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A tour of my new sewing room!

27 August 2015, 13:20

I know I’ve been talking about my new sewing room for ages (and believe me, it feels like even longer to me!) but I’m finally moved in and so chuffed to finally share it with you!

My new sewing room is very small, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in cool points – who else has a sewing room on a boat, concealed behind a hidden bookcase door, eh??

This is the bit everyone loves – a modified Hemnes bookcase from Ikea, with reinforcements, casters (wheels), and a hidden pull latch to keep it closed. Our joiner is a genius and we’re so lucky to have found him!! The greatest thing about this is that my sewing room is at the very end of the corridor, and the way the various deck heights work means there’s a porthole just above the bookcase. So it really does look convincing, like there’s no boat beyond it!!

Once inside, I’ve put a corkboard on the inside of the door as a place to pin all my magazine clippings, sketches of designs past and present, and general mood-boardy stuff. You can also see how small the room is here – it’s only a little under 2m (6 feet) long by 2m wide at its widest point.

Also take note of the smoked oak parquet floor that I painstakingly cut, laid, sanded, and hand oiled myself. Loooouuuurve my floor! It was expensive, both in cost and effort, but so worth it.

When you enter the room, immediately on your left you’ll find Susan, my dressform (seen here wearing my Laurie King fabric collaboration VNA Top pattern), and my pattern rack, which I’ve had for quite a few years but came from the garment industry supply shop, Morplan. As you can see from the number of patterns on it, I find it unbelievably useful! Also note the cute sewing machine clock my mom sent over to me!


IKEA print Alexander dress

2 April 2010, 13:47

As soon as I saw BurdaStyle’s “Alexander” blouse I feel in love with the floaty gathered sleeves and the retro-styling, but I also knew this blouse was meant to be a dress!

I had some pretty IKEA “Josefin” fabric in my stash since last June that I’d bought for £3.99/m and was just waiting for the perfect pattern to come along. This seemed like a great match, and as a bonus, I probably only used a little over 2m of the 3 I bought here, so there’s enough left over for something else, too.


The Weekend bag

4 November 2009, 16:19

I think this bag might be my longest-running project, having cut out the bag pieces back in August, so it feels good to finally finish it, even if I’m not 100% sold on the end result. If you recall, it’s from the Aug 09 KnipMode:

Instead of tracing pattern pieces from the sheets as usual, this bag pattern was printed in the instruction section as a drawing on a grid, which you then replicated on your own paper, making every square something like 4cm each. It was a different experience, but not necessarily bad if you’re decent at freehanding curves. I think in the end it took me a bit longer to do it this way than to just trace it, as I had to first draw out the grid onto my paper since I don’t own any patternmaking dot & cross sheets.

The fabric is a black, white, and pale blue “Inger” heavyweight canvas from IKEA, bought for £3.51/m. The outside was then coated with the laminate plastic Lamifil to make it waterproof and (hopefully) more wear-resistent.


Refashioned Ikea Patrones skirt and bag

8 April 2008, 12:26

I’m no stranger to repurposing Ikea – so far I’ve turned two pillowcases into four placemats, a shower curtain into a dress, and a pillowcase into a skirt. I picked up some blue, pre-hemmed table runner fabric back at the same time I bought the shower curtain, but it’s just so narrow that I couldn’t really think what to do with it and it’s languished in my stash ever since.

But I’ve been in the sewing doldrums lately, waiting for the weather to warm up, so I had another look at the table runner and saw the potential for a cute, flirty skirt using this Patrones skirt pattern from the October 2007 issue (#261, pattern no. 22). Big, big thanks to my generous Patrones benefactor, Zoe, for letting me borrow her past few issues so I don’t go broke on German eBay!

Because the Ikea table runner fabric was so narrow, I had to get out my seam ripper and unpick one entire hem in order to make the skirt as long as possible. I kept the other side hem intact to use as the bottom of the skirt to save myself a construction step!


