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

A Splendid Day Out!


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The League of Splendid invite you to join them to – A Family Day Out.
* Under 12’s FREE *

Steampunk fun including:

Markets, Live Music, Fairground Rides, Magic, Clog Dancing and all manor of other splendid happenings.

Saturday 12pm – 5.00pm

Market Stalls
Ash Mandrake Balladeer
Tea and Cakes
Carlisle Cloggers
Magician
Fairground Rides

7pm – Midnight over 18’s only

Live Music featuring: Ghostfire and BB Black Dog.
Vaudeville Magic with Kevin Cunliffe
and DJ Sets

A Splendid Day Out!

Morecambe Variety Festival


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‘Morecambe Variety Festival aims to bring a vintage variety vibe to Morecambe’s Winter Gardens from 3-4 May 2014. All the fun of the vintage seaside for the weekend! A vintage-inspired return to town, Morecambe Variety Festival aims to bring all the fun of the seaside back to Morecambe this May Bank Holiday with daring acts, spiffing sideshows, an amazing variety show or two, vintage catwalks, vintage makeovers, and a burlesque Ball inspired by Around the World in 80 Daysf!
There will be fun for all the family, from the youngest to the more…vintage amongst us.’
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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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The Crafty Minx by Kelly Doust


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The Crafty Minx is about making simply gorgeous things from pre-loved, remnant and vintage items. Written especially for non-crafters who are desperate to be more creative but don’t know how, author Kelly Doust shares the delicious rewards of living with and giving away beautiful handmade objects.

Including over 75 projects which give traditional crafts a modern makeover – from brightly patterned summer beach bags and cotton apron tops to cosy lambs’ wool throws and cashmere-covered hot water bottles, or a soft toy for a friend’s new baby – this book is broken down into the four seasons of the year for easy inspiration, and to carry you through the year creatively. Bringing you stories about great vintage finds and new ways of looking at the treasures within our own homes, thrift stores and local flea markets, it reflects the huge cultural shift taking place right now towards recycling and buying locally. No matter your level of skill or where you live, discover just how easy it is to be a crafty minx.

Key points: beautifully presented and filled with photographs, diagrams, instructions and tips to support the projects; features practical and innovative ways to get creative with recycled fabrics, paper and hand stitching; written in a lively manner that will enthrall and inspire.

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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

My current read: The Morecambe Medium by Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton


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‘It’s 1895 and there’s murder in the air! Enter Augustus Mulberry and Arthur Touchstone, Consulting “Detectorators”.

Mulberry and Touchstone are a pair of rather defective detectives, who ply their trade in the delightful Victorian seaside town of Morecambe. Will they be able to cope with a proper case? Can they catch the killer? Or will they be too distracted by teashops, spooky seances and the length of Constable Cheeks’ beard?’