a real quick question…

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… people with children, can you help me?

… the baby I made the snow suit and the baby blanket for is turning 1 this week, I have been invited to a party for him this weekend… I feel like I ought to sew up a gift!

… what do 1 year old boys, or mother’s of 1 year old boys want??

… I was hoping to use fabric I already have, maybe some of colourful African wax, or some jersey. Do small boys wear pyjamas (cotton bottoms, t-shirt top), would a jersey top with cotton sleeves work…

… I will only have half a day at the weekend to work on what ever I decide to make, so a fully fledged button down shirt is probably more than I want to make. I would also prefer a free or not too expensive pattern as I won’t be making many variations…

… any hints or recommendations would be most welcome! Thank you!!what do small boys like @ grt*escp… a year ago with the blanket and hat I made him.

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serging away…

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… once I unpacked my new serger, I was on a roll…

… I zipped up my (failed) underwear, then immediately cut out the pieces for the Grainline Hemlock tee. I had put the pattern together while I was visiting my parents, and I knew exactly which fabric I wanted to use…

serging the hemlock @ grt*escp… at the first Belgian blogger meet, last summer, my lovely (blogless) friend Margot gave me some wonderful green on green stripe heavy weight jersey. As soon as I saw it I thought “long sleeved tee with contrasting sleeves”. The only decision I had to make was whether I used the dark side for the body or the sleeves!

… I followed the Grainline online tutorial, just to be sure I was doing the right thing. I so often make patterns up intuitively, but I get the impression mistakes with the serger would be much more final.

… the whole top came together in an instant, I then used my sewing machine and fabulous double needle for the hem and sleeves. I may be able to do them on a serger too, but I haven’t worked that much out yet. The shop where I bought the machine offers you a free lesson with each purchase, I still need to sign up for mine!

serging the hemlock @ grt*escpserging the hemlock @ grt*escp serging the hemlock @ grt*escp… now if only it would warm up 15-20º, so I can wear my new tee-shirt out!

a grand day out…

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… Saturday morning, Antwerp, running slightly late, Margot and I found Viggo’s coffee bar and a whole crowd of sewers…

… the lady at the next table, apparently a local politician, asked me curiously “what is the event? a school reunion? an association? I have never seen so many people in this café?” I had to explain further when I answered “a sewing blogger’s meetup, and no, most of us don’t actually know each other…”

… from the coffee bar we headed out to explore the local fabric shops, a small place with a good selection of African wax, on to the incredibly organised and well stocked Moens, passing via an intriguing looking haberdashery that was unfortunately closed. I think most of us left Moens with something, I bought a couple of things, but even 25 enthusiastic customers didn’t make the sales lady smile…

… next stop. Madame Tirette, shop, atelier and where we met Hanne. Once we had all succumbed to some of the lovely bright and beautiful jersey they had to offer, the bolts of fabric were put away and we took over the atelier’s cutting table for the much anticipated fabric swap. It is never clear whether people are more excited to be getting rid of their extra fabric, or about the new pieces they are picking up… either way, it is a win win!

… all swapped out, we packed up our bags, put back on our coats and headed to an Indian restaurant for lunch. What a fabulous place, really genuine, full of Indians, delicious food and amazing mango lassis! I think we all ate too much!

… once we rolled out the restaurant, we propped ourselves up in front of a couple of garage doors for the group photo, and then continued on with the program, to the fashion museum. Here the group split with half deciding they would rather keep shopping and visit a couple more fabric shops, while the rest of us went to learn about the rise of Antwerp as a fashion capital…

… I came home with 7 pieces of fabric: 3 bought, 4 swapped. I had taken 3 pieces to the swap that all went to new homes. I had planned on buying a piece of jersey for another self drafted cardigan, which is the green jersey I found at Moens. I also couldn’t resist a beautiful grey broderie anglaise cotton, I expect this will become another scout tee. I have a thing for jersey scarves, wearing them almost daily to work, so I snatched up a lovely piece of floral jersey at Madame Tirette, and another small piece of blue floral in the swap. The other pieces I picked up in the swap were some blue/grey jersey that will be great for a t-shirt or some other knit top; a lovely light weight brown knit that I think will make a wonderful summer weight cardigan or sweater for travelling; and a huge piece of modern geometric floral green knit, that I have no idea what I will do with, but no one wanted it, and I am sure I will find a good use for…

grand day out @ grt*escp… home and waiting for friends to go out for the evening… I have 30 minutes, my sewing machine is out, so I quickly sew up one scarf, then the next… two down, five projects to go!

grand day out @ grt*escp grand day out @ grt*escp… the (possibly in)complete list of bloggers that met: the fantastic organising committee – Anneke, Lieke, Hanne and Ilse; and the rest – Heidi, Karolien, Ivy, Annie, Sofie, Lieselot, Lieve, Lindsy, Regina, Riet, Caroline, Emily, Eline, Jo, Joost, Kim, Laura… and Erika and Margot who don’t blog…

men with style…

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… not sewing, not crafting, not even DIY or home improvement…

