Monday, 10 December 2012

Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

I wanted to do a post on the amazing flea market that I came across whilst on my adventures in Paris.
Both Me and Clare are avid bargain hunters and also love  seeking out vintage and antique finds so were keen to check out what  Paris could offer.We we so glad we did when we came across the vast  sprawling market complex that is Les Puces de Saint-Ouen

 Legend has it that this complex of no less than 14 separate markets first came about  approximately 200  years ago when street hawkers and rag and bone men started  selling their where outside  the city walls of Paris.

 It was developed in 1885 when the streets were paved and areas specially designated for market trading. Now holding over 2000 stalls it is one of the largest antique markets in the world. 

To be honest the outer stalls  are nothing to shout about and are very much like any town or city market across Europe selling  fake designer goods and copied dvd’s etc. But as we got further into the complex the curiosities and bricant stalls started to take my fancy  and I was left wishing I had a car to  take home all the treasures I came across.  

 Then came the real treat, further within the market   are the  antique haberdashery, fabric stalls and   vintage sellers and it was a good job i was on a strict budget because there was so many things that took my fancy. I am quite a shy market  shopper and am always a bit hesitant to ask the price of items  but  everyone seemed friendly and  a came away with a few treats to use in some upcoming projects.

I would defiantly recommend looking  Les Puces de Saint-Ouen up if you are ever lucky enough to be  in Paris, I think I probably saw about a third of the markets so it's worth dedicating at least a day to rummaging around if you can and also get there as early as you can as it does get busy in the afternoons.  I will certainly be going back to stock up  again, the amount of beautifully  fabrics and trims I found  make me think I could probably justify a  trip to Paris just  for that reason! 

If you are going to check it, out hear are a couple of good sites and posts that will give you more information about  the markets  - good sumary  of the market and a breakdown of the various areas - the official website of the markets - though i could only get this up in french today. lovely post with a really clear map of the different areas.

 I always find these sorts of places a great source of inspiration  as well as  a fab place to stock up supplies of one off fabrics and trims that you don’t come across on the high street. It has made me wonder how many places like these are  closer to home and am going to enjoy seeking them out and report back with any I come across. Xxx

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Hello again!!!

Two chic chaps in paris !!

 I've been absent off the blog for quite a while,  I'm very new to blogging  and so I'm still trying to find my feet and work out what I want it to be about.

      Fear not though I haven't been idle, my sewing machine is still whirring and I have got my teeth stuck into a good few projects.

 Also I had a wonderful and inspiring trip to Paris with millinery friend Clare
 My lovely freind  Clare looking glam

  It was great to explore the  less touristy parts of paris and  stumble upon  a couple of amazing places for fabric and supplies which I intend to  blog about  very soon because trust me I was in danger of spending a serious amount of money.

Me, not  looking quite so composed as Clare !

       I thought you might be interested in seeing a couple of the pieces I have been working on.
   This is a hat that I originally blocked about this time last year and had been sitting naked and untrimmed on my bookshelf gathering dust 

I needed a new hat for winter so I used some of the silk flowers I made practicing new techniques and some left over  fabric  from a previous project to finish it off  lined and everything.

The silk flowers themselves are another project I have been working on recently.  I was given a lovely Edwardian  millinery book for  my birthday this year and it has a huge section on how to make silk  and ribbon flowers , so over the last couple of months I’ve started working my way through them picking out the flowers that take my  fancy and  temporally  decorating Margo my poupee with them until they  eventually find a home on a hat.

    Here she is sporting a couple of my more recent creations I think she has a slight Freda Kahlo  feel to her.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Book Talk- Contemporary Quilts by Sandra Meech

After my mini foray into patchwork recently  a friend leant me Contemporary Quilts by Sandra Meech. 
This book gives a introduction into contemporary quilt making. The blurb describes it as  "as an essential too for quilters and textiles artists who want to break away from traditional designs... " It focusses on the artistic side of quilt making rather than  the basic principles of traditional quilting and gives a good insight into how to plan and develop a contemporary quilt.

The first part of the book discusses  where to get inspiration for your quilt, looking at areas such as elements of the natural world , architecture or even emotions and experience and also touches upon how you can use your own photographs or images to inspire your pieces. It then moves on to discuss how to create different surfaces to use within your work before discussing  composition  and colour principles.

I especially like the  areas where it shows you how to take you own original art work and apply this onto your quilt.

