30 August 2010

Six months without shopping!

Firstly, apologies for my miserable migraine-induced post earlier - the hypnotic sewing machine mechanism seemed worth sharing at the time, but in retrospect I realise the post probably came across as slightly creepy meds-induced art! I'm feeling much better now and promise not to do it again. 

Anyway, I'm excited to announce that I've made it to the end of my six month Wardrobe Refashion pledge! Woop! Six months ago I declared:
I, Tilly, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract.

Seeing the pledge through was much easier than I thought - as soon as I'd made a conscious decision to stop shopping, I felt a burden lift from my shoulders. I could walk through the shops on my way to work and spot things I liked but not feel like I was missing an opportunity if I didn't buy them. As Hayley puts it, I let go of the need to show appreciation for a thing by owning it.

Sticking to the pledge, combined with making my own clothes, also made me realise that I love the clothes in my wardrobe more than the clothes in the shops. I feel more confident with my own sense of style and I know that in the future I'll be much more discerning about what I'll buy - it'll have to be something really special to make me buy it.

Erm... like this dress, which perfectly encapsulates everything I like in a garment - 1960s silhouette! Peter Pan collar! Scalloping! Proper sleeves! Bows! Redness! 

What do you think? Do I deserve a treat?

[Soundtrack: 'Blues de la Prison' by Canray Fontenot & Bois Sec Ardoin]

How sewing machines work

It's bank holiday Monday, and though I planned to spend the day seeing old friends and indulging in some sewing, I'm stuck in bed with a horrible migraine. I feel a bit like someone is sewing through my head, in fact. This image above feels appropriate. And informative.

Thanks to boyfriend for sending me this link which led back to this link.

25 August 2010

Crumpets and crafting

[Or, CrafTEA no.2]

Sunday afternoon was the second edition of Craft Club - or what we've now rebranded CrafTEA (the tea is as important as the creativity... or creativiTEA! Ooh that's a good name too!). What better finale to the weekend than gathering some lovely ladies together to eat crumpets and make something? You may recall we played with fimo at the last one, and this time it was sewing, so I was more in my comfort zone and could play teacher to the others (when we move on to knitting, it's time for someone else to take the reins).

We made very simple make up bags, using this very easy tutorial. The perfect project for me to use the lovely vintage cosmetics-themed fabric that I'd been saving for a rainy day. I couldn't decide between blue and beige so made it double-sided. I lined it with interfacing to give it a bit more structure.

We've hatched a plan to work towards having a Crafty Christmas, so if you usually receive a present from me, start practising your happy face for when I give you a pot of jam...

22 August 2010

And now for something completely different.

Fig, almond and yoghurt cake, infused with fresh vanilla and star anise

Forgive me for going off message for a moment, but I just thought I'd share with you my second blog: Nom nom nom nom nom!

(Is it really obvious that "Nom", "Nom nom", "Nom nom nom", and "Nom nom nom nom" were all taken?!)

I love food, and it's not rare for me to spend half a day reading recipe books in bed, but with the pressures of work, commuting etc I rarely get around to cooking anything that isn't pasta with tomato sauce. So Nom nom nom nom nom! is a space for me to document my attempt to try out more recipes, with the pictures hopefully inspiring me to keep at it. Before you ask, no, it's nothing like Julie & Julia, as they're very simple recipes and there are no rules or constraints. It really is very unambitious and I refuse to allow it to take up much of my time. And it certainly doesn't mean I love this blog any less!

I'm new to Tumblr, so if any of you good people are on it, let me know so I can follow you. Also, if you've come across any similar food tumblelogs (is that what people call them or do I sound like an old grandma?!) I'd be interested to check them out...

18 August 2010

Imaginary fabric shopping

1: 'Botany' by Lauren and Jessie Jung
3 + 7: 'Rural Jardin' by French General
2, 4, 5 + 6: 'Hope Valley' by Denyse Schmidt

Ray Stitch has been promoting more beautiful fabric that I can't afford. If I can't buy them myself, I can at least shop vicariously through you lot. Sorry!

14 August 2010

We will fix it, we will stitch it...

