Friday, 17 May 2013
Here you can see the silk tent is almost finished. Well, the bodice and skirt are attached, at least, allowing me to hang it off my shoulders for the photo above. But the back is very much still a work in progress that leaves my rear completely exposed, he, he.
So far, not so bad. I am pretty pleased with the bodice as a whole, although, as you can see from the picture, the gathers at the front have managed to come undone and need securing. I think this should be fine to do once the lining of the bodice has been sewn to the skirt, as there will be less pressure on those gathering threads then.
Hopefully, once I finish the back with a zip, and fix the gathers around the bust, the whole thing will look less droopy, and the overall look less tent like and more gracefully blooming like Kate Middleton. I can but dream! Mum mentioned she had spotted pictures of her sporting polka dots with a jaunty hat for a wedding, so I am clearly onto a trend - albeit in an entirely accidental way.
I've got an evening babysitting round a friend's tonight. Fingers crossed for the combination of sleeping children and me having enough energy to sit and sew the last bits up and have a finished dress to show off by tomorrow.
I am not going hat shopping until this is done and I have a wearable dress. Wish me luck!
Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Progress on the frock today:
Cutting out thin strips of interfacing and applying them to the edges of the neck and arms on the lining; making darts on the front and back of the bodice lining; sewing it together (more French seams!); and, tacking together the bodice outer and lining, ready to be stitched later.
Thoughts on today's efforts:
I am taking the whole process slowly. This is not my usual quick fix finished in a couple of sittings type of project. I really hope the finished dress will be worth the effort. And, more importantly, that it will fit. Oh how I hope it fits!
And, post sewing tea and raspberry jam toast enjoyed, I'm off to collect the littlest girl. Bye for now!
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
Having frittered my child free time this morning with a cafe catch up with a friend (long live squandering of time in that way) followed by some spontaneous bargain grabbing in a sale (new bed linen, in case you're wondering), today's sewing has only just been done.
The pouring rain outside didn't help spur me off the sofa, but the rubbish on TV did (thanks, Embarrassing Bodies). Then followed a good ten minutes or so of procrastination. Cup of tea, check. Texts to friends, check. Faff about changing the needle on the machine, loading the bobbin, and responding to more texts from friends.
Oh, I realise. I am a bit nervous of actually sewing with this extremely beautiful and oh so delicate silk.
I test the tension out on a scrap. I re-read the pattern instructions. Deep breath. Go on, go on... Don't Muck. It. Up. Final check of phone. Slurp of tea.
Progress so far?
Tonight I have made the darts in the back bodice pieces; gathered the front of the bodice; sewn the sides of the bodice to the front with (drum roll) French seams. Oh, la, la. Feeling on a roll, I stitched the bottom front of the dress to the back pieces, with more French seams, before packing up for the night. Hurrah!
What I thought about as I was sewing:
Don't muck it up. Don't muck it up.
What was it Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman. This silk is the fabric equivalent of whatever it was she was eating.
Slowly, slowly does it.
Stop moving! (Yes, I am talking to the silk...)
Double check those tacks are in the right place for the back darts.
Pleasantly surprised at how well they turn out once pressed.
Okay, so the darts weren't a disaster. Next up, the front bodice gather.
Oh, this is going to be really obvious if I sew a lopsided bodice. Must sew in a straight line and get those gathers even.
Will this rain ever stop? It will probably rain like this on special occasion number one (a garden party), won't it?
And, worse still, the baby could arrive early and I could miss both special occasion number two and three.
Is there any point in making this frock?!
Check of instructions again. Decide against zigzagging the edges on the seams. Didn't Mum advise me to use French seams for a better finish? Think so. Let's do it. May as well push the boat out and try a bit harder than usual. It is extremely beautiful and oh so delicate silk, after all. And, I am sure they did French seams on The Great British Sewing Bee. I shall pretend to be just like those clever sewing peeps.
Wow. One successful French seam done. No ragged edges, either. Wait until I show Mum. Shall we do another one...
Oh my goodness. Now I have sewn the bottom bits together, they resemble the size of a tent. Am I sewing a tent? This dress is enormous. Vast. But look how beautifully the silk tent drapes over my bump. Maybe I rather like making things out of silk after all.
You get the idea. I was talking to myself throughout. Doesn't everyone?
And, just for the record, this evening has confirmed I would be hopeless on the Sewing Bee. Pushing myself is one thing, and turned out to be enjoyable - but doing it under time pressure with cameras watching would have been disastrous. I don't think taking an entire week to make a dress would have made very good TV.
