Saturday, December 31, 2011

Edinburgh's Hogmanay Celebrations

Last night, David and I participated in the Torchlight Procession which opens the annual Edinburgh's Hogmanay  (New Year's Eve) celebrations.  A bunch of people dressed as vikings alongside Scottish highlanders dragging a viking warship (which is later burnt), led what they are saying was a 15,000+ strong crowd all carrying flaming torches through the city of Edinburgh.  It started at the historic High Street (Royal Mile) and wound through Princes Street and up to the ancient Edinburgh meeting ground Calton Hill.

It was amazing to see so many lights!

Scotland has perhaps one of the richest celebrations of New Year's Eve, spanning three days--they even have their own name for it--Hogmanay.   According to
It may not be widely known but Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this has its roots in the Protestant Reformation when the Kirk portrayed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast and therefore had to be banned. Many Scots had to work over Christmas and their winter solstice holiday was therefore at New Year when family and friends gathered for a party and exchange presents, especially for the children, which came to be called hogmanay.
There are traditions before midnight such as cleaning the house on 31st December (including taking out the ashes from the fire in the days when coal fires were common). There is also the superstition to clear all your debts before "the bells" at midnight.
Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns' "For Auld Lang Syne". Burns claimed it was based on an earlier fragment and certainly the tune was in print over 80 years before he published his version in 1788.
"Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne." 
An integral part of the Hogmanay partying, which continues very much today, is to welcome friends and strangers, with warm hospitality and of course a kiss to wish everyone a Guid New Year. The underlying belief is to clear out the vestiges of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.

Here's a photo (from Edinburgh City Guide) of the viking ship being burnt on Calton Hill:

Here's a short video we took (sorry it's a bit dark):

Have a Happy New Year everyone! See you in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011: A year of sewing in pictures

Here's a look back at 2011 in pictures...


Centre Photo: David and I recreating a scene from 'The 39 Steps' Hitchcock movie.  Other photos: 16. The 'Whippin' Something Up' apron, 17. The 'Almost Easter' dress, 18. The 'Serenity' gown, 19. The 'Royal Wedding' dress and hat, 20. The 'Paddington Goes to Scotland' dress, 21. The 'Kitten' dress, 22. The 'Union Jack Peek-a-Boo' hooded dress, 23. The 'Raspberry Sorbet' dress, 24 & 25. The 'Faux Wrap Blouse' and skirt, 26. 'Faux Wrap Blouse No. 2', 27. The 'Lady of the Lake' dress, 28. The 'Singin' in the Rain' jacket refashion, 29. The 'Now or Never' halter top, UFO. The 'Chocolate and Wine' dress, 30 & 31. The 'Watch Your Back' dress, 32. The 'Harbour Lights' dress, 33 & 34. The 'Ring of Fire' dress, 35 & 36. The 'Pretty Pendrell' blouse and 'Mrs. Peacock' skirt, 37. The 'Angels' culottes, 38. The 'Tribute' skirt.

Photos: 39. The '99 Luftballoons' dress, 40. The 'Great Gatsby Affair' dress, 41. The 'Going Green' trousers, 42. The 'Razzle Dazzle' blouse, 43. The 'Around the World in 21 Days' dress, 44. The 'C'moooooon Poil!' swing jacket, 45. The 'Highland Ghost Pyjamas', 46. The 'Vitameatavegamin' blouse, 47. The 'Midcentury Madness' dress, 48. The 'Kitten' skirt, 49. The 'Bow Sweater', 50. The 'Revisiting My First Dress' collar and cuffs, 51. The 'Hawk's Eye View' dress, 52. The 'Pumpkin' dress, 53. The 'Déjà Vu' skirt, 54. The 'Scarlett O'Hara' dress, 55. The 'Starting with the Fabric' blouse, 56 & 57. The 'Deco the Halls' tunic and dress, 58. The 'Celebration' dress.

Phew! I get tired just looking at all these photos :)  The neat thing is how much each outfit embodies the time and place where it was made.  So many great memories all captured in sewing!!  Which is your favourite?  What about you? What has been your favourite thing you've made this year?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I finished the Sew Weekly challenge!!

