. . . . . . A place to contribute, exchange tips and ideas and find further info on the LDC group on Meetup.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Simply Sewing Magazine

Website link:

What's it about?
Hold on to your bobbins and measuring tapes fashionistias and seamstresses! It's arrived a craft magazine focused purely on fashion sewing to feed your need for expanding your wardrobe. This magazine is full of modern patterns to ohh and ahhh over. I came across this magazine at the last Knitting and Stitching craft show at London Olympia on the 7th March, Over by the centre of the main room there was a stall dedicated to magazine subscriptions. This magazine had an offer on for 3 issues at £3.00 with the first issue free, and a free tote bag.  You're free to cancel after you have received the offer, but I am sticking with this one. The offer is still on I believe, if you head to the website using the link above.

Who is it aimed at?
This is purely a personal view,I'd say any seamstress who has a high interest in fashion sewing over home decor sewing (which many of the major craft sewing magazines tend to focus on). If you're after pure fashion this is the one for you.  If you're after learning about tricks of the trade related to clothing construction and fabric know how this is the one for you.  I would say that this magazine is ageless too as anyone could adapt patterns to personal choice. I would say that the magazine (based on issue one) has projects that are mainly intermediate level (dresses for example) and a few starter projects that are simple like a fabric handbag and a head scarf.

What's exciting to reading in issue 1?

  • Interview with fashion blogger and avid fashion sewer Tilly Walnes from Tilly and the Buttons
  • An upcycle project on how to revamp a baggy T-shirt into a nice fitted Peplum shaped top- very chic
  • Lauren Guthie's '' dress to impress'' pretty Peter Pan or standard collar dress with a free download of the pattern!  link here:
  • A great article '' know your fabrics'' this was a great read to refresh your memory on how different fabrics drape and a good buying guide. Top tips on darts and invisible seams
  • An article by  Portia Lawie, who in every issue takes an item from a charity shop and refashions it. This issue it was a pashmina scarf refashioned into a top.
  • A guide on how to buy a sewing machine.  With an up close look at the new limited addition range sewing machines from John Lewis for just £100.00 bargain! link and pictures below. I've got my eye on the this beauty in the colour Egg Duck but it's out of stock.... May be it's a sign my husband bought me a new machine  for Christmas around 3 years ago I don't actually need a new one.   Can you have too many sewing machines?

When is issue 2 out?
It landed on my door mat this morning :) This is a monthly magazine.

Bottom line, I really enjoyed reading issue one from cover to cover.I feel I made a great choice in subscription to feed my cravings for fashion sewing, learning and continuing to grow as a seamstress in my sewing ability and techniques. I would highly recommend it to all fashion sewers.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Women Fashion Power Exhibition at the Design Museum.

One of the March meetups of the club was a visit to this exhibition, which runs until 26 April 2015.  If you want a chance to look at garments from the late 1800's to the present day and see what women in prominent positions in various walks of life choose to wear currently then this is for you.
Anyone who gasped at the corset making challenge on the Great British Sewing Bee will be intrigued by the corsets shown at the beginning of the exhibition.

This exquisite example of 1895 has a ventilated mid section with no fabric between the boning there.  It makes one realise that fashionable women of this era felt it necessary to wear corsets all the time, even in the hottest weather.  There were further examples of underwear, showing the evolution up to the Lycra girdle, throughout the exhibition.
In the late 19th century some upper class women had begun to rebel against the high fashion tyranny of layers of heavy, voluminous clothing that restricted their movement and ability to lead an active life as revealed in the advent of the Rational Dress Reform and the Aesthetic Movements.  Their simpler styles did not require the abandonment of beautiful detail as seen in the smocking used to shape this dress of the late 1800's.

