Posts tagged ‘sewing’

October 12, 2012

Saving up and sewing.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve made some travel plans. I really want to take my kids on a big trip when they are a bit older and so now comes the dull part – saving up. I’m awful at saving up, but I’m determined to try my best. I don’t want to miss the chance to visit the places on my long-held wish list and share an exciting adventure with my family, purely because I’ve spent all my money on magazines and takeaways. I have also asked a Twitter friend to act as my spending police, and she’s being rather vigilant, which is a good thing…

Of course, there lots of other grown-up and serious things that I spend money on too, but (apart from trying to get better deals on things) they are non-negotiable so I’m going to focus my efforts on the areas I can change.  Which is primarily food and entertainment. Food I’m going to tackle in another post. Today I’m going to tell you about my new plan. Which is to go back to attempting to learn crafts in order to enjoy my new Blythe hobby without it bankrupting me. Blythe is one of the most expensive hobbies I’ve stumbled into. And I talk as someone whose long term hobby is horses, for heaven’s sake. The point to the exercise is that it’s likely to take me four years or so to afford the trip I have in mind. That’s a long time to save. So, I’m hoping to still do the things I love, but in a more economical way!

Anyway, I’ve mentioned in the past that I feel as though I will never, ever learn to knit and I’ve shared my attempt at crochet with you. But I do feel reasonably confident that I might be able to sew. I had a lesson in machine sewing at the start of the year with the supremely talented Abi Manifold and I’ve been promised the loan of a couple of sewing machines so that’s all lovely (and free!) but the first step is to learn how to use a pattern to create something.

There are lots of free patterns for doll clothes online so I’ve printed one off and I’m using a bag of things I bought in a fit of enthusiasm a while ago to try and hand-sew a simple dress. In a week. Which to those of you who know what you’re doing must be laughable. But to me, is about as easy as performing surgery. You will notice from the photograph that I also have glue, but I’ll try my very best not to use this!

This time next week, I will either share a blog post with you in which I share my success or my failure. Fingers crossed…

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January 6, 2012

Almost Haute Couture…

Those of you who have been here before will remember that I promised myself a blogging schedule that included a ‘Margot Friday’ post, about the rather more glamorous of my interests. So, what I am I doing talking about sewing then? Surely that is more of a Barbara kind of activity? When it is sewing up holes in old clothes and re-attaching buttons, that is.

When your sewing instructor asks you what, in your wildest dreams, would you like to create and you say ‘Haute Couture?’ it suddenly becomes a Margot activity. Even if I’m the one sewing it, there is nothing more luxurious than having something handmade and therefore unique.

On Wednesday I had the great pleasure to finally meet Abi Manifold from Sew You who designs and makes the most beautiful pieces – bunting, ipad cases, purses and all manner of pretty things. I highly recommend you take a look at what she has for sale here. She makes bespoke bunting too, which is my absolute favourite.

The other thing she does is teach people like me to sew. People who have never even sat in front of a sewing machine, let alone used one. I met Abi through the power of Twitter, which I am beginning to think has changed my life. The odd thing about Twitter is that we never get to meet many of the real people we chat to each and every day. I am lucky that I have already met two – and they’ve both been wonderful.

In her bright and colourful studio above the street in wet and windy Saltaire (where I’d appeared like the proverbial drowned rat, and been given restorative tea) she showed me everything I needed to know about a sewing machine, and let me loose. Despite my squeals, I did manage to keep in control of it, and had a great deal of fun in the process. Now my mind is spinning on all the things that apparently, I can make with my new skills. Not to mention what I will do with all the beautiful fabric that I’ve seen in the past and walked away from because I didn’t have a clue what I’d do with it. No more!

What it made me realise yet again, is that being unable to sew wasn’t due to my lack of innate ability, it was purely because no-one had ever taught me how. What I particularly liked about the session was that Abi asked me how I like to learn and then taught me in my preferred way. Her understanding of how we all like to learn in different ways makes her such a great, natural and empathetic teacher. Not to mention that she’s funny and warm so the conversation flowed really easily and I was stunned when the time was up. I hope to return to make a couple of pieces under her expert guidance, having come away from the session with a big smile, a sense of great optimism and lots of plans for clothing for myself and the kids.

