Another (Pattern) Magic weekend at Morley

I am slightly sad to have finished the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabric course at Morley College now – it was such a good experience and a lovely group to be in.

We all continued on Saturday morning cutting the pattern of our choice – Moni demonstrated the lovely Loophole B (which I have been admiring for some time) which several of us drafted. I was particularly happy because Claire had spent some time in the week between classes using her computer wizardry to grade the tiny Japanese sizes provided in the book up to a more ‘western’ size. It is actually quite sad to be a several ‘x’ l size when I have been working so hard at the gym to improve, but I was more interested in going home with a pattern I could actually use for myself. Thanks Claire!

We all worked pretty hard, and got through vast amounts of pattern drafting paper in what was an epic cutting and sticking session! We were all so devoted we missed our break but were very much ready for lunch when the time came round. Melissa, Claire, Tracy and I went for lunch at Wahaca. I hadn’t experienced Wahaca before and thoroughly enjoyed lunch – and although we all ended up with unbelievably messy hands we managed to keep our clothes clean!

Having completed our patterns after lunch we were all encouraged to toile as many different garments (as a class) as we could so that we got a wider overview of the work we had completed. I really wanted to make the pattern that would (I hoped) fit so I made Loophole B. Others made the crescent moon, Sharp and Snappy C, Apple peel leggings, and Jutting Edge. Sorry I didn’t manage to photograph them all.

Jutting edge - tucked in to make a lovely cowl effect

Jutting edge – tucked in to make a lovely cowl effect

Moni sampled the Jutting edge dress and tucked the ‘jut’ inside to give a lovely cowl effect. It really made a different look and made the dress very desirable. I can see a few of these being made by the weekends students.

Melissa in her Sharp and Snappy C

Melissa in her Sharp and Snappy

Melissa made up the Sharp and Snappy C which looked really fun. She refers to this as the ‘Stegosaurus top’ which really works well as a description. By tucking the points inside you get a line of funny little pockets – useful on a night out. I presume you will be making this to wear on another occasion Melissa?

Claire models the Loophole B

Claire models the Loophole B

As Claire had been so kind and allowed me to use her graded block it seemed only fair that she tried the Loophole B toile that I finished  (we were using the same size). She looked better in the photograph than me so here she is! I really like this and will probably try it in another fabric that can be worn as a ‘real’ garment. Fun, different, but also very wearable. Thanks Claire!

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon

I have to make an apology, I didn’t get the name of the lady who made up the Crescent Moon. It looks really good from the front but there is a whole lot of fabric drooping on the back. I am not quite so sure of it’s wear-ability now – but maybe in a very light fabric it would work better. It is such a simple idea, and very quick to make, that I may just have to try it sometime.

This was a brilliant, and enormously enjoyable course which I am hugely glad I took. This book really holds no fear for me now, and I am much more confident about attacking any of the other patterns from the other books in this series. There are more Pattern Magic courses to be held at Morley next year, but I think I will have to wait until another book in the series is published before going back. Maybe I ought to try one of their other courses?

After the course finished I had tea with my daughter in her work break (Egyptian street food since you ask – very nice!) before going to see Gatsby in Leicester Square. What a great day.

Sunday started early with a walk around Ealing, where my daughter lives, but I was unable to go far as I have a sore knee at the moment (more about that in another post – and yes, it is relevant to sewing).  Darling J, who didn’t really cook at all when she lived with us, cooked me a lovely breakfast before we went to the V&A to see the Bowie exhibition. Boy, have I been looking forward to that! Inevitably it was packed full, so it was a bit difficult to see all the exhibits, but I really enjoyed it. There is almost too much to see – and I loved all of the costumes that were on show. Some of them were made by the Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto, so I felt that this really tied the weekend together. There was one particular suit with pointed shoulders, in a brown(?) snakeskin effect which was so Pattern Magic I was stopped in my tracks. I have been trying to find a picture but have not been able to get one – and no photographs were allowed in the V&A so I couldn’t take it there. All wonderful. Go if you can before it closes.