However videos show that World War I catapulted the changes ahead as the lack of men at home meant women of all classes undertook types of work never open to them before that were previously the preserve of men and which required them to wear appropriate clothing, even trousers.
The following decade, the 1920's, seem to me to be one of the happiest times for the home dressmaker with garments being of a simple cut and loose fit and sewing machines being available.But, as members who have attended some of our special costume archive visits will know, for evening you could go berserk with beading.  Even shoes followed the trend.
And look at the heels!
Moving on to the 1930's the exhibition showed clothes that we might consider wearing  now.  These, as the tag shows, were Elsa Schiaparelli's own.  Wow, what a colour!
  This is a home made outfit for casual wear at a resort, a jacket and what they called "beach pyjamas" but seemed to me rather like a loose-legged version of the cat suit hack in the new Sewing Bee book "Fashion with Fabric".  I love the fabric pattern of the jacket and the way it is applied as a trim.  The simple jacket shape really allows the fabric to take centre stage
Now patterns became much more easily available and, in the 1930's and 40's, were sometimes linked to clothes seen on Hollywood actresses.  I would really like to sew the Ginger Rogers outfit below.

World War II made a difference to style but home sewers came into their own, particularly in this country with the difficulty in obtaining fabric  meaning that one had to find ingenious ways of saving on fabric and creating new clothes out of old ones.   Below you see a trend for exaggerated shoulders,  as though wearing military epaulettes, making the waist appear smaller although not as small as the drawing below seems to indicate it would be.
  With the end of the war  I had expected that we would see some "New Look" clothing on display but what you get is videos of clothes being modeled.  What I enjoyed next was these great skirts.  Don't they make you want to Rock and Roll?
 I am afraid my interest flagged a bit here because the exhibition continued with fashions going up to the present day that are within my own memory, including these by Pierre Cardin and Andre Courreges.

Thus I tended to concentrate on details that interested me such as the cuffs, ruffles and buttons of this Vivienne Westwood outfit.
And the trim on this power suit by Thierry Mugler
But I was electrified by the Philip Treacy hats.

I enjoyed perusing the fashion choices of contemporary women and decided to ask the members who came what they would chose from that section so here are their choices.

Jennifer chose a Prada cream satin cape from the wardrobe of Dame Zaha Hadid.
Erin went for a black silk dress by Zambesi with a green silk jacket by Merchant Archive from the wardrobe of Anna Jones, CEO of Hearst magazines UK.
Tasha went for a cream wrap dress, there was no label for this one, from the wardrobe of Shami Chakrabarti, Director of the organisation Liberty.  There is a front and back view.

And I eventually decided on a wrap coat from the wardrobe of Jiang Qiong'er, CEO of Shang Xia.    There are  no seams on this coat and it is created from Monologian cashmere by felting.
It is interesting that we all went for simple, fairly minimalist styles  and not items such as Lady Gaga's dress made, chiefly, from black polythene bags.  Who would have thought that rubbish bags could be used to create a gown like this?

There is lots more to see so why not go yourself before it closes next month.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Member of the month


My name is Emma Smith, and I confess I'm a fabric hoarder and compulsive sewer!

This is me wearing the Wear anywhere dress by So Sew Easy

My journey started as a child - my mum used to make me and my sister dresses and I had a bag of scraps which I used to hand sew clothes for my Sindy dolls. I progressed to mini hand sewn patchwork using hexagonal blocks and eventually moved on to clothes.
I took needlework o-level (my only "A" grade!), a B-tech in fashion and textiles, finishing with a fashion and textiles degree.
For 8 years after I graduated I worked for various UK manufacturers, designing mainly childrens wear. A job I loved, but the UK retailers priced the UK manufacturers out of the market by using cheap offshore producers and after 3 redundancies I made the decision to change direction I to a more sensible industry.

So that's my potted history.
After I moved into my role in  IT services I continued to sew for pleasure and was lucky to live in a flat where I could have a dedicated sewing room. But once I met and moved in with my husband I no longer had that luxury and in the flush of a new relationship my sewing waned.

I decided that in order to meet people in my new home and to give myself a creative outlet I'd try painting, and spent quite a few years expressing my creativity via watercolour and acrylic painting classes - it was a great outlet away from work and a rear stress buster.

It was the need to shorten a curtain that got me back to sewing. I got my machine out and couldn't remember how to use it! I was devastated as sewing had been a big part of my life and what had shaped my early years and career. Well that spurred me on, I not only got the machine under control but determined to change my creativity from painting back to sewing.
That was three years ago and pretty much tied in with series 1 of the GBSB, and since then there is no stopping me!

