Archives for posts with tag: Sewing
Controlled office chaos

Controlled office chaos

I think this picture of my office says it all – planning for the Patchwork Social, coming up this Bank Holiday weekend at the V&A, has had me organizing, cutting, prepping, and sewing for the last several weeks.  I’m in my element, though – a huge event requiring lots of logistical thought PLUS the creativity of sewing PLUS doing good for others?  Wow.  I couldn’t ask for more.

The weekend is going to be full of great activities – including sewing patchwork blocks by hand or machine, making a ‘virtual quilt’ from designs inspired by the museum’s collections, and learning how to re-purpose your old clothes and textiles into new treasures with Sarah Baulch of ReVampt.  There are also family activities and the chance to cheer on members of Girlguiding London and South East Region (LaSER) as they sew towards their craft badges.

The ‘doing good’ part is because all of the hand- and machine-sewn patchwork is going to be made into quilts for Project Linus UK, a charity supporting seriously ill and traumatised children.  Project Linus will be donating the finished quilts to Great Ormond Street Hospital and Kids Company.

I was running up some example quilts yesterday with the beautiful fabric we’ve got – all 200 metres of it donated by Coats Crafts, plus needles and thread too – and feeling so happy that what I was making was going to go towards making a difference in the life of a child in distress.  It was such a good feeling – now I realize why all the Project Linus volunteers I’ve met are so dedicated to their work.  Over 20 people from Project Linus will be volunteering this weekend, and some of them have already been a great help in cutting and prepping some of the fabric.  (If I’d had to do all 200 metres myself I’d have gone nuts!)

I’m really looking forward to the event and hope that everyone who comes will enjoy it.  In fact, I’m wishing it were tomorrow already.  I may not be able to sleep tonight!

'Here's one I made earlier!'

'Here's one I made earlier!'

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Last week I went to the BurdaStyle London Meetup at the swanky Sketch restaurant.  I’m more of a quilter than a dressmaker (although I’ve just attempted sewing a block/sloper bodice so that I can start making my own clothes for my own hard-to-fit measurements), but I didn’t find that my lack of clothes-sewing made any difference.  It was great to meet the people there – thanks to Melissa of Fehr Trade for inviting me, and thanks to Nora and Carol of BurdaStyle, who hosted the evening and who were very skilled at introducing people to each other.

I got to meet some great people, including Polly and Clare from Selvedge magazine, Helene, Houkje, Susannah, Emily from the London College of Fashion,  Christian from Twisted Thread, and Amy from the East London BurdaStyle Sewing Club, among others.  See the pictures in the BurdaStyle Flickr pool.

Now that I’ve joined BurdaStyle, I’ve got to say how impressed I am with the whole open-source philosophy.  That doesn’t often come out in the world of sewing patterns.  No wonder they get so many new members every month.  As someone who works with digital and who knows the value of open source, I’m totally behind that endeavour.  And as soon as I can figure out how to work with my own measurements, I’ll be using some of the copyright-free BurdaStyle patterns to make some clothes for myself!

I just had the best time making my own film in iMovie!  At the V&A we’re doing a b-movie weekend and having people come in, shoot some film in the galleries, and then edit their clips in iMovie (see the results at http://www.youtube.com/vandabmovieweekend).  

I shot some film myself last night on my own camera and used a lull in today’s activities to make my own movie: Nightmare Mouse!  You can see it on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/crazyfilmproductions 

The blue stuffed toy starring as the evil nightmare mouse was sewn by me a few months ago, as one of the first things I made on the sewing machine my sister gave us for our wedding present.  The hedgehog puppet belongs to my husband!

