Sunday, 7 February 2016

A Century of Style Exhibition at Kelvingrove

Back in Glasgow for the weekend, Sprogzilla and I decided at visit "A Century of Style - Costume and Colour 1800-1899" which is on at Kelvingrove Museum until the 14th Feb. All the clothes were chosen from the Museum's collection of European fashion with emphasis on clothing from Glasgow departments stores and some gorgeous Paris gowns

I had wanted to go to this as I had heard it was fantastic and wasn't disappointed. There was some stunning exhibits. Unfortunately both my DSLR and my phone really struggled to cope with the extremely low lighting so apologies in advance for the fuzzy photos. 

Anyway,  take your glasses off, screw up your eyes and join me in taking a blurry look at some of the fancy frocks.

All the exhibits were grouped by colour and  I have to say that some of the dresses looked really vibrant and fresh. Maybe if I stay in the dark I will look as good as them at 100+.

There was lots of interesting information about the dyes used and how the use of synthetic dyes allowed using previously expensive colours like purple and red to be available to the working classes.

I loved the attention to detail and tone-on-tone embellishments They weren't shy with a ruffle or two especially on the bridal wear.

Mentioning the Better Pictures Project after you have seen this sorry lot might seem a little silly but I had a go with Adobe Lightroom to try to redeem all the dark shots. Just worked out how to change the white balance on the last photo! Typical.

Anyway after too many dodgy photos I am going out with The King who is alive and well and performing in Kelvingrove.

MOR has left the building.

Sending you lovely lot best wishes. 

K xx

Sunday, 17 January 2016

You Keep Coming Back Like a Song - OOP Burda 9910

Well I am going to start off the new year with a blast from the past - Burda 9910, a unisex child's jacket.  Seriously, I made this for Sprogzilla when she was tiny, maybe three, and I found it when I was cleaning out some stuff that I have had in storage. I absolutely loved making this jacket - it's Burda 9910, sadly now out of print.

It was a very quick and easy sew. I actually made this twice but can't find the other version in red fur with purple tips. I am sure I still have it, I loved this too much to throw them out. It is on my small dress form which is set for a UK8 but was the smallest model I have. Sprogzilla is now taller than me.

I used fake fur that I bought in the market in Wageningen in the Netherlands where we used to stay, lined with grey polyester fleece from the same market. The front closes with a separating zipper.

There are very few pattern pieces. You make up the outer and the lining the same way and just join them together with bias binding. Plus raglan sleeves. Easy peasy!

Look at the cute pockets. Just the thing for little cold hands.

Anyway, a short post but if you have small children to sew for then I can't recommend this pattern enough. It's definitely one to watch out for if you can find it on eBay or Etsy.

In other news, I have started a new job and am staying away some nights per week. Not ideal but I have no choice and it keeps the wolf from the door. I have still not unpacked my sewing room completely and will probably take a machine up with me when I am a bit more settled. I am really missing Sprogzilla. She is my world.

Nothing really doing here apart from work. I bought some new fabric in the hope that I can get sorted in the next couple of weeks and ordered a back-copy of Ottobre 2014 - they sent me the wrong one!
I got 2013 but will just order it again as 2013 has some nice blouse patterns. I will trace them out this week. I have traced out McCall's 6696 but just have o do the FBA. I hate tracing so having nothing else to do at night is really spurring me on.

Well I had better get my skates on as I have to travel tonight. Boo! Hiss!
Hope that you are all okay wherever you are in the world.


Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A Year in Five!

Well it's that time of year again! Gillian over at "Crafting A Rainbow" is hosting the "Top 5" 2015 roundup.  Doesn't seem 5 minutes since it was last year's!  I really enjoyed the process of writing this post as it's given me a chance to reflect on what's been achieved over the last year and plan what I would like to do next year. Plus, I can read other people's, nosey old baggage that I am! 

As I have had very little time for sewing the last couple of years then this will be another composite post of all my hits, misses, highlights, reflections and goals. PSA: It might be a bit long.

#sewingtop5 - The Top 5 of 2015!


When I first sat down to write this I really couldn't think of much that was a hit for me this year but then I realised that I have made some items that I have actually worn, have had a fair bit of success with FBAs and done way more blogging than last year. All wins in my book. I love the Colette "Mabel" pattern and have fabric to make some more. I also wear my "Gertie" pencil skirt although the sizing is miles off. 