After enjoying all that the only thing to do was go and have lunch sitting outside in the sunshine, eating the best pizza that Ealing (and possibly the UK) has to offer at Santa Maria. So good, and heartbreaking that I couldn’t eat it all – but they did pack it to take away. I can strongly recommend a visit if you are in the area. I will be back for more next time I see my daughter!

The drive back home was actually very easy – no delay from the British Grand Prix traffic that I was anticipating. Guess what The Management had for me when I got home? Chinese food. So the weekends eating consisted of Mexican, Egyptian, Italian, and Chinese. Not a bad weekend 🙂

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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!

 

 


Time off with Shakespeare – and booty!

What can I say – that Management had booked this week off work. I still had more work than I could shake a stick at – but we also had theater tickets to see ‘As You Like It’  at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon. So he booked a night away.

We started off the day with a visit to a National Trust house called Snowshill Manor which had been owned by someone who was ‘A Collector’ – he would probably have been a candidate for one of those TV programmes for ‘hoarders’ you see now – but in fact it was a lovely house and he had in fact collected with a certain mindfulness. I found a fabulous sewing basket – the sort we all want – full of all sorts of goodies.

Wonderful sewing box!

Wonderful sewing box!

I had already discovered that there was an exhibition of costume in the Swan Theater so was looking forward to that after seeing the production – no time before as we had booked a lovely evening meal at the Rooftop Restaurant. We walked back into town this morning and I was able to walk round almost alone.

RSC Costume exhibition

RSC Costume exhibition

Lots of information

Lots of information

Lovely samples

Lovely samples

I am really not going to be able to do this justice without overloading you with photographs – I have taken more but just can’t justify putting them all in here – so I will choose just a few which show the variety available.

Inside a doublet (specially made for the exhibition)

Inside a doublet (specially made for the exhibition)

Inside a boned bodice

Inside a boned bodice

Emphasis had been made on showing the work of the costume department in the making of garments for each production, how they were cared for during the production (washed and steamed after each performance – in an real live washing machine!), and the work of the wardrobe creators, and the dressers who help change the actors during the performance.

Dressers tool kit

Dressers tool kit

There was also a dressing up area which looked great fun but I was totally overwhelmed and couldn’t do it!

Dressing up box!

Dressing up box!

There were also costumes spread around the theater, which was a great way of decorating bits of ‘dead space’ – and an absolute gift for me.I think my favorite was this dress which was made out of leather gloves (some still had the little pearl buttons attached!)

Lots of gloves - and a great bodice!

Lots of gloves – and a great bodice!

This was a great morning out – and one that anyone with an interest in sewing and costume would thoroughly enjoy. However, I would only recommend going if you were combining it with a trip to see a play – it probably doesn’t justify a trip to Stratford on it’s own unless you live very close to the RSC.

Booty!

Booty!

I also did a little shopping. I found a lovely little sewing/knitting shop called Sew Me Something where I picked up a new tape measure (am I the only person who wears the print off tape measures?), a couple of meters of lovely leopard print tape, and the Sewaholic Minoru pattern that I have been promising myself ever since I saw it on Karen from Did You Make That? blog. I also found a novel I have wanted for a while and a copy of Grace Coddingtons memoirs which only cost me £2.50 in a second hand book shop! Happy Hoody! I would offer you some of that delicious Peanut Brittle but since the bag was opened it seems to be vanishing….

We were back by tea time, and I must get back to sewing tomorrow but on Saturday I will be going to Morley College for the Pattern Magic Stretch fabric course. Can’t wait! I will tell all on Monday.


Pattern Magic shirt

Hmmm. I really hadn’t expected to take so long before I was able to show you my Pattern Magic shirt with the special collar. I have no excuses – I have just been unreasonably slow. But here it is!

Collar with two expressions

Collar with two expressions

This was my first attempt at anything using the Bunka block drawn out on my course at Morley College. This block was made using three (yes, three) measurements from my body. Bust, waist and back length. That’s all. Winnie Aldrich uses nine measures for her bodice block which I still had to adjust significantly. I confess I had little faith in this Bunka block being remotely close with only three points of reference – and also I am hardly a typical ‘Japanese’ figure. So prepare to be amazed. IT FITS!

