Sunday, 30 December 2012

Christmas Goodies

I bet I'm not the only one who, despite loving Christmas, always feels like I've run a marathon!

We had a pretty quiet Christmas for us, only 7 for dinner, but we've been visiting friends and family, had family to stay and then rushed back to work. I'm tired, and missing the fact that I've got no crafting done at all, but we had a good time and I got some lovely presents, these are just the craft related ones.

All these from my OH

This book from my Wish List from my in-laws - now perhaps I can figure out what to do with all the excess fabric in the back of bodices!

And another from my son - I am very keen to get to grips with knits but I've been putting it off as I don't have an overlocker. Time to up my game I think, perhaps this is the best route to avoiding fit issues?

These from my daughter, isn't the hanger fab?

And these surprises from my good friend S

I know, spoilt rotten.

Despite this bountiful haul I might just have bought myself a little something from America ...

Isn't it beautiful? Totally inspired by the exhibition at Somerset House I've been trawling for patterns, vintage Valentino, fab-u-lous! I have just the fabric from Japan, what a happy coincidence.

I have so many plans for the New Year, I'm really looking forward to getting going.

I'm planning on making the version in red on the pattern envelope

This is Plan No 1, totally inspired by Sam's coat I'm going to tackle a simpler project but my first outerwear. I loved this version over at Kestrel Finds and Makes, when I first saw it nearly a year ago. I'm planning on lining it, although it doesn't call for that in the instructions. Now I just need to figure out the best method for pre-shrinking/steaming the fabric which is 70% wool.

Realistically, nothing much is going to get created until all our visitors have gone and we're back to what passes as normal round here. In the meantime I've made a start, I've watched the first 4 episodes of the Project Runway dvd - small steps!

Right, I'm off to Brighton for a surprise lunch for a great friend who is celebrating A Birthday of Significance. I'll finish with an entirely gratuitous Christmas photo of my OH and my little niece - just when I was all puffed up with pride that she can say my name I discover she thinks he is Auntie Jacq!

Wishing you the very best of everything in the New Year, Happy 2013.



Saturday, 22 December 2012

A Christmas Tutorial

I'll be honest, there's not much crafting going on around here, definitely not as much as I'd like, but it's OK, I've decided to cut myself some slack. I have made 1 very complicated item, other than that I'm going to start afresh in the New Year, I have plans and lists.

Here it is:

A thing of beauty, don't you agree?

Now I'm sure you all want to make one so here goes, my first tutorial ...

1. Find an old hairband

2. Search your house for any old bits and bobs of Christmas stuff

3. Hot glue gun everything to the headband

4. Cover it in glitter

5. Add a bit more stuff and extra glitter

Optional extra - add bells for festive sound

And finally, go to dinner with your buddies

I've really enjoyed connecting with other crafters through blogs this year, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope that 2013 is a peaceful and happy New Year.



Sunday, 9 December 2012

Valentino - A Sewing Adventure

Yesterday I went on my first sewing/blog related adventure and it was a great experience. There are 2 halves to this post really (1) meeting a fellow blogger and (2) the actual exhibition.

Some months ago Sam, blogging at A Little of What You Fancy, suggested a trip to the Valentino Exhibition at Somerset House. I really wanted to go, I don't have any IRL sewing friends who would want to go for the same reasons as me, even though they'd happily come along.

It's a funny thing, this blogging lark. You kind of know somebody but not really. I'm not always very brave and tend to talk too much to overcompensate (I suspect I did do that - sorry Sam!). Well, my recommendation is - be brave! Sam as is lovely as her blog suggests and it was a joy to go to the exhibition with another sewer. We exchanged emails and a phone call beforehand and all the arrangements went really smoothly. It helped enormously that we've seen photos of each other and she was wearing her new coat which is beautiful (and lined - more on that below!), saves wearing a pink carnation!

We'd never have met if it wasn't for a shared love of sewing and having new blogs. Even if this blogging business has been harder than either of us had expected. It was a great ice breaker to go to an event we were both interested in and we had lunch afterwards and a good chat. My OH picked me up at the station and said "I can tell you had a lovely day." - I did, thanks Sam.

So, to the actual Exhibition - it was wonderful. Of course you can't take photos, the ones I've used here are the official press photos. It was £12 for a ticket, I think it was worth every penny. And Somerset House is easy to get to, Sam and I travelled in to different London mainline stations but it's a straightforward tube journey. The exhibition is at the Embankment side of Somerset House so aim for that entrance.

There were far more garments than I expected to see and although behind barriers they are not behind glass. This was a real positive, you could actually get quite close and see details. The guide book contains a brief description of each garment and the collection it came from. Also, there's a glossary in the back for all the couture terminology - very useful.

The clothes weren't arranged chronologically but rather by technique or theme (eg all the handpainted fabric garments were together, spanning decades). I loved it and would recommend it, you get a morning or afternoon ticket which lasts 4 hours - Sam and I were in there over 3 hours so allow yourself time.

One of the best bits for me was the last section of the exhibition. There were examples of different techniques, some unique to Valentino, and then screens showing how they are achieved. We even identified a couple we thought we could do - although we weren't sure how we'd turn them into a garment!

There were a couple of things that really struck me:

Attention to detail - I guess this is obviously going to be the case for couture garments but, oh boy, the work in some of those dresses was amazing. And, just because you can do all the techniques doesn't mean you should, sometimes the absence of something is what made the garment stunning. Some of my least favourites were from the 80s/90s when there was a definite fashion for throwing everything at it - just not my cup of tea. My favourite tiny detail was on a shirt cuff - I'm going to give it a go and blog about it in the new year.

Don't be too hard on yourself - there were details both Sam and I picked up on that we would have fretted over if we'd made the garment - isn't that bizarre? Now Sam is a much more skilled sewer than I but neither of us would have had a bias binding hem on a skirt with the bias join practically in the centre front, I'd have had to do it again! And there were unlined coats all over the place. Now I'm going to try to take a different view - 'if it's good enough for Valentino' is my new mantra!

And finally, an important message:

Dear Father Christmas

I haven't actually been terribly good, there's no fooling you. But, if you're feeling forgiving, please could I have the outfit on the left in this photo, cream organza with flower detail, as worn by Audrey Hepburn in 1968. It is absolutely perfect.

Thank you




Saturday, 1 December 2012

Happy John Denver & The Muppets Day!

I've mentioned before, and I know we're not alone, my family have many traditions at Christmas time. Some started when my children were small, others got added as new people joined the family - we like to be inclusive, there's always room for another special tradition!

This one dates back to 1976. I was 10, it was Brother Number 2's first Christmas and my Dad brought home a vinyl album. It has been played from December 1st every year since, on a daily basis through the Christmas period. It got a bit scratched over time, it jumps on one track and Brother Number 4 always sings it that way because that's how he learnt it!

As we've grown up and moved all over the place everyone has got their own copy. In Wales, London, Kent & California today is John Denver & The Muppets Day. We play it to put up the tree, we open presents to it, I wrap gifts to it, this is the background music for my family.

It's a proper singalong album - you cannot help but be festive. The world over we're all belting out The Twelve Days of Christmas - and Mum does the 'b-dum, bom, bom' Miss Piggy bit wrong every time ... For 36 years!


JD & The Muppets 'Twelve Days of Christmas'