ESPADRILLE MAKING IN SPAIN

While researching my trip to Spain, I really wanted to get to the heart of Spanish culture and traditions, and what better way to do that than to understand more about local crafts? Basket weaving in Thailand and leather making in Italy certainly whet my appetite for this sort of travel, and when a few of you mentioned traditional espadrilles in my Spain tips post (this was a lifesaver guys!), I knew it was something I would have to learn more about! Luckily we spent enough time in Spain for me to visit two famous Espadrille shops – Antigua Casa Crespo in Madrid and La Manual Alpargatera in Barcelona. I even got to spend a little more time in La Manual to understand more about the process. Traditional craft at its finest guys!

Espadrille Making in Spain

HOW ESPADRILLES ARE MADE

Traditionally espadrilles were made entirely by hand although these days many of the processes have been taken over by machines. It’s a little sad because there is definitely something romantic about the traditional espadrille making process – think gossiping grandmothers stitching on the street and craftsman secrets handed down through generations from father to son.

1. The rope used for the sole of the shoe is spun from jute threads and then braided to give it extra strength. Espadrilles were named after the Mediterranean grass they were originally made out of but today the rope is made out of jute, a much tougher natural fibre from India.

2. The braided rope is then spun into the shape of a sole using a metal turntable or a sole template in various shoe sizes.

3. To secure and create the hour glass shape of the shoe sole, the rope is sewn together using an oversized needle and more jute thread. It is a process that requires a lot of manual strength to get the needle through all those layers of rope.

4. The cotton canvas fabric for the shoe is then cut out into their respective pattern pieces using cutters that can slice through many layers of fabric at once.

5. Finally, the canvas fabric is attached to the sole by hand using blanket stitches which both embellish and secure the shoe to the sole, especially around the toe area where more blanket stitches are made to reinforce the area.

You can read and watch more about the process here.

Espadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in Spain

Perfect crafty chaos!

Espadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in SpainEspadrille Making in Spain

Oh and in case you’re wondering, these were all around 20 – 50 euros, so well priced you can’t help but buy a few pairs! 🙂

ASK A PATTERNMAKER: HOW TO SEW AN INVISIBLE ZIPPER

Earlier this year, we set about asking you guys what kind of DIYs you would like to see more of and we were overwhelmed by your responses! They have been invaluable in helping shape our content so a big heart felt thank you to you! As a nod to our DIY roots, the girls and I at the studio are starting a new series where we share the tricks of the trade that help take any fashion DIY from “holds together long enough to walk to the bar in” to “so wearable you can run a marathon in” (ok, maybe that’s a little ambitious but we all want our clothes to go the distance, right?).

If you’ve been around this part of the woods long enough, you’ll know that an indispensable element for any fashion DIY or before & after is the trusty ol’ invisible zipper. But reality is, if you’ve ever put your hand to sewing in an invisible zipper in the past and found that it is anything but invisible then welcome to the club. The good news is you only have to keep in mind one or two rules when sewing in an invisible zipper and you’re all set to sew one into anything (save your mum’s curtains). Read on to see how!

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

Equipment

  • Cotton fabric (2 rectangles about 30 x 25cm)
  • An invisible zipper
  • Contrasting coloured thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Pins

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

How to

  1. Measure the length of your zipper from the top of the metal puller to the bottom of the plastic stop. My zipper measured 20cm. (Note: in the picture below, the invisible zipper is facing wrong side up because the teeth are visible).

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

2. An invisible zipper requires a 1cm seam allowance which I’ve drawn in below for this demonstration. On the wrong side of the fabric, which I’ve marked with an ‘X’, mark in the zipper gap (i.e. the length of seam we will leave open for the invisible zipper will be inserted). Coming down 1cm from the top edge (this will accommodate the extra zipper tape above the puller), mark a line from there 2cm shorter than your zipper, so in my case I came down another 18cm.

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

3. Pin the seam allowances together

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

4. Sew the seam allowance together from the zipper gap mark down (as stitched here in red thread).

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

5. Open up the two pieces of fabric, right sides up (note, the ‘X’s are now facing down).

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

6. Unzip your zipper all the way down. With the wrong side of the zipper facing upwards (i.e. teeth side up), take the right arm of the zipper and pin it to the seam allowance on the left. Keep the edge of the zipper tape flush with the edge of the seam allowance.

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

7. Using your standard machine foot, sew on the zipper by gently rolling back the zipper teeth and letting the needle fall in the crevice between the teeth and the tape.

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

8. Sew until you reach the end of the zipper gap, not the end of the zipper. You will notice that you will stop about 2cm before the end of the zipper, this intentional as to avoid hitting the metal puller with the foot or sewing needle.

Ask a patternmaker: Invisible Zipper Tutorial

9. Now pin the left arm of the zipper tape to the seam allowance on the right. The trickiest part about this step is not getting the zipper tape tangled. The key when bringing the left zipper tape arm over to the right seam allowance is to turn the left arm anti-clockwise (imagine you are turning back the hands of a clock) until the edge of the left zipper tape matches with the right seam allowance. You will notice that during this process, the metal puller will automatically flip over.

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

Ask a

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

10. Sew the left arm of the zipper in as you did the previous arm, again, stopping at the end of the zipper gap. When you are done, close the zipper by carefully drawing the puller up through the space at the end of the zipper gap and voila!

Ask a patternmaker: invisible zipper tutorial

Oh and guys, let me introduce Annie, our in-house expert in anything involving a needle and thread  who also happens to be a trained pattern maker. She’s full of neat tips and tricks for this new expert series and we can’t wait to share more of them with you. Stay tuned!

