Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Wasting time...

It was the last Bank Holiday till August this weekend, and thanks to a bout of tonsillitis, I spent most of it asleep or in too much pain to care about anything creative!  So very annoying on two fronts:

a) I had great plans for this weekend! I love a three day weekend, it gives you enough time to get your jobs done and start on a project, safe in the knowledge that you don't have to rush and can bargain for exclusive use of the dining room - we can relax the rules, it is a holiday after all!

and b) life is too short to be wasted on sleep and sickness!  For as long as I can remember I have been very conscious that we have only one chance at our time on this earth.  I appreciate the need to sleep and recuperate (not enough, most people I know would argue) but I hate to waste time doing either when I could be doing anything else at all :)  My own worst enemy in many respects, but I would be very sad to get to the end of my life and think I could have done more; on my gravestone I would be very happy for them to write "She tried to do it all" ...except maybe the ironing!

So, once up and half human again I finished the Halloween invitations, so very pleased!  Just photos to take and once they're in the post I will do a write up.  And with the 9yr old at her father's this week, I will try and work my two days into a few evenings instead...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Making the Apron... part two

To decorate the apron, I wanted to make it a girly as possible - my antidote to the yards of dark green!  I used my gorgeous floral ribbon to trim the bottom of the waistband, which I handstitched it on.

I then rifled my embroidery ribbons and chose a mid green,

which I used to sew on three large pink buttons.  
Normally I would dismiss them as pink, plain and ugly but they have a 50s feel to them that I liked for this project and they are a nice foil to the fancier ribbon (shame that the colour doesn't photograph well).  I alternated the stitches to look like waffle stitch, one of my favourite embroidery stitches.

Finally, the hem. 
The main idea for this apron was that you would not wear it at full length, but rather pin/button/tie it to the waistband to to create a large pocket in which you could keep or put things; such as the washing line pegs which started this idea in the first place.

 As I mentioned in my last post; I kept thinking about buttonloops but I was adamant that I wanted to use a buttonhole.  I started first on my sewing machine; the programme has gone awry and five failed attempts and a hole in my apron hem later, I did my first rehem... I then decided to handstitch the buttonholes using tailors buttonhole, another of my favourite embroidery stitches... one dogs dinner later (there really is no other description for the utter mess that I had created) and I was on my second rehem!  As well as this, using a buttonhole had one downside that I couldn't quite get past, as I buttoned the hem up, you would see the underside of the apron.  As I was having so much trouble with it, I decided to sleep on it and in doing so figured out that the buttonloops that my intuition kept bringing up would a) work and b) solve my problem.

Buttonloops:
A few years ago I made a blind.  It was purely decorative and so it didn't need to be drawn up or let down.  I sewed buttons across the top of the blind and then buttonloops out of embroidery thread to hang the blind in place.


Using a purple embroidery thread that matched the thread that I'd used for the hem.  I sewed two long stitches, the width of the button.

I then sewed a blanket stitch along the length of the threads.

  

Continuing to the end, finishing with a single knot and then running the thread back through the hem to hide it before trimming it.  I twisted the blanket stitch slightly so that it's "spine" spirals for a decorative effect.

As it is looped over the button, the hem folds with the right side visible, a finish I prefer to the wrong side being seen.

And there it is... my quick little project has taken far too long and been far more involved than I had originally anticipated; but I am pleased with the results.  The three buttons allow for lots of permutations in playing with the hem; the pocket it creates is good and deep and open enough that its quick and easy to put things in/get things out of; and it has that slightly fanciful feel that I love about a good 50s apron!


The colour reminds me so much of my Nan, and I hope that Grandma Edith would have appreciated the effort!  Its practical and pretty and best of all thrifty, it could become a favourite.

Materials:
1 1/2 yds 44" wide material
 Buttons
Ribbon
Embroidery Threads
Any other decoration that you like
And, in my case, patience!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Intuition is a frustrating mistress!

I am a great believer in intuition but it has been testing me of late.  I cannot see, for example, why it sent me off on the alternative route to work last Monday, which could have so nearly ended up with one wreaked Smart car and me in an ambulance on my way to hospital... except that I got some unplanned practice in sudden avoidance manoeuvres; always the best kind I think!

