A little patchwork elephant

A little patchwork elephant

We have a new little one just arrived in our extended family and I wanted to make her something special.  Hot on the success of my patchwork Santa, I turned to my Tilda books for inspiration.   This time it was the a little elephant in the Tilda Studio book that caught my eye.  Her books never fail to entice me into making something as they are so beautifully presented.

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Tilda's Patchwork Santa

Tilda's Patchwork Santa

I mean, seriously....isn't he just darling?!?!?!  In fact, this statement would apply to just about anything in the book that he came from -  the latest book from Tilda's Tone Finnanger, 'Sewing by Heart'.  I think the only way to describe it is 'divine'.  Glorious photographs of beautiful hand made things with a Scandinavian flavour - it is an all year around book, with projects for every season.

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"Sewing Happiness" - A book review

"Sewing Happiness" - A book review

I fully plan to make some more of the projects in this book. I am a little bit taken by the author's quest for simplicity, not just in making things but in life. I was impressed that towards the end of the book, she talks about how she doesn't really buy clothes anymore for either herself or her daughter, she makes them.

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Adventures in Dressmaking, Episode 2 - An Applique Cardigan

Adventures in Dressmaking, Episode 2 - An Applique Cardigan

I am not a dressmaker and these projects are massive learning curves and really just a beginning. What is amazing to me, is that so far, both projects have turned out to be wearable and perhaps a little bit more even... amazing. I put this down to the fact that the garments are made in 100% soft cotton jersey. It is more forgiving and yields to your body shape however many curves you have and I do have curves.....

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Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems

This is a real summer project to add a splash of colour to any space...indoors or out!  I thought it was a disaster! It turned out to be the prettiest quilt I ever made and it is aptly named, because this quilt is full of surprises!

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The Textile Collection at Gawthorpe Hall

The Textile Collection at Gawthorpe Hall

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to get to visit Gawthorpe Hall and to see a sprinkling of the wonderful textile collection housed there.  When I was working towards my City & Guilds diploma in Sweden, I came across this collection in my research and first learned about Rachel Kay Shuttleworth - the founder of this extensive collection.   My first glimpse of her came in these wonderful books about the history of embroidery by Gail Marsh.  These books are simply wonderful if you love the history of embroidery - full of stunning photographs and packed full of information and techniques, these are ever present in my sewing room and much drooled over.  When I looked further into Gawthorpe's textile collection,  I made a mental bookark to visit this place on my return to England.  As it turns out, amazingly, I don't live too far away and last Saturday we made our first trip there. 

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Adventures in Dress Making with Alabama Chanin

Adventures in Dress Making with Alabama Chanin

So excited to write about this one - really, I cannot tell you how much.......Where to begin....at the very beginning, I suppose.   Last year, when I was finishing up my City & Guilds course, I was doing some research on 'reverse appliqué' and confess I was rather unenthusiastic about this part of the module.  That was, until I came across 'Alabama Chanin'.   It opened up a whole new world to me and oh boy...it is just totally fabulous.

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Inspiration, Experimentation and Sorting out Saturday!

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!

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 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. 

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 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. 

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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:

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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...

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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