30 June 2011

Mysterious Pattern Alert!

When do you think this pattern is from? I found this vintage petticoat pattern in an antiques shop in California, but I'm having a little trouble identifying the date.

The pattern is numbered 7661, a "ladies' six-gored princess slip or foundation". It's made by the Standard Fashion Company - some internet research tells me that this was a subsidiary of Butterick, in operation from 1888 to 1926. At the bottom of the pattern it says 'Patented October 4, 1887, and September 5, 1889' - I assume that's referring to the company, not the individual pattern. 

The closest thing I can find online is pattern no. 7241, a very long straight skirt which looks to me like it's from about 1910. The closest dated pattern I can find is no. 5592, which someone has identified as being from 1889. Could my one be from about 1910 too, before skirts started getting shorter?

If you've got a better idea, either from your knowledge of underwear history or access to a pattern dating resource, I'd be really interested to know!

The sewing instructions are... erm... brief! (And I thought 1950s instructions were bad...) The pattern pieces themselves are in extraordinarily good condition. The markings on the pattern are perforated rather than printed, so at first glance it looks like you're opening some blank pieces of paper.

I paid... actually, I'm not going to tell you how much I paid for it! Take a guess... how much do you think I paid for it, and how much do you think it's worth? I'll reveal all in good time, promise. Not that I'm planning on selling it... unless someone has a burning desire to acquire it for their collection. Even though it's a simple slip, and I probably won't use it, I can't stop looking at the fine illustrations and the text font. A real piece of sewing history in my hands :)

28 June 2011

Me-Made-June... Days 23, 24, 25 and 26

My month of wearing handmade clothes every day is nearly over. It's been fun, although I must say I'm looking forward to not having to take photos of myself every day...

Day 23

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
To the office, followed by an evening out with my school friends.

How often is it usually worn and why?
Not as often as it should be. The unofficial dress code at my work is jeans and a shirt, but my thinking is, "What's the point of working in an office if you can't play offices and wear a dress to work?!"

Day 24

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
To work (is this getting boring yet?!).

How often is it usually worn and why?
Put it this way - the only reason I don't wear it every single day is that I don't want to wear out the denim too soon.

Day 25

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
To Brighton for the sewing blogger meet up, then dinner with a pal.

How often is it usually worn and why?
A lot! This is the 4th time I've worn it for Me-Made-June, and I doubt it'll be the last. It's so easy to wear and so so comfortable.

Day 26

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
Around the house and out and about in Brixton. Summer has finally arrived in London!

How often is it usually worn and why?
See Day 5.

I've finished my Ceylon dress, but now I'm off on a course so we'll have to wait for the wedding this weekend for outfit shots...

[Soundtrack: 'Young Americans' by David Bowie]

26 June 2011

Brighton Me-Made-June Jolly

Q. What's better than fabric shopping?
A. Fabric swapping!

Yesterday I rose early and jumped on the train to Brighton to meet up with a lovely bunch of twelve sewing bloggers. Like the city's seagulls we flocked around the brains behind Me-Made-June, Zoe of So Zo, What Do You Know? We spent some time wandering around the shops and market, but the fabric shopping was relatively restrained compared to previous meet-ups - even Dibs only left with a modest bag of notions. We were more interested in chatting about sewing and laughing about some of the recent shenanigans of the blogosphere. Oh and...

... rest assured - no one left empty handed. After lunch, we cleared our plates, wiped down the table and launched into a game of Stash Bustin'! A more sustainable - and more exciting - style of fabric acquisition. I gave away three lengths of fabric that had been sitting untouched in my stash for far too long. I swapped them for a lovely turquoise Kaffe Fassett cotton, which I'm planning to make into pyjamas, plus the remnants of the nautical fabric Zoe used for her covetable Sencha blouse. Yay!


I had a fantastic day - it was so lovely to hang out with other sewing enthusiasts. Cheers, Zoe!

