The Great New York Pumpkin Spice Quest... and giveaway winner

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

There's a slight deviation from sewing with this post - but only 'slight' - stick with it and some sewing does crop up!
Now...
I am not a jetsetter..  Once many years ago I travelled to far off lands, but now my radius is;  home - school - nursery - office - home - weekend walk - park - office - school - home. Or something. And no distance is more than oooh... five miles.

So when I hatched a plan to visit my brother in New York City this was The Most Exciting thing to happen since my babes arrived onto the planet. 


And when Mr As-it-Seams barely batted an eyelid when I asked if he would look after  the children for six days, I was, and am, infinitely grateful. He is the most capable, hands-on dad that we could wish for! 

 And...

What better way to seek out a pumpkin spice latte than travel to New York for Hallowe'en!
Pumpkin Spice Latte was the mysterious acorn brought to As-it-Seams as one of Secret Squirrel's sewing theme acorns for October...(see here). A PSL (as I shall now call it) had caused me sleepless nights. Now, at last I would get to drink one! 
 
Airborne! I loved the excitement of seeing the green cliffs of the Irish coast glinting in the sun on the edge of the wide ocean. And then the endless snow and wilderness of Canada, before landing in an autumn sunset at JFK. 

Then I was negotiating the New York subway alone, on my way to my brother's apartment, and embarking on my NYC adventure!


Oh where to start....
Well, I love eating, I love art, I love people watching - I was in the RIGHT city! And I was lucky enough to have a City Pass from nycgo.com which gave me free entry to star attractions like the Rockefeller 'Top of the Rock', MoMa, The Metropolitan Museum and more.

I zipped into MoMA and was moved to tears by Van Gogh's Starry Night, and wowed by Monet's water lillies. I explored modern art in the many galleries of Chelsea, saw Vermeer at The Frick and an Egyptian temple at The Met...phew that's enough of looking at stuff...
I ate Mexican burritos, Caribbean curries, bagels, omelettes,  Italian bruschetta, Japanese noodles, and in China town enjoyed a $4 lunch of delicacies-with-no-name.
But by day four of my trip I had not yet had a P.S.L...

Then my brother and his girlfriend took me on a sparkling ferry to Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn Food Market. Decisions!  Vietnamese noodles? Thai curry? tempeh? jerk chicken? Can you tell I look happy?
 

I chose a Mexican burrito, followed by a pumpkin spice  cheese cake! Delicious... That elusive PSL is getting closer...


Now from food to sewing....(almost)
My brother took me to the garment distract but managed to save me from disappearing into haberdashery heaven! Every kind of ribbon, braid, fringing and trim you could wish for. I resisted. Mainly because coffee was calling.




But my resistance was weaker at a Brooklyn vintage clothing market. I fell in love with this 60s dress.



It's one of those garments which hovers on the fragile line between lovely and ugly,  but I think it kind-of-works. And from a sewing point of view, it inspired me.
I like the 3/4 circular skirt, the open-weave wool fabric, the paired buttons, the straight line of the neck on the white panel and more...
It's giving me all kinds of ideas to sew for Missy. Does it inspire you too? If so get in touch! I have an interesting idea...

And then it was all over - time to head back to JFK. I took off into the night, dreaming of seeing my babies soon....but not quite as soon as I planned...


In the middle of the night, the captain announced we were turning back, the plane's pressure wasn't functioning properly.

A midnight wait in JFK followed.

But there was a silver lining! 

All was quiet in JFK, except for one ubiquitous fastfood outlet. Where I had, yes, you guessed it... a Pumpkin Spice Latte! Sweet, warm, rich and yes really the perfect drink for a midnight airport!...

Giveaway update
That lovely Kokka red riding hood fabric is on its way to Nathalie at Nat and The Gang. Thanks to all who entered! 

All pictures (except red dress) by my dear brother, thank you Mike!


Secret Squirrel Stop 5 - Amos el to As it Seams

Friday, 1 November 2013

When Secret Squirrel turned up at As-it-seams, I nearly fell over my sewing box!
The Secret Squirrel series is a year-long sewing journey created by An from Straight-grain  and Suz from Sewpony.  Read all about it here

Secret Squirrel contacted me via Amy at Amos El and gave me these five acorns of inspiration; polka dot, pumpkin spice latte, clock, The Princess Bride and watercolours.




