Neoprene

To say my life has been nomadic for the last couple of weeks is stating it mildly. It’s political party conference season, and as I work for a science advocacy organisation we have been doing our bit to promote the cause ahead of next year’s general election. Time for sewing has been thin on the ground, and time for blogging even thinner; the days I get off are spent in laundry and repacking my case. But luckily I do have a few projects from before the conference craziness to share. When I have time to photograph them obviously!

DSC_1258_edit

So I thought I was being fashion forward with my predilection for neoprene garments, but apparently not. A trip down Oxford Street in search of a new winter coat (not something I feel confident enough to make myself yet) revealed a plethora of neoprene sweatshirts in all colours. Oh well, I never really had high hopes of being a trend setter! I think the love of neoprene comes from all those childhood holidays spent on Welsh and Cornish beaches, where a wetsuit is the only sensible form of swimwear. That smell is more reminiscent of holidays to me than salt water!

Both of these are Capital Chic White Russian sweatshirts, which is one of my favourite patterns of the moment. Super easy to sew, a lovely fit and very stylish. Or at least very my style, which as we’ve already discussed is not as cutting edge as I’d like it to be. I do like a good sweatshirt.

Incidentally I’ve had a stab at making the Manhattan skirt from the same collection, but the sizing is weird on me – too tight on the hips and too loose on the waist – so I shall need to do some work on that one.

DSC_1273_edit

I made this navy blue version back at the end of August, using some cheap ‘scuba’ fabric that I bought from Rolls ‘n Rems in Lewisham. I was so excited when I found it that I went a bit nuts and bought six metres, so I’m still working out what to do with the remainder! This fabric is not what I would really consider neoprene as it doesn’t have the same structure or thickness, and behaves more like a heavy weight knit. But it was great for testing the water, so to speak, and I’ve ended up with a really nice, wearable sweatshirt.

DSC_1271_editFor my next trick I went for the real deal. Finding actual neoprene is not as easy as you would imagine; it can be found on ebay in sheets designed for wetsuit repair, and very rarely on the roll. Most places sell ‘neoprene’ of the kind I used for the first sweatshirt, but not the real deal. Cloth House came to my rescue in the end with a vast array of neoprene in all colours and thicknesses. At £28 per metre it isn’t cheap fabric, but buying 1.5m and making your own sweatshirt still works out cheaper than shelling out £60 – £260 for a branded one.

I went for a relatively lightweight fabric, about 3mm thick in an ivory off white colour, and because it’s not very stretchy I increased the pattern by one size. I’d heard horror stories about neoprene and home sewing machines, tales of skipped stitches and broken needles, but this stuff worked up like a dream. Although I suspect that if I’d used anything thicker I would have had all these problems and more.

DSC_1262_editRegardless of how fashion forward this make ended up being, I am really happy with it! For winter I love to mix up the textures in my wardrobe – wool, leather, cotton, and now neoprene. And if I really want to cement my status as a trend-setter maybe I need to abandon more passe uses for neoprene like sweatshirts and go for the big leagues. Trousers perhaps. Hmmm…

Jaunting

DSC_0051

They say that exposure therapy can be very effective for treating irrational fears, so my terror of flying is getting a pretty serious workout this month. At the end of the month I’m flying to Glasgow for work (which I won’t bore you with), and last weekend Chris and I popped over to Switzerland for the weekend to visit his friend and best man from our wedding.

I’m fully aware that being afraid of flying is completely irrational, but sadly rational is still capable of having a panic attack on a turbulence-free short haul flight (seriously, I’ve never been on a flight that smooth). Luckily the steward was lovely about it and she brought me lots of napkins for my delightfully sweaty hands! Shredding napkins is the best therapy I have found so far.