I've just found out that I can attend a wedding in September that I previously thought I'd have to miss, a discovery which, you'll understand, screams "project!" I am also keen to make some pyjamas out of the three million metres of pink floral cotton that's clogging up my stash. Ooh and then there's the scalloped blouse pattern that's been calling my name every time I glance at my pattern box. HOWEVER, I have told myself that I'm not going to start a new project until I've put the finishing touches to a backlog of sort-of-finished-but-not-quite-good-enough-to-wear garments and made some long due adjustments to shop-bought items.

For example:
  1. The button holes on my Beignet skirt could do with reinforcing;
  2. I found an amazing 1960s dress which needs a new zip before it becomes wearable;
  3. I... erm... "forgot" to finish the seams on the Birthday Party Dress, and might take up the hem a bit while I'm at it;
  4. I've got a pile of dresses with loose buttons that are just waiting for me to be the victim of a wardrobe malfunction;
  5. I still haven't worn my Sencha blouse - I made the entry level mistake of choosing a fabric more suited to quilting than a blouse, plus the neckline is so high I could choke to death - any ideas what I should do with it?
  6. I really don't need to keep rolling up my jeans - I'm gonna go wild and take them up;
  7. And of course there's those blasted pedal pushers - that (ahem) back crotch curve needs attention, as Sherry pointed out!
As the internet is my witness, I shall not start a new project until I've ticked at least three of these tasks off my list. My kitchen is about to turn into the Bagpuss mice workshop...

10 August 2010

Loire Valley skirt

I took the opportunity of the trip to the Loire Valley to take some pics of my latest finished project while I had a different backdrop - you're probably bored of seeing the walls of my flat by now! So here I am posing in my boyfriend's parents' garden...

... and this is their humble home. Just kidding of course (hoho) - this is Azay le Rideau.

Here I am posing in front of their house, blissfully ignorant of the stinging nettles that are about to get tangled up under my skirt. Yikes! The pattern is McCalls 5631 and the fabric is a medium-lightweight cotton, £3/metre from Ikea! The pattern was fairly straightforward, although the instructions weren't too clear, meaning that (coupled with my laziness at reading instructions properly) at one point I realised I'd only cut out half a skirt - oops! I didn't have quite enough fabric left to cut out the rest of the skirt, so I had to leave out a couple of pleats. But it's fine.

Here's the view from the back. I didn't even try to match up the pattern on the seam line, firstly because I didn't have enough fabric and secondly because I'm too lazy. But I don't think many people IRL will notice or care too much, so try not to dwell on it! Just to distract you from those mismatched seams (I can hear you practising your deep breathing), here are some pictures of the chickens I spent the weekend chasing...

I just wanted to be their friend!

[Soundtrack: 'L'Accordéoniste' by Edith Piaf]

7 August 2010

Black pepper, sir?

I'm in France for a few days so just a quick post to show you the table cloth I made for our kitchen. A very simple project really - requiring just some vague measuring, cutting and hemming - but it took me forever to find gingham fabric wide enough for the table (why does gingham usually come on really small rolls?). This table is usually covered with sewing stuff, my laptop, notebooks etc, so styling it in this Italian restaurant meets Good Housekeeping way was a little gag for my boyfriend's benefit... but I secretly think it looks rather nice!

When I get back from France I'll show you my new skirt...

[Soundtrack: 'The Godfather's Waltz' by Nino Rota]

4 August 2010

Stash Amnesty!

Reading the comments on my Tidying Up post made me think it would be fun to take a sneaky peek at other people's sewing stashes too. Moreover, what better therapy for the fabric stasher themselves than to come clean to the world about all the stuff they've been accumulating? With this in mind, I approached Jen from Pretty Little Pictures to see if she would be up for an interview about her sewing space and stash. Consider this the pilot for a "Stash Amnesty!" feature - if you like the idea of this post, I'll make it a regular thing (or if you think it's rubbish, I'll drop it).

So over to Jen, the inspiring and stylish seamstress with a great eye for colour and a love of vintage lovely things...

