Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Better late than never: Grunge November and the sweet smell of Eddie's shirt

Towards the end of last year, my lovely friend Gillian suggested a Grunge November sewalong. To say I'm a little fond of all things Pearl Jam, Seattle and Subpop is an understatement. Gillian had barely sent her email before I jumped all over it with my scuffed Docs and ripped tights - count me in Toronto sister, I'm channeling back to 1993 RIGHT NOW and drafting a plaid shirt.

Okay okay...there's a slight problem here right? It's now February and fireworks and Christmas are but a hazy blur in the background. To be fair, I had time management issues, dates with Don, work, a trip to Canada and the general frivolity of being a Szabo to contend with. But, I'm back and my sewing mojo is cooking on gas with my first proper make of 2014 being what is now my most beloved plaid shirt.

For the photos and styling, I decided to go with one of my favourite grunge princesses of the time, Janet Livermore from the film Singles, played by the ageless Bridget Fonda (she's now 50, WTF?).

Janet outside the Duplex where I so badly
wanted to live

Me outside the Chez Szabo 'duplex'. Pattern is my own and 
fabric is a brushed cotton from Calico Lane 


When I first saw Singles, I was 13 and life was a daily torment of teenage angst, buying Kerrang! and plotting my escape and life in Seattle with my best friend Amanda. These were the days when MTV was great and you could turn it on at any time and see Guns N Roses or Brett Michaels singing about roses and thorns. One day, bored, I turned on the TV and watched a black & white video with hot, sweaty, plaid-soaked men crowd surfing. Immediately, I needed to know who this was! My hormones demanded it. The cheekbones of the lead singer alone sent my adolescent world spiralling. 

It was Pearl Jam's 'Alive' video and the cheekbones belonged to the one and only Eddie Vedder. Instantly, my little world changed. 


From that day on, all I remember is that life revolved around Pearl Jam. My room became a shrine, my pocket-money went on music, magazines and my evenings were spent writing endless letters to Amanda (that I would give to her the next day at school, even though we'd spend the whole day together!) about our fantasy life as Eddie and Stone's girlfriends.


Amanda and I told everyone we'd get to Seattle one day, and all I wanted was to work in a coffee shop dating a guy that wore tube socks and had long hair.... okay this hasn't happened but Mr Szabo does wear the socks and Amanda and I have got as far as Vegas and Phoenix together. It's only a matter of time. 

State of love and plaid matching

For this shirt, I drafted my own pattern. I'm beyond pleased with how it's turned out. It has a button placket (cut on the bias), collar, collar stand, cuffs and sleeve plackets. The whole shiz! 

I matched the plaid and flat felled all seams (except armhole). This shirt is truly a testament of my love to grunge.

Bias cut yoke oh yeah I like you

I ran into a problem at the end however. I had completely forgot to stay-stitch the raw edges on my neckline and the whole thing had pretty much stretched to that of a man's neck size. Doh! I was left with a perfect fitting shirt but with a man's neck size - holy pearl jam I was upset. HOWEVER, this is when Twitter comes and hugs you and spoon-feeds you melted chocolate and peanut butter cups. Some gorgeous people (you know who you are) helped me realise that wait! What are you talking about, Clare? This isn't my shirt - this shirt I picked up off of Eddie's floor one morning after a crazy night of writing songs and making out, AND it's nothing but a repair job that when finished, I'd be rocking as boyfriend-thrift-chic. RIGHT, that's made me happier!


So I continued finishing the shirt and I am so in love with it. The brushed cotton feels incredible and when wearing it over a t-shirt, it really doesn't show the man-collar. Plus, it looks so good when I am hanging out with my boyfriend and his band. 

Thanks Steffen Horak for taking this pic :)

Buttoned up, I think the shirt looks okay - I mean how can you not be distracted by that front plaid matching? I am also pleased with my top-stitching on this shirt, especially the collar points. Normally my top-stitching looks a bit drunk (knowing me, probably is!) but if you're struggling to stitch those points try using a walking foot, I found it really helped grip onto those pesky corners. 

Moody album back cover. Yeah, I dated 
Layne Staley, so what?

Here's a little proof of how much I love(d) Pearl Jam. I joined the Ten Club way back in 1993 and my friend Thomas (hi Thomas!) bought me Ten on cassette off of one of the US air bases near where we lived. I was so happy because it meant my version was actually American, as if that made it more authentic somehow! HA!