Mabel, I will make you again. What an awesome pattern.

Sprogzilla's quilt was cut out and sewn together. I had been collecting the fabric for about 10 years. Just to back, quilt and bind it now. I might have it finished before she starts Uni.

I also managed to sew my three garments for my "Vintage Pattern Pledge", although didn't quite manage the additional three that I added on. They're cut out and one is almost finished. Does that count? Plus, I got to dress up like Frida Kahlo and take silly selfies in my bathroom for the Simplicity Blogger Challenge. That was a lot of fun, way out of my comfort zone, and I love the top that I made. When I wore it to work it got loads of compliments. 

Off topic but I have been very lucky travel-wise this year. Work commitments have taken me to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and, closer to home, London (with a quick trolley dash round Goldhawk Road). I been very lucky to visit some fantastic places and work with some fabulous people. Of course this meant that I have had the chance to pick up the odd sewing mag on location and even a bit of fabric or two- it would have been rude not to. This will be all change as 2016 means a new job and potentially very little travel. Hopefully, I will still be able to do some in my summer hols (or actually have some proper hols for a change).


Moving was both a hit (yay, being home!) and a huge miss - I gave up the Studio. I will miss it until the end of time. The people were great, lots and lots of talent floating about and I really blossomed working there with everyone's support. I cried when I left. I am an old soppy really.

The GBSB3 Silk Tee top an almost but not quite. I need a bigger FBA but what's new?

Another miss was my machine giving up on sewing buttonholes. All my others are vintage and don't do much bar a straight stitch or a zig-zag, although they do this beautifully. I have a pile of things that need finished. Going to have to bite the bullet and get a new machine in 2016. I did buy a vintage Singer buttonhole attachment but have been too scared to try it. Have any of you used one before? Is it easy?


Actually getting some sewing done was a huge highlight. Plus, my work colleagues, my studio colleagues and blogging. Being able to interact with fellow sewing/vintage lovers is great. It can be pretty lonely as the only seamstress in the village. 


Loving the lights on the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow City Centre

Do you know that writing this blog has really helped me make the decision to move back to Scotland. Having no time to sew was also a big "con" for me and the realisation that I was too tired at the weekend to be much use to Sprogzilla.

An oldie from NFW back when I had the time to draft my own patterns AND sew. Really hoping to be able to get my creative mojo workin'  again this year. This is one of my faves.

I have had plenty time to think about sewing though and I have realised that instead of making stuff from patterns that I am happiest creating my own. I love just pootering about doing random things with fabric. I am going to try to do this more and see where inspiration takes me.


Goals in my book are good to have but have been, for 2015 anyway, mostly unobtainable. Just to recap my goals for the last year were:

  • Sew with knits.
  • Teach a corsetry workshop.
  • Have one day a week sewing time.
  • Sew a few things from my vintage pattern stash.

To be fair I did achieve about 2.5/4. Pretty good going I think but it's impressing no one.  I didn't get round to teaching the workshop so maybe I should do some tutorial posts instead? Do you think that anyone would be interested? I might just do them anyway, rebel that I am. It has been a while and will be a good refresher as I am well out of practise.

Another self-drafted oldie. It's squint on the mannequin who is called Kylie as she was bought from the Kylie exhibition when it closed at Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery (which was great BTW).

So  for whats it's worth my 2016 goals are:

  • Spend more time with Sprogzilla. She has discovered the joys of Cosplay so there will be sewing for me us. We have conventions/costumes planned already (apparently). There could be armour. 
  • Blog more, it's fun.
  • Sew a work wardrobe - this will include scary trousers.
  • Kick over the traces and sew what is in my head. Life is too short to be boring (except when you need to be - see above).
  • Sew more knits. I will conquer the perfect knit pencil skirt pattern.
  • Tackle tailoring - I would love a new coat. 
  • No stress, no deadlines, no commitments - sewing should be fun.
  • Tackle my garden.
  • Decorate the whole house, including new curtains which I will sew.
  • Do some non-work related travelling.

Anyway, cheers for reading this far. Huge thanks to everyone that has read or commented on the blog this year. I really appreciate it and hope that you will stick with my ramblings in 2016.

Here's wishing ye aw' the best an' lang may yer lum reek!