Bad kitty pillows

23 March 2008, 20:32

Ever since I cut up the Ikea pillowcases and turned them into placemats a few weeks ago, our couch has had the indignity of being adorned with raw pillows (oh the shame!). I’ve been sewing like a mad woman over this long bank holiday weekend (I finished up my jeans and my Patrones Jean Paul Gaultier skirt but it’s been hailing and snowing and FAR too cold to make photoshoots appealing…) so I finally got the energy up to cover the pillows once and for all, with the genius naughty kitties fabric we bought for this purpose in the States.

I made a bunch of piping using some offcuts of poly gabardine (I eyeballed it and only had a couple inches leftover, yesssssss!), made some careful measurements, and now our couch is a much happier place to sit!


Ikea pillowcase placemats

6 March 2008, 14:47

Way back in August, James and I picked out this green naughty kitties fabric to use as pillowcases for our eventual lounge. We’ve since been on the lookout for the cheapest pillows we can find so I can make up new kitten covers for them, but you’d be surprised how overpriced even the ugliest pillows are today!

But then on a post-Christmas Ikea trip, we found these “ISIG” pillows on sale for £2 each. I think they must’ve been considered holiday items because of the snowflakes, but frankly, these were too good to just throw away. They’re cotton/linen blend, with the red snowflake (or star) design on one side, and stripes and a zipper closure on the other.


Do You Speak Sewing?

6 February 2008, 12:13

I finished hemming the Pendleton wool tuxedo-inspired trousers last night, using the very, very last of my navy blue thread, so we should hopefully be able to have the photoshoot tonight and you’ll see the completed suit tomorrow!

In Patrones news, I’ve been very busy tracing off a bunch of patterns from the December and October 2007 issues that my wonderful East London benefactor has lent to me. So far I’ve traced off 6 patterns and scanned and cleaned up images for 11. My Type A personality is really shining through here, but what I’ve done is put the traced pieces (I usually use brown kraft paper but for some reason the same paper in green was half price so who am I to argue?) plus a scan of the fashion photo plus a scan of the technical drawing and instructions all into a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Hopefully this means I won’t lose pieces or forget what I have when I go to choose a project…

Going through all the instructions made me yearn for something like Naaipatronen’s Dutch sewing terms list that I’d be able to use for all these Spanish sewing terms. I don’t really need much, but I found it necessary to at least know the type of fabric required before starting off, so knowing things like punto means knit is invaluable. Using a variety of online sources I’ve managed to cobble together a small list of Spanish sewing terms, but it’s nowhere near comprehensive and, not being a native speaker, probably has a bunch of errors in it. But I can keep it as a work in progress, so if you speak Spanish and have any corrections or addition, PLEASE send them over and I’ll update the file.

Download my Spanish – English sewing terms translation list (in pdf format)


Metro bottom dollar

22 January 2008, 11:13

Greetings Metro readers! No, this morning’s vision of a woman clad only in an Ikea shower curtain was not some hallucination brought on my last night’s curry and an early morning commute – it really was me!


One More 'Times

19 November 2007, 11:48

To continue on with my domination of the world’s media, my interview with the Financial Times Germany appeared last weekend! This time I even got a funky illustration of me cutting into an IKEA shower curtain to go with my feature! Click below for the front page of the Weekend section, or for just my article (which appeared on page two).


Sign of the 'Times

7 September 2007, 11:49

To follow on from yesterday’s comment about the New York Times Ikea hacks article, as things transpired throughout the day yesterday, I became less and less disappointed with being omitted from the article text itself. Sure, I gave what I thought was a good article with interesting things to say, but I know enough about the publishing world to accept that sometimes your articles get really, really chopped down and that word counts are super strict even when the topic is so interesting and varied. And did you see how many people the writer interviewed for this feature? I’m amazed she covered as much ground as she did!


In the swing of things

15 August 2007, 20:09

A day after I landed in America for the start of my holiday, I got an email from the New York Times asking if they could interview and photograph me for an article on Ikea Hacks. I gave a phone interview whilst in Pennsylvania, but the photographer didn’t catch up to me until today.


Glastonbury dress in situ

3 July 2007, 10:46

I’ll have another update very shortly (as soon as I can arrange the photo shoot), but until then, I know some of you have been asking how the Glastonbury dress held up to the deluge of mud…

And the answer is, surprisingly well!


