The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show 2013 and a Day Out in London

Last Saturday I took myself off for a day in London at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show 2013 at Olympia.

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I love these shows but always spend far more than I intended. I try to do a workshop for something I haven’t tried before but as I didn’t know whether or not I was going to make the show because of work commitments I hadn’t booked anything in advance.

I was a bit disappointed to be honest – apart from the stalls there wasn’t a lot else going on. It was really a cut down version of the Autumn show which is held at Ally Pally. The only workshop I fancied doing – dragonfly gold stumpwork was also the only workshop that was fully booked which was a shame.

However, I did enjoy some fabric shopping at Mr Rosenberg’s stall – Mr Rosenberg sells designer fabric and has a website at www.stitchfabrics.co.uk It is well worth checking out his site as he has some beautiful material including silks from Alexander McQueen, Roberto Cavalli, Docle and Gabbana – these start at over £60 per metre but he has some cheaper silks. I picked up this one from his stall for £8 a metre which is cheaper than his online price:

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I am going to make a pussybow blouse from this to go with a black skirt – which I haven’t made yet but I did buy a metre of his italian wool crepe which was beautiful to the touch and which cost me a staggering £40 but this is what I wanted to achieve with my sewing – make the clothes I can’t afford to buy. Last time I saw him he had some wonderful Italian wool from Marc Jacobs which was £60 a metre. Not all of his stuff is this expensive as his prices start from about £6.50 a metre for cotton but his silks and even his polyesters are very nice patterns.

The highlight of the show was meeting Lisa Lam of www.u-handbag.com in person. She even admired my purse that I had made out of a pattern and frame that she supplied but I think she was being polite.

I’m glad I got to the show early as it got really busy towards lunchtime which was when I left to meet my son for lunch in town. We had a nice meal at Cafe Rouge and then went to Liberty’s to have a look at their vintage designer collection. £2,000 for a 40 year old Chanel Jacket etc. They had some handbags there including a Hermes Crocodile skin and a snip at £36,000. Mind you I thought it was pretty dire and my son commented that if he went out on a date with a girl who pitched up with that he would think that she had got it from a charity shop.

By this time my son was bored and the Rugby was due to start on the TV so he was keen to get away to his flat so we parted company and I took my by now very sore feet off to Kings Cross.

All in all it was an expensive day – train fare to London, ticket to the show, fabric purchasing, lunch for two and a new jumper for my son but I had a really nice day out and came home with some goodies.

Sewing for Pleasure is on at Birmingham this weekend and this is my favourite show – I really should have waited for that one. I am in two minds whether or not to go but there is always a lot to see there. I could, of course, spend my time actually doing some sewing for a change!

Skirting around the Issue and my First Giveaway

I don’t wear skirts very often as being short waisted and big busted they don’t seem to suit me very well so it is strange that I started my masterplan for future sewing by drafting a basic skirt pattern. However I do know that if I wear a skirt without a waistband and get it to sit low on my waist the overall look is considerably improved.

A few months ago I was in my local vintage thrift shop and came across  5 skirt packs – each pack contained a metre of Munrospun wool fabric, a zip and a half metre of lining.  I bought 3 for a bargain at £8.95 each and they have been languishing in my stash for a while. I had a red, blue and blue/brown check pack. It is strange to be handling fabric which is to my reckoning to be at least 30 years old. Apart from a single hole in the blue fabric it was all intact.

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I made the red one up first and was pleased with the result although a touche too big around the waist. I then made the blue one. One of the things I like to do is to make the inside of my garments pretty special so each skirt has been lined with silk and with lace at the hem – I picked the lace up as a bargain from a local antique centre. The linings probably cost me more than the skirt fabric!  The lining that came with the pack was probably only enough for a half lining. The zips were put in by hand as I love this method of inserting zips – it gives you so much control and my hand inserted zips are much, much neater than machine inserted. I still haven’t got the knack of hiding the zip pull at the top. I also inserted a petersham band at the waistline.

