Thursday, 20 March 2014

Introducing Flo

I have stitched and created for a long time now.  Since 1999 I have been a fully qualified Costume Interpreter. "A what" I hear you say, well when you watch any kind of theatrical production on the stage or screen, the costumes will have been designed by one soul, and their designs then interpreted by another team of souls.  The costume Designer is the person who gets a credit at the end of a programme/film/brochure.  The Interpreters or Makers do not usually get any credit, just the satisfaction of making someone look like their character and hopefully aiding in their over all performance.  Oh and we get paid...a bit...but that is another post, I could go into all the differences between working on film(big bucks) or in Theatre(sometimes not so big bucks), but I won't.

Interpreters or makers as we are more usually known sometimes work in a team, a duo or all by ourselves.  If we work in a team the person in charge is called a "Cutter", because they draft and cut the garments, then the makers construct the garment and the cutter then fits the items on the actor and marks up the alterations and hands it back to the maker to finish.  If we work solo we have to do all these tasks ourselves.  In theatre we rarely use commercial stock size patterns, we work from a set of the persons measurements, and either flat draft a pattern (on paper using a set of slightly complicated instructions-if you are a maths whizz you would love this).   Or you can cut "on the stand", this involves a tailors dummy, a piece of cloth, pins and some twiddling.

This is a dress I am currently cutting "on the stand".
  In industry we use Stockman stands.  Solid and fixed size calico tailors stands which we pad up to a specific size using a bit of wadding until it is a replica of the person we are making for.  They are the lovely things they use on the "Great British Sewing Bee", and cost a lot of money.  You used to be able to pick them up second hand when I was a student, but lots of people have bought them to look decorative in their big houses, with maybe a lovely scarf draped across them (not that I am bitter of course).  So  I have finally accepted that I am never to find a bargain stockman, and instead bought myself a "Lady Valet"( I know it is a silly name).  It is not as flimsy as the little adjustable stand I had when I was a teenager.  She is somewhere in between a lovely Stockman, and a lightweight dressmakers stand, and she is called Flo.

Here is Flo modelling another Client's dress.
She is not merely a decorative prop, she has come in very handy and indeed invaluable when levelling hems and cutting a pattern, and as she is adjustable so I can even make her my size, meaning I no longer have to disrobe in my workroom(back corner where I won't scare the neighbours).
 Isn't she lovely!!! 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Super Sunny Sunday
Well spring has finally sprung in our neck of the woods.  After what felt like the longest winter on record, we finally have the first signs of spring
Like everywhere in the country this winter has been the soggiest and greyest for a long time, last year we had a snowy one-not sure which was worse.  Thankfully we haven't suffered awful flooding like the poor folks down south, we had a scary tidal surge not far away but the damage around here is more to farmers fields rather than the houses.
 So it was so lovely to get out in the garden at the weekend and tidy up the garden.  It is a good feeling to clear away all last seasons dead brown crispy bits, and unearth all the new fresh shoots peeping through the earth.  The cheery daffs really gave me a lift.

The birds have been making themselves known, singing their hearts out, and we have a couple of blue tit families making themselves at home in the bird boxes.  I didn't manage to capture them on film but I did spy this little brown bird( Dunnock or house sparrow maybe), he was singing away on the ivy.

There was so much warmth in the sun that a few brave bumblebees and butterflies were flitting about, this butterfly was attracted to the warm plastic sack I was using for my garden detritus.
The final sign of the weather changing is my washing flapping in the breeze, soo happy to be able to get it dry outside, it always smells so much nicer.  It also means we no longer have to walk through a wall of washing dangling off the airer in the lean-to!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

New Toy!
I spied this beauty in Vintage Mischief over the summer, my Mum was staying with us and she saw how much I had fallen in love with it. She was in her original case with bits and bobs in the drawer as if someone had just stopped sewing a moment earlier.  I have wanted an old singer for ages and especially a hand crank model, so I can sew through a power cut is the practical excuse, but really I just love these old machines and now have several pre-loved machines of various eras.  She was very reasonably priced so I succumbed to my Mum's kind offer and we took her home.  We couldn't get her going, so I have finally got around to taking her to see the excellent machine repair shop in my local town and he has made her all well again.  The chap who repairs them is very knowlegeable  when It comes to machine history, and he was able to tell me it is a 1951 model and that it had hardly been used-but I am going to change all that.  Starting with my son, he is always interested in what I am making, and frequently asking to do some knitting or crochet, I have many balls of wool now in a pickle due to his "knitting" technique.  As all he has to do  nowis turn the wheel he can sew like mummy,  he knows that he doesn't put his fingers anywhere near the sharp pointy thing, and I only let him use it under my strict supervision for any H&S worriers out there. 

We made a St Valentine's card  for his Daddy on it a couple of weeks ago, he selected the cloth and trim and I did all the directing of cloth, the first of many creations maybe...

Whilst my little boy has been machining I have gone back to a bit of therapeutic hand stitching.  I purchased a partly made paper pieced quilt a couple of years ago, and I am slowly completing the final section.  Whoever started this lovely thing had kindly done all the donkey work for me, it came with a bag full of hexagons ready to sew together.  So not only do you get the joy of looking at all the lovely pieces of vintage cottons, but the lovely little card templates are old cut up greeting cards from way back when.  My son loves getting all the brightly coloured hexagons out and making pictures out of them,  he sat beside me for  a while and selected the next hexagon for me to sew onto my growing section of quilt.

I am hoping to hand quilt the finished patchwork, so it is going to be an on going long term project, one for the long winter evenings and hot summer days stitching in the garden.

The day I took these shots my little one was recovering from a tummy bug doing the rounds of our area, and I had a stinking cold.  It felt very cosy and calm as I sat and stitched and he snoozed himself well.  Another memory that will be stitched into the quilt forever.