I’m relaxed – now I need to work!

It would be flattering to think that some of you might have noticed my absence – but I don’t expect anyone to have done so. I took a short break from blogging whilst I got organised with client work, had a short holiday diving in Cornwall, and got back ready to get stuck into Kenneth D Kings Jean-ius course.

Hah. Serves me right for thinking I could make a plan. I worked really hard before a break last week so that I could clear off diving with a clear conscience (well, more or less) and come back to a light workload which would allow some time for me. That didn’t take into account that ‘The Management’ (who had been left at home) would have accrued a big list of clients who had called to book in. So much for time for me.

However, I know that the 30 minutes a day routine has worked well for me in the past so I will follow that and determine to get a pair of jeans finished by the end of the month. Please feel free to goad me if you see me slacking.

Meanwhile I give you a picture of me half in my favourite outfit, next to a fantastic mode of transport. Shame it is such a poor picture.

Mt favourite suit

My favourite suit

P.S. Whilst the sewing for me is going very badly the (portable) knitting project is going fairly well so my ‘Backbone’ sweater is coming along nicely. Pictures of the progress next time.


Burda wrap tank clone – but nothing for me. Again.

There has been lots going on here – just no sewing for me. The garden is in overdrive at the moment, and my clients are all making sure I don’t get into/cause any trouble. It is nice to know that I am valued as a dressmaker but just occasionally it would be nice to actually get to the bottom of the ‘to-do for clients’ pile. Or even my own ‘to-do’ pile.

I have great plans to sew, and I am still checking out my Burda magazines that arrive monthly. There are even things in there that I would love to make. For me. For example, I really liked the pattern for a slightly odd but fabulous looking waistcoat/vest, Model 132  in the  May 2014 issue of Burda. It went on the wish list – where it is still lurking. Just incase you hadn’t seen it here is a picture.


 When I went to stay with my wonderful daughter I managed to bring away a pile of Stylist magazines (which I am still reading late at night) and came across this….

Love it - can't wear it!

Love it – can’t wear it!

….made by Carven at £220. I love it but I could never expose my stomach in this way (too much of it!). However, if you were a young, toned thing I would imagine that it would look great. And very similar don’t you think? It should be very easy to adapt the Burda pattern to get a great looking similar top for a fraction of the cost.

When I eventually get some time to sew for me I might even get to make it.

I hope all you out there in blogland are having more success sewing for yourself than I am at present. Bye for now :)

Jean-Paul Gaultier at the Barbican

I had hoped to get the photographs sorted for this post soon after I got home – but I didn’t realise how many I had taken!

This was my first visit to the Barbican in London, which has a reputation as a fairly ugly building. I am told it is in the ‘brutalist’ style of architecture. It was certainly helped by being a sunny day but I thought it was OK. You can judge for yourself.

Ugly or not?

Ugly or not?

I enjoyed lunch in the sunshine outside before heading in for the exhibition. The timed ticket system meant that it was very orderly, and at no time did I feel really ‘crowded’. There were lots of garments, for both sexes, on dummies which at first seemed to be live models. They were actually dummies with faces projected onto them. Some had audio so it seemed as if they were actually talking too.  Freaky!

Next best thing to J_P actually being there

Next best thing to J-P actually being there

As I said I took way too many pictures to show them all here – it was really difficult to stop snapping as there was so much to admire. The detail in the clothing was wonderful, and whilst the staff were ever watchful that no-one got close enough to actually touch anything they didn’t interfere with very close photography. Rather than trying to show them all here you can access them all at my Flickr site.

I really can’t recommend this exhibition enough – I spent about an hour and a half cruising the garments and probably only left because my daughter had already gone to sit in the foyer. Anyone with the slightest interest in fashion and sewing will enjoy it.

This visit was after the Parkrun I did on Saturday morning (in this post) and I was still pretty tired given the condition I ran in. I suggested to my daughter that it might be a good idea to have afternoon tea at the Barbican. She didn’t argue.



If you are near, or can wangle a visit to London go see J-P G. And I can recommend the afternoon tea too :)


My Fehr Trade ‘Spring Race Challenge’ Race

The term ‘Race’ is being used in it’s loosest possible definition here – may I explain why?

