Friday, 19 December 2014

Fabric Shopping in Paris

Fabric shopping in Paris

As promised, here's a round up of the fabric shops we visited in Paris a few weeks ago:

Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in ParisFabric shopping in Paris

Anna Ka Bazaar
17 rue Jean Beausire, 75004 (metro Bastille)
I fell head over heels in love with this delightful boutique, run by the same people who design Atelier Brunette fabric. It’s teeny tiny but everything in there is so well curated, from pretty stationery and Japanese books to fabrics and trims.

Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris

Lil Weasel
1 passage du Grand Cerf, 75002 (metro Étienne Marcel)
Freya was a bit concerned as I dragged her through the red light district looking for this shop, but suddenly we turned a corner into a magical arcade with a glass roof and decked out in fairy lights and all was well. Lil Weasel occupies two shops opposite each other. One is dedicated to knitting, with shelves brimming with beautiful yarn. The other focuses on sewing, with a gorgeous selection of fabrics, trimmings, and indie patterns.

Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris

Marché Saint Pierre
(metro Anvers / Barbès-Rochechouart)
The area just South East of the Sacré Coeur is bursting with fabric shops. Many of them sell “coupons”, pre-cut lengths of fabric, with the length and price attached to them. There is tons is choice and it’s a great way to pick up a bargain, although does mean rummaging through piles and piles, which get messy very quickly!

Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris

Sentier area
(metro Sentier)
There are quite a few fabric shops around this area, some selling high end fabrics at similarly high prices, others for a steal. Be warned that some sell wholesale only, so it’s worth asking their minimum metrage (is that a word?) when you go in. Be sure to pop by Maison Sajou while you’re there (47 rue du Caire), a boutique stocking their own range of beautiful vintage-inspired haberdashery. And if you’re peckish, I stumbled upon this Kosher cafe where the very welcoming Harry made me the most delicious sandwich I’ve ever eaten… yum.

Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris

Brin de Cousette
2 rue Richard Lenoir, 75011 (metro Charonne)
A lovely shop offering a wide selection of sewing books and indie patterns, as well as fabric, sewing machine hire and workshops.

Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris

Mercerie de Charonne
69 rue de Charonne, 75011 (metro Ledru-Rollin)
A great place to stock up on buttons, ribbons and bias tape in all the colours of the world.

Fabric shopping in Paris
Fabric shopping in Paris

Malhia Kent
19 avenue Dausmesnil, 75012 (metro Ledru-Rollin)
If you’re after something special, this place is a real find. They produce fabric for haute couture fashion houses, and sell remnants at bargainous prices. We got a bit high-pitched in here, swooning over Chanel-style pieces (although if you’re dry cleaner-averse like I am, you may not end up buying much). Be sure to check the baskets near the front of the shop for small scraps which they’ll sell you for under a euro – great for making accessories, or just stroking lovingly.

A huge thank you to Carmen and Julie for showing us around Paris.

Have you been fabric shopping in Paris? If you know about other places we should visit, please do share in the comments...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Vote for Your Favourites in the #SewingFrancoise Contest!

Oh. My. Goodness. Laura and I have been completely blown away by the dresses you made for the #SewingFrancoise contest!

There were over 100 entries, from which we have shortlisted 25 that stood out for us in terms of style and creativity to go to the next stage - the public vote. We really enjoyed going through the entries, but believe me when I say that choosing just 25 for the next stage was seriously tough. We've literally spent three hours umming and ahhing over it because we appreciate the love and effort that went into all of them and would give all of you a prize if we could. Go look at them all here! So major props to everyone who made a dress - you are ALL winners in our eyes :)

In the interest of fairness, since the selection is based on subjective criteria, we've made the contest a two-stage process.  So now you get to vote for the winners! Take a look through the shortlisted entries below, and pick your five favourite dresses in order of preference. Vote for your first, second, third, fourth and fifth choice in the survey at the bottom of the page (or if you're on a mobile you may find it easier to open the survey in a new window). Only one set of responses per person is permitted, and public voting will close at 6pm GMT on Sunday 21st December 2014. The winners will be announced just before Christmas.

The most popular entry will win first prize of a brand new Janome DKS100 sewing machine worth £500 (or, if the winner is outside the UK, an equivalent Janome sewing machine will be supplied). Nine runners up will each win a £100 fabric shopping voucher from one of the following - BackstitchDragonfly FabricsElephant in my HandbagFabric GodmotherMinerva CraftsMonalunaPlush AddictSewboxThe Village Haberdashery. Massive thanks to Janome and our sponsors for the amaze prizes!

Carly / Inbar

Gabby / Nicole

Alice Evans / Danielle

Sandee / Kat

Barbara / Spot & Cross

Laura Jane / Heather

Chiara / Victoria

Katarina / Lien

Ksenia / Johanne

Alice Cullen / Yoshina

Jenny / Terzi Begum

Emmie / Vasiliki

LouWeez Creates

Vote now! Fill in the survey below or if you're on a mobile you may find it easier to open in a new window.

