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Downsizing…

There are only so many dresses I can make and, although I’ve not reached my limit (yet) I am looking forward to a bit of a change.

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After spending a weekend in the arty, hippy, handmade enclave that is Brighton I have been inspired to make pinafores for little girls. Just think, a use for the piles and piles of  material leftover from my manic V8555 dressmaking phase so that whoever I make the dresses for will end up looking like a mini-me. That’s if I ever decide to wear my adult-size dress (which I won’t)  in the same fabric when we go and visit. And that’s also pre-supposing that my hosts will dress their cherub in the dress that I have made (which, heaven forefend, they just might not!).

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Perhaps that should be a pre-requisite before I start to churn the dresses out –
‘1 dress – made by Isabella – must be worn when Isabella comes to see us.’

Now I’ve done a little bit of internet research ( hours of pouring over myriad pictures of pinafores for children) and I’m feeling reasonably confident that I’ll be able to sew a few myself (wait for it)
WITHOUT A PATTERN.

I mean, some are so simple. 4 pieces only. No darts. What could possibly go wrong?

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The first pinafore style does look so very easy that even with my track record of disaster when I go off piste (I was tempted to make a joke there but realised, just in time, that it would be in particularly bad taste…) I can’t imagine that I won’t be able to make a garment that’s wearable…( ‘Bad Izzy’ on my shoulder is whispering ‘Want to bet?!’ provocatively into my ear but no, I will not let myself be put off…).

It’s true that I will have to ‘do buttonholes’, a task so intimidating that it has caused me to hyperventilate in the past and want to hurl my lovely new sewing machine over the back of the table in a fit of screaming frustration. Yet, from the comfort of my sofa and after a glass of wine even the dreaded buttonholes seem do-able. Perhaps because I will have to do so many that I can’t do anything other than get better. Total buttonhole immersion! That’s the way to go. …isn’t it?

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And as I’ll be making the garments for little girls (only after I’ve used up my remnants of course), I can buy all that ridiculous material patterned with cakes, Russian dolls and teddy bears over which I always linger but have never brought myself to buy. Up until now.

So, here we go.  To Sew a Pinafore. Take 1

My first attempt in mad hen material with contrasting red buttons.
My first attempt in mad hen material with contrasting red buttons.

 

 

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plus ca change…

…plus c’est la meme chose?

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style rebel…?

Unfortunately for me ‘plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose’ does not apply. On the contrary. In fact, when I think that ‘c’est la meme chose’ I  find for me ‘plus ca change’. If that makes any sense… Let me explain by way of a little fashion anecdote.

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brown leather ‘toffee’ buttons on blue corduroy

You see , when I was young I loved to wear tweed and corduroy. Tweed skirts. Corduroy jackets. Long old men’s tweed coats ( one, a particular favourite of mine, so insensed my father that he placed it in the bin and poured cooking oil over it –  just in case I was tempted to get it out…). As for when I wore tweed mini skirts with matching tweed jackets, all adults over the age of 30 clearly thought I looked a trollop…

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easy collar

So retro! And I thought that I looked so unspeakably chic in it all. And, strangely, provocative to all decent-thinking grown-ups.

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lovely blanket check

And so, who could blame me, when, having discovered a way with a sewing machine, I thought that I would re-introduce tweed into my wardrobe? And, while I’m at it, a nice little bit of corduroy. A lovely, jaunty tweedy cordy suit? And, if I’m completely honest, the thought of offending with a nice two piece tickled me… So, in the pursuit of my youth and that belief that it really is ‘la meme chose’ I have rushed to make a super suit – half corduroy half check/tweedy-type fabric.  In my mind’s eye I see myself in a ‘jaunty’ suit , a modernist take on the twinset-and-pearls look.
BUT NO! (I’ve just been to see an opera so bear with me with the excess of exclamation marks suggesting high camp tragedy…)
BUT NO! say I again. When I look in the mirror I see…I see…Miss Country Casuals. No. I see MRS Country Casuals. Quality, granted. But…tailored. Sensible. Decent. Prim.

The hemline is above the knee, for goodness’ sake. I’m wearing boots. I wear dangly ear-rings.
BUT NO!
(thrice say I…just in case you weren’t counting…)
My lovely little suit is certainly NOT la meme chose…

Very Miss Jean Brodie
Very Miss Jean Brodie

Just as the caption says, I look more Miss Jean Brodie, less ironic style rebel.  But when one is in one’s prime why would one want to look like anyone else?!

