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!

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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A Disney Vacation in Just Carry-Ons

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I am a self-diagnosed over-packer, and yet hubby and I somehow traveled for 3 weeks in Europe with just carry-on backpacks a few years ago. Well, I decided that the next time we did it we’d use rolling suitcases instead. While the backpacks were great, I found that carrying it on my back got a bit annoying, and, especially for hubs, unpacking and re-packing constantly was a pain with the way his backpack opened and closed.

I’m a sucker for anything that photographs nicely, but I also really like functionality. I kept seeing suitcases by Away, and a handful of friends even started getting them and loving them, so I decided to give them a try. They’ve got a great return policy (100 days, no questions asked), and some really cute colors. While I love millennial pink, I felt like everyone has it (for good reason), but they had this gorgeous violet color (no longer available) and I was instantly smitten. Plus, I figured the darker color wouldn’t show scuffs quite as easily. They’ve got two carry-on sizes, but TRAGEDY, the violet was only available in the smaller one. I decided to go for it anyway. It’ll fit on more airlines (at least without as much hassle), and I still have time to figure my sh*t out and swap it out for a bigger pink one instead if need be. I got hubs a matching one in a dark grey. While he doesn’t have the same sort of overpacking tendencies I do, he does like to take his camera gear with him when we travel, and I figured this would allow him to have a carry on for the overhead bin and then his camera bag as a personal item for under the seat, rather than just the one backpack like last time.

We are planning a 2.5 week trip to Europe again soon, but a good test of the size of this bag was our recent trip to Disney World! While it was only a 6 day trip, you KNOW I meticulously planned out all my unique outfits, PLUS I ran two races while we were there, so I needed my running gear, too.

Did all of this fit into one carry on and one backpack? Surprisingly, it did! (and I even shoved a couple extra things in for my sister the night before). I did check the suitcase on the way back and carried a (not stuffed) duffel on the plane, which I had planned to do anyway - with souvenirs, race shirts and medals, I knew I was coming back with more than I packed.

This gives me hope for using this suitcase for 2+ weeks in Europe. I won’t be bringing as much clothing, shoes, bags/purses, jewelry or toiletries, plus we’ll be doing laundry along the way. And I don’t think I’ll bring my running gear, as our vacations are typically full of walking and it’s time spent away from the actual vacation with hubby. Of course other space challenges will emerge for a different type of trip - for example, I decided I want to bring back fabric from each place we visit. I’m debating if I should start utilizing packing cubes (anyone with personal experience, feel free to let me know!), but luckily I’ve got a little time to figure that one out.

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2019 March Disneybound Challenge

The past couple years I’ve been participating in the March Disneybound Challenge (2017, 2018) - it’s not a contest or anything, it’s just a bunch of Disney nerds having fun and showcasing their Disney style. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve found several awesome humans to follow on Instagram because of this. And each year it teaches me something. Last year I talked about spring cleaning (which unfortunately I only about half finished, but that’s ok!).

This year I was determined to not buy anything new for my outfits - to use things I already had, AND to reuse things without feeling guilty. Instagram is weird - there’s this pressure to be funky and original and inspirational all the time. To have perfectly posed pictures and to post them at the perfect times to generate more traffic. And while I love those kind of posts, that’s just not realistic for me. I have a full time job, I’m a musician, I sew, I run, I do yoga. I also have a dog and a husband who I enjoy spending time with, along with friends and random social activities that pop up now and then. This leaves little time to create a perfectly curated Instagram feed, which is only frustrating because I feel like I have a lot to offer when it comes to my ideas, crafts and style! But as long as I’m having fun, who cares? I interact with the friends I’ve made in this community, possibly I make more, and I get my daily doses of Disney while collecting more ideas for the future.

A few musings from this month:

  • I definitely reused an entire outfit for both Snow White and Franny from Meet the Robinsons.

  • I wore my white jeans five different times - definitely a good piece to have in my closet

  • I wore bows 14/31 days! I love bows (and making them - tutorials here and here)

  • I wore a couple pieces I hadn’t in a white, just because they fit the color scheme I was going for. Even a couple things I’ve been thinking about donating. We’ll see if they make the cut in my next purge, but I am thankful for how they contributed to this year’s challenge!

1
Tangled - Madam Gothel
2
Pixar - Kevin from Up
3
Winnie the Pooh - Eeyore
4
Zootopia - Bellwether
5
Princess and the Frog - Evangeline
6
Disney Best Friends - Kristoff (and Sven)
7
Marvel - Deadpool
8
Disney Heroines - Belle
9
Ducktales - Scrooge McDuck
10
Atlantis - Princess Kida
11
Tarzan - Jane
12
The Rescuers - Miss Bianca
13
Snow White
14
Treasure Planet - The Ship in Space
15
Rule Breaker - Satine from Moulin Rouge
16
80's Style - The Great Mouse Detective - Miss Kitty Mouse
17
Characters who are/wear green - The Little Mermaid - Ariel
18
Sidekicks - Flower from Bambi
19
Mary Poppins Returns - Mary Poppins
20
Spring Trends - the color lavender - Daisy
21
Kim Possible
22
Oliver and Company - Georgette
23
The Muppets - Miss Piggy
24
The Incredibles - Mrs. Incredible
25
The Descendants - The Evil Queen
26
Bambi - Thumper
27
Disney Parks - Main Street USA
28
The Aristocats - Berlioz
29
Enchanted - Pip
30
Meet the Robinsons - Franny
31
A character you've never bounded - Madam Mim

You don’t need to be Insta-famous to share your style with the world. As long as you’re authentic and having fun, the right people will find you, and you’ll have a ton of fun :)

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