Kelly Xx

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Up-Cycled Cushions, Cat Photobombs and an Overload of Cheese

Hello! I haven't been doing any sewing this week but I have got some unblogged things I have found to show you, starting off today with three cushions. Very boring I know but one is made from a vintage curtain that I bought for 50p in a junk shop in Newcastle. 

It was only a single one, was really dirty and smelt strongly of smoke. Such a terrible smell. Mum's house was very badly damage in a fire about 20 years ago and the memories invoked by that smell are horrible, plus it is so hard to get out of textiles. As it was a whole 50p I took a punt and after a good soak, followed by a good old-fashioned hand scrubbing and an air on the line, it came up like new.

I think that this fabric is from the 1960's. There is nothing on the selvedge to say where it is from or the date but the style is pretty typical. The single curtain was made from 2 widths of this fabric. It is not very wide or long, I maybe have a couple of metres of it in total. It is backed with a remnant from John Lewis. Always have a good rummage in the curtain department when I am passing. They sometimes have small bits perfect for backing cushions. This one is a fine hopsack in a sort of brick red colour. It's not a perfect match but the best I had at the time.

I also bought the fabric for my next cushion back from John Lewis but I bought it off the roll and at full price too. I don't know what came over me. It is a nice, deep chocolate brown hopsack in an upholstery weight.  

The front of this cushion was salvaged from a sample book of home dec fabrics that I was gifted from a friend of a friend's interior design shop in Newcastle. They gave me so many books, most of which had been stored in a lock-up, some for years, and were a bit damp and slightly musty. Getting all the fabric into useable condition was a lot of hard work. The covers of the books were removed and the paper labels torn off the fabric pieces. These were then soaked to get the stuck on paper bits off, scrubbed & rinsed by hand in super-hot water to freshen them up, followed finally by a wash in the machine. It worked well, although some of the pieces shrank a bit. Better than going in the bin though. I have those bags that I found when I was moving still to do. It is a hard, manky job but I hate the thought of all fabric going to waste *cough, fabric hoarder, cough, cough*, especially posh fabric.

This fabric is Designers Guild cut velvet. I love the design, it is a bit dark and gothic but the pattern is highlighted with gilt and gold paint offset from the velvet. I only had a piece the size of the cushion front.

The final backing fabric was squeezed out of some black cotton velvet remnants that I had from making a skirt. They had been lurking for about 10 years and were just enough to make this small cushion. The front is a small piece of Nina Campbell fabric. 

I think that this looks quite cute. Talking of cute our rescued kitty, Mittens decided to photobomb my pics this morning. I think she was thinking her owners were mad for using the rug as a seamless backdrop. See I have been paying attention to my "Better Pictures Project" homework. I tried to use natural light for these pics but it is quite harsh and washed out a lot of the colour. I played about with the saturation on Photoshop to try and get the colours as close as possible to reality.

Mittens gets into everything but absolutely hates posing for the camera (phone).

In other news I was in the office for my last official day this week, still got 2 weeks to do at home and a shedload of stuff to finish. While I was down I went to "The House of the Trembling Madness", which is a mediaeval pub above a very good beer shop in the city centre. It is so cute and really tiny. I had the most amazing cheeseboard, so many different kinds. They also have lots of craft beers and very quirky decor. I heartily recommend a visit if you find yourself in the area. They seem to be very fond of taxidermy. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "Wall of Death".

Anyway, enough of the cheese *aha*, just look at that wee face. No wonder he looks worried!

Hope that you are all having a great week. 
Have you been sewing? Or just avoiding the wet/sun? Been out anywhere noteworthy?
I have found some stuff I made Sprogzilla when she was wee so will post that soon.
Take care.
K xx

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Between a Rock and a Dear, Green Place!

I have been MIA for a while now as you all know I was moving house. However, it has ended up not in the direction that was planned! I had to make the very tough decision that Birmingham was just too far/way too expensive to commute home to Scotland every week. So rather than see Sprogzilla grow up over Skype I packed up the Studio and bits and bobs and headed back to my house in Glasgow. I moved at the weekend and  am now buried under a sea of bags and boxes and have no idea where anything is. Normally things are a bit more organised than this but moving was very last minute and rushed. Plus, I had pretty much a whole van full of fabric and machines and sewing stuff.  How is that even possible? I did find a couple of big black bags full of posh home dec fabric samples I didn't know I had so it was not all bad. My sewing room to be is about 1/6th the size of the Studio, eek!

Black bag, anyone?

