Saturday, 15 June 2013

Piping, ruffles and edging


I love collecting insert tapes and piping: finding the right one can instantly change the look of a piece of clothing or a bag. Most recently I've been hunting out ones that are cut on the bias or have a bit of stretch to them - this makes them perfect for inserting into a curved yoke on a top. Below are two different inserts. I got the first, in the upper photo, perfectly sewn in before deciding the colour was a little too bright compared to the duller cream of the flowers on the fabric - it was more obvious in reality than these photos show and unpicked it to replace it with the scallop-edged insert in the second photo.



I think some of the elasticated edgings may be intended for lingerie, but I can't see any reason why I shouldn't use the straight band as an insert, so all that's left showing is the tiny picot edge.


I love these pipings.


And I think this would be wonderful if it was hand-sewn to a finished top.


My sister bought most of these for me when we stumbled across a ribbon and trimmings shop near her flat in London. MacCulloch and Wallis also has an amazing selection and I'm lucky to have two shops with large haberdasheries close by. I think with trimmings it's worth buying something when you see it - it's difficult to source just the right thing when you're in the midst of a project and they're inexpensive, with many costing as little as 30p per metre. Do you have a fantastic source for things like this?


In other news, on Thursday I met with the loveliness that is Christine Haynes. If you don't already know of her, then I can tell you that she is a multi-talented LA-based seamstress who has her own line of dress patterns; teaches Craftsy classes and writes for their blog; is the writer of two sewing books (the second is yet to be published) as well as her own blog; teaches sewing at the fabric shop where she works and makes almost her entire wardrobe from scratch, watched by two cats. She is also an all-round nice-girl, cutie and fellow addictee to the Laurel pattern. I'm unsure how she fits in basic things like breathing, but she appears to be alive and quite sane on her extreme diet of fast-paced sewing-related activities (I am like a tortoise by comparison and Christine did - kindly - tease me over my tendency to spend four weeks painstakingly sewing something two inches big that may or may not be intended for a grasshopper that I saw at the bottom of the garden several weeks ago. It's true. My sewing is often total non-sensical self-indulgence).

Anyway, she and her man took a few days out from their annual stay in Paris to come over to England and it was lovely to be able to meet up with them for lunch. It's always an odd thing to be finally meeting with someone who you feel you know through their photos and blog posts, but have never actually met, but Christine was just as lovely and warm as I'd imagined her to be with the added surprise of being incredibly funny and leaving my face aching with smiling. Ever since I'd known she was coming to England it had been rolling happily around in my mind that, if in reality she seemed to be the kind of girl who wouldn't shoot me down for asking such a ridiculous question, then I could put my ever-burning question to her: do all Americans whiten their teeth? Is the application of bleach advised upon in the same nonchalant way as braces? Is this a procedure that's seen as no more serious than having one's hair cut or one's leg-hair removed? I was delighted to find that both she and her partner arrived armed with three of their own, far more bizarre, questions about Englishness. She did give me an answer to my question but, selfishly, I'm not sharing it here, because I've gained new confidence to pose superficial questions and would like your independent opinion if you happen to have personal knowledge about American dental habits (but don't limit yourself to the USA - I'm happy to hear about any nationality if you have inside knowledge).


We went to the newish Covent Garden branch of Lewes' infamous Bill's restaurant. We ordered lots of delicious food, but ate little of it because we were too busy talking. Just before I left, Christine's man took a few photos for us - there were not very many sensible ones, as you can see from the trio of outtakes which Christine put together. Isn't Christine's dress gorgeous - it's a Laurel made from blue ikat.

Did you follow anyone's Me Made May photos (where the challenge is to wear handmade for every day in May and take selfies to show off each day's outfit)? There seemed to be so many lovelies taking part this year (and indeed there are over 5,000 photos in the Flickr pool!) and it inspired me to make more things that are 'everyday wearable'. Because of my obsession with fabrics that have a good drape, I'm often drawn to crepe de chine or other silks (they are just so lovely to sew with), but I do find that although I've made a great many garments, often they wouldn't actually be practical or appropriate for an ordinary day without having to wave my hands at small children, dogs and fresh-from-the-garden husbands in a 'this is my dance space, this is your dance space. I don't go into yours, you don't go into mine' motion (affectionados of the film, Dirty Dancing, will know exactly what I mean by that. I'm Patrick Swayze - silk, rather than muscle, clad - and the rest of the world is Jennifer Grey with spaghetti arms that threaten to leave greasy paw marks on my clothing). With this in mind, my self-made clothing aspirations are to make more items that could be worn without having to guard against close-proximity interactions. That doesn't seem too lofty an ambition. I've worn this top (which I'd said was my least favourite Laurel, but is actually now my favourite) a lot and last week I whipped up another cotton top which I'll share with you in my next post. When I met with Christine, I also fitted in a quick trip to Liberty, where I was able to stroke Amy Butler's rayon challis fabric in person: this is the thing of dressmaking fabric dreams. It's practical and looks easy to sew with, but has the most amazing drape and feel. It's soft and swishy, but not sheer and insubstantial. It took all my willpower not to buy it, as the colour and pattern were all wrong for me, but I wanted it so, so badly.

