Monday, 21 April 2014

She's My Inspiration

Back in February, I read a post by Rhinestones and Telephones who had just launched a competition to make a Dolly-inspired dress to celebrate the wedding of said Dolly Clackett (aka Roisin) and her beau Nick. I've been an avid reader of Dolly's for some time, and have been constantly overawed by her fab frocks - and can only wonder at her Tardis-like wardrobe space.
Somewhat fortuitously, I had made a rare fabric purchase (oh yeah, about as rare as the number of occasions I've eaten chocolate over the last few days) from here, and I had also recently got my hands on a copy of the Emery pattern.
As I hadn't made it before I decided to try the pattern out in some B&W gingham that's been knocking about for a while.  I was quite pleased with it, and decided to wear it to the private view tea party of our exhibition, but felt it needed a bit of embellishment, so added two rows of this fabric
I know you've seen the finished dress before, but a friend agreed to take some photographs, so I did some posing in my garden - which is looking beautiful - even if the model has seen better days.

I did think of submitting that as my one and only entry into the Dolly Clackett competition, but in the end I decided it was a bit too subdued, even with the embellishment, so I decided on making a second Emery with this fabric .....
I did think perhaps it was a little bit bold - and maybe not very age appropriate.  I am rather inclined to make clothes for a woman that I'm not, with I lifestyle I haven't got - and with a figure I've never had.    
But then I thought, well I AM a vintage sewist, and this is vintage sewing machine fabric, so why not??
I cut the fabric out weeks ago, but then, as is my wont, decided that there was no rush, there was PLENTY of time to make it up.  And then yesterday I suddenly realised the deadline for the competition is this Wednesday, so I'd better get a move on.  So, I started the stitching today - and it went together beautifully - even the invisible zip went in perfectly,  first go.  By 3 o'clock this afternoon it was finished in time for my mate calling round and being roped in to take some outdoor shots. 
I made a few changes to the pattern - I left out the back waist darts, mainly because I don't go in much in the middle, and I don't like dresses too fitted.  I also lengthened the bodice by an inch and a half as I'm fairly tall, but other than that it's pretty much as the pattern.
It's a great pattern, and I'll definitely be making more - possibly with a pleated or circle skirt.

 I have to say - I really love it!

She's My Inspiration - Thunder

Monday, 17 March 2014

Picture Painted

Here's news of another local exhibition, this time showing work by my friend Jill, together with three of her painter friends.

They are all fantastic artists, with very different styles, and I urge you to go along, whether you are looking to add to your art collection, or would just like to see a diverse and accomplished selection of work.  
And, of course, there will be tea and cake - with all proceeds from refreshments going to the Isabel Hospice.

Picture Painted - The Ravines

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Afternoon Tea

I always think that a day that starts with buttercream  is probably going to be a good day.
It wasn't that I deliberately set out to have buttercream for breakfast, but I was icing cakes, and someone has to lick the utensils, right?
I may have overdone the tangerine food colour - or maybe I should have gone for a more lurid pink to match?
The cakes were for the Afternoon Tea Party and  Private View of the Spectrum Textile group's second exhibition held at Art Van Go today.
It was a proper vintage style tea party with lashings of homemade cakes
 and tea served in pretty vintage cups.
and I wore my new 'Dolly Clackett' inspired frock - the Christine Haynes Emery dress, made in black and white gingham, decorated with my Russian Doll fabric that I got from Fondant Fabrics a few weeks ago (I bottled out of making the whole dress from it).  This is my first Emery Dress and I have to say I love the pattern.  I made a toile just of the bodice, and my only alteration to the pattern was to leave out the back waist darts as I don't really have a waist.  Unsurprising really, given that my diet is largely buttercream based.
Check out those dollies ....
It turned out to be a brilliant afternoon - we had more visitors than we could have hoped for and everyone seemed very complimentary of our work - although I expect they were really there because word of our cakes had gone around after our previous exhibition.  I am ashamed proud to say that I had four during the course of the afternoon, but they WERE small(ish) and one was only a biscuit.  I say 'only a biscuit' but in truth it was a homemade custard cream made by our group's mentor, Gina .  
The work did look really good - if we do say so ourselves - and if you find yourself in the area of Art Van Go - art suppliers to the stars - in Knebworth, there's an added incentive to go there in the next few weeks to see the exhibition, which is on until 5th April.  Here's a taster of what you'll see ...
For this exhibition, I've gone back to my dressmaking roots, and I made two dresses, a skirt and a tunic, with the theme of "Print"
The tunic behind me is a Schoolhouse Tunic pattern made from fabric that I screen printed, and the dress - a Merchant and Mills Camber dress (another fab pattern to make) is machine embroidered with flowers, with inspiration taken from vintage embroidery transfers.
The shift dress is made from a self drafted pattern, decorated with cut-out dolls from a newspaper fabric
and the skirt is a self-drafted 8-gore skirt decorated with block printed flowers which I then embroidered by hand
Thank you to all our friends and families who came to see us today; to the girls who make up Spectrum; to Art Van Go for allowing us to completely take over their gallery space today; and most of all to Gina for being a fab mentor and friend.  And cake maker.  And for sending me this card as encouragement when I told her about my frivolous frock -

Afternoon Tea - The Kinks

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Private View

I am here to give you details of an exhibition, and to issue you all with an invitation .........

