Mummy Dearest

1t jean bodiceThe Six Napoleon Challenge: I am officially postponing the deadline, for two reasons. Firstly, to enable Ruth and Demented Fairy, our teachers/lecturers one of whom is still marking papers, to join us and to add their esteemed grey matter and wealth of sewing experience into the mix.

And, because I have enlisted the help of Anita from Studio Faro.  Anita is a pattern-drafting expert and teacher who demystifies mind-boggling designs in the Pattern Puzzle section of her blog.  She will write a guest post here once she has cleared her current commitments.  This will be followed by something on the Studio Faro blog.

Guys, we’re in good hands!  :-)

Thank you Anita, I’m very grateful.

Challengers: could I ask you to submit something by the first weekend of August (6-7), which is a few days after I come back from my holiday?  I will aim to put everything together on the 8 August.   Apologies to those who feel like you’ve had to rush it, but I trust this will help you.  Or maybe you’re cursing my name because of the inevitability of Parkinson’ Law kicking in, by which I mean that work will drag out to fill the time available!

I’ve got an exciting little deadline to fill the first part of the weekend.  On Wednesday, my daughter announced we should go to a charity fundraising ball at her school on Saturday night because at the beginning of the event she will be doing a dance she has choreographed with a friend, previously scheduled for the Summer Fair but cancelled.  I’d known about the event for some time but was quite keen not to go, not because the tickets are expensive (the aren’t) but because it’s a ‘formal attire’ evening.  It now turns out it’s the only chance I’ll have to see the dance performed on stage.   Daughter will need a dress to wear once her performance is over and she can join us.  In her innocence she planned on wearing her now very tight and slightly stained Tudor Tyrant costume but I suspect a satin fancy dress isn’t the look the organisers are aiming for!  So I reached again for the cling-film, wrapped her up and made this…

1 connie's cling film form

She is a bigger girl than when I last sewed for her exactly a year ago.  There might even be a bust dart in there somewhere!  I now have just over a day to produce a formal dress, using my petroleum-smelling cheap polyester which happens to be in a colour she loves (it’s still stiffened with gelatine).  She’d like me to make something like the beautiful green Greek Goddess dress you can just about see in the top picture which a friend would like fixed after another dressmaker bodged it (no pressure there then…).  But I can only make something very simple in the time.  If I fail (there are 4 errands requiring car trips between now and then), there is always a chance the charity shops will have something lovely in her size.

1 maskeDid I mention it was a masked ball?  We’re making masks too!  If only it wasn’t so windy today and the spray paint didn’t end up on my toes!!  I bought a pack of paper masks and covered two in glue and strips of gauze before painting.  I like the rough texture this has created.

Did I mention I love an adrenaline rush?  And that I’ve replaced my meals with tea so the time I save on preparing and eating food I spend instead …  on the loo 😯   ?

And oh, look: I’ve rescued the black bodice.  I took the advice of reader Sridevi and levelled the tail-like back.  The zip is an open-ended one used for jackets which makes it easy to get in and out of.  But it’s too long.  I don’t know whether to look for a shorter one – what are the odds of finding a 23.5cm open-ended zip? – or to snip this one and tuck the ends inside.   Available zip lengths  is definitely something to consider when drafting this as a bodice alone.  Bonne chance, mes amis. 1 bodice-horz

Man Come Help

1 illuminated loupeDo you know what this is?  They can be found in homes of jewellers, watchmakers, or those people (ok: blokes) who have a gadget for everything.  Maybe it can also help you…

Normally, I keep family members in the dark about my personal sewing projects – in case they begin to ask themselves how I manage to keep smuggling so much stash into the house.  But we had drama here last week when in the last stages of making myself a pair of dungarees the obligatory topstitching that makes denim look like jeanswear 1 uneven stitchingwent wrong.  Not terribly wrong, just a bit wobbly on the bobbin side.  This only happens when I use topstitching thread in both the needle and the bobbin.  For most of the dungies, where the wrong side won’t be visible when I wear them, I used normal cheap thread for the bobbin and it worked fine.  But on the straps, which  flap back on the fasteners, I wanted both sides of the stitching to look the same and it wasn’t happening, despite my varying the tension in both directions.  Any suggestions why?

