Tuesday, 22 October 2013

My week


With nothing finished to show you, I thought I'd share with you what I've been up to over the last week. Early one morning, for no apparent reason, I plugged in the microscope that used to belong my father-in-law (and now belongs to my daughter) and looked at some fabrics. It's thrilling to see close up the separate warp and weft strands as they weave in and out of one another. This is an Oakshott, which uses different colours for the warp and weft.


Below is a very narrow striped silk of cream and gold. You can see the paler stripe running at an angle through the centre of this picture. It doesn't matter how many times I do it, looking at things through a microscope is always thrilling, even more so when it's fabric. Only my very basic camera is of a size that allows me to put the lens into the deep eye piece, so these photos don't do justice to the true lustre of the threads, so please imagine them looking much more sparkly.


I brought back some silks from the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace the week before last and I've left them out on my chest of drawers so that I can admire them frequently before they're put away.


I've been sewing up my Emery Dress piecemeal, literally using blocks of twenty minutes here and there. I never usually work on machine-made things in this way, largely because it necessitates leaving things out and, admittedly, while it's been an effective use of time, it's meant that I've felt slightly stabby to be surrounded by so much untidied mess for five whole days! However, my sewing time has been so scarce that it's the only way to go and despite it being messy, it's come together incredibly quickly, with a nice blob of time to make a bit more progress when my husband was out for an evening on Saturday night. It now just needs the second sleeve attaching and the sleeve and skirt hems taking care of and then it will be done.


The bodice part of the pattern has been sewn exactly how it came out of the packet (which means that it gets a big thumbs up from me, as it's incredibly rare to find a fitted bodice that fits well on me first time). It actually fits me slightly better than it does on the mannequin in this photo, whose padding around the chest seems to be flattening with use. However, I've made rather drastic changes to the skirt part of the dress (this is what the main focus of Saturday night was about), not because the pattern wasn't perfect, but because the full skirt just didn't suit me when I tried it on. I'll share the details of that when the dress is finished though.


I've been enjoying using the Clover Chaco Liner Pen that Kristin sent me (along with some other amazing goodies, sent as a thank you for my judging stint on the Sew, Mama, Sew Sewing Bee contest) while putting together my Emery Dress. It produces a very fine chalk line, that brushes away easily when you want to get rid of it. It's very similar to the chalk wheels that you can buy at most haberdashers' shops, but it negotiates corners and curves with much more ease as the wheel is smaller than the traditional chalk wheels. 

So, on the sewing front the rest of the week holds finishing off the Emery dress and trying to make some progress on my English paper piecing project. What are you up to this week? 

In other thoughts, Christmas. I'm unashamed to confess to loving it so much that I like to extend it to take up three quarters of the year and so begin planning gifts in October. I'd like to get my twelve year old (I have to try and type or say this regularly as I can't quite believe that I have a twelve year old) some beading things, so that she can create some necklaces and bracelets. I'm thinking of something a little more advanced than beads on elastic (as I think she would enjoy using wire cutters!), but beading hasn't ever been something that I've dabbled in, other than very briefly as a teenager, so I'm a bit lost by the overwhelming number of books on Amazon. I'd like something stylish and modern-looking - do you happen to have any recommendations? 

As a child, my mother would occasionally take me to a bead shop in London's Covent Garden (and then later in Brighton) to look at the rooms full of sparkly or patterned beads sorted into tiny wooden boxes. I've been delighted to find that I think the shop is still there, so me and my husband are planning to take a day off work and go and choose some beads for her at some point between now and December. 

Florence x

23 comments:

  1. Dear Florence
    If you don't manage to get out to the bead shop, may I suggest having a browse on www.jewellerymaker.com. They supply everything you could possibly need for making jewellery and real gemstones in a multitude of cuts and styles. The also provide tools, findings, metal clay, aluminium, polymer clay, wire ...the list goes on. They also have a TV channel too with tutorials by designers. As you can tell, I am completely addicted to making jewellery! I hope you have warned your daughter that this will become an obsession! (Incidentally, I'm not sponsored by JM in any way - just a happy (but broke) customer and thought you might be interested).
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Thank you so much, Ellie - it's always lovely to have a personal recommendation! x

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  2. Great fabrics will be tuning in to see those and the finished stylish dress; Jo x

