Friday, 2 December 2016

Small-Scale Sewing, Large-Scale Tidying, Choosing Fabrics & a Facebook Page


I've been working on the same English paper piecing project for months now, but recently I've had a short break to tend to some piecing in Liberty Tana lawns, a snippet of which is shown above (frustratingly, both are for different projects that I can't share here until next year). The change of project gave me that feeling I have in the depths of winter when I've been wearing the same jumpers in rotation for months and then someone hands me a new one to wear (I'm not sure who that nameless jumper-hander is...in reality it's likely to be a delivery driver as it's probably one that I treated myself to). But either way, like the jumper, the sewing project was shiny and new, and therefore invigorating.

This diversionary project was at a much smaller scale than my current one and that brought an interesting revelation with it: it produces a very diminutive pile of off-cuts and fabric debris. Afterwards, it felt like tidying up the desk in a doll's house. (Which incidentally, does the fascination with those ever go away? We had one that was handed down and it had tiny light bulbs suspended from the ceiling of each room controlled by miniature switches on the walls. I haven't seen it for years, so I'm imagining it may have been lost in a house move, but I think I could still happily spend hours decorating one - I may keep that in reserve as a project for when I retire...a mere twenty-five years away).


Although the cutting table by-products were small in scale, the room was in just as much disarray as with any other project while I was deciding on what combination of fabrics to use. My parents happened to pop over and ventured up to the loft to see me one day when Tana lawns were strewn across the floor and their lovely faces looked discretely aghast, as though they'd just discovered that the messy teenager who they believed they'd said goodbye to twenty years ago was still actually alive and well. I realised the difference is that the messy teenager didn't care who saw the mess...the grown-up version felt slightly mortified. I'm not sure that people can comprehend the way that fabrics can quickly snowball into massive piles all over a room unless they sew themselves. Every time that I tidy my sewing room (which is often as I like to at least start with a blank canvas), even I lose the understanding of how it happens! But even with the best intentions, I find it almost impossible to tidy-as-I-go. For me, creativity has an element of 'mad professor' about it that doesn't seem to combine well with the neat-freak that lives in me the rest of the time. 


The fabric-choosing process is something that I've been thinking about quite a lot recently. In every other area of sewing, I feel completely happy in my own company barely noticing the hours drifting by, but sometimes when I fail to find a combination of fabrics that work well together after several hours of trialling them, I can begin to feel oddly lost and lonely in the task of chasing that elusive well-balanced combination. I'd been discussing this with my sister shortly before embarking on this project and once I'd begun she very kindly appeared at the end of my phone as a sounding board and not only analysed every combination that I ran by her, but also texted over images of swatches that she'd found online of possible alternatives that might work. On Sunday evening my mother joined in too and I finished that weekend of choosing fabrics with my sanity thoroughly intact. I think there's a case for there being a website dedicated solely to the process of assisting other sewers in choosing fabrics. Typing that, I'm suddenly remembering a book by Arabella Weir that I think came out about 15 years ago, entitled Does My Bum Look Big in This? This website could be something more along the lines of Does My Quilt Look Good in This? And unlike the first question, where the only answer is 'No, your bottom looks awesome in everything you put on it', posters on the site would be actively hoping for constructive criticism and honesty. 


In other news, I was talking to someone recently about Facebook. I don't really love Facebook as a platform so I've never given it too much thought, but when he said that having a page was a really good way to document things that: a) didn't merit a whole blog post b) weren't necessarily visual enough to want to put on Instagram and c) required more words than Twitter allowed, I suddenly realised that he may have a point. I barely use Twitter because of the 140 character limit as it's too time-consuming trying to work out how to convey a message while still maintaining basic levels of grammar and punctuation and I probably only post a photo to Instagram once or twice a week. So, if you'd like to follow my new Facebook page, you can find it here - I'll probably be posting about fairly random stuff (I know I'm tempting you with my focus and clear vision for my page!) - I'm guessing it will be a mixture of sewing, books, news, podcasts, films and generally things that I've seen and found interesting and I will also let you know when there's a new blog post up here. 

Despite having run a Facebook page for Squeebles for several years, there are still things that I found confusing about the set up process for my own page - like why it says that I'm not permitted to have an @username and why it won't let me change my page name from what sounds in retrospect rather long and convoluted...but I'm going to ignore those things for now. 

Finally, thank you so much for the interesting conversation following my recent post about needles - I have ordered some Bohin needles to trial at one commenter's suggestion and will report back! But otherwise, I'm still happy with my John James, even though one poster raised concerns that they're actually made in China! This was rather crushing news, but when I phoned and asked, John James said that they still make many needles types in Redditch, so not everything is outsourced at least. 

This weekend, I am nursing a cold, so will mostly be sewing and watching films or listening to audio books. If you have any recommendations, please do leave them in the comments. 

Which reminds me, while sewing the pieces at the top of this post, I watched Somerset Maughan's The Painted Veil on iPlayer and it was wonderful and would possibly go down on my list of top ten films. As per the trailer, the first portion of the film depicts a relatively shallow and formulaic life, but once the location has shifted to the site of the cholera epidemic things seems to completely change - the scenery is stunning and atmospheric and the on-screen chemistry between the characters is incredible and the storyline totally captivating. Sadly, it's now fallen off iPlayer, but it is available to buy for a little over £3, here, if you're interested. 