After much unpicking, a sore thumb and wasted thread  I lost my temper, swearing and hissing as so many of us fine ladies do.  Guterman topstitching thread, which I can only find in spools of 30 metres, is not only expensive but I have to travel miles to buy it so it was frustrating to spend so much time on this, so close to the finish too.  It’s when I threatened to take the machine upstairs and throw it out the window that my loving husband came over offering rational means of solving the problem so that he could get back to his conference calls in peace.

We went through the troubleshooting section in the machine’s manual, looking for the culprit.  We could only guess it was the tension.  When I explained that the machine had problems before but was serviced 10 months ago at a cost of almost £150 – and a guarantee of 6 months :roll:  – I got to witness typical old-fashioned man-indignation.  You know, the kind you used to see in sitcoms whenever a wife-type-character returns from the garage where a car had been treated to some wiping with an oily rag, lots of jargon and an astronomical bill?  Anyway, Man got onto phone, to Janome, and obtained a technical manual.  Man now not only determined to learn to service the machine himself, he will welcome the challenge!  In a way similar to my daughter and I doing Colin Thompson Jigsaw puzzles at Christmas.  Isn’t it strange?  But great :-)  Let’s hope it’s as easy as he suspects (any reader experience of this would be a treat!).  There’s a small outlay in that we’ll have to buy a gauge for tension testing but you can never have too many gadgets, can you?  Meanwhile, normal thread sewing resumes without trouble.

1 Through the loupe lensThe Illuminated Loupe I showed you above was offered to me when we were checking if I might be using a wrong needle.  I don’t know about you but I can’t see the numbers on the shank.  I can tell if the needle is thick or fine, but it’s nice to be able to read the small print.  The loupe can enable you to do that and they don’t cost much more than a pack of needles (try here).

1 PliersHere are some other useful things from the man cave:  on the left, some needle-nose pliers (or as I prefer: snipe-nose pliers) being used to extract a hand-sewing needle through layers of thick denim.  I think we’ve all had to borrow pliers at some point.

1 magnetic screws dishAnd my favourite discovery of all: a magnetic screw tray which I use for pins.  They’re not as cute as those lilac or lime ones sold in sewing shops but you get 4 for well under a tenner (try here) and I’m too mean to pay Woman Tax!  I like how the underneath can hold up pattern pieces against the sides of my metallic filing cabinet which is next to where I work. .

Have you borrowed from man caves or other insalubrious corners in the name of our craft?

By the way, it’s someone’s birthday today :-) and later in the week mine!  Join us in a little dance…

1groovy

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

1 ho ho ho1 bamboo shoot dressRight now you’re probably so busy that you’d rather jump off a cliff than see another ‘happy holiday’ message which might require a reply. But in case you read this, whenever that may be, I’d like to wish you a merry Christmas, if you’re having one, and a contented end to the year.

The time coming up to Christmas seems to make me less not more merry. The sewing space usurped by the Christmas tree…. My routine – usually a source of certainly and contentment – hi-jacked!  And the shopping queues and bodies crammed in non-moving traffic chugging out smoke, and the landfill of unwanted tat… It’s just not green enough for my liking.  But to talk of these things only throws up accusations of ‘Scrooge!,’ and the pointing out that I have so much to be thankful for.  Which I do.

IMG_2948So hey, let’s look at the bright side: at least I didn’t have to join in with the manic search for things to wear. I’ve been around long enough to know what suits me and how to make it. And how long it’ll take to make! So for this Pattern Magic Bamboo Shoot dress, which I made in time for my Christmas party, I even enjoyed the little luxury of an adrenaline rush which I threw in by finishing the dress just before it was needed, sewing the lining to the zip half an hour before I was due to leave the house (not that I didn’t have Blue Velvet as back-up!).

