Brussels Costume and Lace Museum

Following a few days in Germany, our route home left us with a few hours to spare in Brussels in Belgium. Once we had visited lots of chocolate shops and wandered around


image from museum website

the Grande Place, we decided to spend an hour or so in a museum. We hadn’t made any plans for our time in Brussels, but while googling things to do I came across the Brussels Costume and Lace Museum. It is only a few minutes walk from the Grande Place and at only €8 a ticket is well worth a visit!

The current exhibition is called ‘Just married, a History of Marriage’. The exhibition shows wedding fashions from the 1700’s right up to modern day, and is predominantly Belgian made, Belgian designers or have been given to the museum by Belgian citizens. The garments on display have been carefully chosen from the museum’s collection and are mostly women’s clothing, although there are a few men’s suits too.



The exhibition is on until 3rd September, so be quick to visit if you want to! However, if you are unable to get there in person there are some fabulous pictures of some of the exhibits, as well  on the website. The garments on display are absolutely beautiful – my particular favourite was a stunning gala dress dating from 1907. Happily you are allowed to take photographs in the museum, of course with no flash, so I took a lot as we did have to return the guidebooks! There is also a video on my instagram account of my favourite gown, so check it out in the sidebar.

The museum is definitely one I want to visit again if I ever find myself in Brussels – it reminded me of the London Fashion and Textile as the display is shown on rotation – a new exhibition is due in October which is solely about lace and I can imagine how stunning it will be!



Fabric shopping in Aachen

As some of you may have seen I recently spent a few days in a small city in Germany called Aachen (or Aix-La-Chapelle, if you’re French). Situated less that 5km from the Dutch border and almost as close to the Belgian border, this little medieval city is an IMG_20170809_220220_761interesting and pretty place to spend a few summer days wandering the streets and exploring.

One thing I like to do whilst on holiday is look for local fabric shops – having never been one for buying lots of naff plastic souvenirs, I like things I can look back on that also have a practical use. Fabric fits that bill nicely as once it has been made up into a garment etc it will bring back lots of lovely holiday memories!

Aachen is only a small city but we stumbled across a few crafty shops during our wandering. The first was this beautiful wool shop called Görg Görg. As I am not a knitter and wouldn’t really know where to start with wool buying, I didn’t go in but the shop looked beautiful! They also had a beautiful yarn-bombed bicycle outside!

On the next road along from our hotel, we stumbled across a shop called Stoff-Magie. They had a large selection of printed jerseys, a lot of which I would say is aimed a those sewing for children. They did have a large selection of sewing and craft magazines and not just current issues, so it was nice to be able to thumb through some back issues.

We wandered across the city to Der-rote-Faden. Down a quiet little street near the university, this shop again had a really broad selection of jersey fabrics, but their woven fabrics were quite limited. They did have a large cabinet of Burda patterns too and their prices seemed reasonable.


We then went on the hunt for Stoffe Tetik. (It sounds like we spent all day doing this but Aachen is so small and walkable that this probably only took a couple of hours to criss-cross the city!) This shop was smaller than the other two we had visited previously and again had a good range of knits for kids – is this a typically German thing? Their range of wovens was not as broad as you would find in the UK but what they did have was great. This shop also had lots of remnants hung up or in baskets outside for a few € or less. This was the only shop I bought anything from – just one metre of a beautiful pink cotton jersey print. Hayden also bought some fabric – a mature choice but it’s a really lovely quality jersey so I can’t wait to sew it up!



A vintage goldmine

Some of you may already be aware of this as it’s been shared a lot in recent weeks, but I recently came across an incredible resource for vintage sewing patterns and it’s incredible.

It’s called the Vintage Pattern Wikia and is completely fan made, but there are thousands of pattern illustrations for you to browse. Currently there are 96,000 images on the site along with some archive film footage. It is primarily an image resource but some of the patterns even include links to sellers of original and reproduction versions! There is an free app on both the Apple and Google Play stores to download for browsing this archive too, although it doesn’t offer anything different to the desktop version.


As a resource for pattern illustrations this site is invaluable for those of you who want to pattern cut something inspired by one of these designs or just want to check out some beautiful sassy ladies!

You can’t always love what you make

Sometimes you get the right pattern, you buy the perfect fabric… and it’s a disaster. At some point in everyone’s sewing history they will make a complete duffer and it goes straight in the bin – it happens and that’s ok.

However, I am trying to make a more concerted effort to reuse things if possible, and if not I will recycle them, even me-made clothing. Does anyone else find that hard to do when they’ve spent hours on a project?! Being more conscious of waste means that even projects that were duffers can be given a fresh lease of life.

Last year I made a simple black and white spotted Seamwork Adelaide and loved it, immediately visualising a whole wardrobe of them. At a sewing meetup last year I picked up this beautiful patterned viscose in Barry’s for about £6 a metre and made an identical Adelaide to wear to SewBrum. The fabric sewed up like a breeze, and I did a little bit of pattern matching across the coloured stripes just to make it look a little nicer. I even ignored the buttonholes and sewed the front plackets together to make it a pop-over like my first version (lazy shortcut but it works). The only difference between this one and my first version was that I cut it a little bit too short, oops!  I was quite pleased that I managed to find a coordinating bias binding from my stash to use, and I found these lovely matte navy blue buttons in my local market.

It’s such a beautiful fabric and I was really please with how it turned out… and then I wore it. I wore it to SewBrum and felt uncomfortable all day. I don’t know if it was the lighter colour palette on me, the pockets or the (in hindsight unfortunate) tights/boots combo I was wearing with it, but I just didn’t feel very ‘me’ in it, so it ended up on the clothes rail and was ignored for many months.

I loved the fabric too much to throw it away, so as part of my June sewing goals I decided to refashion it and try to make it wearable again. After thinking about how to reuse it best, it became clear that the easiest refashion would be to turn it into a top, so I did! I cut off about a foot (30cm), unpicked the pockets and sewed up the gap in the sidereal, overlocked the raw bottom edge and turned the hem once to make it neat and now I’m much happier! 
At this cropped length it’s a really sweet little button front shell top, so it’s worth keeping this in mind if you like a good pattern hack. I will definitely revisit the Adelaide pattern as it’s a really great shape, but I think for me it works better in darker colours. Do any of you have any patterns that just seem to work better in a darker colour palette? I don’t wear a lot of pastel tones generally (although I love them so maybe I should; I might need to re-acclimatise after years of dark and bright colours!). Maybe it’s a blonde haired phenomena, but I’d be keen to read your thoughts! 


August sewing plans

Hello! Can you believe that it’s August already?? I have a few plans for this month but I don’t have much free time, so keep your fingers crossed for me! I’ve got very few plans for this month as I’ve found sticking to my sewing plans quite difficult lately as I’ve not felt too great lately so I want to give myself some breathing room before I get back into the swing of things in September.

  • Make Simplicity 1696. I know, I know… I still haven’t got started but I plan on making a start today. No more excuses!
  • Make Burda 7045 for Hayden using some fabric he bought in China. He only asked me about making this about 15 minutes ago so this is a last minute addition to the list!
  • Catch up on some outstanding blog posts – I’ve got a few makes that I want to share with you that just need writing up. It’d be nice to finish the month with a clean slate.

July in review

Although it doesn’t feel like it, July was actually quite a productive month. I made a lightweight hoodie and I love it – keep your eyes peeled for a blog post soon! I finished some pattern testing and I just need buttons for the other make.  I also met up with fellow blogger Rudy and we worked on our Big Stitch projects together, which you can read about here.