Mission Statement

Well, that was a horrible January.It rendered me so senseless that I nigh on failed to register February.
As I lay on the bed in A and E alternately chanting my very own personal mantra ‘Please be a time-waster, please be a time waster’  to the backing track of Gloria Gaynor’s  ‘I will survive’  I mused at the power of music to speed recovery. Perhaps it should be an NHS initiative to play GG in all its hospitals? Perhaps not. But it worked for me and  now I’m back…
And now, a Miraculous Mystery to Modern Medicine, I have decided to pull myself back up to the surface of existence by the most effective way I know. Yes, that’s right. I intend to SEW myself to health and happiness and I’m beginning with navy blue.

Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you’re nice

I’d been thinking a lot about King Lear and the importance of being a good daughter. I’d listened to friends complaining about the unreasonable demands of their ageing mothers. I had felt anguish when I put myself in their shoes (of the mothers not the friends…) – lonely, helpless, too proud to demand company or help.
And then I got slapped around the head by…well, you will see.
And although I wasn’t slapped around the head precisely what happened left me just as dazed.
I arrived at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, the newly finished theatre next to The Globe, to see Webster’s ‘Duchess of Malfi’. As I entered the pit I could smell the recently sawn wood, all sawdusty with a hint of preservative. The seats were just banquettes – cushionless, backless wooden benches shaped in an angular U shape with the stage, very close, running along the two ends of the U.
As I entered the space I marvelled at its intimacy. It was all so beautiful and close. The lightfittings were candles suspended low from the painted wooden ceiling (to be lit and hoisted up as the play began). I imagined candle wax dripping down upon me so made a mental note to myself not to look up. And I could touch the stage. I felt a little apprehensive at the prospect of hours of twisting my neck to watch the play and hyperventilated momentarily just thinking about sitting upright, back unsupported. But I was thrilled to feel a part of it.
Then I saw her. A woman,  an elderly woman, probably in her 80’s. Or her 70’s. Or perhaps in her 60’s. She moved swiftly and nimbly and started talking loudly and unhappily about her seat. She was grumbly and as she pushed past me for the first time to get to her place (just next to mine) I silently forgave her. She was an old woman after all and probably hadn’t pushed past me deliberately.
I did sense animosity towards me, and indeed to everyone else seated near her, but I banished this from my mind, preferring to experience the wellbeing that accompanies ‘being a good person’.
I understood her pain and when she pushed her large, heavy handbag on my feet I took it, assuming that she couldn’t help it and had no idea that she had done it. 
The play began. It was wonderful – I drank it up and the proximity of the action distracted me from the physical discomfort I had anticipated. Even my neighbour’s heavy handbag squashing my toes felt as nothing.
As soon as the candles came down the woman got up. She pushed past me for the second time. I had tried to move aside but clearly was not quick enough for her. As I lurched into the side of the stage (old she may have been but she was surprisingly strong) I managed to put my hands out in time to break my fall. My instinct was to say something but as I heard her exclaim ‘Get out of my way. I need the toilet!’ I kept myself in check. She must have been suffering to be so impatient to make for the door. As I am strong on empathy I understood.
The second part of the play was to start in two minutes. I was in my seat and my elderly neighbour came in holding coffees. I went to stand up for her and she pushed me. For the third time.  I fell into another spectator who was very understanding, ‘It wasn’t your fault my dear.’ I quickly said sorry and , before I could check myself, I turned to my neighbour and said, quite foolishly, ‘Excuse me but you just pushed me.’
I was then subjected to a vitriolic attack. All around people were stunned. My husband was rendered mute and impotent (!). And as she screeched at me all I could think about was ‘But I can’t. She’s an old woman. I can’t say anything. She’s an old woman.’
I kept it together reasonably well but could not stop myself from saying ‘ You are a very rude person’.
I couldn’t help it.  ‘Shut up!’ ‘Shut up, shut up, shut up!’ That two words could be expressed with such acerbic bite stunned me and at this time all I could think of was , ‘Oh God , no! People will think that I’ve been horrid to an old person. What do I do? What can I do?’
As the play recommenced I had visions of her attacking me.  Scenes of mad people unfolded on the stage but it was the even more horrifying scene of madness that was developing beside me which I found  more disconcerting. When the candles were put out and darkness descended so my heart pounded with fear and dread. I mean, if this evil harpy ( for that is what I now saw her as, let’s be honest) had attacked me it would have been me that would  have looked bad. I had visions of my picture slapped across tabloid front pages with the headline ‘Tis Pity She’s a Bully – elderly woman subjected to physical attack in London theatre by this woman’.  
I breathed deeply, not moving for fear of provoking her. I was shocked but felt that I couldn’t do anything. I nearly went to find an attendant to ‘tell’ them and ask for assistance. And all the while I thought ‘But who would believe me? She is an elderly woman.’ An elderly woman, an elderly woman. I couldn’t get round it. Couldn’t get over it. Elderly or not she was the most unpleasant person I had ever come across.
At the end of the play I decided to be speedy ( I did not want to be pushed over again). This time it was my turn to rush to the toilets to check that I didn’t have a post-it stuck to my forehead that said ‘Push me’.  As I walked to the car Simon admitted too that he hadn’t known what to do. He and the people next to him were all shocked at what was happening ( although, I wouldn’t mind betting, not as shocked as I myself was). After all she was an elderly woman.
I went over the incident all the way home. Did she have Alzheimers? A personality disorder?  Or was she simply a very nasty person?
Either way, I will never forget the time I went to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to see ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ while sitting in the pit, cheek by jowl with the other members of the audience, one of whom seemed as evil as any character on the stage. 
So thank you, very nasty person, for a timely reality-check.  I vow never to be patronisingly kind to elderly women again…ever.

