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.

 

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Good dressmaking book

Between sewing and other jobs I had a trip to a library in the next town to my own. Only 3 miles away – nothing like some of my American blog friends have to cope with (Hi Bev!). Now this library always seems more appealing than my own home library. Why would that be?

Anyway, while I was there I picked up a copy of ‘Dressmaking to flatter your shape’ by Lorna Knight. I didn’t really check it before I had it scanned out, but I have really had a good look since then. A really good look.

This book give such a lot of good, straightforward, sensible advice you want it to be your Auntie. Lorna Knight covers some very elementary stuff in a non-condescending way, but follows with sections on adapting patterns to solve all sorts of problems – but in the sort of way that you might hope to find but rarely do. Bust adaptions are all together, as are sleeves, as are…. you get the idea. Even if you have sewn for some time this is a useful resource.

Whilst this book would be a brilliant ‘go to’ handbook for a beginner there is enough content to make it very useful for any sewer. I checked out all of the adaptions and found variations on the way I usually do things which I will be trying out in the future.

Even if you don’t want to actually spend the money and buy a book I would strongly recommend you have a trip to the library – maybe even a strange library – and see what they have to offer. You might find a copy of this to borrow. You might find something completely different but equally wonderful. If you do don’t forget to tell us about it!


Fabulous Fashionistas

I have spent a fabulous hour this morning watching a Channel 4 programme recorded earlier in the week called Fabulous Fashionistas. It was wonderful to have a style programme on prime time TV , even if I did save it for later, that concentrated on ‘a more mature lady’.

Looking good: Jean Woods, Gillian Lynne and Bridget Sojourner show how to pose like you mean it

All of these ladies were fabulous, if extreme, versions of what I would like to be when I grow up. As dressmakers we are very fortunate to be able to make/remodel clothes so that we don’t have to wear something that is instantly recognisable as being a particular shop or brand. This makes me very happy.

While watching I was reminded of the post I reblogged some time ago about Advanced Style. This was a book I had intended to get at the time, and is still available on amazon. I love to see people, old or young, expressing their own style and that is very much in evidence in the blog world.

I am still fairly very conservative, having been very traditionally brought up, and sometimes find it hard to actually wear what I would like to for fear of being considered ‘odd’. You know what? I am going to just go with my feelings from here – I might look an idiot from time to time but I will be my own idiot.

P.S. I am going out tonight in a group of eight ‘ladies of a certain age’ to see The Lion King. And I can guarantee I will have a ball. Leopard print shoes at the ready.


New Blocks for Daughter

All three to be re-done

All three to be re-done

My amazing daughter has upped the amount of running she is doing – both miles and speed- and is changing shape. I don’t do a lot of sewing for her as she no longer lives with us, and it isn’t always easy to see her for fittings, but it is still nice to make her things from time to time.

As she is going to be here tonight (the reason will be made clear at a later date) I thought this was a perfect time to re-do her blocks/slopers. All three. In gorgeous green cotton from Birmingham Rag Market as trials. The basic bodice and skirt block are from good old Winnie Aldrich, but I prefer the trouser block from Hilary Campbell (but do check the waist measure if you go down that route!)

This is a gruesome job, but will be well worth it if I can rely on them for future pattern checks on garments from magazines/purchased patterns and also to have patterns drawn out specifically for her.

We will be pinning the alterations later. I think I will need wine. Lots of wine. She is ticklish and a nightmare to pin.

 


Pattern Magic (Stretch Fabrics) at Morley

I can report that I had a truly wonderful day at Morley College on Saturday on the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics course – with another day lined up this Saturday. This course is designed to help us through the mysteries that are within Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics, and is more than ably taught by Monisola Omotoso who informed us that we would be making three patterns that day. It was hard not to think she was being over ambitious – but guess what? All three patterns completed!

I knew that Melissa (of Fehr Trade – if you haven’t been there why the devil not?) would be there, and she was able to tell me that I would meet The Material Girl there too. How about that! It was a fairly big class at 14 students but it didn’t feel too cramped – and Moni seems to have super powers and was able to sort all of us out seemingly effortlessly (she probably had to have a large glass of something to recover when she got home but didn’t show it).

Somewhere through the day I had a light-bulb moment and things fell into place. Having spent months looking blankly at these books this is fabulous, and something I will be celebrating. Honestly people, if I can get there you can too. If you are still struggling and can get to London I can strongly recommend the courses at Morley.

The patterns we drew out were:

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon

This is one of my favourites from the book and it was actually ridiculously easy to make this pattern. I will be making this for myself at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future. I can see it being worn for smart occasions, but just as easily with jeans.

Sharp and Snappy!

Sharp and Snappy!

I wasn’t quite so certain about this one but it is kinda growing on me – I’m not sure The Management would be happy if I wore this though. Maybe fewer points?

Jutting Edge

Jutting Edge

Another that I wouldn’t have chosen myself but I am really starting to like this idea – and I suspect it would be useful in disguising the excess around the tummy area. Maybe. Possibly. I am sold enough to give it a try at some point. Boy, that wish list gets longer every post!

