It’s been a while……


It’s been a while……

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Wow doesn’t time just fly by.

It’s been a manic year with house moves, a new job, knee surgery & now a fractured hand but I am back & I promise to share all my new adventures with you.

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Sewtastic


For many years I harboured a desire to make my own clothes, dreaming of perfectly fitting garments in a vast array of exciting colours and fabrics, but despite investing in a sewing machine I never actually mustered the courage to have a go.
After watching the last two series of the British Sewing Bee I decided to stop dreaming and actually give it a go. I took the plunge and went pattern shopping in my local fabric shop. After being initially overwhelmed by all the choices on offer the helpful lady in the shop guided me to choose a simple tunic top pattern that was labelled ‘easy ‘ and I chose some simple cotton fabric to make the top from.
When I first opened the pattern I was confused by all the different lines and symbols and even the sizing (which was American) and very nearly gave it up as a bad job there and then. Thank heavens for the internet, as after a spot of Googling, I found some fantastic sewing sites that talked me through the process step by step. So I ploughed ahead and cut out all my pattern pieces and pinned and marked my fabric as instructed and hey presto I ended up with sections of fabric all ready to be stitched together.

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I found the sewing relatively easy but was thankful for a sewing machine course I’d done a couple of years ago. Some of the instructions and diagrams on the pattern were a bit difficult to understand but my (limited) knowledge gained from the course did help me to figure out what I needed to do. Afte a few hours at my trusty sewing machine I actually ended up with a top that looked like the picture on the pattern.

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The thing I found the most difficult was the sizing and actually getting the garment to fit me. I was over -cautious at first and sized up as I didn’t want to make the top too small as I though it would be easier to alter afterwards. I think it looks ok (for a first attempt) but it is a bit big and I did have to spend a lot of time adjusting and adding tucks and buttons to the neckline to stop it from looking to baggy.
I felt much more confident with my second attempt and cut the pattern pieces much smaller. I also decided not to add interfacing to the neckline as the pattern instructed, as I found it made the top section of the garment a bit too stiff. I think attempt number two is a much better fit and I was really pleased with how it turned out.

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I then tried some variations of the top using a different version of the pattern in different fabrics – a Japanese floral print viscose and a multi-coloured spot viscose. I even attempted making sleeves which were a bit tricky but turned out better than I though they would.

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I have well and truly got the dressmaking bug now and will definitely say that practice does make perfect. I have also attempted a simple A-line skirt and the next project in the pipeline to to have a go at making myself a dress.
Wish me luck x

The top pattern I used is:
New Look : Misses Pullover Top or Tunic 6871 £5.99
Useful information sites:
http://idiotsguides.com/static/quickguides/hobbiescrafts/sewing-basics-how-to-read-and-interpret-a-pattern.html
http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/2012/09/how-to-use-sewing-pattern.html#.U5GTMKPTXcs
Sewing Blogs:
http://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/p/about-tilly.html
http://sewinglondon.co.uk/
Books:
The great British Sewing Bee – Sew your own wardrobe
Love at First Stitch – Demystifying Dressmaking by Tilly Walnes

Silversmithing


As I am due to start the next term of my silversmithing class tonight I thought I’d share a brief description of what this craft involves.
Silversmithing is traditionally the art of turning silver sheet metal into a variety of hollow ware (dishes, bowls, cups, candlesticks, vases etc.), flatware and other articles of household silver or sculpture. It can also include the making of jewellery, which is what my course concentrates on.

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Silversmiths saw or pierce specific shapes from sterling and fine silver sheet metal, using hammers to form the metal over a mandrel or an anvil. The Silver is hammered cold (at room temperature). As the metal is hammered, bent, and worked, it ‘work-hardens’ so becomes tougher to work with. When this happens the Silver has to be heated (annealed)which then makes the metal soft again. If the Silver is work-hardened, and not annealed occasionally, the metal will crack and weaken the work.After forming or casting, the various pieces may then be assembled by soldering or by using cold connections dependent on the design.
Silversmiths will also work in copper and brass, although this is usually confined to practice pieces due to the cost of the metals. When working on a complicated design it is useful to practice first in copper or brass to see how the metal copes with the design. This way if something goes wrong you haven’t wasted a costly piece of Silver. Once the design is perfected, it can then be replicated in Silver for the final piece.
This will be my 4th term on the silversmithing course and I was hooked from day 1. It’s amazing to see how a flat piece of Silver can turn into a beautiful piece of jewellery.

