Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Making The Most Of Home

We might have to move house. There, I said it. But the fear is still there. Our lovely house is under offer and someone else will (hopefully) be living in it very soon. Obviously, I am leaving copious instructions of to care for the roses that I can't take with me, and labelling the vegetable patch so someone else gets to eat home grown carrots this year.
We both love this house but it's not really big enough for the full size drum kit (the Lovely Mister's; I cried when he moved it in - it's huge) and all our...stuff. The Lovely Mister is obsessed with moving; honestly, it's all he talks about. Me? My head is well and truly in the sand. I know where I am with this house: I know its lovely quirks and what we've done with it, I know what the local shop sells and I have my own seat on the train to work (creature of habit? Moi?). So, yeah, not looking forward to moving, especially as it's only a temporary half way move before we make a proper move (hopefully) next year. Not even moving into a dream forever home, just a rented house in an area we don't know.
So, in positives, I'm trying to make the most of where we live now. More trips to London, and more trips to Rochester, where I went this weekend.
Rochester is the lotus flower growing from the mud of the Medway towns. Sorry if you live in the other Medway towns (like me) but really, look out of the window and then argue that comment. Rochester is beautiful - a castle, Dickens, arts, crafts and lots of pretty alternative stuff too. The High Street is cobbled and wonderful, frequently visited by tourists and home to many, many independent shops and restaurants. Here's my pick of the best:

It took me ages to get this photo. An old lady walked across the shop front and walked the slowest I have ever seen a living human move. But look at those gorgeous dresses!

Along with its sister store "Kiss Kiss Heart", Rocket sells a range of rockabilly clothes, kitsch shoes and incredibly beautiful cool jewellery including a wonderful necklace with a skull on angel wings with two mini pistols, toadstool earrings and this ring, that I bought on a whim.
I also bought some dice earrings to put in my new(ish) extra ear piercing. I couldn't get the back off the last earring in there, so had to go to my parents' to get my dad to use some special pliers to get the back off. He hadn't noticed the extra piercing until it was pointed out to him, and my mum. My dad asked why and was dissatisfied with my answer of "because it's cool" and the subsequent "but it's supercool" and my mum said "you're over eighteen, you can do what you like with your body" which basically means she hates it. I love it. And I stand by its supercoolness, especially with my new dice earrings.
I'm in love with everything in this store, and you can shop online here.
This is easily the best restaurant in the world. I love it - best garlic bread, best pizza, best service. Go there. You will not regret it. You'll need to book, it gets busy.
Tony Lorenzo
Continuing the food theme, Tony Lorenzo is a great deli/sandwich bar. Tony Lorenzo even has his own CD. It's pretty good! Eat in, take away, and take your time choosing between the fillings. My favourite: the turkey mix or the hoisin duck.
Well, that's the end of the post. But did you sew? I hear you ask. What did you make? Well, I did sew and I did make something, but it's not quite finished yet, so you'll have to wait for the weekend when I wear it to family party. Weather permitting. It will be in North Yorkshire after all...

