Thursday, 30 October 2014

Spotlight shopping spree...

Since I missed out on visiting Spotlight during my summer trip to Australia and New Zealand, I have been looking for an opportunity to browse their fabric collection. Their website does not have an online shop for fabric and haberdashery, but during my search I discovered that there was a branch of Spotlight in Singapore. Low and behold, I already had my flight booked for October half term to visit Singapore! 

I went with a few things in mind that I wanted to shop for. Although Hong Kong is brilliant for so many sewing supplies, there are just some items that are illusive. My list was as follows:-

- Coverable buttons (various sizes)
- Hemming tape
- Colour saver (to remove dying accidents!)

I managed to find these 3 items and more! I got 2 different sizes of coverable buttons. They come with the tool and seem fairly robust. I'm hoping to use them on the Mimi blouse (another Tilly and the Buttons pattern) that I am planning. In addition to this, I managed to get some 1.5cm width hemming tape that comes with the paper backing (excellent for sticking jersey hems). I also found the colour saver! Other than that, I also bought two sets of press studs (with tool) that I can use on the male shirts I'm planning to make, a bobbin box (to organise my sewing area further) and some lovely chevron printed cotton jersey. 

I was a little overwhelmed by the fabric, purely because there was a vast range of great and not so great fabrics. I had to have a thorough look around to see what I liked and also fabrics that I can't get in Hong Kong. They had a small selection of cotton jerseys (compared with the large selection of woven fabrics) and because this is something that is not too common in Hong Kong and is also something that I need to add to my capsule wardrobe, It was my main focus. I went for a lovely red and white narrow chevron pattern (I will blog the garment I made from it soon). The quality of the fabric was lovely and I didn't notice any shrinkage from the washing process, which was a pleasant surprise. 

Overall, I was pretty pleased with my purchases and the price wasn't too bad either - especially when I got a discount for joining their member's club. So if you're ever in Singapore, it's certainly worth a quick visit!  

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Too many Knitted fabric choices?!

I finally made the trip to Sham Shui Po to look at my knitted fabric options for the various projects that I have in mind. There are far too many choices and I went to two shops I had seen on a previous trip. The first shop was Kam Fung Trading Company, which stocks so many different knitted fabrics. This includes sweatshirt knits and t-shirt weight jersey's, which are on my list to buy. I'm primarily looking for stripes as you can see from my photographs, but I was drawn in by the cotton, quilted sweatshirt fabrics. I love this one below, which is a plaited effect!

The other fabric shop I went to was 'Bowa', which was next door to the other knitted shop on Yu Chau Street. This shop stocks lots of knitted jerseys that are primarily plain. They also sell a lot of different ribbed jerseys, which is also on my 'to buy' list.  The ones below are a mix of cotton(95%) and spandex(5%) and have a nice width of rib suitable for collars and cuffs of sweatshirts (ideal for my Linden!). 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Moon Yue Piece Goods - A review...

Knowing that I had a busy week at work, I scheduled a well earned trip to Sham Shui Po. I was showing a friend the sights at Moon Yue Piece Goods. This is a gem that I found a month or so ago after following some recommendations online. 

After climbing to the first floor, you find yourself in a goldmine of silks, wools and cottons. The collection of fabric is immense and you literally can't see everything in one visit. This is because the rolls are tightly packed on top of each other and you have to battle to reveal the hidden fabrics. 

I had a project in mind, so I was looking for a silk fabric for a blouse. I wanted something quite drapey, but opaque. The choice was epic, but my eyes were drawn to a bright blue silk with a flower and leaf design. It's a particularly random fabric choice for me, but I just kept coming back to it. It's certainly unusual enough to make a blouse that doesn't look shop bought. At just $60HKD a yard, it was an unbelievable price for pure silk. 

Before I left the shop, I noticed a royal blue and white spotty fabric on a bottom shelf. After having a feel of it, I knew that it was a lovely quality. The shop owner informed me that it was $20HKD per yard! For a 100% cotton fabric, it was an amazing deal! I went for 3 yards in case I wanted to make a dress from it, although I still don't have any plans for it. It will add to my slowly growing stash until I make some decisions. In the meantime, I will push on with my silk blouse plans. Watch this space...

Saturday, 18 October 2014

My upcoming projects - Negroni and Linden

On my sewing table I have two projects waiting for me. One is my first dabble into menswear. I have decided to make a Colette Negroni for my husband. I've had a 'great' idea to make festive garments for each of us as we are heading to the UK for a family Christmas. I'm making a skirt for myself - probably a picnic blanket one. I figured that a shirt would be good for my hubby. 