I spent the weekend staying with my daughter Jess. I arrived on Friday afternoon which gave me enough time to go to the V&A Italian Glamour Exhibition, and also the Wedding dresses exhibition (sorry – no photographs. The V&A don’t allow photography or sketching in these exhibitions).  I was welcomed back to the daughter with a fabulously healthy meal of vegetables with courgette ‘spaghetti. Sounds odd but I can confirm that it tasted fabulous. It is really wonderful to  be cooked for by my daughter!

Then the wheels came off. Big style. We opened a bottle of wine, which was eventually replaced, and might even have had a bit of another (yes, I know we are disgraceful) before falling into bed at about stupid o’clock. To be up for Parkrun at 7.15 am . Oh dear.

If you aren’t familiar with Parkrun I can say that the timed and measured 5k runs they organise on Saturday mornings, starting at 9 am , are friendly and very encouraging. I am not a great runner. I am not even a good runner. However, at the Worcester Parkrun I have been to previously I have been given nothing but encouragement, and so I was happy to give Jess’ local run at Gunnersbury Park a try.

Glad to be finished

Glad to be finished


Cake at the finish!

Cake at the finish!

I knew we would be walking to the venue, I really should have asked how far before we set off. About 1.8 miles. Then run/jog/walk (or any combination of the three) your way round 5K/3.1 miles before the same walk home. On very little sleep and a hangover . It was never going to be a great result. However, I staggered my way round the full distance (I did consider ducking out at half way but knew Jess would not be best pleased if I did) and didn’t come in last. Result. No, I am not going to say how long it took but I will say that when I go back to do it again at Gunnersbury (and I will), and at future Worcester runs I  go to, I will arrive better rested and without a criminal amount of wine the night before!

It was wonderful to find a lady selling cakes for charity at the finish so we picked up two and took them back for a well deserved cup of tea. (It has been suggested that using one in the manner of Father Jacks bottle from Father Ted might have got me round faster! The bit in the video is at about 8 minutes.)

Melissa’s XYT work out top (Details of my making it here, here, and here)was extremely comfortable, and I really enjoyed the sleeveless style on what was a very warm morning. The bright pink was probably not the most flattering shade for someone struggling as I was – matching face and sports top is never a good look! It will certainly be joined by a friend ASAP in a more flattering colour.

If you are looking for a nice top to wear at your next event – or indeed are looking for an event – I can recommend both Fehr Trades Exercise top pattern and Parkrun.

Just don’t stay up late with the vino. *blush*

P.S. I will be posting about another exhibition I visited in a couple of days – the Jean Paul Gaultier Barbican exhibition. They allowed photography without flash so I will organise the pictures before sharing.


Taming the stash

I seem to have been bitten by the ‘organisational’ bug. I have spent this week keeping up with client deadlines, and sorting my wild stash. Yes, it had got totally out of control.

As you may know I used to sell fabrics, and even before that I had a fairly substantial stash which I occasionally used as a ‘shop’ for clients. I have been struggling to remember just what was there, and roughly how much was available, and where it was last seen! That made it somewhat difficult if a client had a specific need that I wasn’t aware of in advance. So…..

Making headway - lots more to do

Making headway – lots more to do

I have printed sheets which detail the fabric, quantity, and location. That should help! This could take a little while to complete but will be well worth the time spent. Do you keep a stash – and how do you organise yours?

This weekend I am going to stay with my daughter and I should have something nice to share when I get back.

Clearing the dead wood

It feels a bit like making my way through the Amazon with a machete. However, I am starting to feel better with myself. Now the confession.

I have two rooms for my sewing and supplies. Yes, I know I am very lucky – but I do sew for clients so the actual sewing area has to be kept reasonably clear so I can deal with people without wading through other projects. But the other room. Oh boy. No I am not showing you a before photograph! Ever.

When I am busy I tend to put things for my own work in a little (well, it starts little) pile to be done soon. Then another client has a crisis that takes precedence, and another, or I just have a good novel, and am sick of sewing for a while, and before I know where I am ….  chaos. I hope that sounds familiar to at least some of you. So this week, while I have been on my own, I have dedicated some time each day to sorting it out.

Tidy patterns

Tidy patterns

Sorted pattern piles

Sorted pattern piles

I was horrified to find a veritable hornets nest of pattern pieces that had merged into one horrible mess. I know that these were originally put with the intended fabrics when they were traced, but the fabrics had been moved and so they were just a heap. A largely unlabelled heap. Thank heavens for my pattern cutting training which enabled me to sort them into there respective groups.