So that's Grunge Novebruary. I'd like to dedicate this post to one of my favourite people in the entire world, my bestest friend Amanda. We never get to see each other as she lives in Utah, but she means the world to me and there's no Pearl Jam without her. 

<Playlist: Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns - Mother Love Bone>

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Dolly Clackett is getting married! Come sewalong!

I'm so excited to post about this today! Get ready for some love people.

Some time ago Sarah from Rhinestones and Telephones contacted me about a fantastic sewing contest she was planning as a wedding gift to the wonderful and unique, Roisin (Dolly Clackett Blogspot). If you don't already know, Roisin and her amazing partner Nic are getting married this year. I am so happy and excited for two genuinely fantastic people whom, I am beyond pleased to say, are now true, real-life and hopefully life-long friends.

Sarah's brilliant idea is the Sew Dolly Clackett contest.



Basically, in order to enter, contestants must sew a dress in true Dolly Clackett style from February 23 to April 23 and upload it into the contest Flickr group.  Roisin will pick the winners and announce them shortly after the contest finishes.

How fun is this? And to top it off, Sarah has secured some fabulous prizes for the contest:


  • £50 gift voucher for Berylune
  • By Hand London Anna and Elisalex patterns
  • Christine Haynes Emery pattern 
  • Colette Patterns pattern of your choice
  • $75 Hart's Fabric gift certificate 
  • Sewaholic pattern of your choice


So, come on #Spoolettes, get your thinking caps on, hop over to Roisin's blog and get some inspiration for this contest. I am without doubt taking part; Roisin is now a very dear friend of mine who makes me smile and laugh nearly everyday with our mutual obsession for all things Alan Partridge and Silence of the Lambs. There's not many people I have got drunk and tuck-danced with in my hallway. I guess, just these things alone pretty much sum up how cool it is to find such a great likeminded soul. Roisin, I love you, in a way.

From Roisin's blog: Happy Valentine's Day, No-one! Emery dress

I can't wait to see what you all make...mega congratulations to Roisin and Nic again. I'm so happy I'm going to dance.


Uh-uh..no photos!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Chanel Cardigan progress: it's a slow burner people

Well, I'm back from my crazy work week in Amsterdam and more importantly back on the sewing saddle!

Giddy up, I am even juggling projects.

First up is my progress on my big 2014 couture project, the Chanel Cardigan. As you'll see from my previous post, my aspiration this year is to work on one long-term couture project. I've always wanted a Chanel style cardigan/jacket and, with the release of Claire Shaeffer's awesome new book, there was no excuse but to take the plunge.

So far, I have selected my pattern: Vogue 7975 (I'm doing view B). Claire actually suggests her own pattern, but in the complimentary DVD that comes with her book, she does also recommend this one. Win!

My next job is fabric. To begin with, I am just focusing on the outer fabric. I'll tackle the trims and lining afterwards. Even though Claire recommends you think about everything altogether, my brain just won't work like that; I need the outer shell first then I can shimmy onto shiny linings and trims, or
'gimps' as she calls them. LAWLZ!

What makes fabric buying difficult for me is obviously the composition. I am vegetarian and passionate about animal welfare - which makes for this particular project difficult as the Chanel cardigan is typically made from tweed/wool blends. I won't go into horrible details, but seen as I cannot be sure of the welfare of the animals in the production of wool, I'm opting for man-made materials, yet this is not so easy.

However! Fret not readers, I've come up trumps with Linton Tweeds. Yep, THE Linton Tweeds, official supplier to Chanel. They actually have a whole range of non-wool fabrics that are a blend of cotton/viscose/and poly fabrics. I ordered some samples and received a whole batch:


I narrowed down my selection to four. Here are the three runners up:


The fabric on the left is a close contender as it reminds me of the Asteroids game - anyone?

The winner however is this lovely multi-coloured blend of bold and pastel colours in a textured weave. Isn't it pretty? It has a very subtle metallic silver thread, which gives it a little oooh yeaaah! I need more colour in my wardrobe and I think a cardigan in this material could make for a timeless piece perfect in any season. It's made of 75% viscose and 25% cotton, yet it feels pretty similar to its wool-based contemporaries. It retails at £26 p/m, which I think is pretty good value; it will total at just over £50 as I only need a couple of metres for this project.


This weekend I traced and cut my muslin pieces. I am now in the middle of marking all pattern pieces with seam and grain lines ready to sew up and begin the fitting process. I did this when I made my wedding dress (as per Susan Khalje's advice in Bridal Couture) and although it's time consuming, it's so worth it when assessing fitting alterations.

How much time do you spend on muslins and fitting?