So in preparation I have decided to do a test shirt. I bought some $10HKD a yard checked fabric from Sham Shui Po to try with. I've got it all cut out ready to go. Slightly nervous about it, but the instructions seem pretty clear. I have made a shirt before during my degree, so I'm hoping my memories of that returns!

The second project waiting for me is the new Linden sweatshirt by Grainline Studios. I have yet to make one of their patterns. With winter approaching, I was super happy when they released this gem! I took a trip to the 'knitted fabric' part of Sham Shui Po a couple of weeks back, but didn't purchase anything. The options we're overwhelming, so I need to donate a lot of time to the selection process. I saw so many different knits, including copious amounts of sweatshirt knits, I might have to make a few!  I will blog my experiences when I've been. The challenge of buying knitted fabrics is always an interesting one. 

Chances are that I will end up adding other projects to my list, but that's an exciting prospect! Watch this space...

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Love at first stitch - My first Lilou dress...

The third item in my Tilly-fest is a Lilou dress from Tilly and the Buttons - Love at first stitch book. It's a cute little dress (the last make in the book, so i'm guess it was the most difficult.)that has a fully lined bodice and gathered skirt (there are instructions to pleat the skirt too). The fastening is an invisible zip in the back (I used a black one and it blended in perfectly).  

I had planned to make my first Lilou in the 50's Jug or not fabric, but as this only comes in a narrow width, the full skirt wouldn't fit. Instead I decided to make it up in this crazy squirrel print that I found in Sham Shui Po. Brown is not a colour that I use frequently, but I just couldn't resist the squirrels! At just $20HKD a yard, it was a total bargain too! On reflection, I really like the colour. I think it is going to make a great autumn crossover dress for when the weather is still warm in Hong Kong, but I feel like wearing wintery colours (November is probably the start of that weather). The dress is quite spacious, so I could even put a long sleeved top underneath and make it into a winter dress! Although the thickness (or should I say thinness?!) of the fabric might prevent this.  

Hats off to Tilly for another brilliant pattern. My only adjustments were to take about 4cm off the back seam to stop the dress from bagging. I think this is a combination of choosing a best fit when selecting the size and also the nature of the lightweight fabric. I think a lightweight invisible zip would have made this process less necessary. I think I would make this pattern again and maybe consider using a heavier fabric to make it more wearable in winter. I imagine a lovely tartan would make up perfectly! 

This is my last Tilly and the Buttons make for a while now, i've got several other garments that are on my WIP pile. This includes an item of menswear! This will be my first adventure into this, so fingers crossed i'm happy enough with the garment to blog about it!  

Monday, 13 October 2014

My first picnic blanket skirt!

So, I have had a bit of a Tilly-fest recently. One of these Tilly makes is a pale, spotty denim picnic blanket skirt. The instructions for making this skirt are on the Tilly and the Buttons website and handily, you don't need a pattern. All you need is a notebook, a tape measure and your brain. With just my waist measurement and a skirt length required, it ended up being a fairly straightforward process. I marked out the rectangles for the front and back skirt pieces and waistband using a fabric pencil. Other than that, I just needed 3 pieces of interfacing - for the waistband and buttonstands. 

I am extremely pleased with the finished article, I have found that I very much enjoy doing manual buttonholes, so this skirt was a really enjoyable garment to make. I found the cute, pale wooden buttons in a shop in Sham Shui Po and the fabric was part of my haul from Shenzhen. 

I would recommend this make if you are comfortable working with numbers. I plan to make a second version of this skirt because I love it so much, but this time in Christmas fabric! Watch this space nearer to December...

Saturday, 11 October 2014

My finished Coco...

I've finished my Coco! After cutting and sewing the sleeves in one hour on the first evening, I then spent approximately an hour the next day finishing it off. This is an extremely quick make that I think is suitable for all levels of experience with knitted jersey fabrics. This fabric in particular is a sort of sweatshirt fabric, so it was fairly straight forward to sew. I did choose to add some iron on interfacing to the neckline, just to stabilise and prevent stretching. This technique did work and i'm pleased with the overall finish of the garment. I used my overlocker throughout to sew the seams and I am so pleased that I decided to finish off the sleeves with a cuff. This is such a quick method of finishing and the effect suits my style perfectly. 

I am certainly going to make more Coco's, as it is such a lovely shape. I want to try some different knitted fabrics, because I think that different drapes of fabric will totally change the aesthetics of the top. This makes it a very versatile staple of any wardrobe! Well done Tilly on another lovely pattern. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

My adventure into knitted fabrics begins - featuring the iSew IS-722D Overlocker and Tilly's Coco...

