Sunday, 2 December 2012

Blowin' in the wind
Proof that fabric really does grow on trees!
Surely this is a typical holiday snap, no?
Not a great photo I know, but these are some of the fabrics I brought home with me from The Gambia.
Some will be turned into wearables, but I plan to make a range of craft items from much of it.
In my mind I have reams of ideas,but in practice productivity is disappointingly low.
Now that the work situation appears to be calming down (how long can one person do the equivalent of 3 full-time jobs without melting down!!!), perhaps my evenings will see a flurry of activity in the sewing room, at long last.
Why craft items? I would like to raise money for a couple of projects that I help support in The Gambia. Combining forces with my sister who introduced me to The Gambia and who already has a foothold in the Craft fair circuit in Scotland, I aim to make a small range of perfectly-formed products which will indubitably fly off the stands as soon as they are displayed.More later (if, in fact, I ever get started).

Apologies and thanks to Rhonda
Maybe the thanks first: one of the first commentators on my infant blog was Rhonda. She even featured me in her Wednesday Showcase . There are several of her free patterns on my sewing list including this one.

How could anyone call
this fabric ugly?
Shame on her!

From the great sewing weekend in Broadstairs, which has been blogged by Sigrid, Pauline, Marta, and most likely everyone else who was there, but me, I "obtained" a certain piece of "ugly" fabric (actually I came home with about 5 pieces of "ugly" fabric, but so far everyone has been too kind to remind me how I got my piggy little hands on it all).The piece wasn't really wide enough but I managed to get a decent enough rendition.As I had forgotten to take anything suitable to wear under it with me on holiday, I gave it to my sister.
It was too long and although looked great on her it didn't flow quite as well as it should.Never mind,she has the technology to shorten it.
Helen tried it on and being taller, it was  even nicer on her.
The back view is nice too, but on seeing the pix, perhaps I should have used the fabric the other way up??

View from the back
Not too shabby,eh???
-  Now for the apology

 Perhaps this is one of those "you had to have been there" moments! The construction of this wrap allows the neck opening to be 18" down from the shoulder seams. Sis put it on with the shoulder seam running over the top of her arms from left to right and continuing over her head. She was completely shrouded. The rest of us convulsed in hysterics! It wasn't really that funny, not too much red wine had (yet) been partaken, even her husband claimed it was an improvement.
Sometimes it does you good to be silly!

But sorry Rhonda, I promise I was not mocking your pattern.

This cover up is so pretty, simple and quick to make, I see many more in my future (and not just in "ugly" fabric).

Time for a little creativity
My holiday fabrics are washed and ironed. Once I have finished reorganising my sewing room (yes, Linda, again, and not for the last time!), I am going in and getting started on all the wonderful ideas that are crammed into my imagination.
I may be gone some time! Wish me luck!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Time to get serious

A cat may look at a queen, and almost meet a prince.

Wow, only 5 months between posts, this time. This commitment thing is improving. Have I been busy sewing? Well, no, not really. But that's about to change. I'm  going  back to the Gambia in TWELVE days and have NOTHING to wear. Most of my warm-weather (as in 35 degrees C)  clothes have mysteriously shrunk. So I'd better get a move on(or at least out of my PJs!).

Should have hitched up those shoulder seams!
I'm being a little economical with the actualite:
there was the Garden Party dress! I made it during a sewing weekend in Zeeland with Valerie (no blog) and Sigrid (oh yes, I can name drop with the best!)
The embroidered grey linen came from eBay and the pattern was B5317.
  Now, I've made this dress twice before: once as an LBD as per pattern instructions with side zip. Nothing special, but nothing to complain about; the second incarnation was as my dress for the wedding whose bride I dressed. It turned out well too, even if I do say so!
Not the best of Ellie, but my dress looks good!
That time I dispensed with the zip and it fit fine.
Plan A
Over-confident, I cut version three out in a windy, but sunny Zeeland garden - only needed to cut three skirt sections instead of two due to an unfortunate mishap with some diet coke. So I stitched, pressed, even did french seams (no overlocker handy - well, that's not really true, but I couldn't be bothered changing threads), tacked, pressed still more - didn't try it on, no not once, no need at all!  I even added extra length to the bodice, above AND below the bust darts. What could go wrong? I even tacked down  the box pleats of the skirt so they could remain sort of crisp before last-minute release on the big day. 

Truth hurts
I was reluctant to try the finished article on before Valerie and Sigrid (flabby arm syndrome!), but gave in gracefully. Well, as gracefully as one can when trying to slip into a sausage casing with no zip! After a moment or three of deafening silence, there were a few mumbled Well, you have just got out of the shower and Once the pleats are released .... The dress was bundled away while I contemplated Plan B.
Plan B
Back home, I decided to remove one inch from the lower bodice. Aesthetics are important! This I, oh so carefully, did and reattached the skirt, only to realise that I had absent-mindedly removed that excess one inch from the top of the skirt instead. I don't like my skirts short (chubby leg syndrome), so couldn't fix my fix. Damn, damn, damn, I was just going to have to live with it.

Plan C
Plan C was to go to Marks and Sparks  in Edinburgh the day before the garden party, try on the smallest, tightest sookie-in (my sister's description) all-in-one foundation garment , I could possibly squeeze into and buy it one size smaller still. Breathing truly is overrated!

