First conquest in NYC

And I hadn’t even check into the hotel yet! We arrived too early for check-in, so waited at Bryant Park. I stopped by Kinokuniya Japanese book store, where I picked up Ryuichiro Shimazaki’s men’s coats book.

I’ve been tempted ever since Peter of Male Pattern Boldness gave us a peak inside. The pea coat he made from the included pattern looked fabulous & oh so professional. But as it’s men’s coats, and I only really do selfish sewing, I stalled.

Then earlier this year, after seeing my me-made trench, my brother joked about getting me to make him a Burberry Wannabe. So I checked out this book in store to see if it’ll help. The detail shots and the photo styling sold it to me. That and the fact that nothing else in the store was calling my name. (Could be jet-laggedness. Or could be that my taste changed. Or maybe Japanese fashion changed. Or all of the above.)

All I have to do next is to learn to read Japanese and figure out how to do transatlantic fittings. Or so I thought.

Well, it turned out I needn’t have worried my pretty little head. My brother was smart enough to know that he could be waiting a long time to get a trench out of me. So he went ahead and save up for the real McCoy. It was just as well since he’s obviously a Burberry snob, and probably wouldn’t have been gratified by my run of the mill trench without all the neat details that goes into a real Burberry. I manage to get some photos of these details. Some of them are actually shown in the book as well.

Burberry Men’s Trench Details!

Shimazaki’s men’s coats book Pattern No.1 details

Shimazaki-Mens-Coat-book-pattern-1-detailsFascinating innit! Not sure I’d bother with all of them details myself. But the sewing geek in me just can’t resist peaking.

The Burberry trench itself does look quite good on my brother. I’ve read elsewhere some complaints / concerns about them being a bit too big and baggy. But this one has a smart slim fit. Maybe those complaints apply to trenches from the yore years when baggy was in. As for personalized fit, the only alteration the store could offer was sleeve length. That’s where being able to sew a wannabe might come in handy. There is only so much that RTW could cater for. We’ll see. Maybe someday this book will come in handy. If not for my brother, maybe for MR – if I could ever convince him to dress up outside work!

Fabric lust & updates

First of all, welcome onboard all you recent subscribers. Sorry it’s been so quiet around here lately. After that epic fitted sleeve experiment & documentation, the Photographer In Me decided she’s done enough for the year, leaving me with no pretty pictures to complete write-ups of my recent projects.

So while I try to coax her away from those holiday cocktails, here’s a wacky fabric find to entertain you…

Found at B&J Fabrics online:

digital print scuba knit (neoprene?)
with matching silk charmeuse & matching silk chiffon!

Now I’ve seen a few matching printed silk charmeuse & chiffon at B&J before. But scuba knit!?!? Well you’d have to be a much more creative designer than me to make it work! OK, just because you can have matching everything doesn’t mean you should. But I have seen it worked. And I do like me a bit of edgy high-low, sporty-refined mix. If these weren’t so expensive I’d challenge Oonaballoona, the mighty queen of pattern hacking to have a go at these psychedelic fabrics.

And how did I come across these fab fabrics? Well, I was planning for my…

Upcoming NYC trip! Happy Face!

No trip to NYC can be complete without some sewing purchases of course. But I’m trying to be more organized this time. In the past I’d come home with bulging suitcase of scrumptious fabrics. Yet when I actually get down to sew I’d be missing bits and pieces I need. And there are just some things that are really hard (or really expensive) to get here in London, the supposed Fashion Capital of the World (if the London newspapers are to be believed). Like charmeuse (for lining or coordinating top). Or reversible zipper. Or coordinating ribbing for sweater knits.

Sadly MPB Day is long over and there doesn’t seem to be any other NYC sewing meet-up in early October But if any of you Tri-State based sewists are free, I’d love to meet up and check out your latest project(s)! Contact me via my online form if you’re free to meet up in NYC in early Oct.

And Sad Face time… Vogue / McCall / Butterick boycott

I was also going to pick up some Vogue / McCall / Butterick patterns bought during recent online sales. But here I hit a snag. Seems like one of my orders has gone missing and I might be left out of pocket. Sad Face.

I had to update the shipping address while placing the order. But for some reason the order still end up being shipped to an old address. I think maybe there’s a problem with how their online ordering system is set up. I updated the address in the “Manage My Addresses” section, then chose what I thought was the updated address during checkout. Maybe it takes a a while for the new address to be saved. So when I tried to use the address immediately the shopping cart received the old address instead.