1 dinner

And here’s some other things to be grateful for and to enjoy:

Tomorrow will be my first Christmas Day with mum and brother since 1990!

A long phone call with my uncle who lives in Canada, and a shorter one with my dad in Croatia – short because he’s notoriously taciturn though what he does say is often very funny!

Going to see the Amazing World of Escher at the Dulwich Picture Gallery with the also amazing D.  We might even find the sense to leave the kids at home!

TV, especially who-dunnits, no-internet time, and jigsaw puzzles (thanks for the reminder, Kate!).

Eating through the mountain of food I’ve been lugging home and squirreling away.

A week of lie-ins with the Blogstalker snoozing between my feet.Blogstalker Snoozing

Making Stollen (me) and Bolognese a la Marcella Hazan (D).

And to stop me going stir-crazy after all those calories… long runs on the soft (read: ‘muddy’) edges of South London, some on my own, some with friends.

As for the clothes sales at Twixmas…  Let’s just say if you spot someone who looks like me delving into binfuls of bargains…  it’s really not me!

Hope you get the chance to enjoy some of what life has shown you is good for you.  And thanks for reading the blog and keeping me going!

Love, M

Berliner, für eine Woche

Ich bin ein Berliner

Mein Sohn, im Reichstag

Mein Sohn, im Reichstag

a break in the in-fightingRarely do I travel somewhere new and Berlin had been on my hit list for a long time. This autumn was the last chance for D and I to take our son there with the intention of getting him to speak some German: a bit of practice ahead of his GSCE Exam. It was an ambition at which we failed epically. As he was chaperoned from one awesomely symbolic site to another, the juvenile ingrate hardly opened his mouth, except to say – in English – that he’d rather be at home doing his shit :roll:

Oh he didn’t mean it!

Mrs Anthony and Form 3 Orange, last day FSSG

Frau Anthony and Schulklasse 3 Orange

I speak a little (crumbling) German which I studied for two years while living in Sierra Leone in the 80s. As a ‘new girl’ from then-Yugoslavia, I’d just joined Form 2 of Freetown Secondary School for Girls and was still struggling to understand the accent of the girls in my class (and they mine) when in walked the new German teacher: young, lovely, dressed in an Indian skirt (I loved hippies!) and, well, German! The class was stunned – though it didn’t take long for the rowdier elements to judge every aspect of Frau Decker a source of absolute hilarity… The lessons would be frequently sabotaged by explosions of mass laughter. Frau Decker would try to remain relentlessly cheerful, for whenever she got upset or angry (she could have resorted to the cane, but was one of the few teachers who didn’t), the mood difference would only result in even more laughter. I felt kindred spirits with her and an affinity for the language, liking its amusingly harsh consonants, unambiguous vowels and even the three genders – masculine, feminine, neuter – which occur also in Croatian, my mother tongue. We were sad when at the end of that school year Frau Decker left, but I felt relief too.  Her successor was also a foreigner, this time from Jamaica.  Form 2 was followed by a year of relative calm because the rowdier elements flunked while I lost my own novelty value and made friends. But then, aged fourteen, I came to England where I wasn’t able to continue with German though I later sat a GCSE and scraped through with a C.

map reading skilzIt’s disorienting to land in a country where the language is strange. Each street around Alexanderplatz – where we spilled out, hungry and dazzled by sunlight – seemed to have a similar-sounding twin. My ageing eyes struggled to read the tiny maps in my pocket guide book. At dusk that first evening, while we searched for our apartment, we pressed the map to our noses, phone torches ablaze!

'Die Brücke'

‘Die Brücke’

On Torstrasse however, I did glance up to see a lit up shop window with a display of corsets – yes, a modern day corsetiere – and I remembered reading how at the turn of the twentieth century, one of the artists of Die Brücke movement approved the young model he’d been sent, saying her figure hadn’t been ‘deformed’ by the wearing of fashion corsets.

