Toni Goes to Birmingham

I’m accepting a lot more invitations for days out these days, and yesterday was a real treat. I was in Birmingham (again) with a group of lovely ladies (and two honorary ladies for the day ūüėČ ) on a ¬†shopping and eating day organised by the lovely Demented Fairy. She had suggested in a comment that I wore Toni on our day out, and that seemed like an ideal opportunity to get some unbiased judgments on the dress.

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The Group photo post lunch

The general opinion was positive – but we all agree that the ‘side bits’ on the dress are ‘corners not cowls’. I’m quoting directly there. One lady even noted the pattern details as she intends to make some for herself so it can’t have looked too bad. I did add sleeves to the basic pattern as I thought it would be more useful here in the UK in Autumn/Winter. Ruth did the same on her last incarnation at Core Couture¬†which gave me the idea. I just used a basic rectangle the length I wanted and the width of the sleeve opening, narrowing it a bit at the wrist end. Not hard to do but makes the pattern even more useful to me. Sorry the scarf hides that wonderful neckline!

I was surprisingly comfortable all day, and after getting used to the feel of the dress on the back of my calves actually forgot about it! I really need to wear more dresses and skirts.

Anyway, the shopping!

Fairy bought some wonderful fabric and has plans for all of it already. Check out her account of the day and see her haul on her blog HERE . I got off very lightly¬† was very well behaved and only bought stuff I knew I needed for other projects. The lining is for my coat – how good is that match! The buttons were bought with assistance from Glenda. I wanted something ‘quality’ but that wouldn’t impose any rules on the coat and these were fabulous. Real metal, and only 60p each. The zippers were only ¬£1 each and I intend to shorten some to fit the Ziggi jacket that has been in the queue for and eternity (or so it seems). The patterns weren’t really needed but there is a 1/2 price sale on Vogue patterns at the moment and I had been lusting after these for a while.

So I am a bit closer to having everything ready for the coat, I just need to settle on a design and get going once I have finished Nell.


Minor progress

I would love to tell you all that I had made seven shirts, multiple pairs of trousers, and three coats since I last reported but it would be a lie. I’m slowing down into autumn and enjoying every minute (apart from those spent sweeping up the leaves in my garden. Grrr) but that isn’t helping with progress. I have been working – but not too much for me – so read on McDuff.

Nell Leftovers

Nell Leftovers

My last post was almost three weeks ago, and I finished by saying I hoped to make quick progress with Nell. Erm…… no. I have cut the main fabric out and overlocked the edges to ensure that when I do eventually get round to any sewing I should still have seam allowances available to work with. As I said previously there was really not enough fabric in this piece to make Nell but I was determined to get it from this fabric. The pieces leftover are really small – no space for any mistakes here. I think that may have made me back off for a little while, but truthfully I can’t explain why I’m not further on. I have

decided that I would like this cape lined rather than just binding all the seams and have even managed to find a fabric from my seemingly bottomless stash that will do the job. I’m still pithering about a binding for the outsides. I have a fabric that wont fray so I may go with strips from that if I can’t find anything I like better.

Style Arc Toni

Style Arc Toni

I did cut out the Toni at the same time and decided to sew that together quickly (there really isn’t much to this project). I’m not entirely certain that I like my dress, although that may be down to my not wearing dresses very often rather than the style itself. I love Toni on other people so I suspect that my uncertainty is down to just not wearing dresses often enough. Perhaps I need to change that. Photographs at a later date with me wearing it but at the minute I am post insomia night and look like death so no chance.

Fabric I didn't need

Fabric I didn’t need

In the gap between posts I had a wonderful day shopping in Birmingham with Naomi from a Facebook ‘Stashbusting’ group. Yes, I can see the problem there too – and as we both left Birmingham with a significant amount of fabric the stash was definitely blown not busted that day. Oh but look at what I bought!

Brilliant brooch

Brilliant brooch

The greeny yellow is a beautiful felted wool which I intend to make into a coat. As it was the end of the roll I got a very good deal on it. I was hesitating about buying such a distinctive colour, and more than a little concerned that it might not ‘go’ with my wardrobe. Can you believe that the colour works with just about everything I have put next to it? Far from not going with some things this colour works with¬†everything! Naomi was searching for fabric to make an outfit for a costume party – that included sparkly stuff and I couldn’t help myself when I saw this brooch. Just look at how nice it looks on the grey fabric – and that ‘goes with everything’ green!

The brown fabric is a lovely single knit jersey which is a great weight for autumn/winter t-shirts and was a mere 50p a metre. Well, you couldn’t turn it down at that price could you? The stripe was the same but is a finer fabric. I haven’t got round to pre-washing these yet – and the stripe may well be simply tucked away for later use – but that brown needs to be used. Now. Well, after I make Nell and that coat….