And so it has been with my apron.  Over and over again I have said to myself, "make the loops for the buttons" (more later), and each time I have stubbornly insisted that "no, only buttonholes will do".  Well, three days and three re-hems later, I have learnt my lesson and, in the process, have figured out that the loops will actually work better and solve the one big issue that I had with the buttonholes... now, intuition, why couldn't you have mentioned that first?!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

One long, green apron

...and a rogue leaf!  It can't stay looking like this for long, and I doubt very much that I'd ever wear it full length but it's necessary for what I have planned.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Making the Apron... part one

I decided that I'd make this apron using materials from my stash; thrifty, my Grandmothers would have approved of!  The two colours that I remember Nan wearing most were green and brown, and so I decided to use the dark green cotton left over from the 9yr olds Victorian costume last year.  Honestly, it may not be my favourite colour, but it's a lovely cotton and it goes well with the most gorgeous ribbon that I bought on a whim and have not dared use for about 5 years now!  Again, I think the Grandmothers would approve.  Added to that, I raided the store of buttons and bits that my mother gave me last year, I'll have a play with them later.

The Waistband:
I have no firm interfacing, but I do have some leftover coutil, so I cut a 23" x 3" length to use instead.
I used this as a template to cut two lengths of the green, 25" x 3.5".
Right sides together I lined the two layers of green and the coutil up and stitched a line straight line down the edge, 1/4" in.
 I pressed the seam open and then folded in closed and ironed both sides again for a crisp finish.

The Ties:
Thank you prudencerabbit at BurdaStyle, I first used this method of inserting ties into a waistband when making her Obi Apron and decided to repeat here, but with a far deeper gather (x2 waistband width) than was used on the Obi Aprons.
On the fold, I cut two pieces 22" x 6".  I kept them folded and sewed 1/4" seam from the top (open) end down to the fold.
 I turned them inside out and pressed them.
 At the open end, I sewed three gather lines, using the longest stitch on my machine.
 I pulled the gathers until the ties were the same width as the coutil in the waistband, 2 3/4".
With the waistband opened out and turned over, I pinned the ties onto the front panel: this is the side that lays directly against the coutil.  When pinning there are three important things to remember: 
1) the gathered end of the ties face the unfinished end of the waistband, with the end of the ties laying at the middle of the waistband;
2) the tie needs to be laid as close to the sewn top seam of the waistband for the nicest finish;
3) the tie must not be wider than the coutil underneath.
Once pinned, I folded the back panel over the top of the pinned tie (i.e. right sides together) and sewed the tie in place.
 Once sewn in, the tie was trimmed to 1/4" of the seam, any visible gather threads removed and the entire waistband turned outside in.  I do love this finish.

The Apron Skirt:
To achieve the final look that I want, this apron needs to be longer than the classic knee-length, so I measured from my waist to my knees and added 6".  In my case, this came to 30", with another 2" for hemming.  The fabric I am using is 44" wide and I wanted to use the full width to get the deepest gather possible.  I sewed a deep hem (1") with a contrasting thread and three gather lines at the top. 
 I decided to leave the side seams as is, they suit my functional mood.
 I liked the stitch detail on the hem so much that I added it, retrospectively, to the ends of the ties.
 Being careful to neatly tie the threads off and then sew them back into the fabric, before trimming them, for the neatest finish. 
 Once gathered, the skirt was pinned right side to right side to the front panel, only, of the waistband.
 It was sewn onto the front side of the waistband following the bottom edge of the coutil.
 Once sewn on, turn the skirt seam into the waistband, over the coutil and underneath the back waistband panel.  Press lightly and then fold and pin the back panel of the waistband in place, slipstitch closed.
And you have one apron - picture tomorrow, it's too dark for a decent photo tonight!
Tomorrow I will pretty it up and add the final touches.

The Apron... design

I've been looking at 40s and 50s Apron patterns the last few days, gradually pulling together ideas for my apron pattern.  I knew I did not want an apron with a bib, and whilst I love the flirty petal edged aprons, they would not suit either.  I toyed with different waistbands too, but couldn't find one I really, really liked...  in the end I decided on a simple, narrow waistband and full skirt.  I also wanted to design an apron which at it's core was functional/utilitarian, but which I could "pretty up" with the details; ribbons, buttons etc.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

My Grandmothers' Apron... Inspiration

Both, in their own way, have had a great influence on my desire to make things and sew. 