I can't believe I made it!  I just finished my last Sew Weekly challenge outfit!  It's been a crazy ride and many days I wasn't sure I would make it but.... I officially made it through a whole year of sewing weekly!

This week, in celebration, I thought it was the perfect time to use the pattern I received from the lovely Trish through the Sew Weekly Sewing Circle pattern swap organised by the amazing Kat.

This is the lovely package I got in the swap.  It included an adorable 1950's dress pattern (Butterick 8132), a vintage tea towel (not pictured) and some lovely buttons including two large coconut buttons:

It's such a lovely pattern and was a dream to sew up.  I used some more of the red velvet curtains I used for the ruffled collars and cuffs from last week's outfit.  I took the advice of several commenters on my Scarlett O'Hara dress and ended up pressing the velvet on top of another piece of velvet and it worked like a charm. Thank you!

The dress has three panels in the front and three in the back.  The sleeves are cut in one with the dress so it's really quick to sew up. I absolutely adore this velvet fabric.  It feels like a cotton velvet but it is fairly lightweight and a dream to sew with.  The lining of the curtain is actually fused to the velvet--so it acts as a underlining of sorts.  I changed my needle to a size 11 to work with this fabric and found that was perfect.

This dress has lots of hand sewing... I hand picked the zipper and also hand basted the white bow trim before sewing it on.  The part that took the longest on this dress was the hem!  It required loads of fitting and adjusting of the hem, not to mention that pressing velvet is a slow process.  Since the fabric is a bit thicker and the dress is quite full, I ended up hand basting gathering stitches on the hem.  Then I drew those up and sewed seam binding over the edge before hand hemming the dress.  I think the hem alone took about 3 hours!

Last Giveaway of 2011
As has been the tradition around these parts, I am offering up this pattern for another sewist to give it a shot! It's really a great pattern.  It's a size B32 but since it has princess seam lines and so many panels, it is really easy to grade up by adding just a small amount extra to the seam allowances and it doesn't loose it's shape.  

As with other giveaways, this is open to my readers everywhere.  Just leave a comment on this post answering the question: Which outfit that I've made this year has been your favourite?  I can't wait to hear which ones you liked best!!

The giveaway will close at midnight on January 2nd and I'll pick the winner by random.

Here's to another year of sewing! Thank you all for your lovely comments and support!!

xoxoxo Debi

Friday, December 23, 2011

Deco the halls: My 1933 tunic dress

Sorry for the lack of posts lately--it's been a bit crazy round these parts!  I wanted to share my newly made holiday outfit.  I've been wanting to make this outfit forever and am so happy I had to the chance to do it this week!

It's based on a 1933 reproduction pattern from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:

This dress features a camisole attached skirt which flares slightly at the side seams.  The over-tunic may be made in full length or in a shorter, cut-away style.  Cuffs and collar offer two options, one in a deep pleated style, the other with a tightly gathered stand up ruffle.  I, of course, chose the ruffled version!

Here's the tunic and the underdress:
I used the same fabric for the tunic that I used to sew up my Mother's Day inspired 'Kitten' dress and the underskirt was sewn from the same black flannel that I used to make the 'Promenade' suit.  I used another set of velvet curtains in my stash to make the collar and cuffs.

The underdress closes with a side zipper.  Here I styled it with a belt from my stash and in the warmer summer months it could probably be worn as a dress by itself.  It's very comfortable and I like that I can keep this underdress and then make up lots of different tunics to go with it!

The collar was super easy to sew up and I found this velvet curtain much smoother and easier to sew with than the velvet curtain I used a few weeks ago to create my 'Scarlett O'Hara' dress.  Plus I have extra fabric left that I definitely want to make into a dress or part of a suit! The cuffs were much harder to sew into place due to the many layers of fabric and such a small wrist opening.  I could only sew part of it on the machine and ended up finishing the rest by hand.