DSC_0012

DSC_0021But all my panic faded away when we touched down in Geneva to beautiful sunshine. To say Lake Geneva and the surrounding towns are pretty frigging beautiful doesn’t really do them justice. We moseyed about in the sunshine peeking into shop windows and occasionally popping down to the lakeside, just to check it was still there. I also spotted the most beautiful plant and flower shop ever…

DSC_0016

DSC_0017

DSC_0028We toddled up a mountain (well, we drove most of the way) and got a look at Mont Blanc in the distance. The tops of the mountains tend to poke out above a choker of clouds, making them look as though they are levitating in a surreal Magic Eye type effect. Sadly without a zoom lens the mighty Mont appears a little small in these pictures, but you’ll have to take my word for it that it’s there.

My parents used to take us to the Alps for summer holidays when I was little, and while I was never destined to become the world’s most enthusiastic mountaineer, there is something very nostalgic about this scenery.

DSC_0050

DSC_0040

DSC_0037

Ooh, I do love a good mountain wood pile. We have a very modest version of our own in our living room fireplace. Which is purely decorative because fireplace fires are strictly verboten under the London Clean Air Act. Spoil sports.

Probably mine and Chris’s favourite excursion was an old steam boat along the lake. The views of imposing mountains were spectacular as always, but even more exciting was the actual mechanics of the boat itself. From an internal viewing gallery you could watch the steam pistons powering round, turning the paddle wheels and driving the boat forwards. Chris could quite happily have spent the entire trip mesmerised by them!

DSC_0071

DSC_0067

DSC_0060

All in all a trip worth working on the flying for! I love to travel, and I get so annoyed that something so silly as being afraid of flying might stop me from seeing things like this. Because life is short, the world is wonderful, and I want to see as much of it as I can.

So for my Glasgow excursion I have bought a handy book entitled “Overcome Your Fear Of Flying”. Let’s see how this works out…

 

My week in trousers

Anyone keeping up with my instagram exploits will know that this week is One Week One Pattern, and that I have chosen to clothe myself exclusively in Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over It. I’ve got two pairs now, one in navy and one in black, and I am pondering whether I can conjure up a third pair in grey…

To keep track of my #OWOP adventures, I rustled up a handy self-updating image gallery. Check back for all the latest snaps of me wearing trousers on instagram! Oh yes.

 Day 8 of #owop... And I'm about to get on a plane so opted for a comfortable schnuggly sweater dress over skinny trousers. I have my ultimates ready to change in to when I get there! #owop14  Back to navy for #owop day 5, with a splash of orange and comfy skates. #owop14 #indiesewing  Enjoying navy and white on my morning commute #owop #owop14 #indiesewing
 #owop day 6 (or 7? I lost count): adding some Friday colour to navy ultimates with a cheery sweatshirt #owop14 #indiesewing  I've got this smart malarkey nailed, although I feel a bit weird in so much black! #owop #owop14 #indiesewing  #owop14 day 3: blue @sewoveritlondon trousers, white Coco top and my favourite white brogues #owop #indiesewing (I'll try to get round to days 1 and 2 later!)
 Day 6 #owop dawns and today it's black Ultimates, grey fuzzy sweater and a CAPE. #owop14 #indiesewing  #owop day 4: black Ultimates and a (crumpled, oops) silk shirt, with my favourite smart shoes #owop14 #sewing #indiesewing

The fit on these trousers is not quite there yet. I think my upper body is too long for the pattern, as the waistband sits 3 inches below my natural waist rather than the advertised 2. Which means that when I sit down I am in definite danger of pants flashing. All of my styling choices for this week have involved long tops…

So I ran up a muslin with an increased crotch depth, but this didn’t fix the problem. I’ll try boosting the crotch length for my next muslin, and if that doesn’t work I’ll try to fashion a waistband out of the facing to make up the distance! And of course if anyone has any helpful suggestions for alterations, please let me know.

I’ve not had a lot of time for sewing this week so far, so instead I’ve been browsing through interior design books and have started a new crochet project. I am also yearning for an IKEA kitchen island cutting table ala Tilly and the Buttons! I love my little sewing space very much, but the desk height isn’t quite right for my back. Chris and I are thinking of moving house next year, and top of my wish list is a big light airy sewing space with room for a cutting table. And room for my wishful thinking, obvs.