Thursday, December 27, 2012

A unitard!

I made a unitard. That word makes me smile :) I think it sounds ridiculous. So usually in my head I think of it as my "hoop outfit".

The latest trick I have learnt. It was worth the pain for the pic.

I made this months ago when my aerial hoop teacher, Helga, was like "how about you girls do an exam next week?" What?! An exam?!! We got her to let us do it two weeks later. There were three of us and it was actually pretty fun. We all chose a song and made up a choreography and then scored each other on stuff like smiling and pointing toes and music choice :) After that Helga said we were ready to start learning on a spinning hoop (!). Now that is fun. Spinning round and round. I love the hoop - it's fun and scary. Challenging but pretty and girly. You really have to focus so it is a great way to forget about the world.

With my super strong teacher, Helga

The day of the exam, a few hours before I had to leave my place, I decided to make an outfit. I found this stretchy, lacy black fabric in the cheap shop and made this in about one hour.... I wear it every week almost now. It's great because unlike a top it doesn't come up when I am upside down. Yay for unitards.

These pics are mostly from last week's class. At the end of it we were too tired to do our whole routines so we took photos instead.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sewing Vintage Modern Book Review

The new book from BurdaStyle, Sewing Vintage Modern has just been released.

Jamie sent me a copy and asked me to review it. Full disclosure: I met Jamie last year when I spent a week or so hanging around the BurdaStyle offices and she was super sweet and helpful.

The book is organised by the decade going from the 20s through to the 80s giving bits of information about what was cool at the time and how you can make garments inspired by those fashions in a modern way.

I really like the concept of the book. There are 5 base patterns which you can use to make different items of clothing. The book shows how to make 19 different items from these slopers. It really encourages creativity - I think a lot of people don't realise how many possibilities there are from basic patterns. Changing necklines, adding sleeves, colour blocking etc - they enable you to really make a garment how you would like it to be. You can let your imagination run wild. You can learn a bit about pattern drafting too. How to change the slopers is clearly explained. Maybe not suitable for total beginners but if you have done a bit of sewing with patterns and want to expand your knowledge I recommend this book.

It's kinda like how I use but in book form...

My favourite project  is the 1950's Lillian Blouse. It's gorgeous - a simple blouse with a cream lace yoke.

Also the Heather Bustier dress is very cute. I forgot to take a pic of that page though and my camera battery has died.

The first pattern I am planning on using is the Frank Button-Down Shirt. I just need to get my friend's measurements so I can get started!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Barbie dresses for Lulu

This is Lulu. She's 3. She's the daughter of a very good friend of mine in New Zealand. She wanted to be Barbie so during the summer I made this dress for her. She has only received it just now though (I kind of didn't want to part with it and took a long time sending it...). Her dad just sent me this pic. Isn't she just so adorable!

I had so much fun making this dress - getting to put in all the girly, pretty little details. I would love to design little girls dresses all the time. The idea of making a woman's dress seems quite boring in comparison.

Would you believe I used about two metres of fabric for such a tiny dress! Because of using the sequinned scalloped edge everywhere - on the hem, on the sleeve edges, on the bottom of the bodice. It's my own design. I wanted it to be like a princess dress and long but during the summer I was in love with mullet hems so it is shorter at the front. It has little pink flower buttons down the back. Somehow I forgot to take a photo of the back.

I made a matching strapless ballgown for Lulu's Barbie too. This is my Barbie in the pics. 

She likes gardening.

And she is fearless - not afraid at all of the long drop.

I bought this Barbie maybe five years ago but the first time I undressed her was to fit this dress. I was surprised. She's so different from the Barbies I had as a kid. The way her arms and legs are attached is really not how I remember. If you lift her arm it looks like she has a tumour in her armpit.....But it means she is super flexible. Her bust is small and her feet are tiny and creepy (they are the same size as her hands!). Maybe it is because she is a European Barbie?