I made few alterations to the body – the dart into the armhole was left there, I lengthened the body to hip to allow tucking, and I put a little shaping into the back so I wasn’t entirely shapeless. I can’t quite believe that it has worked so well – I would only want to narrow the shoulders a tiny bit if I when I use this again. I will also use a bit of seaming to lose the darts and add a bit more waist shaping. Other than that this is a winner.

The fabric is cotton with a little elastane which came from stash. It has lurked for a while as I was unsure of the colour – almost exactly the colour of Blu-Tack. There was already a matching thread in my stock, and even more amazingly I had enough abalone shell buttons in the right shade and size to complete the job. Who would have believed it – I didn’t need to buy anything for this project!

Collar with two expressions

Collar with two expressions – detail.

When I make this style again I will slightly reduce the size of the lower collar section as it is a bit big (It makes me think Travolta in Saturday Night Fever). The main collar section that sits over the top has to be a little bit larger than the two underpieces or it pulls a bit. I did use all the drafts from the pattern magic book but in all honesty it would probably have been a lot easier to just draft the collar to fit  a tried and tested blouse/shirt pattern. I know that without the time at Morley I would still just be stroking and admiring these books but I can see them getting out more now. I did struggle a bit to use their instructions for the sleeve block so when I work out the best way to explain what I did I will post. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily the ‘right’ way of doing the sleeve but it worked for me. Hopefully it will take less time than this post!

I am calling this SAM8 – and drawing a line under the SAM2012 as I think I have taken long enough. It would be embarrassing to still be finishing these after January. Still four short but since I am a glass half full sort of gal -Hey! I made eight shirts last year!


New Year plans

I have spent the past few days lounging on  the sofa – but not in a good way.  I followed the fantastically swollen mouth (due to the abscess) with an equally annoying cough and cold. It has meant that I have not been able to sleep so anyone checking their comments and thinking the time of my comments was wrong – no, I really was online at stupid o’clock.

The benefit of not being able to do anything noisy through the night for fear of disturbing The Management is that I have finished the back of the cardigan I am knitting. I always like knitting in winter. I am making ‘Harriet’ from Kim Hargreaves ‘Quirky’ book which hadn’t been going too well but is accelerating away now. The yarn is an all wool Rowan Felted tweed in a colour I think was called Avocado. It very nearly matches my sofa.

Kim Hargreaves 'Harriet'

Kim Hargreaves ‘Harriet’

As I have been so tired I have barely been keeping up with the sewing I have been obliged to do for clients so I haven’t started any more sewing for myself. However, after looking at my output last year and comparing it to the wardrobes produced by some of the bloggers I follow I am determined to make more – but only things I am pretty sure will fit into my now meager wardrobe (after my October clear out!) and more importantly life style. In common with an awful lot of people I seem to like sewing for the life I would like to have rather than the one I do. Boo hoo. I also want to do things that although they will fit my needs will also challenge me a bit.

The collar with two distinct expressions

The collar with two distinct expressions

Step up Pattern Magic 1 , the collar with two distinct expressions. You might remember I attended Morley College late last year to attend their Pattern Magic course. I came back all enthused, determined to make something I could actually wear, and then life took over. Well, I now have the Bunka block drawn out in my own unique (!) size rather than the standard ‘person in miniature’ sizes provided in the book so all I have to do is complete the pattern and start sewing. Easy! I am slightly ashamed to say that I have been stroking and admiring the garments in this book since December 2010. Definitely time to make something.

Victorian underwear pattern and DVD!

Victorian underwear pattern and DVD!

I must also take the opportunity to thank Anne from Tulle and Tweed who sent me the wonderful Laughing Moon Ladies Victorian Underwear pattern and DVD. I feel so lucky! If you haven’t been to Anne’s blog go and look now. You wont fail to be impressed I’m sure. Whilst the patterns as pictured are not likely to be needed very often I am quite certain that elements from this will be very useful. Thanks again Anne!