24 June 2011

Me-Made-June... Days 19, 20, 21 and 22

Me-Made-June is still on, I'm still wearing self-made clothes every day this month. This week I've rediscovered a couple of homemade dresses that I haven't worn for ages...

Day 19

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Banana Sweetie Beignet Skirt

Where was it worn?
Hanging out in Brixton. Yes, it's June and yes, I'm wearing a cardigan. Looking a bit glum in this shot as I've just read the comments on this blog post and taken them personally.

How often is it worn and why?
See Day 10. I said then that that would be its last outing until the Autumn, little did I know June was going to feel like Autumn...

Will it be worn more often in future?
I think so, yes. Thanks to MMJ, I've found some new ways to style this.

Day 20

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Where was it worn?
To work. A very dreary day.

How often is it worn and why?
Never! The colour washes me out a bit. Plus, as I realised on my lunch break today as I skipped down Goodge Street, the slit at the back is a touch too high - derrière disclosure paranoia!

Will it be worn more often in future?
I'll probably wear it more often than never, yes. Probably only with tights so I don't need to worry (so much) about flashing innocent passers-by. I might be able to attenuate the dulling colour issue with a bright red necklace or... any other suggestions?

Day 21

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Where was it worn?
To work, a meeting, then the pub, where a "comedian" decided to pick on my dress sense, ask if people comment on it in the street all the time, and then try to dig himself out of a hole for the rest of the night. He said I looked like a girl scout! I much prefer another man's comment that I looked like I was on a 1950s cruise - well put. I don't think I've got a particularly wacky style, so it was a bit of a shock that it became such a talking point. I'm extremely sensitive to criticism, but in this case I honestly didn't feel even a hint of offence - I felt proud that I stood out from the crowd and enjoyed the debate that ensued. Have you ever been in a similar situation where someone questions why you dress in a certain way? How did you feel and react?

How often is it worn and why?
Only once ever. I love 1950s full dresses but they're not amazingly flattering when you're little like me. The hem line was a bit long on this and I finally got round to taking it up this week so it hits the middle of my knee. At some point I'm going to raise the waistline by an inch or two as I think this will make it more wearable too - but that requires restitching pleats and a zipper, so I'm not in any hurry!

Will it be worn more often in future?
Yes. Another MMJ success story. I really like this dress, and have a particular attachment to it after it got slated by a man wearing light blue jeans with black shoes (tee hee).

Day 22

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Betty Draper Jacket
Self-Drafted T-Shirt

Where was it worn?
To the office, a couple of meetings, followed by an office screening of Bridesmaids. Which is a hoot!

How often is it worn and why?
As I explained on Day 9, I didn't wear the jacket much before MMJ, but I promise to wear it much more in future. I wear the t-shirt at least once a week!

[Soundtrack: 'Guilt' by The Long Blondes]

PS. I've been hassling my friend Karen to start a sewing blog. Well, guess what? She did! Pop over, if you will, to say hello...

21 June 2011

Do You Read Sewing Magazines?

Rather late to the party, on Sunday I stumbled across issue two of Mollie Makes in... erm... Tesco. Proof, if proof be need be*, that the crafting revolution has finally gone mainstream in the UK. The incongruity of the location, coupled with the vision of handmade strawberry pincushions, made me screech in the tropical fruit aisle (I swear they heard it in puddings) and straight into my shopping basket it went.

I very rarely buy sewing magazines. To be honest, I rarely even pick them up off the shelf, as the front covers don't appeal. I know some bloggers are fans of Burda, but personally I've never found much in it I've wanted to sew - not that I've flicked through it very often, admittedly. I did buy Sew Hip once and really enjoyed reading it. I felt comforted in the fact that there was a reference to my passion in the physical world, not only online, as it usually staggers IRL people when I tell them that I sew. But while I'm pretty sure I'll buy Sew Hip again, I never made anything from it, and to be honest I find the title a little... embarrassing (ssshh!). Someone gave me a copy of Selvedge once, which was truly beautiful, but so expensive I couldn't justify a subscription.

