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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jungle January

jj2

I know I am late! Please don’t slam the gate to the water hole Anne – my zebras are here! I have watched in awe in previous years at other peoples garments made with animal print fabrics for Anne at Pretty Grievances ‘Jungle January’ and thought this was the year I really ought to take part. Fabric bought in December, although I did but the second fabric only a couple of weeks ago, and pattern at the ready so I thought this would be done early January. Humph. Anyhoo, I bring you…..(mental drum roll)

Jungle January - Zebra dazzle

Jungle January – Zebra dazzle

Jungle January - Zebra dazzle. And our local 'big cat' Boot.

Jungle January – Zebra dazzle. And our local ‘big cat’ Boot.

Zebra dazzle! Yes, this is one of those fabulous Funkifabric offerings. Just after I ordered the fabric for my daughter they announced a 20% off sale. Who could resist? I ordered more but that isn’t Jungly. The leggings pattern was made from the Kristina Shin book (post here), but I decided to add the back zippered pocket which is so useful in RTW running leggings.

The pattern alteration involved drawing the pocket shape in the back piece (don’t forget the elastic turn depth to guide how deep you want the pocket) and tracing this off using the CB seam as a straight of grain guide. By straightening the top of the pocket I ended up with about 4cm extra back length which didn’t worry me as I had felt I needed a bit more there anyway. Cut two pocket pieces and fit the zipper into a letterbox shaped hole (Edited to clarify – think bound buttonhole so you press back the fabric to make a rectangular hole).I drew the rectangle onto the fabric with the wonderful Frixion pen.

Draw the pocket shape on the back piece.

Draw the pocket shape on the back piece.

Layout with pocket - just fits 1metre of fabric!

Layout with pocket – just fits 1metre of fabric!

You could use a cotton or something to support the area whilst you sew in the zip but I found it went in pretty easily just as it was. I sewed both pockets together, with the underneath fabric right side up so it is still pretty when you open the pocket, before sewing it into the ‘hole’ in the back left when the CB seam is sewn together. It doesn’t look as though it will fit but it goes in well with the stretch in the fabric – you could put a few balance points on the pattern pieces to help but I just had CB. Almost all of the construction was done with 4 thread overlocker, but I used a 3 step zig zag to anchor seams where I wanted to prevent rubbing. Another fairly quick and easy make.

I plan to debut these at Parkrun in the hope that they will make me run like a zebra rather than the asthmatic donkey I usually resemble.

Jungle jammies fabric - not sure where whales fit into the jungle

Jungle jammies fabric – not sure where whales fit into the jungle

Very comfortable for bedtime reading

Very comfortable for bedtime reading

My second offering is another TNT pattern (First shown here). I felt I needed new PJs and when I was in Birmingham I found this glorious brushed cotton. I’m not sure where the whales fit with the jungle animals but I thought it was so good I wasn’t splitting hairs! The pattern is known to be comfortable, has pockets for you bedtime snacks, and buttons on the front to help orientate when really tired.

Phew! I made it. Just in before the gate slams for another year. There have been some fabulous offerings already this year – and some people have made loads (yes Ruth, that would be you!). If you are new to the jungle go check them out. Just make sure you are very quiet…….


2014’s hand made Christmas gifts

This house believes

A bit late I know but I can now show you what I made for my friends and family for Christmas.

Damson gin!

Damson gin!

Bottled and ready to go.

Bottled and ready to go.

I started months ago with an unreasonable amount of damsons given to me by a friend. At the end of an hour pricking them (that bodkin will never be the same again!) they were all popped into a demi-john, covered in gin and left to soak for a considerable time to flavour the gin. I probably took longer than was necessary to decide when I had put enough sugar in to sweeten the gin but I can confirm that it tastes great. Not one to waste food (and those damsons sure seemed too good to waste even though they tasted terrible as they were) I also made jam with the strained fruit which tastes wonderful – but I forgot to get any photographs. As you can imagine from the bottle label the jam had ‘Eat Me’ instead but looked very similar! I am told that the gin has now been drunk but that the jam may last a little longer. Opinion is divided as to whether it is ‘Drunken Damson’ or ‘Boozy Breakfast’ jam. If anyone wants the recipe I used let me know.

Granny's Cardigan

Granny’s Cardigan

Continuing my knitting for pleasure around client sewing I was able to knit this cardigan for my delightful mother-in-law. This is The Cosmopolitan Cardigan from Vogue Knitting. It was knitted in a lovely thick, soft yarn called Elegance. I had made this model for my MIL before so I knew it was a hit and would fit. Thankfully I was right – and she loves the colours. It isn’t clear from the photograph but there is a tiny metallic twinkle in the yarn.

