Eurotrip 2019 - Things I Learned This Time Around

Pass the time waiting for your food by making your husband take pictures of you 😂

1.

Don’t expect to be able to pay for your meals quickly. It can take a lot of time to get a waiters attention, especially if you still have any food in front of you. This happened to us so many times. Also, don’t expect them to care if things are taking too long - they don’t work on tips the way we do in America.

2.

You don’t need to know exactly what you’re doing every moment of each day, because if you’re only in a place for a day or two, you won’t have the time to go far, and you won’t want to only do museums or things that will gobble up all your time. There’s something nice about strolling around aimlessly and just doing things on a whim.

3.

However, if there’s something you absolutely are dying to do, make sure you know as much as possible about that - for example, knowing a few fabric stores I wanted to stop by made our outings much more streamlined and allowed us to spend the exact right amount of time in those shops.

[clearly this isn’t about me…I never have caffeine withdrawals 🙄]

4.

If you need coffee (or food), desperately, and for the sanity of you and your travel companion, it’s ok to go to a chain. While Starbucks and Pret might not be the most original choices, a headache/mood swing due to lack of caffeine is not worth trying to find the perfect hipster hole in the wall.

5.

Bring what you picture yourself wearing, but only pack about a weeks worth of outfits. I almost didn’t bring my jumpsuit because I thought it was silly and too big to pack and it’s a stand-alone piece, but I made it and I love it and I’m so glad I brought it. I also almost didn’t bring my Moulin Rouge skirt - but (despite the heat) I am so glad I did and that we got the pictures I wanted since I found the fabric a couple years ago.

6.

It was 108 degrees, but I’ll do anything for the ‘gram

On the other hand, don’t bring something just because it seems like you should. I didn’t end up bringing the waterproof boots I was planning to because they are big and wouldn’t go with my dresses, skirts or jumpsuit, and this was a fine choice. It rained a bit a couple times, but nothing my crocs couldn’t handle.

7.

Don’t travel anywhere in summer. Like ever. It was hot. Record breaking hot. And it even was 75+ in Scotland basically the whole time we were there. While I had a BLAST, I was also sweaty most of the time, and this trip might have been even better if we did it in the fall or winter. [starts planning next trip]

8.

Don’t let trying to make decisions get in the way of actually going and doing something. It’s better to be out and exploring than researching in your hotel room if you have no idea what you’re doing at all.

9.

If you KNOW you won’t be carrying-on the whole way, give yourself the freedom to expand. We went with just carry-ons, but had two compact-able duffels to bring back so that we could get Scotch and wine and fabric and not worry about leaving the extra room in our suitcases in the first place. Don’t let this be an excuse to overpack, though 😉

Full tourist mode and extremely happy about it

10.

Don’t skip the “touristy” things if it’s something that’s important to you. They’re tourist attractions for a reason and it’s ok to be a tourist. And if it’s something you think you SHOULD do, but you don’t actually have that much interest, you can skip it.

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My European Fabric Shopping Adventure

All of my gorgeous European fabric 😍

Nathaniel and I knew that even though we went carry-on TO Europe, we were going to need to check bags coming back because he was planning on buying some Scotch. So I decided to pack my Vera Bradley duffel in my suitcase and give myself the freedom to buy fabric and not worry too much about how much space it was going to take up.

Before we went, I did a little research on fabric shops in Paris, London and Edinburgh. I figured I didn’t need to try to look for fabric in every single town (because we went to a lot!), but that Paris and London would definitely have fun options, and we wanted some tartan from Scotland. Also, doing research ahead of time meant we could go out with a mission, rather than aimlessly looking for shops.

Before I get to the shops we stopped through in the places I researched, we’ll get to my first fabric purchase of the trip!

Munich

I hadn’t been planning on buying any fabric in Munich, but as we were walking from our hotel to Old Town, we went right past a fabric shop, Orag Haus, so I had to stop in. The building also had windows with traditional German outfits, so we think that maybe you could also buy a custom outfit - I’m just guessing, though! When we went in, I asked if there was anything special that I could only get in Germany, but I don’t think the store clerk understood what I was really asking, so she showed me some fancy sequin fabric. While I love some sparkle, that wasn’t what I was looking for, and I gravitated toward some fabrics that reminded me of Dirndls. i ended up getting one meter of a dark blue fabric with white flowers. I’m not 100% sure what I’ll make with this, but possibly an apron, or a pair of shorts I could wear to Oktoberfest themed parties.

