Spring has sprung

I hope that you have all had a lovely weekend, the weather here has been very good, up until last night when it rained and now it is a little cooler and more like normal Yorkshire Spring πŸ™‚ But the shed is looking very good, everything has been weeded and I am eagerly awaiting my delivery of bedding plants for my hanging baskets.

I went for a very nice walk on Sunday, to my favourite place here, the first of four reservoirs in the valley at the top of my road. I still can’t believe I am lucky enough to have this 10 minutes away and yesterday I walked around the other side of it. It will a lovely place for solo picnics in the summer.

butterley-1

I met some friends walking their dog on the way back and they commented that they were exploring places they had never been in the 18 years they had lived here. One very good thing that will come out of this is more people realising what is in their communities, be it open spaces, smaller businesses etc. and I hope that appreciation this will continue when things are back to ‘normal’.

I am loving having a milk delivery, something I was planning to organise after my holiday anyway to cut down on my use of plastic, and this week there was the great excitement of them delivering eggs, orange juice and yogurts as well!

Saturday was especially lovely, lots of the neighbours were outside enjoying the weather. I do love living in a terrace, we have an open back lane so you get a real sense of community and get to chat with everyone, from a safe distance of course. Saturday evening saw lots of people sitting outside their houses having a drink, like some kind of bizarre party where nobody wants to mingle with everyone about 20 feet away, waving to each other.

Although I can’t travel the Barbies have been busy, as being plastic they are immune from any nasty bugs πŸ™‚ Sophie enjoyed visiting some beautiful gardens in her new Spring dress. This is made from a shirt that I picked up from the charity shop just to re-purpose the fabric as I thought it was so pretty.

Barbie Spring Dress 5

Barbie Spring Dress 6

I used the same bodice pattern that I have used for the evening gowns I showed you previously, but made a pattern for a fuller skirt. This ended up being 3 rather than two panels to accommodate the back opening.

Barbie Spring Dress 2

Barbie Spring Dress 8

Barbie Spring Dress 7

I inter lined the bodice with some white cotton, I was going to do the same with the skirt but it became too bulky when gathered. One of the things that I am learning is how fine the fabric has to be for these very small scale dresses, anything thick just does not work with such tiny seams.

Barbie Spring Dress 4

Barbie Spring Dress 3

I used the tie that was on the original shirt and sewed the ric rac on it before sewing it on to the dress at the waistline. I love the contrast of the ric rac and ribbon colours here and am very pleased with my adaptation of the pattern.

Barbie Spring Dress 9

Lucinda wore her newest evening gown on a recent holiday to Italy.

Barbie - cream dress 2

This cream fabric is one of the oldest in my stash, it is scraps that came from a dress and head dress that I made for Ellen about 15 years ago.Β  I have had the beads about the same amount of time as well as I remember using them on cross stitch Christmas cards that I used to make pre- blog.The turquoise fabric is from an old blouse of mine as well.

Barbie - cream dress 3

Barbie - cream dress 1

This was all in the days before digital cameras so don’t have many pictures of those previous makes but I did realise that I have a photo of the outfit framed and on my wall so here is a picture of my very lovely children all dressed up at a banquet many years ago.

Re-enactment circa 2005

They are with their friend Lil, who is looking equally lovely. I made Ellen a green velvet over dress to go with the under dress, both of which you can see in this picture under the cloak. The head dress was embroidered and beaded over the flower motif on the fabric. Jake’s outfit was made from green brocade and the velvet hose came from a friend, I think it is the same fabric that Lil’s overdress is made from as well.

Over the years I made so many outfits for the children, most that are long gone as we gave them to others when they grew out of them and pre-blog so of course there are so few pictures of them. We are so lucky now to have so many of us in kit, taken by us and lots of other lovely people who share them on Facebook.

