July Round-up

Back again – and still in an uber relaxed frame of mind with what seemed like very little done until I decided to start a post. My sewing mojo is still missing but I’m assuming that it’s a reaction to being obliged to ‘sew to order’ for so long. It will be back. I think.

The Management and I spent a lovely few days early in the month in London. This had been planned for an age so the fact that I was hobbling around in a protective boot wasn’t going to stop us – we just rejigged the plans a bit.

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What noise does rain make?

We started with a  trip to the London Transport Museum. This was largely for himself but I really enjoyed it. This was helped by there being a lovely art exhibition called ‘Sounds of the City’. Loads of gorgeous pictures but I particularly liked this one – I’m still wondering what noise rain would make when you drag something across it. Any ideas?

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What no seagulls!?

The other great find was a picture depicting my closest city – Worcester! I’m a bit put out that the resident inland seagulls aren’t in there – they are definitely one of the most obvious noises almost anywhere in Worcester. They seem to be moving into Bewdley too so it sometimes sounds as though you are at the seaside here too. More pictures in the Flickr album.

 

The following day was spent almost entirely at the V&A. We had members early entry into the Pink Floyd exhibition. This was well worth booking – and almost worth paying membership just to get in on a quiet time. The Management really enjoyed this, and I was surprised quite much I enjoyed too. I can’t claim to be the biggest Floyd fan – I do enjoy the music but it’s rarely something I pick out myself – but I thoroughly  enjoyed the whole ‘art and music’ ethos that they seem to have. I have put more photographs onto my Flickr page here but for a quick squint here are three of my favourites. You have until 1st October if you want to get along to see this.

Obviously as I was at the V&A I wasn’t going to miss the current Balenciaga exhibition. The Management went off to do his own thing while I spent time in here. I had just read the wonderful book Balenciaga, The making of a Master  (HOW MUCH FOR THE BOOK !?!) so I was looking forward to seeing the actual garments. Sadly my pictures weren’t great but I have put a few here, and again a link to more on Flickr.

It was pretty busy, and I was still in my boot, so I was running out of steam by the end of this exhibition. There were some fabulous garments – and videos running to show the method of cutting the patterns or adding the hidden support. All of the downstairs was dedicated to the man himself and was wonderful. Lots of inspirational garments – something which was born out when I got upstairs and found it full of garments inspired by him. Some were too close to being a ‘copy’ in my opinion but many were absolutely gorgeous – and although very different you could see the influence there. My favourite was probably the almost unwearable ‘snake dress’ – how gorgeous is that?( I won’t be offended if you say not at all!). The exhibition is going to be in place until February 2018 so I am hoping to be able to go again and maybe get more out of another visit.

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A brace of Presto Popovers

Any sewing yourself Kim? Well actually yes. But only a little bit. I have been wearing a load of t-shirts (well, not just t-shirts if I’m honest) that are a bit too big and I have been getting a bit fed up about it. After all, I’m a bl**dy dressmaker! Anyhoo, I knew I had this fine jersey in the stash which had been waiting an unreasonable time to be made up and decided it was time. These have both been worn and washed multiple times now. Having a couple of well fitting t-shirts now just makes me aware of how big the others are. Prepare for a major clear out.

That has been the only sewing I have done but I have actually done a fair quantity of knitting and have finished the Purl Soho Circular Yoke Summer Shirt. I used the cashmere yarn set that I bought at Colourmart a while back and I have to say I love it. It was a joy to knit (two strands at once makes it 4 ply) and was so light it seemed to last forever. In fact I had intended to blend the colours up through the yoke but ended up making it all in the mulberry colour. Sadly I have just realised I don’t have a picture so you will have to take my word for the moment about how lovely it is.

As a fabulous finale to the month I went here…….

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Can you see what I see?

…….to meet someone very special.

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NO….not a bear!

No. I didn’t go on a bear hunt – I was searching a very different and altogether more secretive animal. More news in my next post.