The Cloak of Shame

That’s what I’m wearing now.
However, on Saturday night I was wearing my latest same-dress-that-I-always-make. In black Chinese satin. Shiny and luxurious.
I had been procrastinating all week about what to wear. I’d decided to make do with something in my wardrobe. There had to be something there. Until I went off for a routine mammogram. And then it occurred to me that I should go and buy myself a new bra. Actually enjoy it rather than see it as something that I had to do when all my bras had turned grey.  In true glass-half-empty fashion I grimly warned myself that this might be my last chance.
Having tried on 5 different bras in 3 different sizes my mind inevitably wandered on to ‘bodyshapers’. I couldn’t get away from the sight of my sagging tummy in the mirror.  No matter how hard I tried not to notice it  (or breath in and think that it wasn’t that bad) I had to accept that it was. That bad.
So, fuelled by my mammogram raison d’etre I had to do something about it. Other women, even friends, wore such alien undergarments. Many had recommended Spanx to me ( and now, after having been forced to look at my distended tummy in the mirror for the best part of an hour, I could understand why…).
The price shocked me but I made myself buy some big girl’s knickers (or crushers as I now call them…) intended to ‘sculpt and contour’…and ‘crush’.
There. Underwear done. Never before  had I spent so long buying a bra and a pair of knickers.
I went off for the time-to-think-about-life mammogram. What an unpleasant experience, made all the more unpleasant for having been conducted by a sour-faced, unfriendly woman. 
Pulled. Pressed. Squashed. And delivered without even a smile or a kind word. I accept that the job can’t be easy, might be boring, could be distressing. However, I thank aforementioned sourpuss for reminding me how important it is to be kind to others and encouraging me (in some strange, reverse-psychology way) to be supportive to all the people I deal with in the course of my day.
Mammogram endured. Life thought about. Time for me to go to Fabricland.
A dress for Saturday. A dress for Saturday. A dress for Saturday. I chanted these words over and over. Do I go for the black lace over cream stain? Or, how about over mustard satin? I toyed with pink, white, even green before deciding that cream was the best option. But which cream?
Then, as my eyes perused the satins and brocades I came across the Chinese dragon material, whereupon I immediately abandoned the black lace idea. I picked up rolls and duly let them slide  from my arms in red, green, turquoise, pink, black and even yellow. I was instantly drawn to the yellow but soon dismissed it as too bright. Perhaps a little too life-affirming even after the mammogram. As I worked down the colour chart I found myself hovering over the black. Funereal? How could something so smooth and shiny be described as such?
I picked it up, hitching it up every few seconds until I got to the cashdesk where I bought it, plus lining and zip. All for just over £11!
I took it home.
 ‘Let’s sew!’
I’d manoeuvred this pattern so many times before. What could possibly go wrong? But then it did.
I did the darts without pinning or basting them first only to find the slippery slide-y silkiness of the material had caused the fold to slip and move. Result – at least 6 darts on an unnecessarily jaunty angle (I grabbed the remaining 4 tightly). Not having learnt my lesson the same slippery slide-y silkiness caused my seams to stray rendering the side seam a quarter of the way over the back panel. And if I had intended to create an assymetric zip, well, now you’re talking. Yet did I baulk at the slightly skewed to one side look? Not at all. I did see it but forged on regardless. Hellbent on finishing. I would have a dress.
And I did. To the trained eye its manifold imperfections would be obvious but as I would be going to a party where the guests would be plied with champagne right from the word go I felt that I was safe. Indeed, you would think that I’d downed quite a few glasses while making it. But I hadn’t.  I would stand, contraposto, my black dress blinding onlookers with its glowing surface. With its very shiny, slippery-slide-y, glowing surface.
Very shiny, slippery-slide-y. I should have known. Three hours into the party and five glasses of champagne it was time for a photo opportunity. As I sat on my husband’s knee and leant back ready to say cheese I just kept on sliding.
Then crack. The sound of the back of my head on the stone floor (if only they had fitted carpet…). And now, 48 hours later, as I nurse a very bad headache and read dubious websites about head injuries I am wearing my very own ‘cloak of shame’.
I’m still blaming the shiny, slippery-slide-y dress. And my husband. But I know that the incriminating glass of champagne I had just put down prior to my photo shoot speaks volumes.
Time to live life to the full but next time with my glass a little less so…