Having done that I identified them in the Patrones/Burda magazines they came from and checked that they were complete before labeling each piece and putting them into plastic pockets. I would NEVER have let a clients pattern be treated this way so why am I so bad to myself? They are now all nice and neat and put away tidily (where they should have been) so I feel better.

Re-rolled Rowan yarn

Re-rolled Rowan yarn

Harriet Cardigan

Harriet Cardigan

I also had some time sorting my wardrobe. We had a few days of beautiful sunny weather (yes, I managed to get the garden battered into shape) before reverting back to cold, but it made me think I should sort the dead wood from my wardrobe. Isn’t it lovely when everything is put back and you can see what you really wear – and more precisely isn’t it shocking when you find something you thought you would love that you can’t remember wearing? Putting on and taking off many times, but not wearing all day. This cardigan fell into that category.

I really don’t understand why but the cardigan I loved when it was knitted has never been worn. Ever.

Hanks on a side table

Hanks on a side table

The yarn is beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed, and I loved the colour, which I had paid quite a lot of money for so I didn’t want it just as insulation for my wardrobe. So, with heavy heart and a Star Wars film I settled down to take it to bits and deconstruct it. I managed to get it into balls in one evening and then used an upended side table to wind it into hanks. I know a swift would have made the job easier but I really hope not to have to do this too many times. The yarn is now washed and dried in hanks and ready to knit again. I think into this – any opinions people?

Clearing the room (and wardrobe) has cleared my mind a bit so I feel ‘fresher’ and a bit more ready to take on a new challenge. I still have a bunch of stuff to do for clients (all needed soon so they all have priority over my own work) so it is going to be unlikely that I will get the Jeanius trousers done before the end of the month. Perhaps they will have to be Junes GAM.

I wish you all tidy workrooms, and uncomplicated days. Back soon, when I hope I will have something to show you!

Where is May going?

I can barely believe that it is already the 18th May. It has been busy here Chez Hood, and in addition to client work I have had a wonderful house guest as my dear old Mother-In-Law has been to stay. Now that is all wonderful, we even had a trip to Stratford to see Henry IV Part 1 at the RSC (Wonderful dahlings!) with dinner after, but it isn’t getting my sewing done.

I have made a start watching the wonderful Kenneth D Kings Jeanius course, and I have to say I am enjoying it enormously. Quite a lot of what I have seen is basic practice when you have been sewing for decades but you never stop learning – and few sewers think they don’t need to know any more. Sewing is the sort of thing where it is always possible to learn something both new and amazing. Sadly, I haven’t got any further than watching (but I hope to get the trousers prepared for copying this week – honest!).

Sleeve detail (The Management said 'Ready for take off' at this pose. Beast)

Sleeve detail (The Management said ‘Ready for take off’ at this pose. Beast)

Back view

Back view

However, I did make another incarnation of the Drape Drape t-shirt that was so nearly right – but not quite. I made the adaptions to the pattern soon after the last effort was made so that I didn’t forget anything I wanted to do. That meant that I was ready to go as soon as I found a suitable stretch fabric to make up. A trip to Birmingham (whilst collecting the aforementioned MIL from her train) meant I was able to buy a suitable, but not expensive – this was still a try out – fabric. Once settled with pattern pressed flat (yes, I folded it for storage) and fabric ready I think this project was done in under 2 hours using the overlocker and coverstitcher.  I raised the neckline 10cm which means it is now decent (although if you aren’t careful you could probably still ‘flash’), and reduced the size overall. I wish I could say how I did that but I’m afraid it was just a bit of ‘fiddling’ with the original copy shop print. I had traced two sizes onto the piece I took to be enlarged and this incarnation is around the smaller size – but with some alterations. I will never be able to repeat the pattern if I lose the one I now have!

The fabric is just a four way stretch polyester jersey in another of my ‘shy, retiring’ prints! The lady in the shop has also bought this with the intention of making a holiday garment. I have to say it is perfect sunshine clothing, and I suspect this will be washed and worn to death over this coming summer.(Yes I know, I am an optimist but I am sure this will be a good one!).

The Management has just left for a week overseas so I am hoping to get loads done this week. Watch this space. And if you see me with a cup of tea and a book please remind me of the list of jobs that are waiting for me :)


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