Hello! It’s a year since my last post and my third New Year post. Reading my last, it was never my intention for the gap to be so long but hey, life happens *shrugs*. However, I really, really do want to make a go of blogging and sewing so 2016 will be the decider. If I don’t make something of this I’ll close the blog. Easy enough as no one is reading it right now anyway..!
12 months ago I was excited about travel plans and sewing… my job was made redundant in March and although this wasn’t bad news to me (there a long while and time to move on) it prompted one of those long view, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life-type-periods. I still want to travel and weighing up a holiday vs. working aboard later this year but right now – still kind of undecided. I hate not having an answer but for now ‘I don’t know’ it is. Anyway, on with the sewing… there’s something about Christmas – the chunk of time off work and being home makes for my most productive sewing time of the year. For 2015 I made my family their Christmas presents – a nightdress for my Mum and pyjama bottoms for Dad and brother using these two patterns:
They loved their presents and were impressed with my ‘Sew Seeds’ label and ‘Handmade by Debbie’ stamped gift tags. I really enjoyed doing it for them. I started planning in October, buying the patterns early in a sale and the brushed/flannel cotton from Goldhawk Road. That said, gifts were finished and received on New Year’s Eve! Not much to say about the patterns – instructions clear and easy to follow. For the pjs I did increased the length by 5cm and lowered the buttonholes for the waist tie by 1cm so that the waist band was a little wider.
Although I didn’t stick to it in 2015, I think the sewing 1 garment per month is still reasonable and something I will hopefully fulfil this year. I didn’t sew a great deal in 2015 but my outstanding make has to be my first Colette Moneta dress, I wear it about once a week, sometimes with a white shirt underneath like in these pictures. It is easy to wash and wear – no ironing required. The fabric I bought (about £2 a metre I think..) is from a shop in Walthamstow.
This dress represents a few firsts for me: use of a twin needle, sewing with jersey fabric, use of clear elastic and overlocker. I love this dress for all of these things. I’ve got a lovely cherry red jersey ready to make my second and I’ll show you this soon.
As mentioned earlier I want to blog more and this goes hand in hand with the habit of regular sewing. I’ve procrastinated a lot on sharing this blog and commenting on the many other sewing blogs I read in case someone searches for this and is disappointed. I knoowww. Nonsense thinking. Not keen on posting pics of myself but a good sewing blog requires it so.. annnnddd more blogging eliminates these annual introspective, explanatory, sorry posts. Hurrah!!
Plans for 2016? I’ve started this year thinking about my work wardrobe, personal style and reducing my stash of fabric. I received Chinelo Bally’s book for Christmas #thanksbro and looking forward to using it once I’ve got a few other makes done. I intentionally avoided the post-Christmas sales as I wanted to sew new clothes instead (on Boxing Day my brother and I saw Star Wars in an almost empty cinema – nice). In case you don’t know Chinelo, she was a runner up on the second series of The Great British Sewing Bee. She sews without using a pattern, just using a person’s measurements. This is a technique common in places like Nigeria where Chinelo is from and the Caribbean (where my parents are from).
Just to close off 2015, I’ll tell you about my favourite film of the year and recent visit to the Fashion and Textiles Museum.
Dior and I
This was a film I really enjoyed. I love watching programmes on what goes on behind-the-scenes of fashion houses. The skill of the ateliers and how designs are turned into wearable clothing is just so interesting. This documentary follows the new head designer at Christian Dior, Raf Simons and his development of the new Spring/Summer collection in 2012. The tension between the treadmill of profit making vs. the time for creativity thinking and exploration is clear to see. I liked how Raf involved the team in generating ideas and he doesn’t sketch – gasp! He is a quiet, calm and introverted man that appreciates working with his team. The interactions between the staff, particularly in the atelier were some of my favourite parts. He visits Christian Dior’s house, the archives and modern art for inspiration. When the time comes the set for the long anticipated catwalk show is stunning, rooms full of thousands and thousands of fresh flowers (so beautiful but wow the expense and what happened to them after…!??) The clothes were lovely but it’s the other parts of the film that are more memorable for me (I saw the film in May). Anyway, a good film to watch if this kind of thing interests you.
The other notable sewing related film out was The Dressmaker starring Kate Winslet, which I’ll see once out on DVD.
Liberty in Fashion Exhibition
A couple of days before the New Year I went to the Liberty in Fashion exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum in Bedmonsey. Liberty is celebrating its 140th anniversary and this exhibition provides a snapshot of its history in British fashion e.g. creating trends and collaborations with some wonderful designers. I knew of Liberty of London of course, the iconic store on Regent Street before I took up sewing and had a mild awareness of its
mumsy, famous fabrics. However not until I saw the work of Emma Mawston, Head Designer and her team on the Channel 4 series about the store and this video and this on Youtube, did I develop a new appreciation for the fabrics and its heritage. I could write about how it all got started in 1875 but a couple of recent blog posts have already done so e.g. Fabrickated so won’t here.
I went to the exhibition on a Wednesday as a free guided tour is provide by one of the museum’s team. This made it much more enjoyable. This made me think of Downton Abbey, having watched the Christmas special the week before (so happy for Edith!):
I love the detail on the sleeves.
This collection of Liberty dresses are from the 1950-70s:
Below is a close up of my favourite, hidden in the above pic:
It’s silk with diamante trim and made in the late 1950s.
A lot of the dresses were on loan from Cleo and Mark Butterfield, this couple have been buying vintage dresses and accessories for many years and hire them out to the TV/film industry. Way before vintage clothing was big with the masses.
These smocks from 1910 represent a detail that Liberty made fashionable. Smocks were originally worn by men working in rural parts of England e.g. shepherds. Made of linen, the smocking across the chest made the shirt long lasting as well as stretchy. It amused me a little to imagine such a class indicator at the time years later was a fashionable detail applied pretty outfits for women and children. Inspiration, swings and roundabouts eh?
My favourite dress, one that I think I would most like to make myself, is this lovely 1970s cotton dress made by Marion Donaldson, a young designer at the time from Glasgow:
The ticket price is £9 which I think is a bit steep but I appreciate the view on contemporary fashion history this museum provides. For me, the guided talk really added to my enjoyment and so my recommendation to see it but go on a Wednesday or Friday afternoon and hear the talk too. The exhibition is on until 28th February 2016.
That’s a wrap 2015. Here’s to an exciting and surprising 2016. Bye for now…!