Friday, 27 May 2011

Mr Chapman, I salute you.

This is Mr Chapman. He owns a brilliant sewing machine shop on Parkway London (incidentally, the best sewing machine shop ever in my view).

Possibly the most brilliant man in the world

It is brilliant because they take time to help you out, will scour the earth to find you long out of production bits and pieces for your ancient Bernina (mine) and will sit you down at a machine and make you sew stuff and do things until you've absolutely nailed techniques and what have you. And they do a great line in banter.

Mr Chapman is also brilliant. Not just because he is about 426 (83) and still rocking a fierce work attitude (he's in the shop most days), nor just because he wears a fine pair of tweed slacks. Because it turns out when he was ordering a new car 5 years ago, they said it only came in silver. Mr Chapman didn't want a silver car, oh no. He happened to have a sewing machine colour chart on him and so insisted they sprayed the same colour as his machine, a lovely light duck egg blue number. Brilliant. I mean, you've got to love a fella with that much dedication.

Do pop in if you're passing by. This man is one of a kind.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The man quilt! It lives!


You know when you start a project and it's all exciting and you love the material and you just go for it and it's all brilliant? And then you get side tracked with other stuff, and the impetus to finish just sorts of drifts away? Yeah, that.

But now it's finished and I'm chuffed to bits. And not a moment too soon! It's a wedding present for a friend and going to its new home shortly. Man, I hope they like it.

First the fabrics. Oh yeah.

Manly fabrics

And then a first test to check all will be groovy. Everyone agreed pink shiny fabric was OUT.

Fabric test

(Then a gap of about 3 months)

Then some planning. Actually "some" is a little generous. Not that much.

Man quilt

Admiring the homemade manicure  (comments have ranged from, "Gosh, you did a lot of gardening at the weekend." to "It looks like you've dipped your fingers in tar.") And check the new walking foot, sent from the gods. Well, from The Magnificent Mum.

Nails and walking foot

Then a wrestle of epic proportions began. And thus, The HusWife's cycling gloves came in handy. Look at my lovely Bernina. I do love it so. (Note to self, learn to take better photos)

The Epic Wrestle (TM)

And now here it is, photographed in bad light, looking a bit crumpled, on a crap camera. Better photo to follow.

In bad light

Things I've learnt:

1) Silk velvet is evil and no longer welcome in my house. Its silky shimmering charms lure you in and then it mocks and teases you and refuses to be sewn. Ick.
2) I am never ever making another quilt this size ever again.
3) I really need to take better photos.

Other lovely creative spaces over here.
And other lovely bits of lovely quiltage over here at Lily's Quilts.

And the slightly less moody (but still a bit moody) and slightly better (only slightly) photo...

The man quilt

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Why I love my day job

I got to go here yesterday and meet one of most prolific, renegade and brilliant designers in the world:

Ron Arad Associates Ltd

I did proper swooning. (Although I tried to not show it). Sigh. I really do love my job.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

made in clerkenwell

I had a very nice time mooching around the studios at Craft Central on Friday after a mental day running about on errands. It was great to see all the designers working away in their studios or hanging out being groovy. There was a good mix of jewellery, interiors, textiles and printmaking with a couple of stand out people that I had nice chats with.

First up was Vic Lee, who goes round drawing different streets in London, and then hand renders a potted history of the street in lovely type too. Now, clearly there's a lot of "Ooh, lets draw all the iconic buildings in London" going on with lots of designers, but there was something about this guys work that drew me in.

His work just seemed to have a bit more soul, hand drawn, wobbly bits and all, and then hand printed beautifully.

He hasn't got much northside stuff yet, but promises me that Highbury Corner is in the offing later this year. Can't wait.

Next up was Davina Hawthorne. Such a lovely, friendly soul and an absolutely cracking designer maker. I fell in love with one of her frocks and she whisked me off to try it on immediately. It's this gorgeous beauty:

 I have to make a decision really quickly if I want one or not, as it'll take 2 weeks from ordering it to having it in my sweaty's a lot of money for me to spend on a frock, but I have 2 very special weddings to go...the first is on 11th June....ooooh...can I justify it? It's so gorgeous, I might regret it if I don't...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

My creative space - such a hoarder!

Things have been getting terribly out of hand at home. I have a small sewing table in a corner of our lounge; here it is when it had just been built by The HusWife.

My new *permanent* sewing table made by The HusWife and The Son

So tidy! So clear and clean and full of possibility!

Completely different story these days. Piles on piles of fabric all wobbly and threatening to fall over, a few boxes and plastic bags thrown in the pile for good measure, and the zips are always, always at the bottom when you need them the most.

The sewing table

Time for a clear out. And what did I find? Three bags of the tiniest weeniest scraps that have been hoarded since I started sewing a year and a half ago.

Scraps pile

Admittedly, some pieces are a bit larger and will be salvaged, but what on earth are you supposed to do with the tiny weeny bits?! Throwing them away seems like madness - it's a bit like looking through an archive of everything I've ever made; fabric reminders of presents long since given away, or experiments long forgotten. But keeping them? Surely even madder! I've been thinking about sorting them into colours and then pasting them onto a canvas or something - and then, then, I had a meeting at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden today and there was this piece of art on the walls:

A bit of art at The Hospital Club

Art detail

It's made of tiny weeny pieces of card all cut into petal shapes and I think it looks rather lovely...but really, am I ever going to get round to doing that with all my scrappy bits?! What do you do with yours?

