Here is a photo of my friend John’s girlfriend Ylva’s sewing machine. It was taken about a year ago in Malmo, Sweden. One of my favourite colours is this type of deep orange.
What can I say…I enjoyed making the Mathilde blouse a lot! I didn’t leave my house for about four days! It was a huge learning curve for me and in many ways a ‘game changer’. I think I can break down my sewing journey into pre-Mathilde and post-Mathilde. I really took my time with this project and tried to overcome bad sewing habits like being too eager to complete a project to the detriment of the final garment’s finish.
Tilly’s instructions can’t be faulted one bit and they really give you confidence. The cut of the pattern itself is just lovely too. I made mine in a quite thick blue cotton and I used an orange linen for the yoke and the cuffs. The buttons I used were in my sewing box for ages and I can no longer recall where they came from!
The main things I learned were:
– never underestimate the importance of pressing seams. The finish of a garment is improved ten-fold when everything is properly pressed.
– interfacing is your friend and is really not that scary!
– to be more creative when thinking about future projects: after all I can now do cuffs, tucks, and gathered puff sleeves!
– French seams are brilliant and really make for a tidier finish.
I enjoyed this project so much that I then adapted the pattern to make it into a shift dress. I took out the tucks and changed the button centre back opening for an invisible zip and I used some green linen. It’s the first time I’ve used linen for a dress like this and it certainly is not a myth that it is a fabric that crumples easily. I’m pretty happy with the dress and it feels lovely on but next time I’ll make it in a different fabric and maybe add a lining too.
Here are some pictures of the Mathilde blouse as it is meant to be, and I’ll add some of my dress version soon!
Having a place where you can sew and pattern cut is a luxury and most sewers have to work with what they’ve got. Kitchen tables double up as cutting tables; bedroom floors are littered with pins.
I was getting a bit sick of getting a sore back drafting patterns on my bedroom floor so when I found this tutorial I knew immediately that I had to make it.
I added wheels to mine though so it would be easier to move around. Here are some pictures of it in my old bedroom where it really dominated the room!
I picked up this blue spotty fabric in Les Petits Riens. I got about 4 metres of it for 2 euros! I think it is some sort of silk-polyester blend, I’m so bad at identifying fabrics! It drapes nicely and is nice and shiny so I thought it would be perfect for a simple elastic skirt. I followed this great tutorial. Et voilà…a new addition to my wardrobe I know I’ll wear time and time again.
Like many sewers I seem to aquire fabric at a faster rate than I produce new garments. While Brussels might not be the best city in the world for fabric shopping there are some great places, you just have to hunt a bit to find them. So here are some of my favourite places in Brussels to add to my ever-expanding pile of textiles.
First up are Les Petits Riens and the fleamarket in Place du Jeu de Balle (pictured above): by far the two best places to get original fabric in Brussels. What is great about them is that if you plan to go there and are looking for something amazing you probably won’t find it, but when you just happen to pop by you’ll happen upon something wonderful!
Les Petits Riens
Several branches in Brussels but the biggest shop is:
Rue Américaine 101
Les Petits Riens is a Belgian charity that collects unwanted clothes, bric-a-brac, and furniture to make money for social projects that are trying to fight poverty and social exclusion. The shops are staffed by people who have been excluded from the job market for various reasons and working in Les Petits Riens is an opportunity to gain skills and experience. It really is an amazing place. You can find everything here! The clothing section at the Rue Américaine shop is split into a sort of ‘unsorted’ part and a side shop called ‘Retro Paradise’. The unsorted part is the real treasure trove for fabric. Get there early as there is often a hardcore contingent of rummagers waiting for the doors to open at midday!
Monday to Saturday from 12h to 17h30
La place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein
Marolles, 1000 Bruxelles
A lovely market that you can go to again and again and always find something surprising! I think the goods that find themselves here are mostly from house clearances. Most days there are plenty of clothes.
There are also lots of nice cafés and restaurants around the market for a post-rummage coffee.
Every day from very early to about 13h (weekdays) and 14h30 (weekends)
And the rest of my favourite places for sewing goods in the city:
Various branches around the city
I love Veritas! I hate to think how much money I’ve spent there! It is a shop that mostly stocks accessories (bags, hairbands, and tights etc.) and you could be forgiven for not noticing the amazing haberdashery section in the back. Not so great for fabric but for everything else you could possibly need it is brilliant!
Weekday and Saturday
Maison des Tissus
Chaussée d’Ixelles 117
Lovely staff and a really great selection of fabrics. Great for walking around and hunting for inspiration!
Open from 10h00 to 18h30 (Fridays 14h30 to 18h30)
Les Tissues du Chien Vert (Le Chien Vert, Les Puces du Chien and Le Chien du Chien)
Rue du chien vert, 2
These two shops are in one of my favourite parts of the city: beside the canal. Le Chien Vert is the main shop and Le Chien du Chien a couple of doors down stocks mainly furniture textiles. Regardless of whether you find anything you like it is worth heading here to marvel at the shop interiors alone, particularly in Le Chien du Chien as it is all done out like a boat!
Les Puces du Chien is the reduced section in the back of Le Chien Vert and it is probably this part that will most interest dressmakers.
I really like their selection and it is here I always stock up on Calico Toile. It can err on the expensive side though so the best time to go is during the Belgian sale periods (July and January).
Open Monday to Saturday from 10h to 18h00
Gare du midi market
Gare du midi
I recently bought some lovely lawn cotton here for about 5 euro a metre from one particular stand. There are loads of fabric sellers so it is good for rummaging although the quality of some fabrics might match the cheap prices. Good place for stocking up on lining.
Every Sunday morning
Chaussée de Waterloo, 99
Very reasonably priced place and they also stock some cheap invisible zips.
Weekdays and Saturdays