 


Who ordered Autumn?

Before I went away to America I had a load of fabric in a pile hoping to make it up for summer. Clearly that didn’t happen – and some will certainly not cross into the autumn range even if used as a layering piece. Because in my absence autumn arrived to Bewdley. Yup. Full on. Crispy mornings, leaves changing colour, the house is now feeling distinctly cool. I swear it was warmer outside today but I suppose that shows it is well insulated!

I cleared a few of the more ‘urgent’ jobs from the heap for clients last week (it isn’t that big these days which is a joy!) before having a weekend in London. This weekend was primarily a visit to Ealing to my daughter but we were also able to visit the Tate for the Georgia O’Keefe  exhibition. Well worth the time – and The Management said that he saw somewhere that there are none of her pictures on display elsewhere in the UK. None. We saw some in a gallery in Chicago so I knew I was going to enjoy this . The other reason for the visit was that I have been training for Ealing half marathon – and this was the weekend. Can I just say that I had a great time, and my daughter paced me all the way round beautifully! More info on my running blog if you want it.

Anyway, as a result of all of the running I have changed shape a bit – partly back towards my original blocks so it is mainly a good thing. The other good thing is that because most of my trousers and skirts are now too big in the waist I really need to either alter them (Boo!) or make new ones (Hurrah!).

Probably time to put away the fabric I got out for summer wear and go stash diving for what I need for the cooler weather. I always enjoy doing this as I inevitably find some fabric I had completely forgotten buying!

Have you changed to sewing for the next season yet?


Tapestries and Shoes at Croome

PICTURE HEAVY POST!

Last Sunday The Management and I had a day out. I started with a leisurely 10k run (in which I got my best time so far – if you are interested in my running progress check out my running blog here ), and then we went to a National Trust property called Croome. We had seen reports that they were holding an exhibition of tapestries by Grayson Perry and I really wanted to see them. As a bonus we discovered a small exhibition in the basement called ‘Soul to Sole’ which was just delightful.

Croome

Croome

I had read about Grayson Perrys tapestry series called ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’  and thought it would be interesting to be able to see them in detail, and also madness not to go when they were so local. I am not terribly familiar with his work, but I did see a post that Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial did a while back and I saw things that I really liked. I know not everyone would, but I do think that art should be challenging on occasion.There was a video presentation, and a display of his sketches inn the same room. I thought the sketches were well worth having – they gave an opportunity to see how they looked both small, and in a different medium.

The tapestries were all HUGE! Think back to the sort of tapestries you see in the traditional National Trust properties. I loved that he had brought fairly familiar themes up to date – and that you could spot things that were in everyday use, and also people you recognise (hello Jamie Oliver!, and I thought the ‘Madonna’ character looked very Colleen Rooney). I seem to have missed one tapestry in photos but I hope you get the idea from my, occasionally appalling, pictures. There are a couple of detail pictures just to show the texture, and also a ceramic vase that was included which I loved.

The exhibition is at Croome until September, and as there are more things we would like to do there I may be back again before these go away.

‘Soul to Sole’ is an art installation using shoes as a means of describing some of the ‘souls’ connected with Croome. Sadly my pictures don’t do it justice – I was tired, and also being hurried along by The Management. There is more information about some of the shoes on a blog set up by the resident artist here.

 

The Aristocracy would clearly have had a fairly ‘charmed’ life, not so the maids who the following shoes were attributed to – lists of tasks to be completed were embroidered(?) onto the shoe. The shoes on the right were depicting Hilda, a servant from the 1930’s, memories – I can’t imagine it would have been very much easier as a servant even then.

In 1942 a local airfield becomes RAF Defford which has strong links to the house today. The shoes below were inspired by Joan Gill, who was driver to RAF Deffords CO during world war 2, and the childhood memories of Michael McDonald who was the child of an RAF captain who remembers playing in the grounds as a boy. That must have been an idyllic childhood playground.