The tunic fabric is a very loose weave tweed.  I found Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Guide on google books and read her advice on using fusible interfacing on the seam allowances to provide a bit of stability.  It worked like a charm (though I wish I had used black interfacing rather than white--not because it shows through but just for aesthetic appeal).  I am now going to bind the edges over the interfacing to make it look a bit nicer.  That should take care of any fraying!

The tunic just wraps around and is held in place by a belt and several strategically placed snaps.  The pattern doesn't actually call for snaps but given that my tunic fabric is quite lightweight and my ruffles are a bit heavier--it was evident I needed a few extra closures

Here's some photos out and about at the Edinburgh Christmas Market:

Look, I'm in a snow globe :)

How sad does the snowman look in the first picture (lol)?  I just had to give him a hug to cheer him up! When I met up with Kerry and Kristen a couple of weeks ago, we visited the Edinburgh Christmas market and spied this snowglobe.  It's been my mission ever since to take one of my outfit photos in the snowglobe.  So I'm really happy that I was able to stop by there last night to take these photos.

One of my favourite things about this outfit is that David said it reminded him of his absolute favourite art nouveau print:

Overall, the tunic dress is very comfortable and I just love how luxurious the velvet ruffles feel! 

Phew! That was a bit of sewing this week!  David and I are looking forward to enjoying some quite time together with our two kitties for the rest of the month. What are your plans for the remainder of 2011?

David and I are wishing you all a wonderful holiday season!

*'Deco the Halls': a title I borrowed from one of my favourite deco ladies: The Vintage Baronness!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tailoring Book Giveaway Winner

The winner of the 1960's tailoring book is.....

Tawny who blogs over at The L-T experience.  As Tawny describes it "a goofy, ridiculous, sometimes messy stories about Terry, Tawny, Logan and Lane (Team L-T). Seen, reported on and enhanced by Tawny"--a really fun family blog.

 Tawny says:

I would love to learn more about shaping the perfect collar. I'm still pretty average at it.
Collars are high on my list too!  Congrats to Tawny and thanks to everyone for entering the giveaway!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Giveaways Galore--but hurry!

This is just a handful of the many, many giveaways happening at the moment--all compiled in one place, the Sew, Mama, Sew blog.  You must check it out.  There are almost 300 giveaways open internationally for sewing supplies alone!!  There's probably at least 500 giveaways linked up to the site already!  Other categories include handmade accessories, handmade bags, kids items, etc.  Definitely head on over to the website and click the links of the giveaways you want to enter...I've probably entered 40 or so already.  The great part is that you find some amazing blogs in the process too.  But don't delay.  All the giveaways end today (the 16th) at 5pm PST (1am on the 17th GMT time).

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 'starting with the fabric' blouse...

This week's Sew Weekly theme had me in a sheer panic.  The theme was 'patternless'....eep!  If you've been following my blog for awhile, you'll know that I am a total vintage pattern geek.  I obsess over love them. I could seriously look at them for ages.  I always start with the pattern.  I'm actually the same way with cooking.  David can just waltz into the kitchen and cook up a fabulous meal with whatever we have in the fridge.  I'm creative in different ways...the um, planning way. lol.

This week I decided the fabric needed to guide me.  What better inspiration could I have for this week than the very Ms. Mena herself?  Or lore specifically a small piece of fabric that I picked up with Mena when I was in San Fransisco.  In fact, I passed over the fabric originally.  Mena has eagle eyes when it comes to spotting good deals and AMAZING fabric.  She brought this lovely flowered blue fabric over to me and said 'I bet there's enough to make a blouse' out of this!  BINGO.  And so I have.

What I am about to describe to you is me breaking ALL the sewing rules.  I didn't drape anything on a mannequin that I carefully measured.  I didn't draw out a paper pattern with a funky shaped clear ruler (btw. I totally don't know how to use those things!).  Yours truly held the fabric up to herself and stuck some pins in it, took measurements and just cut the fabric out.  I know, I know.  I can hear you gasping.  I then proceeded to add two bust darts and pin fit the top together.