Florence x

23 comments:

  1. I'm hoping that California doesn't represent the whole of the US, but you see lots of unnaturally white smiles here in the richer areas and lots of advertisement posters at the dentists, but I've never heard of a dentist actually suggesting whitening. I'm guessing that you're supposed to look in the mirror and self-diagnose. There's lots of over-the-counter whitening strips for sale about the place, too. Most of my acquaintances seem to have normal coloured teeth, but maybe they're just more subtle with their bleaching?

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    1. I too study people's teeth and wonder if they're naturally white or if they just go for low-key whitening and don't mention it. :)

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  2. Sounds like you had enourmous fun with Christine. The laurel is a brilliant pattern and after your recommendation bought a copy. For haberdashery I go to McC & W, Liberty, Barnet Lawson (a bacement full to the brim with all sorts of things) and Kleins, occasionally the crafty sewer, Clothkits in Chichester and once a year to Bedecked in Hay on Wye.

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    1. I'm so pleased you bought it and thank you SO, SO much for the generous list of habdash sources you left. I haven't heard of bedecked or Barnet Lawson - I'm off to see if they're online.

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  3. I also tend to buy trims whenever I see them - vintage, mostly. My best ones have come from US sellers on Ebay. I hardly ever actually use them, though, partly because I know I'll never find the same ones again and mainly because I'm silly. By the way, next time you're at MacCulloch & Wallis, go and have lunch or even just a snack at the south Indian restaurant (Rasa) over the road, you won't regret it! Pleeeease tell us more about the grasshopper sleeping bag (or waistcoat?). x

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    1. Thank you so much for that recommendation - particularly handy as I always end up in Le Pain when I'm in that area, so something new to try is a good thing (as lovely as Le Pain is). The grasshopper sleeping bag will be finished in several years time - you'll have to sit on the edge of your seat in anticipation until then.

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  4. Hi Florence,

    I love to look around second hand shops for trims. I also loe to visit Aberkhan's store in Mostyn and can spend all day in the trimming/ribon section alone.

    I've recently bought a fre old pieces of lace from the local second hand shpo and am now looking for a project to apply them to.

    Heaven :D

    Gem x (EDiS)

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    1. Lucky you - I hope you find the perfect project for them. x

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  5. Love the trims. I always buy trims and ribbons when I see them even when I don't need them too.
    Jo x

    http://joeveryday19.blogspot.co.uk/

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  6. I also buy trims whenever I see something I like but usually dither over how much to get! I can't be the only one who's wondering what three 'Englishness' questions Christine asked - please put me out of my misery!

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    1. I knew I wouldn't be the only one! Please tell us!! Pretty please?!

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    2. Christine has popped in and shared them with you in the comments below, which will hopefully put you out of your misery. x

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  7. Love those piping and edging ribbons, thanks for sharing the shop

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  8. I love buying trimmings also, the most lovely wedding anniversary present i got from my husband was for lace, he went to vv rouleaux and bought me a selection of lace....funny thing is i know i will never use it as it is so beautifully wrapped together that it would seem wrong. My other joy is going through my granny's jars of trimmings...boy there is some gorgeous pieces. Looks like you had a fun time with Christine, what a treat x

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    1. How utterly adorable - that's incredibly romantic. Lucky, lucky you!

      Yes, I had a really lovely time with Christine. x

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  9. Teeheehee! I must confess that I'm an American that uses a whitening toothpaste regularly, although I'm not sure it does anything. I've used whitening stripes a few times before big events, namely my wedding, but never done the professional tooth whitening thing. :)

    I've never sewn with rayon challis, but from what I hear, it's a thing of beauty!

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    1. Whitening toothpaste is fairly standard here too...it's the big-guns that I feel fascinated by. The EU is currently banning the super strength of bleach that they use for in-house dentist whitening over here (not in the US though), but even the at-home with a gum shield thing leaves me feeling totally curious.

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  10. I'm a trimmings devotee; please can you share where the fab ruffle in the first photo came from? And the name of the shop near your sister's flat? New trimmings shops are lovely to visit.

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    1. I'm really sorry - I can't actually remember the name of the shop - I just know that it was on a corner somewhere in Notting Hill - I know that's frustratingly unhelpful - I'm sorry.

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  11. Clearly we had the best time together and I was delighted to know that Florence is even nicer in person if that is at all possible! For those dying to know, my 3 questions were: what's with all the Italians in London (we heard and met so many Italian speakers!), why are hip young women wearing nude stockings instead of going bare legged, and do people actually call each other gov (this was my man's burning question)! I was told a, she had no idea about the Italians, b, ladies simply want their legs to look good, and c, yes in certain parts of the city between certain friends, people call each other gov! My man was elated.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your questions. I hope that your man is now working his way around Paris using the expression appropriately. x

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x