Monday, December 31, 2012

2013: Be Lucky

Happy New Year's Eve!  Yesterday, David and I participated in one of our favourite Edinburgh traditions: the Hogmanay torchlight procession.  Approximately 40,000 people participated in this year's event.  It involves giant candles (or torches) and a procession led by bagpipers through the city up to the top of Calton Hill, which overlooks the city.

This was our view from the top of the hill looking down on Prince's Street and the Christmas Market:

A giant bonfire was lit on the hill, saying goodbye to 2012:

There was an amazing fireworks show.  Since we were up so high, it felt like the fireworks were really close:

And we said hello to 2013:

I love the theme they chose for this year's Hogmanay celebrations which was 2013: 'Be Lucky'.

I wish you all a lucky and wonderful 2013 and a happy celebration in your part of the world!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012: The Year of Big Projects

Given that 2012 is almost over, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at my sewing projects from the year.  I'm calling 2012 my 'Year of Big Projects'.  If 2011 was my 'Year of Prolific Sewing', 2012 saw me take on even bigger sewing and sewing-related projects!

January to March 2012

January started off with a bang!  I began by making my 1937 'Birthday Dress Suit' and by exploring my favourite pattern company (McCall's) through a series of blog posts (with the help of genealogical sleuths Mikhaela and her mum).  I also co-hosted (with the lovely Kristen and Kerry) the Crafters' Ceilidh meet-up in Edinburgh and got to hang out with some lovely ladies:

In January, I was also featured in Sew Magazine (so exciting!!):

February saw more cold weather sewing with me making David some tartan pjs and a matching nightcap.  I also hosted my annual 'Sew Grateful Week' which saw a flurry of sewing projects, giveaways, tutorials and reflection posts from lots of bloggers (catch up with all the posts here..):

March saw a bit more sewing action when I co-hosted the 'Sew Cinematic' challenge and made one of my most worn makes of the year, my 1950s 'Betty Blouse' inspired by a Betty Draper blouse worn in Mad Men. I also participated in Tilly's 'One Week, One Pattern' challenge and made another rendition of Simplicity 3688 and wore my four versions of these 1941 trousers all week!

April to July
7. My 'Black Forest Meringue' skirt; 8. My 'Marlene Suit'

April ushered in my first me-made of spring, my 'Marlene Suit' complete with jacket and matching trousers, inspired by Marlene Dietrich's fabulous suits.  I absolutely LOVE this suit (jacket is from a 1939 McCall pattern and the trousers are Simplicity 3688 again).  I also made my 'Black Forest Meringue' skirt from the Colette patterns book.  April also saw a series of post on Edwardian Scotland (inspired by Downton Abbey and the Titanic anniversary).

The following month, I participated in my favourite Me-Made-May to date and managed to wear me-made outfits all month (weeks 1, 2, 3 and 4).

June saw my biggest sewing project to date:  I made David a Bonnie Prince Charlie kilt jacket, a white tie vest and matching kilt flashes for his graduation.  Phew! What an undertaking.  It was exhilerating, exiting and panic-inducing all at once.  The jacket and everything turned out great but it definitely took a long time to mock-up and sew.  Though, I must say, it has piqued my interest in menswear tailoring...hmmmmm.....

August to December:

September saw the start of a series of posts called the 'ABCs of Vintage Sewing' which have run throughout Autumn and which I'll be continuing in the new year.  It's been a really fun series to do, that explores the ins and outs of vintage sewing on every topic you could imagine (from A to Z....).  September also saw the creation of my 'B is for Border Prints' dress, a really fun early 1960s pattern using a fabulous border print I got during the Crafters' Ceilidh meet-up.

That wasn't all that was happening in the summer and autumn, I was working hard behind the scenes to launch a social enterprise called 'Weaving Destination'!  My social enterprise partner, Javita and I will be launching several fabric collections in 2013 (my 'Weaving Destination Launch Dress' is made from one of the fabrics from the spring collection).  The social enterprise bit is that all of the fabric is ethically made and all profits go to support an indigenous women's weaving collective in Assam, BTC, India.  This collective is important because it provides financial independence, support services and sustainable employment for women that have been victims of trafficking, that are living with HIV/AIDS or that are female migrant returnees.  Weaving Destination is really the culmination of my two passions: working to address the root causes of violence against women and children and being creative through sewing!  We were very lucky to have received the Melting Pot's Social Innovation Incubator Award for 2012-2013:

Wow, 2012 was a very busy year.  I'm looking forward to delving deeper into some of these projects in 2013 and in seeing what lies ahead!  Thank you all so much for reading my blog and being part of my journey! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Glasgow Meet-Up

I had a FABULOUS day yesterday!  I met up with Kerry who blogs over at Kestrel Finds and Makes and the lovely Kathryn who blogs at Yes I Like That.  We met up in Glasgow for a bit of fabric shopping and lots of chatting!  I look forward to many more meet-ups like this--I had so much fun!!