Obsessive Compulsive…?

After at least 14 dresses of the same style I’m resisting the urge to do the same with my latest Burda coat pattern. I wore coat number 1, made in fashion-victim leopard print. I wore it a lot. Everyday, in fact, for nigh on three mild weathered weeks in September/October. Suffice to say it’s a little whiffy now as I refused to take it off even in the warmest throes of our Indian summer (unseasonably sunny autumn…).

And now, hey presto! I have created another one. This time out of black corduroy with a suitably magician-like crimson lining.

I was all set to purchase bale of material number 3 when I put the sewing machine brakes on. ‘But I haven’t quite finished my abracadabra cloak-coat!’ I suddenly exclaimed. ‘I mean – it still has no buttonholes, not to mention the buttons…’

So I read and read and read the ‘how to sew buttonholes’ section of my sewing machine manual. Some hours later, after managing to change the foot, I gave it a go.
Argh! I gave (in my soul of course) the most blood-curdling of screams. I had to mentally hold myself back from hurling the machine on the floor and storming off.

‘Why me?’ I lamented, self-pity oozing from every orifice.

You may not understand this and, truth to tell, from a distance neither do I. I mean, who is that ridiculous woman? However, it was me. I was that person who wanted to run away and cry at the unfairness of it all. At how the gods had conspired against me, thwarted my best efforts, mocked me from on high, caused me to suffer such anguish. Don’t get me started on the slings and arrows…

Then I pulled myself together and admitted defeat.

‘Simon?…’

Oh the shame.

Ten minutes later ‘I’ had finished my coat – 3 buttonholes and all.

But it’s seriously wrong-footed my serial coat-making tendencies. I’ll not be getting back on that horse for a while.

Time to turn to my trusty knitting needles. A timely seasonal adjustment of activities which doesn’t involve machines …

leopards and spots

 

yes I made it?
yes I made it?

After my Hansel and Gretel moment with the washing powder at the supermarket a few months ago, then my falling foul of a serial flatterer pedalling the lines  ‘you are the most stylish woman in Bishopston'(shame on him)  you might have thought, hoped, that I would know better by now. But no.

As I turned up at the airport to drop off a child, feeling sad that he was going, as well as suffering some existential angst about the formlessness of my own life, a woman came up to me and said, ‘It’s you! The woman with the coat!’

Grrrr?
Grrrr?

For a while I was confused but felt pleased. Whatever she was talking about was clearly a pleasant thing as she was smiling and nodding at me with such vigour and enthusiasm. Then another woman came across.

hi kitty...
hi kitty…

‘Oh yes, we love your coat. We’ve been talking about it all week!’ As I was wearing my handmade leopard skin jacket (which I think looks uncannily like one I’ve seen Kate Moss wear), I presumed that this must be the fabulous coat they were talking about. 

Before I could stop myself it was as if they’d pressed some button which I could not override.

‘Oh yes. I made it. It took me forever!’