What's your sewing area like?
Jen: "I have just recently moved to Sydney, Australia from Dunedin, New Zealand.  We currently reside in a quaint, but rather small one-bed semi. As our current space is so small, my fiance and I have had to be some what imaginative with our space. Half of our lounge is dedicated as a small space for our own individual use.  My fiance works from home so his space is set up as a little office, surrounded by books.  Mine on the other hand is my dedicated sewing space - surrounded by a book shelf of fabric. I use two big plastic storage bins to house all of my patterns, thread, zips, buttons and all number of sewing related bits and pieces.  And while the bookshelf holds the bulk of my fabric, there is a teeny weeny pile building up behind my desk that I opted not to show you, because it's slowly getting out of control.  I need to learn not pile everything up in one corner, because it will eventually fall over..."

How long has your stash been accumulating?
Jen: "My stash has been accumulating for a good 4 years now.  But I did have to get rid of some of the excess before we left New Zealand - a very hard thing to do! I'm one of those people who is sure they will use it for something - even if its a tiny little scrap!  In saying that, I'm not quite sure I got rid of quite as much as I thought I did.  (read above statement: growing pile of fabric behind my sewing area that you cannot see..."

Where do you source your fabric?
Jen: "A lot of my initial stock came from opshops (thrift stores) in New Zealand.  I had a few really great stores that I frequented that always had masses of really great quality fabric.  I haven't had much time to scour Sydney though, so what I have bought while I've been here has been mostly off ebay - they always have some really great vintage fabric every time I look."

Talk us through a few of your favourite items in your stash...
Jen: "My very favourite things from my stash are my vintage patterns.  Even if I had no idea how to  sew, I would still collect them, just to stare at them.  My very first vintage pattern is rather special to me - the cover is tattered and looks well loved and used but all of the pattern pieces are all there:

"I also adore my vintage magazines - all of the ones I own still had their original patterns with them.  I had found three in New Zealand last year and this year I've hit a goldmine and have added several more to my stash (also including their patterns).  I'm not all that good at acurately dating vintage garments and I've found the magazines to be such a useful resource when it comes to not only dating garments, but to studying the styles of a particular period.  I also love the advertisements - they are cheesy and all round fantastic!"

What item has been dwelling unused in your stash for the longest? Why oh why?!
Jen: "Haha, well actually, that would be some of my vintage patterns!!  I have some beautiful ones but they can be just so darn complicated!! Like a good dress should be I guess :)  I haven't attempted them yet because I'm still building up my knowledge on using vintage patterns/sewing techniques and really don't want to get stuck into something that I know will cause me grief (I have been known to get so frustrated with a pattern that I just burst into tears - seriously!!). I will soon be delving into them with relish, but until then, I am content to look and dream of the day..."

What projects are you planning to downsize your stash?
Jen: "Oh so many!!  My first real Sydney summer is fast approaching which means lots of light, airy dresses will be needed.  I've just finished making a 60's wrap blouse (which you can see unfinished on my dress makers form) which I've wanted for such a long time.  I had to tweak the pattern here and there, but I love the design and think that there will be many more made very soon :)  I've also just started on another dress that is actually an autumn dress, but I think I will be able to squeeze a few wears out of it before the heat hits.  It's got some very interesting techniques that I've not tried before so I'm excited to give them a go."

Thank you, Jen! With a stash full of such lovely things, who would want to cut it down?!

Should this become a regular post? Readers - are you as nosey as I am? Stashers - want to be granted amnesty? If you'd like to feature in a future Stash Amnesty post, get in touch!

1 August 2010

Horrockses Fashions

Today I spent a lovely afternoon with Karen from Did You Make That?, Melissa from Fehr Trade and Susannah from Cargo Cult Craft at the Horrockses Fashions exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum.

Melissa and Karen looking very natural for the camera

Horrockses was a British ready-to-wear women's fashion label which was big in the 1940s and 1950s. The dresses cost £4 - £7, which is around £80 - £130 in today's money - so the equivalent of buying a dress from Jigsaw, say - but desirable enough for royalty to wear them. The brand was best known for its cotton summer dresses - vibrant, colourful and very wearable - which were ubiquitous in the increasingly popular holiday spots such as the south of France and Italy.

Karen looking suitably chic and colourful
Enough talk, let's look at some dresses...

Mmm... dresses...

Glamorous housecoats

This cute sunsuit looks like something Casey would make...

And Zoe would love this novelty print skirt...

But we all agreed that no one could pull off this pink playsuit!