Monday, 13 May 2013
Special occasions - and by this, I mean the really fancy ones that give you an excuse to wear your best clothes and maybe buy a new pair of shoes or a hat - are a bit like buses for me.
I can go months, even years, without any. And then, three happen in the space of a few short weeks. And, being the size I am right now, I genuinely have nothing to wear.
There is nothing like a deadline to motivate me. With special occasion number one less that three weeks away, I need to make that dress. You know, the one I have gone on and on about making for quite sometime now.
And so, every day this week, I am going to aim to spend an hour or two on working towards having a finished garment in time. Having the (temporary) luxury of child free mornings whilst the littlest girl enjoys pre school fun and the baby remains in the easiest place in the world for her to be looked after, I intend to make the most of my time.
Progress this morning included: measuring myself (luckily, only bust measurement required as the empire line dress will hopefully just hang and glide over the bump in a lovely flowing sort of way); ironing and cutting out the paper pattern; adjusting it with tape so that it is appropriately sized for my shorter than average height; ironing and cutting out the lining fabric pieces.
With Radio 4 on in the background, it was a delightfully calm way to spend the morning, rounded off with some buttery toast with the last scrapings of the sparkly Marmite on top.
Time's up! And I'm off to collect my lively littlest girl...
Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Good afternoon, fabric lovers. I have exciting news for you (if you live in Bedford, that is) - there is a new fabric shop in town!
Fabric World opened a couple of weeks ago, although, due to being preoccupied with the house move, it took me until yesterday to get there.
It is the third shop of a family run business - and this one is run by Ben, who is the grandson of the founder of the original shop in Bletchley, which has been trading for 50 years.
First impressions are good - there is a team of friendly staff, who have the right balance of being helpful whilst letting you have space to browse and poke at fabric. There's a great selection of different types of fabrics, with more on the way I am told - definitely enough to make it worth my while going back on my own so I can have a proper look at everything.
It didn't take my young companion long to spot the shelf full of sparkly goodies. Nor me, to have an impulsive idea to make dressing up tutus with the sparkly fabric and netting to match.
Done. I am weak. In the face of extra time on my hands now the move isn't looming this week, I came away with enough supplies for half a dozen or so sparkly tutus to keep the middle girl and her birthday tea companions entertained.
There's a great selection of trims and notions. Including some jumbo ric rac. And we all know how good a thing that is.
This display of embroidery silks would make a good house, apparently.
And what you see here is just a fraction of the rolls of fabric they have. Plus lots of upholstery fabrics upstairs, too - although, my young companion had run out of steam before I had chance to investigate this ("Cafe now, Mummy!" at an increasingly loud and frequent volume, with a tug of my arm so I took the hint).
The prices seem good, too. A heck of a lot of rolls were priced at £5 a metre or less.
Another very appealing set of prints for the littlest girl...
This is the place to come for dressing up costumes... I just know that, had I had the three of them all with me, my girls would have been in heaven in this shop - excitedly stroking the fake furs and coming up with endless suggestions of things they'd like me to make them. Probably for the best I only had one with me!
I didn't really get chance to look for dress making fabrics for myself - again, another thing I'll have to look out for when on my own.
The shop is located by the bus station in town - okay, not the prettiest part of Bedford, but one that might well work to its advantage in terms of plenty of passing trade and getting the word out. The place was nicely busy while I was in there on a mid week afternoon - and, with the warm welcome people get from Ben's team and plenty of stock to appeal to all tastes, I hope this gem of a new shop thrives and pulls people into the town. Good luck, guys!
Sunday, 5 May 2013
I now understand why some people refer to moving house as one of life's most stressful experiences.
Whilst I still think there are far more stressful things people have to endure - I am very relieved to report we have exchanged contracts and consequently have a fixed date on which to move. At. Long. Flipping. Last.
This week has been a bit up and down, waiting for exchange to happen. I took my mind off the process on Friday afternoon with some baking, and got a friend round to share the results with me. Anyone else find that a Victoria Sponge and cup of tea improve a situation?
I could rant about the process. And, I must admit, I did, whilst my friend was round. Thanks, Annabel!
But, right now, I am relieved and happy with my lot. Okay, so the moving date has shifted. Four times, by my count. The uncertainty has been frustrating. But, we are moving.
