September 15, 2013

September Outfit – for Recitals

I did not anticipate making this outfit by ANY measure.

I am quite proud of this ensemble as it was partly of my own design. The skirt I drafted on a whim. It was something I’d intended to make during the spring and I even bought the fabric for it. It was inspired by a skirt I had made for me almost ten years ago (that unfortunately no longer fits me… in the good way, but still). It was very easy to make: I made my basic skirt block and then traced off the princess panels, adding an estimated amount of flare to the hem. I made a muslin and re-drafted the pattern slightly to include a deeper and wider flare at each panel. Because it’s just taffeta, I didn’t bother lining it but used a facing instead. I serged all the insides and, after an infuriating half hour trying to turn a tiny hem, used the rolled hem feature on my serger too. Very satisfactory. Not the finish for every sort of material but in this instance, it was perfect.

The basis of the top, as I said before, was a Burda magazine pattern I’ve used a number of times before. I altered it to eliminate the dart and include pleats at the neckline. I love how it drapes and I think it shows off the posh fabric to its best! My main reason for finishing this outfit up quickly was because I had another recital last night. I ended up not wearing it because the venue was positively Siberian and I retreated into a long-sleeved dress instead. However, it is reassuring to know it is awaiting me on the hanger!

The details… I used 1.5m of taffeta for the skirt, which was no more than €15, bought from the fabric shop on Parnell St. The silk for the top was 1m of bridal silk marked down from €60 (!) to €20. I had enough to make two lots of bias binding for the neckline and sleeves – I seem doomed to always cut the wrong width. (Shoes are from Marks & Sparks, whom I adore as they do a size 3.5, a veritable unicorn in the shoe industry).


September 10, 2013

Ramp up

Filed under:Blouses/Tops,Drafting,Sewing — Aileen @ 16:47

I’ve been busy guys! I had a recital in Sligo at the weekend. It was great fun but meant I was reasonably occupied and then a bit tired afterwards. I am about to start sewing a shirt for Alb but I need to cut out the pattern. Rather than start something different, I decided to go back to the silk top I cut a hole in. Once I abandoned the idea of lining it, it was easily remedied. Here’s how it was before I put on the armhole binding.


Whilst the pleats were a good exercise in moving darts on the bodice, I probably could have spaced them a bit further apart. That said, they drape quite nicely.

I have another recital on Saturday night so I’m hoping to have it finished by then. Other than that, I’m preparing in tiny ways for returning to work next week and trying to get some loose ends tied up, too. I had a list of house jobs to do that I just don’t have the energy for during term time – I’ve two out of three done. The third involves separating clothes and organising storage for summer/winter clothes. This is not a typically Irish thing to do but half of our wardrobe is taken up with seasonally inappropriate clothes at any one time. So, I’m looking forward to sorting it out.

When I haven’t been practising, I’ve been listening to BBC radio 4 on a live stream app I found for free. I find it difficult to get podcasts that aren’t infuriating on some level so I gave this a go: I’m hooked. I don’t really enjoy reading newspapers and struggle to find current topics that interest me. I now feel that radio 4 is like my own personal radio station. I have listened to programmes about Dr Martin Luther King, black power and its adjacent UK movement, food wastage and the new-ish movement of gleaning food from harvesting to use in various charitable ways, all manner of current UK affairs, The Archers, all about shale, discussions about whether consciousness is produced by the brain or exists externally… As someone with an insatiable curiosity for pretty much everything, I have found my heaven. My dear UK readers, you are probably rolling your eyes at my ‘revelation’ but Irish media is a lunar landscape in comparison to the mighty BBC.

In completely unrelated news, I was in town earlier today and left my bike (Bertha, complete with her fresh season of new flowers) locked at the GPO. I returned less than an hour later to find these in my basket:


Those vouchers that Boots give out when you buy cosmetics, giving you buy one, get one free, or better yet, a certain amount off No 7 makeup. Whoever left them, left 3! Since my basket is occasionally used as a bin, this was a wonderful surprise. And looking around, mine really was the floweriest of them all so I guess they assumed correctly! Thank you, stranger!


September 7, 2013

Upon return

Filed under:News! — Aileen @ 13:03

We did a few other fun things whilst in Austria, such as visit Bratislava. Only 40 km from Vienna, it’s a cheap day return away. Divided in two between the Danube, we spent the day in the beautifully restored old city. Here are some typical facades.




Unfortunately, not even a step beyond the old city perimeter, the aftereffects of the eastern block can still be seen. It reminded us a lot of the Czech Republic when we visited prior to its accession into the EU. Still, it was cheap and pretty and good to see regeneration thanks to its European citizenship.

I think one of the best aspects of visiting a new, big city is getting to visit its museums and Vienna did not disappoint. We spent happy hours in the Albertina, perusing its spectacular collection. It has the special combination of an extraordinary collection set in a sumptuous building. Even if you didn’t like art, the building alone is worth visiting. We saw Monet, Picasso, as well as the famous drawings by Albrecht Durer, among many others.  I’d seen some of these elsewhere on loan so it was nice to see them all together. Fabulous stuff. We also visited ‘MUMOK’ for contemporary art. I wasn’t too keen as the descriptions sounded pretentious; it proved, however, to be curious and well curated. These people clearly know what they’re doing. I was pleased to see a few works by Paul Klee. I don’t know why but I like his style.