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    1. Thank you...it's now Friday and my dress still only has one sleeve! I'm hoping that by the end of the week I'll have a finished dress or I may have to go down the chopping my own arm off to make it wearable route. x

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  3. I used to go to both of those bead shops too! I seem to remember the Covent Garden one being in Neal Street, but I think you're right, it's the same shop in a slightly different place. Online, I've had some nice Czech glass beads from jillybeads.co.uk - very hard to choose from photos, though. Not sure about stylish beading books, but when I was about 12 I had a Japanese kit for making tiny beaded wire animals, which was just challenging enough and produced very cute results - I still have the slightly cryptic instruction leaflet which I'll happily scan in and email to you if you like. It features "Bead with eccentric hole", advises "Before making each pet, raed (sic) this directions enough", and recommends that you "Enjoy yourself by suspending the pet from your watch". xx

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    1. Oh Nina, that's so funny - I love that! Yes, if you get time then I'd love a scan, partly for the delight of the translations. Are you a hoarder or were these saved because you loved them so much?

      Thank you for the website recommendation - I'll have a look at that. x

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    2. I'm from a long line of appalling hoarders, I must admit, but that leaflet has survived several purges because the little animals were so cool. Plus I've been using the same tin for my beads all this time so it was easy for it to stay. I can't do it this weekend but I'll try and remember to scan it for you next week. x

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    3. When and if you get time is fine (although don't stress if in a few months you realise you completely forgot as that's the type of thing I'd do, so I expect it in others and just feel pleasantly surprised - and guilty - when others aren't like this! Thank you so much. What are you up to at the weekend? x

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  4. I do so love reading your blog Florence - it always makes me feel very calm and centred! I can't wait to see your finished Emery - it may well make me try the pattern myself. I'd love to have a twelve year old interested in crafts - I mean to start my ten month old son early!

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    1. Joanne - that was such a lovely comment to receive - thank you!

      It's odd - I spend much of my time, not wishing my children younger (as they're lovely how they are), but certainly wishing I still also had a baby in my life! Not only for the deliciousness of having a small person around, but also because it's so much fun sewing for small children as you can pick fabrics you'd never normally use and make quick-to-finish projects because they're so much tinier than adults! Although I can appreciate that there's possibly slightly less time in the day for that, so a finish may not be quite as quick as I'm suggesting!

      We really enjoyed Hama beads once my children were about two and a half - they're tiny beads that can be arranged on a plastic board and then ironed together once they've completed the design...fun for adults as well as children! x

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    2. Ah I'm glad my comment made you happy - but it's so true! Thanks for the hama bead recommendation - one for the future for sure!

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  5. Hi Florence what an adorable dress, I just love it and would love to wear one like this, maybe in red. I have just bought my five year old granddaughter a box with bead making things in so I am hoping she will love it. I collected beads in a tin many years ago when I was a child and loved it - the old pastimes still hold true today. Have a fabulous week and thanks for a great post.
    Lots of love
    Dorothy
    :-)xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. How lovely - I love the idea of a tin for storage too - they always produce a delicious rattle to entice you in there! x

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  6. Maybe you could also get your daughter some Fimo so that she can create her own beads (and/or buttons)? I remember having a Fimo jewellery kit when I was about that age and it was great fun :)
    Whatever you do end up getting, be sure to get some seed beads, they are so perfectly tiny that they seem to satisfy some innate need for miniatureness (not sure that's actually a word...).

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    1. We bought some Fimo recently for a school project actually - we (me included) did indeed love it! My sister and I loved it at this age too - thank you for the suggestion - I may go and try and unearth the box for half-term. x

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  7. I love how your dress is coming on :)

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  8. Looking forward to seeing your finished dress and I love the fact you had a forensic look at fabric - This is fascinating and beautiful.

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    1. Thank you - it's still armless on one side...but I have high hopes for this weekend! x

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  9. OH!! What a super-fantabulous idea! I used to have a microscope, but no longer, Now, I so wish I did. Would love it if you'd post a new fabric every week under the microscope.

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  10. Oooo, as a child and then student in Brighton I spent so much time gazing at all the delicious beads in their own little wooden compartments. I think I had a bead loom from there when I was younger - hours of fun! Looking forward to seeing your finished Emery...

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  11. Yay!!! I'm a bit behind in my blog reading and just saw this today! Your Emery looks amazing so far and I cannot wait to see it all done with a new skirt :) xoxo

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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