Friday, 30 May 2014

Did I Just Network??

I absolutely heart Twitter. I have found several delightful things to do via other people's tweets and have loved every single one.
Since leaving my last job, my dream of running my own business in the creative industry seems much more achievable - my life is more my own now, more predictable and my mind is freer to think, imagine and plan. So the School for Creative Start-Ups "Make Good Festival" on this weekend was marvellous. And of course I found out about it via Twitter.
I'll admit it right now, I was ridiculously excited to be at Make Good - I was going to be able to speak to people who'd realised my dream and I could find out how they did it. So I didn't really make a particularly good impression to the graduates with my exuberance.
I have never felt more inspired or part of a community as I did for the few hours I was at the festival. Loads of graduates from S4CS in the Old Selfridges Hotel, tonnes of brilliant, original ideas from possibly the loveliest people I've ever met. Here is my selection of the loveliest:
Jessica Mae
Picture from @JessicaMaeStyle
Jessica O-George from Jessica Mae is a Personal Style Concierge. I'm not going to lie, I was slightly intimated. Jessica is gorgeous, and, as you'd expect, incredibly stylish. She's not all about shopping either: she teaches her clients about what clothes suit their body shape, suit their needs and utilise garments you already own as well as identify gaps (which means shopping, but focussed shopping). She was with Lucy Denver, personal trainer from Denvertronix who was also lovely. Between them, we'll all be stylish and fitter. And Jessica doesn't grab tits Gok Wan style. I checked.
Betty Etiquette
Oh how Betty and I laughed. She is lovely; truly, truly lovely. She's also dead set on getting people writing to each other with pen and ink, rather than endless texting and emails. I could not agree with this more. So much so, I signed one of her pledges:
Her designs were amazing too and arranged into collections - cool spring tones, American style pennants, thick water colour brush messages. The cards were on different weights of paper too, which really added to the whole effect of the beautiful, and very reasonably priced, cards. Betty's website contains lovely images of her cards and I've bookmarked it for future celebrations, particularly as I've been given the role of Birthday Monitor at my new job. Yeah, that's right, I got me a supplementary role.
Betty Etiquette is also on my favourite social media site and you too can follow the creative loveliness at @BettyEtiquette. And, as I say, Betty is lovely - we laughed tonnes.
Handmade by Bex
I am OBSESSED with these embroidered embroidery hoops. I also love that Bex and I both got excited about her incredibly neat stitching. If you've had a new arrival recently, or are searching for the perfect congratulatory gift, the frames on the right contain embroidered birth announcements. Bex does commissions, works around looking after her children (I told you these people had the life I wanted) and was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and, quite frankly, a genius with a needle and thread. Her items are also really reasonably priced, really on trend and would make a lovely country cottage addition to any home. Take a look at the rest of her work on her website. Honestly, the stitching is ridiculously neat - an absolute thing of beauty. Of course, there's also twitter and Facebook.
Miss Goodweather
might have embarrassed myself at this stand but, wait for it, Tara makes and sells breathable, waterproof cotton dresses. WATERPROOF DRESSES!!! That is basically what I was like at her stand, which was in itself a thing of beauty:
Tara was also inspirational. She did a job she hated and JUST QUIT without any real plan other than she wanted to make stuff. And she came up with this! WATERPROOF DRESSES! Amazing, truly amazing. And, incredibly affordable. The website has a collection you can buy AND, I've just seen, hoodlets are coming soon. I need this in my life. Find the delightful Miss Goodweather on twitter and facebook. I defy you not to become as excited as me about this.
And, having suitably embarrassed myself with delight, there was even time to chat to Tilly from Tilly and The Buttons who helped me with my shoulder seam problem, which was lovely of her.
When I met up with the lovely mister afterwards I had a sudden realisation. I networked! I, who not four hours prior had been sympathising that my boss has to do three whole days of networking (and evenings too!) next week. Maybe the crafty kind of networking is networking I can get on board with.
I am truly inspired by all these creative and talented women. I wish them all every success in the future and have no doubt that they will continue to be amazing. And they all, every single one, persuaded me to go for it and sign up for the next year of S4CS. Maybe I will!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Second Thing

In a previous post, I mentioned I'd made TWO things in a weekend but I cheekily only blogged the Paris Skirt. The reason for that was that the second garment I made to be a gift for the lovely mister's niece. This frock!