Paris

Our first stop in Paris was Anna Ka Bazaar, which was a very small shop that sells a handful of fabrics including the French brand Atelier Brunette (and as far as I can tell, the owner of the shop is also the owner of the fabric brand). I decided to get a couple meters of this pretty blue with paint splatter patterns, plus matching bias tape and piping - I love that they make it there and I don’t have to! Plus I’ll be able to have a couple pieces that go together if I use them separately! The woman who was working there was very friendly and helpful when I didn’t understand the French signs about what was on sale and what wasn’t. I thought the sign meant that you couldn’t buy the fabric, but it meant that it just was not discounted. Their website seems to imply that they are renovating soon - at least that’s what I gather from using Google Translate. 😉

The second stop in Paris was Malhia Kent. This is the kind of place you need to go to with no particular project in mind. Everything is sold as a specific length (a remnant), some things just a few inches, other things maybe a meter and half, so you can’t be too picky or need anything specific. The fabric is also very bold - lots of colors, patters, and textures. I think they use the fabric for actual fashion, then sell the leftovers. The salesperson there was not super friendly, unfortunately. She first asked me if I needed help and seemed kind of put-off when I said I just needed to look at what they had first, and when I finally needed help, she said that I made her lose her train of thought with the other task she was performing. I ended up buying two small cuts of decorative fabric (one for Nathaniel because he liked it), and one longer cut (close to a meter) of some shimmery pink sweater fabric. I have no idea what I’ll do with any of it, but it only cost me about 8 Euros!

London

We first went to the Berwick Street Cloth Shop. I decided to go here because one post I read about it said that some of the costumes in Game of Thrones were made with fabric from this shop! It’s in London’s West End, so this would be a great spot for a theatre’s costume designer to pop in. It was much smaller than I expected, but it was floor to ceiling in a deep, tall room, and had a large variety of fabrics, including faux furs (I see you, Jon Snow). I ended up buying a shimmery blue velvet knit (because I couldn’t stop looking at it or touching it), which will probably become a dress, and a floral woven fabric, which I still need to figure out what it will become.

Next was Liberty - this is actually a department store with several floors of clothes, accessories, dishes, furniture, etc., but they also sell fabrics. I’ve actually seen Liberty fabric before in small shops near me (Elfreide’s and Fancy Tiger Crafts), and I thought of them as small, intricate prints, usually florals, and they didn’t always really appeal to me. However, they had SO MUCH to choose from in London, including a new line with prints that weren’t what I would have expected with my limited knowledge of the company. I ended up getting two meters of a dark peacock print, one meter of a paisley print, and two meters of a sheer dog print, because some of the dogs look like Riker, and it was half off!

Edinburgh

For the last stop in this fabric adventure, my research pointed me toward Edinburgh Fabrics, and even before we walked in, I knew they’d have something fun since I could already see the plaid! Nathaniel’s family is descended from the Gunn clan, so we looked for some Gunn tartan, and lo and behold, they actually had a brand new bolt of midweight wool Gunn. We bought 8 meters! Hopefully I’ll be able to make him a kilt and maybe something for myself to match? This cut is by far the heaviest, most expensive piece of fabric I’ve ever bought 😂 I also bought 3 meters of a black, white and red plaid to make myself a skirt, but I bought polyester - much less expensive, plus I can more readily machine wash it!

I had a lot of fun fabric shopping in Europe, and I’m so glad we decided to bring an extra bag to put everything in so I didn’t feel limited by space. I’m not sure what I’ll make with everything I got, but it will be really fun to wear something and remember where I bought it and reminisce about this trip.

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P.S. This is what my basement looks like right now 🙈 Gotta prewash!

Boldly Going Where This Woman Hasn't Gone Before - Men's Clothing

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Over a year ago, hubby turned 30 and I promised to make him a Star Trek uniform - the style from the movie First Contact. There used to be a pattern shop on the Roddenberry website, and I purchased the undershirt/tunic, and the jacket/jumpsuit patterns. Unfortunately they’re not available there anymore, but there are a lot of tutorials online if you search, so someone might still have something available for you if you’re looking to adventure into this type of costume.

It took me over a year to actually get around to it (sorry, babe!), but it turned out better than I thought it would, so at least there’s that ;) 

The first challenge was getting the right fabrics. They called for wool, but I didn’t want to sew with wool (for both comfort and price), since mostly this will be worn at conventions, plus the shops the patterns recommended did not exist online anymore, so I had to kind of wing it. Luckily the colors that I ended up picking worked well, and the polyester gabardine isn’t too gross. 😉

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These patterns weren’t the best I’ve ever worked with. Some of the pieces did not fit together like I thought they should - I could blame this on myself, because I was working with different fabric than I had before, but, for example, the arms did not match up with the armholes as I expected, and I had to put in some extra black panels in the armpits to make it work. We can call that a silver lining, though, because I used stretchy performance fabric, so maybe it makes the jacket more breathable?