Gryffindor hat

Gryffindor hat and sweater – bear sized

Gryffindor hat

Gryffindor hat

Following that, Jess made a request months ago for a Gryffindor hat. Once again I went to Ravelry and used the St Mungo’s simple hat and added the necessary stripes. Now, many (many, many) years ago Jess was given a lovely snow white teddy bear for Christmas. He is now fairly aged, a bit grey, and somewhat slimmer due to lots of hugs – but still very much loved and I knew that  he would also look really spiffy in his new hat and sweater set.

PJ's for The Management

PJ’s for The Management

Despite having to use the sewing machine (and not getting paid at the end!) I knew that The Management would appreciate a new pair of PJ’s. Self drafted pattern already tucked away (TNT now), fabric in stash – sadly not silly this time!- so a good afternoons project. I can confirm that they have been worn and declared a success.

At the beginning of December I received a tweet with this picture saying this would make the DREAM leggings. Brilliant – except that this is just a picture – not a link to some fabric she had found. Supermum into action.

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Find this fabric!

 

 

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Plain blue supplex, and the space leggings!

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She had a happy face – but no make-up and hair not done so….

You can’t get a tweet like that and not act on it. After some time searching the internet I remembered that Melissa and Winnie had both used and recommended Funkifabrics. If you are going to click on that link can I suggest that you make yourself a drink and get settled for a long time – there are a gazillion wonderful patterns which are printed to order. I panicked a bit when the fabric arrived as it had a large plain white border and I was concerned that I hadn’t taken that into account when I ordered. Panic unnecessary – the patterned section = the size ordered. Magnificent. She was pleased – I think that was what the scream when she opened them meant.

All in all I think that was a very successful Christmas – even more so as we were able to spend the morning (after a walk in the Wyre Forest) on our balcony in the sunshine with a bucks fizz and a mug of tea.

Merry Christmas from the wine balcony !(Bewdley branch)

Merry Christmas from the wine balcony !(Bewdley branch)

It wasn’t until I looked at the photograph later I realised that I was wearing my Larry sweater, snaky jeans, and hand knitted socks.

 

 


My Handmade Christmas

Not all of it you understand, but I do like to try and make some gifts through the year for those who will appreciate the effort involved.

The perfect place to knit

The perfect place to knit

Glamknits textured shrug

Glamknits textured shrug

I started way back in July when I was unable to dive during our clubs scuba diving holiday in Penzance due to my knee problem. I can’t say I felt too happy at the idea of missing out on the fabulous diving but sitting in the sunshine with my book, knitting, and i-pod was reward enough. And I managed to make this for my mother-in-law.

This Glam knits textured shrug pattern is available on Ravelry as a free pattern. I have made it several times already and I knew that the colour of this Rowan cotton/linen blend was precisely what my MIL would love. Finished and packed up by August. Cue smugness.

Back in October when I visited the Lake District I was knitting my first pair of toe-up socks which I have already shown here, and bought yarn at the wonderful Kendal Wool Gathering to make another pair in sparkly purple yarn  (from Yarn Garden UK) ,which was for my darling daughter along with the first pair, and white for my mum which I showed here. These were wonderful to knit, and the method meant that there was no grafting needed, a technique that I always struggled with. Yet another Ravelry free pattern. It really is a wonderful resource.

Toe up sock success

Toe up sock success

I am fortunate that my daughter makes a ‘wish list’ for Christmas – and doesn’t expect any of it really. However, when one of the items is ‘pyjama bottoms’ I really couldn’t ignore that. I dug out the pattern I drafted for her ages ago and cut these from stash. I particularly enjoyed riffling through the button tin again to select suitable ‘fly’ buttons. The only thing they do is make sure you have the pants on the right way round!

Christmas PJ's

Christmas PJ’s

Both myself and J (daughter) are huge Doctor Who fans and the rest of the list included a DVD request for an old series. It starred Tom Baker who was the main Doctor Who of my childhood – so I had to make this didn’t I?

Tom Bakers Doctor Who scarf

Tom Bakers Doctor Who scarf

Along with the obligatory Jelly Babies this was probably the hit of Christmas. Worn all day and no photographs! What can I say – I’m incompetent! Some of the yarn was left form my crochet skirt and I filled in the other colours as needed. The pattern is the real BBC pattern and I found it on – yes, you guessed, Ravelry.

Latergater-1_small2

Another big hit was this lovely neck warmer (from Ravelry!) and I made three in different colours for friends. And didn’t take any photographs. Yet again my incompetence shows.

The Management didn’t get anything hand made this year – something I didn’t realise until too late to remedy it – he will have to be first in line for next year!