Hopefully, the residents of my mobile nursery can hang in there for a little bit longer. Slightly obsessive, crazy plant lady? Yes, I think that is what I am turning into. But, in my defence, I thought we were moving at the start of April, and, now I have bought these little lovelies into the world, I cannot bring myself to chuck them into the big green bin for the council to come and collect and turn into compost.
I'll be sad to leave our house. I really, really like living here. Three of our children have been born here, and the place holds many memories. We've had regular clear outs over the years, in order to avoid moving. But, with baby number four getting ready to join us, the time has come to move on.
What am I most excited about?
We currently have one. It's upstairs. We've gone through potty training (three times) and the challenges involved. But now, the power struggles (mainly the middle girl hogging the loo when she knows one or both of her sisters are doing a jig waiting) and post school dashes upstairs and regular puddles on the bathroom floor are about to become a thing of the past. And that is a happy thought that wins over any cross thoughts I may have about how annoying parts of the moving process so far have been.
With three weeks to go, bring on the boxes. You don't scare me.
And heck. Now there has been a last minute delay, I think I have time to make that silk polka dot dress before the move. But first, there are sparkles to be sewn onto a birthday dress for the middle girl in time for Thursday. Four days and counting, Mummy.
Three cheers to the sun shining and it being a bank holiday weekend.
Hope you all have fun.
Tuesday, 30 April 2013
The other night, I had a couple of friends round for cake and a bit of sewing. As it happened, barely any sewing got done that night, but there was plenty of chat. And cake.
The subject of our house move came up. End of next week, hopefully, I said. Really? So how is the packing going, they asked. I thought I would start next week, I said.
Sharp intake of breath from the pair of them.
I have been de-cluttering, I said. I don't think we have that much stuff. I don't think it's that big a deal, really.
They remained unconvinced. And their faces looked slightly worried for me and my naive approach to moving house.
So, the following day, I set about filling some of the nice big boxes that I had ordered a couple of months back, and that, had been propped up just inside the front door. My thinking had been it would prompt me to move them and get on and pack. It hadn't. Until now, that is.
Here is the progress so far. I got into it and started enjoying it. A bit like buying stationary for a new term at school, I quite liked the order and lists and general neatness of how the boxes look. But I have to admit, although I have filled four big boxes with stuff, I cannot say I am noticing an emptiness about the house. I cannot tell the difference.
|Lemon and Raspberry Cake from The Hummingbird Bakery Home Sweet Home|
And, during that time, I pondered the sewing possibilities that were opening up as a result of packing (in my mind, anyway - anyone else would say this was no better than a student stopping to tidy their room and going out to buy more stationary before embarking on any more revision).
But here's my logic. A few weeks back, I had bought a metre of white towelling, thinking I would make some nice new hooded baby towels for the new arrival, the old ones being horrendously stained and sad looking from having been used on three other babies.
I don't want to be packing that metre of towelling, I thought. It would be much more pleasing and neat for my front of box contents lists to have finished baby towels to put into the box marked `Baby's Stuff'.
I wasn't really into sewing at the time my first was born, and so I didn't make anything in the run up to her birth.
I cannot deny it has given me a lot of pleasure to make these fluffy towels that have pretty home made bias binding round the edges. The idea for bunny ears came to me as I was making them. Hardly original, but cute. And then, having made two hooded baby towels, I realised I had scraps left over that could be used.
And so, I made a couple of square flannels, one of each type of edging to match the towels (because that sort of thing really matters in the scheme of trying not to drop a slippery newborn who is screaming their little lungs out as you try and get them clean and dry).
And then, three little bunny hand mitt flannels for the big sisters.
This all pleases me. One metre (costing about £10) of towelling has gone a long way. Bonus extras that I hadn't bargained for. And no bulky leftovers to find an appropriate box to pack them into.
Although all that towelling did create a heck of a lot of teeny tiny bits of fluff that managed to get just about everywhere in the house (I blame needing to pop to the loo every ten minutes during sewing). The hoovering had to be done (and long overdue, so just as well).
I must resist the urge to work my way through other such similar fabrics from my stash instead of just packing them all into a box only to be opened the other side of the move. Or else my friends will be right. We will not be packed on time. Or ever, for that matter.
Just as well I didn't share with them my intention of making my polka dot dress before the move. I think realistically, that will have to wait. The next box I pack must be one for sewing things. But I can't quite make myself do it yet.
The blinds are done.
I have one more project (for my middle girl's birthday) that must be done before the sewing things get packed away.
Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee (what will I do with my Tuesday evenings, now?), can you guess what it is going to be?