… but I can’t resist sharing this wonderful clip here, so many things that make me happy: bright colors; joie de vivre; people that don’t take themselves too seriously, while being deadly serious about a passion; people overcoming adversity to make the best of what they have; some smooth dance moves; and not included, but I know it is playing in the background, an awesome sound track of African music…

… enjoy, without moderation, I know I will be watching this many more times in the future…

knickerbocker story…

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… tidying up my sewing corner, putting away left over fabric after making my chair cushion covers and T’s bed, and I decided I should really have a look through my scrap box. It barely closes, every little left over bit of fabric is stuffed into it after every project, just in case…

… I recently decided I really should update my underwear collection, I had printed out the Amerson Undies pattern months ago, but when I taped it all together and cut the pattern pieces out I realised it was designed for woven fabric and had seams front and back. I am not a huge fan of seams in my underwear…

… I scurried over to Pinterest, sure I had bookmarked other patterns, and found the Makebra hipster pattern, definitely more my style. I printed out the pages, taped and cut the pattern pieces and then went through my jersey scraps, cutting out three pairs…

… then I went away for a few days, and when I got home I got it into my head I needed a serger to sew them up…

… New Year’s day, shops were closed, Thursday was spent running around doing a million other things, Friday lunch with a friend, then I was heading to the sewing machine shop… a friend called wanting to meet up, I told her “later”…

… I knew what I wanted, I have been researching and dreaming of a serger for well over a year, last January the guy at the Bernina shop demonstrated the virtues of each of their models to me, and I left wondering if there was any way I could afford one… there wasn’t…

… now there was… I could afford a serger, so what was I waiting for? The brown box loaded into the car, I went and met my friend, we went for a walk in the forest, got caught in a spectacular thunderstorm – lightning bouncing off the hail stones that hammered down on us – I dropped her at home and declined the offer of a cup of tea, telling her I needed to get home to do “things”…

knickerbocker story @ grt*escp… home and I sat and looked at the box for a while, suddenly feeling overwhelmed, thinking about all the challenges people seem to encounter with a new serger… was I going to be able to thread it, did I even know how to use it… Finally I got my wits about me, took it out, set it up with only a couple of wobbles along the way. I tested it on a scrap of jersey, decided it was pretty fabulous, grabbed my pile of underwear pieces and sewed them up in an instant…

knickerbocker story @ grt*escp… while I was in the UK I had bought a bunch of fold over elastic, these exotic things I have yet to find locally…

knickerbocker story @ grt*escp… a few days away in Guinea, and all I could think of was getting home to finish my underwear! Yesterday I got out my sewing machine, tested zig-zagging the elastic on some scraps, hoped it would look better on the real thing… and it doesn’t. I have given up! Despite my best efforts, the elastic stretches making the underwear look droopy, not flattering at all… I have put them in the “come back to later” pile… I am so disappointed…

knickerbocker story @ grt*escp

emptying the attic…

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… as a child I spent hours in front of my mother’s fabric cupboard, eyeing all the different colours and designs in her collection, running my hand over the textures, dreaming what I would make with each piece if I was allowed…

… when I was 8 a friend came over to play, I suspect we were driving my mother mad, so she sat us down in front of my sewing machine, a hand powered Singer I still have at my parent’s house, gave us each a piece of fabric, some elastic, and by the end of the day we had matching skirts. I wish I could find the photos of us, standing proud, in matching skirts, turquoise t-shirts, I think I was jealous as my friend had platform sandals, I had boring jesus sandals (it was the late 70s)…

… my parents have moved at least 3 times since I left home, a lot of that fabric had gone, but there were still a couple of boxes in the attic. Home over the holidays, my mother asked me to go through and have a look and see if there was anything I could use. I don’t really need any fabric at the minute, but… I had a look…

… each piece had a story, an intended use, something it was going to be, but never got round to being made into, something it was left over from, there was even a bag of leather scraps… I brought home about half the fabric, persuaded my mother she should use a few pieces, and other pieces were put back in the box…

… I am not yet sure what I will make with it all, I have a few ideas, some may be taken to the meet up later this month to swap…

… one piece I won’t be able to give away is the left over from those skirts my friend and I made all those years ago…

clearing out the attic @ gtr*escpclearing out the attic @ grt*escpThe fabled skirt fabric is the lighter red one in the top left hand image with all the florals. There are a few liberty lawns there too… the turquoise in the top right hand image is a beautiful silk, I seem to remember my mother making an evening gown out of this in the 80s, I was most disgruntled it wasn’t a party dress for me – that I probably would never have worn!clearing out the attic @ gtr*escp

no sheep were hurt…

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… I needed to get a yellow fever vaccination for Ghana, early morning appointment at the hospital, the route to the metro station to get to work afterwards almost passed by Berger fabrics, I decided I could make a quick detour…

… I was looking for fabric to cover my thrifted chair. I didn’t find anything, I did fall in love with some fake fur that had just come in, but decided that there was no way I could carry a bag of that discreetly into the office, so I picked up a piece of viscose for another Renfrew, and decided to come back at the weekend.