I was given the Drape Drape 2 book by my wonderful sister amongst my lovely gifts and will be looking forward to digesting all that it has to offer when things settle a little.

I do hope that Santa was good to you all, and that you had the wonderful Christmas of your choosing.

I will be back soon to reveal my first choice for Garment a month.

 


More PJ’s and Coverstitch experimenting

The Management asked for more PJ’s, being so pleased with the helicopter trial pair I made so long ago. Unfortunately I still haven’t found any sensible fabric to make them in so he had these made today.

Different transport - spot the pocket!

Different transport – spot the pocket!

So…..John Deere tractors this time. Good fun, but still not going to be suitable should he ever have to go into hospital! I really do have to look out for sensible pj fabric. Having said that, this is a wonderful soft, brushed cotton. They will be fabulously warm through the winter.

As I was spending time on something for ‘family’ I took the opportunity to experiment a bit. I used some of the techniques learned in the recent Janet Pray Craftsy course which speeded things up significantly. I also decided to use the chain-stitch function on the coverstitch machine to attach the waist elastic to the pants. Not the neatest job, but I didn’t even trial this. The stitching looks a bit loose when the elastic isn’t stretched but is perfect under pressure. I had to replace the elastic in a pair of Jean Muir trousers (sadly not mine!) recently which made me think how much easier it would have been just to be able to pull the chain-stitch thread loose, which is why this was so appealing. The whole procedure was very quick too. I love this machine!

Chain-stitched elastic

Chain-stitched elastic

I used the coverstitcher a couple of days ago to hem a jersey dress for a client. Blogger SDBev has a wonderful site called the 900CPX Cookbook in which she shows all sorts of wonderful things she has been doing with her coverstitcher – and explains how to go about getting the same results yourself. She very recently made something and used the seam guide that Janome intend to be used with this machine.  Being a cheapskate thrifty dressmaker I thought I would try other options before I spent any more money on accessories.

Super cheap seam guide

Super cheap seam guide

The first option is well known to many dressmakers. Cheap, move-able, and easily available. Yes, the post it note makes a great seam guide.

Pfaff edge guide

Pfaff edge guide

The second option was the edge guide that is included with the accessories in my Pfaff machine box. It fitted perfectly well into the screw hole on the CPX presser, and could measure out a good few inches before becoming unstable. Although I didn’t try it I am sure this would work to the left of the foot too. I suspect this will be the method I will be using for a little while yet.

I have an alteration project to do for my darling daughter which needs the actual coverstitch function  – but I need to work out precisely what I need to do first. I will report at a later date.


Happy Easter everyone

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. I was supposed to be away scuba diving this weekend but the weather conditions conspired against that so I have been having a busmans holiday and catching up on my sewing.

You may remember that I cut out another pair of the Burda trousers I was eventually so pleased with. This pair are a black needlecord with a little elastane in it. It has been impossible to get a good photograph wearing them, but they are now finished and I can confirm I am happy with this pair too. Strangely I had to take this pair in about 1.5cm on the seams over the hips – presumably the firmer fabric just made them more ‘sticky outy’ and needed to be more finely tuned. They are still a very comfortable, easy wear but it wont be a disaster if they shrink a little if dried outside in the sunshine. (Note the optimism!) I used some flame print cotton from stash for the inside of the waistband to jolly them up, and also cut bulk.  I didn’t put the hip pockets on this pair, but did put patch pockets on the rear which I am more likely to use. I love this pattern, and it will be hard to move on and do my Patrones comparison now – but move on I must.  I may end up back with the Burda which seems to fit well, but I do need to try the alternatives.

Burda trousers

Burda trousers

I have been working on a few projects recently but the one I decided needed to be given priority was my promise to the Management to make him some PJs. Why did I want to do this as a priority? The last two pairs of chain store PJs he bought in the same size turned out to be wildly different sizes, and both have given way on seams within a very short time of purchase. These were not ‘cheap’ garments – I am sure that we could have bought them elsewhere for less money but I can’t subscribe to the ‘wear it and chuck it’ mentality that is seen in the clothing industry at present.

PJ experiment. Not quite the fabric I thought!

PJ experiment. Not quite the fabric I thought!

Fabric detail. Love those vehicles.

Fabric detail. Love those vehicles.

The fabric was bought from Birmingham rag market for very little money and pre-washed ages ago. I even made the pattern from a cannibalized pair of his old PJs. I have to admit that I didn’t look too closely at the print on the fabric initially but when I did I had to buy it! Clearly this pair is just to test the pattern, but I have to say that he is remarkably pleased with them – and very happy to have his first pair of pj’s with helicopters on them.