'Fallen Leaves', Jüdisches Museum

‘Fallen Leaves’, Jüdisches Museum

This is a wandering post, with no demonstration of any sewing activity whatsoever, inspired by the very enjoyable writings of  a ‘lapsed sewist’  😉  (no less interesting for that) Stephanie.  I didn’t even come across a fabric shop during my daily treks across Berlin, yet fabric is  woven into the story of every big city: in the clothes worn by its people, their occupations, their art.  Particularly poignant was an exhibit in the Jewish Museum: a finely-beaded bag given in lieu of payment to a seamstress who’d repaired the coats of a family about to attempt their escape from the a city turned hostile. africa chair bauhaus archiv In the Bauhaus Museum, the towering throne that is the Africa Chair, built by designer and architect Marcel Breuer but ‘softened’ and made vibrant by the textile artist Gunta Stölzl who produced the seat and back.  (By the way, we might not have liked ‘Herr Bauhaus’ Walter Gropius much; how he seemed to resent women artists, filling up valuable space with their looms!)

The floor of the Bauhaus Archiv

The floor of the Bauhaus Archiv

About a year ago, I heard a Radio 4 programme about Barlach’s Angel, and wanted to discover more about the artist Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) so we visited her museum  in the south-west part of the city.  Charlottenburg is elegant (think Kensington) but Kollwitz lived and worked in the deprived east, where her husband was a doctor and of whose patients she made an admiring study.  The ground floor of the museum contains startling photographs of Berlin in Kollwitz’ time.  There are images of dead or wounded World War One soldiers which shock as much as the more familiar images of the horrors of the Second World War.  But I was struck by a photograph of a seamstress in a tiny and dark attic, surrounded by her piecemeal work, her children sitting about in a mixture of decorum and apathy.  I realise there are parts of the world where this is going on now, in the more industrialised setting of the factory floor and catering to an insatiable world-wide demand.  I was gutted when on the way back from the museum we emerged into the swish shopping area of Kurfürstendamm and, instigated by my daughter, stepped into one of those international clothing stores that caters to the young female.  I tried at first to find a bargain but I’d never seen some many rails of different garments, each rivalling its neighbour in cheapness of material and ugliness of style.

Ein 'Selfie'

Ein ‘Selfie’

Kollwitz’ son joined the War as a volunteer and was killed soon after, which largely explains the artist’s resulting pacifism and her persistent portrayal of motherhood.   My great-grandfather fought on the same side as Peter Kollwitz, having been an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army.  He was killed weeks after getting married.  His son (whom he never met) took the photograph below while his widow, my great-grandmother, is sitting on the left of the picture (I do believe I look more like her the older I get).  My father is on the right, on the lap of my grandmother Karmela.  Karmela was an English teacher (as is my mother – hence my tendency to empathise with the teaching profession!).  She too saw great deprivation in her early years of life in the cities of Zagreb and Sarajevo and was grateful to the Communist government of post-war Yugoslavia for endeavouring to promote unity and egalitarianism.

Soon after this picture was taken, my father’s parents divorced  in tragic, heart-breaking circumstances.

Das Urbany Familie

Das Urbany Familie

 

Our apartment was in Choriner Strasse.   That first evening we were met by our landlord. ‘This is my first time in Germany,’ I told him. ‘Berlin is not Germany!’, he said.  I  laughed, thinking I knew what he meant, because isn’t this what we say about London too; that it’s not England, or Britain?  The next morning after lots of sleep, I was much less lost and the more I discovered of Berlin, the more I felt I was finding all my old homes.

1 choriner-horz

Choriner Strasse, before and now.  With thanks to Roger Schlinke

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PDQ PDF

Printing patterns in PDF (Portable Document Format) is seen by many as something of a PITA (Pain in the Ass)!  I quite enjoy it; it’s like putting together a not-too-taxing floor puzzle.  Both Burda and Colette suggest using sticky tape in their guides on “how to put together PDF patterns” but a glue stick is pretty darn quicker since you cut (or fold back) half the margins.  Let me demonstrate.