DIY Word Embroidered Denim Two Ways

Photos by Annie Huang & Bryant Lee

PACKING FOR A EUROPEAN SUMMER (5 THINGS I’VE LEARNT)

Packing for that most planned and anticipated trip – your European summer holiday – can be daunting. Yes you want it to be adaptable and comfortable, but above all, you want to feel like every outfit you wear is your best of the year. Vain? Maybe. But you’re on holiday after all! Throw in potentially wanting to take every pair of shoes you own and you’ve got a recipe for the world’s heaviest suitcase. But you needn’t worry, it’s totally possible to do it right. Recently I packed for my summer trip, which I’m currently on, and have already learnt a few lessons about packing that I wanted to share with you.

Packing for Europe

1. CHOSE THE RIGHT FOOTWEAR If there’s one thing you want to get right it’s what you wear on your feet, because summer in Europe, whether you’re beachside or cityside, is hot and tiring. A recipe for really really sore feet. Comfortable sneakers that also look nice are an absolute must… My go to? Springcourt and Superga. You’ll also need a few pairs of comfortable leather sandals (stay tuned for some big news on that front soon!) and some slip on leather shoes like ballet flats are a great choice too. Add in another mid heel for nights out and you’re done! Key lesson (I learnt the hard way last year with some sneakers), whatever you do, wear in any new shoes before your trip- you don’t want to break in shoes while walking the hot streets of Madrid!

2. PICK PATTERNS CAREFULLY By now you obviously know I’m all about choosing a small set of colours when it comes to my travel wardrobes, it just makes everything so much easier. This time I decided to branch out from my usual basic separates with some patterned pieces. But in the interest of keeping my wardrobe cohesive (to make it easier to get dressed) I chose patterns that complimented the basic colours I was packing – some gingham and floral prints.

3. DONT FORGET COMFORT I think of summer holiday clothes the same as I think about what to wear to a festival – chances are you’re going to have long days during which you want to be comfortable but also look and feel great.   Considering the fabrics you’re taking will be key to overall comfort, stay away from polyester ones that trap the heat inside and will have you climbing the walls. Through trial and error I’ve found that linen, cotton and silk are my go tos.

4. ROLL IT How to keep that linen and silk creasefree? Roll carefully and then when you arrive unroll and put into the wardrobe overnight so all the creases fall out. And when you change location make sure you do it again, rather than just throwing everything back in willy nilly. It takes a little time but it’s so worth it. Putting them into the room while you have a warm steamy shower always helps to get creases out of silk too!

5. PACK LESS Even though I only brought a small suitcase I still haven’t worn about 30% of it – I may still do that but I wouldn’t be surprised if I just keep wearing the same outfits in different forms for the rest of the week. So take less than you think you need!

Packing for a European Summer

Wearing Paddo to Palmy Dress, shoes designed by me, Sportsgirl hat.

Packing for EuropePacking for EuropePacking for a Europe Summer

DIY shorts (coming soon!), Paddo to Palmy top, Bag from Toledo.

Last year I was all about blues and whites, but I decided it’s time to get a little colour in my life – red is something I’ve been wearing a lot lately. Stay tuned via instagram and snapchat to see these outfits in action! xxx

Packing for Europe

In my suitcase: DIY off the shoulder crop top (tutorial coming soon), DIY cut off shorts, 3 high waisted bikinis from Topshop, Her and Pale Swimwear, various pieces from my friends at Paddo to Palmy, a top and a skirt from Cecile Copenhagen, 2 tan bags, sandals, flats and Springcourt sneakers. Cheers to the holidays!

Photos by Bryant Lee & Ben McCarthy.

STUDIO HOURS: THE UNIFORM

Greetings from Spain guys. Even though I’m currently travelling in Europe, I wanted to share with you a few postcards from the studio. Having such a versatile space to work in has really changed the way I approach, well, everything, and I wanted to show you more of those BTS. First… my uniform!

As much as I was ecstatic to leave high school and dispense with that scratchy white, blue and brown outfit we had to wear, as I’ve grown older I’ve realised there’s definitely a reasoning behind them. They just makes life soooo easy! And when you’ve got a crazy day planned, throw yourself out of bed and rush to the gym (or just have a few minutes more shut eye), it’s easy to come to rely on certain easy pieces or styles. An accidental uniform is born.

Studio Hours

For me, it’s the jumpsuit. Practical for busy days, but with an element of elegance that comes in handy when you’re running late, it seems that without me ever realising it, these have become my second skin. Long, crepe ones for days when I have meetings and want to feel a little more professional, and relaxed ones in light airy fabrics for days when I’m in the studio and having some casual/creative fun. These two from M&S are the perfect sidekick to a busy and productive day, and certainly a step up from the uniforms of my past! When you’re comfortable (but still feeling chic) it’s just so much easier to be creative.

Studio Hours

Wearing: M&S Crepe Dungarees, Ankle Strap Two Party Sandals.

Parts of the studio remind me of the backstage of a theatre, so many moving pieces like ladders boxes, plywood. Essentials for shoots.

Studio Hours

Wearing: M&S Crepe Dungarees, The Mae Playsuit, Ankle Strap Two Party Sandals.

I’m also a bit addicted to these industrial style shelves that Ben got for me, they’re huge and hold so much stuff. One set is nice and organised and the other one is completely full of materials, supplies and tools. They kind of represent the two faces of the studio – one side organised and pretty, the other side chaotic and creative. I feel like you totally need both!

Studio Hours

Whats on my shelves? Lots of candles, bronze planters, shoe samples (!!), mud cloth fabrics, my neon sign reminding me to hustle, lots of pretty stationary and a few of my cameras!

Studio Hours - The Uniform

This simple playsuit is perfect for casual Fridays… In the studio that is – probably a touch to0 casual if you work in a law firm 🙂

Do you guys have a work uniform? I’d love to hear!

Photos by Bryant Lee. This post is in collaboration with M&S via Shopping Links.

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