Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Great British Sewing Bee - Series Two


Have you been watching the Great British Sewing Bee? If not, get to it - I'll wait!

Seriously, the show is fantastic! I fell in love with the show in Series One and was so excited when they not only came back for Series Two but they DOUBLED the number of episodes. That's right, twice the sewing awesomeness! (oh and there is a Series Three planned too - woo hoo!!)

I love that the contestants are competitive but also seem to develop genuine friendships - the sewing room seems like it would be an amazing space to sew in (not to mention the haberdashery!). In addition, Claudia does a great job hosting the show and Patrick and May always have good feedback for the sewers garments. I'm sure I'm not the only person to critique my sewing and think, "I wonder what May and Patrick would say about this?" Well, maybe it is just me ...

So, I would suggest that if you haven't already, make yourself a cuppa and settle in to watch the show. You would regret it!

Also, the finale was this week, so Googling "Great British Sewing Bee" is likely to produce hits that tell you who won. So if you want it to be a surprise, don't Google it and go straight to the BBC site!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fabric shopping in Singapore

You might want to get a cup of tea before you start reading this post - I've included as much detail as possible and the post is very pic heavy!


View from my hotel room (level 37 of Swissotel Stamford Plaza, Singapore)

At the start of March I had to go to Singapore for 10 days for work. It's not quite the same as a holiday but I certainly made the most of my time there - especially since we were there for a weekend! What did that mean? Fabric Shopping!!


My shopping plan

I did some research before my trip, which included the following links. Kat from All the whimsical things also gave me some great suggestions when I put a call out on twitter for suggestions (thanks Kat!).


So when Saturday rolled around, I was ready to head out to the following (there are more places listed on notabilia but these were my shortlist):

  • Arab St (nearest MRT station Bugis) - I planned to just explore the shops here, with Alta Moda and Collezione definitely on my hit list. The stores I purchased from are as follows:
    • Kadir: 116 Arab St (Tel: 62 945 787). Beautiful quilting cottons and other cottons. Cash only.
    • Aladdin's Exclusive: 110 Arab St (Tel: (65) 6398 0944). An assortment of silks, laces, polyesters at varying prices. I was sold $5 'silk' which I knew was really polyester but the prints were lovely so I wasn't too fussed. Still, buyer beware!
    • At this stage, I decided stopping at every shop would take me all day ... so I moved onto my must visits!
    • Teng Joo: 102 Arab St. I only browsed and was so overwhelmed by the rolls and rolls and rolls in large containers. I'm told the prices are cheap but nothing was labeled, so I wasn't sure what was what. I'm sure there are gems to be found but it would require some time and patience to dig!
    • Alta Moda: 92 Arab St (Tel: (65) 6296-7117, email: sales@altamoda.com.sg). Some seriously stunning fabrics. Silks (non-branded, Valentino, Pucci, Ungaro, to name a few), suiting and shirt fabrics upstairs (including Ermenegildo Zegna, Roberto Di Camerino and Lanifico Di Tollegna, among other designer labels) and some Chanel fabrics. Anita served me and was lovely and incredibly helpful.
    • Collezione: 99 Arab St (Tel: (65) 6292 5755, email: farooq@quattro.com.sg). Gorgeous silks from Italy and Korea. Also had some lovely linens.
  • Jalan Sultan Textile Centre (200 Jalan Sultan). Three floors of sewing supplies and also an amazing looking suit fabric supply store. Not all stores are open on a weekend, so weekdays are better however I still found plenty on a Saturday. The places where I shopped were as follows and only on the first floor. I found out after I left that there were 2 more floors!
    • Sing Mui Heng Pte Ltd: #01-27 (Tel: (65) 6297 0211, email: sales@singmuiheng.com, web: www.singmuiheng.com). Haby galore! Overlocker thread, a huge range of buttons down the back, Swarovski flat backs, all sorts of tools and notions, some items in bulk (e.g. box of 12 tailors chalk).
    • Sin Hin Chuan Kee Pte Ltd: #01-08 (Tel: 6298 8622). Stocks the largest range of overlocker threads that I saw. Also stock a HUGE range of YKK zippers. I only bought some trouser zips in basic colours but next time I'll take swatches and zip length for overlocker threads and zips. I wish I had a photo of all the zips - it was awesome!
    • Sungai Industrial (S)Co Pte Ltd: #01-10 (Tel: (65) 6294 2642, email: sungai@singnet.com.sg). I think this is more of a supply store for store owners, however I did find some label rolls with '100% Polyester', 'Dry Clean' etc... They were out of '100% silk', '100% wool' and '100% cotton'. She said they could get more in within 2 days but with work I couldn't go back.
    • RSK Singapore Pte Ltd: #01-35 (Tel: (65) 6292 7433, email: rsk_singapore@hotmail.com). I only browsed briefly but they have a HUGE range of wools for suits and cottons for shirts (including some designer labels - I saw a lot of Dormeuil, among others). It's about 3 stores wide and rows and rows of fabric on bolts. I didn't end up buying anything and don't know the prices but next time I will go here first for suiting fabrics.
  • People’s Park Complex, particularly Nicolexavier shop number 02-1138 (in Chinatown - I took a taxi and ended up in People's Park Complex next door. Look for shop numbers on level 2 that are in the 1000s (e.g. #02-1138). If there are in the 10s or 100s, ask for directions. Most people weren't sure but the guy at the security desk was very helpful! Once you arrive, you'll know because it's an entire floor of fabric stores.
    • You could spend a whole day exploring the shops here. I was getting tired by this point, so I just browsed briefly then high-tailed to Nicolexavier.
    • Bee Bee Textiles: #02-1136 (Tel: 6533 9490). This was right next to Nicolexavier and I just happened to find a knit that I liked.
    • Nicolexavier: #02-1138 (Tel: (65) 6532 7856, email: xavierng@singnet.com.sg). A good range of Linton Tweeds (the mill where Chanel gets their boucles from), Liberty tana lawns and other designer fabrics.
    • I ran out of time and energy to go to Spotlight at Plaza Singapura (MRT Station Dhoby Ghaut, then follow the signs to Plaza Singapura - level 5) but I had a brief look the following day. Basically the same as the Aussie stores!
  • I also stumbled across Joe's Tailoring & Fashion Design and noticed that they have some great fabrics for suits and shirts that they can tailor for you or you can buy by the metre. I was particularly interested in the Thomas Mason shirt fabrics. I stopped by the one at 50 Market St, Singapore 048940 (Tel:+65 6225 0686, closest MTR is Raffles Place)