The day was made even better because my darling daughter met for lunch. As a runner she has known Melissa through the Daily Mile site for some time, but this was the first time they had met in person. We had a lovely lunch at The Three Stags and got back to complete the afternoon a little late. Sorry Moni!

After last Saturday these books no longer have the ‘fear factor’ that they had. I think just being elsewhere and with nothing else to distract me helped, but knowing that Moni was on call if I got in difficulties was a real bonus! I really want to draw out a couple of the others that I have been lusting over for months (pretty much since I got the book really) and I now really think I can. I am looking forward to next Saturday so we can actually toile some of the patterns. Should be very interesting.

Watch this space for future Magic!

 

 


Kim Hargreaves Quirky – Liv

I have been sewing lots since my last post – but again it is all for clients and can’t be shown. When I have finished client work I really don’t always feel like sewing for myself so I knit for relaxation. During the last couple of weeks I have been working on another top from the Kim Hargreaves Quirky book.

Liv - from the Quirky knitting book

Liv – from the Quirky knitting book

 

Bad self portrait - good jumper!

Bad self portrait – good jumper!

Back view

Back view

I didn’t use the recommended yarn as I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to be specially ordered. This should have been make in Rowan ‘Drift’ but I used Patons  ‘Fab Big Colour‘ in a lovely pink mixture that I knew would be wearable with a number of things already in my wardrobe. I thought I would enjoy knitting this as it was on 10mm needles and would be quick to make. I hadn’t used needles this big in many a long year and I found that it was like learning to knit all over again – very unwieldy and clumsy feeling. It was quick, but it will be a long time before I am looking to use these needles again!

This is knitted in one piece until it is divided for the armholes, and has some waist shaping knitted in so that it isn’t too bulky round the middle.  I managed to find buttons that I felt looked really good with the yarn – though sadly not from my multiple button tins this time. I love this jumper/waistcoat and I know I will wear it to death. It is very cosy so is great to wear as an extra layer at the moment as we in the UK wait for the warmer weather to arrive. Though in past experience I suspect it will be worn even then as it is rarely really warm here!

I am still very busy with client sewing and am starting to get a bit ‘twitchy’ and want to make something for myself soon.

 

Dead on their feet. Stalks?   But still standing straight.

Dead on their feet. Stalks? But still standing straight.

What a lovely colour Mrs Mole's tulips are!

What a lovely colour Mrs Mole’s tulips are!

Remember the tulips?

I threw them out yesterday after well over a week. They looked mummified but were still standing absolutely straight and what amazed me was that the petals didn’t all fall off when I moved the vase to take them to the compost bin. (Oh yes, nothing knowingly wasted here). Mrs Mole sent me a picture of the tulips she had cut and treated as she detailed in her comment to me – it will be interesting to see how they fare. Fabulous colour Mrs Mole!

 

 


Pattern Magic and the V&A

What a great weekend I had!

I attended the first part of the Pattern Magic course at Morley College last Saturday. Up until then I had admired, stroked, and generally enjoyed the Pattern Magic books but made no use of them. The pictures of all the garments are beautiful and very inspiring but the instructions were a bit intimidating. The tutor at Morley made the block (sloper) instructions understandable and I now feel that I can now make sense of the instructions to make the adaptions . We used the bamboo shoot adaption as an exercise in class and I was happy to be able to come away with the pattern ready to try at home. When I get the workload back under control I hope to make something to actually wear from this book. I will be back there for the second day of the course next Saturday and am really looking forward to it. One more class next Saturday which I am really looking forward to.

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London in November!

I was really happy to be staying with my daughter because we planned to spend Sunday morning at the V&A to see their current ‘Hollywood Costume’ exhibition. We were unusually early and so stopped at a lovely cafe called Greenfields for coffee and pastries. It was amazing weather and although a little bit ‘chill’ we were able to enjoy our coffee outside in the morning sunshine. What a treat in November!

The exhibition was great – I had seen some of the costumes previously at the exhibition held in Worcester Cathedral some time ago. The costumes are beautifully displayed and it is possible to see the backs of most of them (though often from a position further around the display) and I loved it. It would be impossible to choose a favorite costume as so many were just fabulous. Sadly, no photographs allowed so you will just have to go to see them! ( What a great excuse).

I was amazed to find that this was my daughters first visit to the V&A despite living in London – but they have a new convert and she will be there many times more from now! I was able to take her up to the Theater and Performance area where she just loved the ‘Kylie Minogue dressing room’ display. The Lion King costumes were still on display (and I have just bought a ticket to see the show in Birmingham next year – hurrah!) which was lovely.

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Wonderful Lion King costumes

And just for those readers down under who I know enjoyed my last Dame Edna offering from the V&A – here is the wonderful ‘Breakfast Dress’!

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Dame Edna’s Breakfast dress

G’day!