Back to Mollie Makes. First of all, it's just so gorgeous to look at. The cynic in me is whispering that it's all a bit Cath Kidston for my taste, but the rest of me isn't listening... mmm... pretty colours... pretty things... There are some cute, easy projects in it, perfect for Craft Club with friends - such as a strawberry pincushion tutorial, floral embroidery, and an adorable felt fox. I never knew I wanted to make a felt fox! But I do. And I'm definitely going to give the strawberry pincushion a whirl, especially since I spilt earl grey all over my shop-bought one (the tutorial suggests filling it with emery - anyone know where to get this from?).

Even if I don't get round to making anything from it, it's lovely to have something as pretty and comforting as this that I can read in the bath or put in my bag for train journeys. I also like finding new fabric shops through the adverts. And it's great to read about crafty people, venues and happenings all over the UK - we're not alone! To the cynic in me, who wonders why I'm enjoying looking at pictures of cupcakes, I'd say that there's nothing wrong with taking aesthetic pleasure in the little things in life.

I'm interested to know the value of sewing magazines to people who read sewing blogs. Do you buy sewing or crafting magazines? Why do you read them? Do you make things from them or do you just like looking at the pictures? Which other sewing magazines do you think I'd like? I'd love to know!

[Soundtrack: 'Humanity' by John Legend & The Roots]

ten points if you get the reference!

19 June 2011

Me-Made-June... Days 15, 16, 17 and 18

Day 15

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Loire Valley Skirt

Where was it worn?
To work, followed by curry in Soho with pals.

How often is it usually worn and why?
See my ramblings on Day 1.

Will it be worn more often in future?
Definitely. This is a particular MMJ rediscovery success.

Day 16

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
To the office, followed by dinner at my mum's. The sky was dark and the weather dramatic that day (which I love) so I wore this to add a bit of colour to the world (aren't I thoughtful?).

How often is it usually worn and why?
A lot!

Will it be worn more often in future?

Day 17

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
To the office, followed by a quiet evening in catching up with emails, phone calls, The Kennedys and embroidery.

How often is it usually worn and why?
They're all worn pretty often, as I'm sure you've realised by this stage in MMJ!

Will it be worn more often in future?
This question is becoming redundant with certain garments!

Day 18

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
Sitting at my sewing table (yay!). Oh, and lying on the floor in (yogatic?) positions.

How often is it usually worn and why?
A lot. I love this skirt.

Will it be worn more often in future?
Not possible!

Right, I'm off to put some more work into my green floral Ceylon. Wondering what I should call the finished dress. Wedding in a Field Dress? Green Tea Dress? Grass Stain Stunner?! Help! Any ideas?

[Soundtrack: 'Rill Rill' by Sleigh Bells]

17 June 2011

Sublime Stitching Giveaway Winner!


Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway to win gorgeous goodies from Sublime Stitching.

The winner is...

True Random Number Generator  94Powered by RANDOM.ORG

 Amy said...
Hello from a long time reader. Thanks for hosting such a fun contest. As a crazy cat person (in secret?), I would like to embroider a cute little grey-haired lady surrounded by about 20 cats. Doing all kinds of cat things. Maybe on the bottom of a cardigan?
Congratulations Amy from Sew Well! Woooooooooo! Crazy cat lady embroidery!

And thank you to Jenny from Sublime Stitching for providing the prize. Do read about how she spends her day if you missed it first time round.

Bon weekend, tout le monde!

16 June 2011

Me-Made-June... Days 11, 12, 13 and 14

This is the point during Me-Made-June when you start seeing the usual suspects popping up again and again. I'll try to style them differently to make it more interesting...

Day 11

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
Around the house, doing some sewing and paperwork, then out to a birthday bash in the evening.