So on to what you really want to see - the photos!

I make dresses...

This one is the Sew Over It Tea Dress

 This is the Bella dress that came free with Love Sewing magazine

And this one from Salme - their buttonless shirt dress

I also make accessories:

this was a self drafted knitting needle case as a gift for a friends birthday
 another self drafted bag for my niece

And a cushion for other friends who had their 40th just a few days apart

And things for my nieces and nephew:

I have so many patterns i could never hope to make them all and similarly so much fabric that I don't know what to do with it all. Neither of which stops me adding more to my stash at every opportunity

Hope you enjoyed my story! There's lots to come still as I work my way through my stashes.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Shortcuts for tracing and cutting out

Giselle asked me to pop this note in the blog - thank you Giselle!
Getting all the right equipment has been a quiet obsession of mine in recent years. And an expensive one. Sewing isn't cheap when you decide to do things properly, is it? Even though I sourced my Horn sewing cabinet on eBay, I still had to spend £50 on the insert to fit my ancient John Lewis machine. Even though I sourced my as-new Janome overlocker the same way, I still had to drive across England to pick it up.
Still I am quite proud of my little home-made shortcuts for tracing and cutting out tools.

Cutting tables are expensive. Here in my narrow attic landing - AKA my sewing room - is a six foot long folding banqueting table that I am loving using as a cutting table, laying out table, anything table. Approx £30 from Amazon. The height is not ideal - I have to be careful how I lean over it. 
Have you noticed - tracing paper is ridiculously expensive? We all have our shortcuts for this problem. I read on a forum that gardener's fleece is good. This is a floaty but surprisingly strong stuff on a huge, huge roll used to stop plants getting frost damage. Prices vary but £19.99 for 100 metres is normal. It is 1.5m wide. You can see it sitting on the left hand side of the table which I have cleared of all stuff, as I am about to trace a pattern. 
It is the Renfrew top from Sewaholic. I have made it in size 16, I love it but it is quite large so I want to try it in a size 14 using a great cotton jersey from Goldhawk Road with Jackson Pollock splashes all over.
So I lay the pattern pieces on my table:

And then with a swift, graceful yet decisive movement as of a Downton Abbey maid changing the bedsheets of a dissolute aristocrat, I just whisk the gardener's fleece over my pattern pieces and weigh it down where I need it weighed down, using a set of 16 50ml cosmetic jars filled with lead shot (used for fishing tackle) all also obtained on eBay. Not as lovely as Matt the Sewing Bee's polished stones, but serviceable. We all have our own priorities for cutting weights and mine were: cheapness and flat bottoms. 

You can see from the picture above how the gardener's fleece is so fine that you can barely see it there. A cinch to trace over - and so cheap I do not feel obliged to save little bits and corners of it. The odd yellow thing with white spots is the bag I made to keep my weights in - it is sewn from some hand-batik-ed curtain fabric which we salvaged from the  house I grew up in, and it was made by an artist friend of my parents  in the 1950s. I have several pieces of his fabric which I am very attached to. 
I then traced my pattern pieces and cut them out. I have to say, I wish I hadn't used a black Sharpie pen this time as now I have little black marks all over my new cutting table where the Sharpie has gone through the fleece. Last time I used a ordinary finliner pen and it was perfectly adequate, and left no marks. You live and learn. 

Saturday, 14 March 2015

London Dressmakers Club Fabric Shopping List

Fabric shopping definitely seems one of the most popular of our events.  I am trying to compile a list of shops and markets in the London area and expand it to other areas of the UK and even abroad for who knows when you might find yourself in another town with fabric shopping time on your hands.

This is a rough initial list of the more inner London area, which I hope to expand to include haberdashery and trimmings.  I am having difficulty getting everything on the blog without making the print tiny  and I have had to leave off the comments section, which indicates any particular features, so I have marked in red those that are more expensive, some of which have couture level fabrics.   That said MacCulloch and Wallis are selling off some stuff prior to their impending move.

 I shall be printing out hard copies of an expanded list for those who have paid their annual membership fee to bring to any group meetup I am going to attend, the next one is on 22 March at the Design Museum.  If you are an annual member and want a copy please say so in the comments section of that particular meeting so I know how many to print.  In the mean time  please let me know of any shops, stalls or areas that you know of to go on the list.

