A Liebster Award!

A lovely thing happened this week - my blog was nominated for a Leibster Award!

A Leibster Award is something that bloggers give to other bloggers - thanks so much to Fiona from Sewing vs Knitting for nominating The Magnificent Thread! The whole idea behind the Awards is to share a love of blogging and discover new blogs. You pass it on to others once nominated, so it's like being part of a positive chain of encouragement.

So as a part of receiving a Leibster, I have to share 11 facts about myself:

Hi I'm Shauni!
1. I'm named after a Baywatch character called Shauni. I was going to be called Mitch (the same as the Hoff's character) if I was a boy - no jokes. Of course this was all my Dad's idea.

2. I originally wanted to be a curator and spent some time working in the the Costume and Textile department at Leeds Museums and Galleries. I catalogued hundreds of Victorian Capes, handled garments too delicate to ever be displayed to the public, and eventually decided I didn't want to curate. I did, however, write some of my earliest blog posts for the Museum's Secret Life of Objects blog (like this one!).

Some of the capes I catalogued in the store at Leeds Museums and Galleries
3. I'm an only child and have always enjoyed it. I never really missed having a brother or sister (and I had a lot of holiday pen pals).

4. I grew up in Rotherham and left when I was 18 to go to Uni. I live in Leeds now, so retained a fairly strong Yorkshire accent (FYI it's a breadcake, and luggy is definitely a word).

Hyde Park in Leeds
5. I've had some pretty strange jobs, including dressing up as a the Gruffalo, and working in a castle. At the castle, I did everything from school tours, to locking up the castle (with a castle-size key!) and... cleaning the pigeon poo.

6. I own 15+ analogue cameras. I even made a knitted mascot for my University photography society once upon a time. I don't get the chance to use them nearly enough anymore, but still take great pleasure flicking through all of my old film photos.

A knitted camera
7. I based my A Level textile project on making a garment for Dita Von Teese. I remember getting into trouble for googling 'risque' images of her on the school computers!

8. There's nothing like the pure joy of buying a new pair of shoes. It's not often that I buy high street clothes, so shoes are my massive weakness. I recently had a pair of leather/wooden-soled clogs custom made by Walkley Clogs - it's love!

9. I was once filmed to appear in a TV episode of 'Grimefighters' (the show that followed people around who unblock drains/clear out houses/inspect dirty kitchens). My section was meant to be a lighthearted look at grime - I was cleaning and conserving Victorian floor tiles! - but I'm not sure if it was ever aired. If you ever see me on ITV2 replays, let me know!

Minton floor tile jigsaw
10. I kept a daily diary from the ages of 11 to about 20. I've still got them all and occasionally flick through them to stir up a bit of nostalgia - and often cringe at my teenage self.

11. I would spend all my days in Paris if I could (or won the lottery).

Paris through a Fisheye
It's so nice to hear that someone enjoys reading your blog, so thank you again Fiona
I'm now really happy to get to nominate some of the blogs I read too:

Please go and check out their wonderful blogs! If my nominees choose to accept, then they will also have to share 11 random facts about themselves, and pass on the cheer by nominating their favourite blogs with under 200 followers.

And I realise I haven't posted any completed garments in a while! I have a few posts waiting for photos, so expect some updates soon :)

Stay in touch!

Leeds Craft Hack

I was lucky enough to attend Leeds Craft Hack at Leeds City Museum last week. The free event was aimed at adults, and offered a series of workshops that incorporated technology and digital processes into crafting. I work in engineering and science communication, and (of course) my huge out-of-work passion is dressmaking, so the Craft Hack was the perfect combination of the two!

First up was a laser cutting workshop. I spent a bit of time making and manipulating a design (with the help of the guys from Leeds Hackspace), before sending it to be laser etched and cut by machine. I'd gone with my blog logo in mind so I was pleased that it was suitable for etching!

My laser etched and laser cut blog logos!
The technical side of things was kindly explained to me by Dominic Morrow who brought along his laser cutter for the event. The entire etching and cutting process took under a minute, and it was pretty cool to watch the cutter at work. I have no idea what I'll use them for, but I'm thrilled with the results - it sort of makes my blog feel more 'real' if you know what I mean!

Loving my new logos!

I also tried out a basic LilyPad workshop to make some wearable tech. The LilyPad is a little component that was pre-programmed with instructions, so that when connected to LEDs it can make them light up in a particular way. I chose to add the tech to a glove, so it involved a bit of sewing with conductive thread to connect the LEDs, battery pack and LilyPad up in a circuit.

LilyPad glove
I got a bit grumpy with how fiddly I'd made it for myself by using a glove, and took it home to finish. I'm regretting the decision now as I'm still trying to get my 'disco glove' working (maybe I've got my wires crossed somewhere). Anyway, here is an amazing video from @WillowStacey who definitely got it right...