Dripping Kitty button

Dripping Kitty button

I’m almost ashamed to say how long this project took – and it’s not even done yet!  It all started with a set of 4 fabric-covered ‘Washing Day’ buttons from Creamrose on Etsy.  I saw them and had to have them.  The dripping kitty and laundry-basket doggie were just too cute.  I knew they’d be great for a pillow, so I bought some embroidery threads in matching colours and decided that it would be practice for hand-quilting.  For the pillow top, I used a piece of fabric measuring about 40x40cm, cut from one of those shoe bags that they give you with fancy shoes that you never ever will use for storing the shoes because you already have a system for shoes, which is usually to shove them in your closet and have them fall all over the place, and then the battered old hiking boots suddenly get on top and are shedding crusty mud flakes everywhere…

Laundry Basket Doggie

Laundry Basket Doggie

My plan was simple.  I would embroider diagonal lines along the fabric and then sew the buttons in place.  I would use the three colours (light rose, butternut orange, and baby blue) in whatever order I liked, and the lines didn’t have to be evenly spaced (or even that straight – and they weren’t).  It was actually really fun to do it as something to have in my hands while watching DVDs, and it was also very soothing and relaxing (although I did poke myself an uncountable number of times with my very sharp needle, causing disruptive adrenaline rushes).  But it took so long that I must admit that I embroidered through the entire Season 1 of The Wire on DVD (plus some full-length Poirot mysteries) before I was done!

I have to go out and get a pillow form today so I can finish it up.  Then that’ll be one project I can check off my list!

Washing Day buttons and embroidery

Washing Day buttons and embroidery

I’m making a quilt out of my husband’s old shirts.  I’ve been working on it since July, with a couple of long lulls in between bouts of activity.  The big lull was because I was afraid of starting the actual quilting part – I was fine with putting together the pieces for the quilt top (they’re only plain strip squares, after all, so how complicated could they be?), and I even attempted some log cabin squares which turned out pretty well.  But getting that layer attached to the batting and the bottom layer really threw me for a while.  I did lay it out and safety-pin it and then baste it, but I was worried about getting it through the sewing machine with all those layers.  Hand-quilting the whole thing, though, was out of the question.  So after a few months’ hiatus, I finally tried machine-quilting.

Quilt top - as of August 2008

Quilt top - as of August 2008

It was much better than I expected.  My needle didn’t immediately break, and in fact the layers didn’t seem to cause the machine any trouble at all.  A relief.  So now I’m working on ‘quilting in the ditch’, which is basically sewing along the seams that already exist.  That part is what’s causing me trouble.  Usually I can draw a pretty straight line, but when I’m feeding a really bulky piece of fabric into the sewing machine I find myself unable to sew in a straight line!  Some of my stitches have veered off slightly before I could stop them.  But no quilt is perfect, and it’s my first one, so I’m happy with the results so far.  I do have a backache from being at the sewing machine for a while, though!

Ceramic cup by James and Tilla Waters

Ceramic cup by James and Tilla Waters

I went to Origin – the London Craft Fair at Somerset House yesterday, for the second time in as many weeks.  I knew as soon as I stepped in the door on October 9th that I’d want to come back for the second round of artisans, so I bought the special two-visit ticket, and I’m glad I did.  Yesterday’s visit was every bit as good as the first.  I brought my sister this time and she enjoyed it too.

Walking into a space filled with beautiful work of every description made me feel giddy for the first few minutes; after half an hour I felt glutted with loveliness.  It’s actually quite difficult to look at so much beauty all at once.  My usual method is to walk round the space quickly, making a mental note about what I’d like to go back and look at more thoroughly.  Then I go around again, spending more time touching things and talking with the artisans.  My sister and I both admired a gorgeous hand-woven hemp shawl by Tazuko Saitoh and talked to Eloise Grey about her wonderfully tactile organic Scottish tweed coats.

I came away with some goodies for other people and a cup by James and Tilla Waters for myself.  Its minimalist gray and red design is perfect for calm weekend mornings.

I also got an advance copy of Ruth Singer‘s new book, Sew It Up – a modern manual of practical and decorative sewing techniques.  I’m really looking forward to working with some of the quilting techniques!  The book is published on 30 October.