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Now I would like to have put these skirts on and posed to show them in their full glory but I have no suitable matching tops! I have this dreadful habit of buying fabric without thinking about whether or not I have anything else – shoes, handbags, accessories, cardigans etc to wear with the finished garment. I buy fabric because I like it as opposed to buying clothes from shops where my only criteria is whether or not it goes with my black trousers!

Anyway that said I am going to have my first giveaway – strike up the band! If you would like to have the blue/brown fabric shown above complete with the lining and zip then please post a comment on this post to let me know. I will draw names in about a week’s time and I am happy to send anywhere in the world.

Paris – c’est tres magnifique mais tres cher

Bonjour mes amis – I have returned from Paris where I had a stupendous but tres cher time. We travelled over on Eurostar on Saturday morning haven taken advantage of a £59 return fare deal earlier in the year. Two and a half hours after leaving London we were in the centre of Paris in gorgeous sunshine.

As it was early evening when we arrived at our hotel – the Concorde La Fayette – just round the corner from the Champs Elysees we dumped our bags and went off to explore and find a restaurant for dinner. We did not choose well – in fact I have to say I have had better meals at the local Harvester. To top it all it was very expensive – £56 for one course and one glass of wine each.

However determined not to let it spoil our time we set off the next morning to the famous flea market at St Ouen and had a happy wander through the stalls selling all sorts of amazing things. There were lots of fashion/sewing magazines from the 30’s right through to the 80’s which were very tempting. I was transfixed by the vintage Chanel jewellery and the vintage high fashion clothes stalls. Please excuse the quality of the photos but like an idiot I had left my camera in the hotel so these were taken with my phone.

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I would love to own the Chanel necklace but at 700Euros it remains a dream! The prices were very high – a second hand Hermes scarf was 230Euros but lovely to look at.

However, the find of the morning was a little stall in the Marche Malassis called Les Perles d’Antan. This stall sold braids and buttons including some definite Chanel trims. I got into one of those half French, half English conversations with the lovely lady who ran the little shop. She told me that her factory used to make the trims for Chanel – Linton would send over the yarns to her for making the accompanying trim. Sadly her factory closed a few years ago and now she sells from the market. If you ever go to the flea market look for her stall – I could have spent hours in there ooooing and aaaaing but I was conscious that I was with Steve (who is the most patient man ever when it comes to indulging my hobby).

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I chose 3 braids and some buttons – all black and white but as I didn’t have any fabric swatches I played it safe. It would be worth another trip to Paris just to visit her stall again and come fully armed with a shopping list.

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We spent the rest of the day doing more sightseeing and just generally walking about Paris – my pedometer informed me that I had done 23,000 steps that day. My legs were sorely aching come bedtime. As we had such a disastrous meal the night before we decided to buy some food from the supermarket and eat in our room as we were too tired to go out again. (I know – sacrilege when in Paris!). Mind you for what we paid for our dinner from the supermarket we might as well have eaten out. When we checked our bill we had bought 2 nectarines for £11! We thought it was a mistake so checked the price the next day and no – it was correct!!

The next highlight was the Haute Couture exposition at the Hotel de Ville. It was free to get in – hooray!! We didn’t have to queue long to get in and it was so worth it.

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There were 100 haute couture dresses on show and they were all magnificent. I am a great Chanel fan and loved the suits and dresses which were timeless. It was astounding to see that an outfit you could wear today was actually made in the 1940’s. Fab-u-lous!

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We tried to get in to the musuem of decorative arts but it was closed on Mondays so we headed up to Montmartre – always a favourite spot in Paris and had a wander around and “oh look Steve, there are some fabric shops here – fancy that!”

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I managed a wander around a couple including the famous Dreyfuss which is at the foot of the steps leading up to Sacre Coeur. You really need to come prepared as there were so many magnificent fabrics and not a bad price either which was surprising. Dreyfus has 5 floors so lots to see – I bought half a metre each of 2 furnishing fabrics to make bags from so watch this space!

All in all Paris was inspiring for anyone interested in fashion and especially haute couture. I had a great time there soaking it all in. Our break was only spoilt by a bit of snow which grounded Eurostar to a halt and meant we had to spend another night in Paris which may sound great but not when you have run out of clean underwear!

Au revoir!