Friday, 20 June 2014

Wardrobe Architect - week 1

A while ago, I posted my discovery of the Wardrobe Architect and my delight at finding it. As usual, I've not been able to commit myself fully to it (I discovered it when I was supposed to be finishing my dissertation and now all the things I'd already put off during my degree are joyfully taking up all my time, which is wonderful, but I still find more I want to do. I will never learn). I am still incredibly inspired by the whole Wardrobe Architect thing, and so what if I don't stick to the weekly schedule? I can still be excited, especially when I saw that the "Do These Sound Familiar?" list was basically me:
  • You acquire things you don't use - oh my God, all the time. Our house is ridiculously full, I buy things on impulse all the time usually under a misguided idea that it will make my life better when the reality is I have no money, a situation that is not going to get better if I continue my spendy ways. Wardrobe Architect could save my bank balance
  • You feel regret over purchases - oh my God! This too! I regret buying things all the time - even buying a chocolate bar at the station because my train is cancelled - that 89p (89p?!) confection isn't going to get me home any quicker, won't make SouthEastern run a decent service and will just spoil my dinner and make me feel guilty and cause the usually lovely Mister to say "hashtag fatty" when I fess up. (NB The Mister does not think I'm fat; neither do I. Although if I continue to eat portion sizes to rival his, this may be reassessed)
  • You buy things that are "close enough" - I do not like settling when buying things, yet I always seem to be doing so. Part of this is lack of time to shop around and part is laziness. The rest is just that I don't feel like I have the ability to find exactly what I want. Also, the thing I want is usually more expensive than the cheaper alternatives and the alternative usually leaves me feeling a bit empty.
  • You make clothes that don't really fit your life well - why do I keep making party dresses? What's wrong with me? My Nerdy Night Out details my lack of desire to Go Out so why is everything I make so formal? I love wearing dresses but I think my fabric choices make things a bit too formal.
  • You feel like your wardrobe is all over the place - er...yeah! See ALL the points above.
  • You don't know how to put outfits together - ditto. Nothing matches/goes.
(adapted from Colletterie blog)

So you see, I really do need this in my life. Especially after I threw away a load of clothes last week, not helping my "nothing to wear problems". Now if only I could find the time...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

When All I Thought About Was Sewing...And Did None

This week has been a rather trying week. Work has been pretty shitty, all in all. Busy, which is good, but also learning that, lovely as most of my colleagues are, there are some that have an agenda, who are rude and unpleasant and who I'd very much prefer not to have to spend time with. That said, the beauty of my job means I don't have to talk to many people if I chose not to.
Another beauty of my new office is that everyone is super intelligent and interesting and I can walk into the kitchen on any given day and find conversations about economics and politics and films happening. I can quietly wash my mug and boil the kettle and learn about the price of oil and why it affects so much and go back to my desk with a new nugget of information.
In some ways, this lone working is quite nice, because if I'm feeling a bit anti-social I needn't explain this to anyone and can just go to the park, listen to some music and pretend that I'm not surrounded by tourists and City Boys.
Better than looking at Outlook

With Winterfylleth, this was an ideal way to spend a lunch break

A cheerful route back to the office
My busy week meant I was too tired to sew in the evening when all I could think about whilst I was working was sewing. I've got into a huge rut - I can't sew any dresses because I can't make the bodices fit, I think I know what I'm supposed to be doing but I'm too tired to be sure. And because I don't want to start anything until I've done this project, I can't do anything else. So I'm stuck. Not sewing. Not knowing what to do. No clue, no sewing, no dress.
My lack of creativity has led to a funk. Without an outlet, I get (more) tetchy, (more) angsty and generally a bit unhappy. It's that feeling you get when you want to eat a bar of chocolate but will yourself not to, when you know you shouldn't do something, but you can't help it - it's all you can think about. That tightness in your throat, that restlessness in your legs, the tingling in your fingers.
The unsettled feeling of not creating seeped into everything this week - my mood at work, my inability to get into any of the books I started reading, to pick an album and listen all the way through rather than flitting from artist to artist, song to song without finding that one tune that gets you at that precise moment. Dissatisfaction that chocolate can't solve, that whisky won't numb, that nothing but that one thing you don't know and can't find will erase. I tried everything.
But finally it was Saturday night and I was sitting in Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank and Mark Lanegan cured me. He's done it before, with his growling raspy voice that stops you in your tracks, reaches down your throat and makes you want to cry the deep, hard tears you cry at the end of a Richard Curtis film (the good kind of tears). Seeing him live was just the tonic I needed. I came out feeling soothed, calm, and ever so slightly more positive. If you've not discovered the magic of Lanegan, try my favourite album of his "Bubblegum" or my close runner up "Blues Funeral".
I still haven't done any sewing or fit fixing because I spent today doing laundry, playing with the dog, eating home grown raspberries, going for a run I'll definitely regret tomorrow and going through my clothes and chucking stuff out I don't wear. I have very few clothes left. I best get sewing.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Ultimate Trousers. And the Most Stupid Thing EVER