I topped it off with matching bias binding on the sleeves and neck.

Now don't get me wrong. I do want to learn proper draping and would love to draft up some really neat designs--however, it was not this week.  I think for something any more in-depth I would need a lot more time!  I am pleased with my simple shell blouse and I know I'll get lots of wear out of it as it goes perfectly with my 1941 high waisted trousers.

I must say that this whole experience has given me a new found respect for folks like Sarai and Tasia who make their own patterns!  What about you?  Pattern first or fabric first?  Do you like to create your own designs or are you a pattern lover like me?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My déjà vu skirt

There must be a glitch in the matrix because this is definitely a déjà vu skirt (btw I just love the matrix--1st one definitely the best)!  Right....back to the subject at hand.... 

I've done a pencil skirt before--back when the days were long and there was sunlight aplenty (and before our camera started adding horizontal lines on all our pictures--have you noticed that?  It drives me crazy).  The previous pencil skirt was also in in a colourful wool fabric...

This time I used Simplicity 2154, a reissued vintage pattern:

How cute is this pattern??  It includes a classic pencil skirt, an amazing blouse and a jacket!  I've really enjoyed the Simplicity reissued patterns (I've made trousers from a Simplicity reissue twice and a blouse from that same pattern).  I only had enough fabric for the skirt from this pattern.  Well, that's not really true.  You see, you may recognise this fabric....

Whatever possessed me from making a poncho out of some fabulous wool?  You should really stop me when I get ideas like that (granted I probably didn't post about it until it was finished....)  I think ponchos only work in sunny locations where there is no wind.  In Scotland, they are impossible to wear.  A bit like this photo...

So, I've chopped up the poncho and am going to make a matching vest for my pencil skirt!!  It's a bit funny that I'm refashioning my own creations! teeheee.

This wool is quite lovely and was an amazing charity shop find (about 2.5 metres).  It's nice and thick.  I didn't line the skirt--though I just saw Sunni's tutorial for lining a skirt with a vent, which I might just try out!

I inserted a hand picked zipper--one of my favourite methods for inserting zippers on wool fabric (as the handpicked stitches just disappear!)

I don't think I can ever have enough pencil skirts.  They are so versatile.  I plan on building a mini-wardrobe around this wool fabric much like I did with the Mrs. Peacock skirt.

Have you ever refashioned your own sewn garments?  It's oddly fun!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tailoring book giveaway

The lovely Lynette from Thinking in Shapes emailed me the other day saying that she had a great tailoring book and was wondering if I would be interested in hosting a giveaway.  OH YES, said I.  Books on sewing?  Love them.  Books on Tailoring??  Love them with a cherry on top!

One of the things that I was most impressed with when I met Gertie in September was how much she delved into sewing books and resource materials.  After that meeting, I made a little promise to myself that I would have more of a student's approach to sewing--trying to learn as much as possible.  One of the things I really want to do is consult with more vintage sewing books....of which this is one!

Before we talk about the book in question, I just wanted to mention Lynette's blog called Thinking in Shapes. Lynette opened a tailoring shop when she was twenty-one.  On her blog she says:
I worked all the time for a while, then I sold the business. Now I spend most of my time designing, sewing, and being a real wife, all my favorite things.
Lynette sells her creations in her shop called Lady Danburry--most of it made from vintage fabrics:

So a big thank you to Lynette for generously sharing this book with others who love to sew!

The book is called 'How to tailor: A handbook for home tailoring' by Phyllis W. Schwebke first published in 1960 and again in 1965.

The book has lots of useful information on different tailoring projects.  I just love the picture below:

See the coat in the upper left corner?  It's called the 'clutch' coat.  How great is that?  If you've been wanting to make an early 60's suit--this is the book for you!

It also includes detailed information on altering sewing patterns for various adjustments!