I've never sewn anything for a child before, so this was definitely a first. As you can see, I had a slight problem with sewing the lining to the bodice but apart from that, I'm very pleased with my efforts. Alas, the frock was much too small so it is now in the cupboard waiting for my as yet unborn niece to attain the age of two in two years and one month's time. Ho hum.
This pattern also came from the Sewing Bee book but I made some changes to the design - I didn't use an exposed zip for a kick-off.

There are reviews on Amazon that the patterns with the Sewing Bee aren't that great. The skirt for me came out just fine, however, I think that the age three frock made above is inaccurate. I don't really know how big a child is supposed to be at different ages but from looking at the mister's niece, this might have fitted her a year ago. So, if you have this book, make sure you really measure properly to get the right size.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Wardrobe Architect

Not only do I now get bank holidays off (every one!) but I also get a Privilege Day today. Slightly depressingly, the lovely Mister is at work and it's pouring with rain so this has somewhat sapped my motivation. But I've used the opportunity to make a lemon cake and do the ironing and now I'm catching up on my blog reading.
I follow a number of sewing blogs and it's great to be part of such a friendly and informative on-line community. I learn about new patterns, new fabrics, fitting issues and generally get to see what other people are making. Given that I seldom get to see my crafting friend Serife on account of our schedules never aligning, I am somewhat devoid of people to speak to in Real Life about sewing and making.
I discovered Sew Little Time through another blogger and I love what Joanne makes. Since I've had time today, I've been catching up on her posts and found this from January (she posted about it in a more recent entry - I've not got that much time on my hands!). Discovering Wardrobe Architect has literally come at the best time. This morning, whilst I was ironing, I was thinking about my wardrobe: how nothing matches yet I have way too many clothes - it's seriously out of hand. I'd love to also participate in Me Made May next year and long for the day when I have an entirely self-sewn wardrobe like the delightful Ooobop. This shouldn't be too hard to achieve given that I surely don't need twenty t-shirts and six pairs of jeans. 
So I'm on the Wardrobe Architect journey, a lot later than the everyone else but hey, who says it's bad to be late to the party? I will be blogging my progress and I hope I inspire some of you to join in.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

My Nerdy Night Out

I am no fan of a Big Night Out. In fact, just a Night Out is sometimes enough to make me want to climb under the duvet and not come out until morning: proper morning where you can have egg on toast or cornflakes and do something constructive, not morning where you eat a botulism infected kebab and get into bed leaving one foot rooted on the floor to stop your drunken self being sick. So this week I was unusually excited about Friday night because this Friday night I was Going Out.
It all started with Twitter as I'm more frequently finding the best things do. Dorothy Koomson, author of my favourite book of all time was going to be at Brixton library reading from her latest novel The Flavours of Love (which is actually an emotional thriller/crime novel, not something you buy at the airport and finish in twenty unsatisfactory minutes). The event didn't start until seven so I had at least two whole hours to kill in London by myself (because I know literally no one who'd go to this with me) so after obsessively looking at the library on Google Maps full of fear of becoming lost in Brixton, I realised it was very near Coldharbour Road, which was very near to Atlantic Road, which, hang on, houses Simply Fabrics. I could go there, thought I, and then, another brain wave: 'I'm going on the Ultimate Trousers workshop at Sew Over It next week, I'll get my fabric; Clapham's not far'. So I plotted bunking off work early (I do extra every day so this isn't nearly as naughty as it sounds) and go to Sew Over It in Clapham, then Simply Fabrics in Brixton, then use Tesco clubcard points to eat out (I am that skint) and then go to the library.
I was thwarted, as usual with these plans. First, I managed to bunk off twenty-five minutes early and that's it. Then I got to Clapham North and forgot the road name for Sew Over It and the 3G wasn't working. Eventually, though, I made it to Landor Road:
So I found it and things started looking up. The shop was smaller than I expected but this was actually quite a good thing. I wanted every fabric there. There is a wide choice of designs and fabric types and I spent some time looking for the perfect fabric. I ended up with this fabric for my trousers:
and then realised that it's the same fabric from the photograph advertising the class. But the staff in the shop were so friendly and were as excited as me when I announced I was off to Brixton to Simply Fabrics.
Back on the tube, where I got shut in the door (again) because I can never hear the beeps, and off to Brixton.
I have never been to Brixton before. I have been to Vauxhall because I used to work there, but I have never gone to the end of a tube line. I was incongruous for a multitude of reasons, primarily that I was nowhere near cool enough to be walking down Atlantic Road with its reggae music and jerk chicken shops. After several near misses with traffic (the traffic lights in London make no sense to me) I made it to Simply Fabrics.
It is somewhat different inside from the trendy Sew Over It but, my word, what choice. There was so much choice that I purchased nothing. I am putting this down to cowardice and fatigue and also that they didn't have the fabric I wanted to make my Coco dress. But I spent thirty minutes playing with fabrics, wondering whether a cute white fabric with daisies printed on was too see through for a blouse with no vest (it was) and stroking silks, linens, cottons, a weird neoprene and some ready quilted tartan. I will definitely go back to Simply Fabrics, but maybe when I feel slightly less on edge from a failed early off from work and the knowledge that I was the least cool person in the whole place.
My final thwarting was that I had failed to find a Tesco ClubCard participating restaurant that didn't involve going all the way to Herne Hill to eat alone in Pizza Express and then come back to Brixton to the library. What if I didn't get served and eat in time? What if the trains weren't regular enough? What if, what if, what if? So I went to Marks and Spencer and bought a salad. This led to another conundrum - I was alone, all the benches at Brixton Oval would have involved sitting with Other People, and I absolutely hate eating in the street, much less eating standing up. So I went across the road to the church yard having spied an empty bench, which I sat on and then realised my error. To my left, a group of hobos drinking cans and making a lot of noise. To my right, a pile of discarded trainers. By this time, I was both hungry and anxious to get into the library to get a good seat so I manned up and ate my M&S food with hobos and old trainers and tried not to sink into despair that I was never at one with my environment - I'm the one eating KFC in St James' Park and M&S in the hobo's churchyard, jeans when everyone's in a frock, a frock when everyone's in their onesie.
This near despair led me to a corner shop for a Yorkie and a bar for a whisky and coke. As I was alone, I spent my time on Facebook (naturally) and reading about interwar Britain on my kindle. I was the least cool person in the bar by a country mile.
Finally, it was time to go to the library. I sat in the front row, even though I know this is not cool and even though I know that this is not the done thing. I sat next to an American lady who was a food writer (I know this people despite hating Other People, they do like to speak to me. Everyone else there must have loved Other People because no one else was getting spoken to). I was not the least cool person at the library. People were outwardly very excited. Inside, I was very excited but I like to think I looked cool, a bit.

