Mustard and navy stripes – Burda Feb 2013

So, I am obviously ripping off channelling Zoe with my latest sewing efforts. She has just posted a rather delicious outfit with exactly the same colour scheme as this one.

In my defence, I did sew this skirt about 4 months ago, but winter has thwarted my photo taking efforts.

Honestly, how do other bloggers do it? All these smiling outdoor photos. I reckon I spend a maximum of 2 hours outside per week at the moment. Most of that is spent bundled up in an enormous coat, hat, gloves, and scarf, walking briskly from bus stop to house/office, so photo taking is minimal. (My vitamin D levels are also very minimal at this point.)

skirt and top
This pleated skirt is made from a vintage pattern and sewn from the huge Peter Jensen haul that I’m still working through.

I’m not convinced about this pattern & fabric together. It’s a lovely colour but an odd weight – doesn’t pleat well, just crumples like old paper instead. After seeing these photos I’m tempted to remove the pleats and turn it into an A-line. It looks so sad and droopy.

I used some lovely wooden buttons, actually sent to me by Zoe (told you I was stalking her). The pocket flaps are fake, which I normally hate, but they’re so cute and 70s I couldn’t resist adding them.
skirt 3
The top is from Burda February 2013. Melissa made a great version here.

You may notice my, ahem, design detail of an extra stripe down the front. All I can say is, if you’re running short of fabric, double check which pattern piece is the front and which is the back BEFORE cutting.

There’s no use in feeling smug about how well you’ve matched up the stripes on the back, if that smugness gives way to a sinking realisation that yes, that’s actually the front piece you’ve cut in half and sewed back together.

Ah well, I think my solution basically works. I just cut out a single stripe and top-stitched it over the join. And it meant I could make this top out of just one metre of striped jersey from Tissu Fabrics.
skirt and top 2
Incidentally, Collins Wonder Tape is the best thing ever for stripe-matching on slippery jersey. Just stick the pieces together and sew away! I bought a roll a year and a half ago in the US, and I’ll be stocking up when it runs out (it’s also amazing for zips, hems, and blind top-stitching facings).
In other news, I have GIANT HANDS.

I might also be going slightly crazy from lack of sunlight. Please send cod liver oil tablets, and/or a 2-week Caribbean holiday.

Google Reader rage

Google, this is the last straw.

I’ve tried. I really have. I signed up for a Google+ account – I even uploaded a photo. Of course I never used it because it’s rubbish, but the thought was there.

I’ve put up with the constant ‘why not use your real name on Youtube? Why not? It’s fun! Go on now. Come on. It’s grand. Oh go on. Please? Okay we’ll check next time’.

But killing Google Reader?? What the fuck, Google?

All those people saying that you can replace it with Twitter feeds or Facebook – they are idiots. Twitter is like going to a party where loads of strangers are talking non-stop and very loudly. You might learn something interesting, more likely you just get a headache.

Google Reader is blissfully free of ‘viral’, ‘curated’ content. Everything’s there because you want it. It doesn’t look like a magazine, there’s no flashy pictures, you’re not supposed to flick through it. It’s for efficiently consuming vast amounts of information all in one place, the way nature intended.

I wasn’t even a so-called ‘power user’. On average I read about 33 items a day.

google reader

There are people on this Metafilter thread who have read more than 300,000 items.

Anyway I guess this is a really long-winded way of saying you can now follow me on Bloglovin instead.

I guess I’ll get used to Bloglovin eventually. It has a stupid name and forces you to view people’s content on their overly formatted webpages, but whatever. That’s fine. I’ll learn to love it.

In other crap news, here’s the weather forecast for the next week in London:

photo 1

I know these are trivial problems in the grand scheme of things. So to finish on a less miserable note, here are some reasons to be cheerful instead.

These are all on top of the standard ‘living in one of the richest countries in the world and never having to go hungry’ kind of thing.

Yorkshire Tea. This flows through my veins instead of blood.

– New and awesome trenchcoat pattern from Sewaholic

– Spring will come eventually, I think, and with it the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A

This video still exists and makes me laugh every time I see it

Any more cheerful thoughts would be appreciated.

Two recommendations: Other Stories and Alec Baldwin

Not much sewing or photography going on around here at the moment. I’ve got two recommendations instead.

Other Stories

This is the new clothing brand from H&M (they also own COS). I went there last weekend with Julia from the Secret Life of Seams to do some impromptu shopping. Reader, I loved it.

Now, I also love COS. The clothes have amazing detailing and little touches that you appreciate more if you sew (hong kong seams! appropriate lining! pockets!). But sometimes it’s a bit ‘severely avant-garde Japanese librarian’ for me.

On the other hand, I never shop in H&M. I just can’t take it. When I was younger and had more stamina I did appreciate their good range of basics, and the fact that everything comes in a few colours.