Wishing you a lovely weekend, 
Florence x
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14 comments:

  1. Oh my, I thought I was the only seemingly tidy person whose sewing room can reach epically messy heights! I'm trying to convince myself that it's tidy in between projects but I'm not sure! I also dream of a doll's house as a retirement project, my architect brother and I are collecting little things for it already! Jenny xxx

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  2. I signed up for FB because my local and regional animal shelters are there, and nowhere else, but apart from a quick look every day or two it hasn't really been useful for me. Twitter, on the other hand, I began using as a news source in 2011 and it surprised me by becoming a meaningful connection with dozens of artists and farmers all over the world! Hard to know how things will "catch" until you try them, I suppose.
    Thanks for the tip about The Painted Veil. which I just found on Netflix!

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  3. As a slightly technically challenged oldie/middleagie, it took me ages to set up my Facebook page (and what seemed like years to set up my blog!!) and I seem to remember my son, who of course since the age of about 7 has had me in awe of his techie skills, said it wasn't all that user friendly, which made me feel less thick.

    I hate the Boastcard aspect of Facebook so really only follow people and businesses that I'm really interested in. I find it useful to post a pic of anything I've just sewn or done in connection with sewing, and it has got me some more business. I will be following you on your new page! (page? even that is probably the wrong term...).

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    1. Yes, I think it's universally thought of as being slightly nightmarish to use, isn't it. So pleased to hear you say that though.

      I do know what you mean about the boastcard element, although I guess that can happen anywhere. For personal use, I've been fairly careful to limit my friends on FB to people who are actually friends though, so when I see the things that they're up to and read about their children's achievements, I just feel delighted because I care about them personally and actually welcome a bit of boasting where I can celebrate those things with them. Perhaps I'd feel less like that if I didn't care about them so much, so maybe it's partly about being friends with people (or following people if it's more of a business thing) where you genuinely like them as a person and would want to celebrate their successes with them...but who knows. I think it's all a fine line, isn't it, and we're probably all still learning the social etiquette of sharing online. I do frequently question whether I'm happy with the way I'm doing things or not and it's hard to judge what feels quite right and what doesn't.

      I think page is the right term, but it amuses me that it might not be and that I don't even know! It reminds me of when my children told me that I shouldn't be calling things emoticons...they're emoji! I'd been using that expression for years without realising that it was making me sound like a dinosaur!

      FB doesn't seem to let me see everyone who has followed me - I think it may be something to do with people's privacy settings, but do leave me the name/link to your page as I'd love to see more of what you make, Lizzie. x

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  4. Oh, I loved The Painted Veil! I saw it in the theater when it came out and I was so pleasantly surprised. Maybe I'll rewatch it this weekend!

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    1. I hope that it was a wonderful addition to your weekend if you watched it, Ann. x

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  5. I have read the painted veil and found it stayed with me, echoing, I didn't know there was a movie!

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    1. Ooh, maybe I shall invest in the book too then! I don't normally do things that way around, so it hadn't occurred to me.

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  6. I love the Painted Veil. It must be on at least every 6 months on BBC, normally hidden away in the late, late hours or early morning.

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    1. I hadn't realised it was wheeled out so frequently - I'm pleased that it is though!

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  7. I too have pro-level fabric chaos skills but am even more advanced with the paper patterns - I can do 0-60 (annoyingly rolling bits of paper per square metre of living room, that is) in about 3 seconds. I've used Flickr for fabric matching help in the past, but as there's only me and that one Norwegian knitting granny on there these days I fully support your plans for a designated website (or can we just use your FB page for that?!). Hope cold is vanquished promptly. Audiobook: just finished The Mill on the Floss, read by Fiona Shaw, very good stuff. Podcast: On Being, the episodes with Joanna Macy and John O'Donohue were especially wonderful. Embarrassingly I've been liquefying my brain with the unadulterated upper class propaganda that is Downton Abbey this week (Amazon Video free trial) so am unable to recommend anything worth watching! x

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    1. Yes, my FB page will be perfect as an interim measure! Does this mean that you're actually ON Facebook, Nina???

      Thank you so much for your recommendations! I'm amused and delighted to think of you watching Downton - we used to watch it and there were certain characters who temporarily came to live with us as we would adopt their turns of phrase and accents so frequently. My daughter and I both adored Sybil. I will seek out your recommendations - thank you!

      I hope you're having a good week. x

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    2. Yep, and have already liked your page. Downton... it's somehow so extremely watchable (sparkly! lacy! everyone's lovely!) but it's also so historically dishonest in a pretty awful way - and we're all distracted from that by the appeal of the characters. The most effective sort of brainwashing! x

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  8. I haven't read it yet (I think I started it at a time when I kept falling asleep the moment I got into bed, which doesn't really give one the momentum necessary for finishing a novel), but I'm wondering whether Jo Baker would do this more realistically in her novel Longbourn, which is the view from 'downstairs' on Pride & Prejudice.

    Nina, I truly think you would be incapable of being brainwashed though, so I think you can probably watch Downton and just enjoy it the sparkly, lacy aspects of it (although I know your concern may be more general than just your own reaction to it). x

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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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