We stopped in Mandors Glasgow and stumbled upon something rather unusual:

Ritual jersey?  Can something please explain this to me?  I'm hoping it doesn't involve sewists chanting....

The Glasgow Queen Street train station is right next to the Christmas Market!!  One of my favourite things to do during the festive season!  Check out this bedazzled storefront complete with giant peacock on the top:

Can I just say that Scots are crazy?  Only here would they bring out all the carnival DECEMBER.  It's freezing and raining nearly every day and there's a queue to ride the swings (below) and the ferris wheel!  In fact, it was only last year that David and I got stuck on the ferris wheel!  We had been having 100 mph winds that year in December...they seemed to die down and so we ventured out to the Christmas market.  I'm not a big rides person but the ferris wheel seemed tame enough.  OH MY GOODNESS...I've never been so happy to get off a ride in my life.  We were at the top and all of a sudden all the electricity goes out and we are not so gently swaying in the wind.  Eeep.  Poor David, I think I might have clawed his arm off.  They left us up there for what seems like eternity.  Finally, they started hand cranking us down.  Slowly, slowly...we reach the bottom.   But it was too good to be true. They had to balance the ferris wheel and so they were letting every other car out. And of course, we were in a car that got to be hand cranked around again!  Aaahhhh!  Let's just say that kissing the ground is not something I would normally associate with getting off a ferris wheel!

David thinks we should get back on the horse and go on the ferris wheel again this year.... I think I'd rather stick with the ice skating!  I'm slightly scared to ask if any of you have had any freaky carnival ride experiences....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fab Deal on Vintage Patterns

The lovely Denise from The Blue Gardenia just announced her year-end sale on vintage patterns!! Here's the details:
annual attitude-of-gratitude, our-customers-are-the-best, end-of-year sale is here!
Here's the scoop:
Spend $50 - $99, get 15% off.
Spend $100 - $249, get 35% off.
Spend $250 - $399, get 40% off.
Spend $400 or more, get 45% off.
How's that?  The limits are all before the discount, which means if you spend, for instance, $250, then your tally will only be be $150. Isn't that the cat's meow? We think so. So, shop, shop, shop.

Sale ends at midnight PST January 3, 2013. All payments must be received by January 7, 2013.
I may have just bought a few patterns including this gem that just jumped in my basket...
...practice what you preach, right?  Right?  Back me up here readers! :-)  Teehee.  Off to the fabric store now!  My goodness, I am being very naughty today!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Here are a few of my favourite photos of Rita Hayworth to help with wishing you all a festive holiday season!

Much love, Debi, David and Echo

 [photo credits 1, 2, 3 and 4]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Downton Abbey Costumes Episode 3

I'm a bit behind on my Downton Abbey Series 3 posts! Here are some stills from episode 3...

You may recall seeing this dress worn by Lady Grantham in episode 2.  In fact, Clio asked for a better shot and we get that in this episode (hooray!).  It's a great design and you can just see a bit of the back in the mirror.

Several of you were asking me for my thoughts on the third series as I've been a bit mum on plot lines as to avoid spoiling it for my U.S. readers who won't get to view the series until January.  What I can say is that I am very happy with this season.  The plot is really exciting and I am LOVING the costumes.  There is some really good character development and it seems less soap opera-ish than season 2 (hello distant relative from Canada who was on the Titanic....).  Don't get me wrong, it's still plenty dramatic this season but harkens back to the jaw-dropping plots of season 1.  It's also great to see the characters maturing, new alliances and new enemies forming and definitely some tear-jerking moments.

The costumes from this episode are spectacular!  I love, love, love them are my favourites:

Ok, this one might be my favourite!  Check out the detailed embroidery on that collar.  Love the asymmetrical matching hat:

I love that Lady Edith's colour is orange.  She looks so stunning in those shades.  Can I also just say how much I am enjoying the new waved bobs!

What about you?  Which of the costumes is your favourite?

[Photo Credits]

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Launch Party!

What a day! Yesterday we had our official launch party for the Weaving Destination social enterprise and it was absolutely amazing.

The day started out early with setting up the venue.  We arranged the scarves and shawls along two tables:

A friend of ours, Nauman, exhibited his artwork--which added so much ambiance and colour to the space:

We started the launch event with some social time and then we screened a short video highlighting the process of weaving the cotton and silk fabrics and the social goals of the Weaving Destination.

The set-up was cafe style, which led to many great conversations.  It was fantastic meeting so many people and to see all the interest in the social enterprise.