Dorothy (feels weird just using her first name) Koomson was excellent - she read twice, answered plenty of questions and then, LOOK! She signed my copy of my favourite book of all time 'The Chocolate Run'.


And then, she let me have my photo taken with her!
 So fabric, food, alcohol, books and Dorothy Koomson: my night may have been nerdy but my god was it good.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

My Shoulder Seam Shame

I am a woman possessed. Regular readers of my blog will probably now be sick of my lamenting over the shoulder seam issues. But for new readers, let me catch you up: something is wrong with me, very very wrong. My shoulder seams sit about 3cm too far back, which caused a near garrotting when I made a slash necked dress. So I signed up for a Craftsy Course that I haven't had time to do yet because I had to write my last essay and then I got waylaid making a skirt, and a kid's dress. This procrastination has led to some terrible mind wandering. I sat in a meeting the other day and I found myself looking at my female colleagues, analysing their shoulder seams, where they sat on their shoulders and what was different about their bodies to mine, the way they sat etc etc. Basically, I was weird. I need to sort out this shoulder seam problem before I get a reputation. Or get caught reading sewing blogs at my desk.

NB, some of the women weren't sitting up straight and thus had rounded shoulders, so why did their shoulder seams sit nicely and not have their neck lines garrotte them?!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

J'adore Sewing

I've not had much chance to sew or blog for the past couple of weeks, but the good news is I finally finished my degree I started part time five years ago and celebrated by reading contemporary women's fiction (not chick lit!), sewing TWO things and obsessing, and I mean obsessing about shoulder seams. But more of that later.
Let's skim over the reading too and focus purely on the sewing. Now, because of the shoulder-seam-problem-I-haven't-had-time-to-learn-to-fix-yet I decided that the urge to sew needed to be sated by a skirt. For the first time, I used the Sewing Bee 'Sew Your Own Wardrobe' book that I bought ages ago but due to aforementioned business, I've not had time to use yet. I didn't read any reviews before I bought it but I was informed that there are a few problems with the patterns - notches and whatnot that don't align and so on. And sadly, those reviews were right. I made the box pleat skirt, as you can see. The notches on the waist band don't align but, honestly, that's not a problem if you can do basic maths, which even I can do.
This skirt is basically my new favourite thing. I adore it. In fact, I j'adore it. Look at this lovely fabric!
It's the Paris theme I bought at the ExCel in April and I've added a lining (basically used the supplied pattern pieces but folded the pleats on the pattern and cut the lining flat).