My maternal Nan lived with us for many years and I was utterly devoted to her.  I need no pictures of her as, 23-odd years after her death, I can still see her in my mind with complete clarity.  She was a wonderful woman, who was instrumental in teaching me to stitch and sew, and who inspired me with her impeccable dress.  Even in the heat of a Hong Kong summer, she always wore skirts and stockings, a slip and camisole, sleeved, button up shirts with a kitted cardigan or vest and everything was clean, pressed and very well cared for.  She also always wrapped her work in a teatowel, a habit I continue today with her teatowels; and always wore an apron.  I won't cook without one but until recently had not had any aprons that were not purely utilitarian; then last year I saw the beautiful Obi Apron on BurdaStyle and remembered that, thanks to that one image of my Nan (stood in the hall in her apron) that still makes me smile with memories today, I love a good apron!  I now have my own Temptapron and wear it every good chance I get, quite delighted when the boyf comments that I look like a 50s housewife.

My paternal Grandma Edith, had it less easy I'm afraid.  As she lived in Gloucestershire, and we in HK, she saw us rarely and never for long enough.  My abiding memories of her are of satin sheets that were washed in TCP and that she made her own clothes.  I say clothes, but she designed and wore the same dress pattern for as long as I knew her.  I cannot remember ever seeing her in anything else than that dress, a cardigan as required and lace up, low heeled shoes.  At the time I didn't appreciate the fact that the dresses were handmade; nor that, with just a change of fabric, she made something completely new each time from the same pattern; which was edited to suit as the years went by.  Older, and a little wiser, I appreciate her certainty in what suited her, her contentment in how she looked, her ingenuity, and her skill (because they were beautifully made dresses) and I wish I'd had a chance to tell her that.

I was hanging out the washing as I was thinking about them both and it suddenly stuck me that my pegs in an apron would be a great idea... one that honours both women.  My own pattern, made with as much skill and care as I can muster, in honour of Edith, and inspired by Nan's aprons... and her habit of tucking the hem into the waistband... more later.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Mollie Makes.... me craftily happier!

When that little Mollie Makes card slipped out of Country Living, with two hands full of felted balls, promising to live and love handmade, and believing "That fabric makes you HAPPY", I oohed and aahed, pinned it to my board of all good things, befriended on FB and wondered if I had found a kindred spirit in magazine-land...

I am delighted to say, having finally tracked down a copy, that I think this could be so!  It is beautiful to look at, stocked full of ideas and links to other good places, well written, and the content nicely balanced.  The cover surprised me and I will admit to thinking "crocheting for apples? really?!", but then I can't see a better way to persuade the 9 yr old to indulge in one of her five-a-day and, as with all good things, it set my mind off contemplating all sorts of new ideas.   As for the Chihuahua... well, I laughed out loud and fell a little in love; I wonder what the Dobe would make of it?!


Until now, I have been a Country Living and Selvedge girl; now I think I have found a third monthly muse to add to the pile... thank you Mollie for filling the gaping gap in the market; my copy is dog-eared and annotated, the 9 yr old has bags-d the phone cover for the phone she wants for her birthday, and I am really looking forward to Issue 2... the only question is, where do I keep them all?!

Picture borrowed from http://www.molliemakes.com/, with thanks.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Halloween Invitations

The Halloween invitations were proving problematic; a little too small and fiddly to stay as they should.  I redrafted the pattern, worked out the kinks and built prototype #2... and then the boyf appeared, made a suggestion that is in equal parts annoying and too good to ignore and prototype #1 has reared it's fiddly head again.. Except that this time I have to make it work, hmmmm....

P.S. sorry hon, but it's your own fault that the ironing didn't quite get done! ;o)

A little revamp...