I made it!
I made it!

‘You made it?’ They exclaimed. Genuinely amazed.

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As they then returned to the theme of the coat, how beautiful it was, its length, its unusual colour , I started to realise that they weren’t talking about my leopard skin number after all. Sherlock brain now fully engaged I understood that it couldn’t have been as they mentioned that they had first seen it ‘last week”, it was ‘a most beautiful shade of blue‘ , and,  as for the material out of which it was made, ‘What was that? Boucle?’ As I stroked my feline friend, soft and silkily furry to the touch I thought, ‘No, I don’t think you would, could, call it that…’

I made it...

For a moment I felt my angst cloud descend upon me once more as I imagined that these happy, dazzlingly smiley women had mistaken me for someone else.

But then they were back on track, describing in incredible detail (such are the powers of observation in the fashion conscious female) me  and my very expensive ~(for me) ‘Damsels in a Dress’ coat which, indeed, I had been wearing seven days earlier. As I basked in their admiration I added that I had made the one I was wearing ‘as well’ …

Then I left. Quickly. Before I could blurt out the truth. Beaming.

As for the child, well I’ll be seeing him again soon enough. And as for the existential angst, let’s just say that it’s amazing to think how the world can seem a better, more welcoming place after just a few appreciative smiles and kindly, approving comments.

So. What have I learned about myself from this episode? That I am a serial liar? Maybe. That I am susceptible to the beguiling words of sycophants? Possibly. That I am shallow? Most definitely. Or (and) that I am just like anyone else who likes it when people say nice things to them?

 
Now it’s time to get back home and start spreading the word, the words, some kind, appreciative words … to others. 

Sewer’s finger? Writer’s block?

Call it what you will, I just can’t summon up the energy to write about or sew any frocks for Friday this week. After discovering that I could buy them for less than the price to make them , my sewing fire has been extinguished.

However, as I sit here in one of said cheap dresses, it really doesn’t make me feel the way my handmade frocks did. That is, ‘special’ in a dangling-threaded, uneven-hemmed sort of way.

So they might not have been perfect but the very fact that I had made them rendered them exquisite objects in my eyes, thrilling and amusing me in equal measure. Thrilling because, hey, I’d made a dress. That I could wear. Amusing because I knew that it was not a thing of perfection.  And that I had chosen an, in some cases, tasteless fabric.

Now I’m certainly not thrilled and my smacked-arse face cannot even raise a smile.

Perhaps it’s worth the extra fiver for the material after all…

Bring back the spirit of Frock Friday.

Seasonal Adjustment…

Gone. The sun has gone. One minute I’m worried that I might dissolve vampire-like with the rising of the sun, the next that I might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder due to the sudden onset of rain, wind and unremitting grey skies. Accept it climate – you can’t win.
And my wardrobe is packed full of at least 15 summer dresses (with high factor sun cream on the side table close by). And those dresses have served me well.
But now, I fear, it’s time to put them away. Until next year.
Yet without them I have very little to wear…
Time to buy another pattern. An autumn/winter season pattern.

Cue Burda pattern
3 skirts in one pattern – above-the-knee skirt, just-over-the-knee skirt and long skirt ( but not too long).  3 pattern pieces, lining, interfacing and an 8 inch zip. Oh, and a button. Can’t be too difficult, surely…
My sewing protégée, Dotty Hardcastle, has a sewing aunt who very generously bequeathed to her a wonderful stash of the most beautiful fabric, ideal for the Burda skirt pattern. Worsted, check and corduroy. She very generously split it down the middle so that I had 3 lots of material in just the right lengths to make 3 just-above-the-knee Burda skirts. All I had to buy was the lining, interfacing (never before used but was intrigued to see if it really did make a difference), cotton and zip. Oh and buttons.
And it was in just the right colours.

Let me introduce my ‘gold’ skirt in beautiful-to-work-with worsted.

It has to be said that I had great trouble finishing this skirt. Not least because I found the Burda pattern so hard to follow. Perhaps the pattern writers at Burda assume knowledge that I do not possess.  I accept that a skirt with 4 pieces (1 waistband, 1 front and 2 back pieces) shouldn’t be too difficult to work out but… I wasn’t sure which dart line to follow and as for the back flaps I’m still not sure if I’ve done these correctly. Then there was the hem line. As for this error – it was all my own work. Assuming that sewing a hem would be easy I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I tried on the old gold skirt and saw that I had spent hours sewing up what can only be described as a gently sloping (on the diagonal) hemline. Even I could not live with it and was shamed into unpicking it and trying it on my dressmaking model. And it took me ages. I would pin up. Stand back. Too short on the left. Adjust. Stand back. Too short on the right. Adjust. Adjust. Adjust. And in the end I didn’t care if it wasn’t perfectly even. It was good enough. And as for the lining, that at least went in like a dream.