Oh yes, the pirate shirts. Only one person stuck their neck out and declared which shirt she thought Molly had made – and she was right! Good guess Sheila C. It was probably a bit unfair of me to have even put the question out there as I was both surprised and delighted at how well a sewing machine with so few ‘bells and whistles’ compared with my computerised machine. I think the whole exercise showed me how little we really need to turn out really good garments. Much better than the mass produced cheap clothing so many people have to cope with. Aren’t we lucky we can sew.


Pattern Magic at Morley and more

I spent last Saturday in London on the second day of the Pattern Magic 1 course at Morley College. I was happier about attending this time as I felt that I had more of a ‘handle’ on the idea. The pattern we tried last week seemed to go well so I was looking forward to another day to reinforce what I had learned.

I followed last weeks ‘Bamboo shoots’ exercise with the ‘Crater bodice’ with limited success. As you know I am not exactly a typical ‘Japanese’ shape so I was a little concerned how some of these designs may look. With good cause. This is not a great shape on me, and the design was not helped by being toiled in calico, so I know if I use this idea it will have to be moved away from the bust. Anywhere but the bust. But it is a great idea and I love it. Just not for me to wear.

In the lunch break I was delighted to go with Petra to a local pub to meet Melissa of Fehr Trade and her husband  James for lunch. It was lovely to have been able to meet them after having contact for what seems like ages – but a little strange to meet someone you only ‘kinda know’. Despite that it was a lovely thing for them to have done and I had a lovely lunch. (Hand made fish finger sandwich and fries since you ask). We even got to see a sample of the jazzy fabric from the inside of James reversible disco jacket. Flashy! (Glad the management didn’t see that!). I am officially an idiot – I had my camera in the college and forgot to take any photographs either on the course or at lunch.

After lunch we continued on pattern cutting exercises and managed another in full. I now feel much more confident about attempting a garment from these fabulous books. All I need now is time…..

Beautiful Blenheim Palace

Beautiful Blenheim Palace

Rather than heading straight back to Bewdley The Management and I stopped off for a night in London and traveled to Blenheim Palace on Sunday. I hadn’t visited before despite this fabulous place only being about 50 miles from home. The palace and grounds are just beautiful BUT they had the house decorated for Christmas which was just fabulous. Sadly photographs were not allowed so I will have to suggest that you go and see for yourself all of the fabulous trees, and the usually stuffy looking busts wearing turban style headdresses in beautiful brocades. Just wonderful. There are a couple of pictures on the Blenheim website, but nothing like as wonderful as a visit to the house.

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Glad I don’t have to fit her!

On the walk around the grounds we came across this sculpture. We wondered whether the head was modeled on one of the Duchesses? Who ever the head belongs to I am very glad I don’t have the job of fitting her body (even with the benefit of my new pattern magic – not magic enough).

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Not Venice – Oxford!

The following day was spent exploring Oxford. The Management had an interview to one of the colleges many, many years ago and wanted to go and spend time in the city as an adult. What an amazing place! I was astonished that the colleges (which have been there for an eternity after all) occupied what would in many cities be regarded as prime retail space. Not what I had expected at all. I imagine almost everyone has seen pictures of Christchurch College and other popular buildings around Oxford so I thought I would show you Oxfords own bridge of sighs! I didn’t expect that at all. The weather was cold but as you can see we were fortunate to have a couple of very pleasant days.

We arrived back home after a lovely drive through the Cotswolds  around tea time yesterday and I have spent all my time since then getting back up to speed. I have sewn all day today for clients but hope to spend some time on my coat tomorrow. I have decided to work hand sewn buttonholes on it so it will not be finished tomorrow – but I might get close. It has started snowing in various parts of the UK today so it would be worth getting this done very soon – I am sure it will be useful.



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.

V&A

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.

V&A

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’!

V&A

Dame Edna’s Breakfast dress

G’day!