And of course I didn’t check the confirmation email carefully because nothing had ever gone wrong before with my V/M/B orders. So I didn’t think anything was going to go wrong this time.

Customer service said they couldn’t help but would I like to place and PAY for a replacement order. Erm, what do you think? No thanks. I’m really put off buying from V/M/B website again. Which is a shame since they seem to have finally gotten more responsive in the online sewing community. My worst fear would be if they start putting out amazing patterns while I’m still on my stomp-my-little-feet V/M/B boycott.

Fingers crossed that the mis-delivered package will eventually find its way back to V/M/B and I’ll at least get a refund. But I’m not holding my breath since package tracking shows it had already been signed for by the building management. Inflexible / seemingly uncaring customer service sucks.


Sewing for Tweens?

OK, so what’s up with sewing for Tweens? How come there’s hardly any sewing patterns for Tweens & Teens?

I haven’t got kids of my own. But my niece has just turned 11. And as I have been such a neglectful aunty in so many other ways I thought it’s about time I make her something. But it’s such a nightmare! Not least because she lives in Ohio. Is it possible to sew long distance? Especially for fast growing kids? Or should I give up before I even start?

While I visited recently, I took her shopping at Jo-Ann‘s. She was so indecisive. Her parents have been buying all her clothing so far. Judging from the few times I tagged along, it seems like the stuff that she likes get vetoed. Poor girl – I think it affected her interest in clothing and/or her confidence in choosing clothing.

Anyway, here are the patterns I picked with some input from her…


But she much prefers the adult patterns, like this one from Project Runway collections.

I thought this one might look too old on her. I tried looking for teen fashion magazines to get a bearing on what’s fashionable but still age appropriate. Not much luck.

Choosing fabrics was just as difficult. We ended up with these:


The black floral netting she chose. She wanted a transparent jacket in this. I’m not so sure it’d be age appropriate. I’m thinking maybe an underlined top or dress using one of the McCall patterns we bought.

She also chose the sparkly foil faux suede – oh how kids love their sparkly stuff! Maybe the Burda jacket pattern would work well for this with a red or bright contrasting lining.

The faux suede cut lace I chose. I thought this might look cute with a bright underlining as a dress, top, and/or skirt.

What do you think?

Do you have daughters of similar age whom you sew for? Where do you find patterns for them? Any other advice on sewing for Tweens much appreciated!

I think these will have to be my next few sewing projects. I’m afraid that if I wait her measurements would change and nothing will fit! }:-)

Sewing Bits & Bobs

While in NYC I also stock up on some useful supplies. Some because they’re hard to find in London. Others because I’m curious or the price is right.


  1. Extra large sheet of wax carbon paper. I’ve tried the usual carbon paper sold to home sewers but kept going back to a couple I picked up from Steinlauf & Stoller over 2 decades ago. The home sewer version were just too small and don’t last as long or mark as clearly.OK, sometimes these waxy version don’t disappear completely. But honestly, I’m only sewing for myself and it’s not like people I know offline is going to come lift up my hem and examine the inside of my garment! And believe me I’m naughty – I mark the stitching lines with this rather than the cutting line. My reasoning being I rather have more accurate stitching which affects what people can see – the fit & shape of garment – than fuss over what most people won’t see – like the leftover markings.Anyway, this time around I couldn’t see any on display in Steinlauf & Stoller. So I picked these up in a few other shops (Sil Thread, Pacific Trimming, NY Elegant Fabrics, Fashion Design Books). Most were $5.50 per sheet.  The bookstore near FIT has it at $3.75, but I haven’t checked if it’s exactly the same quality as the others.
  2. Clover Chaco Liner & Clover Hera Marker from Sil Thread. Because I’m constantly looking for a better marking tool. The Hera Marker is a curious looking thing. I got it more for transferring fabric painting design than standard marking. I was using an plastic needle for sewing hand knits for a recent project and it did my hand in – blister and all. BTW Sil Thread have quite a few more tools from Clover and other East Asian brands that I haven’t seen elsewhere in NYC.
  3. Gridded plastic rulers. I have a few of these already and I can’t live without them. So useful for pattern alteration & adding seam allowance – if you use inches instead of cm. I can’t handle metric – mm is just too fussy for me. I don’t cut & sew accurately enough for such fiddly accuracy to make any difference. 1/16″ – 1/8″ is as accurate as I can handle. OK if you’re following pattern drafting instructions the decimal system of metric may come in handy for calculation. I just use a calculator. I can convert 1/8″ unit to decimal by heart now so it’s no big deal for me.These are thinner and more bendy the acrylic ones used by quilters. I find it easier to see the marking more accurately. The thick acrylic ones were casting confusing shadows. You can get these in many different places, including art stores like Pearl Paint.
  4. Seam Greats, Stitch Witchery, Stay Tape. Mentioned by a few bloggers, so I’m curious. Let’s see if they get used or just gather dust along with other gadgets I’ve collected over the decades!
  5. 2013-sewing-bits-2Metal Zippers from Sil Thread for the biker jackets + matching skirts that I’ve planned for these newly acquired fabrics.
    These slide so easily but only come in two lengths. But Sil Thread will cut them to size for a small fee ($1 per cut + $1 per additional pull).