So Blogger went down, a whole day and a bit Blogger-free... I won't lie, it was a little painful (!) but it gave me time to think.  So here it is: a new name, I've taught myself some basic CSS, had some fun with Photoshop and photographed the family... I do hope you'll agree that it's an improvement :o)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

the Joy of repetition

The Halloween invitations comprise 72 pieces (for 6 invitations), which all need to be handcut, and this is just to create the basic invitation.  There will then be roughly another 6 embellishments, I'm thinking, per invitation before they are finished.

Following a pretty dire day at work, I took myself off shopping, bought the necessaries and spent a very happy evening starting to cut out some of the pieces for the invitation.  As I did so, I mused, and pondered, and chatted to the boyf, and thought, paid scant attention to the TV, and found myself gently unwinding from the day whilst peace was restored to my psyche.  Be it a brush stroke on canvas, a stitch in thread, a bead or button sewn, even the letters that I type now; repetition is at the heart of creativity, and for me, the repetition of a creative action is when I relax and find my peace.  It is my personal meditation and prayer.  

In learning something new there can be excitement but anxiety; in repeating the action, there comes mastery, confidence and efficiency.  That in turn quietens the mind and, at that moment, opens it up; you can look at what is around you, see with fresh eyes, think with increasing clarity as the momentum of your actions builds, be free to allow your creativity to flow anew.  A work takes on "a life of its own" or, as one project is taking shape, the mind will brainstorm new ideas endlessly. 

I think that most creative people would agree with me?

It flows into other areas my life too.  I like to clean (particularly calming when I feel overwhelmed) and love to cook; washing up is far more pleasing than drying and putting away (too many variables!); each step of my walks with the dog, following the same paths and seeing what is new; and whilst tumbledrying is a sad necessity, I love to hang washing on the line: dip, pick, hang, peg, dip, pick, hang, peg... and look, the sun is dancing through the laurel tree's leaves.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

I'm feeling a little deflated

after all the excitement, and elation, of finishing the corset! Though it has been lovely to read, hear, all of the wonderful feedback :)

I want to start the dress but to cut the pattern I will need to monopolise the dining room for a day, so I'm being very impatient until the weekend... And in the meantime, Halloween!, I started on the prototype for the invitation today; I love prototypes they really get me thinking and I've had some great new ideas. They'll take a while, but these invites will be fun.

Oh, and I also made an important purchase... :)

Monday, 9 May 2011

The English and their Grammar

On a morning when the big news item is that more and more children are leaving the English school system unable to read, speak or write properly; I was amused to see a bus that felt it necessary to exclaim it's apology at not being in service and a rather tentative ""Missing" Cat" poster.  It is a very English thing to be that worried about the cat in question that you are driven to put laminated posters on traffic lights and yet still be cautious in proclaiming the cat to be missing when it may, in fact, not be; surely this would have been a better place for the use of an exclamation mark... or maybe even two?!

And before you think that I am belittling the news story of the morning; it was preceded by a man who had my shouting at the radio as he seemed to think that things could be "took" from him, as opposed to "taken" and the 9 yr old, who has attended very good primary schools, is still of the firm belief that any verb in the Simple Past needs "ed" added to it; "I called Nantie", "I sawed the movie"... never do I feel more like my mother than when I trying to get my daughter to speak properly!  Apparently there are young adults in this country with vocabularies of approx 700 words (many of which are not even in the dictionary), what are we doing so very wrong that our children are failing to see the wonder of the English language?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Happy Birthday Mrs B!

I do hope she has a good one!

My current obsession with alliums continued to her card.  I drew a stylised flower in silver on a 5" square cream card, punched holes through with an awl and sewed on seed beads.  I originally planned for a complete silver colour scheme, but thanks to a beautiful selection of beads that my mother had given to me, I changed my mind and used various shades of purple, blue and green.

 

                                      

Mrs B's birthday present was a beautiful little cake stand; which the 9 yr old and I filled with home-baked cupcakes; Strawberry Cheesecake and Marshmallow :o)   I covet the cake stand... but Mrs B will do so much more with it than I would!  We couldn't exactly wrap it, but it looked pretty enough all the same.

And its done!

The alterations went really well, I was done within an hour, and throughout the day I have been stitching on the binding.  I also added a label on the inside and embroidered my initials on one of the panels.  I have chosen a "rabbit ear" lacing to finish.



