StyleArc Etta in Malhia Kent

I was looking for a panelled skirt pattern the other day, and as soon as I saw the Etta Skirt by Style Arc Patterns, I knew she was just the sort of thing I wanted.

After A recent Paris trip, I’d acquired a little stash of Malhia Kent woven fabrics in awkward/small offcuts, which I’m on a mission to incorporate into my next few projects. For this skirt I used one that’s a silver/metallic mixed with black, teal and grey threads. It’s pretty thick, so I paired it with a fairly thick black boucle wool from Linton Tweeds.


Pattern Review

Fabric: a combination of wools as described above.

Sizing/Alterations: I sewed a size 8. I had reviewed the measurements on the pattern and made a couple of alterations mainly to give me more width in the front waist and less in the back, due to swayback and a persistent post-baby tummy situation. I also lengthened the pattern by 4 inches as I prefer my work skirts to fall below the knee. When I had stitched everything up, I found that the flounce side inserts were too stiff – a combination of the thick wool and the bias bound hem, I think – so I ended up stitching a little tuck/pleat in the middle of each one. The suggested fabrics are much lighter than what I’ve used, but anyway this gave them a nice shape and I’ll have to see how it holds up.

Instructions: StyleArc’s instructions seem pretty minimal, I think they are intended for more experienced sewers, but that said, I managed without any difficulty and I don’t think I had to Google anything. There was one part, in dealing with the hem where the straight section of the skirt meets the flounce insert, where the only reason I knew what they were talking about is that Id done something similar on another pattern, but I think you could have worked it out by trial and error.

Oh, and the pattern is based on a 3/8″ seam allowance, smaller than the usual 5/8″. With my thick and fairly loosely woven wools, I was nervous about this, so when I cut my fabric I eyeballed extra to give myself a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Difficulty: the pattern is rated Medium/Challenging. I think I’d agree, maybe more medium than challenging but I guess it depends on whether you happen to have sewn anything which uses a similar technique to the one they used for the flounce inserts.

Would I recommend, or sew it again?: Yep, I would definitely recommend it. In theory I’d like to sew it again, but it’s quite distinctive so I probably wouldn’t have two of these on the go in my work wardrobe at the same time :). I would do one in a lightweight suiting/drapey fabric for spring/summer though and keep this one for autumn/winter. It’s super cosy so I look forward to wearing it once the weather turns.

Happy sewing!

– Michelle –

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Paris fabric shopping (in 6 hours)..

What a day!

A few weeks ago, I saw a good deal on Eurostar tickets for a day trip to Paris for two, and booked it on a whim. For myself and Hubby to have a romantic getaway, you ask?! Don’t be silly! This was my opportunity to visit Malhia Kent and explore Parisian fabric stores – and Hubby hates shopping at the best of times, let alone for fabric. I ended up going with mum, who is starting to get back into sewing having not really done it over the last decade or so.

In preparation for the trip I consulted a few blog posts in which people had reviewed Paris fabric shops:

These were really helpful and by the end of my hasty planning session I had narrowed it down to three places I wanted to visit. Malhia Kent was already on my list; the Montmartre district sounded ideal; and AnnaKa Bazaar also sounded well worth a visit. We would get to Paris mid-morning and leave at dinner time, and my mum is asthmatic, so it would be a fairly easy-going day rather than a mad dash across the city to try to see more. As it happens, we got loads of stuff from the first area, and would have needed suitcases and bigger budgets to go to any more!

So without further ado, I’ll give you a whistle stop tour of where we went and what I got. I’ll try to give you an idea of costings too.

First, a word on transport:

  • We ended up getting taxis more than the metro, because after the first attempt we found that there were lots of flights of stairs at the stations we went to, not many escalators, and for an asthmatic/anyone laden with bags etc, it would have been tough. The cab fares ranged from €7 (which I *think* was a minimum fare for two people? My French is rusty – GCSE French was a loooong time ago) to €11 for the longest journey which was from Malhia Kent back to Montmartre.
  • By contrast, a single Metro journey costs €1.80 or you can get a bundle of ten tickets for €14ish. We got tickets from the Metro entrance at Gare du Nord where there are multilingual touch screen machines. I was impressed that at literally every station we went to, there were information people milling around and ready to help, at various exits. You can get a free tube (sorry, Metro) map or street map from any of these guys.

Ok, back to the fabric shops!:

Montmartre / Metro stop ‘Anvers’

The area at the bottom of a hill in the Montmarte area really seemed to be what I would call a fabric district. I’d love to have something like this in London (let me know if you know of an area!). Sacre Coeur basilica is up the hill if you also want to sightsee. There were loads of shops clustered in the side roads around here. We spent a good couple of hours here before we went anywhere else.

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Tissu Reine:

This was a large store, with a really lovely selection of fabrics including Liberty cottons (roughly €25/m), gorgeous broderie anglaise cottons (also €25/m), tie-dye cottons (€11/m), laces (ranging from €25 to €199/m, on the ones I was drooling over), bridal fabrics, printed and plain silks, faux leathers and more. They had cute mini-mannequins throughout the store on which they’d made various outfits from the fabrics. Here are some of the printed silks I was stroking (€49/m):

In the end, since it was the first store, I got a one meter coupon of a grey tightly woven wool for €2, yes €2, and decided to see what else was out there before buying anything pricey.