Sadly Croomes family fell on hard times and sold the estate in 1948. The house became a school for boys. I remember wearing sandshoes just like these as a child, and the shoe cubby holes were left from this era. It stayed a school until 1979 when it became a centre for Hare Krishna devotees – sorry about the picture quality. They didn’t stay too long, selling the house in 1984 to property developers, and the National Trust took control in 1996.

If you click on a shoe picture you should find more information.

I enjoyed the exhibition, as much for it being so unexpected as the shoes being so unusual. I have enjoyed looking up some of the people involved – particularly Eleanor Coade who is the 18th century  LADY who invented the artificial stone known as Coade stone. She must have been an amazing person to have achieved that at that time.

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PJ’s for The Management

I have finally managed to finish the first PJ’s for The Management, the first of the fabrics I bought on the Birmingham meet. I’m very happy with the way they look, and I know that he liked the print so I hope he will like them too. They aren’t going to be ‘easy care’ as they are a pure cotton, but they should be cool to wear should the weather here get hot at night.

I got a selection of fabrics out from stash yesterday and ordered them into groups that would work together. Hopefully I will get going on things for myself very soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


No sewing – but Punks!

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My fabrics – for me.

I have had a really good time of late – but very little sewing has been done. I had a lovely day in Birmingham at a meet organised by the magnificent Demented Fairy which she talked about in her post here . She is a great encourager of fabric purchases (as if I need the encouragement), and I came home with all of this despite not really intending to buy anything. The fabric from Barrys for me was really not necessary but it begged me to bring it home – I am still deciding what to do with it. The blue patterned fabric was from the ‘Liberty’ man in the outside market on a previous visit  and I was delighted to see how well it went with this lot.

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PJ fabric for The Management – except now he wants a shirt from one

The Management is in need of a couple of new pairs of PJ’s so I was happy to buy these lengths with that in mind. I really hadn’t considered that when I made the first pair in silly fabric it would mean he wants all his PJ’s made to order in future. At least this lot would be OK if he ever needed to go into hospital – I’m not sure what would be made of the tractors or helicopter pairs! The ‘bird box’ stripe and the fine black and red stripe were both from Barrys, but the other stripe was from a new fabric store which was new to all of us – EU Fabrics – still unpacking fabric but happy to take our money. They appear to be mainly wholesale but didn’t object to selling me 4 meters. There was some interesting stuff in here, maybe factory surplus? Anyway, we spotted neoprene and waxed cotton among other goodies and I will certainly be adding this to my shopping circuit.

I spent another few days in London last week. The Management had work based in central London and I bummed in on the trip. He seemed to enjoy the company but it must have been a bit galling to be told about my daily adventures when he had been working!

Tuesday was spent at the V&A, I love that place. I wandered through the underwear exhibition again and have to say I enjoyed it more this time. The photographs of Paul Strand were wonderful, I spent a good while in that exhibition. If you want to see this you will have to hurry as it closes early in July.

Wednesdays treat was a visit to the V&A’s sister site – The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. There were toys going bag to before my childhood and coming up to date. It was amusing and thought provoking to see how ‘safety’ has become much more of an issue recently. I’m sure we all remember having sewing sets and knitting Nancy’s like those pictured – child services would probably get involved if you gave a child needles now. Sad.

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Childrens goodies

On Thursday I had a swim at the magnificent Kings Cross Pond Club. The weather certainly helped but it was wonderful to swim in a ‘natural’ environment rather than a chlorinated pool. Kings Cross has changed immensely since my days living in Watford and traveling into London. There was an exhibition of punk, which was current at around the time I lived in Watford. It was a very enjoyable time in my life but I was never a punk. I probably wasn’t brave enough, and I’m not convinced that the bank which employed me would have approved 😉. This closed on Saturday so if you didn’t get there enjoy my pictures. Sorry that the quality isn’t great.

