Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bring on the yellows!

If there is one magical aspect of Summer, (aside from ice cream, sand in your toes and freckles you didn't know you had), it is the kaleidoscope of colour joyfully adorned in skirts, dresses and other summer attire and worn with a confidence that says 'it's Summer!' Only yesterday, this very subject came up with a friend and whether the onset of Autumn would mean a return to the 'safe' browns, navy and blacks that seem to spell Winter. I include myself in this category and used always to admire people with the confidence to wear a splash of strong pink or a vibrant red on a day when the sky is a flat grey. It seems true that it can lift the mood of both the wearer and the beholder. So, last year I decided it was time that my Winter wardrobe received an injection of colour and perhaps go some way to simulating the same sunny vibes of Summer.

In the last couple of years, I have found myself drawn to the fantastic array of yellows out there in 'fabric world'. Not so much acid yellows as the stronger, more earthy yellows of cumin, saffron yellow, the colour of courgette flowers and of that quintessentially English mustard. I managed to find a fabric last year with just the right splash of colour amongst the vintage yellows of Joel Dewberry's Winter 2011 collection that I wore consistently throughout the Summer and which then continued to sing the joys of yellow throughout the Winter, (teamed with thick grey tights and boots!)

For a colour with such uplifting qualities and happy associations, not least it's reminiscence of Summer and sunshine, it seems a shame it is not celebrated more. I developped a bit of passion for medieval clothes and colour when studying for my Masters (Medieval & Tudor) in Canterbury and how one still might understandably associate the Medieval era with earthy browns and darker tones. In fact, one could argue that there was a braver and more prolific use of colour then than now, with a host of colour dyed fabrics. Amongst these and one of the most popular was, (you guessed it), yellow. In fact, one of the most commercially utitilised dyes in Europe was 'Weld' (grown specifically as a dye plant) and which achieved a bright lemon yellow. Saffron (from the crocus flower) was used to achieve the more earthy, mustard yellows.

Yellow is a colour I would gladly see more of come the darker evenings and shorter days that everyone dreads. With that in mind, I have indulged another fabric crush in the shape of a gorgeous yellow with sycamore seed pod design. I have two dress patterns in mind, but either way, I will be flying the flag for some cheery yellow this Winter and if I come to need a navy or black dress day I may even bring out the mustard yellow tights (too much ?!) So look out for me, I'll be easy to spot!

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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Remnants, Offcuts and Scraps !

In a large box filled with sewing patterns, roughly sketched ideas, copied patterns, and general sewing paraphernalia, resides another bag. In it are contained those offcuts and scraps of fabrics long since transformed into wearable items and now oddly shaped vestiges of their original, neatly cut form. Often they are too small to lend themselves to any immediate useful purpose (more bunting anyone ?!), yet large enough to be wasteful in throwing away.
 However, having recently been taken at my word when suggesting that a medieval style bench would be a new lease of life for some wooden sleepers lingering at the back of the shed, I now feel I should take myself at my own word and furnish said bench with some newly hewn cushions. 
It is quite possible that the cushions will feature different fabric pieces on each side given their wonderfully asymmetric nature - perhaps even differing fabric on the same side! Nonetheless, it will be a joy to see them freed from their ''bag in the box'' and transformed again into something to be used and enjoyed.

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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Beauty of Boiled Wool

I am never normally one to rush into Wintery thoughts whilst the Summer is still thriving, but with a dress project finished and a wardrobe that I realise is now rather well stocked with homemade Summer attire, I decided it may be time to turn my attention to the creation of some winter wearable items - and now would be a good time to start!

I think my fixation with gorgeous florals and pretty textile designs always see me falling to summer patterns, but there are a host of divine wool jerseys and other slightly heavier fabrics that play favourably to an English Winter. Boiled wool is a favourite and amongst my sewing circle. innumerous, fabulous boiled wool jackets and coats have been crafted over the years, including this one that I made for my gorgeous Mum.
Boiled wool is basically shrunken wool or wool blend fabric, which compresses it into a denser, more tightly woven fabric ~ a process that dates back to the Middle Ages, when it paid to keep warm ! In fact most of us at some point will have unwittingly created our own boiled wool by shrinking a jumper in the wash!

Boiled wool works fabulously well for  cardigans, coats, jackets and hats and is comfortable and wearable. Another part of its appeal for the clothesmaker is that you can leave the edges raw without risk of fraying, also giving it a wonderfully organic, 'honest' look and feel. The above loose fitting coat is from a now out of print, but enduringly popular Issey Miyake pattern (2038), and I have seen it created several times over with fabulous results every time. Other patterns that work well with boiled wool include Vogue 8696. So, all hail to boiled wool season, but first of course, the rest of a splendid Summer.
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Sunday, 4 August 2013

The finished Article !

It feels a while since my dreamy pondering through the window of Jigsaw, Argyll St.! However, with those meanderings as my source of inspiration, I now have the dress of my imaginings and in the fabric of my dreams. Oh, and the sleeves got to stay!...After some deliberation, an input of votes from my most trusted sewing confraternity and followed by a little hidden, 'nip and tuck', I persuaded the sleeves away from their somewhat regimental, 'stand to attention' look and into a softer capped sleeve that won me over.

Also of some excitement was the creation of three covered buttons, a new experience for me and very little input for a rather gratifying result!
I am also happy with my added pleats in the back and the effect they create...just what I wanted. Having gone to the effort of adapting this pattern to indulge my demands, I think I'll certainly be making it again, perhaps with a few more tweaks based on ideas and 'issues' that cropped up along the way ;o) All that remains otherwise is to wear and enjoy it !
The pattern also includes a little purse. Normally, (don't ask me why), I would shy away from the 'matching bag' look, but I have two special occasions to which this dress will be worn, so I'm thinking I'll go for gold!
Herewith a couple more pics taken by the hubbie ~ given that I dragged him away from important shed business to take them for me.
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