1 cut marginTake two sheets that fit together, left to right.  Cut off the right side margin of the sheet on left.  1 trim right hand side margin, cover left hand side margin liberally with glue

Rub a streak of glue on the margin of the corresponding sheet.

1 stick

Stick the trimmed sheet to sticky margin.

If you’re unhappy with the placement, you have a few seconds before the glue dries to remove the sheet and re-apply.

Once you have completed a row, trim off the bottom margin of the entire row and stick to the top margin of the row below.

Work systematically, completing the assembly row by row as you would with tape.  Be  consistent, always cutting for example the right-hand-side margins and the bottom ones.  This Colette Aster, Version, 1 took me under 20 minutes to assemble.  As you can see, there’s a page missing.  By using Print Preview, I realised one of the pages didn’t have any part of the pattern on it so it didn’t get printed.  This may not have saved time, just paper!1 aster pdf in under 20 minsAnother advantage of using a glue stick is that you don’t get the gaps in between strips of tape.  Oh yeah, and you can run an iron over without melting anything!

Do you use the glue method or do you prefer Sellotape or Scotch Tape?  If so, why?

Feelgood Hits of 2013

After a rate of almost a garment a week in 2012, this was a quieter and less impulsive year of sewing.  I made outfits for others and invested time in picking up tailoring techniques (canvasing up, making pockets and bound buttonholes).  

But as I still  don’t seem to have the right thing to wear half the time, I’m glad I’ve added the following mini-gems to the wardrobe.  Here’s the countdown with the most favourite at number 1 (click the pics for links):

5. Two Peas in a Pod

Pattern Magic that’s wearable?! How novel!  I didn’t think I’d get much out of a T-shirt that makes me look like I’ve swallowed someone.  But for a one-day job – half of it spent at the photocopier – this shrink pattern/enlarge pattern experiment paid off.

I’d file this under “Barmy, but works for me“!

 

4. Anna

May 2014 bring me a small castle in which to wear this medieval princess number.   Actually forget that.  I just need lots of long days of summer.

There’s a subtext to this Anna project as I was persuaded to make it by a very good friend who’s also really caught the sewing bug.  One of the highlights of the year have been our fabric-acquisition expeditions to Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow!

That’s right, readers: one more woman with a stash problem!

3. Cactus

Not as prickly as I’d feared!


2. Teal Isn’t Just For Ducks, You Know

I attempted to design an interesting pattern and though it needs tweaking, this muslin is so vibrant and mood enhancing that I want to wear it all the time.

Shame then that it’s too draughty!

And finally…

1. Zen Charmer
The Alexander Henry print steals the show here; the pattern is the simple Laurel.  But I’m quite proud of having matched the two to make a dress that plays with the idea of a Chongsam without being so enclosing around the neck as a traditional Chinese dress.  I’ve not had one bad day in this dress. It must be magic or something…

Anyway, thank you all for reading my blog this year.  It was great to steadily increase readership and I’m always encouraged along by your feedback and comments.   Stick around in 2014: we’re going places!

Mx

P.S.  Here’s another list of good things that happened (it’s actually just an excuse to sneak in a picture of Blogstalker!).

5. Best car song: Counting Stars, One Republic

4. Favourite album: Like Clockwork, QOTSA

3. Best Book: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (reread after 27 years)

2. Best cinema trip: Life of Pi

And …

1. The hot summer of 2013! I finally got to wear the summer dresses I made last year…

Sew Long, 2013

Where did the year go?!  Oh yeah…

2013: THE MISSES (click on picture to link to original post).