As a trial this went very well but I will have to make some sensible pairs pretty quickly – I wouldn’t like to think of the treatment he would get if he had to go into hospital with these!

The fabric  didn't need - but bought anyway.

The fabric didn’t need – but bought anyway.

Mid week I had another trip into Birmingham with a list of things I needed to buy for customers. It was one of those days when nothing you wanted seemed to be available (one explanation given was that it was the end of the tax year so no new stock had been bought yet – it made strange sense to run down stock pre having to value it all for tax purposes). I was getting a bit frustrated and ended up in the Rag market (again) and bought three pieces of fabric for myself. Because I really need more fabric. Anyhoo, the details. The apple green is a fairly heavy cotton drill which I thought would make a great jeans style jacket. Or skirt. But not to be worn together. Ever. The orange is another cotton denim type, but a much lighter weight than the green. It looks like it will make great summer trousers. A bit Boden, don’t you think? The beige/grey/gold metallic knit could be made of anything and I really don’t care! I liked this and already know I want to make one of the twist type jumpers from the first Pattern Magic book from this.   And all three pieces cost me less than £8. In total. Oh yes, there is 2.5m of green, 4m of orange, and 2m of knit. Bargainous!

I am planning to sew again tomorrow so I will start to clear the decks of things I need to do before I can start on this little haul. I can’t wait to make a start.


An Award! (AND I made something!)

Well people I am now in possession of an award. Yes, really. For blogging (or commenting). Some of you will know Carolyn who provides such wonderful sewing inspiration, instruction, and also alcohol recipes. And if you haven’t been to her blog I know you will be there soon – if you haven’t already gone and I am now talking to myself. It has taken me a while to get this onto my blog as I was dim about how to do it. (Cut and paste woman!)

The award is to thank people who comment on your blog and is to be passed on to the last nine people to comment on your blog. So, thank you to:

Tanya at Chica Andaluza who not only sews – she cooks and shares recipes.(I had one for tea tonight – delicious!)

Rhonda at Rhonda’s Creative Life.  Too much inspiration in one place.

Melissa at Fehr Trade . Boat dweller, sewer extraordinaire, and runner. I hope the marathon in Amsterdam went well on Sunday!

Alison C seems to choose all the clothes I want to sew – but she actually gets them made.

Ann at Everything Sewing makes the most delectable Rodeo Queen outfits. I love them. I want one. Check them out.

Bev at  sdbev is another Stitchers Guild devotee. She shares lots of her fitting advice – worth paying a visit there.

Pretty Grievances is a blog that always makes me laugh. She sews great stuff for herself – but is great at showing a ‘designer showcase’ as you might sometimes be thinking yourself (and didn’t dare admit).

Anne at Mercury – Handmade Fashion  also sews. And uses Winnie to draw her patterns too. Well done that woman!

Pauline at P’thrifty make an amazing amount of fabulous things for such a busy person (puts me to shame) and also negotiated an enviable deal with her beloved involving shirts and a Chanel handbag. Respect.

There are others who really deserve to be given an award too – but by the rules I am restricted to nine. All of these blogs are well worth a look – and all have links. How about you check them out?

And I made…..

Now then, anyone who remembers my last post knows I intended to have a wardrobe edit. And what an edit! There is now an echo in my wardrobe – but I know that everything in there is loved. There are a few things I separated as I think that they can be adapted into something I will wear, rather than just wardrobe insulation. I will fess up to those at a later date.

I also saved a few t-shirts of the ‘washed until they are too soft to get rid of – but too shabby to wear in public’ variety. And also some ‘souvenir’ types that really will never be worn outside. These I intend to wear with PJ trousers which I have already started to make. I decided to use the same poly/cotton that I had in stock, and had used for PJ’s before. One pair are all finished and another are cut out. This was identified as a gap (I threw away my long ‘winter’ PJ’s at the end of the cold weather and hadn’t replaced them).

PJ Project

One done, one cut out

PJ Project

I really thought I would wear this…

I made the striped pair today – and included pockets for myself. I have been putting them into the DD’s PJ’s so I thought I deserved them too. I did mean that I couldn’t use my pattern without the side seam but hey ho. The checked pair are ready for another day and already have elastic cut and buttons chosen from the ‘vintage’ tin.  The t-shirt has been in the drawers for years (no surprise there) as I bought it on a theater visit and honestly thought I would wear it. I think there may have been wine involved. They go very well together and should be very comfortable (and warmer than the shorts suits I have been wearing – it is cold here at night now!)

PJ Project

Oddly well matched

After consulting friends (out at lunch with other sewers – nice!) I have decided to go with the Patrones ‘trench’ style cape from the last post. I will get going on that as soon as the PJ’s are all done.