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Collecting


It is often said that “If something exists, somebody somewhere collects them”.

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After watching a fascinating programme ‘Collectaholics’ on BBC2 on Wednesday evening about collectors and their collections I started to think about why people collect and how it can become an obsession.

Collecting is for some people a childhood hobby, for others it may be a lifelong pursuit or one that begins in adulthood. When I was a child, I remember collecting a variety of things from decorative erasers to stamps and shells from visits to the beach but became bored of my collections very quickly. Perhaps because they were very random items that had no real personal meaning for me.  Today I wouldn’t class myself as a collector as such, but I do admit to having a bit of a thing for old brooches (especially Art Deco style ones whether authentic or reproduction) and glass paperweights as for me they invoke memories of my grandmother. I don’t actively seek out new and rare examples to add to my collection though, it’s more a case of stumbling across something that catches my beady little magpie eye when I’m out and about.

Collecting is a practice with a very old cultural history. The collecting hobby has been called a modern descendant of the cabinet of curiosities which was common among scholars with the means and opportunities to acquire unusual items from the 16th century onwards. The Victorians in particular filled their homes with a vast array of curios and collectables.

The hobby of collecting will often go hand-in-hand with a genuine interest in the objects collected and what they represent, for example collecting postcards may reflect an interest in different places and cultures. The beauty of collecting is that you can collect anything and it doesn’t have to be expensive, although some collectors will spend large amounts of money for that one special or rare item. People collect for a variety of reasons; for investment, to preserve the past or simply for the joy of surrounding yourself with items that make you nostalgic or happy.

Various terms  exist to describe people who collect specific items, for example:

  • philatelist – stamps
  • numismatist – coins and banknotes
  • lepidopterist – butterflies and moths
  • coleopterist – beetles
  • dipterist – flies
  • arctophile – teddy bears
  • oologist – birds’ eggs
  • deltiologist – postcards
  • notaphilist – banknotes
  • tegestologist – beer mats
  • phillumenist – matchboxes or matchbook labels
  • scripophilist – old bond and share certificates

[Source for terms:  http://www.oxforddictionaries.com]

Although there can be a dark side to collecting, when the collection becomes more of a compulsion than a hobby, collecting is still mostly associated with positive emotions.  As long as your collection does not impact negatively on your life and makes you smile, then just enjoy the childish excitement you feel when you stumble across something new to add to your collection of treasures.

Image source: http://www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/08/toy-robots-to-have-and-to-hold.html

Lancaster Craft Collective


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This is a new group set up by local Lancraftrian Lucy Ann Smethurst, designer-maker at Change the Record. Check out Lucy’s website for more information at: www.change-the-record.com/lancastercraftcollective
Lancaster Craft Collective is a group of craftspeople and artists from Lancaster (UK) and the surrounding areas. It is a place for fellow crafters to share information, skills and experiences. Lucy likes to call the members of the group ‘Lancraftrians’.
Rather than being a purely virtual group, Lucy was also keen for members to meet up in person (when busy lifestyles allow it) to be able to put faces to names. Our first hook up was last Thursday evening: 23rd January at The Dukes, Lancaster café bar which is a fantastic place to meet for coffee, cake and a good natter.
It was a really nice evening and it was lovely to chat with fellow Lancraftrians and find out about what they do. We were a mixed bunch of crafters with a variety of talents ranging from needle felting, free machine embroidery, crochet keyrings, sock animals, handmade cards, dressmaking and jewellery upcycled from records and photographic slides. There are such talented people out there. So feeling inspired, I returned home from the meet up super motivated and looking forward to the next one on 19th February.
Check out some of the talent of my fellow crafters here:

http://messmuddleandfun.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.etsy.com/shop/CorylusCrafts

http://www.changetherecord.etsy.com

http://eleanorbennettarts.tumblr.com/

http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Relovedathome

http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SockMonkeyEmporiumUK

 

Find the Lancaster Craft Collective on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lancastercraftcollective/
and on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LancasterCraftC


How to beat the January blues


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It must be all the lovely food and excess of alcohol in December that makes January so depressing.  With no money left after the festivities and the long dark evenings and wet weather it’s no wonder we are fed up and miserable.