1. Amy Butler Lotus

I have proof that this dress looks great on others.  When I wear it, I feel like I’m trying to impersonate someone…

 

2. Sonny Boy’s Present
I made this cushion as a  present for a friend of my daughter’s.  He’s 9 and I figured at his age, he’s thoroughly sick of being bestowed with a mountain of plastic clutter every birthday.  Well, I misjudged.  His comment on receiving this personalised, handcrafted bit of uniquity?  I quote:

That’s not even a present!‘ 

:roll: :-)

3. Lipstick Bleed Skeletons
After watching the Great British Sewing Bee, I quickly and manically used some remnants to made my daughter this skirt.  At the first wash, the skellies’ mouths bled so badly, their faces are now pink!

 

4. Surely a hundred sewing bloggers cannot be wrong

I get the impression that every blogger has sewn the Vogue 1247 skirt thrice.  Much as I loved the soft pinstripe fabric and the finish of this skirt, it’s too exacting a fit around the waist. I made it a year ago yet by mid April, when it had finally thawed and carbo-loading was no longer a strategy for daily survival, it was too big and the waistband now stands up bulkily. 

 

5. Turtle Neck

I put on this wrinkled-collar Renfrew whenever I want a reminder of what my neck will increasingly look like as I age. I cannot believe I took the trouble to sew something this boring. Why didn’t I at least make it in black-boring so it would at least be sexy in a jewel-thief-cliché sort of way?!

My aim for 2014 is to sew stunning!

 

6. So Bad I Didn’t Even Blog It

Thanks to Jane for inventing a whole new category!  The biggest skeleton of this year secret cupboard was undoubtedly my failed pair of Colette Pattern’s Clover.  The toile was so revoltingly unsuited to me that I vowed to never wear, nay, not even try on trousers again!

Curtain Training

You’ve heard of lion-taming, right?  And you must have heard of dragon-slaying.  But have you heard of curtain training!  I’m not lying: the man in the John Lewis curtain department told me that’s what you have to do for weeks after hanging up your new curtains.  Every time you open them, fold into identical pleats then tie them gently together.  In time they should assume this shape automatically.

Curtain training!  Honestly… It’s a good job there was a pile of rugs in the John Lewis furnishings department so I didn’t have to roll on the floor laughing.

But apart from the ludicrous name, I confess that’s what I did every morning for at least a week after making these curtains for my daughter’s room. I lovingly 😯 pressed the plump folds into a concertina-like position(tying them seemed a step too far.).  These picture show what they look like after  I abandoned the regime and went back to my usual routine of a rushing thug.  What can I say:  life takes over.

In making them, I followed all the good advice you gave me after I posted pictures of my bicycle curtains:

  • I cut off the selvedges.  Also I pulled at lengths of thread, both crosswise and vertically, to establish the true grain of fabric.  Last time I sewed patterned curtains, I relied on the graphics instead and it didn’t produce a good enough hang.
  • I forked out for a walking (even feed) foot.  This really saved me time when matching up the pattern horizontally.  I still had to use my seam ripper when I made vertical mismatches.  With a pattern like this, a millimetre off the seam line and I risked the curtain opening out to reveal mutant three-eyed kitties!
  • I used bump.  Actually, I used Synthetic Interlining.  Bump is a word I like the correct term for expensive cotton interlining.  But even so, these curtains feel very luxurious and are actually a pleasure to be near!  My best curtains so far and I don’t think these photos do them justice but it’s a small bay window that I can’t stand in front of because of a high sleeper bunk in the way!

Giveaway

A chance to get one leftover Fat Quarter (18″ by 22″) with one Regular Quarter (9″ by 44″) of the fabric: a lovely cream cotton called ‘Cocoland Musical’.  It’s a  Kokka Japan  bought from Frumble.  (Not sure what a FQ is?  All explained here.)  It won’t get you curtains but plenty for a peg bag,  a pencil case or a  door stop.  To go into the draw, leave me a silly comment below and one winner will be drawn on Friday 30th.  Make sure you can be contacted.  

So, tell me about your curtain taming!   Er, training!  

Lovely Blogs Abound!