The last section has a more practice focus discussing the different techniques  of how to apply stitch creatively into your quilts using techniques such as appliqu├ęd and embroidery in a contemporary way and then also  briefly discusses  quilt construction techniques.

The book does appear to have been written with a competent quilter or textile artist in mind and assumes that you already know the principles of the craft. Personally I think the most appealing thing about this book is the beautiful image of the various work it shows on every page.  Its a book that I can will defiantly call upon when I'm in need of some guidance with my creative work , and I think the principles discussed can be applied to may other projects as well as quilting

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Getting my sights on a prize!

Well I have been doing pretty well  at maintaining my motivation over the last few weeks and doing this blog has a lot to do with that.  But as I move on with more projects over the last few weeks I  want to  ensure that this doesn’t drop off as I  find other things to talk about here and therefore  feel that I don’t need to push so hard with my own projects.Obviously the thought of having a wardrobe unique and handmade wardrobe s a big motivator  but I still think I may need a further  boost to get me even more motivated!
image from 

For a long time I have been longing to have a dressmaking dummy. Whilst in Uni we  used the gorgeous traditional  a Kennet and Lindsell tailor's dummy like the one above  and  I have missed not having one around especially when I come up with ideas for  items that I can’t find a pattern for and don’t feel that confident with my own pattern cutting skills just to make it on the flay. Now alas as the K+ L models are custom made to a specific  measurements  and are  completely out of my budget  so I think it would be sensible to have an adjustable one.  Apart  from the expense I can only just about get away with my ever expanding collection of millinery equipment and  hatboxes I  don’t think a collection  of dressmaking dummies in a variety of  shapes and sizes would be  tolerated!

So I have promised myself that if I have completed a total of 8 more sewing projects ( not including the dress I’m working on at the moment )  by the end of November  I will  treat myself  to an adjustable dressmaking dummy as a Christmas present to myself.
image from 
Now on a practical note I think this adjustable one  with legs would be perfect as it   means I could do shorts  leggings and trousers as well as  dress and skirts . 

Floral Adjustable Dressmakers Dummy
image from
However the girl in me adores the slightly more aesthetically pleasing  floral patterned one.  I suppose I should air on the side of practicality I can always make a  cover for it.  Anyway before I can get distracted by  finding the perfect one I better get back to the sewing! Xxx

Thursday, 9 August 2012

A new project begins!

Well I have finished my patchwork project, I am no longer calling it a quilt as it has actually turned into a cushion instead.

Halfway through the project I had a feeling that something was not working and I started being reluctant to work on it. After laying it on the floor  I realized that I didn’t actually like the fabrics I had used and they didn’t work cohesively  together as a quilt.

Determined not to  gain yet another abandoned project I realized that although it was not destined to  adorn a bed in quilt form it would make a rather  quirky cushion so using the  squares I had made I adapted the layout slightly and have now completed it. I am much happier  with the finished result of a cushion  and have  learnt  a lot in  the process.

Next time I attempt a quilt I will defiantly take more consideration  with my fabric choice and colour scheme and   will take the time to  design the overall pattern  layout of the quilt and plan it out  so I know what each square will be before I even  cut the fabric. 

Completing the patch work project has defiantly made me feel a lot more  confident about my machine sewing skills and I now am at my most comfortable  sitting at my machine so I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I have already moved on to my next project .

After rummaging in my  vintage pattern collection I have unearthed this lovely pattern from 1980 to use.  I have opted to  make up  the red dress  as I prefer the shorter sleeves and  am not too fond of patch pockets.


So after selecting this lovely fabric to make it up I ready to get started again. Wish me luck xx

Friday, 27 July 2012

Patterns from the Past

Just a quick post today as I'm steaming along with making progress on my quilt. I've been having a dig around  to see what I could do for my next project and came across a few  vintage sewing patterns I picked up over the years. 

I really love vintage clothes  and think that using vintage patterns are a really great way to  get a authentic vintage look whilst giving the opportunity to have  unlimited choice in fabrics and colour. 

I especially love these night and lounge wear patterns, theirs something really luxurious about pretty well made lounge wear but truly vintage pieces are really hard to  come by.

After re-finding these at home I started having a bit of a window shop online  to see what's on offer to extend my own collection of patterns. These are some contenders that I am dying to purchase:
40s -McCall No.6561- Womens classic style button front dress with optional sleeves and collars.
available at 

Fifties Vintage Sewing Pattern
available at

available at*%20AND%20pants&ss=194*%20AND%20pants&n=9997

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

My Quilt in Progress

I thought that I would give you a bit of an update on  my progress on  my quilt.