How often is it usually worn and why?
Fairly often. On Day 6, in fact!

Day 12

What's Me-Made it today's outfit?
Self-drafted t-shirt
Button necklace (buttons threaded onto ribbon - that counts as homemade!)

Where was it worn?
Around the house and on a dash to the shops to see if they had anything I could use as piping on the dress I'm making.

How often is it usually worn and why?
A lot, considering it's new. Like Day 3!

Day 13

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Jenny Skirt

Where was it worn?
To my first day back at work after my sabbatical, followed by a working dinner for a project I'm doing.

How often is it usually worn and why?
Not very often. The aubergine gabardine is a little conservative for my taste, although it looked less boring with a belt. I made the mint lining a tiny bit too long so it keeps peeking out when I'm sitting down - oops! Oh well, I should consider it a feature.

Will it be worn more often in future?
Yes, it probably will now. I quite like it with this top.

Day 14

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
My First Dress

Where was it worn?
To work. And in the evening I gave a speech about rediscovering my creative side... and making this dress!

How often is it usually worn and why?
As the first garment I made, this dress holds a special place in my heart. I really like the fabric and the simplicity of the shape, and it attracts a lot of compliments every time I wear it. But I don't wear it as often as I could and should.

Will it be worn more often from now on?
Yes, I promise.

How is everyone else finding Me-Made-June? If you're joining in, are you struggling with the mid-month lull or still feeling motivated to rock your self-made frocks? If you're following along, are you inspired to make more of your own clothes? I'd love to know!

14 June 2011

What's On My Sewing Table...

Although I had a great time in America, I really did miss my sewing machine! At the weekend I managed to sit down and make significant progress on a Ceylon from Colette Patterns. The fabric is a mystery cotton blend that I picked up at the Walthamstow Fabric Frenzy for £2. It's got a dreamy drape to it, it feels almost fluid, if that makes sense - perfect for this pattern which has gathers and a floaty skirt. I'm thinking of using 1/2" white buttons and adding white piping round the yoke. What do you think?

Just like last time I made a Ceylon dress, I'm aiming to have it finished for a wedding in a couple of weeks' time. The wedding is in a field, with a casual dress code and overnight camping, so this should be perfect for hiding grass stains...

What are you working on at the moment?

[Soundtrack: 'In California' by Joanna Newsom]

12 June 2011

Giveaway! Sublime Stitching Goodies

Did the post on Jenny Hart's day have you drooling over Sublime Stitching's shop? Well, my friend, I bring good tidings! Jenny is offering these gorgeous, Summery goodies for one of my readers:

To enter, just leave a comment here. If you could embroider any design of your own creation, what would it be?

The deadline to enter is midnight GMT on Thursday 16th June. The winner will be picked at random and notified on Friday. Don't forget to leave your email if it's not linked to your blogging profile so I can let you know if you win. The giveaway is open internationally, with free shipping.

Good luck!

11 June 2011

A Day in the Life of Jenny Hart - Sublime Stitching

What's it like to run a successful stitching business? In this month's A Day in the Life, we get to be a fly on the wall chez Jenny Hart, the brains behind the marvellous Sublime Stitching. Jenny discovered the joy of embroidery in 2000 and set up her company a year later to offer an alternative to the difficult instructions and ubiquitous cutesy designs. You won't find teddy bear patterns at Sublime Stitching - think vultures, sushi, and (my favourite) sexy librarians. "But what does she eat for lunch?" I hear you cry. All in good time...

"My day usually starts not long after I get out of bed.