God, this post has taken a while to get round to. Where, dear reader, does time GO? I get in from work and ten minutes later, it's bed time; or so it seems. So no blog post since I went on the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers course last week.
I have to say, I really enjoyed my day there. The other girls were lovely; Julie, the teacher, was great; the lemon drizzle cake was the tastiest cake ever. Sadly, my trousers did not come out as well as I envisaged:
It's quite hard to see because of the spots but there's a bit of erm...a baggy crotch and a saggy bottom issue going on. The top also gapes at the waist, which I think is because of my terrible overlocking skills on the facing. And I had to lengthen the front because I have a long torso.
I was slightly disappointed that the baggy/saggy issues weren't addressed during the class. Having spent £95 on the class, I pretty much have a pair of trousers I'll seldom wear and no idea how to fix the issue. I'd definitely recommend the classes, but more if you just want to learn to sew rather than learn to fit. Oh, and the other girls on the course made amazing trousers with no fit issues, so I think it's just me and my peculiar shape/lack of shape rather than the pattern.
So, onto the Most Stupid Thing EVER. If you've read my blog before, you may remember that I am OBSESSED with my bodice fitting issues (read about the obsession here and here). My current project is the Sew Over It Betty Dress, which I plan to make in navy blue cotton. I want a bodice that fits goddamn it. So I watched my Craftsy Course, I traced off my pattern pieces, I increased the seam allowance by another 3/8" to give some wiggle room in the muslin, then I clatted about making a muslin with lines sewn on it, as per the course. Then I went to see my Granma for help. This is after I tried to get the Lovely Mister to help. Here's how that went:
Me: Can you just pin up the back to hold the back closed?
LM: How do I do that?
Me: Do you not know how to put in a pin?
LM: No. Why would I know that?
Me: You've never pinned anything?
LM: No.
Me: (brief silence whilst agog). Well, this is how you do it (shows LM slowly on spare fabric)
LM: (looks at me like I've just performed alchemy. I show him again.) Right got it.
Me: OK. Be careful. Just go up the line I pressed in the back.
LM: What?
Me: The crease! (lengthy pause)
LM: I think I've done it
Me: (not convinced as I don't feel very secure in the bodice) Really?
LM: Yeah, I think so.
Me: (feeling round the back, immediately prick myself on a pin) Have you just poked it through the fabric?
LM: Yes! That's what you showed me!
Me: How have you fucked this up? How can you not know how to pin?! (has a sit down as hysterical laughter has descended on the house. Dog looks confused.) You're useless. I'm going to my Gran's.
So I trotted off to my Gran's leaving the Lovely Mister to recover from his ordeal listening to a record. (Honestly, how does he put up with me? Also to contend with this weekend, trying to get some knit fabric to lie flat during which I was almost moved to tears. A saint I tell you).
Now, who's tried to explain to an eighty-seven year old woman that you would like to do something she has been doing for the last seventy years differently? Any takers? No, didn't think so. But I tried. I failed. We did not do it like the Craftsy course. But the bodice did fit by the end (BTW, did a full bust adjustment (1/2") who'd have thunk it?!) and I came away with lots of drawing on me. Including making the shoulders narrower.
This should have been the red light for me - I do not have narrow shoulders. My shoulders poke out of every top. I cannot wear capped sleeves for risk of losing my arms if I put my hands above my head.
When I finally sat down to do some sewing over the weekend, I realised my cataclysmic error. Remember the extra 3/8" I added to the muslin pattern pieces? Yeah? I added 3/8" to the centre front as well. Where it says 'cut on fold' I added a total of nearly an INCH! AN INCH!! So the darts are screwed, the back is screwed and my Granma's gone on a holiday so I'm now stuck! I had to take the bodice to work today and ask a colleague I know enough to talk about sewing with but not enough (as it turns out) to help me pin bust darts in the ladies' loo to help.
What. A. Numpty.