Ok, so I've finally made the leap. At the weekend I bought an overlocker. It has taken a lot of thought and decision making, but i've ended up with an iSew IS-722D. I bought it from the Brother shop in Sham Shui Po after much to-ing and fro-ing between this and the brother overlocker that they stock. Although very similar in appearance and in price I went for the iSew because it had an extra year's warranty. That equals 3 whole years! I think that is certainly a massive plus. I don't usually get my sewing machine serviced and I can generally fix any problems that I have, but an overlocker is very different. They can go wrong at any point and it is really difficult to diagnose problems.

The iSew can do 3 and 4 thread overlocking in different widths including a very neat narrow finish for fine fabrics. (I'm exciting to give that one a go!) The gentlemen in the shop gave a great demonstration and I got to try my machine out in the shop to ensure that it was working correctly. They even gave me advice on how to adjust the tension if the stitch was wrong - very helpful indeed! My new overlocker has found a home on my sewing desk and fits in very well. I have used it on lightweight woven fabrics so far and it stitches like a dream. The only issue I have discovered so far is that it is a bit of a challenge to pull through threads if you want to change colour. However I solved this by taking my time and pulling each of the threads separately. 

Now that I have my machinery in place I'm finally venturing into making some knitted clothing for myself! I downloaded the Coco pattern earlier in the week and put some ideas on paper. I've cut out the top version with 3/4 length sleeves. I've also cut out the cuffs to try out - I'm not 100% sure whether I'm going to include them or not. I'm now all set up to sew this evening. I think this is going to be an incredibly quick process, so I'm looking forward to seeing the final outcome. 

Watch this space for photos of my finished Coco...

Monday, 6 October 2014

Fashionary in action!

After two lovely public holidays and a weekend, it's back to a full week of work. No need to be down though because i'm accompanied by my trusty Fashionary! 

I have just downloaded the ever-so cool 'Coco' pattern by Tilly and the Buttons to expand my me-made wardrobe to include knitted jersey items. Also on Friday in a small fabric shopping spree in Sham Shui Po I picked up 2 yards of cream and navy interlock jersey for $20! A total bargain and perfect for my first Coco.

My job now is to plan which design of the Coco I'm going to make... I like the idea of 3/4 length sleeves as it will be more suitable for the Hong Kong weather and I always tend to roll up my sleeves anyway. Why waste precious fabric on long sleeves?! Turn-up or no turn-up, that is the question! Also, do I go for the straight forward boat neckline, or the sixties classic of the funnel neck? Argh... too many decisions!!! Ok, breathe... maybe i'll start plain and then move forward to a more complicated garment once I've got back into the groove of sewing knitted jersey fabrics. After all, the Coco could make up a significant number of items in a capsule wardrobe. 

There, the plan is formed. It's always better to talk things through before making a decision. Thank you blog! Watch this space for my Coco update. 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Fashionary - a review...

One of the new additions to my sewing mission is a 'Fashionary'. This great little red book is now always in my bag for whenever I feel inspired. The front of the book features lots of information about different styles of garments, fabrics and industry shows. The content would be great for newcomers to garment design and manufacture as it opens your mind to new ideas. It has certainly acted as a refresher for me. 

The rest of the book features pages of outlines to design onto. The figures are made up of red dots, so they are not obvious when you draw onto them. Although i'm quite used to drawing fashion drawings, having outlines gives me more freedom to be creative. I'm no longer thinking about the shape of the figure, i'm purely thinking about the garments. 

I bought my Fashionary from the new Page One in Harbour City. It comes in several different cover designs and is well worth buying if you like designing and making your own clothes. 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

My Fifties Mortmain by Gather...

After two lovely public holidays here in Hong Kong, it isn't surprising that I've done a little bit of sewing! I've had the Michael Miller - Jug or not? fabric sitting their looking at me, so I decided to make my third Mortmain by Gather. The previous ones turned out pretty well, however I decided to make some small adjustments to the pattern. 

The bust darts on the front were about 2cm too high in the spot and stripe version of this dress. I decided to split the pattern and lengthen it above the dart (I remembered to do the front and back!). I hoped that this would improve the overall fit because I do have a long body. I also decided to alter the skirt from the box pleats of the original to a gather. Because the fabric is so bold, I was worried about lining up the pleats correctly. I think that the finished garment proves that I made some good decisions. The silhouette with the gathered skirt is really flattering for my figure and I am now very happy with the dart position. 

I really love making this pattern up and would certainly recommend it to anyone who is confident at lining up seams. This is very important with this dress in particular due to the waist panel.

This dress is going to be a great addition to both my summer and winter wardrobe. With Hong Kong winters not being the coldest i've experienced, it will certainly be warm enough and could be teamed with tights and boots if I get chilly!