So today is another holiday, I seem to have been on holiday here forever which is great, I am liking these Groundhog Days where I get to sew all day πŸ™‚ Plans for today are some more Barbie dress making while watching the White Queen and the latest fashion competition with Heidi Klum, Making the Cut. I am, of course like the rest of the country, eagerly awaiting the new series of The Sewing Bee which starts late April!

Tomorrow is a new week for both the block challenge where we will be doing Friendship Blocks, and the fashion course.We are moving onto the Victorians this week, an era that I love and have done lots of research/drooling over for Steampunk.

I hope you and your families are all ok and you are all managing to find things to occupy yourselves. This will be a year in which we have never had such tidy gardens, decorated houses and clean cars judging by all the activity in my neighborhood. Stay safe, take care and thanks for visiting.

Enjoying my staycation

I seem to be making a habit of having unexpected staycations over the Easter holidays. Regular readers may remember my failure to go to the right airport which meant that we had an unexpected holiday in Yorkshire last year. At least this one is not due to my own incompetence and sadly everyone is in the same situation.

The evening dresses have gone fairly well, I cut out all of the pieces for three dresses before discovering that the bodice should really have been a lot wider so they only just fit at the back. I am calling them wearable mock ups as they look pretty and at least Barbies don’t have to breathe out πŸ™‚ I have mostly hand sewn them as the many pleats and pieces are so tiny.

Barbie dress - Gold bodice

Barbie dress - Gold dress 1

Barbie dress - Gold dress 6

 

I have managed to get some new photo backgrounds which I have just printed off and I think this gold one looks lovely with this dress.I am calling this doll Miranda and she is one of my Ebay delivery from a couple of weeks ago.

All of this is fabric is from stash, some of it, like the silk for the skirt above, is about 15 years old as I am using left over fabric from medieval gown making, as well as the four year old bridal jacket fabric. The pattern is simple to use, despite the fitting issues and it looks lovely, especially on Lucinda in this lovely hexagon silk.

Barbie - hexagon dress 2

Barbie - hexagon dress 3

Barbie - hexagon dress 4

Barbie - hexagon dress 5

I have been stitching while watching a wonderful series on Amazon Starzplay. Some time ago, in September 2018, Ellen and I visited Gloucester Cathedral on the way back from the Caldicot Castle event and they were filming the Spanish Princess. I have wanted to watch the series for a while and as I now have a ‘little’ more time I signed up to Starzplay so I could watch it. They also have two related series, the White Princess and the White Queen, so I will be watching those next, slightly out of order I know.

The costumes are gorgeous, all pictures via Google. Yes I know there are issues with historical accuracy but so far I have not seen any zips down the back πŸ™‚ and the series has some wonderful actors in so I am very much enjoying it.

Spanish Princess costume 1

Katherine of Aragon, above middle with her ladies in waiting, is one of my all-time favourite historical characters, as is Margaret Beaufort, played wonderfully here by Harriet Walker.

Spanish Princess costume 6

I don’t think I could ever make a Tudor costume, though my amazing friend Kat does, but Kerry and I often fantasise about this making something like and we have met Tudor re-enactors who have the most wonderful garments.

Spanish Princess costume 5

Spanish Princess costume 4

Spanish Princess costume 2

Spanish Princess costume 3

Since I will have no re-enactments this year due to this situation, and possibly no trips to Spain to see Mum, it is keeping me happy to be able to admire the costumes and the locations. They filmed at the Alhambra and in the Sierras in Spain and so far I have spotted Caldicot Castle and possibly Berkeley Castle both of which we have done events at. So I am enjoying my virtual travels πŸ™‚

I have also been doing a little bit of online learning. I am currently doing a free course with Future Learn on A History of Royal Fashion. Week 1, last week, was on the influence of the Tudors and now we are looking at the Stuarts. The course is very interesting and only takes a little time each week to complete, with no homework, just looking a wonderful portraits like this one below, (picture from the National Portrait Gallery). When Ellen worked at Hardwick Hall they had many splendid Tudor paintings, some of which went to the gallery for a special exhibition of Elizabeth and her contemporaries.

