Saturday, 31 December 2011

Looking Backwards & Forwards

First off - happy Yule to you all!  I hope you each had a wonderful time with plenty of food and drink, cheer and laughter and a huge amount of love.

Rather like a lot of other bloggers at the moment, I'm saying goodbye to 2011 and hello shiny new 2012.  And like Janus, who presides over gateways, I'm looking back over 2011 and forward to 2012.

2011 was a turbulent year, with a lot of hard work towards a teacher training course, the messy business of finding a job (which, thankfully, I managed to do), doing two jobs for a while and then falling ill.

It's strange, but I keep thinking that I didn't achieve anything this year, because I did little to no writing on my novel-in-progress and hardly any sewing, at all.  I kind of forget that I didn't just scrape by on the bare minimum teaching qualification, I actually challenged myself to study for a higher level than the one I needed (I did a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education with some modules at Master's level, rather than the slightly lower level Professional Graduate Certificate in Education) and I didn't just do enough to pass, I bloody passed with flying colours (if I do say so myself).  I worked really hard and that seems to have paid off, with getting a teaching job, despite cuts in funding, and receiving lots of glowing feedback on my teaching.  So to think I didn't achieve anything is, I suppose, being rather harsh on myself!

Let's gloss over the whole sorry business of being ill, because I feel that I've gone on about that more than enough.  I'll just say that, again, I have to be a bit more gentle on myself because of this horrible bump in the road that has definitely affected my productivity.

As for 2012 ... Well, we never really know what the future will hold, but I have plans for my sewing and writing, which should hopefully come to fruition.

Sewing-wise, I've been thinking about that conversation with my manager, looking at what I already have and working out what I need in my wardrobe.  How organised!  I would definitely say that I've been inspired by The Colette Sewing Handbook (love it!) and its approach to knowing what suits you and what you feel comfortable in.  (That might have had something to do with me then buying a couple of Colette Patterns (Macaron and Peony) - I can't believe I haven't tried them before!)

To that end, I've been writing up lists (yay, love lists!) and thinking about colours and coordination ... but more on that soon!  I have loose plans to make the following:

A grey version of the New Look 6000, which lots of other stitchers have been having fun with, making some absolutely gorgeous dresses - I'm feeling very inspired. 

I'm going for view E, but adding in the collar (or you could think of it as view C with darts instead of pleats.  Either way, I already picked up some fabric for this from Franklin's while I was visiting Ipswich, but more on that with photos on another day.

Speaking of this pattern - is it sad that one of the things I love about it is that it doesn't use much fabric?  I only had to get 2m of 150cm wide fabric to make this dress, and it has sleeves and a collar - how awesome is that?!  It is sad isn't it?  Oh dear.  Well, I'm just pleased that it means I'll be making a dress that, including fabric and all notions, is actually cheaper than it would cost me to buy it ready-made!  I even treated myself to some quite expensive buttons, but as you only need one large and four small, it was still cheaper!

I'm also thinking about making a blouse out of view E of this pattern (yellow polka dot on the pattern envelope) - how pretty would that look in silk dupion?  I'm thinking teal, off white or coral pink (lovely for spring/summer).

There will also be one or more Macaron dresses in my life in 2012 - I just can't quite decide what fabric combos to go for.  I picked up 2m of navy and white polka dot stretch sateen originally to make the slim version of this skirt:

But then I got the Macaron pattern and realised that 2m is exactly what you need for the main fabric of that ... so now I'm torn!  And what could I put with it?  I'm favouring shamelessly stealing this idea of using a sheer fabric for the contrasting yoke.  If I can find dark blue silk organza, I might well do that.

I also like the idea of using a dobby spot as the contrast, perhaps with something like chambray on the body for a more summery, laid back vibe.  Or then there's the option of using velveteen for the main fabric and more organza for the contrast.  And what about piping - I'd like to have a go with that.  You see my problem?  So many ideas ...

And as for the paper bag waist skirt, I'd like to make that up in pique, wool or sateen ... not sure on colour, yet.

I've been taking a lot of inspiration from other sewing bloggers during my own sewing drought, which led me to buy a copy of this out of print pattern:

I would never normally have looked twice at this pattern from the beige-y boring cover (Do they actively try to make their patterns look dull and frumpy or does that happen by accident?), but when I saw Handmade Jane's version, I realised that these trousers were The Ones.  I'd been eyeing up the Wearing History Smooth Sailing 1930s trouser pattern for the while, but I can't really afford to ship these in from the US, and I was a little put off by the width of the leg in these - being short, I'm wary that they're perhaps a little too wide for me.  I'm also liking the high waist detail on the front and the straight skirt view.  I think another appeal of these is that they remind me of a pair of trousers that don't fit me any more, which I love - navy blue, brushed cotton with brass anchor buttons.  So that's what I'll be going for with this pattern.  I am a little scared about my first foray in trouser-making, though!  If it works well, I would quite like to try a version in a lightish/medium-weight denim, with more buttons on the front (it's all about the buttons for me, clearly).

I might have to go for a similarly nautical version of the slim skirt in navy with cute buttons.  This would be especially good as I've realised I simply don't have enough skirts and I tend to wear them a lot.  Which means I'm also planning to make a grey or black wool/mix version of this vintage straight skirt with inverted pleat at the back (view on the right):

And to go with those skirts, I've got a couple of blouses planned (some of which I've had in the 'to make' pile forever).  I was thinking of making this vintage pattern up as a blouse:

I can't decide whether to go for the plan version or the one with contrasting collar and sleeves - it's just too cute!

Finally, for spring, I'd like to make the cropped jacket from this pattern in silvery grey dupion:

I don't know why, but that fabric and colour combination is just what I can picture this in.  And self buttons - yum!  Plus, I have a small piece (90cm) of printed haboutai I got in the John Lewis sale ages ago, which I can use as a super cute lining - the jacket only requires 1m of fabric, so I like to think I can afford to go a little luxe!

Phew!  What a lot I have planned!  I'd better get to it!

Wishing you all a fabulous and joyous New Year - love Clare. x

Monday, 12 December 2011

Tea Parties & Reassurances

Good afternoon all!

Again, I’m here with reassurances that I’m OK, just exhausted and insanely busy.  My medication is starting to kick in, so I’m slowly getting my energy back. 

Last month I had a vintage tea party for my birthday and I had intended to wear The Dress (see previous post!), so I thought I’d take photos for the blog then … but an unfortunate side-effect of my illness is fluctuating weight and it just so happened that The Dress didn’t fit that day (damn!).  I did get to wear a different vintage dress that day, so I still had the look (and it’s a rather fabulous dress – 50s slim skirt with boat neck and flocked polka dots in black).

I also received The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree for my birthday, which, luckily, was a few days before the party, so I had the chance to read through and get some ideas for my day.  I had fun with flower arranging (chrysanthemums in a teapot), sandwich making and baking – lots of baking.

The Vintage Tea Party Book is primarily a cookbook with ideas here and there for decoration as well as a section in the back for styling yourself.  My hair’s a little too short for the hair ideas, though some time I’m definitely going to have to try out the poodle as it’s far too cute not to try. 

The book is also incredibly pretty with some fun, quirky illustrations.  My only gripe, really, is that I would have liked to have seen a little less cooking and a bit more in terms of decoration and style.  But that's more to do with my expectations and I do still adore this book.

Have you got The Vintage Tea Party Book yet?  Is it on your Yule list?  What do you think of it?