Status

Instagram Announcement

Evening friends!

This is just a quick post to tell you I’ve got a shiny new Instagram account:

@just.keep.sewing

Why the transition? I realised I was trying to do two incompatible things with one account: 1) have a private space for work/life photos and 2) have a public space for sew/craft projects. Either family and friends were being spammed with a bazillion dresses, or makers/designers/sewists I tagged couldn’t see what I wanted to share, or both. Fails on all fronts, BUT NO MORE!!

So come follow me at @just.keep.sewing and together we can skip into a sunset of mutual sewing geekery. Happy days.

Siobhan xx

Roadtrip

I’m sharing a little Rwanda love today: I was lucky enough to have some of my family here a few weeks ago, so I took time off and we went on a roadtrip together. We saw hills and volcanoes, tea plantations and coffee washing stations, Africa’s biggest montane forest and beautiful lake Kivu stretching out to DRC. This really is the most incredible country.

At the end of the trip, we went to see the gorillas. We got up with the sun and trekked up through the forest for a couple of hours before arriving at the clearing where our group was hanging out. It was mid-morning so they were lazing around, snoozing, playing and sleepily munching on something that smelt like wet celery. It felt like we’d just stepped into their home, but the guides had this amazing way of constantly communicating with them, making low calming grunts and getting low grunts back – all ok here. It was incredibly special to be so close these huge, beautiful animals and I couldn’t stop noticing the hands and feet and eyes, which are so like our own.

I loved their poses too. That last one is total swimwear magazine material right?? Anyway, I won’t bore you with the 800 other photos but suffice it to say that Rwanda is incredible and if you ever get a chance to visit, you really should.

Sewing-wise, it’s been a fairly busy month. I am battling with the Grainline tiny pocket tank, which I so want to be a wardrobe staple, but the fit just does not want to play ball… We’re taking some time apart while I re-assess what the issue might be through extensive googling/lurking other sewist bloggers… In happier news I’ve got another BHL Kim to share. Remember I bought some special waxprint fabric a few weeks ago? For a long-distance joint project? No? No matter, you can read all about it over on The Monthly Stitch 🙂

Siobhan xx

Summer Southport Dress

Way back in February, pre-Kigali, M and I took a little trip to Paris. Having been several times before, we didn’t plan much. Our only scheduled activities were brunch at The Pancake Sisters (sooooo good) and a Studio Ghibli exhibition at Le Musée Art Ludique. Apart from that we just wandered and ate and shopped and explored and it was glorious. I was restrained in my fabric-buying, I just wanted one really special piece, a memento of our lovely weekend. I found it at Anna Ka Bazarre. This beautiful, supersoft Atelier Brunette cotton batiste, covered in tiny triangles.

What then followed were six months of being too scared to cut in to such lovely fabric, instead saving it for a pattern that was juuuuust right. In the end I settled on the Southport Dress, a newish pattern from True Bias.

The Southport dress is beautifully drafted, with very well-written instructions. It looks like a simple make but there are lots of lovely little details, like bar tacks across the pockets, which make it more of a challenge. I took my time, enjoying the process, working through each step carefully. The only frustration I had was inserting the bindings. I think my mistake was to use shop-bought cotton binding, which was considerably more substantial/stiff than the lovely fluid batiste of my dress. I went carefully, understitched, clipped, pressed etc. But I still got gathers and puckers and had to unpick bits at least 4 times, and they still don’t lie totally flat. I’m hoping they might soften a bit over time/washes, but we shall see. Takeaway nugget – if in doubt, make your own binding, fool.

Anyway, binding niggles aside, I am in LOVE with this dress. It is every bit as breezy and summery as I’d envisaged. I didn’t make any major fit alterations, I just graded between sizes based on my measurements and took out some length to account for my stumpy legs. I’m really happy with the fit, but be aware there is a lot of gathering, so stick with something lightweight fabric-wise. The buttons came from my new favourite haberdashery cupoard/shop in Town. I added an extra one because I was worried about potential gaping, but this wasn’t really necessary.

The fabric is just dreamy to wear. So soft, so flowy. I now want it in every other pattern/colourway. Next time I’m in Paris…

Siobhan xx

P.s. These photos may look all sweetness and light, but I had to stop mid-shoot to stamp on the most humungous cockroach, which was scuttling towards a crack under the back door. Keeping it real yo.

Waxprint Washi Dress

I’m not going to preface all my makes this year with “wax print” I promise, but the alliteration was just too much to ignore. Before we start, I’ve put a few more (better) photos of the Kigali fabric stalls on my shopping post, because I was back there again last weekend, this time for an exciting long-distance team project on The Monthly Stitch (expect more on that in August).

SO.MUCH.CHOICE

For my second make with my new wax print stash, I went with a pattern I bought a while back but had yet to make up – the Washi Dress by Made by Rae. It has this unusual cutout neckline, and ruching at the back to give a flattering fit, without buttons or zips (WIN).

Construction was fairly straightforward. I made a muslin and decided to add an FBA to give the ladies more room. I came a cropper however when I got to the ruching part and realised I didn’t have any elastic thread. I was so sure I had some, but clearly I either never did or just didn’t pack it or whatever. Either way, a crucial element was missing and I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to find something so niche in Kigali. BOO.

In the end I decided to improvise by zigzagging strips of thin elastic instead. I would say this worked pretty well. The busy print disguises the zigzag stitching and the overall gathered effect is pretty similar. However, the gathers are considerably more firm than I think they would be with elastic thread, leading to a little, erm, squishing in the front.

Apart from that though, I’m happy with this dress. I like how the the silhouette is accentuated by the stiffness of the cotton. Love those StarTrek-esque cap sleeves in particular.

I definitely want to try this pattern again, with the elastic thread next time (ordered for delivery via my next guests). I also downloaded the expansion pack. I think the sleeved version would look lovely in something soft and billowy. Ah sew-scheming, my favourite pastime…

Siobhan xx

Aside

Small-but-Mighty Kigali Haberdashery

I was in Town last weekend and snapped some photos of this tiny haberdasher’s. From the street it’s a just a little doorway, with a few trims and supplies bursting out around the frame.

You have to wiggle inside, being careful not to elbow over stacks of stock (or other customers). It’s a long, thin cupboard of a place, but well worth the effort. Every usable space is crammed with supplies.

If you’re Kigali-based and needing thread, zips (regular or invisible), buttons, binding, trims, ribbons etc. This is the place!

You can find the haberdasher’s at number 42 KN 2 St. The same street as the fabric stalls.

Siobhan xx

Waxprint 2-Piece Playsuit

Over on The Monthly Stitch (lovely online sewing community), June is Indie Pattern Month 2015. Each week has a particular focus and last week was “New to Me”, where the challenge was to sew something from an independent pattern designer you’ve never used before.

I went with Katy & Laney’s fabulous tap shorts, sewn up in recently-purchased waxprint cotton, with gold pleather piping. Inspired by the 2-piece playsuits I’ve seen popping up all over the inter web, I paired the shorts with a cropped shell top in the same fabric.

For more details check out the full post over at The Monthly Stitch.

Siobhan xx