Sewing purchases

And now, the photos of my goodies!!

Kadir

Left: Peruzzi Collection Italian Cotton Double - beautiful drapy cotton
Right: Quilting Cotton that will be used for a dress

Aladdin's Exclusive

  
$5/m 'silks' (actually polyester)

 
Border print polyesters and polyester jacquard (both with gems)

German Lace

Alta Moda

 
Amazing wool suiting fabrics.
Left: Super 180's Ultrafine wool Made in Italy by Roberto Di Camerino. This has a very subtle Prince of Wales style check, including red lines. Unique and beautiful.
Right: Superfine Australian wool for Ermenegildo Zegna. Seriously soft and drapey - a stunning fabric.

Left: Valentino tissu (chiffon). So light and flowey - just devine!
Right: Emanuel Ungaro crepe-y chiffon

Chanel wool coat fabric

Collezione

 
Left: Dilara Seta Pura - Italy, Right: Enzo De Luca Seta Pura - Italia

 
Left: Lana Bellucci Seta Pura, Right: Pure Silk

 
Prima Donna 100% Pure Silk Satin and matching chiffon (over my hand)

Sing Mui Heng Pte Ltd

Overlocker thread, lots of shirt and pant buttons, 2 types of tailors chalk and a pattern notcher

Sin Hin Chuan Kee Pte Ltd

Overlocking thread (in colours I like and use but can't find in Australia) and YKK zippers for pants

Sungai Industrial (S)Co Pte Ltd

From memory these were around $5-10 a roll (depending on the size)

Bee Bee Textiles

Knit fabric

Nicolexavier

Left: Cotton Jersey, Right: Cotton Sateen

I can't remember what this is made of but it's lovely!

Linton Tweed and a trim for a Chanel inspired jacket

Summary and Singapore shopping suggestions

  • If you can shop on a weekday, that is what I would suggest however most places are still open Saturday. I'm understand that most shopping districts are closed on Sunday and I'm also told that the shops in Arab St close early on a Friday.
  • Most stores are open 10-5, although some open earlier at 9am. If you can, get out early before it gets too busy.
  • Plan ahead - work out which shops/areas you want to visit and how to get there. A taxi is always an option if you are unsure but I saved the taxis for getting my goodies back to my hotel. The MRT is also an easy way to travel - just work out which station is closest to your location.
  • Take a list of what you want/need. It can be easy to get overwhelmed when there are sooo many stores. That being said, sometimes you find fabrics that you may not 'need' but they still manage to follow you home!
  • If you have specific zips that you need, take fabric swatches and the zip length. The zipper variety at Sin Hin Chuan Kee Pte Ltd in the Jalan Sultan Textile Centre is huge, so make sure you know what you need!
  • Since the overlocking thread colours are limited in Australia, I would take fabric swatches and stock up on overlocking threads in the stores in Jalan Sultan Textile Centre.
  • Check your baggage allowance before you travel. Fabric is heavy. Just saying :)
And finally, some tourist-y photos from my trip!

Marina Bay Sands from across the Harbour

Big Prawn Laksa from 3rd Generation (Stall No 2) at ION Orchard - seriously delicious!

The view from 1-Altitude, an open air bar on level 63 with a spectacular 360 degree view of Singapore from 282m

 
The view from New Asia Bar (Level 71 Swissotel Stamford Plaza, Singapore)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Learning to Crochet

So I've been sewing and knitting for awhile now and I kept considering learning to crochet. Then I thought, do I really need another crafty hobby? Turns out, I do!!