Meggipeg has very kindly passed on to me two blog awards that she’s recently received.  The first of these is the Premio Primavera award which acknowledges those who comment on your blog.  This is a great award which recognises that comments keep things lively and build a community around a blog.  Without them, a post can feel like a message in a bottle tossed into the ocean!

I’d like to pass on this award to the bloggers whose encouraging comments have helped this blog get going.  They’re Pella of Pattern Pandemonium, Ruth of Sew Ruth and Jennifer of Dedicated Musings.  Thanks all!

I love receiving comments so please keep them coming, otherwise I’ll have to resort to  my most pathetic vice that is reading comment spam!

I discovered Megan’s blog when we laboured together over Pattern Magic.  I enjoy reading it for her warm tone and for a glimpse of her creative life on the other side of the world.  I’m dead chuffed that she nominated me for the One Lovely Blog/Very Inspiring Blogger award.  Thanks Meggipeg!

These are the rules of the award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you.

2. Add The One Lovely Blog Award /The Very Inspiring Blogger Award to your post.

3. Share 7 things about yourself.

4. Pass the award to 10 nominees.

5. Include this set of rules.

6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

 

So here goes:

The ‘One Lovely Blog/Very Versatile Blogger’ Nominees

1 Pattern Pandemonium: because Pella sews beautifully, she sews ambitiously and she drafts her own.  But I’m even more pleased to pass her this award because it’ll force her to reveal a bit about herself.  I’m not even sure where she lives.  US, UK, France?  All three?

2 Magical Effects of Thinking: an interesting, eclectic blog and a sewing assistant whose bottom I’d like to pinch!

3 Nicky Linzy: her beautiful illustrations always have a calming influence on me.

Also Japanese Sewing Books, Creatuu, La Petite Josette, Jane’s Sew and Tell, Calico Stretch, Lin3arossa and The Perfect Nose.

 

And for the 7 Facts

I warn you: this may be a case of too much information!

1. I’ve already ‘fessed up to the fact that I read comment spam so let me explain: they’re like the overeager Latin lover I’d have run from.  “Special piece you have realized here! The world wide web is awash of unsuitable writing and I was grabbed by your lucidity. Your determinations are precise and I will forthwith subscribe to your rss feed to remain up to date with your up future day postings. Yes! I accept it, your publishing style is grand and i need to improve on mine decidedly. Buy now Viagra.”

2. In 2012, the only book I loved reading from cover to cover was the The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles.

3. I live with a Motörhead fan who named our now-ancient black cat Lemmy.

4. I’m training for an 18-mile up-and-down cross country race.

4. I spent a part of my childhood in Sierra Leone and Algeria.

5. When I was 18, I sewed through my thumb on a treadle machine…

6….. and only a month later realized a 1cm piece of needle was still inside….

Hope you enjoyed that!

Pam Ayres Sews!

When home alone, I sew and at the same time I like to be drip-fed continuous Radio 4 content.  Woman’s Hour, consumer affairs, political comment or (often quite dodgy) afternoon drama: any of them serve as equally engrossing grown-up company to me.

One discussion you sometimes hear amongst the Radio 4 commentators is on the topic of whether female comedians can ever be as funny as male.  Well, I’d like to start a different debate: could a man ever write a funny poem about items of equipment in one’s sewing space so frequently ending up …well… borrowedPam Ayres can.  “Who’s Had Me Scissors?” broadcast yesterday on “Ayres on Air” was a real treat that had me bending double over my seam-ripping.  You can hear it at the start of this iPlayer episode (it expires in 5 days).  If you share your home with those who can’t comprehend the sanctity of your creative space, you’ll recognize the frustration!

The rest of the episode is very much worth a listen too, as Pam performs a wintery striptease for her fictional husband Gordon (the hilariously grumpy Geoffrey Whitehead) and pays a poignant tribute to her mum. Enjoy.

P.S.  Here’s the lining for the Gathered Hole dress.  Home straight!