‘Margot & Barbara Designs’…now there’s an idea!

Beautiful colours at Sew You

November 23, 2011

Not Very Crafty…

I never learned to knit when I was younger. Or crochet, sew, embroider – or any other craft. From the age of seven, I spent all my spare time with ponies.

So, it’s a bit of an embarrassment to find myself at the age of thirty-five being completely clueless about craft. To be honest, it still baffles me how many women of my age do know how to do these things – where did they learn, what did I miss? (Mum, I’m looking at you…) I have decided that I want to learn a craft as part of my 35:35 Challenge, and so that, in time-honoured tradition, I can pass it on to my children

I’ve been trying, through the advice from a mixture of library books, YouTube and some lovely people on Twitter, to learn for myself. One of the biggest stumbling blocks for me appears to be my left-handedness. You see, all the instructions are for right handed people. Even if you do find something that teaches you how to do it left-handed, there is still the issue of following patterns, all of which are written for the right- handers. It’s an irony, given that left handed people are actually supposed to be more creative (something to do with having a dominant right-brain, apparently.)

This is my first attempt at crochet. Don’t laugh. It took half a day, and a LOT of creative swearing, to get this much:

A tiny piece of crochet…

I will persevere with the crochet, but am also pinning high hopes on sewing. I have a one-to-one session booked in with the lovely Abi at Sew You Handmade in January. Looking at some of the beautiful work she creates, if I cannot learn from her, then there is no hope.

If all else fails though, and I have to give up trying to make things, I will teach my children the art of accessorising instead, and pin one of these lovely sparkly letters from Markus Lupfer (at Net A Porter) onto everything I own…

Markus Lupfer sequinned initial brooches

Are they not the cutest bit of sparkle ever? I might buy the letters to spell ‘mummy’. After all, Eve does like me to wear a badge so I don’t forget:

A badge for me…

September 13, 2011

Autumn: A new start

I love the changing of the seasons. One of the best things of living in Britain is that we still have distinct seasons, bringing different foods, activities, and changes to our natural environment. Autumn is one of my favourite times of year. Partly because it’s the time for apple harvesting,watching the leaves turn colour and sitting on the sofa under a cosy blanket, but also because it means a new start. Although Spring is the usual time for us to think about new beginnings, I think Autumn, with it’s memories of new school terms (and new books, blank white pages of paper and fresh pens) is a great time to think about what is coming next.

For me, it’s looking forward to the lovely run up to Christmas, with Apple Day, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Eve’s birthday all to come before then. Now that I’ve completed one of the biggest physical challenges of my 35:35 Challenge, it’s time to take stock. I have got a long way to go to make all 35 and not all of them can be as brutal as Yorkshire 3  Peaks or I might not make it. So my thoughts are turning to challenges based around the gentle arts – baking, making, and craft-type activities that seem to suit the early days of Autumn.

‘Katy’ apples on my allotment

As the recent winds have given me rather too many windfall apples, I won’t be able to keep them for eating, so apple recipes are needed for a start.

I also have a desire to learn some new crafts – I am very good at thinking up ideas, but pretty awful at completing things. I can spend hours dreaming over Jane Brocket’s book, ‘The Gentle Art of Domesticity’, (or actually all her books and blog, I think she’s wonderful) but I rarely make anything – apart from endless baking with Eve, sometimes from Jane’s book ‘Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer’, which, in a work of genius, combines food and children’s literature – two of my favourite things!

Anyway, I digress. In order to complete a few ‘gentle’ challenges, I am looking for a teacher. I hope to attempt a bit of crochet, perhaps knitting, who knows? So I’m on the hunt for people to teach me some of these things. To start with though, I’m going to try to find a simple dressmaking pattern and use some of my old Liberty fabric to make something!

If you’ve got any fantastic apple recipes, simple dressmaking patterns or other Autumnal loveliness let me know!