicated to gin. In the same building, with a great view and a menu of gins longer than both my arms! We had time to kill, you see. At least half an hour before the Gaultier Bar opened and where our cocktail voucher was valid. But there were no complaints. Just lots of ooos and arrs and a table full of pretty coloured gins! So enamoured by this place, that we came straight back for more after our cocktail, for truffle mac cheese… and another gin, bien sûr!

And it can’t go unmentioned that I now have taken ownership of the best loyalty card evs!!

Gin Joint Loyalty card

Alas the last day for John Paul Gaultier at the London Barbican is today, 25th August so if you are London-based and not shaking your tail feathers at Notting Hill Carnival, I advise it as the best place to keep out of the rain today . I’m just so grateful for Roisin for giving us the heads up in time and organising such a wonderful day which has totally inspired me to get back on that sewing horse and do what I love most. Thank you lovely lady. Thank you Anne and thanks to all you gorgeous sewing bloggers who make me tick!!

The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby

The Pink Suit book

Every single day, without fail, I’m reminded how wonderful it is to be a part of such a wonderful sewing community. So much more than just sewing. Who knew? Only those of us that are part of it will truly understand. And then, and only then, is when one knows exactly what I’m on about!

Opportunities. Chance meetings. True friendship. Support. Experience. Education. Skills. Not to mention a fabulous wardrobe. And so much more. Tantamount to proper therapy!

And did I mention free gifts? No? Probably because I’d sound like I was only in it for the win! Which I’m not, of course, but one never looks a gifthorse in the mouth, right?!

Now back in April, a certain Little Brown horse contacted me to see if I would like an uncorrected bound proof copy of The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby. Talk about targetting an audience! Er…. like, yes please!!

For those that don’t know, I have freelanced as a designer in the publishing world for more fingers than I can count on which might give the impression that I am well-read. Haha… I wish! I proof read and I skip read and get to read the beginnings of manuscripts but I can not honestly tell you the last time I sat and read a whole real book, all by myself, just for pleasure.

I can’t read as I walk to work. Fear of treading on pigeons or in other unsavoury stuff. My tube journey barely allows enough time to bagsy a seat and get the book out of my bag. After-work hours are filled with schoolwork, catering, chores and some shoe-horned sewing time, obvs. And if I ever attempt to read before bedtime I’ll be asleep before the first para!

But. Given a book with a title like ‘The Pink Suit’. I would make allowances. I would sit in the park in my lunch-half-hour. I would risk taking out a couple of pigeons en route to and from work and I would whip it out at any opportune tube delay or in any waiting room.

I had given up the ghost for a sewing-related book. I’d even considered writing one myself because I couldn’t find any. It could be argued that I didn’t try very hard but that aside and in any case, I am so glad this was my first. And I loved it. Properly loved it. The characters; the setting; the facts and the fiction. For this story is based on the reality surrounding the Pink Suit that was created for the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy by – shock, horror, gasp – an Irish immigrant working from the back room of an American couture house… and not Chanel! That self-same suit that got spattered with the blood of her husband on that fateful day.

You can feel the bouclé, smell it even. You’ll find your self checking your tights for bits of pink fluff and if you’re anything like me, you’ll completely get how obsession and passion runs through every page. And you’ll come to realise that your own passions are far stronger than you think they are.

I’d so love to tell you more but I know how precious and rare this book is for us sewists and I don’t want to ruin your experience.

But what I can tell you is that it wasn’t just a good story. It was a great one in fact. But more than that it was a shed load of inspiration. I drew strength from the main character and worked late into the night on my own projects spurred on by Kate’s enthusiasm. I relished each of the next stitches I made, I refolded and neatened my fabric pile and I planned for future dresses and blouses… and suits!

The only downside to a good book is that it comes to an end. I so didn’t want it to end. I got so sucked in that I felt quite sad as I approached the last pages. First time I’ve ever read a set of acknowledgements too. I was that desperate to hang on to every last word!

I do hope you get as much from this book as I did. And if you do happen to hear of any similar reads, I’d be so grateful to hear from you.

Incidentally, the roses in the photo are care of my lovely milliner friend, Jayne. I popped in to her gallery to ask how she was feeling (she’s been ill for weeks) and yet SHE was the one to give ME the flowers. That’s how lovely she is.