I often get up around 6:30 or 7:30 am, but never to an alarm (which I consider a luxury). If I get up past 8 I consider it “sleeping in”. I try not to look at email until after I’ve showered and had breakfast but usually, I can’t resist. Ideally, I get up, eat oatmeal and go for a bike ride before I settle in to work. Otherwise, I’ll get snagged and be on the computer until noon in my pajamas without brushing my teeth or eating a thing (this is not a good state to be in). Because I work from home, I don’t have to be dressed, fed and out the door by a certain time. Conversely, I probably start working earlier than most. I’m often on my computer as early as 7:30 am, but no later than 9am. The morning is my favorite time to work. I feel I can tackle the most, have the best focus and energy - which wanes as the day goes on. So, I try to make the most of my mornings and get the most accomplished then. The fact that I don’t have to drive to work is something I’m continuously grateful for. I work 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, and I love what I do. Even though it presents enormous challenges, frustrations and constant hurdles to overcome, it’s all worth it.

I work from home and rent a very small, off-site office (it’s more like a hut) where my patterns and kits are stored and shipped. Everything had been in my house up until a couple of years ago, so moving it out was a big step. I like to work from home because it keeps me free from distractions and I can communicate with my two part-time employees via chat.

Most of my day is spent prioritizing what needs to be done. That means paying attention to issues that crop up that I must address without delay while actively not paying attention to things that will pull me away from important projects. It’s very, very easy to spend an entire day being active and getting nothing done. I try to avoid getting pulled into activity that takes up a lot of time, but accomplishes little.

My day is a mix of checking emails, updating my website and managing numerous, ongoing projects. New patterns, re-prints of old patterns, researching new product (sometimes it can take years to find what I’m looking for)… Running a business also means there are daily operations that have to be constantly kept in check. Checking my bank balance, bills, mail, inventory, follow-up with vendors, doing research, blogging, website maintenance…there is never a day with a clean slate.

Lunch is usually an opportunity for me to get out, so I like to go grab a sandwich or a taco and read. It’s a nice break. I usually don’t take more time than I need, but I don’t rush myself. It ends up being about an hour lunchbreak, but often I’ll fit other errands in at the same time while I can.

I deal with a lot of different people throughout the day. They can range from customers, to longtime crafting friends, to obscure vendors across the country, inquiring tv producers, bloggers requesting interviews (wink) book editors, magazine writers requesting images or product samples (most often overseas), advertising salespeople…I deal with all of them throughout the day, nearly every day. Managing the inflow of my email is never easy! But one of the most incredibly rewarding aspects of what I do is the people and friends that have come into my life because of it.

Time management and goal management are the most difficult part of what I do. I never look at the clock and wish time would go faster. Days absolutely fly by. Being self-employed, I have to wear many, many hats. You don’t have the luxury of focusing on just one aspect of the business (unless you have brought together an incredible staff for yourself, and that takes time and money -and even with time and money, you aren’t guaranteed to find the right people). Independents have to focus on every single aspect of their business. I think this is what is so principally different about an independent business vs. being an employee or having a job title. If you have a job title like “creative director” then, you get to be creative director. You don’t have to figure out accounting, running payroll, tax laws…if you are an independent, you do. And, it’s very, very hard to manage all of those things while trying to grow, especially when you are the creative element of your own business. But, it’s not impossible.

One of the things I’ve learned is that I actually enjoy building a company and putting it all together and making it run. I like operations. Not all of them (I have a pathological dislike of filing), but it’s incredibly satisfying when it comes together and works. It represents what you’ve put into it. One of my favorite things to do, as odd as it sounds: is pay bills. Money management and cash flow is extremely tricky for any business, and not getting it right means you’re out of business. So, whenever I can sit down and pay my bills (which 90% of the time are going to other independent businesses) it’s a nice feeling of satisfaction and pride of making it work.

In the evenings, I usually unwind by embroidering (it’s true) and watching tv. Otherwise, I draw. Currently I’m working on a series of drawings for an upcoming solo show in Paris, so when I stop “Sublime Stitching” work, I head to my drafting table to draw. This is often accompanied by a beer and watching something on my laptop. It’s work that I love, and I rarely take it for granted. When you work so hard to make it happen, you don’t easily take it for granted.