  1. Lace from Daytona Trimmings. This was one of only two purchases on the day of the Meet Up! I’m not a big fan of lace – because it’s hard to find ones that I don’t think look streetwalkerish! But this one ticked the box for me. Not sure what I’ll use it for yet. It’s obviously not considered cheap. The guy cutting it was like “It’s $5.99/yd OK? Are you sure you really want 3 yards?” Hell yeah. Cheaper than an one-way London Underground cash ticket. And it’s not like I can get more easily whenever I need to.
  2. bag-repairFaux (?) Suede Trim from one of the numerous trim stores…Most of the stuff in the store look a bit cheap (she says snobbishly). But this will be my best chance of repairing a cheap (!) but well-loved and well-used leather handbag. I’ve been searching for a replacement trim for years!
  3. 2013-us-store1-4
    Various Ribbons & Trims from Tinsel Trading Co. I love the feel of this store even though it’s not cheap, especially when it comes to the the vintage trims. There are some lovely bits for the scrapbook crafters too.
    gold-trim-inspirationTwo of the gold trims I got are vintage. I love the antique gold. I’m thinking of using these to trim jacket like in one of my inspiration photo.

Finally, some obligatory pattern purchases:


These were ordered during the last online sale and sent to my brother’s. I usually find only 1 or 2 that really interest me. But being a cheap skate, I always try to get max value for my shipping dollars. Which means padding out my order with other half-hearted purchases. I really should just stop buying yet another bog standard pencil skirt or drapy dress pattern and start making things. I must have only used 5% of my pattern collection at best.

So that’s it for my own sewing pleasure. Tomorrow: the sacrifices I made for others! The Selfish Seamstress would have been shaking her head!

Show us Your Stash….. Pia

Modern Vintage Cupcakes and Mercury – Handmade Fashion both egged me on to reveal my stash. Having thoroughly enjoyed peeping into their stashes, how can I refuse. So here goes.

1. How long have you been sewing and stashing? How big is your stash?

I started sewing probably in Junior High School. That’s like almost 3 decades ago! But there were some big gaps in my sewing history – if not in stashing.

As for size of my stash, now here are some scary stats: Current count – 264 pieces of fabrics, 753 yards (including linings, excluding interfacings).

2. Where do you keep your stash? How do you store it?

Most are in my bedroom now.
My sewing room isn’t big enough for stashing & sewing.


One trunk has escaped into the living room.


A few boxes remain in the sewing room with a few more pieces hanging in the closet. New arrivals hang about anywhere while awaiting processing.

As you can see I box up most of my fabric. That’s because I have a moth problem.

I started out with opaque boxes and swatch cards to keep track of the fabrics.

But given how easy it is to forget what I have – out of sight out of mind & all, I’ve started swapping to clear plastic boxes.

I do try to group similar types of fabrics together, sometimes even similar colors when I have multiples – easily done when you don’t remember what you already have when you go fabric shopping yet again!

3. What is the oldest piece in your stash? What was your original plan for this piece and why hasn’t it happened?

floral printOldest might be this lovely silky floral print I inherited from my Mom. It’s gorgeous. But there is only 1-3/8 yards of this 38″ fabric. So I’ve been quite indecisive about what to make with it.