To be really honest, the last couple of years of commuting have been corroding my soul. I was leaving the house just after 6am and not getting back until 9-10pm each night, if the trains were running on time *hahaha*. Although this move was a bit painful I am really looking forward to getting my life back, spending quality time with Sprogzilla and getting back on track with my sewing. I have only had at most one afternoon a week spare if I was lucky (and not travelling further afield).

What my sewing room currently looks like. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall.  The hall, dining room and downstairs bathroom are also full of my sewing stuff. It's rammed in there. Did I mention the garage? Oops!

It's great be back in my own house on a permanent basis and I am planning a raft of redecoration and changes so in warning there might be some home-dec projects on the go. I know that some people hate them, hence the warning, but I love making things for the house and up-cycling crap furniture. Every room is needing completely redone so watch this space. I have been stockpiling kitsch junk for the last 4 years (who am I kidding, forever).  :)

I will be back sewing as soon as I can excavate a machine!

Hoping that you are all surviving the wet, wintry weather (or the baking Summer heat0!

Later Lovelies,


Sunday, 15 November 2015

1940's Couture Wedding Dress from Greensmith Downes, Edinburgh.

Bloody Hell! Talk about best laid plans! I have been the living embodiment of "gang aft agley" the past few weeks.  Sorry not for posting for a bit. I am mid-move so everything is up in the air (or in a box). So with all my machines out of action I would like to show you a bridal set that is probably the jewel of my vintage stash. I think that it really is museum worthy. It is an original late 1940's couture wedding dress, designed and made at the top Edinburgh department store, Greensmith Downes.

Dress tied at the back. Such a beautiful shape!

Please forgive the crinkles on this dress. It has been in the box a long time and I am too scared of damaging it to give it an iron. It is made of ivory heavy silk satin and the fabric is so fresh it could have been made yesterday. Whoever made this really knew what they were doing as the hip pleats add some volume to balance the busty shape. The sleeves are shaped at the bottom into peaks and have high sleeve caps and shoulder pads. Actually I don't know the actual date of the wedding this was made for but the dress looks more mid-1930's to me in shape and style details. The lady who wore this was in her late 90's when I got this and that was about 5 years ago so any help dating it from all you vintage experts would be very welcome. This dress was sewn bespoke for the original owner. It was too small for my dress form which is about a modern size 8. You would really need period style undergarments to wear this one.

The going away outfit was also purchased from Greensmith Downes and comprises a "Peggy Allen by Jean Allen" ivory jewel-trimmed shift dress and jacket. I have no idea what kind of fabric this outfit is made from. It looks like a kind of gauze but has a stiff hand. It is almost see through and is lined in a similar but more lightweight material. There is a close-up below. Any ideas? The Jean Allen brand is most famous from the 1950's but I have found 1940's examples with the "Peggy Allen" label.

 The outfit is finished off with a matching  "Jane Shilton"handbag. There are a couple of bits of the trim inside and I don't know if they are for repairs or instead of dress clips for another dress. The bag is immaculate inside and out. Actually the "Jane Shilton" moniker is a bit of a 1940's clue as they were "Alexander Shilton" until he returned from WWII and married his secretary, Jane.

The whole set comes in its original box in which it was stored directly after the wedding and was never worn again. The box stayed unopened until I was gifted this by the son and daughter-in-law of the lady this was made for. It was a wonderful and exceptional gift.

They were also very kind and gave me some of their great-grandmothers tapestries and embroideries including a finished but not made up bag from the Victorian era but I will post about them another day.

I couldn't find a huge amount of information online but Greensmith Downes was at one time THE best department store in Edinburgh, even posher than Jenner's. I asked my Mum, who is in her mid 80's, and she remembers it but wasn't ever in it as she said that it was too posh for people like her and that her family would have never have been able to afford to shop there. It was located at 133-143 George Street, a glorious Georgian street that runs parallel to Princes Street in Edinburgh. I think that it closed down in the 1960's.

Anyway I hope that you enjoyed my rubbish phone pics, bit of Scottish fashion history and crumpled clothing.  I will be finished moving in 2 directions at once in the next week or so, dividing my time between Birmingham and Glasgow from about the end of the month (le sigh). The saddest thing is that I will be packing up my studio in Newcastle. I have had such a good time there and met so many wonderful, talented people. There will be tears.

Bye for now. The packing fairies and I are sending you all best wishes!