By 10:30, I’m out like a light. Sleep overtakes me. Wake up, repeat!"


Thank you, Jenny, you're an inspiration! Readers, if you liked this post, check out A Day in the Life of Tasia - Sewaholic if you missed it last month. Who else's day would you like to read about? Let me know!

10 June 2011

Me-Made-June... Days 7, 8, 9 and 10

Once you get into the swing of it, wearing homemade clothes all month long is actually pretty easy...

Day 7

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
Last day in Washington DC, packing my case and sitting on a plane.

How often is it usually worn and why?
Judging by the fact that I've worn it twice this week, I can safely say I wear this dress often. I've styled it slightly differently to Day 2, with leggings, a bow at the front and the sleeves worn down rather than turned up. Oh and I didn't iron it, for that rustic look (ahem). It was perfectly comfortable for the overnight flight home.

Will it be worn more often in future?
I'll try not to wear it twice a week every week or it could get a bit boring!

Day 8

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
Around the house, trying to get over jet lag.

How often is it usually worn and why?
Quite a lot, although usually at night time!

Will it be worn more often in future?
Probably about the same.

Day 9

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
To a freelance work gig.

How often is it usually worn and why?
Rarely, to be honest. Which is a shame because it's the make I'm most proud of. I'm not accustomed to wearing shoulder pads so every time I put it on I feel like I'm a kid in the eighties again dressing up in my mum's clothing. 

Will it be worn more often in future?
Yes, I promise. I didn't feel that comfortable in it when I left the house, but when I glimpsed myself in a mirror later in the day it looked like a perfectly normal thing to be wearing. The lining feels so luxurious, I love sliding it on and off (as Steph quipped on the Flickr group, never underestimate the "lubrication" function of a silky lining!).

Day 10

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?

Where was it worn?
Working from home.

How often is it usually worn and why?
Not as often as it could be. Firstly, the corduroy is lightweight so it crumples easily - not a great look, but bearable. Secondly, it's more of a snuggly Winter skirt than Summer option, but I wore it today because it was grey and miserable outside.

Will it be worn more often in future?
I'll put it away now until the Autumn, when I'll probably wear it more.

By the way, thank you so much to everyone who responded to my post on intermediate and advanced level sewing skills. See that piece of paper stuck on my wall in the last picture? That's my list of techniques to try out! Hoping to get some paperwork cleared tonight so I can get stuck into sewing this weekend. Anyone else planning some serious stitching this weekend? I always love to hear what people are working on...

6 June 2011

Me-Made-June... Days 4, 5 and 6

There was a bit of a debate going on over on another blog about whether Me-Made-Months are getting boring for readers. I understand that not everyone may be into it, and that different people favour different kinds of blog features, but I'd like to give my two penneth worth here to explain a little more of why I decided to get involved.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about how sad it was that my finished sewing projects - things I slaved over for weeks and cherish in real life - only get one viewing on my blog. After the "big reveal" post I quickly move on to planning and making the next project, anxious to finish it quickly so I'll have something to show. This doesn't seem right. For me, sewing my own clothes is a lifestyle choice, and wearing the clothes in everyday life is as important - if not more important - than the act of making them.

So I had an idea to do a "sewing projects revisited" feature on my blog where I revisit a finished garment and show three or so photos of me wearing it in real life, styled in different ways. A bit like the remix posts by the Clothes Horse, which I really like for encouraging readers to treasure the clothes they already own rather than constantly going out to buy more. But this would be even better as I didn't buy the clothes in the first place! (Although I could never reach Rebecca's sartorial and photographic standards, of course.)

But then it was time for Me-Made-June, so I thought I'd put the "revisited" posts on hold and join in with a more social, communal scheme instead. MMJ has introduced me to new stitchers and the Flickr group has provided lots of sewing inspiration. And I love reading the blog posts - seeing what people wear everyday for a month is fascinating to me, not just because I'm nosey and like to peek into other people's shopping baskets in Sainsbury's, honest, but (also) because it's a triumph for sewing culture to see homemade clothes out in the world, in real life, for a whole month. This may seem routine for people who have been sewing for decades and are used to wearing their homemade wardrobe all the time, but for the new batch of stitchers like us it's wonderful.