I suspect for now, they're going back into the bags they came from, and shoved to the bottom of the pile, where they can languish until the next manic tidy up!

Other interesting creative stuff at Our Creative Spaces via Kootoyoo

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Exciting places to visit

This weekend it's "made in clerkenwell" and I'm hotfooting it down there on Friday. It's billed as a way to meet 90 designer makers across all sorts of types of disciplines, in their studios where they work their magic. Brilliant.

made in clerkenwell

It costs a whopping £2.50 to get in. And that covers access to 2 buildings for all 4 days of the exhibition. Recession-tastic. (Although I suspect my wallet might be somewhat lighter after the visit given the designers that are showing...)

I'm looking forward to going; it has been too long since I took the time out to really look at stuff and meet new people.

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

Last year I declared to anyone who would listen that I needed to start my own business. Am gaining speed on the big 4-0 you see, and I've found there's no better incentive to get your arse in gear. So, you'll find me working late into the night trying out patterns and throwing fabric around trying to find a way to make a business out of my craft. There's clearly a lot to do! But instead of staring into the abyss and getting the fear really badly, I'm working my way through a very extensive to-do list (oh how we Virgos like a good to-do list). It's such a long list because I've gone into micro detail on each task, so that I can have the pleasure of ticking lots of things off!

One item staring me down has been developing my own website. Given that this is my day job, you'd think I'd be totally on it already. Alas no. But today I finally registered the url and have knocked up a quicky holding page that can be sorted out at a later date once I know what direction I'm going in. It's very basic at the mo - one might say it's a very small bite of the elephant - but do pop by if you fancy it


Saturday, 14 May 2011

My creative space - going slightly off tangent..

Oh! To-do lists staring me down...piles of fabric all messed up needing attention...the leaning tower of admin threatening to topple over...and what do I do? I think to myself, "You know what, I could sew together some of that left over fabric I've got from my denim quilt, but do it roughly this time and then wash it and see what happens."

This is what happened. Before it went into the washing machine:

Before the denim went into the machine

And after:

After the denim came out of the machine

And oh, I think we likey right?

Denim experiment

And so, when I need a bit of a break from all the other things clamoring for attention I'm going to set about making a lovely big quilt using up all the random weird shapes of denim I have lying around. And then maybe use a nice bit of diagonal stripey cotton to back it with. Yum yum.

I think what this crazy freeform denim needs is some formal shirting. A diagonal stripe perhaps, hmmmm yes...

Lovely creative spaces over at Kootoyoo

Congratulations Annie!

So, the lovely Annie got married yesterday to the magnificent Loz and a marvellous time was had by all. We drank champagne and ate lovely food and boogied to brilliantly weddingy music. Annie looked beautiful in her dress and it was good to see her bag in action. Seeing as I'd not handed it over personally when it was finished I didn't quite know what she made of it...but it turns out she loves it and was proud to carry it. Hurrah! It was worth all the nervous heart beats preparing the pattern.

Wedding bag

Wedding bag

Wedding bag interior, handstitched date

Wedding bag clasp detail

Wedding bag pleat detail

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Look who rang!

A message from Daniel

Brilliant! @spaceboy took the message but failed to get his number. Amateur!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Progressing the man quilt. Finally.

Oh, the projects we take on eh? I'm up to my eyeballs in all sorts of things sewing related (got something up my sleeve for later this year which has a MASSIVE to-do list attached to it...) most of which I haven't been able to mention yet. And then I have my own personal to-do list, gifts and experiments and what have you that have taken a bit of a back seat lately. You might remember the man quilt project from before when I did a test and got the OK from the sewing world (thank you!). I managed a few rows here and there for a while and then just couldn't muster the strength to carry on; and now, yes you've guessed it, it has to be ready in under 3 weeks. Gazooks. Managed to crank out 5, yes 5 rows tonight...better crack on. (Have also had a major wobble about it, not sure it's working blah blah, I hate the material blah blah. The HusWife patiently pointed out that I'm like this with every project and that I'm to to reserve judgement until it's finished. Roger that!)

Man quilt

Man quilt

Friday, 6 May 2011

Waking up early has its benefits

I've been setting the alarm early so I can write every morning before getting the boys up and at 'em and starting the mad rush to get ready for school/work. And so far this week, this is what I've seen out of our lounge window. Lovely.

The benefits of early rising

At this time of morning our estate is so quiet you can hear the birds and there is no-one around. A rare silence. The leaves move about in the gentle wind and the sun dapples about on my face. B-rilliant. The longer I live in London the more important the odd 5 minutes of quiet becomes. I am very fond of my early mornings. Slightly less fond of the bags under my eyes though. Hey ho. You make your choices.

Monday, 2 May 2011

A perfect pattern?

I think so! Finally got a good shape sorted out for Annie's wedding bag and made a prototype out of dupion to test everything out. With double padding in between the outer and lining it feels robust and really nice and lush. Hurrah for perserverance!

Wedding bag prototype