… a couple of weeks passed, I hadn’t made it back to Berger which is only open Saturday morning at the weekend, I had a few errands to run, so I took the afternoon off work. I was in the neighbourhood of Berger, I decided to have a quick look to see if they had anything new to cover my chair, before I went to the Stoffenspektakel fabric fair on the Sunday. I walked in to the shop, there was a small piece of the fur I had been dreaming of left, I picked that up and started looking for chair fabric, nothing in the decorating textiles caught my eye, there was nothing in the heavy weight cottons and canvases downstairs in the right colour, I was ready to give up…

… I decided to have a look at the fake furs. I have been wondering what I could make with the fake cows hide for years… then I spotted some fake sheepskin: fuzzy on one side and a cream “suede” on the other, it was soft, sturdy, pale and neutral – exactly what I was looking for.

… I sewed the cushion covers up a couple of weeks ago. I had bought the foam from the same shop I went to for T’s dog bed. I couldn’t find cream zips, so I went for lime green. Who would guess it was a 20€ chair!

no sheep were hurt @ grt*escp no sheep were hurt @ grt*escp no sheep were hurt @ grt*escp

early morning thrifting…

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… soon after I moved to my new place I spotted signs for a “brocante”, a flea market, in my new neighbourhood one Sunday morning…

… I thought about booking a stall as I was trying to take advantage of the move to de-clutter, but decided I wasn’t going to be ready for that, and knew with the amount of work that needed doing in the apartment, sitting on the edge of the street all day watching people drift by eyeing my cast off possessions disdainfully was going to be more frustration than fun…

… the Sunday came and I was up early and off out dog walking. I remembered the flea market, so slipped some cash in my pocket along side my plastic bags…

… people were arriving, unloading cars, defining territory, not even thinking about selling as we walked by. I quickly spotted an orange pendant light fitting I liked. It didn’t belong to the girl guarding the pile of belongings, her friend was just looking for somewhere to park the car…

… as we waited I spotted a side lamp base I liked too… it was also his. We waited some more. Eventually car must have been parked and orange light owner arrived, told me his price, I offered him 40€ for the two pieces, he accepted, then I asked if I could come and pick them up on my way back from the forest…

… an hour or so later, walking back through the market, heading towards my lights, I noticed a wooden chair, cushion-less, in need of a little TLC, but with beautiful lines… 20€ later and it was mine. I asked the guy to look after it while I went and got my lights, left the dog at home and came back with 2 hands to pick it up!

… the lights had been packed into a box, they were taken home, then I rushed back out and went to pick up my chair, hoping he hadn’t sold it a second time to anyone else!

… a not bad haul for before breakfast!

early morning thrifting @ grt^*escp

and we are doing it again…

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… after the great summer Belgian sewing bloggers‘ meet up, the lovely girls from Antwerp are organising a second edition. We will be spending Saturday 18th January drinking coffee, visiting shops, lunching, going to the fashion museum, swapping fabric and notions, and catching up on the past 6 months makes and adventures…

… if you would like to join us, give Anneke a shout, then jump on a train, in your car, on a boat and see you 10 am, Viggo’s coffeebar, in Antwerp in a few weeks! Everyone is welcome, as long as you sew, like to talk about sewing, or like to listen to people talking about sewing!

… I am certainly looking forward to it – and I am sure there will be more laughs than this serious bunch!

one bed is never enough…

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… when I bought the sumptuous fur the woman in the shop thought I was mad when I told her I was going to use it for a dog bed cover…

… with hind sight, she may have been right, as I have no idea how I will wash it, but we’ll deal with that problem when we get there! In the mean time, T go another new bed cover yesterday, and I am quite jealous of him!

… the stripy ikea cover needed to be washed, and as seems to be my tradition, Christmas day is a day to enjoy working on projects, so after a long run in the morning, and after sorting out the final sockets that had been exposed metal with no cover since I moved in in September (better late than never!), decorating my electric switch box with Washi tape and hanging a mirror in my entrance hall, I got out my sewing machine, channelled all the information I had picked up online about sewing with fur, and made a new bed cover.

… I measured the bed insert, lay the fabric on the floor right-side down to measure and cut, T immediately decided that it looked comfortable and settled down on the fabric. He was most disgruntled when I had to move a paw as I cut. Everyone recommends cutting the backing with a x-acto knife or a roller cutter, rather than cutting through with scissors. I certainly found the amount of loose fluff was minimal using this approach. I used some brown synthetic suede type material for the bottom of the cover, I just made an envelope opening. To sew, again following recommendations, I pushed the bulk of the fur towards the inside of seam, this avoids fur getting caught in the workings of the sewing machine and also makes for a neat seam.

one bed is never enough @ grt*escp… the whole thing probably only took an hour or so to make, it has already been tried and tested and met with approval.

one bed is never enough @ grt*escp one bed is never enough @ grt*escp… my plan for the remaining fur was to make a cowl, I have seen such elegant options in the shops, and it really couldn’t be complicated… except clearly my fur is far too stiff and dense, my head disappeared into the tube I made, I didn’t get round to lining it, and I won’t, I will use my failed oeuvre as a cushion cover 🙂