It looks so mundane. Just a normal, unexceptional skirt. But it feels so beautiful to wear.
After making it I looked at my Boden catalogue. And it was full of similar skirts.  Ok, so they might be better finished off with a level hem but really…
Total cost of gold skirt
1 metre lining = £1.03 (Fabricland)
1 8in (20 cm) zip = 65p (Fabricland)
1 reel cotton = ? (can’t remember)
1 1/2 metres worsted = free – a shared gift from Dotty’s auntie Sheila (a joy to cut, sew, touch and wear).
Total = £3 (approximately)
(although to buy the worsted would have probably cost me quite a lot)

Then I made the Burda skirt in green corduroy.

 

 This time there wasn’t enough material to make the flap at the back but as the skirt isn’t short-short it doesn’t really matter. I chose a bright green lining for that cheeky flash of colour.

Cost again only £3 because of auntie Sheila’s generosity. I tried to mix it with other greens but as you can see, it didn’t really work…

note shadow of my long-suffering husband, pulled away from what he’s doing to take a photo of the skirt…

The last Burda skirt to be made up using auntie Sheila’s stash looks like this.

 

Strangely formal and not particularly wild or oomphy it’s true, but it’s lovely. The material, a wool check, cut and sewed up beautifully and when lined this skirt also feels wonderfully tailored and a joy to wear.

The zips even went in easily. Oops, still not got round to putting in the button…

Here’s another cheeky flash! Oh, but look at the colour of the thread…As ever, my clothes don’t survive close scrutiny.
 But hey, from a distance who can tell?!

I think I’ve worked out the formula –
New machine and good fabric = beautiful clothes
 

And for just £9 I’ve got 3 well-made skirts! Cheers Sheila!

 

Rosie Green the upcycling Queen

Rosie. Rosie, Rosie, Rosie.

Rosie ran round this morning, leaving her sewing machine still warm on her kitchen table,  to show me … her version of The PSD (=Perfect Summer Dress). Apparently she was inspired by my frocks but really I know that she can’t wait to give me a master-class in finishing off. Properly. Rosie you see has a reliable machine. And an overlocker. But it’s not just that. She is really competent at making a garment to a very high standard. At finishing off.

Unlike me.

As I was looking at patterns in John Lewis the other day a very sweet woman struck up a conversation about the importance of finishing off properly.

The conversation went something like this –
Perfect sewing woman : Oh, most people have no idea how long it takes to make something.
Slapdash sewing woman (me) : Oh yes. That’s true. No idea.
Perfect sewing woman: You have to finish all the seams and that alone can take ages.
Slapdash sewing woman (me): True again. All the seams. Ages.
Perfect sewing woman: But it’s worth it.
Slapdash sewing woman (me): Oh all too true. So worth it.

As conversations go it was banal, I grant you. But I suppose that now that I’m in the sewing circle of trust , as it were, I need to up my game.

Not least because as I walked away, wearing my white strawberry dress which I had hurriedly knocked together on the weekend, not a properly finished seam in sight, I could feel a piece of stray cotton dangling against my leg. I hope she didn’t notice.

Labelled in the past by my mother-in-law as a ‘slack knitter’ ( for which there is no known cure ), I want to avoid the epithet of ‘slack sewer’. 

Cue Rosie Green. In the coming weeks I will be referring to her greater sewing wisdom to help me on the road to sewing salvation as well as featuring garments she has made. As a passionate advocate of upcycling she has long been dressing the great and the good of St Andrews with her upcycled, well finished off creations, many of which I hope to feature in the coming months.

How to upcycle a size 22 skirt into a size 10 dress with Rosie Green
* Get one very large skirt from a charity shop (the Gloucester Road has loads)
* Cut to fit by cutting out a section of material along the side seam . Sew.
* Use excess material to create shoulder straps.
* Go to a charity shop to get a big belt to pull the dress in at the waist thereby avoiding extra sewing.

Ta da!