Queen-Elizabeth-I

I am also planning to do some more of their free courses later in the year as they have some other interesting history ones. One that fits in very well to living in this area is the Working Lives in the Textile Mills which starts at the end of April. In its hey day Marsden had three working mills and I live in one of the rows of houses built for mill workers in 1910. In this picture, from Wikipedia, you can see how the now closed mills dominate the village, my house is in one of the rows on the middle left of this picture.

Marsden_Mill

I hope that things are not too difficult for you and that you are keeping busy, I feel very sorry for friends who do not craft or create, who are already talking of boredom. I am so far safe and happy just sitting here looking for the positives of this situation and praying family, friends and all of you stay safe as well.

Until next time, take care and thanks for visiting.

 

That was the week that was…featuring many gorgeous pouches

Well what a very ‘interesting’ week, somewhat confusing, and like most people in the world at the moment, with some points of stress. We are finding new ways of working remotely, I have spent a lot of time this week in virtual meetings with my lovely colleagues and students which has been really good. I am very used to working from home anyway as I do all my marking and doctoral work from the comfort of my sofa so I am thankfully used to organising my day and getting things done, and not being distracted by Netflix!

I am so grateful that I have had my sewing room to escape to and have made a point of finishing my working from home at a reasonable hour and spending two hours an evening in my sewing room. It is wonderful the peace and tranquility that I get watching my favourite You Tube costumers and stitching, it makes me forgot all of the outside world and I appreciate that now more than I ever did.

I have decided that as well as the Barbie dresses that I will be attempting to finish some of my pile of WIPs so completed one of those this week. This piece of embroidery was done some time ago and is one of Jenny of Elefantz’s designs from her previous monthly stitching club. The intention always was to use it for a small pouch and it had been laying in my WIPs for about 6 months.

Embroidered pouch March 3

I thought it might be useful to put a little more detail of the process for making up the pouch and other types of pouches here in case you are inspired, as they make great Christmas presents. Yes I know it is only March but if I am going to be in the house from now until September everyone is getting one of these for Christmas!

The first step is to cut your fabric and iron on some interfacing. I am still using up lots of recycled denim and an old navy linen curtain and in this case black interfacing, as I have some from the failed black velvet Steampunk jacket.

Embroidered pouch March 2

Embroidered pouch March 1

The size of the bag is somewhat dictated by the size of your zip so mine are usually 8 inches wide but can be as deep as you want. I have made some nice ones previously by adding a contrast fabric to the bottom of the bag as well.

bird-and-hexagon-pouch-1

I centered my embroidery using my quilting ruler, trimmed it to 1 inch from the edge of the stitching, used double sided fusible applique paper to attach it securely to the bag and then pinned the ric rac around the edges. This was hand sewn as I did not trust myself to sew a straight line while trying to keep the ric rac covering the raw edges.

Embroidered pouch March 4

Embroidered pouch March 6

Embroidered pouch March 8

The lining is a dark blue fabric from stash, I usually try and make the lining match either the zip or the outer fabric to avoid having to use too many thread colours. The zip was sewn on with lime thread in the top and navy in the bobbin. My zip insertion is never that neat so it helps if you can’t see too much of the stitching πŸ™‚ Zips are from Buddly Crafts, they come in 2 lengths (20 and 30 cm) and a wide variety of colours.

Embroidered pouch March 9

Embroidered pouch March 7

I used the bag tutorial from Emkie Designs as previously but there seem to be some issues with pictures on that at the moment so here is a link to Patchwork Posse for a similar tutorial. As you may know I love making pouches and am very tempted by all the different designs so will experiment with a few new ones over the coming months. This site, Sew Delicious, has got links for 20 different ones and I really love the patchwork versions like this one from one of my other favourite sites Charise Creates.Β 

Charise Creates 12-patch-pouch

I have just come across this one from Molly and Mama as well, you may know that I love Liberty with a passion and hexagons but had not thought of doing one with the zip across the front so I will add that to my list.Picture from their web site.