Of the fabrics I bought myself, I have absolutely no idea! I don’t think I have any left from Junior High, but I’m pretty sure there are a few from High School.

stash-fabric-hl-1 Like this seersucker, which I tried to dye a long time ago and end up with a slightly hippie tie-dye effect. Like most fabrics I buy, I didn’t have a specific plan for it. I get many ideas along the way, but again commitment phobia kicks in time and again.

4. What’s your favorite piece in your stash? Where did you get it, what do you love about it, what do you think you might do with it?

OMG – you can’t make me choose! I love them all! Well, almost all. Each one is full of possibilities…until you sew it up!

5. Does the fabric you buy go straight into hiding or do you wash it first?

They first incubate and collect dust while I find them a hiding place. As you can see my main stashing area is bursting at the seams. It takes a while to find a home for new-comers.

I do try to wash them ASAP. But…I hate doing laundry, so you can imagine how long my good intention last. Especially the fancy silk and wools (and any specialty fiber). P.I.M.A.

So I’ve resorted to a spreadsheet to keep track of what I have and what’s ready to rock-n-roll.


6. How do you add to your stash? Do you buy with a purpose in mind, or is it fabric lust?

LUST. Period. Especially off-line. NYC fabric stores are especially lethal for me. I can pawn my Other Half’s apartment to spend it all in them damn stores.

OK, there might be a few pieces bought to copy some lovelies from clippings. But once they’re in the stash I start having other ideas.

7. Do you have something in your stash that you cannot bear to cut into? Why?

Almost all of them? If I must choose, then maybe these silkies.

stash-fabric-hl-2 stash-fabric-hl-4 stash-fabric-hl-3a stash-fabric-hl-3b

I mean, that says it all. Heavenly. Expensive. Limited quantity. Slippery.

Will my design, fitting & sewing skills ever do them justice? Note how I’ve even bought a pair of shoes just to match one of these fabrics. I guess those shoes will never be worn either.

8. Do you just stash fabric, or does the problem include patterns and notions?

My other main addiction is clippings. And it’s a good thing I ditch the rest of the magazines. Otherwise they’d never fit into this neat little photo:


Patterns again look rather contained, partly due to clipping and increasingly more magazines than traditional Big 4 patterns. Oh, and some digital ones. But I only discovered the magazines not so long ago, so I’m sure this pile will grow over time.


So far so tame. But lurking in every corners are actually mini-stashes of all sorts. None enough by themselves to warrant notice. But add them all up and you got the Other Half complaining you’re taking up the whole apartment!


Salvaged bits for making bags and hats. I gave up on the ideas of making my own shoes.


Jewelry making stuff


Chinese knots paraphernalia.


Couture flourish finishing school – aka embroidery kits & bobs.


Knitting for Dummies.

Let’s not forget UFOs & RTW awaiting upcycling (2+ boxes in my main stash area).

Or the scraps that my Plastic Daughters have laid claim to – having had their big heads filled with fanciful ideas from doll mooks (magazine-books) I foolishly bought them. Even retired lace undies & stockings with runs have not escaped their greedy little hands.


9. Have you decided to do a “stash-busting” resolution this year? If so, what have you decided to do?

I dare not. That’d be tempting Fate. Especially as the Other Half had already suggested going to NYC for holiday this year. That’s any resolution busted already.

I just need to keep my head down, tackle one project at a time. And get a handful of TNT patterns sorted. Yeap, I think TNTs will be my stash-busting super-heroines!

What about you? Are you going to…

Show Us Your Stash

Here are the questions if you want to follow the same Q&A format:

  1. How long have you been sewing and stashing? How big is your stash?
  2. Where do you keep your stash? How do you store it?
  3. What is the oldest piece in your stash? What was your original plan for this piece and why hasn’t it happened?
  4. What’s your favourite piece in your stash? Where did you get it, what do you love about it, what do you think you might do with it?
  5. Does the fabric you buy go straight into hiding or do you wash it first?
  6. How do you add to your stash? Do you buy with a purpose in mind, or is it fabric lust?
  7. Do you have something in your stash that you cannot bear to cut into? Why?
  8. Do you just stash fabric, or does the problem include patterns and notions?
  9. Have you decided to do a “stash-busting” resolution this year? If so, what have you decided to do?

Swap Your StashAnd if you’re seriously busting your stash this year, don’t forget to check out Modern Vintage Cupcakes and Mercury – Handmade Fashion‘s February Stash Swapping Party

In the meanwhile, more guilty pleasures for all you fellow Peeping Toms! 😉