It all started when I was perusing Ravelry and I kept finding cute patterns. Unfortunately for me, they were crochet patterns (ok, so there are cute knitting patterns but the grass is always greener, you know?!)

So, a few weeks ago when hunting for a stitch and b*tch group near me I found a meetup group that is literally in the next suburb. What are the chances, right?! So I looked at their upcoming meetups and discovered they were running a couple of intro crochet evenings. These classes covered making 2D and 3D flowers, including chaining (casting on) and then double stitches (using UK terminology) in class 1. Then class 2 included treble stitches to make granny squares and hexagons.

So without further ado, here are my class makes!

2D and 3D flowers from my first Crochet Class 

Granny Squares and Hexagons from my second Crochet Class


Between classes I wanted to practice a little and found YouTube to be invaluable. My previous attempts at learning on YouTube were a bit of a fail but once I'd learnt the basics in person, I found that understanding videos much, much easier. So after playing around with a few stitches, I started on a ripple scarf using the Neat Ripple Blanket tutorial over at Attic24 (also on Ravelry). For the sample size, she suggests 31 (2x14 +3) and I decided to go a bit wider to 45 (3x14 +3) and I'm using Morris Estate 8Ply. For more project details, head over to my Ravelry.

My first 'real' crochet project - a ripple scarf


Sunday, February 10, 2013

It's raining Sorbettos!

Here they are finally ... my Sorbettos! I'm still trying to work out the best way to take photos of them, since I have a tripod but no real camera and getting someone to take them when the sun's up is proving challenging! I thought I'd try a few options and whilst they aren't great, they are confirming that I need to buy a real camera! At least, that's the excuse I'm going to use ;)

 On my display only dressform (i.e. not my shape at all!)
 
Love the pleat down the front!
 
Pretty sleeves :)
 
Check out that concentration!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Sorbetto Pattern Adjustments


Taped up downloaded Sorbetto pattern

So let's get to the details! I patch-worked the print-at-home pattern and traced it off onto pattern paper. Then it took quite a few pattern alterations to get it to fit well, so I thought I'd detail the pattern for anyone else wanting to learn to alter to fit themselves better.

Sorbetto Pattern Alterations
Based on initial measurements of the pattern, I realised that the top would be way too short for me. I started by extending the length of the of the bodice in two places - at the notch by 9 cm and then at the hem for another 2 cm, giving me a total of 11 cm extra (see, way too short!)

I then looked at the width and identified the need for an FBA, before sewing up my first toile. When I made this up in my first fashion fabric, I decided to add some subtle waist-shaping that is also shown below.

Front and Back adjustments

The first fitting highlighted the need to make a few more changes - I extended and increased the size of the dart to remove some more fullness and identified the need to alter the back as well to remove a little fullness, so I introduced a centre back seam. This made it much easier to remove this fullness.

I also lowered the sleeve, as I was finding it was cutting into my underarm a little. It was only slight but still worth the adjustment.

In the second toile, I decided to drop the position of the dart as it was sitting slightly too high on me. I only dropped it by about 1-1.5cms, keeping the angle the same.

Shifted dart down (pink is the original placement, blue is the new placement)

Sleeve Pattern Alterations
I decided to make my first version with sleeves, using the free sleeve pattern made by Mena at Sew Weekly and then updated by Sew, Incidentally).

I measured the sleeve against my altered Sorbetto and realised that it was too small, so I assume the free pattern was for a smaller Sorbetto size. So I did a bit of slashin' and spreadin' to make the sleeve the right size.

In the image below, you can see the method I used. I marked the lines on the pattern to show where I wanted to cut the sleeve up and number each piece so I wouldn't get confused. I then marked a line on another piece of paper (pink line) and used this to line up the lines. I then split the sleeve up by 1 cm in 5 places, as per the yellow lines, based on the amount of additional sleeve I needed to fit the bodice of my pattern. In order to ensure the sleeve head was still well-shaped, I raised the middle sections by either .5 or 1 cm. Once I had the graded sleeve, I re-traced this onto another piece of pattern paper. I smoothed the edges out as I retraced and then re-confirmed that the sleeve would fit correctly.

Sleeve adjustments

When I made up my second toile, I found that the sleeve kind of stuck out (like little wings!), so I pinned out the fullness in a couple of places. I then transferred the changes to the pattern and started cutting out my real fabric!

Final sleeve, showing removed fullness

Final patterns with all adjustments

Once I'd made this up in my first fashion fabric, I found that the neckline was wider than I liked and also lower at the back than I would prefer for work tops. So for my second version, I altered the neckline by raising it at the back by 5 cm and at the shoulders by 2 cm. I didn't alter the front neckline at all, as this was perfect already!

Neckline alterations (front and back)

Neckline alterations close up
Finished tops to follow shortly :)