Yesterday was a bit of a sort out day in my sewing room. How nice it feels to be organised! Last week when the removals company came to assess what was needed for our 'move' back to England in June, I was suddenly hit with sense of mild uneasiness at the task ahead. Although I might think I am an old hand at this moving lark, I can say this with absolute clarity - THIS IS THE LAST TIME!!! So, when I heard the guy sigh at the sight of my sewing space, I was galvanised into action...well sort of.... I think its easy to forget when you are happy just to sit all day, every day in a pile of wonderful fabrics and threads and colour, knowing exactly what you are going to do with it all, that to somebody else, it simply looks like chaos. When I spotted these wonderful storage boxes in our local department store, I bought their entire stock and having filled them fairly quickly, may have to go back next week to see if they have got any more in. Aren't they pretty? They are actually quite sturdy and are made from recycled material, so that eases my conscience at indulging my passion for red and turquiose. I think they will look fab in my new sewing room when we get home and so much nicer than plastic boxes. So what d'ya'think? I think super cool!
Meanwhile, back amidst the pile of chaos I have alittle sewing to share with you. I love historical costumes and books about historical costumes and am always lamenting the style of dress we call fashion today. When I was a little girl, my very favourite book was the Ladybird Story of Clothes and Costumes. Do you remember these? I cannot tell you how many times I copied and coloured the pictures in this book.
It still sits reassuringly on the shelf in my sewing space, but I have moved up in the book stakes to something a little more sophisticated these days, although essentially the idea for me is the same as when I was 8 years old. My two most drooled over books are V&A publications and I can sit quite happily and while away the time with these.
It's a bit like watching those lavish costume dramas on TV - you just oooh and ahhh and wonder what it is that we have lost in our search for easy wash, easy wear garments. No doubt mass production is the culprit here, but what if we just take a little time to look at what's involved in making a simple garment beautiful.
One of my favourite photographs in the book is this:
The book plate lists it as 'Dress of Muslin embroidered with wool circa 1808', It's fair to say you couldn't go shopping in Tesco's in such a garment - but you could take some inspiration from this and put it on an everyday shirt that I reckon would sit quite nicely with jeans. I am not so good at dressmaking as I may have mentioned before, but this is something I intend to work on. I cut up an old piece of sheeting and using a very simple sleeveless shirt pattern, I cut out a bodice. Before attempting to stitch it together, I copied some of the motifs from the photograph onto the neckline. It turned out pretty well, I think...
The embroidered flowers were simple, but I did learn a thing or two. First of all you need to stabilise the fabric before you stitch. If its a pretty sheer fabric to begin with and you don't want to spoil this look, perhaps 'stictch and tear' is a good option. I just put a band of iron on interfacing around the neckline and it seemed to be ok. Obviously the fabric I used was not really suitable and when I make another one that intend to actually wear, I shall probably opt for something a bit more substantial like Liberty Tana Lawn or just 100% patchwork weight cotton. I might also add in some of that beautiful pintuck detail on the bodice, which again is something much overlooked these days. I used ordinary DMC embroidery floss as the idea of 'wool' like the original didn't seem a very 'washable' choice to me -but then again, I don't suppose they really 'washed' dresses like that. It was an interesting experiment and something to work on further - just a beginning on a journey that has been a long time coming....... Ruby x