Hexagon-Lace-Zipper-Pouch

I am really looking forward to a live stream this evening from another historical costuming blog that I recently discovered, the lovely Marika from Enchanted Rose costumes is going to be making a dress so I am going to join in with as much as I can. Thankfully the internet means we can still interact with fellow seamstresses and I am hugely grateful for the online community as well.

I ‘may’ just have bought a bit more Liberty fabric and some lace, which will be delivered later in the week. Very naughty I know but it does make me happy and hopefully will help the small businesses a little bit, that is my excuse anyway πŸ˜‰

Today’s project is finishing off one Barbie dress and starting another, I am using up lots of fabric from stash including this gorgeous silk with a hexagon design left over from my sister in law Amanda’s wedding coat some years ago.

Barbie - hexagon dress 1

I mentioned that I have been inspired by this design using the same fabric from one of the doll couture blogs I posted about here.

Gene Marshall doll 2

 

I am doing the whole dress in the same fabric and will be using the pattern for the green evening gown in the top left of the pattern below. I am hoping that it will look very elegant.

Barbie Patterns 1

I am really enjoying working with the impossibly tiny pieces of this pattern, it is a lot easier than the blouse one and has gone together quite well. This pattern piece pictured above is about 2 and a half inches wide, a little different from making the celebration dress.

I have some leave next week, I decided to keep one week even though I am not going anywhere but my beautiful village as it always feel like a holiday to be here anyway, especially when the sun is shining as it is today. I will be enjoying the sanctuary of my craft room with a few short social distanced walks, easy when you mostly just see sheep πŸ™‚ I have so much leave this year as time in lieu from teaching Saturdays that I might as well use it up now as who knows when things will return to some kind of normal.

Meanwhile we will focus on all the positives, one of the nice things is that I will be able to blog more often which I really enjoy, and I hope you do too. Stay safe everyone, take careΒ  and thanks for visiting.

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

This quote sums up mine and many other people’s week here in the UK as we enter a period of social isolation. The good things though, are many, and it is important not to lose sight of that.This lovely photo was posted on the local Facebook page by a local photographer to cheer us all up.There have been blue skies and Spring flowers.

Marsden Spring

The sense of community here in Marsden is wonderful, with people helping each other, ensuring we have food available in all the shops and arranging deliveries from local shops and businesses for those who need it. I am so glad I am living here, as even being on my own I am not concerned if I do get ill as I have lots of support.

There are some very sad things of course, not least the actual virus, but also that we are now an online university for a while so I had to say goodbye to all of the students very hastily on Tuesday. Luckily we had a really nice week last week with the Year 2s and they only had a couple more weeks of input so it is not too bad for us. It will help me a lot health wise not to have to get up at 6 am and get the bus in the rain so I am very, very,Β  grateful that I have a job where I can work from home.

We are also not going to Japan to see Jake at Easter, we were still hopeful up until Tuesday but realistically knew that it could be cancelled at any minute and at least the travel restrictions mean we can claim on the insurance. We hopefully will be able to re-schedule that for Aug/Sept time so I am looking forward to that.

The other lovely thing has been all the support from crafters and other businesses sharing free stuff or reduced subscriptions. I have signed up to several things while I am at home more so am hoping to find time to improve my quilting skills amongst other things. I will now use some of my leave to have a staycation in my craft room!

We had one last trip out to buy fabric before isolation and went on a visit to a lovely fabric shop Oh So Sweet near Barnsley. All of us wanted things for isolation projects and also wanted to give this lovely business a boost, they do have a website so hopefully people will keep shopping as we would not want to see small businesses going under.I loved the fact that they had hand written receipts, made it feel very vintage.

Sew Sweet stash 10

Of course I do already have a little bit of fabric πŸ™‚ but I also did not want to miss the opportunity to spend time with my lovely friends as we will only be having virtual contact for a while. Also I have just taken delivery of 5 new Barbies from Ebay and they need some nice clothes, so I bought a lot of small scale prints to make beautiful Spring dresses for them and some lovely white on white prints.