 


I could just be the luckiest girl in the world

Just in case anyone wondered why I took so long to answer comments on the last two posts I can now confess that they were scheduled to publish whilst I was away in New York and Chicago. I know Рhow lucky am I! But it gets even better!

I had visited New York in 2001 with my daughter but The Management wasn’t able to come with us which was sad. He really wanted to visit New York, but we also wanted to visit Chicago because several people had said it was their favourite city – after comments like that you have to find out what its all about don’t you?

Anyway, just in case I have offended anyone by not declaring I would be in New York I knew I was going to have very little free time (The Management had pre-planned lots to do!) and I had to campaign fairly hard to get to visit the garment district and fabric shops at all. Because time was going to be short I took lots of notes from the very useful information¬†Shams posted about her recent trip. Thanks Shams, it was incredibly helpful! We did spend a couple of hours wandering (and buying lunch, coffees and such) and I had decided to be very disciplined and only go to Mood, and if I couldn’t find anything I wanted there (as if!) we would go to Spandex House. Can I mention here that I had run in Central Park first thing (at 25¬įC, and humid) so I probably wasn’t on top shopping form.

It was lovely to see the iconic ‘button’ on top of the information bureau (closed when we visited) and the sculpture of the garment district worker. I hadn’t realised that there was a fashion ‘Walk of Fame’ and was delighted to see one of my own favourites almost first off. Claire McCardell is just a genius in my opinion.

We arrived in Mood Fabrics (Squeak!) and navigated our way round the stacks – and can you believe The Management found some fabric he rather liked for a shirt! He is fabric shopping ahead of me! (It was rather lovely). I caught up soon enough and added a nice pin striped denim to the order. I could have bought any number of more opulent fabrics (check out those zebras!) but I wanted to buy something I would make up quickly and wear lots – and I probably wear jeans more than anything else so this was perfect. Sadly Swatch was nowhere to be seen (perhaps they allow him to take Saturdays off). I was able to have a quick look in the Mood ‘schoolroom’ and rather wished I would have been able to take a sewing course there. It really wouldn’t have mattered what!

We both came away very tired, but very happy with our purchases. I wonder whose will be made up first?

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On Sunday we transferred to Chicago by train, his choice rather than mine but I loved it! Being able to cross the USA at a fairly stately pace whilst letting someone else deal with the driving was lovely. We were in the sleeping coach, so had beds rather than a reclining seat in the main carriage, so it was actually quite relaxing.  I was looking forward to Chicago not only because of the fabulous architecture we were told to expect (and it is gorgeous), or the museums and galleries which could fill weeks rather than the few days we had, but because I have been nursing a wonderful secret. I was going to meet Rhonda Buss!

I can’t remember how long I have been tossing comments and e-mails with Rhonda but it’s a¬†long time. I have made up some of her patterns, enjoyed her recipes, and follow closely if she recommends a book or designer as she has so many great suggestions. Her inspiration posts are magnificent – I’m very much looking forward to being able to incorporate some of the ideas into my work once I retire from client sewing. Anyway, if you aren’t already familiar with Rhondas blog I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

I contacted Rhonda way back at the beginning of the year to say I was going to be visiting, and if she had time would it be possible for her to give us a couple of hours for a locals tour of the city. She was so nice, and came back with an immediate ‘yes!’. When the time came she did that, but so much more than I had anticipated.

Yes, we got to see the city – but from her Cessna aeroplane! The Management has been interested in planes since he was a little boy and was thrilled to have been taken to the airport that the plane is kept at – I don’t think he would have been upset if we hadn’t even got off the ground. Far from that, Rhonda gave us a lovely flight along Lake Michigan with fabulous views of the city. We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in another airport before putting the plane to bed.

After that we were taken to a fabulous temple that TM had admired from the air – it was truly beautiful and very peaceful. Rhonda did recommend the gardens as being very pretty, which they were. We were then fortunate enough to be taken back to her home and introduced to Mr Buss and the dogs. Gracie welcomed us by charging round the garden at high speed whilst Little Bit was more restrained but no less delightful. It was a real privilege to meet the whole Buss family, and not one I had expected when I made my initial request. We enjoyed a drink and a chat before a real Chicago deep pan pizza. If you thought you had eaten one of these in the UK I have to tell you that you are sadly mistaken. This was absolutely wonderful! It’s probably just as well I don’t live in Chicago otherwise I would be twice the size.

Rhonda was featured in the latest issue of Sew News with her Ginger jeans,which she also did a blog post about. If I hadn’t made the Jeanius pattern that now serves me so well I would be trying that pattern for my Mood fabric.

We are home now with wonderful memories of a trip that would have been a good one, but turned out to be a great one as a result of meeting two wonderful people Рwhom I sincerely hope to meet again. Thank you again Rhonda and Mr Buss for giving myself and The Management such a day to remember!


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 ūüėČ. 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. ūüėÉ