Enter the Giveaway:
Lynette is happy to ship the book anywhere in the world so this is open to everyone.  Simply leave a comment on this post answering the question "With regards to tailoring, what is one thing you would like to learn or what technique would you like to get better at doing?" Leave your comment by midnight (London time) the 17th of December for a chance to win.  Thanks again Lynette for the generous giveaway!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Save the date: Scotland meet-up details

SAVE the date!  It's official, we are planning a Scotland meet-up of sewists, knitters and crafters in January.  This is open to everyone--you don't have to be a blogger to attend.

Date:  Saturday the 21st of January, 2012

Time: 11:00am start time until 5:30pm.  And then why not stay on and join us for dinner and drinks if you can?

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Activities: We'll start by getting to know each other over a lunchtime nibble and then depending on how many people there are, we may split into groups according to interests (i.e. fabric shopping, yarn shops, vintage shops, etc.)  We'll meet back up for a pattern/fabric/yarn swap and more merriment.

Join Us!  Let one of your co-hosts (me, Kristen and/or Kerry) know that you are interested in attending and we'll make sure you are on the mailing list for important logistical information.  Either leave a comment here or email me at: myhappysewingplace[at]googlemail[dot]com.

YAY! Can't wait!  Feel free to grab one of the buttons (thanks to Kristen for making these) and pass the word around!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sew Grateful Highlights: Reflections, Projects and Giveaways

This post is a long time a-coming! Thank you everyone for participating in the Sew Grateful challenge--it was great to see your projects, participate in (and even win--woot, woot!) the giveaways and read your reflection posts!  Here's the second installment of the Sew Grateful Challenge highlights:

Reflection Posts

  • To all those who inspire and give(away) from Beau Baby: A lovely post from Suzanne about all the things she's grateful for from the sewing community.  Check out this post to see a recap of some of her projects including a wonderful bombshell dress.
  • So far...from OonaBalloona: A walk down memory lane...I just love this post where Oona reviews the process of making her past  21 creations as part of the Sew Weekly feature.


Hello Lover Bag from Reana Louise over at Curves, Patterns and Pins.
Reana Louise created this amazing bag using japanese cotton (the same used for her Welcome Spring dress) and thick, luscious cotton-sateen. The best part?  She didn't use a pattern but just created shape that she liked with a rounded edge.  The Sew Grateful bit is that the seams on this bag are serged and she is so thankful for all the advice she received from her readers on serging.  She even included an awesome graph (I so love graphs :) Isn't this bag the best?

Sew Thankful Pillow from Mommy en France who blogs over at the Two little cabbages and cie

Mommy en France made up this adorable pillow from a quilting square that her mother gave her last summer. It was a leftover from a quilt her mother had made for her cousin about 20 years ago. Inspired by the challenge, Mommy en France took out the square, chose a contrasting, but harmonious, second piece of calico, and whipped up a very basic pillow case.  I just love seeing things being passed on in families--what a wonderful piece of tradition!

Sew Grateful Quilt from Seeks over at Seek Speak
At the end of summer, M is for Make hosted a giveaway for a fat 16th of Storybook fabric from Birch Fabrics that Seeks (who blogs over at Seek Speak) won. Seeks immediately thought of making a quilt.  So she made the quilt for her niece from the material she won in the giveaway. How sweet! I know she will love those adorable fabrics.

Collaboration Shrug from Steph over at 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

This is the shrug that 3 bloggers made.  It’s a very fine, airy New Zealand merino/ viscose blend.  Leimomi brought it with her to Australia as a gift when she visited Steph who blogs over at 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World.  Steph immediately thought it would make a good shrug and remembered Tanit-Isis’ 1950′s shrug pattern available as a download.  It's perfect as a shrug and it's conception really does embody the spirit of the sewing community!

iwannahula skirt from Oona who blogs over at Oonaballoona

Ms. Oonaballoona decided to make a project using a pattern she received during the pattern swap at our NY meetup extravaganza.  The fantastic pattern swap portion happened per Lisette's suggestion, and this pattern is from Lisette's very own contribution to the pattern swap.  Isn't this skirt a-mazing?  You've done us proud Oona!!