Les Coupons de Saint Pierre:

This place had a wide selection of fabrics at a wide range of prices. For example, I got:

A monochrome checked viscose, €15 for a 3m coupon. I’m thinking of a dress and a blouse:

A neutral tweed, €30 for 3m coupon (below).
They also had a few thicker wool/wool Malhia Kent-style wovens, some at €30/3m coupon, some going up to €199/3m coupon. I didn’t get any, as I was waiting for the coupons at Malhia Kent which I’d heard ranged from €10-30 €/m.

Marche St Pierre: (Map and website)
This looked to be the biggest of the stores in this area, it’s a large five storey building! However, I think three of them are devoted to upholstery/home fabrics, curtains etc. They still had a massive range across the other stories, of silks, cottons, gabardines, quilting cottons, velour, faux furs, tulle, suiting, african wax print.. You name it, really! They had fabrics on the rolls / per/meter as well as coupons.

I picked up a silk coupon 90cm remnant for €5. At the time I thought it had cream flowers but I later realised, having opened it up much more outside, that they are cloves of garlic. Only in France, lol.
I also got a border print viscose which is way out of my comfort zone in terms of colours, but was still calling to me as a pretty pink number. Again it was a few euros for one meter:




Frou Frou:

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This was a haberdashery store, packed with lovely trims, buttons, zips, and sewing tools. I had really wanted to visit AnnaKa Bazaar which Katie mentioned on her blog post above – did you SEE her pictures of the trim there?! – but there was loads of choice at Frou Frou and I actually realised I was overwhelmed with choice and hadn’t a clear enough picture in my head of projects I might need buttons/trim for to go mad there. If anyone is planning a trip to AnnaKa Bazaar and wouldn’t mind if I placed a little order through them, please let me know. Some of the trim in Katie’s blog post picture is still haunting me and isn’t on their website 🙂

I got this lovely little black and gold number because I know I want to attempt a chanel-inspired black tweed cardigan jacket at some point. €5.90/m!

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On the map above, Frou Frou is next to Sacres Coupons, near the bottom end of Rue de Livingstone.

“Others”

There are loads of other fabric shops in the area. Lots of them had African wax prints too, ranging from €3-6/m. I was tempted but I’m planning to get relatives to get me some from Ghana next time they’re over there.

At this point, we stopped for lunch at a random restaurant on the main road, and then headed over to..

Malhia Kent

Now, I have a confession to make.. I was actually disappointed here, which is a shame as it was what I was most looking forward to about the trip. On the blogosphere there’s a lot of love for Malhia Kent and her fabrics are undeniably gorgeous.

My disappointment, I think, arose because I didn’t understand that the coupons would be so.. Scrappy. I thought we’d be talking pieces you could use for a whole skirt or top, for example. And looking at the coupons being sold in the Montmarte stores above, I was starting to think that 1m/3m coupons were pretty standard.

Now, I’m not sure whether I’ve come at a bad time of year and all that’s left are random scraps, or whether this is just something that other bloggers failed to mention, but mum and I looked through four tables of coupons, and I’d say the majority weren’t whole enough to make a complete item, even for my size. A lot of them were cut awkwardly, like they’d had swatches cut out and these were the very last bits. I ended up getting about 8 coupons for €30, because the fabrics are still gorgeous, but they are destined to be accent features on garments (I’m thinking borders, yokes, princess seam/skirt panels etc) rather than standalone items. Watch this space.

I still think their fabrics are gorgeous and I’m happy with the ones I got, but I’m disappointed not to be making up a few complete skirts from the coupons.

A couple of my ‘regular’ shaped coupons are 18″ x 18″, and one is 28″ x 36″. You can see a couple of the weirdly shaped ones in the images below.

 

The store also sells wool, some fabrics by the roll (the ones I saw seemed to be very thick coat/blanket weight so not what I was looking for even for my autumn/winter sewing. They also sell jackets (€50-60) and coats (€149-199, if I remember correctly) that have been made up in a few of the fabrics. I wasn’t hugely impressed with the style of the jackets or the choice of fabric, if I’m totally honest, but that’s entirely subjective! They have more rolls of fabric downstairs but by this point I figured they’d probably have the more popular rolls on the main floor so it probably wasn’t worth the effort of carting our bags downstairs and back.

We decided to go back to Montmartre rather than going to AnnaKa Bazaar, which was not far from Mahlia Kent.

Back at Montmartre:

“I forgot to get the name of this shop”

There was another reasonably big shop on the same side of the road as Tissu Reine and Les Coupons, but I didn’t get the name, sorry guys! (I hadn’t thought about doing a blog post, hence the minimal in-store pics and lack of detail!). Here we found some medium-weight linens that I hope will work with two of my MK’s. I got a plain navy and a lightly speckled beige/ivory, both at €25/3m coupons. That’s a lot of linen considering we’re in mid-August and in the UK we’ve already had our annual two weeks of good weather.

Here they are with the MK’s.. hmm, with my ‘morning after’ eyes, I’m not sure now. I may be better off matching them with plain boucle/tweeds. But we shall see.:



By this point, we were tres fatigues and decided to go and have a leisurely dinner (at a random restaurant opposite Gare du Nord – there’s loads of choice) and rest until the train home.

Phew, that was a long post! Well done, if you’ve made it this far. I hope it was helpful – we weren’t in Paris for long and we didn’t cover a large geographical area, but honestly I’d say you could easily find lots of great fabrics and even great bargains all without leaving the Montmarte area. And you don’t even need to know which shops to visit in that area, just take a leisurely stroll through the area. Lots of the shops sell upholstery/curtain fabrics, but you can generally tell that from the outside.

If you’re going any time soon, or know of other places that are good to visit, please comment below, so that mum and I can visit your recommendations when we go back next year!

Michelle