The Sex Pistols t-shirts relate to a single and album the are in our collection. I really enjoyed looking at this exhibition, and contemplating how the look was diluted and ended up in mainstream. I know that many people didn’t like punk but I think it was just the ‘disruptive influence’ of that particular time and there always needs to be one. And it gave us some great designers – Westwood being the obvious one (and very visible in this exhibition) but not the only one.

I spent some time around Soho in the fabric and haberdashery shops which I thoroughly enjoyed. Since I was sans Fairy I got away without buying fabric – and incidentally the prices make Birmingham shops look positively bargainous – but also without the zips I had hoped to buy for my ziggi jacket. Back to internet sources for those I think.

It will be good to get back to sewing this week. Strangely I have started to feel the creative itch – I just need to get active before it goes away again!

Whatever you are doing I hope it’s going well. 😃


Marathon Weekend Visit and more

I haven’t been able to post recently – partly because I had nothing really to say, but also because I am still buried in client work.

I did have a trip to Birmingham to buy supplies needed for said client work a couple of weeks ago and despite good intentions of buying NOTHING that would end up in the stash – even if only for a short time – I really couldn’t walk away from this….

Liberty at Birmingham markets!

Liberty at Birmingham markets!

 

I could barely believe it when I spotted a pile of fabric bolts that couldn’t be anything but Liberty (the name had been scratched off the end of the bolt) at £8 a metre. I’m not a big fan of fussy Liberty print but I really liked this one which looks a little like a sea shell – and as a bonus goes brilliantly with the orange twill which may become the Stacie jacket. I came away with the end  of the bolt which was just under 2m for £12. Score.

 

Birmingham Library books

Birmingham Library books

In addition I made a detour to the Birmingham City Library, which I had visited on the way to the theater a while ago, with all the necessary information needed to obtain membership. I was amazed on my last visit to see just what a large fashion/tailoring/dressmaking section they had. In the local library it is lucky to cover a shelf – in Birmingham it was two bookcases. Oh, happy Hoody. It was quite difficult to make the choice, but I knew I had to carry whatever  was chosen back to the car park which was quite a way away. I eventually limited myself to the three on the right which I will review in good time.

 

Despite still having lots which really needed to be done I escaped over the last weekend on a planned visit to my daughter in West London. The plan was a visit to the V&A and whatever else I could fit in. I did get to the V&A on Friday and managed to get round both Underwear, and Botticelli in the time available. Kate, at Fabrickated , has reviewed both of these exhibitions very well so I wont go over old ground. I confess that I wasn’t as impressed with either as I have been by other similar sized exhibitions at the V&A. Had I traveled only for this visit I may have been disappointed.

On Saturday we decided to visit the Tower of London and Kensington Palace. The Tower is always good fun, and this time we went into the torture exhibits (yes, we really are little boys in real life), and the White Tower, but had to miss the crown jewels as there was a large queue and we wanted to eat!

Jess at the Tower

Jess at the Tower

My main reason for wanting to visit Kensington again was that the Royal Rules exhibition had been renewed – so lots of new Royal dresses to be seen. Jess is very tolerant and came willingly (although as you can see she was probably happier at the Tower!) The dresses were fabulous, as one would expect of our Royals, and even though you may not actually ‘like’ them all it is almost impossible not to be impressed by the thought and work that has gone into them all. I think that over all I preferred this exhibition to either of the others this time. I have just made a slideshow rather than trying to put the pictures in individually so I hope you like it.

I was absolutely exhausted after we got home and needed a little doze before going out to eat which my darling daughter documented on Twitter. Doh!

The following day was spent at the London Marathon before driving home (which I documented on The Old Bat  so I wont say more here) and getting stuck into the client pile again. Hopefully it will start to show signs of shrinkage soon!

 

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McQueen + McQueen

I spent last weekend with my daughter who kindly allowed me to invade again. It was the last weekend of the McQueen exhibition at the V&A and I really wanted another look. Can I say now that it didn’t disappoint.