So, back home and back to usual things. Insanity struck in what was probably our last warm day of the year and I started a sun dress. ..


It’s nearly finished! What’s wrong with me? I am bundled up in woollens today. So, just as well I started a pair of socks…


The wool is super-soft Katia ‘darling’. Super entertainment! Whilst in Vienna,  I had a little spare time to visit the wonderful ‘wollmeile’ which was a short walk from our hotel! I picked up some delicious wool – 60/40, baby alpaca/merino.


I have a few recitals before I go back to work the week after next… and I’m very happy to be able to say that all of my students are returning to my class this year.


September 3, 2013

Postcard from Vienna

Filed under:Photography,Travel — Aileen @ 17:46

Alb and I are in Vienna for a few days before I go back to work. It is quite the city. I think if I had to describe it in one word, I would call it ‘gluttonous’.

The city centre is full of buildings such as this:


And this:


Everything is lavishly detailed and every building is different. You have to stop looking after a while.

We’ve seen some ridiculously ornate churches. Although Stephansdom is impressive due to it’s extravagant size, its interior is forgettable. Peterskirche, just down the street, is in another league. Take a look.


This is the main altar. Following is the lectern so covered in gold, it dazzles even the most gold-adjusted eye.


Above the exit were many beautiful murals…


…outdone only by the extraordinary ceiling.


We visited the Imperial Palace and since no photos were allowed inside, you’ll have to believe me when I say that it is the most impressive palace I have ever visited. It was remarkable on a number of counts. Firstly, the guy who ruled predominantly from there, I think it was Franz Josef – his office and bedroom were extremely plain. Not just ‘I’m a king’ plain, I mean 14th century monk plain. It seemed he worked crazy hours to keep things in ship shape. A family tradition was that each child learn a trade and so portraits depict gardeners, musicians and artists, not just princes and princesses. Many of their excellent drawings were incorporated into the decor by the family. In one little room, the walls are decorated with needlepoint done by one family member.

Our ticket covered the palace and grounds, which are extensive and pristine. We did the zoo, too, and barely made it home, our legs were so tired!

The following night, we went to an open air screening of ‘Tosca’, the Puccini opera. It was the final night of the summer-long film festival at the Rathaus (parliament). As you can see, it’s quite the location!


After the screening, they lit the building back up.


There has been a little bit of shopping (souvenir wool and the obligatory fridge magnet) but mostly our stay has consisted of excellent coffee, good food, taking it easy and looking up!

More to follow as we went to Bratislava yesterday…stay tuned!


September 2, 2013

Autumn/Winter planning

Filed under:AW Wardrobe '13,Plans-Ideas- Designs,Stash — Aileen @ 08:00

I think I did quite well with my summer sewing and planning (you can see all of the relevant posts under this tag). I used up some really old fabrics and I postponed others as they were more autumn appropriate.

I have some needs to fill. Firstly, I need a few more smart-casual pieces. I think a blouse made from the cream print habotai (seen here) and an olive green cord skirt will be my next makes. I have a navy chambray primed and ready to make this shirt dress. I have wanted to make this shirt dress for at least two years and think it will be perfect for back-to-school weather. (I don’t start back until the 16th!) These are my immediate makes.

Other autumn plans include a cropped wool jacket with coral polka dot lining!

I don’t know what I was looking for but I came across this vintage pattern on Etsy. I just liked the whole ensemble and it’s in the half size 15 that fits me perfectly. Imagine my joy when I discovered that I have just enough grey wool to make the jacket. I have been sitting on this substantial remnant since making my grey Ginger skirt. I adore the skirt and still wear it constantly. I remember being a bit cranky about the price but I am glad I sucked it up because it has shown no signs of wear whatsoever. The lining is actually a fine polyester I bought to make a summer top but the more I considered it, the more I realised that I would get very little wear out of it and it would be much more useful for this project.

Another vintage pattern I have been looking forward to making is this little blouse.

I have some white cotton poplin left over from something else and again, the pattern is in that magical size 15. It comes with the pencil skirt pattern also, but I think it might be a bit stuffy for teaching kids (not to mention impossible to cycle in).

Murphy Sheehy’s are always best for winter, with their ever-changing stock of wools. The really useful colours tend to go fast so when I was passing the other day, I picked up some that I know I will get great wear out of.

The top left is a fuschia wool blend jersey. The top right is a raspberry wool herringbone. Originally I had thought this would be a good skirt but got the remainder of the bolt for a great discount and now I have enough for an Anise jacket. Two jackets might seem overkill but I have a serious coat deficit at the moment. I have been wearing my Lisette jacket all summer and realise that a good jacket goes a long way.

The bottom navy is a wool herringbone and I plan for… culottes! With pockets!