Wednesday 21 February 2024

Cutting it fine....Part 3


I had my third dressmaking and tailoring session today.  I took my huge nappy and waited patiently while the tutor got everyone else underway with their sewing projects. 

I explained about my first toile, and her eyebrows lifted.  I showed her my revised toile and her eyebrows shot off the top of her head and are probably in orbit.  

Scene:  Tutor's lovely seafront flat with a commanding view of huge waves breaking onto the beach.

Me:*tentatively* So this is my second toile. I had to make another as the first didn't fit all...... *trailing off*

Tutor:*incredulously* And THIS one does?!?!

Me:*quietly* yes

Tutor:*appraisingly* Hmmm.... you ARE quite an odd shape, aren't you?

Tittering from the other students.

Me:*stolidly* Obviously.  Sort of Weeble-shaped.

More tittering from the other students. 

Tutor : *disbelievingly, holding up the big nappy for everyone to see* And THIS fits?

Me:*downcast but rallying"  Yes. Yes it does.

Tutor: *warmly* Well done!  To make a new toile absolutely from scratch.... that's brilliant! Well done.


Other students:

Me:*cautiously*  Sooooo.. it's alright then? I can carry on....?

Tutor:*reassuringly* Yes.  Just carry on with preparing the pattern, pin the toile to the.......

At this point I was so relieved I stopped listening.  I'd been dreading it being all wrong and having to start again.   I felt quietly pleased with myself.  Despite being an odd shape I had triumphed. 

Saturday 17 February 2024

Cutting it fine.... Part 2

After breakfast this morning, I set about making a second toile for my trousers, using the new pattern I created yesterday.

Following one false start when I inadvertently sewed the two fronts together instead of a front and back, which necessitated unpicking the machine sewn seams, I finally achieved a toile which looked how it should.  Essentially another big nappy but with a higher rise.  After pressing all the seams and turning it right side out, I snuck quietly into the bedroom to try it on.

For lo... instead of the waistline coming up to my armpits, which looked completely feasible due to the size of it, my new toile did actually fit.  The top of the centre front seam came up to my waist, and the top of the centre back seam also came up to my waist.  I was unable to repress a little squeal of excitement, then PP appeared in the doorway.

Now, I'll admit I must have looked a sight.  Standing there in my grey socks, winter white legs poking out of a huge nappy, but her rolling around on the bed laughing her head off wasn't quite the reaction I'd been hoping for. 

She laughed uproariously, subsided into fits of giggles, then just as she was getting a grip, I turned round so she could have a rear view and she laughed so hard I thought she'd need oxygen. 

Scene: Bedroom.  Sandra stands disconsolately in front of the mirror, clutching the waistline of her huge nappy. Stumpy legs ending in a pair of grey woolly socks.  On the bed, PP is gasping for breath, unable to suppress gales of laughter at the sight in front of her.

Me: *shortly* Yeah, yeah... all right.  I know you think it's funny.  But I've spent nearly two days on this so a bit of encouragement wouldn't go amiss.

PP:*gurgling in an attempt to stem the rising tide of giggles* Turn round so I can see the back.

Me:*dubiously* There... see?  It comes up to my waist at the back and....

PP:*incapable of movement, tears running down her face* Well, yes.  But the legs....  *she dissolves into laughter again*

Me:*indignantly* The legs don't matter for this.  Just the trousers from the crotch up to the waist. 

PP:*struggling for control* I know that, but the legs will be ENORMOUS!

Me:*curtly* They're WIDE LEG evening trousers.  And the fabric I've chosen will  drape and flow, as opposed to this paint spattered dust sheet fabric.   Plus, without the waistband in place, you're not getting an accurate impression of how they will look when they're finished.

PP:*gasping* Alright.  But you know I asked you to make me some?  Well I've changed my mind.

Me: *sharply* Good. 

Sandra struggles out of the huge nappy, trying to rescue what remains of her dignity. She carefully folds the toile, after marking it as the corrected size.  She'll take it, and the first toile to the next dressmaking session, along with her revised pattern piece for the top of the trousers. A determined look settles on her face as she squares her shoulders and makes a solemn vow...

Me: *resolutely* I'm going to make these damned trousers if it bloody well kills me.

To be continued.....

Friday 16 February 2024

Cutting it fine.....

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to start going to dressmaking classes, run by a lovely lady from U3A.  I had my first session this week and went along full of enthusiasm, clutching patterns and fabric for the first two pieces of my summer holiday wardrobe.  I've decided to start off with very straightforward, flowing, wide leg trousers, and a simple sleeveless top.  No zips, buttons or fastenings of any kind to bamboozle and flummox me.

The tutor explained that she'd have to take extensive measurements firsts, as I'd be adjusting the pattern to my size before I even thought about cutting out my fabrics.  Fair enough, I thought.

Now I probably should explain at this point, that I do have a definite shape.  And that shape is Weeble.

Or, in fashion parlance, I'm pear shaped. Although to be fair, I do have a bit of what I laughingly call my waist, somewhere in the middle, but it's all downhill from there.  