Sew Sweet stash 5

Sew Sweet stash 6

I am thinking of something like this gorgeous version of a Dior classic from one of my favourite designer doll sites, Diane on Whidbey Island. This picture is from her blog and there are so many other wonderful things on her site to inspire me.

Diane's dolls 1

I also bought this vintage fabric notions print, I have quite a few versions of these now and they make great baskets to sell at Yarndale. I made the two below a couple of years ago, and they make great gifts for stitching friends.I will now have much more time for crafting over the summer as well as all of our re-enactment events up until July are now cancelled.

Sew Sweet stash 3

Vintage fabric basket 1

Vintage fabric basket 2

I bought some more cream lace for pouches as well. This type of lace looks lovely with denim and linen pouches as in the one below.

Sew Sweet stash 2

stitching-stuff-bag

So lots of disruption and I am so sad for all my self-employed friends and traders and all the musicians at festivals and everyone who is going to be affected. Strange times indeed but thankfully I have my crafting to keep me busy and a lovely home to enjoy. I am very, veryΒ  lucky to be in this position and will be doing all I can to support small business and food banks from home.

Take care of yourselves where ever you are and thanks, as always for visiting.

 

 

New toys (literally!)

I am making good progress with the second celebration dress, I can’t show you what I am working on yet but the toile fitted well (work in progress picture with cutting out old bed sheet below).

Sarah's dress toile

I spent most of yesterday cutting out and zigzagging the edges of the fabric with these lovely colour threads. Fingers crossed the dress fits tomorrow after I have tacked all the pieces together πŸ™‚

Sarah's dress 7

I have got some new toys, some to help with fittings for these types of garments and others for smaller ones so I am very pleased to introduce you to Millie the Mannequin!

Milly mannequin

I have wanted one for a long time and now that my lovely son Jake is not around to help me with fitting Steampunk attire it has become a necessity so she arrived on Friday and is settling into the sewing room nicely.

I will have to pad her out a bit in the chest area, I ordered a size 16/18 version from Amazon but she has a much smaller bust than me so I will sort that with an old bra and some wadding. I am very excited to use her for my Steampunk creations later in the year.

My other toys are for my ever growing collection of Barbie couture. I wanted to buy some new dolls and I needed some for work as well for a session we are doing on diversity. Barbie have now got a far more diverse range of dolls in different body sizes, skin colours and hair colours so I now have a few additions to my family, to avoid confusion I have given them all different names as we can’t have everyone being called Barbie!

I have also got some new photo backgrounds, I can’t find any of the ones that people use for their Gene Marshall dolls to buy, so I have just got some nice photos from the internet and printed them.I think they look a lot prettier than the black background.

First of all there is Alexa, she is one of the curvy body size dolls and she has fab hair. This dress I made for her out of an old skirt, I added beads to the bodice but all of the embroidery was already on the skirt and it is lined. I think the colour of the dress really suits her hair.

Barbie - Alexa 1

Barbie - Alexa 2

Barbie - Alexa 3

Next is Aisha, she is a petite doll so apologies that the dress she is wearing is not a very good fit. She is a lot shorter and has a much smaller bust than the standard Barbie dolls so I will need to adjust my patterns for her and make her something that fits better.

Barbie - Aisha 1

The dress is one that I have made for a birthday present and is just a simple wrap dress with a Velcro fastening.

Barbie - Aisha 2

Zuri is my last new purchase ( I chose the name as it means beautiful according to my search for African names on Google), she is standard size Barbie with gorgeous brown eyes and is wearing another one of the wrap dresses.

Barbie - Zuri 1

I have also finished the outfit for the friend who also uses Barbie in her teaching. This is Lily and her outfit comes from the latest set of patterns that I bought, this 1960s set. I have used the black suit pattern on the top right here. I did add a waistband rather than elastic as there was not much room to fold over the waist once it was gathered.

