Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Slowly Goes the Night

Emboldened by my success with the 1947 dress last week, I decided I would make a Halloween costume for Little Creature. Unfortunately, I left it until tuesday to actually do anything about it.

I had some ideas about making a grasshopper/cricket outfit (for an Ugly Bug Ball/nursery bunfight) but when we got to the fabric shop (nothing suitable in the stash box) he was insistent on a spider costume. I suspected there would be several spiders there, probably better dressed, as I have had four hours to put this together and just drew it on the fabric with a piece of tailor's chalk. I winged it with the design, deciding as I was going along how it was going to work out. Earlier, I got some good suggestions for making spider legs at the fabric shop but settled on rolled up sections of curtain interlining stuffed into black fabric tubes with a knitting needle.

I started off quite neat and lined the bodice. It was looking not bad for something drawn straight onto the fabric. However, as the night wore on my standards slipped a lot. It was 0245 by the time I unplugged the sewing machine. I'd had vague (as ever, overambitious) plans to make myself a Halloween skirt as well but there was no time. I think it sufficed that I arrived at work this morning looking like I'd just been dug up.  

Sometimes I really enjoy working late at night. There's always something interesting on the radio which I wouldn't tune in for specifically. Last night there was an interview with Ken Dodd, then some Finnish folk singing that mimics reindeer calls on Radio 3's Late Junction. Not something I would be likely to seek out but happy to sew along to it. 

This morning, LC took some persuading to put on the woolly tights I'd bought him to go with the costume. "I don't want anyone to see me in these tights". I suggested he keep them for an hour or so, trying not to be a pushy mum but inwardly feeling a bit peeved by his lack of enthusiasm for my late-night efforts. Arriving at Nursery he decided that his costume was too spooky and didn't want to wear it, but once he saw that everyone else was in costume (I spotted an excellent snail with papier mache shell, a slug with dangly antennae, assorted spiders, a ladybird, and some kind of beetle) he couldn't get it on quick enough and ended up wearing it all day. It was nice to see so many home-made costumes. 

So here it is before and after it got a good wearing.  (My pics are generally not good quality and this is slightly worse than usual, I could barely see what I was photographing by this point). 

Spider costume after a busy day

Saturday, 27 October 2012

I'll Wear It Proudly

Ten months into my make-a-garment-a-month challenge and I've finally made two things I really like! 

Firstly, I finished my dress for Kath's wedding in the early hours of the morning before the ceremony. I'd actually finished the construction of it the day before but needed to sew on a hook and eye to complete it. The hat was cobbled together from a blocked felt shape I got from Macculloch & Wallis, and a sprig of velvet flowers sewn on as I sat in a corridor outside our bedroom so I didn't wake Little Creature.

I'm fair pleased with how they turned out, and really enjoyed wearing them on such a magical and lovely occasion. So here they are...
Black felt cocktail hat with velvet flowers

Butterick B5209 1947 dress

Bodice made up of 3 sections
I made a slight alteration to the pattern after making the toile as it was a little wide and flappy under the arms so I took 1cm off each side for a neater fit. 

I'd also wanted to put in an invisible zip and bought a special machine foot for the purpose. Unfortunately, ill health and time were against me - post-virus I still feel like I have just stepped off a roundabout after a few ciders, so I found sewing hard-going at times. So no attempt at invisible zips this time. It's been good to have an external deadline, instead of my usual self-imposed ones.

The pattern matching was a little tricky as it had a large repeat and I didn't have enough fabric. I tried my best to match on the front and back of the bodice. As the skirt was gathered, I thought I could get away without pattern matching and just did my best to balance the pattern on each side. The bird and branch pattern is quite forgiving and I'm pleased with how it's turned out.

The bride looked stunning in a slinky sequined dress, simple in construction but beautifully elegant and sparkly. Groom very smart in his kilt. It was definitely a wedding of snappy dressers!

Kath and her good gentleman (with the help of family and friends) put so much work into planning their wedding to make it an inclusive and relaxed few days; it was definitely the most chilled-out wedding I have been to; really lovely to catch up with old friends and make some new ones too. The location, a remote corner of the Highlands was a beautiful setting. I'm not sure if Kath had a hand in booking the weather but it worked out well - crisp, blue skied days, then a sprinkle of snowflakes as we were leaving.  