& Other Stories, ridiculous over-branded name aside, is like if COS and H&M had a baby, and it was the most perfect baby shop in the history of the world. Seriously, nearly all the clothes are amazing. They’re not as severe as COS can be, but they share the same ‘basics with a twist’ aesthetic.

I really want this jumper
I really want this jumper

Check it out if you’re ever mad enough to go to Oxford Street! Even if you prefer to sew all your own clothes, there’s enough inspiration there for a whole new wardrobe.

Recommendation number 2: Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin

Are you a podcast listener? It’s been too cold for me to cycle lately, and my default bus strategy is to arm up with listening material so I can block the coughing of the other commuters. After burning through all my usual podcast suspects, I found this one with Alec Baldwin.

Check out Alec's pout!
Check out Alec’s pout!

It’s great on so many levels.

Alec is the most terrible interrupter I’ve ever heard. He loves to pounce mid-sentence, mostly to introduce a bizarre anecdote from his own personal life. This is usually a tale about his ex-wife (ie. Kimg Basinger), or his kids, his current wife and how young and pretty she is, or various directors he’s fought with over his career.

The best fun is when he has a strong-willed interviewee who won’t let him interrupt at will. You can almost hear him searching frantically for an opening so he can shove his oar in. His frustration is palpable over the airwaves.

He does get some interesting chat out of people, in between interrupting them. I enjoyed this session with the NYTimes Executive Editor. She has the most extraordinary accent I’ve ever heard. Americans, where does this lady’s voice come from? She draaaaawwwwlllls out her words for such a long time that even poor Alec can’t get a word in edgeways.

I also very much liked this interview with Patti Lu Pone. If you haven’t heard of her, she’s a legendary Broadway star who sang the title role in Evita (think Elaine Paige but cooler). She’s also the biggest luvvie I’ve ever heard captured on audio. She actually starts sobbing with emotion in the middle of the interview, just because he mentions the first play she was in.

After hearing this I bought her autobiography, which is a fine read if you’re in the market for more highly-strung shenanigans. It includes an extensive slagging-off of Andrew Lloyd Webber, an overview of theatre dressing-room ghosts, and a explanation of how to un-curse yourself if you say the word ‘Macbeth’ in a theatre. Recommended (that’s a sneaky bonus third recommendation for you there. You’re welcome).

Burda 7863 version 2 – brown jeans of glory

I made some more jeans! Hooray!

Once again, I’ve totally struggled to get any decent photos of these. I couldn’t wait any longer to show them off though. Hope you can get the general idea.

brown jeans 1

Burda jeans

They’re made of brown fabric from Mandors in Glasgow. According to the label it was used by Burberry to make jodhpurs, and it really is ridiculously stretchy. It’s almost like a cross between a jersey and a woven, with great recovery.

Top-stitching on fabric as stretchy as this was what you might call an interesting experience.

pattern pieces

My pattern pieces look so terrible. I must get them traced off. I am embarrassed to admit I used brown parcel tape in desperation when I lost my scotch tape. Do you trace off your pattern pieces? I didn’t even realise that was a thing people did until this year. Shameful.

I made a few alterations from last time, including scooping out the back curve a smidgen, shortening the crotch by 2cm both front and back, and attempting a tiny bow leg alteration at the knee.

brown jeans 3

brown jeans 2

You can see I’ve still got a few folds under the bum but generally I think the fit is a lot better. Not sure what those drag lines are on the back thigh but I’ve decided not to worry about it.

trousers and hair

I used a new find, a double jeans needle, to do most of the topstitching. These jeans were total THREAD HOGS. I used up two and a half spools! Of course I managed to sew over the metal zipper halfway through construction and broke my lovely and expensive new needle, but it was fun while it lasted.

Like last time, I sewed them in a different order to the pattern envelope – first the inside legs (and topstitched), then the fly, then the outside legs (and topstitched down to thigh level), then the back seam.

I copied the pockets from my RTW Uniqlo jeans again and I’m super happy with them.

brown jeans back

I wasn’t sure if these jeans would get worn or not. It’s all because of my school uniform which was brown and ‘camel’ (ie. sickly yellow). If you made it to A-levels, you could wear any clothes you liked, as long as they were brown, white, or cream. I’m sure you can imagine how uplifting we all looked sitting in the sixth form common room. Truly a rainbow of beige.

Anyway those two years put me off brown for life. I think the last time I wore trousers of this hue I was 16 and off to see Blur at Bournemouth International Centre dressed in my best corduroy flares.

But times have changed! Damon Albarn is not nearly as fresh-faced, I can buy a pint without any fake ID, and I no longer have to worry about revising for my maths GCSE.

So I think these jeans have broken the curse. It helps that they’re unbelievably comfortable. I’ve already planned the next version in bright blue stretch twill. And this time I’m thinking RIVETS. Oh yes.