Quilting the shoulders was super tedious, as I had to make sure i was as perfectly spaced as possible, while also keeping the lines really straight, but I’m super happy with how they look, especially finished with the bias tape. I’ve never made shoulders like this, so it was fun to see the pieces come together and actually look like I wanted!

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We bought pips and badges on Amazon (which lied, because they were supposed to be magnetic but only one of seven things were), and honestly, the end product is pretty good! I’ll probably end up replacing the zipper at some point, because the one I got doesn’t separate completely at the bottom, so putting on the jacket is a bit awkward. But other than that, I’m quite happy!

Hubby looked great, and it’ll be a staple in our convention wardrobe for a long time :)

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My New Favorite Sewing Pattern

In the past few years I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences with patterns by the French pattern company Deer & Doe. You may have seen me blog about them before with my Sally costume (Belladone), Luna Lovegood shorts (Chataigne), and my Marauder’s Map skirt (Azara). I’ve also made some two pairs of Safran jeans, I just finished a Givre dress which I can’t wait to wear, and I have a few other patterns that need to get made (Bruyère, Pensée and Sirocco), but so far my favorite thing they’ve created is the crop top and skirt version of the Zéphyr dress.

The reason I bought this pattern is because I got some insanely wonderful Star Wars fabric from Knitorious that I wanted to make into something special, and once I saw this outfit option, I knew it was meant to be. And it turned out AMAZINGLY well. I’ve always been a little wary to sew with knits, and shirts have been daunting, but this pattern makes perfect sense to me, and the pieces fit together exactly as I expect them to.

Showing off my bling after the Star Wars race weekend

Derby Day and May the Fourth be with you 🤓

This is one of my favorite outfits I’ve ever made. The fabric alone gets a lot of comments - I don’t think people expect to see Darth Vader next to pretty flowers. But the outfit as a whole is truly wonderful. I’ve never been super confident about my midriff, but lately I’ve been jealous of all the cute outfits that include crop tops. Luckily high waisted pants and skirts are in style, right now, and this outfit gave me the courage to try it out. And I love it. I love the way the skirt accents my natural waist. I love the flirty bit of skin that shows, but that it’s also conservative enough to wear practically anywhere. I love the cut of the skirt and where it hits on my legs. It’s all around perfect.

And that first outfit turned out so well that I’ve made a few other pieces with this pattern since - all separates, so far. A big plus is that they can be mixed and matched with each other or with other shirts/bottoms depending on the style I’m going for.

I have never been sweatier in my life.

I have never been sweatier in my life.

First was a running top for my Star Wars half marathon in April. I used a similar floral Star Wars fabric, but this time in a swim material, and used black performance knit on the sides and arm and neck bands, to add a sporty touch.

Next was a cute pink skirt from a great ponte knit I found at Joann’s. This skirt pattern is so simple to put together. I only got a yard of this fabric, and because of the width of it I ended up having to do two back panels for the skirt rather than just one back piece, and that alteration worked easily. I have several other ideas for more Zéphyr skirts with fabric I already have lying around. I also made a black skirt out of the same ponte knit because black goes with everything and this has already turned into a great staple to have in my wardrobe. This ponte knit has a bit more body than the double-brushed polyester I used for the Star Wars skirt, so it stays flared, rather than flowy.

Then, around 10pm the eve before Denver Pop Culture Con (formerly Denver Comic Con), I finished making hubby a Star Trek uniform, and got jealous that he was going to have a handmade Star Trek outfit, but I wasn’t. I could have worn my usual red Star Trek t-shirt dress from past years, and still matched him. I also didn’t HAVE to match him, and was thinking that maybe I could go as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas (as I have a handmade dress and a great backpack to match), reuse my Tardis dress again, go as Mary Poppins, or wear something nerdy and handmade, but not a cosplay. But what I really, truly wanted was a handmade outfit to match hubs. I had extra stretchy red and black fabrics from Nathaniel’s uniform, and I had the black skirt mentioned above, so, since I’d already made the crop top twice, I figured I’d whip one up as quick as I could (under 2 hours). I didn’t hem it perfectly, and I didn’t do all the top-stitching recommended, because I wanted to sleep as much as possible, but honestly, it turned out great, and someone even asked me where I got it! One of the highest compliments I can receive when wearing something handmade.

Needless to say, my love affair with the Zéphyr pattern is far from over. I have a few more skirts I already know I’m going to make, and I think I’ll try one of the dress versions somewhat soon. And if you see me wearing a black skirt, chances are high it’s this one here, because it’s perfect.

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