I wore it to work yesterday to declarations that I looked "summery", which was nice. It attracted many comments but, once again, to cowardly to admit I'd made it myself. I did find a pin in the side seam when I went to the loo though. Luckily it did not injure me like that mad killer on the last series of Sherlock and I did not bleed to death immediately. Hoorah!

 Also, huge apologies for quality of these photographs. I have to get a better camera. And learn how to pose for photos...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

New patterns!

Even though I'm determined to sort out my ridiculous hunchback fitting issues before I crack on with my lovely new fabric (and the stuff on my wish list...) it didn't stop me buying new patterns. On that, I'm sure I don't have a hunchback. I've asked the Mister - a lot - and although conceding that I am a bit sway backed, said I definitely do not have a hunchback. He REALLY knows how to woo a girl. Oh, and now he's got me joining in with his stretch routine every morning and evening. For some reason he was surprised that I am not in the slightest flexible. And now I've got a bar bell complex to do and I've been sitting properly at work...
So, new body issue obsession aside, I've got some great sewing to look forward to in the coming months. You may remember this post where I lament that Sew Over It don't have all their patterns available to buy without doing the classes. Well, my nagging may have helped and Lisa Comfort has released the Betty dress pattern with promises of more to follow later in the year.

Betty Dress
Another pattern stirring up a storm in the blogosphere is the Coco by Tilly from the wonderfully named Tilly and the Buttons. What a cool name! Coco has been made by hundreds now, many have made more than one and it's easy to see that this will become a wardrobe staple for a lot of people. I'm hoping to be one of them. Look how cool Tilly's little Coco frock is?
It seems really versatile, so I'll definitely be making at least one. Just as soon as I can find time in my lunch break to visit some of the shops she recommends for knit fabric. I've never sewn with knit fabric before so I can't wait to give it a go!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Admitting Defeat...But Carrying On

As mentioned (several times now, I believe) I was terribly ill after the ExCel fair (I had a cold. But it was a bad one - the mister came home on the Thursday to find me home early from work under a blanket with streaming eyes and nose whimpering, 'I don't think I was better after all' after the false dawn on Wednesday when I'd declared myself recovered and celebrated by plating potatoes in the garden). So anyway, my sewing was a bit neglected but, from my exile in the spare room, I dipped in and out of all my sewing books trying to find a solution to the ever present sewing problem I have - my weird body. I've read many blogs where the authors have commented on how sewing your own clothes actually gives you more body hang-ups to obsess about. So not only did I have my obvious no boob, no waist, no hip hang-ups from before, I've now got rounded shoulders and a long torso to contend with.
All this came about from how ALL my clothes, RTW and homemade, have the same problem - waist higher at the front than the back, shoulder seams approximately three whole centimetres too far back. I really wanted to make at least one dress this bank holiday weekend, but I wanted something that fitted. Number one on my 'To Make' list is the Blitz dress from Sew La Di Da.. I've raved about Caroline's gorgeous frocks so much and now I want one that fits! So, after some sick-bed googling the other week, I did manage to find a solution. Basically, I cut three centimetres plus 1.5cm seam allowance off the FRONT bodice pattern piece of the dress and attached this to the BACK at the shoulder. The raw edges once cut out in fabric would be the NEW FRONT BODICE shoulder to the NEW BACK BODICE shoulder. Basically, I stuck it together with tape with the old shoulder seams together so the part I cut off was the new shoulder edge. I then moved 3cm of the under sleeve around from the FRONT of the arm piece to the BACK meaning that my underarm seams would still meet the side seams in the right way. So far, so good. I'd also like to point out at this point that I was UNBELIEVABLY proud of myself. Then I realised that the waist was now basically under my bust at the front and even lower than usual at the back. I decided that it probably needed a wedge added SOMEWHERE on the side of the bodice front. I have no idea where, or to what proportion and I'm not good at finding stuff on the internet. At this point, I decided I needed to go on a course about fitting. I've seen loads of reviews for this one from Craftsy and could see that the only bad thing was that it is American and therefore involves all sorts of complicated fraction maths in inches. I'll find a converter and be just fine...
Oh, and I signed up for the Sew Over It Ultimate Trouser Course in June, which should help with the erm...lower half fitting issues I have.
Despite not getting to sew nearly as much as I hoped this Easter break, I am really excited that I've found some ways to fix the sewing problems I have and learn more about my passion for making clothes.
What courses would you like to go on?