I'm hoping to post some pics of the location and all their creative work on making the place look so splendid, but they are on honeymoon so will await permission.

Here I am being outdone by carpets, busy light fittings, marble fireplace and china dogs...

Forgot to bring handbag - full glass & nibbles are the best accessories
I think this brings me a little more up to date with my challenge. I've counted 9 items made in 10 months so next month I'll need to do 2 again. Before then I have to get some kind of costume sorted out for LC's ugly bug party at nursery out of the stash box. He's got quite a social life these days - he gave it laldy on the dancefloor for two hours at the wedding stopping only because the band needed a break. 

Can't wait for an excuse to wear this dress again!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

That's How You Sing Amazing Grace

The dress has been progressing nicely and I've been thinking about making a hat too, but nothing too ambitious this time. It's many years since I made a hat, and although I still have two hat blocks and a spiral spring, I got rid of my stash of felt hoods and blocking net a long time ago. So it actually works out cheaper just now to buy a blocked shape and stick some flowers on (which I suppose is cheating a bit).

Coffee Bean felt hat
I've been looking at blocked shapes and after consulting my friend Kath (in whose honour I will be wearing the hat), this is the one we decided looked least like an air hostess's hat. The other two looked decidedly British Airways circa 1980s. The selected coffee bean is from Macculloch and Wallis, so not cheap. I ordered it yesterday; I hope it's larger than an actual coffee bean. I have already made one bad micro-millinery choice this month, more on that later... 

In my teens I used to wear hats a lot. I wouldn't have gone out to the shop without sticking on a beret or an old charity shop breton. These days it's more for practical reasons like not getting frozen ears. In my younger days I was convinced that more people spoke to me when I had a hat on than not. I will have to see if this theory still I live in a fairly small community it's difficult not to have some kind of human interaction when out, and most folk are wearing hats at this time of year anyway (not usually ones with flowers on them). Here are my nice red flowers:

Velvet flowers to go on coffee bean hat

I bought these online along with a little black sinamay hat base called a "cookie". They weren't kidding, it's not much bigger than a biscuit. I must have misread the measurements; I thought I'd get something the size of a side plate. I've been wondering where the line is between cocktail hat (quite like) and fascinator (definitely not ok) and I think the cookie is on the wrong side of the line for me. 

Sirdar Nomad Jacket design e
I've not been doing any sewing for the past few days as it was my turn to get the virus that's doing the rounds, but I did start some knitting for my November project a couple of days ago. Knitting feels more sedate than sewing, and I can watch telly too. I'm trying another one of these Sirdar Nomad jackets using their new brushed yarn Babouska. In spite of my initial disappointment with the last one I made earlier this year (aka the Heffalump jacket), I have actually worn it a lot, and it is surviving quite well in its various roles as dressing gown, work jacket, and fetching-the-coal jacket. I should add, it washes very well! 

The new one is in a plum coloured yarn and a size smaller so I'm hoping to get something more like the shape of the one in the picture.

Well as the week moves on, this virus is looking suspiciously like hand foot and mouth. Luckily Mr K and LC shook it off in a matter of days. I am feeling quite sorry for myself and frustrated that I can't get on with the dress. Having made the toile recently, I have a fair idea of how long it will take so I'm not too worried about the timescale although I don't want to leave it to the last minute. My hands are nowhere near as sore as my feet so I could be sewing tomorrow, or the next day.

Earlier, Little Creature and I were sitting in a cafe waiting for Mr K to come out of the dentist. I'd bought him a magazine with a free camera (with little revolving picture disc in the viewfinder). He was pretending to take snaps of people in the cafe. The waitress obliged him with a toothy smile. "It' doesn't really work," he explained earnestly. "The batteries have died." He gave me a commentary of what people were doing in the cafe, and the street, as he worked on a teacake. My cup of tea seemed to stay hot for ages. I forgot about my sore feet. Time goes at a nice pace when small folk remind you of how interesting now can be.