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I was at the entrance to my building and one of my 80 year old neighbours was just going inside too. I had spoken to her once, a year ago, but since then we had only said hi to each other, nothing more. This time she said to me "you have a sewing machine, don't you? Is it a modern one?" There are no secrets in my building... Every time I speak to one of my neighbours I am surprised at what they know about me...

She said she couldn't figure out how to put the bobbin in her machine so I went to have a look at it. It was one of those drop in ones. I am not used to that type of bobbin thingy either... So we got it in but the tension was all messed up and we couldn't fix it so I said she was welcome to borrow my machine. She said there's no need, she has two other machines. One of them is an old treadle Singer just like my 100 year old machine!!! I bought mine a year ago and finally got around to buying a belt for it two months ago but couldn't figure out where it goes. So it was my turn to ask the neighbour to come to my flat to look at my machine :) She knew where to lead the belt but said I need a bigger clip to join the two ends, and that she needs one too because her belt is too loose! So I will have to find clips for both of us. It was so weird, all of these coincidences....

Sunday, September 2, 2012

September Goals

Summer is almost over. It has been a wonderful summer, lots of partying, hanging out with my friends.

I haven't done much in the way of sewing but I have increased my fabric stash. By accident! I forgot I wasn't meant to buy anymore fabric.

So, I have made some goals for myself for September:

  • Finish at least 5 creative projects every week. Sewing, crocheting, knitting etc. I am going to count baking for this too - I haven't baked in forever. I think 5 is a nice number, not too unrealistic.
  • Exercise 4-5 times a week. I have stopped going to the gym and dance studio as often as I did a few months ago, although that isn't a bad thing. Before I was spending more time working out than with my friends. And turning down plans to go to the gym. And going when I was really tired and hungover. It wasn't so healthy. But the past few weeks I have barely been going twice a week... 
  • Drink less. 
  • Read at least one book per week.

I have just restarted working on some coin purses I began making in the winter. I have a lot of unfinished projects lying around the flat.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Birthday Mullet Dress

It was my birthday last week. I just had to make myself a new dress. Every time there is a special occasion I get a strong last-minute urge to make something new to wear. I don't know why I give in to this feeling, it is so stressful!

I started cutting at around midnight, right when my birthday started. I lost track of the time and was sewing until about 5 in the morning when a friend came around with a half melted ice cream face cake. He couldn't find cake cake so I told him to improvise. It was scrumptious. Especially the Mozartkugeln nose. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

 I had a little sleep and then continued with the sewing panic.  It was one of the best birthdays I can remember. My boss called me and convinced me to go into the office. I didn't want to - my dress still was nowhere near done - but he talked me into it (I had to go out for buttons anyway). My colleagues gave me a delicious orange chocolate cake and a bouquet of flowers! I was completely not expecting it.

For the evening I organised a little picnic in a park. I was an hour late because I had to sew on about 10 buttons and make a little makeshift petticoat to stop the dress being too see-through. It's the most deliciously light, sheer silk-cotton blend. I thought I would splurge a little on nice fabric... I bought a metre and a half of it and used almost every single scrap.

The picnic was wonderful and then we went to  my favourite bar and got crazy. Cherry bomba + vodka is my new favourite drink! Try it! It's soooo good. Unfortunately we were a little too crazy and I think I should avoid that place for the next few weeks. It was such a great night!

With the lovely Denisa. She bought me JEANS!! That fit! I love her! I stopped buying new clothes a couple of years ago and my attempts at jean making hasn't gone so well but I wouldn't have bought jeans myself. 

Anyway, back to the dress! I modified the Jonny dress pattern from Burdastyle. I left off the sleeves and made the skirt less full and made it short at the front and knee length at the back. Kind of like the dress form of a mullet (the best/worst haircut ever)! OMG, I just googled it and it is actually called a mullet dress. Hilarious. I have been seeing mullet skirts everywhere around the city and looking at them and thinking "I want that kind of hem!".