Glastonbury meets IKEA

2 June 2007, 12:49

Back when I got the pillowcases for the famous IKEA skirt, I also bought a Tanja shower curtain that caught my eye from across the store and was conveniently marked down to a fiver.

It’s stayed in my fabric stash ever since, just waiting for the perfect project, which presented itself in the form of this Burda WOF 60s dress from the May 2007 issue. It turned out to be the perfect fabric for this dress, considering that Glastonbury is coming up in a few weeks and I’ve been wanting something special to wear (and let’s face it, if the famous downpours happen again this year, this dress is ready for them!!), and because the pink piping matches my hot pink wellies perfectly.


Rainy weekends

13 May 2007, 17:36

Yesterday I mostly finished my current project, dress #5 from the April 2007 edition of KnipMode (the John Galliano knockoff), but I lost my enthusiasm when it came to hemming it, seeing as how it’s been rainy and cold for the past week and this is a sleeveless summer dress. Ho hum. I’ll finish the hem at some point this week and brave the goosebumps for a photo shoot.


Un-English Update

1 March 2007, 21:19

I bought a ton of sewing magazines! I managed to pick up the February and March issues of Knipmode magazine (March was a special double issue with a full supplement of sailing-inspired clothes! Perfect!), plus the Dutch language version of the March issue of Burda World of Fashion magazine. I figure I never read the instructions in the English versions of Burda anyway, so it didn’t matter much if it was written in Dutch as long as I could see from the photos what sort of fabric to use…

target=“out”>February and March issues of Knipmode magazine (March was a special double issue with a full supplement of sailing-inspired clothes! Perfect!), plus the Dutch language version of the March issue of Burda World of Fashion magazine. I figure I never read the instructions in the English versions of Burda anyway, so it didn’t matter much if it was written in Dutch as long as I could see from the photos what sort of fabric to use…

I’d only just vaguely heard of Knipmode before, but I had a chance to thumb through a copy in the supermarket before I bought it and I was delighted to discover it’s very similar to Burda WOF – about 40 patterns, all very fashion forward with glossy model photoshoots showing the finished products, plus one pattern where they go in-depth with lots of step-by-step diagrams, a plus section, and a few fashion mag-esque pages on how to accessorize what you’ve sewn. One thing I really liked is that Knipmode show a technical drawing next to the glossy photoshoots so you can see what it’s like right there without having to flip to the center section. And Knipmode’s step-by-step pattern has the largest diagrams ever!

If you’re not familiar with Knipmode (as I wasn’t until the weekend), here’s a few of my favourites from the February and March issues to give you a feel for their style… a hooded, zippered sweatshirt with kangaroo pockets, a denim skirt with a kilt-inspired styling, a perfect wrapdress for woven fabrics and a button-down shirt and khaki cargos for men, a knit long-sleeved top with an assymetric neckline, a v-necked, half-surplice top with a collar, a pair of sailor trousers with the button-up flap in front, and a woven shirtdress with a belt and band collar.

And in other non-English language news – my arse is famous! I was approached by a nice woman from IKEA’s head office in Sweden asking if I wouldn’t mind if they used the skirt I made from an IKEA pillowcase in their in-staff magazine. I was delighted and sent them some hi-res photos and answered their questions about why I hate IKEA (answer: I love their goods, I just detest everything about their store experience), and I got a copy of the newsletter today. Not only am I featured inside, but my arse is on the cover!


I normally hate IKEA, but...

28 June 2006, 20:53

…it was just before closing time and there was some cute fabric I wanted to grab (and the boy wanted some pear cider from the Swedish shop) so I allowed myself to be dragged into the 9th circle of hell, just this once. Across the warehouse-wasteland expanse of the store, a bold red print called out to me. But on further inspection, the print belonged to just some pillowcases. How disappointing!

Or, what if I could somehow turn those pillowcases into something wonderful? It took an evening, but out of two pillowcases and a bit of bias binding, this skirt emerged (and because the pillowcases each had a zipper, I’ve got an extra now!):