Welcome to my 'other blog' the one that explores my crafty side. I have been a maker of 'things' since childhood. By nature I'm creative. I still love to write, and you can click on this link to visit my blog: Hanging On My Word, which is where I indulge in the thought and word side. Although a teacher by profession, I don't offer tutorials. This is my showcase of projects I like to share. So pull aside the curtains and let's begin (I'm a bit theatrical too!).

Friday, 27 April 2012

Not Cut Out For This

The lovely photo prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday challenge was a vintage photograph of Maypole dancers. This reminded me that I had an old ‘papercut’ picture, hanging on the bedroom wall, of children dancing round a tree. The picture has always reminded me of a cross between ring-a-ring-a-roses and Maypole dancing. I am sentimentally attached to my picture because it was a gift to me, about 47 years ago, from my Austrian friend Viktoria. I was an exchange student (aged 13) and I was staying with her family in a village (now a town), not far from Vienna, called Wolkersdorf. The picture hung on the wall in her bedroom, and I admired it so much that she generously handed it to me there and then. It has been everywhere with me since then and has even been re-framed (a delicate operation as the papercut was not glued down as you might think, and was like a piece of lace). I have tried to find out about its history, as I think it must have been pretty old already, but drawn a blank. I would particularly like to know the translation of the German word in the bottom left hand corner, if anyone can help. Papercutting is an an ancient craft and examples are found all over the world. It is thought to have originated in China in the 1st century. There are thousands of fine examples on the internet, both images and videos, and just initiating a google search will take you into a silhouette art gallery.

I have tried the craft myself, but with variable results. I bought this book as inspiration. I found a similar design on page 31, of children acting out the ‘Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush’ nursery rhyme. It still looked too tricky for me. The book has lots of tips and templates and I did manage to produce a decent image of an artist for my Dad’s 90th birthday card, using this image in the book.

It took me ages and I’m afraid I didn’t have the patience it needs. I think making paper dollies for my grandchildren is about my level and that I’m just not 'cut out' for this particular craft.

Why not not see what other contributors found to show us following the prompt below, by following the link to this week’s Sepia Saturday?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Celebration Dress

Should have worn my shades!
With a big birthday coming up, followed by my husband’s three weeks later, I thought there may be  reason to wear a new dress. I’ve always liked the faux-wrap style and have two M&S tops from a couple of years ago, which I am loathe to part with, simply because they are so comfortable and flattering. So, when I saw this pattern, Simplicity K2369 I liked the idea of a dress which matched the same criteria. Living in Lanzarote, a trip to the capital, Arrecife is necessary to find a decent fabric shop, and even then you can’t be sure you’ll get the fabric you want. On trips back to UK I usually add to my stash to ensure that I can always pull something out when the mood strikes me. This time I had the pattern in my hand when I saw this fabric with ‘sale’ on the label in the Nottingham branch of John Lewis. I love the animal print effect and was pleased with my purchase. The dress cost about £18 to make,the biggest expense being the buckle. I was pressed for time and didn’t have time to search further. What a pity John Lewis didn’t have those on sale! I am now wise to this and on the lookout for a cheap source, as well as alerting friends and family. Oh yes and I’m not averse to buying a second-hand garment just for the buttons or buckles!

Well, needless to say I was pretty pleased with the result. This pattern is popular and has been well-reviewed by others bloggers, so I won’t go into great detail, except to say that it was so easy to make, and I love not having to fit a zip. I made sure I cut out the pieces carefully, attached the correct needle for stretch fabrics to my machine and used the recommended stitch.

I’ve got some lovely plain lime green fabric to make the tunic top next.I was going to make it with the bow, but I’m not sure; it looks rather bulky. Watch this space, but this is a pattern to which I’ll definitely return.

There’s another element to this story, because the pattern was originally given away with SEW magazine. I’d been a subscriber since issue 1 and lapsed for a few months when we moved here, re-subscribing and ordering back copies, a few months ago. Some issues were sold out so I turned to ebay, where again this issue was in short supply; when I finally bagged one, the seller sent it with the wrong pattern, but she let me keep the magazine at no cost, and finally a very kind seller sold me the pattern separately, along with the final few magazines to complete the set. Yes, I could have bought the pattern at full price, but half the fun was the search and winning the auction. So thanks to Jane at madaboutbooks8!

An update is needed as I was excited to see see that ‘The Great British Sewing Bee' on BBC TV was setting the challenge of sewing with stretch fabrics this week (5th March 2014) and that the remaining male competitor had chosen this very pattern as his piece to demonstrate his sewing skills. He made a lovely job of it and stayed in the running - until next week at least. As I wrote earlier, it’s a very popular pattern and there are many examples on the web. I still haven’t made my top as I have been busy with other projects, but I may just have ago now after seeing the pattern again.