So here are a few tips on what I do to cheer myself up during this depressing time of the year;

Do something new – maybe start a new hobby (I have just taken up cross stitch) or join a local club or society, just do something out of the norm. Whether it’s extreme like bungee-jumping or mountain climbing, or a little more sedate like a dressmaking class or joining a reading group, it should make you feel more inspired, positive and hopefully happier.

Book a holiday (If you can afford it) – Apparently psychologists believe that even looking forward to your holiday can do you the power of good as the anticipation of a holiday can make you feel excited by releasing endorphins, your bodies’ natural feel-good hormones. If you can’t afford a holiday (and let’s face it many of us can’t in the current climate) than how about planning a day visit to somewhere you have never been before or buy tickets for a play or concert just something that you can put in your diary and look forward to.

Have a clear out – Give your house a New Year clean and declutter your space. ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ is a good mantra with the advantage that you may also may manage to free up some space in your home. You may even find that you have room for you own craft corner (I have just set one up in my dining room to help me to get crafting on a more regular basis). Get rid of any unwanted clothes and donate them to charity (not only will you be freeing up space but you will also be doing a good deed at the same time) You’ll be amazed how much better you will then feel.

And finally, just remember it’s only 11 weeks till Easter x

Image from: http://www.thevintageguidetolondon.com/hedonism-rocks-at-the-candlelight-club/

Anyone for Tennis?


Since the first Championships in 1877, Wimbledon has become one of the world’s most famous tennis tournaments, attracting followers in their millions. It is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, considered by many to be the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London since 1877. Wimbledon is the only Major Grand Slam tennis tournament still played on grass, the game’s original surface, which gave the game of lawn tennis its name.

The tournament takes place over two weeks in late June and early July, culminating with the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Singles Final, scheduled respectively for the second Saturday and Sunday. Each year, five major events are contested, as well as four junior events and three invitational events.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     (source: Wikipedia)

This year it takes place from 25th June until 8th July. Don’t forget the strawberry’s & cream washed down with a glass or two of Pimms!

Jubilee


The most extraordinary event in Britain this year will be the Queens Diamond Jubilee when the Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne. In May, there will be a Diamond Jubilee Pageant in the grounds of Windsor Castle, and a flotilla of 1,000 boats will sail along the Thames on June 3, the day before a special Jubilee Bank Holiday.
It will be only the second Diamond Jubilee in a thousand years of monarchs. No one alive now is likely to see one again. The first was Queen Victoria’s in 1897. Queen Victoria didn’t want too much of a fuss for the celebration but she knew some sort of public appearance was needed. She settled on a procession from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral for a service attended by her colonial prime ministers. The sun broke through the clouds as she left Buckingham Palace for the six-mile journey to the open air service at St Paul’s. Her route was further illuminated by thousands of gas jets, lighting up street decorations that cost a quarter of a million pounds.
On 22 June 1897, Queen Victoria wrote in her diary: “A never to be forgotten day. No one ever, I believe, has met with such an ovation as was given to me, passing through those 6 miles of streets, including Constitution Hill. The crowds were quite indescribable and their enthusiasm truly marvellous and deeply touching. The cheering was quite deafening and every face seemed to be filled with joy.”
(Extract from The Telegraph – article by Harry Mount)

Valentine


St Valentines day was first established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD, and was later deleted from the General Roman Calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. It is celebrated in countries around the world, mostly in the West, although it remains a working day in all of them.

The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”)