Even just after 9am the queue for day tickets was already snaking its way around the block so I was very glad of my members early entry ticket. The exhibition space was more crowded this time than on my last visit but my guess is that it was going to be much worse later! We were able to enjoy the garments all over again, check out the close detail on some of the ones I identified from the book, and retire to the members room for a tea and pastry before hitting the shoe exhibition.

Whilst the shoes are fabulous I would probably not have made a trip to see them all on their own. The abiding memory will be the torture that must have been living with ‘Lotus feet’. The shoes are small beyond belief. There is some fabulous information on the V&A website which is well worth a look.

Inspired by my last visit I revisited a download that had sat quietly on my computer for a very long time waiting for me to feel brave enough to tackle it. This was the McQueen kimono pattern download from Show Studio (still available  – McQueen Kimono pattern. ) I didn’t feel up to pasting all the sheets together for the pattern so had it printed at a local copy shop. The lady who printed it was very puzzled by it and asked what it was!

These images belong to Show Studio.com

 

The pattern download is one size, European 40 which wouldn’t fit me but would fit my dear Jess. Regardless of whether she would like it I wanted to just try making this up so cut it in calico. It fits into about 2.5m of 150cm wide fabric which isn’t in the download info. There are about a gazillion tailors tacks to make, not all are essential but I wouldn’t like to have missed any as this pattern is not for the faint hearted.

Once I was finished marking the jacket didn’t really take too long to sew. This was a definite case of ‘stop thinking, start sewing’ as the instructions are a bit ‘sketchy’ . Anyhoo, the pictures. Sorry for the quality but they have been photographed off my Blackberry as the blessed thing just wouldn’t be recognised by the computer and I had wasted too much time already.(That will teach me to check the camera batteries before I go away!)

Jacket front - showing gap under arm

Jacket front – showing gap under arm

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Jacket front

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Jacket back

I was delighted to find that the jacket fitted Jess perfectly – I’m not sure how I would have altered it – and she likes it! The plan now is to make it in a good but casual fabric so that she can use it through the autumn over jeans. Naturally I won’t be leaving the tailor tacks in the final version.

I love this design and may try adjusting the pattern to fit me – but not until I have moved this version.

We will be visiting her again in a few weeks so I will show the finished version then. Off to shop the stash for 2.5m of suitable fabrics before posting samples for her to choose from.

 

 


YSL ‘Style is Eternal’ at The Bowes Museum

Might I suggest that before you get started you make a cup of tea/coffee and get a snack of choice – you might be here a while. This post is also going to be picture heavy.

You might remember that I visited The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle,Durham in April for their ‘Birds of Paradise’ exhibition (post and pictures here if you missed it). I only managed to catch this as I had seen mention of an upcoming Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in a magazine. What!? I thought. But that isn’t in London! Yes, Durham is in the north and they have got this absolute gem until October.

Marina Schiano wearing the short evening dress Haute couture collection Fall-Winter 1970 © The Estate of Jeanloup Sieff

Unlike the Birds of Paradise I have managed a visit right at the start of this exhibition so you have all the way through to the 25th October to arrange a visit if you like what you see. Seriously consider it if you can – Durham has plenty to offer in addition to this gem, and if you feel like getting further north Northumberland is pretty gorgeous.

The tickets we bought were timed entry tickets, and I was glad to have them as the queue was building up in the foyer of the museum mid-morning and The Management reported that it got longer toward lunchtime. I think they have a winner.

Screen showing YSL runway show - Matisse inspired gowns.

Screen showing YSL runway show – Matisse inspired gowns.

Screen showing YSL runway show

Screen showing YSL runway show

Whilst on the balcony waiting for entry it was possible to watch a video (or whatever they are called these days!) of YSL runway show(s?). There was a sign showing that flash photography was not allowed but I checked with a room steward and was told it was OK to take photographs without flash. Unfortunately that means that some of the photographs are not as sharp as perhaps they could be. However, what I lost in quality I made up for in quantity. More about that later.