 South of the River Thames

Opening Hours

Fabrics Galore
52-54 Lavender Hill, Battersea, London SW11 5RH
Monday to Saturday  9.30 to 17.30

Simply Fabrics
48 & 57 Atlantic Road, Brixton, SW9 8JN
Monday to Saturday 10 to 18.00.

Rolls & Rems
111 Lewisham High Street, Lewisham,
SE13 6AT
Monday to Saturday .  Mon to Weds & Sat 9.00 to 17.30 Thurs & Fri  9. 00  to 18.00

Wimbledon Sewing & Craft store
300 Balham High Road, Tooting,
SW17 7AA
Monday to Saturday Mon to Thurs 9.00 to 17.20, Fri 9.00 to 16.50, Sat 10.00 to 16.50.

34 Market Row, Brixton, SW9  8LD
Monday to Saturday, precise hours not known

Tooting Market
Near Tooting Broadway Tube station
9.30 to 18.30 Mon to Sat except Weds closes 17.30

North of the River Thames

Opening Hours
Shaukat & Co
170-172 Brompton Road, Kensington, SW5 0BA
Monday to Saturday 10.00 to 19.00
Rolls & Rems
21 Seven Sisters Road, Holloway, N7 6AN
Mon to Fri 9.30 to 17.45, Sat 9.00 to 17.15
Rolls & Rems
9 The Concourse, Edmonton Green, N9 0TY
Mon to Sat 9.00 to .17.30
Woolcrest Textiles
6 Well Street, off Mare Street, Hackney,E9 7PX
Mon to Sat- possibly 9.00 to 18.00
Crescent Trading
Unit 2, Quaker Court, Pindoria Mews, 41 Quaker Street, E1 6SN
Mon to Thurs, Fri 9.30 to 14.00, Sun 9.00 to 1400.
 Closed Saturday
Dalston Mills Fabrics
69-73 Ridley Road, Dalston, E8 3NP
Mon to Thurs 9.30 to 17.30, Fri 9.30 to 18.00, 
Sat 9.00 to 18.00
Walthamstow Market
High Street, Walthamstow, E17
 Tue to Fri 8.00 to 17.00, Sat 8.00 to 17.00
Ridley Road Market
Ridley Road, Dalston , E8 2NP
Mon to Fri 9.00 to 17.00, Sat 9.00 to 17.30
Goldhawk Road
Near Goldhawk Road or Shepherd’s Bush tube station
Mon to Sat.  Individual opening times of shops not known
Mermaid Fabrics
364 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1 HR
Mon to Sat 9.30 to 17.30, Sun 11.00 to 16.00
Joel & Sons
73-85 Church Street, NW8 8EU
Mon to Sat 9.00 to 17.30
Berwick Street Cloth Shop
14 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0PP
Mon to Fri 9.00 to 18.00, Sat 10.00 to 18.00
The Cloth House
47 & 98 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 8SJ
Mon to Fri 9.30 to 18.00, Sat 10.30 to 18.00
Borovick Fabrics
16 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 0HP
Mom to Fri 8.30 to 18.00, Sat 8.30 to 17.00
The Silk Society
44 Berwick Street, Soho, W1F 8SE
Mon to Fri 9.00 to 18.00, Sat 10.00 to 18.00
MacCulloch & Wallis
25-26 Dering Street,W1S 1AT
 (moving to Poland Street in April 2015)
Mom to Weds & Fri 10.00 to 18.00, 
 Thurs 10.00 to 19.00,
 Sat 10.30 to 17.00
Jasons’ Fabrics
310-3120 Edgware Road, Paddington, W2 1DY
Mon to Sat- 9.30 to 18.00
Paul’s Fabrics
2 Watney Market, Commercial Road, E1 2PR
Mon to Sat 9.30 to 17.00
 (  may be later as their website says to 18.00)
Stitch of Wanstead
10 Woodbine Place, Wanstead, E11 2RH
Mon to Fri 10.00 to 17.30, Sat 10.00 to 16.00