Thanksgiving Apron from Stacie Thinks She Can:
Stacie got this pretty lace trim from Project Angel Kisses. She ingeniously added it to the neckline of her recent apron project (despite protests from the sewing machine).  I just love the detail it adds!

Sublime Stitching Babe from Amy at Sew Well:

You may remember the Sublime Stitching giveaway that Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons hosted.  Well, Amy won that giveaway and Sublime Stitching sent her a large canvas bag and a set of the Beach Babes embroidery patterns.  She had never done any detailed embroidery before, just the eyes and noses for some animal blankets, so this gift enabled her to venture into new sewing territory and don't you agree her first beach babe is amazing?  I just love it!

The 80 Year Old Burda Skirt from Janine at Interrupted Sutures:

Janine gives us some stats on this beautiful skirt: fabric = at least 40 years old, buttons = 30 years old, pattern = 6 years old and the lining fabric = 4 years. Only the zip and thread were new.  Janine was given the pink linen (along with various other dress and craft and home dec fabrics )  from her (ex) neighbour when she moved. The neighbour told her it came from her own mother`s stash and she can remember it from when she was quite young.  What a wonderful way to appreciate the gift of this amazing fabric!

Dead Simple Quilt by Unconventional Katie

This sew grateful quilt is in honour of Lynne at Lily's Quilts for hosting a quilt-a-long and also to Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting for hosting a weekly free motion quilting practice, which is what Katie did before tackling this quilt. Don't these colours look great together? Great job, Katie!

Apron Dress by Hana at Marmota's Dress Diaries

Hana made this apron dress from gingham-ish print that she got from a friend's mother (She also got fabric to make the pale green 1970 dress, and several other projects). The bias binding is the infamous Very Pink Poplin of Doom, also a gift. So, an apron dress you say? It is inspired by the Colette Patterns - namely their Crepe dress, using this free pattern by Lekala and modified by Hana. Brilliant idea--and two of my favourite colours together!

The Sew Grateful Dress: Vintage Simplicity 4908 by Alana at Lazy Stitching

Alana from Lazy Stitching just made a super duper fabulous Sew Grateful dress.  She made it with one of two vintage patterns that she won in a blogiversary giveaway from Amy of Sewing Through the Motions.  Check out Alan's post to see how she combined this Simplicity pattern with the Sewaholic Pendrell blouse and the Burdastyle's Jenny Pencil Skirt.  Ingenious and absolutely stunning!

Projects in Progress: Sew Grateful by Diane at Marguerite Designs

This Sew Grateful project in progress is from Diane who blogs over at Marguerite Designs.  She's  using a Burda sewing pattern which she received as part of a worldwide pattern swap organised by Kat from the Sew Weekly Sewing Circle. She's making the red, satiny fabric (see photo) which she found at a nearby fabric for an insanely cheap price.  The best bit?  Guess where she is going to wear this dress?  To see a live performance of the Strictly Come Dancing tour! How fun is that??


My First Pattern Giveaway by Jane over at Passing All Understanding

Jane from Passing all Understanding is doing her first pattern giveaway! And what a giveaway!!! She has eight patterns up for grabs and she'll choose two seamstresses who will each get to choose two patterns!  She'll send them free to anyone in the U.S.  The giveaway is open until midnight December 11th.  Click here to enter.

Sunny Day Gray Skirt Giveaway by Lavender over at Threadsquare

Lavender is giving away an amazingly constructed, beautiful skirt.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Contest is open until December 7, 2011, 23:59 EST (that's TONIGHT). Here are the flat measurements (double the waist/hip) of the skirt:
  • waist – 13.5 ” / 34.29 cm
  • hip – 19.5″ / 49.53 cm
  • length – 26″ / 66 cm

That concludes the round-up of Sew Grateful Challenge projects, reflections and giveaways! I hope I captured everyone's projects.  This was so much fun to do and as someone (Vicki, I think?) suggested, we should do this again!!!  So here we go.....How about a post-holiday Sew Grateful Challenge?  Mark your calendars for the week of January 16th.  I already have some fun ideas for projects I want to complete!  How about you?
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