The initial ‘crush’ in the first exhibition room quickly spread out enabling anyone to be able to look as closely as was possible at these magnificent garments.

Bowes museum case reflecting YSL Style

Bowes museum case reflecting YSL Style

 

The permanent cases in The Bowes which house their own costume collections had been changed from my last visit to reflect the YSL garment shown in that particular case. Well done The Bowes. The case on the left shows tailored styles go well with the fabulous 1967 trouser suit, which I thought would not have looked out of place on a war time ‘spiv’.

YSL toiles

YSL toiles

 

Not all of the pieces were complete garments, and I was particularly happy to be able to have a really good look at the toiles produced by a couture house. I have to admit they are streets better than my own (when I actually do make a toile) and I loved that anyone could have been able to follow them to create a garment. Maybe that’s a lesson I need to learn in my pattern cutting.

 

YSL A/W 1978 Haute Couture

YSL A/W 1978 Haute Couture

a/w 1980 detail

a/w 1980 detail

The attention to detail shown by YSL is incredible. He was meticulous in his designing (apparently the drawings were done in two weeks away, twice a year, and he didn’t know until he started drawing what would appear), and was known to have things re-done if the seam was even as little as 1mm away from his requirements. This is why haute couture is so costly. His attitude to design was not to follow ‘fashion’ but to concentrate on ‘style’. As has been quoted ‘Fashion fades but style is eternal’.

YSL evening gown s/s 2001

YSL evening gown s/s 2001

YSL evening gown s/s 2001 detail

YSL evening gown s/s 2001 detail

 

I did try to take photographs of the details within the garments, we all get to see so many ‘styled’ pictures in magazines of spectacular garments but rarely do they show the tiny details involved in getting that finish. Many of the ideas are way beyond the scope of the majority of dressmakers but some were achievable with a great deal of attention to detail.

 

 

YSL Evening gowns inspired by Henri Matisse. a/w 1980

YSL Evening gowns inspired by Henri Matisse. a/w 1980

YSL Evening gown inspired by Henri Matisse. a/w 1980 (Detail)

YSL Evening gown inspired by Henri Matisse. a/w 1980 (Detail)

The gowns inspired by Henri Matisse were fabulously colourful, and whilst it would be incredibly time consuming to spend the time needed to do all the applique to get that amazing skirt it would be possible – just put by a month or two to make that if you want….. (and if you look very closely at the detail you can see that there are some ‘fluffy’ edges showing round some of the leaves – not machine ‘perfect’ but showing that these are truly ‘hand made’).

 

I was fairly surprised at just how wearable so many of the garments still were despite having been designed anything up to fifty+ years ago. Many elicited gasps of admiration from some of the young ladies who were visiting who wouldn’t have been born when they were designed. There were several I would have been very happy to have taken away had I been allowed. Who am I kidding – I would have been gloriously happy just to have been allowed to hold one up against me to see how I looked. I might even have agreed to diet for one of those (and there is little chance of me actually dieting for any other reason).

 

YSL Jumpsuit s/s 1975

YSL Jumpsuit s/s 1975

YSL 'Transparence' gowns

YSL ‘Transparence’ gowns

This jumpsuit would not have looked out of place during Jump Into June. So many garments were absolutely dribble worthy that it would be almost impossible to have a favourite. I loved one of the Transparence gowns (second from right), though clearly if I wanted to take inspiration from that it would have to be executed in something opaque, but I think my favourite is probably still the Mondrian shift dress which despite being designed in 1965 still looks incredibly fresh.

YSL'Art'  Dresses

YSL ‘Art’ Dresses

 

 

Throughout the exhibition it was possible to see where later designers had taken inspiration, and I did intend to try to show some YSL/Other designer comparisons but I haven’t had an opportunity to do that yet.

I was horrified amazed to discover that I had taken over 100 pictures – clearly I couldn’t put them all on this post but if you are still curious (and perhaps aren’t able to get to Bowes to see this in person) here is the link to all of them on Flickr.