And it worked!
The dress fitted, apart from the bust darts being too low from the extra inch I had cleverly added to the upper bodice in the making. If only I had had safety pins handy to hitch up the bodice at the shoulders! I covered up the mess with a bright pink jacket and tottered down  the Royal Mile in my too high heels with my gorgeous daughter to meet the Queen. (Did I mention my habit of name-dropping?)
And did I meet the Queen? Well, no! I was in the wrong greeting avenue, but I did get to see Phil up close. I sort of hoped to hear him uttering one of his trade mark faux pas, but no luck - in fact, he was totally different to what I had expected, very kind even, though much shorter and more cadaverous-looking than I had been led to believe. Here's a glimpse of a Holyrood RGP (it's last year's but the clip for this year was not so descriptive).

How cool am I!
There was I, with DD2, rubbing shoulders and eating cucumber sandwiches with 7,000 of Scotland's great and good, in the beautiful grounds of Holyrood Palace, with Salisbury crags and Arthur's Seat close enough to touch. I had ARRIVED, but how I'd got there is another story.
DD2 in the dress we DIDN'T make
Plan aborted; lessons learned
The plan had been for DD2 to make her own dress, despite a slight lack of sewing experience. After all, how hard could it be? Let me count the ways! 
Firstly, she/we decided that there really was not enough time for her to make it, so I stepped in.
She chose from my  (cough) plentiful  adequate stash, a beautiful tealy-aqua fine wool, I'd been cosseting since PR Paris in 2009.  Do our children ever appreciate the sacrifices we make for them? Then she choose, from my similarly adequate pattern stash, a simple sheath/shift dress. 
Then the fun started. Three muslins were made and refitted and over-fitted, as she requested More fitted! Tighter! Just take out a little more here, please!. Darts were extended and added and redrawn. A back waist seam was created to allow for sway-back adjustment and to straighten up the, by now, very squidgy grain line. At last, the muslin was declared to be just right. The dress was cut out, stitched up, tried on and immediately declared to be a wadder. There's only so much you can do with a pattern when it obviously didn't come anywhere nearly close to the vision in the wearer's mind's eye from the very beginning.
Reader, I bought her a dress in Princes Street and to my amazement,not only did she like it, but she actually WORE it (after taking it back to the shop and exchanging it for one size smaller - I so nearly got it right, for once!).  
Well, I did declare in my blurb that I wanted to learn more and stretch myself as regards my sewing.It's safe to say that this experience served both those goals.

The End

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A dedicated blogger? Apparently not!!!

Only 13 months since my maiden blog post, and here am I wondering where all the time went! Somehow I've got 4 followers.How did that happen? Mind you, one is family!
Although quiet I have been busy on the sewing front. There've been a few sewing gettogethers, further sewing "lessons", 
snoozing in the stash

more fabric shopping
In what appears to be becoming an annual event, I did my bit for the Gambian economy by buying fabric, in the market in Banjul,a small shop in Kololi and above all in an amazing shop “DIAB” in the fabric district of Banjul (Liberation Ave). 
much fabric shopping

some garment making - see the diamante zip!

a little more fabric shopping

The previously mentioned wedding dress with a peek of the royal blue shoes

Another gratuitous shot of fabric

Unfortunately I'm suffering from a major sewing block at the moment. I am making sofa covers. I hate making sofa covers.The original white (!!!!) ones needed  washing frequently and shrank in the wash. I wish now that I had bought replacements, but was too mean. I should have thought about my sanity before I lost my will to live! I can't get to garment sewing as my half-naked sofas pull at my conscience. I can't face finishing the covers, what I have done looks like I was sewing with my feet and with my eyes closed, so what do I do? I read sewing, I surf sewing and I dream sewing. My next sofas will be leather, and not white!

Meanwhile I want clothes, I need clothes and my fabric stash is calling me plaintively. My sewing machines are muttering darkly in the underused sewing room. The pattern collection is rustling loudly and the thread and notions are playing hide and seek (they  hide, I seek).
And before I forget, I neeeed a posh new dress for a certain garden party in July. DD2 wants to make an outfit herself for same said event.Which is quite exciting as hitherto, neither she nor her sister, DD1, have shown the slightest inclination to sew. However, I have no illusions as to who will have to finish that outfit!
Time to tidy the sewing room!!!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Just what the sewing world needs – yet another sewing blog! Why do I feel compelled to share my inadequacies with the world and her dog? I suppose it's a kind of "vanity" project, insofar as I think it might possibly be of the slightest interest to anyone. But mainly, it's because I have come to the realisation that while I consider myself to be a fairly competent sewer, I have become rather complacent and unadventurous. I go for instant gratification: the TNT that only needs a little tweaking to be different form the last incarnation. What brought this home to me vividly is the fact that I am helping two girls in their twenties to sew. I am having to examine my own sewing habits and skills and well, to be honest, I am not stretching myself nearly enough. I am an avid reader of other sewing blogs and there are people whose skills are not necessarily better than mine, but they are much more adventurous in style choice and manipulation; there are others out there whose technical skill is breath-taking. I want to be both of these people. I know it will be hard work and I may never get there, but this blog is my attempt, my commitment to myself. I can't promise warts and all – well a girl has some pride, but give me a glass or two of red wine, and the indiscretions will flow!
So (or is that "sew" – feeble pun!) watch this space for tales of a wedding dress in the making (not mine!), the Gambian holiday wardrobe (big yawn), perhaps even some gossip from the recent PR European Getogether, … oh yes, and most likely, plenty of gratuitous photographs of my cats who absolutely adore my comfy sewing stash!