 I've already 'sewn along' to the Secret Squirrel challenge twice, here and here.

But this time, the pressure was on...
For a start, what on earth is a pumpkin spice latte?
I'm a strong coffee girl - especially when Secret Squirrel arrives!
I decided I needed some basic ground rules;
  • Don't spend loads on fabric. 
  • Make something practical and wearable. (ie don't get lured by that Princess Bride and sew a gorgeous fancy dress costume.)
So after much pondering, and then some frantic sewing, I produced this dress, and reversible waistcoat .




OK so let's break down those Acorns.
I started with watercolours - and had a  moment of inspiration when I remembered this maxi skirt in my bag of clothes-that-I-love-but-never-wear.
It's a patchwork of silk from old Indian saris. The silks are gorgeous and the intensity of the colours seemed to have that intense almost translucent quality of watercolour paints. And the patchwork looked just like a paintbox.
So the skirt was sacrificed to Secret Squirrel and cut up into little squares, ironed to interfacing. Don't they look pretty!
Then I set about stitching them up again, patchwork style.
Now that Princess Bride. Firstly; thanks Amy at Amos El for getting me to watch this film, I  loved its humour and fantasy! Lots of ideas for clothes, but I decided not to recreate a costume, but to go for a general mediaeval vibe. This muted green cotton seemed a little Saxon, and  I added a 'jewelled belt' of the patchwork silks to make a dress that was a bit 'mediaeval maiden', without being too costumey. 
The pattern is from this book - modified slightly.
I fully lined the bodice in pink voile.
I cut the front button opening at the front side, rather than centre, as the pattern suggests. I wanted a plainer look across the bodice, because I was adding the silks to the waist. 
I also trimmed the sleeves down. Flouncy sleeves won't work under a cardigan or coat, and I wanted this dress to be practical.
The back-opening button placket is, again bright pink, and the button loops are hand-made in pink embroidery threads. 
Oh and look who turned up on a silk square? That pesky squirrel in the form of a scrap of Kokka fabric left over from this blouse.
A thin band of silk squares finished the hem of the dress.
And, can you see? One of the squares is polka dot ! Hurray! Three Acorns down!


Ok now for that pumpkin spice latte?
What? You drink these things?

Hmm... A google-search produced an image. Orangey-brown frothy coffee?
There are two fabric shops in our small town, and the ladies in both shops are very patient  when I mutter things like "pumpkin" and "latte"... And I struck lucky - this corduroy and wide-ribbed white velvet. Paired together this is, I believe, a pumpkin spice latte!


I drafted a very simple pattern for this reversible waistcoat, fastened with a single button and loop, with a snug wide collar. It's not a perfect creation but I like it very much - and I think it continues the mediaeval Princess Bride vibe. 
And the clock... well what waistcoat is complete without a watch pocket? Ta dah! Clock acorn ticked off!
A teeny pocket finished with a scrap of my current favourite fabric from Jenny Baker's Nordika range. The same fabric also made a pair of ties on the back of the waistcoat, adding a pop of collar.
Phew..!



 
 
That Secret Squirrel set me off on a sewing journey. And my silk sari skirt is now in pieces...what is a sewist to do? Why keep on sewing of course! Watch this space... Watercolour Dress, Mark 2, is in the pipeline....
I had lots of fun with Secret Squirrel's challenge, but now he's pff again with a new set of Acorns for stop number 6 as he traverses the globe on his way home Straight Grain.... His  acorns are:
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Blue
  • David Bowie
  • Pockets
  • Great Britain


If you would like to host Secret Squirrel on his journey, leave a comment on this post. Check your inbox in a week’s time… you may be the chosen one to pass on the baton of creativity that is Secret Squirrel!

If you don't receive a message from Secret Squirrel, you can still sew along and add your creations to the Secret Squirrel flickr group.   There are some amazing prizes to be won! See below!


If this is your first visit to As it Seams, welcome! It's lovely to have you here! And,  my fabric giveaway is still open, hop over here.
  
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