Thank you, Zoe!

Day 4

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Denim Beignet skirt

Where was it worn?
Pottering around the house, a picnic on the Mall, and a date at the pictures (to see Meek's Cutoff - highly recommended).

How often is it usually worn and why?
All the time,  more than anything else I've made. I love it so!

Will it be worn more often in future?
Surely that's not possible? (Maybe it is. And don't call my Shirley.)

Day 5

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Upcycled granny chic skirt

Where was it worn?
Spending a geeky day with my boyfriend. I was getting tired of finding photogenic backgrounds for my outfit shots, so settled on this charming spot. Like it?

How often is it usually worn and why?
Not that often, actually. I guess it's a little girly-bohemian for my usual style, and beige doesn't look great on me. But it's pretty comfy and looks good with coloured tights in the winter.

Will it be worn more often in future?
I think so, yes. I almost forgot it existed, so MMJ has been good at reminding me what it's in my wardrobe.

Day 6

What's Me-Made in today's outfit?
Dazzlingly Red Beignet Skirt
Bow Belt

Where was it worn?
Meeting at the Freer Gallery, working from home, and dinner out with my adorable boyfriend.

How often is it usually worn and why?
I wear the skirt quite a lot. I love red, it's really easy to wear, and the lining makes it lovely and silky on the inside. The gabardine is pretty hard wearing so I'm not worried about how many times it has to go in the wash. I wear the belt even more - everytime I wear this skirt, and often with dresses and stripey tops.

Will it be worn more often in future?
I'll probably wear the skirt a lot more when I go back to work.

[Soundtrack: 'Touch the Hem of His Garment' by Sam Cooke]

5 June 2011

Becoming an Advanced Level Stitcher

Would you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or advanced level stitcher? What skills do you think you need to qualify for each level?

As you know, I began sewing a year and a half ago, and although I got into the habit of calling myself a beginner, I don't think it was long before I became an intermediate level stitcher, even if I didn't have the confidence to admit it. I hope that doesn't sound arrogant - what I mean is that my approach back then was fearless. I'd throw myself into any technique, without fear of failure. Many people were surprised that my first project was a shift dress, complete with gathered sleeves, zipper, darts and bow embellishments, rather than the classic A-line skirt or pyjama bottoms. I was so overwhelmed with joy at being able to sew something - anything - that I didn't feel I was constrained by any limits.

I've realised, however, that after that initial steep learning curve, recently I've been pushing myself less and less to learn new techniques. With little time to dedicate to sewing, if I can take short cuts, I take them, and I'm increasingly avoiding complicated procedures like underlining or vintage patterns that need tracing and grading. I'm not doing anything to become more advanced.

It's been a long time since I've made anything as complex as this 

Admittedly I've had a lot going on in the rest of my life recently, but sewing is an important aspect of my life that I don't want to neglect. I have such admiration for stitchers like Debi - who started her blog the same time as me and is now making one vintage pattern per week - and Karen - who is in the second term of a weekly intermediate level sewing course. They've inspired me to start pushing myself a little harder again.

I'm not going to sign up for a sewing course as there's so much to learn from other bloggers. Oh, and because I've already booked myself onto a pattern drafting course in August, which is costing enough money! What I am going to do is write up a little list of techniques that I want to try out over the next few months and stick it above my sewing table as a reminder. Here's the list so far:

What else would you consider an intermediate/advanced sewing technique that would be useful to learn? I'm not interested in couture techniques (eg. boning - ouch!), but skills that I can use in making everday wear. Are there any skills that you're eager to develop next?

[Soundtrack: 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart' by Saint Etienne]