The front panels match very well and I love the play of flowers and skulls with the swirl of the snake's body going round mine; it has a real vintage tattoo feel to it, which is exactly what I wanted.  My Victorian costume will be accurate and in keeping with the period, but I couldn't resist this little Gothic touch hidden underneath.

I have built my first corset and I love it.

In the meantime, the 9 yr old picked the pattern for her Halloween costume, Simplicity 5042 Costumes For Kids, out of print and finally tracked down on eBay...

The Corset... adjustments...

I finished the second half of the corset last night, bar sewing the binding on; my fingers said no!  But was very pleased with how quickly it came together.  I pinned on the binding, laced it up and tried it on and as the laces were tightened, at the top of the corset the eyelet tapes overlap... I was too conservative when I made the deduction from my measurements.  Every time I've tested it, it seems to have been fine; I didn't realise just how much more the laces could pull you in.

I could leave it, it's a very small overlap, but it just wouldn't feel right.  So today's job is to unpick the eyelet tape from both sides, set them in 1/2" or so and resew them.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Corset, starting part 2

I organised the sewing table and rethreaded the machine with real excitement this morning and then was thrown headfirst back into the intricacies of corset building trying to press a seam that I'd just trimmed to 3mm and then top-stitching at 1.5mm... maybe was a little tired for this, this morning!

Creating the holes for the other half of the busk was not easy: my awl is smaller than I need, so I started with it and then moved onto a sharpened pencil, as suggested in the bible.  They make the point that the pencil can mark your fabric with it's lead; a problem I partially solved with some clear nail varnish on the lead.  It is a struggle, no a fight, though to get the knobs through the hole, even then the pencil's pushed though as far you think it can go.  My hands were shaking and my temper short!  But it is amazing how much pressure you can put on fabric, and what you ask of it, and somehow it just takes it and then goes back to the way it was.  The first was awful, the second worse, the third a little wonky and the fourth to sixth done with brute force and a determination to "just get the damn thing done!"  ...I then sewed it into place.

I can see why people cut the holes for busk knobs (I was tempted after the first!) but the awl and pencil is rewarding if painfully frustrating.. it really is a beautiful finish.

Friday, 6 May 2011

I have a numb thumb...

handstitching through coutil is hard, hard work.  Even with a crewel sharp it took some time and my fingers are numb!  But it's done; I have half a corset and it looks good.... oh, why be modest?  It looks great!  Anyways, to bed, to sleep and then I can tackle the second half tomorrow; nothing like half of something finished to make you want to see it all done.

Corset building with Chase & Status!

When the boyf goes away I tend not to watch any of the TV we watch together and we can have a big catch up sesh once he's back; and as there's not much else worth watching out there (we're not reality TV, talent show, MTV or sports fans!) it leaves me with time to sew.  

Last night, after I'd made Mrs B's bday card (more Saturday pm) and got the little misses settled, I decided to get on with the corset and tackle the boning and eyelet trim.  Buoyed by a glass of wine and the "new" Chase & Status album, which very belatedly I am listening to in it's entirety and loving, I decided to free-style slightly and just sew, rather than study the instructions lots!   My corset building bible mentions most methods of boning, but none that show the casing on the exterior, and in addition to this I wanted to use the casing to stitch all three layers together.  Careful pining and stitching soon had the casings on and the bones in. 

I then had to revert back to bible for the eyelet trim... having realised in a small moment of panic that I'd read somewhere about putting it on before boning the corset.  Luckily, however, this is the preferred attachment for corsets that will need to be "hard-wearing"; I doubt that mine will ever qualify as such and so used option b, which involves sewing the layers together, trimming them and folding the bone cased of the eyelet trim over the edge and stitching in place.  It also "the neater finish", which glosses nicely over my possible error!  I decided to use eyelet tape with a double bone casing (one either side of the run of eyelets) for the added stability and neater look; it will match my external casings better.  Stitching it was slow going as the stitch line had to be within 1mm of the edge to fit the bone in.  I did also restitch the line, just for the added strength. 