Inspired to make your own Francoise dress? Here's the pattern!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Sewing Bloggers and Readers of the World, Unite!

Photo by Joost De Cock
A couple of weeks ago I went on a fabric shopping trip to Paris. To Paris! 

I got the Eurostar with my friend Freya and headed straight to the Eiffel Tower, where we joined about 25 sewing bloggers and readers from around the world - from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Finland, the US and Canada (did I miss anyone?). I love blogging meet ups - it's always great to catch up with old chums and meet new ones. I love the fact that you can walk right up to someone you've never met before and start touching up their outfit, rubbing the fabric between your fingers and sighing, "Ooh... silk habotai..." Ordinarily that might be a creepy thing to do to a complete stranger, but luckily people who sew are (for the most part) exceedingly lovely and friendly.

Plus, who else will march round fabric shop after fabric shop with you for two days without getting bored? No one! Many years ago, I lived in Paris for a year, but I wasn’t into sewing back then, so I had no idea what to expect from the fabric shopping scene when I returned this time. Mon dieu, it was amazing!

Tea at Maison Sajou
Meeting one of our lovely stockists, Carine from Lil Weasel

Carmen organised a cracking schedule for us on day 1, complete with maps, Champagne pizza dinner (you can't get better than that) and amazing goody bags, which she'd machine embroidered with our names - so sweet!

I stayed in an apartment that Kelly booked for us, along with FreyaEmmie and - all the way from Nashville, Tennessee - Lauren! I love those ladies. Not only are they AWESOME to hang out with, but they are so colourful that you can't lose them in a crowd.

Idea for a programme - Eight sewing bloggers and a baby
Vanessa and Annabelle from Anna Ka Bazaar / Julie from Jolies Bobines
On the second day a few of us hardcore fabric shoppers wanted more, more, more. We kicked off at my dream shop, Anna Ka Bazaar, where we were met by Julie (kindly indulging me in the above photo with her signature pose), who kindly showed around some other gems of town.

This is what I came back with. How incredible is that hand-print fabric? I'm thinking it'd make a super cheeky/creepy coat lining. I'll share links to the shops we visited next week in case you're planning a fabric shopping trip to Paris some day.

The trip whetted my appetite to go on more international fabric shopping trips. You coming? Where shall we go next?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

How to Sew Piping into a Seam

How to sew piping into a seam

Sewing piping into a seam is a great way of drawing attention to unusual style lines, such as the raglan seams on the Francoise dress. It’s so easy to do and can lift your dressmaking project from ordinary to extraordinary!

You can buy ready-made piping, or you can make your own by cutting a strip of fabric on the bias (ie. at a 45 degree angle to the selvedges), wrapping it around some piping cord and sewing it in place.

Here’s how to pipe a seam:

How to sew piping into a seam

1) Cut the piping so it’s a bit longer than the seam you want to sew it to. Trim the seam allowances on the two seams that the piping will be sandwiched between so that they are the same width as the fabric part of the piping.

How to sew piping into a seam

2) Pin the piping to the right side of one of the seams (ie. the side that will show on the outside of your garment), with the cord running along the stitching line and the raw edge of the piping aligned with the raw edge of the fabric.

How to sew piping into a seam

3) Attach a piping foot or adjustable zip foot to your sewing machine and set the stitch length to 4mm. (You can use a regular zip foot if you don’t have a piping or adjustable zip one, but I find the latter much easier to use.) Baste/tack the fabric part of the piping to the garment within the seam allowance.

How to sew piping into a seam

4) Re-snip any notches that have been hidden by the piping. Pin the seams of your garment together as normal, with the piping sandwiched between them, matching any notches.

How to sew piping into a seam

5) Using the piping foot or adjustable zip foot, stitch the seams together, with the needle as close as you can get to the piping cord without sewing over it. Like, really close, which is where the piping or adjustable zip foot comes in handy because the foot doesn't get in the way of the needle – push the piping cord right up against the edge of the presser foot as you sew. If your first attempt isn’t quite close enough, no worries – just try stitching another line even closer.

How to sew piping into a seam

6) Trim the ends of the piping, and finish your seams as normal. And you’re done!

Here's one I made earlier...

Are you making a dress for the #SewingFrancoise contest? You've still got time! Don't forget to email us your entry by midnight GMT this Sunday for a chance to win a Janome sewing machine worth £500 or one of nine £100 fabric shopping vouchers. (Even if you've tagged me in a picture on Instagram or Twitter, please email in your photo so we can be sure we count it as a contest entry.) Read the full details of the contest and take a look at some of the gorgeous entries so far. Good luck!