Lisbon Lovelies!

I’m feeling very guilty for neglecting my blog for the last month but happily my excuse is I’ve been off exploring and having fun in the sun! Amongst my adventures I saw a lot of beautiful new places, some favourite old places, eaten yummy Portuguese food til I nearly popped (seriously I put on 7lbs in 2 weeks!! Thankfully 4 of them have fallen off again after being home for a week so I only have 3 more to declare war on!) and have discovered the only water sport I am not afraid of – I am in love with Stand Up Paddle Boarding!!

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Whilst in Lisbon I did find time to sneak in a little sewing related shopping too. Mr Coconut had denied all knowledge of where the fabric shops of Lisbon might be located and ‘forgot’ to ask his mother (who happens to be a dab hand at dressmaking) as I think he feared losing hours of vitamin D time to my fabric musings. However, fate was clearly on my side and my sixth sewing sense guided us down a road off the main avenue and low and behold there were 6 or 7 little haberdashery shops in a row! They were beautiful old fashioned shops wall to wall with wooden cabinets and drawers full of treasures. If you’re ever in Lisbon seek out Rua Da Conceicao – just to give fate a helping hand.

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I managed to be quite restrained and just bought some buttons. They did set me back about €30 (oops) but they are truly beautiful glass buttons and I will love and treasure them forever. The large ones with diamante stars look kind of art deco like to me. I was planning to use them for a swing jacket but I might have to research something more Great Gatsby inspired now that I have that in mind.

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New Fabric Makes Me Very Happy!

As mentioned in my post from Wednesday here is a little peak at what I purchased at the Fancy Silk Store. I used to love coming to this shop when I was at Uni (back then I was usually looking for plains to print on) so am very happy to be back within regular shopping distance. From the outside it is a pretty unassuming looking place but once inside you could lose yourself for hours amongst the 4 floors of fabric loveliness – especially if you are having an indecisive day! The pic below is just one corner of the ground floor so you will see what I mean when I say I was spoilt for choice…

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…it is literally packed floor to ceiling. Now imagine that corner x 4 on the ground floor (which holds mostly dressmaking fabrics) and multiply that by another 4 floors (one for furnishing fabrics, another for bridal and occassion and the 4th I can’t even remember as I usually get side tracked before making it that far!).

I only had a few mins to spare of my lunch break on Wednesday so had to make some pretty snap decisions. First up I went for a blue batique cotton with my forthcoming holiday in mind that I plan to make into a second Hazel. My next choice was this floral which I am planning to use for my first ever Laurel. It was a bit more expensive than the batique but I fell in love.
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As you can see I was obviously having a bit of a blue day! Now the only decision is which one to start on first this weekend?? Any tips for a Laurel first timer would be much appreciated! :)

Birmingham Antiques Market Treasures!

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I had the best day today that I have had in a very long time. I have not stopped babbling away with a happy grin on my face since I got home 5 hours ago! I woke up early and the sun was shining as I headed off to the antiques market that is held once a month on a Wednesday morning at Birmingham’s Rag Market and Outdoor Market (the usual markets are every Tues, Fri and Sat where you can find a wealth of fabrics and haberdashery amongst most other things you could ever possibly want!). The antiques market is advertised as being from 7.30 to 1.30 but in reality by 10.30 some of the traders were already packing up so if you arrived much after 11 it would be slim pickings! I found some amazing things and fell in love with an old dentists wooden carry case with loads of little drawers just crying out to be filled with trims but alas it was beyond my budget. Here a few of the pics I took to give you a flavour of what was on offer…

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You will see a poor old sad and very dusty Singer sewing machine in a bucket amongst that lot which I was very tempted to rescue! I also saw an amazing 1950’s dress with a little lace overlaid piece that buttoned up at the back over the top of the main dress which I am hoping to use as inspiration one day for a dress when my skills are up to scratch!

So that was what I didn’t buy (sadly I had to be sensible about my budget)… but here is what I did buy (hooray!). The buckle clasps were £5 for all 3! They’re so pretty I can’t wait to put them on something! The patterns were 50p each – I’m hoping all of the pieces are there but not a great loss if not. I got the 2 short necklaces and the brass hands bangle all for £10 and splashed out £18 on the longer necklace as I fell in love with it (as I often do, hence my large collection of costume jewellery!)