And that's essentially it done, I trimmed the top and bottom seams and am now in the process of pinning and handstitching on my grosgrain ribbon binding...  all of which will be done to the fantastic musical whirlwind that is No More Idols, rarely does an album sound this good :o)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The Power of the Pack

As a human who once failed a dog, a very lovely but damaged and destructive Staff, when the subject of owning another dog came around, I was nervous.  We spent 2 years, the boyf and I, researching and learning and debating.  We decided eventually on a power-breed, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Staffs etc. and a puppy.  With that much responsibility we knew that we had to be prepared and so I started to read all I could about raising and training a puppy/dog.  There is a lot of conflicting opinion out there... but one day, the (very clever) boyf insisted I watch "the guy on Nat Geo Wild who trains dogs" - Cesar Millan.

There are people in the world that we should thank the heavens above for, and Cesar is one of those people for me.  Not because he has done wonders for a great many dogs, but for the people out there who like me are "rehabilitated humans"!  Thanks to Cesar, and our beautiful girl dobe Megan, I have learnt the value of the moment, the wonder that can be found in simply standing and absorbing the now, patience (I used to have it, but somewhere I had lost it!) and that shit happens... but that's what poo bags are for!  In no way are we 100% there, or even 50% some days, but Megs is my friend and my teacher; and the process is as important as the result itself.  And although most of the good folk we know think that we are slightly crazy dog-parents, we have and will have a beautiful creature who is a credit to her breed and will continue to grow, as we will too.

And I mention all of this, because I've been thinking about when the 9yr old was so ill a couple of days ago.  The 9yr old gets temperatures, so much so that I don't really think about them, but the other day was her worst in a very long while and at silly am, having been up for almost 2 days straight, with my beautiful daughter crying in pain and disorientated and delirious and so hot her skin felt like parchment; I was scared.  Until the Doberman got out of her bed and sat next to the 9yr olds side of the bed and sat and waited and sat; with a calmness and certainty that gave me strength.  My big-footed, gangly, falls-over-her-own-feet clumsy, nose in everything teenage dobe, just sat and waited for me to get a grip!  She eventually came up on the bed and fell asleep, as did the child.  And the gentle dobe/child snoring lullaby finally got me to sleep too... that is until the not so gentle, stretching dobe accidentally pushed me out of bed!  But, as butt hit floor, I couldn't help but notice that she had slept next to the 9yr old but not on or near her; my comfort, it seems, was expendable, but the 9yr olds was not and I loved her a little more for it.  Megs did what she could to look out for her little Pack Sister and in doing that she did wonders for me too... when it works, there is real joy and blessing in being able to experience life as part of a dog's pack.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Patterns and Fabric

I thought I knew something of Victorian dress until I actually started to research a dress to make; at which point the different eras and variety of styles available felt like a bit of a minefield.  Of the various eras, what I would say are the "classic" Victorian styles Pre-Hoop (1840-1855) and Hoop (1856-1869), I ruled out pretty quickly; I can admire the dresses but they're not for me.  I focused on Early and Late Bustle (1869-1876 and 1883-1889 respectively) as I still wanted to feel as "Victorian" as possible and I chose my patterns; a Late Bustle skirt/bustle pattern and evening top. 

However, having started on the corset, I decided to rethink the bustle.  As the costume is meant for Halloween, and I will be cooking and hosting and having a dance or two, I decided that I could cope with constraint, but perhaps not the greater mobility issues that a bustle could cause in my tiny kitchen... one pattern I looked at was greater in circumference at the base than the available floor space in front of my oven!

So, before I went to NY I did a little more research and, rather belatedly, stumbled across trulyvictorian.com's history pages - I say belatedly because I was instantly drawn to the Natural Form (1877-1882) reference images and could have saved myself a lot of time had I seen them earlier!  They are the perfect mix of victoriana, elegance and flamboyance for me; which could also be interpreted in an understated way.  Of the Victorian costumes I have seen, I am always drawn to the more understated ones, as the quieter fabrics and trimmings let the detail and craftsmanship truly stand out; in particular Karolina's and Anneli Granath's stunning dresses at http://www.venacavadesign.co.uk/Gallery/lobegallery3.html.  They are flamboyant in detail, not trimmings!