Anyway, the measuring process took up most of the session.  Apparently trousers, even ones with elasticated waists are quite tricky.  Who knew?  After comparing my measurements with the actual paper pattern, the tutor declared that she'd have to add 3 inches to the 'rise', front and back.  I do prefer high rise trousers, but  while they're often ok at the front, they usually gape at the back.   If I was shaped like a washboard they'd have been fine, but to accommodate my womanly curves *cough* the pattern would have to be adjusted.  The rest of the session was taken up with making a new paper pattern, from which I was to make a 'toile'.

A toile is a prototype or fitting version of a garment that's made up in an inexpensive fabric so that the design can be tested and perfected. The name comes from the fabric of the same name that was originally used in their construction – a translucent linen or cotton fabric.

So, this morning I decided to set about it, and spent a while up the shed, dodging spiders and trying to find an old bed sheet which I'd used when decorating.  Ok, so it has a few paint spatters on it, but I didn't think that would matter.  After several hours, some of which were spent trying to identify a problem with my admittedly ancient sewing machine, I managed to construct a toile of the top section of the trousers, which looked disconcertingly like a huge nappy.  Of course the waist was too big, as it was missing its elasticated waistband, and there were no legs as they were irrelevant because it was the waist to crutch area which needed adjusting.

I duly pressed the big nappy and tried it on.  If I pulled it up to my waist at the front, the centre back was more than halfway down my bum.  And vice versa.  I felt crushed.

After a cup of tea and a biscuit, and a good moan to PP about how rubbish I was at dressmaking and why on earth hadn't she advised me not to, and she said she had, but of course I'd got a bee in my bonnet about making clothes and had disregarded both her and Small Dog's admonishments to completely abandon the whole idea.

Unburdened and refreshed, I decided to make a completely new toile so watched eleventy different You Tube videos which all suggested slightly different methods.   Luckily I'd bought some pattern paper so it was the work of a mere 3 hours to produce new pattern pieces, which look a bit odd so I'm not convinced they're going to work properly either.  I haven't enough life in me to attempt another toile today so tomorrow I'll get back to it and see how the next disaster pans out.  

At this rate I'll still be making them while on the beach on holiday...  *sigh*

To be continued.....

Sunday 11 February 2024

Kits & More....!

Following on from the recent reveal of my 2023 Advent Box, I've been sorting through the aftermath and have been able to complete extras of a few of the kits.  I always end up with some extras, especially on the trickier precision cut ones.  So, I've been able to make up a few boxes with a selection of the spare kits and have listed them for sale on a UK craft sellers website called Aviarto.

The boxes only contain the kits shown above and do not include the kits for the illuminated circus shop  booth, or the toy dolls or several of the other toy kits which made up the whole.

However, when made up, the kits selection will look like this....

Perfect for display in a children's nursery or toy shop setting!

You can find the assorted kits boxes HERE

In addition to the circus/animal kits, I've also listed a few of my remaining kits, including the wonderful Fairy Tales Toy Theatre... a  miniature wooden theatre with changeable scenery and a cast of cleverly magnetised character from well-loved fairy tales.   Also available are two of my mignonette toy dolls, Primrose and Bella.  

Last but not least, I still have just a few copies of my book, Making Miniature Mignonette Dolls available.  I will not be having another reprint, so these final copies will be the last.  I'm bundling them with a free kit to make a little litho printed Jumeau doll on a wooden block... perfect for a nursery or toy shop display.

I'm gradually working through more minis and kits which I'll list on my Aviarto page in due course, so do bookmark it and check back regularly for any new additions. 😊

Friday 2 February 2024

Projects Central....

When I retired last year, I worried about what I was going to do to fill my time.  I've always worked and the prospect of days filled with no purpose filled me with dread.  Of course I usually have several craft projects on the go at any one time, but even when I was working full-time they didn't take all of my spare attention and energy.

So I joined my local U3A.  For those unfamiliar, the University of the Third Age is an international movement aimed at encouraging retired people to share their knowledge, skills and interests in a friendly environment.

At the last count, my local U3A has over 60 different interest groups, ranging from analytical philosophy to current affairs, birdwatching to gardening, Qigong to Mahjong... as well as dozens of others.

I gravitated towards the various craft groups, but found that the ones I wanted to join were full, with lengthy waiting lists. Undeterred I contacted the groups convenor who provided me with all the information needed to start my own.  My Creative Crafts group will be one year old this May and has coalesced into a lovely little group of like-minded ladies.  We meet once a month and tackle a different craft each time.  They've mostly been successful, with the exception of the needle felted mouse.  I don't think I've ever laughed so much as we ended up with a whole menagerie, none of which looked remotely mouselike!  I think first prize went to the duck-billed platypus. 😄

I've also recently started another group, Short Form Fiction where we concentrate on one form each month, discussing examples at the session, then writing our own pieces in the same style over the following month, to read and discuss at the next.  It's going well so far and the group is gelling nicely. I might, at some point drop my own efforts here...