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My early morning market stint was followed by a very productive comp shop for work, a cheeky lunchtime dash into the Fancy Silk Store (more on that in my next post!) and an afternoon putting some awesome samples together in the office. I am one happy little coconut today!! :) Let’s hope tomorrow is just as good… I see the forecast says rain but I live in hope!

My First Hazel Dress… Thank You Lauren!

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Whilst watching the Great British Sewing Bee I had confidently decided ‘I can do that’. I got out a pattern I had bought some time ago but not got around to making and got to work. Two weekends later and I had a dress with sleeves, a collar, a zip, some slightly untidy but not bad for a first attempt sleeves and excitedly put it on… only to find it looked something like a sack. Something had gone very very wrong along the way with fitting, ease, seam allowances and who knows what else to end up quite so far off in size from the measurements I started with! I took it round to Mama Coconut to see if she could help make some magic adjustments but after half an hour and hundreds of pins the conclusion was that I need to take the arms out, the collar off, the top apart from the skirt, the side seams in… the list went on and essentially I needed to unpick the entire dress! Feeling deflated I couldn’t bear to do it right then so tucked it back into my bag. A couple of months later it is still hiding in disgrace at the back of the cupboard.

For my second attempt I decided I needed a little help to get things right and rebuild my confidence. Having been to the opening of the Guthrie and Ghani store owned by the lovely Lauren of Sewing Bee finalist fame I checked out the website to see the workshops on offer and booked myself onto the Summer Dress course.

The course includes a copy of the Colette Hazel pattern to take away as well as Laurens expertise to guide you through from start to finish for two Saturdays. I learnt so much more than you could ever get from a book. Having someone show you all the little tips and hints and (most importantly for me!) show you how to fit and adjust the pattern as you go along is worth it’s weight in gold! The studio above the shop is also an amazing space to work with huge windows pouring in light and original oak beams overhead.

A work in progress... I need to get me a machine with the amazing scissor function at home!

A work in progress… I need to get me a machine with the amazing scissor function at home!

Having 4 other sewing enthusiasts there in the group learning the ropes and helping each other through (and laughing at each others machine cursing) was a great experience and meant we all learnt from each other along the way. We each had a beautiful new dress at the end of today and could barely contain our excitement as in turn we finished the hem and dashed straight to the loo to put it on! The first one finished prompted a round of applause from the rest of us!

Two lovely new Hazel's!

Two lovely new Hazel’s!

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I know we will all be at a loss as what to do with ourselves next Saturday morning. I’ve purchased the Colette Laurel pattern and plan to make a start on that so that I don’t get sewing withdrawal symptoms. If I’m feeling really enthusiastic I may even get the disgraced dress back out of the cupboard and try to put it right! It won’t be quite the same though on my own in my little spare room :( At least I can look forward to posting a picture of me in my new Hazel dress in Lisbon in 5 weeks time!

Just needs a final press!

Just needs a final press!

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New Make-Up Bag for my Beautiful Sister

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I made this last night for my sister who had eyed up the one I made for myself at a workshop at The Sewing Café in Hinckley and subtly mentioned that she needed a new one. I usually try to use vintage and charity shop fabric and clothing finds to make my Coconut pieces but this fabric is new – I spotted it in the market and fell in love. I did add a vintage lace trim though which came from my Grandmother’s collection to make it more special and add sentimental value for my sister so I’m hoping she will treasure it!

Sunday’s Are Made for Pyjama Days

ImageBeing impatient and not wanting to wait until the weekend to go fabric shopping I visited Mama Coconut on Thursday evening on the hunt for some fabric to make myself a pair pyjama bottoms.  Her little house is like a tardis of treasures.  I thought I had already exhausted every possible hiding place whilst rummaging for other projects but low and behold she lifts up the lid of a blanket box and reveals a stash of beautiful vintage striped cottons that belonged to my Grandad.  He took a tailoring course in the 1950’s and used to make all of his own shirts.  Where he found the time around working night shifts at Cadbury’s, providing for his young family and his other hobby photography I will never know!  But I do remember his sometimes rather loud taste in shirts – one particular yellow/orange/brown 70’s striped affair sticks in my mind.  Testament to his strong character that he could carry it off!  I’ll have to look for some photographs of him in his shirts next time I am there.  For now though I’ll just give you a peek of the 1950’s candy stripes and navy blue pinstripes that I picked out for some his and hers PJ bottoms that are currently under construction.  Hoping to finish them off today so we can get on with some serious Sunday lounging…