I’m really enjoying making it and am learning a lot as  I go.  I’ve already got ideas on how I would make it differently if I was do it again and have already got some ideas for other patchwork projects in the future.

Here is a of picture of my progress so far . As you can see it is a bit of a mishmash of fabrics,  basically as this is my first attempt I’m taking the frugal approach and using remnants of fabrics from other projects and also some old clothes that I liked the pattern of. I'm keeping the structure very simple using a four square centre block and then a border of  two rectangles.

 This probably isn’t traditional or correct but  I just wanted to keep it as simple as possible to get  started. I think the biggest challenge coming up will be to work out how to piece it together to get some semblance of balance  with the colours so it looks  appealing.

During this  project I have been searching around for examples of more adventurous  patchwork quilts  and block ideas to inspire me for future projects . Here are some of my faves

Image from image originally sourced from courturier magazine.

image from

Image from quilt made by  Elizabeth Chapman dating from 1829. Photograph: V&A Images 

The thing that I love about all these quilts is the complexity of the different component shapes within the quilt block structure meaning that no matter how may different patterns or cours are used within them the overall rhythm and feel of the quilt comes from the intricate shapes used instead.
Well mine may not be anywhere near as beautiful or complicated but its a great starting point for further projects.

Let me know if you have any hints or tips about patchwork quilts  ( especially the actual quilting part as this is the bit i'm finding most daunting ) or if you have any project ideas you would like to share.

I'll keep you posted on how my quilt is going very soon.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Glimpse into the past

I was browsing the magazine shelves of W.H. Smiths a few weeks ago when I found this little gem calling to me.

 I should admit at this point  if  there is a magazine or a book with a hat on the front I will pick it up and delve inside just as I have a tendency when I see a  hat in a film I have to pause and inspect it and then slow down the credits at the end to see if they credit the milliner. 

Well on this occasion I  was rewarded by this idiosyncrasy, as inside was a delightful collection of cuttings from 1930's fashion pages.   

Titles like  "Hands up for Winter" showcasing the latest fashions in gloves, and "Hats that change your character" as well as  handy tips for beauty and the home give a wonderful insight into a bygone age. 

However, what made me actually made me take it home with me ( after paying  obviously ) was the beautiful photographs  showcases the style of the age. 

I have a real passion for  costume and historic dress and the 1920's and 30's hold some of my favourite styles, knowing that I would  come back  time and again to these images to draw inspiration told me that the £5.99 spent on this book would make it a sound investment for my future projects. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The cobwebs are blown off !!

Well I am   pleased to report that my first project the bolero I  mentioned  on my last post  has been completed.

I made it from the fabric of an old skirt I had as I love the colour and the lace. I have to admit it wasn’t as   easy as I thought it would be .

I had never sewn in a lining before ( shameful I know but it was a job I have always managed to avoid ) so  it did take a couple of attempts insert  and at one point I thought I had just twisted it into knots.  

 I now feel confident that I could  attempt a fully lined  jacket  so look out as this could be a new  project post  very soon.  

I have now moved on to my next project a  patchwork baby quilt. There are a couple of reasons for me tackling this. Firstly  having made the bolero I realised my sewing accuracy could do with sharpening up and what better to do it with than a project that has  literally hundreds of seams to sew. Secondly I thought that it would make a rather lovely gift  and as I have a lot of pretty  fabric pieces left over from college and other projects  it would be nice to see them in good use.

  I’ve just got started on this project by making the patterns for the squares and, selecting the fabrics  and hopefully will start  sewing it over the next few days

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Dusting off the sewing machine

My lovely vintage sewing machine has been gathering dust for far too long, In fact over the last  few months it’s primary role has been as a scarf rack!

sewing machine scarf rack
set up and raring to go

So after much trepidation it is time to blow off the cobwebs and get it stitching again.

I’ve got so many project ideas swimming around my head at the moment it can be a bit a bit daunting knowing where to start. Over the next few weeks I intend to post up all of my creative endeavours including the current collection of clothes that I am currently pattern cutting.

However to start me off and get me on my way I have decided to try this simple shrug featured in last month’s Making magazine

It seems fairly straight forward to construct (famous last words) and therefore hopefully should be a nice piece to get my teeth into.

   I will post up my pictures of me working on it and  the finished outcome when its done, let me know what you think  Wish me luck xxx