However, since deciding to take up dressmaking again,  I've been scouring the interweb for useful YouTube videos (spoiler - there are eleventy million related to all aspects of making clothes), downloading tutorials etc, in the possibly vain hope that I don't end up with a one-size-fits-nobody 'shaipless sak'!  I'd already perused the U3A groups list, but the Dressmaking & Tailoring group was full.   More in hope than expectation I contacted the lady who runs it and asked to be put on her waiting list.  A few day later I received a reply saying she'd had a place unexpectedly come up and would I like to join!

So in the next week or so, I will be making a supervised start on my summer wardrobe, beginning with some simple tops and trousers, then possibly, more ambitiously, a jumpsuit. I've already bought some super easy patterns, and some lovely fabrics.  Of course I also need coordinating accessories so I'm also going to have a go at making some jewellery, from both polymer clay and wet felted beads.  

Again, I will post the results of my efforts in due course if they're suitable for public exhibition. The thing about trying new crafts is that it's impossible to turn out anything half decent on the first few attempts, so I will have to work through the initial dispiriting trials and failures before I resolve all the problems which I'm certain to encounter.

I now have NO IDEA why I thought I'd be stuck for stuff to do....!

Thursday 18 January 2024

Turravee taken.....

Scots vernacular - Turravee; a wild, extravagant mood, a strange turn, an odd notion or fancy

The other day I took a turravee and decided to re-organise my workroom craft room.


I've lost count of how many times I've done this over the 20 years we've lived in this house, but each time I do, I'm convinced that it will be the last one and that the room will be absolutely perfect.  

An oasis of creative calm, with a place for everything and everything in its place.  Will I NEVER learn?

Scene: Sandra's craft room.  I've pulled everything out of all the miscellaneous boxes and drawers and am standing on the only free 30cm square of space, looking around disconsolately.  A small furry presence gradually materialises in the doorway....

Small Dog (for it is she): Bluddy hell murm.... whott is itt ThISs tyme?  Ai karnt evin gett inn and aim nonkorpawreal!

Me:*quickly clearing a space on the chair* Oh SD.  Am I glad to see you!  Well, as you can see I'm...

SD: *interrupting* Ai kan sea whott yure doen.  Maken a unnholey mes ass yewsule. 

Me:*dispiritedly* Well, yes.  I started to tidy up and it got out of hand. 

SD: *sceptically* Fourgiv me... aim kno eckspert on tydien upp butt shudent the rume luke bettr aftur?

Me: *quietly* Yes.  Yes it should.  And it will.  I'm in that no woman's land between making the mess and resolving it.

SD: *quizzically* Hmm... and houws thatt goen?

Me: *resignedly* Badly.  I need more storage and...

SD:*implacably* KNO!  Yue du knott nead moar stoarij.  Yue nead less StUF!  Ai thott yue wer dounsighsen?

Me:*warily* I am.  But I now run a craft group, plus I'm going to take up dressmaking again and I DO NEED STUFF!

SD: *astonishedly* DrESMaKeN?!?!  Yure goen to maik kloaths?

Me: *assertively* Yes.  I used to make my own clothes when I was in my teens and now that I'm retired I'd like to take it up again.  It's so much easier now... lots of YouTube videos and tutorials, many more shortcuts, sewing aids and gadgets.



SD *carefully* Hmm... ar yue shure?  Ai meen... yure a odd shaip.  Sortt of rownd with bitts sticken owt.  Ar shaipliss saks in fashun att the momint?

Me: *huffily* Right, that's enough.  I'll admit that haute couture tailoring is beyond my skillset, but I'm sure I can knock up a flattering jumpsuit, or flowing trousers and tops.  Shorts even. I'm going to make some for my holiday.

SD: *sniggering* Okai.... butt doant sai ai dident worrn yue. Inn the meentym, yude bettr starrt kleerin up thiss mes.  

Me:*crestfallen* A little bit of encouragement wouldn't go amiss SD.  I know I'm always coming up with madcap ideas and hairbrained schemes, but I will keep it simple and I'm sure I can manage to make a few nice outfits in my newly re-organised sewing room.

SD: *gently* Yess aim shure yue wil.  Ai wos onlie pullen yure legg.  Yue ar alwais veri kreativ and when yue starrt sumthen yue alwais see it thrue.  Ai luke forwerd to seein yore knue owtfitts.

Me: *resolvedly* Thank you SD.  I will take all you've said on board and look forward to revealing my holiday wardrobe in due course.  In the meantime I need to order some pretty storage boxes for all my sewing stuff.  So lovely to see you....

SD gradually fades away, and Sandra quietly closes the door on the mess and sets about some online retail therapy.....

Lions and tigers and bears....Oh My!

With Christmas now a fast receding memory, I can now reveal the contents of my 2023 Advent Box.

This is finished piece, made up from the 25 kits, a colourful illuminated circus booth stall filled to bursting with lots of circus and animal themed kits, plus two new doll kits which I designed specially for the box.

I have a few additional individual kits left over so I'm going to make up some mixed packs and offer them for sale later this month.  I've also been rooting through more of my boxes and will have more things to sell which I've been hanging onto but will likely never use so I'll add them to the list too.

So.... watch this space!