There were also holiday decorations to bring a festive spirit to the event:

Both Javita and I spoke about the goals of the social enterprise, the launch of our new Etsy shop and our plans for the future:

The founder and director of The Melting Pot, Claire, was our guest of honour.  The Melting Pot is Scotland's Centre for social innovation and has supported us with a Social Innovation Incubation Award.  It was really heart-warming to hear Claire's speech about how far we've come:

Instead of cutting a ribbon to officially launch our social enterprise, we decided to cut into the first fabric from our Spring collection (and the same fabric as my me-made dress).  Everyone counted down from three and then we made the first cut together:

Cutting the fabric was super exciting and a great way to start our social enterprise together!

Can you tell how happy and excited we are?

A super big thank you to everyone for your support! We are looking forward to many more exciting milestones in the future!!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Wow! Thank You!!

Thank you all so much! We launched our online shop this morning and we went from a packed Etsy site this morning:

To this by the afternoon:
Only a few items still remaining in the shop!  The good news is that we'll be taking some more photos tomorrow and will have some new scarves up in the shop by tomorrow evening UK time.  Thank you again for everything--it's been a tremendous and humbling experience to see and feel all the support from everyone for this cause!  For those that ordered a scarf today, it will go out in the post tomorrow.

Etsy Shop is Now Open and Our Upcoming Launch Party!

Oh my goodness.  Excitement abounds.... Javita and I have been working really hard these last couple of weeks and now we are ready to launch our social enterprise!!!

First, our Etsy Store is now officially open! YAY!

Here is the link:

We are currently selling the handwoven cotton and ethical silk scarves and shawls.  I think they would make great Christmas presents.  I'll be shipping them out of the UK, so just note some of our postal deadlines. In order to get your parcel from Scotland, you will need to order it before the final posting dates:
  • Monday the 10th of December: for those of you in the U.S., Eastern Europe and Canada
  • Wednesday the 12th of December: if you live in Western Europe, and
  • Tuesday the 18th of December: for those of you in the U.K.
I'm sorry that we already missed the postal deadlines for the holidays for those of you living in New Zealand, South and Central America and Asia--but you can always buy for yourself instead :-)

Onto more exciting news...... we are holding a launch party and if you are in the area, we'd love for you to come!

Here are the details:

Let me know if you are interested in coming to the event.  We are also looking for a few volunteers to help us out at the event.  So let me know if you would be interested in helping out.

I can't wait!  There's still so much to do before then.... but it will be a great celebration!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

McCall 3580 and a first look at our spring signature fabric

I am super excited about my newest creation because it combines my love of 1940s McCall patterns with one of the fabrics from the WE spring collection.  WE stands for 'Women's Empowerment' and is the name of the fabrics we are producing through the Weaving Destination social enterprise.  Weaving Destination is a women's weaving collective in Assam, BTC, India that seeks to support the fabric weaving traditions in indigenous communities and to provide a source of financial independence for women who have experienced trafficking, forced migration or whose families are living with HIV/AIDS.  Read more posts about this exciting new venture here and here and check out some of the handwoven scarves we will be offering here.

First up, let's talk about the pattern. I made the dress using McCall 3580 from 1940.  Just look at the cover and pattern illustrations--I love how they've used stripes in many different ways in the illustrations.

The WE signature fabric is the perfect match of the vibrant early 40's inspired striped fabric and the traditional weaving designs of the Bodo women weavers in Assam.  Here's a close-up of the design:

The handwoven cotton is great to work with.  I just love how it drapes.  The hand is firm but still supple enough to flow nicely.  I've already worn and laundered the dress a few times and it's SUPER soft.  I just love how it feels!

I had fun playing with the design of the fabric.  I used the main design on the shoulder straps in the back of the dress:

I had to do a bit grading with this pattern (from a B30 to a B34).  I am very happy with the result.  I just love the design of this dress and it's absolutely perfect with stripes.  Am I freezing in these pictures? Oh yes!  But if you look back at the pattern, you'll see a cute little jacket that accompanies the dress.  I'm planning to make that with one one of the silk fabrics we will be offering as part of our spring fabric collection (oohhh that was so much fun to say!)

The best thing about making fabric?  The endless accessorizing possibilities!!!  Here's a sample of one of the bags we will also be offering.  We are thinking of these more as conference bags, but they also make nice totes and purses as well.  I'm excited to explore other accessory options!  Let me know if you would be at all interested in that and if so, what would be a good accessory project for the social enterprise to start with!

We are calling this the WE signature fabric because we plan on offering this every season in a different colourway.  Green was the first colour chosen by the women weavers and it's perfect for St. Patrick's day!  We are hoping to offer the fabrics online in the new year.

So??  What do you think? What colours would you like to see this fabric in for the summer collection?  Red? Navy blue? Teal? Hot pink? Let us know in the comments!  We have many more designs and colours in our spring collection and I hope to make up a few more samples this month!
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