Sometimes life needs to change.

I am not going to make any apology (this time) for having taken so long to post anything new – but I will tell you what has happened here Chez Material Lady.

Immediately after my last post I worked like a crazy lady (no sniggering in the back!) to clear the decks of client work before going on holiday with The Management. We had a fabulous time in the amazingly beautiful medieval walled city of Carcassonne. If you ever get an offer  of a holiday in this part of France take it – Carcassonne looks like medieval Disney. And is the home of cassoulet.

Beautiful Carcassonne

Beautiful Carcassonne

We had a fabulous time…..until I got food poisoning on a day out to Avignon. Big style. After almost a week on fluids and very little solid food I rather foolishly went on a trip to Gozo with some diving friends – I know I probably shouldn’t have done but this had been arranged for ever. The logic was that if I wasn’t well enough to dive then resting in the sunshine would be good for me. I confess that despite still eating very little I did go diving – and wonderful it was too – and very much enjoyed the rest in the sunshine. Lots of rest and back home to start work again.

The lovely bay in Xlendi, Gozo

The lovely bay in Xlendi, Gozo

Or not. My batteries were on empty, and for the first week back almost every time I sat down I went to sleep. Thankfully I had left little client work that needed urgent attention so I was able to just rest, but it did make me consider what I would have done if there had been lots as it has taken weeks to start feeling anywhere near normal again.

I hate to let anyone down, and I always try to ensure that work is completed well within a deadline just in case there should be a problem (I am glad to say that I can’t remember the last time I needed it). I have also been fed up with not having time for my own sewing – it is clear from my lack of progress in the GAM challenge that I am not attaching enough importance to what I would like to make for me. So…I have removed my listing from the site and intend to gradually reduce the amount of work I do for other people. I have loved the 20+ years of professional sewing (so far) and intend to continue – but in a reduced capacity. Hopefully that will give me time to play a bit more.

Larry front

Larry front

Larry back

Larry back

During all the time sitting around doing nothing (pffft!) I have at least finished knitting Larry.This is a pattern that is available free of charge on Ravelry which I saw on ‘Pendle Stitches‘ and I fell in love with it. I know it was shown on Ravelry as a mans garment but I thought I would enjoy wearing it. I knitted it in Rowan Pure wool Aran which is so smooth it feels almost like cotton, but with the warmth of wool. As Evie said it was a wonderfully easy knit (despite the fact that she had some difficulties) and is a great pattern for clattering through whilst watching the telly, or listening to audio books (my new addiction – Overdrive app to access the libraries supply on my new Kindle. Brilliant!).I used the sewn cast/bind  off again around the neck and cuffs (the sleeve stitches are picked up at the armhole edge) and love the finish. I know I don’t look as good as Evies lovely hubby in my Larry but I love it and know I will wear it loads now that it is getting cold here in Bewdley.

I am still working on the pattern for Kenneth D Kings ‘Jeanius’ course on Craftsy but I am about to make a muslin to test the pattern. This has taken so long that I need to make good use of this pattern once it is right.

Don’t work too hard out there!

In which I show my ‘Backbone’

Well time has been running away again and you could be forgiven for thinking I am just settled in the garden with a drink enjoying the sunshine. I wish.

I have been sewing like a maniac to clear client work recently, and every time I clear some space more work arrives. Still, never complain when business is good  – but it makes doing any sewing for myself unappealing so in any ‘relaxation time’ (almost always late evening whilst watching mindless TV) I have managed to finish my ‘Backbone’ sweater.

Collar and back detail

Collar and back detail


Backbone finished!

Despite this pattern showing in my Ravelry search for what could be made with the quality and quantity of yarn I had I was a little concerned that the Rowan felted tweed DK yarn was going to be a bit fine for the project. Now it is finished I am very happy with the result which is going to be much more wearable than the original cardigan I knitted in this yarn.

As the garment is knitted from the top down I didn’t really want to have the ‘chain stitch’ finish you get from my usual knitted cast off so I used this sewn bind off. By finishing the edges this way it gives a much more ‘professional’ finish – and will confuse my mother when she trys to see how this was made! The other benefit of knitting the whole garment this way was that once the knitting was done there was very little by way of sewing together – just a little seam under each arm, and darning the yarn joins. Brilliant.


Backbone … back

If I am being honest life hasn’t been all work – The Management and I had a couple of days in London. We met up with Jess (the Darling Daughter) for a  day at Kew Gardens and Palace. This wasn’t anything like I expected – I thought it may be a bit regimented and stuffy but it was brilliant! We had a fantastic day there, which was helped by the magnificent weather we are having in the UK at present, and I discovered even Royal Parks get yarn bombed!

Yarn bombed tree at Kew

Yarn bombed tree at Kew

Big smocked tree - and little Jess

Big smocked tree – and little Jess

Does that look smocked to you too?

Does that look smocked to you too?



Whilst walking around I also spotted this tree. It was pretty massive so Jess (who is 5 foot 1″ tall) stood in the picture to give an idea of scale. Doesn’t the bark look like it has been smocked? I had to share that with you all.



On a total other subject, I think I have to adapt my ‘Garment a Month’ challenge to ’12 Garments in a Year’ since I have failed to sew anything for myself in June or July – and if I am honest August isn’t looking too promising! Still, I have high hopes of managing 12 garments in 12 months – even if they aren’t evenly spread.


I hope you are all managing to be more personally productive out there in blogland!

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.


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