This is our second exhibition and we have been working towards it for nearly two years, and there is some really lovely work.  I've moved back towards my 'stitching roots' and this time I've made garments, but incorporating embroidery and print techniques.

Do try and get along to Art Van Go and see our exhibition if you can - and, if you happen to be free and in the area this Saturday, do come along to our Private View, from 12 noon to 4pm.  You will be made very welcome, and there will be afternoon tea and homemade cake, so I hope to see you there.

As an added incentive, I am just putting the finishing touches to the dress I intend to wear.  It's pretty ridiculous, but I really like it.  Besides, I didn't get where I am by not looking ridiculous.

Private View - The Buff Medways

Friday, 7 March 2014

A Rebel and A Rambler

I met up with a couple of friends yesterday for a bit of a walk in the country.  We decided on a five mile walk around Great Dunmow, taken from a walking book that I'd found on my bookshelf.  I did mention that the book was quite old so some of the footpaths might have altered a bit.
What I hadn't bargained for was the whacking great housing estate that had been built right in the middle of what was described in the book as "a field with an unploughed strip"  We did various detours to try and get around it, and onto the original footpath and eventually met a couple of dog walkers who seemed to put us straight, and directed us to a gravel path through the woods leading to Little Easton.  They even said "You can't miss it". I guess we must have been chatting (how unusual) because we certainly DID miss it and ended up walking along the middle of a wide road that was not yet open to traffic.  Well, I say traffic,  it wasn't actually open to the public.  I did notice that there was a fence partially blocking the road, and that it was displaying a sign stating "No Entry To Unauthorised Persons" but I didn't mention it to the others.  Ramblers have rights of way, don't they - and we were only walking along there to get to our footpath, after all.
However, half a mile further on there was another high steel fence, and this time, no gap.  Well, only a little tiny one at the bottom.  But having come this far, we weren't going to let a six foot high steel fence stop us.
After that it was fairly straightforward, and we only had to walk through the gardens of two private houses on the route back. Goodness know how far we ended up walking, it took us over four hours, and we were very muddy by the end of it.  But it meant we'd earned our tea and cake when we got back.  Bit of a transformation from a trio of mature, gentle stitchers into a band of Rebel Ramblers in just one afternoon.

I checked my book when I got home, it was published in 1982.  Doesn't sound so VERY long ago, does it?

A Rebel and a Rambler - Due West

Sunday, 23 February 2014


Re the previous post - Angie was delighted with the embroidered picture I gave her - and I discovered that the reason for her 'lighthouse obsession' is because both her Dad and her grandfather were lighthouse keepers.  Can't be many of those about.

Thanks to Roisin, aka Dolly Clackett, whose inspirational blog on her plethora of handmade frocks (where DOES she put them all??),  I was compelled to send for this pattern - the Emery dress by Christine Haynes
I found a UK supplier here.  And of course, while I was perusing,  I couldn't buy the pattern without buying some fabric.  (It's not a rule of their shop you understand, just good economics - by getting two lots of fabric I avoided the postal charge.  Well, it makes sense to me.
The fabrics are even lovelier in real life than they looked in the pictures -

I realise that a dress with little Russian dolls all over it isn't really very age-appropriate but I like it, so maybe I'll make something a little bit more sensible with it.  Or maybe not.  Watch this space.

And the winner of the giveaway?  Surprising there was more than one blogger who would fit into this little pattern - so names out of the hat, and the winner is .....  Lauren of Lady Sewalot - I look forward to seeing the dress on your blog sometime!
Although I only had one 'cut out and ready to sew' vintage dress, I also had some other tiny vintage patterns, so I drew another name - and the second winner is Alice of Moonbeam, so she'll be getting a couple of patterns that will never fit me!

Babooshka - Kate Bush

PS - I just found out that Babooshka is the name of the headscarf she wears, and not the doll, which is actually called a matryoshka doll
You learn something every day.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

You're Leaving

My friend Angie has a special reason to celebrate today, retiring from a job she's done for 30 years, so I wanted to make her a little something.  It's of absolutely no relevance to her job (she's not a Lighthouse keeper) but she does love lighthouses, so here's what I made
All from fabrics that I just happened to have about my person -  mostly recycled - and appliqued, machine embroidered and mounted onto a deep frame.

Congratulations Angie - you'll have a great time.  I know it's been said before, and it'll be said again - but -you'll wonder how you ever found time to go to work.

I'll be announcing the winner of this giveaway at the weekend.

You're Leaving - Bluehearts