Barbie Patterns 2

Barbie - Lily 1

Barbie - Lily 2

I had a lot of trouble with the blouse, I had to re-make it in thinner fabric and am still not completely happy with the neckline but am very pleased with the jacket and the skirt.

Again all this is scrap fabric and the skirt has organza layered over the silk. The flower motif on the blouse is again from an old bra, I have lots of this lace left so am going to feature it in many more outfits.

Barbie - Lily 4

Barbie - Lily 3

I shall be spending the rest of the weekend tacking the celebration dress for a fitting tomorrow but hope to get a couple more Barbie outfits cut out this week as well as I need to get two more dresses made for presents in the next few weeks.

Barbie Patterns 1

I think I may go for the green dress in the picture above for one of them. The neckline does look super fiddly but I am up for the challenge!

I hope you are having a lovely creative weekend as well, take care, have a nice week ahead and thanks for visiting.

A few little finishes

I use the word little in the title literally as I have been making more Barbie couture. I forgot to take a photo of some of the dresses that I made as Christmas presents but I have so far made 5 different versions of this one in different fabrics and different skirt lengths and have another two in progress in cotton prints.

Barbie gowns 1

This is a really simple design and easy to get on and off the dolls as well so great for little fingers.To go with the purple skirted one I have made this beautiful coat, I love this although it was a bit of a sewing challenge with all of the tiny seams. I did also cover all of the seams with black ribbon to neaten them which took a long time.

Barbie purple coat 1

Barbie purple coat 2

Barbie purple coat 3

Barbie purple coat 4

I am making an outfit for my colleague as she has some dolls that she uses in her teaching so will try and make another one like this if I have enough fabric as I love the colours together. This is from an old silk bag,Β  the handle split and I couldn’t work out how to mend it so used the outer and lining fabric for the coat.

I have bought some more Barbie patterns from Gail’s Vintage Doll patterns on Etsy. They are great as they come as instant PDF patterns so easy to print off and very clear to use. I love the 1960s deigns here and think they look so sophisticated.

Barbie Patterns 1

Barbie Patterns 2

I bought some more ribbon and flowers for Barbie dresses when I was in Spain, there is some great haberdashery over there which is very cheap and I always add a bit to my stash when I visit.

Barbie notions

I sent the littlest great niece, Rosie, a rabbit for Christmas. This is again one of the Little Cotton Rabbits ones from Julie and I need to knit so many more of these as I love them, and all the other animals as well. This dress is my favourite of all the designs as I love the lacy hem, which is knitted sideways, and am very proud that I can knit this as it takes a bit of concentration.

Rosie's rabbit 1

Rosie's rabbit 2

I have also finished her sister, Ava’s,Β  dinosaur hat! I am very pleased with this as it was a combination of two patterns as I couldn’t find one I liked or could make in time.The basic beanie comes from the Drops site hereΒ  but I added a deep rib as I thought the curled brim of this pattern would not work as well with spikes. The spikes pattern is from here ,I used size 5 needles and knitted each spike separately and then stitched them together as I found it easier than increasing.

Ava's dino hat 2

I am now trying to sort out a plan for the rest of the year, there is so much I want to make and some things I have to prioritise like birthday gifts so I think I will start by scheduling everything.

At least I have a whole 11 months until next Christmas πŸ™‚ so plenty of time for 4 quiet books, a whole wardrobe of Barbie things, at least 3 new Steampunk outfits, 12 Christmas ornaments and any other knitting and embroidery that takes my fancy. Problem is I keep seeing such lovely things on the internet!

I will be back next week to show you some of those, I post my ‘oh look how lovely these ideas are’ posts as much for me as for you as it is great to remind myself of all the loveliness that is out there for me to make.

Hope you have a nice week ahead, it is going to be quite a quiet one for me as I am mainly marking but that does give the chance to spend a couple of hours a day in the craft room as I am working from home a lot so that is nice. Take care and thanks for visiting.