 I put buttons all down the front because struggling with a side zip and getting the dress on would make me crazy. Also, the fabric is too light for a zip. I might add more buttons to the top because it keeps popping open at the bust. I have added a couple of domes to try to combat that. French seams on the side seams and navy binding on the arm holes and on the waist seam. Have to use up the 175 metres of bias binding I bought last year somehow! Slowly, slowly.

That's the Bazilika in the background. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Black Bikini

It's been really hot again so on Friday I spent the day at Lake Velence. It's a quite big lake only one hour from Budapest by train. I got more pics of my new bikini so I thought I would properly introduce it.

I wore my old turquoise bikini well over a hundred times and now the back of the bottom is getting a bit threadbare so I had to make a new one. I'm surprised how well the 400 ft (1.5 euro)/metre fabric held up!

I made two very similar bikinis three years ago. And I freaking hell lost the patterns I spent hours working on sometime during my many moves!!! So I had redraft them.

I was never happy with the original bottoms though so for the black bikini I made them a lot smaller. I went with the "try on and cut smaller method". I was going to have a drawstring at the side of these bottoms too but I bought the last of the swimsuit elastic at the closest shop and somehow used it all up! Six metres! It's crazy how much elastic is needed. Next time I make bottoms I will add about 2cm to the top of the back. I cut it a little too low. These have a centre back seam.

Don't look at my spine... I've rubbed the skin off it in aerial hoop class... I tell myself it is worth the pain. Not so sure about the scars though.

See all those lovely, fluffy white clouds. They quickly changed to big grey ones, there was thunder and it started pissing down. I think every second time I go to Velence there is a thunder storm!

At the back of this top I decided to have a tie. On my turquoise one the clip would undo itself every so often.... Like once a month. A clip is much easier to do up but this just feels so much more secure. I'm still not decided on whether this is my favourite solution though.

I lined it in red fabric. The whole of the top and the front of the bottoms.

If you are interested in making swimwear look at the website Pattern School.  I love this site! It has lots of information on how to draft swimsuits, it teaches you about things like negative ease. It's pretty interesting stuff. My top is a variation of the bandeau.

On the looooooong walk back to the train station at Velence (we had somehow managed to walk by accident to Sukoró, a town miles away) we stopped for lángos in the cutest little place.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Balaton - sunshine, "sea" and sewing

I just spent a few days at Lake Balaton - the "Hungarian sea". It's a huge lake in the middle of the country. It was so nice to get away from the city for a little while. I think I hadn't left Budapest in more than EIGHT months. It seems ridiculously unbelievable to see it written down, it seems like I must be forgetting some trip but maybe it really is true.... 

I made a new bikini for wearing at the lake.  It's my own design and pattern.

I also made the board shorts. I started them in the morning of the trip day after finishing up the bikini. So of course I didn't have enough time to finish them before running to catch my train in the afternoon. I spent most of the train ride hand sewing. And sweating. It was HOT. Something like 35 degrees. 

The 70 year old man opposite me told me he has a sewing machine (!!) and uses it to alter his clothes and make curtains. He seemed quite impressed that I was travelling with so much sewing gear (needles, thread, proper fabric scissors, multiple projects) and confided that he always has on him a set of tools and a measuring tape and other handy things. We ended up talking for the whole trip. He was really interesting, he travelled a lot around Europe when he was younger. He said he really had trouble learning German but he picked up Spanish really easily. He said everyone has a language which is easy for them to learn, you just have to find out which one it is. It's an interesting theory.

I was travelling with my very good friend Tom. We arrived in Balatonboglár and realised neither of us knew the name of the place where we were staying. Or the address. Or the phone number. Haha. We both thought the other one knew all the info. But we managed!  In my head I thought Boglár was a tiny little village with maybe just the hostel, a shop and a bar. It is actually a proper little town though! 

Some friends have opened a cool party hostel in a castle-like mansion. The building used to be a hotel, it even has a huge jacuzzi and sauna!! 