I chose three patterns (TV225, 328 and 422), noted the yardage, and bought them before I could change my mind!  The hope is that the full fantail skirt with the overskirt will give me a sense of evening elegance and the jacket top will not be too fussy but still dressy.  I also love the walking skirt and will make that one day I'm certain.

So, fabric.  At Mood there was too much to choose from and as we couldn't fix on a colour palette I started to look at textures and patterns and was instantly drawn to the shelves of shirting cotton (crisp and clean and within budget!) and a selection of striped fabrics leaning against the end of the unit.  Thanks to boyf, I have a beautifully full and lightly textured, ruched stripe Italian cotton for the skirt.  It's heavy, and creamy to the touch, and looks as beautiful on the reverse as the front; a detail I may play with. 

And for the jacket and overskirt, I chose a pale silvery blue shirt cotton, pale gray with a a blue metallic thread though it.  It does not photograph as well but is very pretty and has a subtle shimmer.  I think that it will be a lovely contrast to the heavier stripe and should give me the day-to-evening look I'm after; plus, although it's not my usual Gothic, it should work well for my character for Halloween (no spills on it though please!!)


Tuesday, 3 May 2011

These are dangerous times

because as I sit here, high on the buzz of far too little sleep since Sunday (thanks to time zones, the selfish elbows next to me on the flight home and a very ill 9y r old ) and with a whole evening to myself ahead of me, by brain and fingers are twitching dangerously! 

I have fabric, and patterns and Halloween invitations to make; a corset to finish and another on it's way; a blog to update, garden furniture to paint, a bday card for the lovely Mrs B to make; and another 200-odd NY photos to sort through and upload.   The temptation to run on home and start on them all at once is itching away at me; given half a chance I would happily sit up all night.  But as I've had 6 hours sleep in 54 and another 4 ahead of me before I can go to bed (and not be woken half the night by a restless dog!) I know I need to be calming the storm and getting ready for a good nights sleep... Not stirring things up with plots and plans!  In an ideal world I could just take the next two days off and stitch till the costume was done... As it is I am going to have to behave, prioritise, finish the corset before even touching the costume pieces and resist the oh so twitchy fingers!

NY Day Three

was beautiful; walking to and through Central Park, listening to musicians, relaxing and enjoying a lovely long afternoon in the pub before braving the chaos of the train to Newark. 

I also saw the Alexander McQueen  windows at Bergdorf Goodman (celebrating the Savage Beauty Exhibition currently at the Met) and to see his brilliance up close is just breath-taking.  The shaping and corsetry, the use of materials and exquisite detailing is just extraordinary.  I would never have said I was a fan, appreciative but not a fan, but I am converted... there was magical genius in his work; and I may have to get a copy of the show catalogue, which looks stunning in itself.


Then the boyf, picker of the beautiful pale fabric palette, pointed out a black and green McQueen dress and said "Your Victorian costume would have looked great in black and green"... I did not remind him (boyf are you reading this?! ;o) xx) that I had mentioned black and green at Mood; I shall simply have to make a second costume, should I feel the need, once this one is finished!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

NY Day Two... a little late!

There was no chance of any sensible thought last night! After a second day of walking... somehow our chill out day on the waterfront turned into another trek the length of Manhattan!... I was exhausted, it was all I could do to eat the largest salad I've seen in a while (very very good though) and fall pathetically into bed at about 9.30pm.

It was, however, a glorious day. The sun shone, the water sparkled, Lady Liberty stood proud (we chickened out of the 2hr-ish queue to go to Staten Island), we saw some great street entertainment, met the world's fastest bartender and enjoyed the Hudson River Park in all it's glory, though you couldn't help but feel a little slack for not jogging frantically... that seems to be the only thing to do!

I have fallen in love with the confidence that NY exudes and NYers friendliness. As soon as they hear the accent, people happily start conversations with you and it takes no time to start following suit. I have had some great chats with complete strangers and find myself greeting anyone I pass who happens to catch my eye. It wouldn't happen at home, and I think we're poorer for it. There is a such a strong sense of community in this vast city and by sharing the tiny pleasantries for a moment we get to be a part of it too... I have fallen for NY and it's NYers!
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