It’s been rather quiet here since my City & Guilds exhibition, because I’ve been working on a corsetry deadline: last weekend I was lucky enough to go to the first Oxford Conference of Corsetry.
I'll come right out and say this from the start: it was one of the best weekends ever. Gorgeous corsets, stunning surroundings and most excellent company. And it's not just me who thinks it - Sara has already blogged her reflections on the weekend (spoiler - I think she liked it!).
I took the train on Friday afternoon feeling a bit apprehensive - who would be there? What would they think of me, a little wannabe corsetier with just 3 (and a bit) corsets under my belt? Would everyone be a million times more experienced than me? Would they look down on me? Would I learn something? Would it be worth the investment? So many worries and not a single one of them founded.
We stayed in Jesus College Oxford, which was an amazing setting for the fun to begin as we dragged (HEAVY!) cases up teeny staircases and bumped into people we recognised from the Facebook group for the event.
One of my first memories of the conference was opening my bedroom door and thinking 'Wow, that's a wonky wardrobe ... oh wait ... no, it's the room that's wonky. Okaaaaaaay.'
As you can imagine, there was much texting and Facebooking to organise everyone and find out who was where ... Luckily corsetiers are a little easier to herd than cats. So, we ventured to the delightful Darn It & Stitch, a teeny tiny haberdashery on a side street in Oxford, which still managed to contain treasure (and was kind enough to give us a 20% discount!). Of course, I couldn't resist temptation (When have I ever?!) and had to partake in some pretties (in the form of coral pink silk lining fabric for £5 a metre (what's not to like about that?!) and some soft cotton tape in fun designs).
Unfortunately, I'm pretty rubbish at remembering to take photos of the everyday doings of things, but the group (of around 8 of us?) were quick to get talking to each other, immediately bonding over our mutual love of corsets, fabric and stitchery.
Those bonds were soon forged even stronger by dining at The Big Bang - the ultimate bangers and mash experience. The conference organiser, Julia Bremble (of Sew Curvy fame), kindly booked a table for all 15 of us who had arrived early.
And then there were sausages. Not just any old sausages, but every kind of sausage and all sorts of mash and your choice of gravy. Oh yes.
Of course, there was still more chatting and bonding and general awesomeness, together with entertainment from the owner who was friendly, accommodating and ... a bit bonkers? (In a Good Way.)
At this point I'd met about half of the attendees, was already making friends and hadn't yet met a single unpleasant person. I'd have considered that a success in itself ... and yet Saturday came, together with the rest of the corsetry crew who all turned out to be utterly lovely and delightful folk. As you can probably guess by now, I met some wonderful people at the conference and really feel I've made some great friends across the world.
So, that was Friday, more coming up soon!
(Cross-posted from my writing/historical blog, as I thought it would be of interest to both sets of readers.)