The first night there we were chatting with the lovely cafe owner in the square out the front and he told us about a wine and jazz festival which was on just up the hill. There was thunder and lightning and it was raining and chaotic and we slipped in for free! And then I got wine bought for me because I'm a foreigner. Then I met the festival organiser and he gave us food and wine too!  People were so amazingly nice and friendly there. I tried zsíros kenyer for the first time ever. It basically translates as "fatty bread". Bread covered in lard and sprinkled with salt and onions. I always thought it sounded too disgusting to taste. That is how I managed to live here for more than six years without trying this Hungarian speciality/delicacy/poor people food.  IT'S FLIPPING DELICIOUS! I should have tried it years ago!

The weather was perfect for swimming the next day.

Lángos for lunch - deep fried Hungarian goodness!

That night we had a barbecue at the hostel. Mmmmmm. It only took around 5 hours to cook.... :) But so tasty. Europeans have funny barbecues... with charcoal... and holes in the grill thingy that the food can fall through onto the coals... I was very surprised at how they do it here. 

The last day was freeeeeeezing. Had breakfast down by the water. Then went swimming anyway.

I didn't take enough photos there!! Kicking myself now. It was an oh so lovely holiday.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Zsofi's Little Black Dress

I feel like a proud mother hen!

I have a student, Zsófi, who I have known for quite a few years now. We used to have mainly English classes but nowadays we do more sewing related stuff together. I used to talk about sewing so much that she got interested in learning and got her own machine a year or two ago.

She had an assignment at school to study a subject of her choice in depth and to create some kind of arty project to go with the essay. She chose Coco Chanel, the creator of the first Little Black Dress. 

As the art project Zsófi made a dress inspired by Holly Golightly's dress in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

We went fabric shopping one Saturday morning a few months ago and found shiny black fabric and polka dot fabric to line it

She drafted the dress herself! At the age of 13!  I am so, so very proud of her!! Now she is 14. My little girl is growing up!

All photos are by the talented Márton Gorka. He used to be my English student too when he was little. You really should have a look at more of Marci's work on his page, Márton Gorka's Photography

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Me-Made-May Days 28-31

Day 28

It was a public holiday. Pentecost. I don't really know what that is... something about Jesus? Coming back? No idea...

I have an English student who I absolutely adore. Nowadays she is more my sewing student. She came round to my place in the morning to sew. We made makeup bags. I'll ask her if I can post some pics of the dress she just made - she is really talented!

Then I went to the gym and swam.

I wore:

Day 29

I went to a pole studio I never normally go to (even though it is only 10 min walk away). I was completely surprised to go in and find a male trainer! Yes - there are male pole dancers! It was actually a really great class.  

Then I went to work and all the guests were being crazy. One thing I like about my job: every day is different because the people are always changing. 

After work I ran to a bar to watch a friend's cabaret performance but got there ten minutes too late!

Can you tell I drank too much gin and tonic?

I drank enough to dance. It was a lot of fun.  I really shouldn't go to that bar though - it always brings out my bad side.... ;) I got home around 3am...

I wore:

  • Nyar van dress
  • Shorts
  • A sporty top

Day 30

I felt like DEATH. I had about 2.5 hours sleep, then dragged myself out of bed. The whole time I was in the shower I was considering hopping back into bed but I made it to 7:30am pole class. I adore my pole trainer, Roni. She is a sweetheart - she gave me glucose, it was exactly what I needed.

Then I went to work. For 14 hours.... It was so long... The morning shift was so quiet but at night it was crazy with the guests and problems and overbookings....

I wore:

  • Grey shorts
  • Some sporty top, can't remember which one now
  • Blue floral dress - Burda 7829

Day 31

I went to aerial silk class as well as hoop. Silk is hard! So hard on the arms! I much prefer hoop.

I wore:

  • Turkish flowers dress - Burda 7829
  • Pink sporty top
  • Navy leggings