I had a great time trying out some new things at the Craft Hack. Not sure I'll be whipping up Hussein Chalayan replicas anytime soon (I mean just look at what he can do with electronics WOW)...
Hussein Chalayan video dresses and wearable tech - sourced from Pinterest 
But at least I know that adding tech into my dressmaking is a possibility - stage wear ideas maybe? The day served as fab inspiration, and if I'm very lucky maybe I'll get to do something fashion and technology related at work - here's hoping!

The Craft Hack was expertly organised by Liz, aka @electroknitter - check out her website Electroknit to see some of the amazing things you can do when you hack a knitting machine.

Stay in touch!

A custom-made work in progress

Hi all, I wanted to share a very special project I'm working on at the minute: a custom-made stage outfit for Louisa from the band Actor

A feature accessory as a starting point
Since our first discussions, I've been obsessively pinning stage inspiration (along with Louisa). Actor play atmospheric alt-pop - Louisa is both a singer and guitarist - so front women and strong female artists like St Vincent, Karen O and PJ Harvey feature quite heavily. We also took inspiration from catwalk and high fashion looks - lots of feature sleeves, sheer and beautifully draped garments.

Our Stage Inspiration board on Pinterest
The final outfit will be made up of separates - a slightly cropped top and matching mini skirt - and a number of accessories, with the intention that each piece will be interchangeable, to create a series of different looks.

A first muslin of the top and test harness
Above is a first muslin of the top - based on the By Hand London Flora bodice. I plan to sew up the centre back and instead, insert a zip into the side seam, so we can fit the garment closely, but still make it easy to get into. I used leatherette from Fabworks to make a harness as a feature accessory to wear with the bodice. The harness can be worn with and change the look of any outfit - like the loose, sheer shirt Louisa is wearing in the first picture.

Fitting notes
After an initial fitting, I'll be making some slight adjustments to the fit of the pattern and taking it in a certain points. In the meantime, we're on the look out for the perfect fabric - possibly metallic in colour. If anyone can provide recommendations please get in touch!

Actor are heading out on tour this month (October). I'd highly recommend giving them a listen and catching them on one the following dates:

09 / Headrow House / Leeds
10 / Twisterella Festival / Middlesbrough
11 / Bungalows And Bears / Sheffield
12 / The Old Blue Last / London
13 / The Polar Bear / Hull
16 / Eagle Inn / Manchester
17 / The Basement - Live Music & Comedy Venue / York

I'll be posting regular progress updates so stay in touch!

Fabric shopping and Me Made in Amsterdam

Having just got back from a trip to Amsterdam, I thought I'd share a bit about an obviously very exciting thing when you go to a different city - the fabric shops! I saw some of the most beautiful, unusual and specialist fabrics that I've ever seen. In fact, I was completely overwhelmed... so much so that I couldn't pick anything to actually buy. So this is by no means a comprehensive guide, but more of a reminder for myself to not get so overwhelmed and BUY SOME FABRIC next time!

Beautiful sari and dress fabrics
Most of the shops I went to were based in and along the Albert Cuyp Market which the lovely Laura recommended to me via Twitter. The market sells a bit of everything, but as you walk along it, the fabric stalls and shops start to appear. Above and below are pictures I took of some of the most exciting fabrics I saw - the sort that I almost couldn't bear to cut into!

Insane feathered fabric!
Nanucci Tessuti
Nanucci Tessuti  is along the market road and had some BEAUTIFUL designer fabrics - though they were a bit out of my price range.

The one I should've bought!

The absolute gem of Amsterdam has to be A.Boeken - it is by far the best stocked haberdashery and fabric shop I have ever visited. The amount of trims, notions, tools and fabrics, was again, absolutely overwhelming - I felt like a child in a toy shop!

A Boken - one of the best haberdasheries ever
The fabric range is massive and pushed way past the 'norm'. It obviously wasn't for sewing, but they even had a wall of multi-coloured latex that you could buy off the roll/by the sheet - very Amsterdam!

Something a bit different...

And for those who favour working with yarns, there's Stephen & Penelope right next door. If anyone's visited Loop in London, I'd say it's quite similar.

And for the knitters out there
The only thing I found difficult to spot in all of the fabric shops, were nice, drapey viscose or crepes. Of course, all of the specialist fabrics more than make up for a slight lack of those for everyday wear!

Me made in Amsterdam

I think I've got my 'hand luggage only' packing down to a fine art now. I wore mostly me-made clothes whilst away, mixed in with a few other bits. Here's my much worn but as of yet un-blogged Kielo Wrap Dress - I wrote about the first one here.

Rudie toilets in a disco-cocktail bar that had a resident cat (!)
My overalls/casual trousers got the most wear (two outfts in one there!). You can make your own using the overall tutorial here.

And you may have already seen my last post about my casual trouser to culotte pattern hack. Well here they are again - I just had to get a picture in that was typically Amsterdam: bikes, bridge, flowers, canal.

Culottes in Amsterdam
I would love to hear from anyone else who's been fabric shopping in Amsterdam? Unlike me, did you manage to bring anything back?!

Stay in touch!

Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting!