Let’s start as we mean to go on…

Well the first week of retirement, or permanent holiday, as I have decided to call it went very well. We were not able to join the others for the full weekend of the event at Nottingham Castle, due to restrictions on numbers who could camp. However, we did have a very nice day out, complete with lunch in a fabulous outdoor garden at a restaurant and bar in a Georgian House in the middle of Nottingham. One of the very good side effects of the restrictions is that people have created wonderful outside spaces and I am very happy that we can sit and eat and drink in such pretty places. The outdoor lifestyle is what I love most about Spain and it is lovely that we can now do more of that as well.

It was brilliant to see our friends, we have not met for 2 years so we did have some hugs and a lot of catching up to do. The event featured lots of different groups and was a nice gentle easing back into re-enactment. I will hopefully be doing an event in August if all goes well.

We really enjoyed the trip to Oxford, very busy and we we packed so much into the two days, lots of walking around finding filming locations from the Discovery of Witches series as well as visits to the Ashmolean and the Natural History Museum/Pitt Rivers Museum.

The colleges were all closed due to Covid but we did see All Souls and the Bodleian as well as the Bridge of Sighs.

We especially loved the Pre-Raphaelite rooms at the Ashmolean, the detail on the painting was incredible and there were many of our favourite artists there.

The Natural History Museum was just as fascinating for its architecture as well as the contents, with an amazing glass ceiling and pillars carved from different rocks representing various flora and fauna. And who can resist a dinosaur skeleton! Jake used to love these when he was younger and both children were big fans of the ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ series.

At the Pitt Rivers I loved the textile elements of the collection, especially this sewing box and these amazing beaded costumes from North America. Also absolutely fascinating were garments made from seal intestines, especially the designs of what we would now recognise as as waterproof jacket that dated from over 100 years ago.

There was also a boat trip along the Thames, where we learnt a lot about the buildings along the river and the importance of rowing to the colleges. There was a very old ‘party barge’ moored on one of the banks which had been restored. I would love to go back and do some of the towpath walk one day. The blue boats are a steamer company whose boats were involved in the Dunkirk ships evacuation.

We also had some lovely lunches and dinners, including a surprise visit to the gorgeous Comptoir Libanais where the food was as good as the decor.

We stayed in a cute little log cabin Air b n b, which was located at the end of a garden not far from the city centre. We are trying out all sorts of different types of places to stay and could have happily lived in this one as well. It was a lot bigger than the last cabin by the sea, with an attic as well as two separate rooms and the living space.

Our final day was a trip to Blenheim Palace, which was just as spectacular as I had imagined. It was a lovely day for a wander round the gardens and a picnic by the fountains.

We also met a falcon, who was there for pest control rather than as a display of hunting skill. Her presence scares off the pigeons!

We went on a tour of the state rooms where there were some wonderful patterns on the walls and ceilings. I loved the library with the statue of Queen Anne.

There were also some beautiful portraits, particularly the ones of Consuelo Vanderbilt. I would like to read more of her story and have added some books about her to my wishlist. Lots of Steampunk inspiration there.

I also volunteered at Ellen’s new workplace, the Bassetlaw food Bank, which was a really interesting and enjoyable day, meeting her colleagues and getting to see what actually happens. I will not be able to commit to much volunteering in the future, but would like to help out as much as I can with fundraising, or anything that I can do remotely.

I have had two lovely leaving dos as well, I was very lucky to be able to meet up with some of my work colleagues in person at a local bar and it was lovely to share memories with people I have in some cases worked with for nearly 20 years. I was given some very generous gifts, including money which I am going to use for an interrail ticket, when we are able to travel again.

I also met up with the Wool and Wine group for a celebration and they very kindly gave me a gift voucher which I have used to buy some new camping supplies. I have spent time sorting my new camping bag, as well as decluttering and have lots of lovely new kit for all of my adventures.

I hope that you have all been having a nice time and have a good week ahead. Take care, have fun, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Lovely Luna times ahead

Well dear readers as I write this there is less than a week until I retire! I will have a few things to finish off after Friday 25th June, as it the nature of a teacher’s life I can’t just cut and run, but after that date I am officially on holiday for the rest of my life. Very exciting times ahead.

I have had a very lovely day today sewing with Kerry, much progress has been made on the new hat for the cream outfit, Kerry actually sewed up the body of the hat this afternoon while I sorted some of the decoration. I am also making very good progress with the jacket and we have come up with an adaptation that will mean less work, and avoids making buttonholes as well. I will learn to do buttonholes properly one day, but today is not that day.

Last weekend Ellen came up and we had a very fabulous trip to Fabworks in Dewsbury and Bombay Stores in Bradford, thank heaven that restrictions have been lifted so that we can buy fabric again 😉 We got some lovely velvet and tweed for future Luna outfits and some more supplies for Steampunk.

I have not had chance to share the outfits that I have made for Luna, I have another couple of works in progress and this, and the Steampunk clothes, are going to be my main focus for the months ahead.

I have completed three outfits, all very cute. The first is a Liberty print and the other two are Rose and Hubble and I have loved adding all of the lace and bows and other pretty things to these. The buttons on the first outfit have poppers underneath, so no buttonholes needed!

Ellen has been making some beautiful things, there was a competition a while ago on the Luna Lapin Facebook page and one of the weekly themes was historical costume, so she made this amazing dress for Anne Bunelyn.

It is so beautifully stitched with such attention to detail, all her own design. I love the head dress and matching necklace. She is now going to match a matching Henry, as a fox which will be fabulous. She also made a beautiful party dress with a tulle skirt.

I am almost finished with the bear and bunny, I have made a bit more progress since this picture was taken, I do love the way the bear’s head has turned out and the cute little trainers. Another few hours and they should all be ready to go off to their new homes.

We are going to be away next weekend, celebrating both the end of work for me and my birthday, catching up re-enactment friends at an event, and then going to Oxford for a short break inspired by watching Discovery of Witches recently. There are some wonderful Tudor costumes in that show which we loved, including this amazing wedding dress.

We are going to be visiting museums, and having a look round all of the beautiful buildings, I used to visit regularly when I was younger as it was only 40 miles from where I grew up but have not been for years.

I hope that you are all having a nice time and enjoying good weather, it has been lovely here for days now and I have been loving sitting outside reading in the evening, making the most of my last few weeks staring at the moors.

Take care, have fun, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Be careful what you wish for …..

I mentioned to a colleague recently that a few weeks ago, before all of ‘this’ I came home late one night, cold and wet after waiting a long time for a bus that never arrived, tired and aching. I remember thinking at the time ‘I wish I could just stay here, not have to go out to work, just stay here and enjoy myself at home.’

So…. not that I think I caused this pandemic whole lock down thing but I did get my wish didn’t I? I have only left the house a few times since then for short walks and although it would be nice to be able to go somewhere I am enjoying the novelty of being in my house on leave.

I am usually away when I have leave so I have not spent this long in the house ever but am making the most of the enforced staycation. As I mentioned in the previous posts I am trying to get a good mix of sewing, reading, study on my online course and practical tasks done while I have the time.

My house has never been so clean and the garden has been done, I am just waiting for delivery of some bedding plants for my baskets, and today I painted the shed. I also got the garden table out in honour of what looks like a wonderful Bank Holiday ahead. Of course if we had been going to do a re-enactment event it would have been howling gales and packing up wet tents so we will all enjoy the fact that we are not doing that!

This week has been all about the Riley Blake block challenge for my sewing room time with a record five blocks completed up until today! You can see lots of lovely blocks over on their Instagram as we are now on Week 2. I have been using the Liberty stash as I want to add to my existing blocks, am going to eventually make these into a bed quilt.

The churn dash ones I was confident with and I am happy how they have turned out. I am using the same white on white print for most of these blocks, until it runs out, as I love the contrast between that and the Liberty.

Liberty churn dash block 3

This second block is the log cabin, a block I have never done before. Partly as I am not good at straight seams but I am pretty happy with the way that these have turned out. I used a tutorial from Citrus and Mint with very helpful diagrams.

Liberty log cabin blocks 1

I found it easier to cut 1.25″ wide strips from my length of fabric then cut them to size as I needed them as when doing the first block found that some of the pre-cut sizes that I had done were a little small.

The first two I used the white on white as a contrast row and then I did a more traditional layout with just three fabrics.The seams are not too wonky which is good!

Liberty log cabin blocks 7

Liberty log cabin blocks 8

Liberty log cabin blocks 9

I will make one more of these tomorrow, I am a little restricted for this type of block from Liberty as most of my stash is 5″ squares and the outer strips are around 6″ but do have a couple of pieces of longer fabric.My pin board for completed blocks is now looking very lovely 🙂

Board with Liberty blocks

I am looking forward to next week’s block and to moving on to the next week of the fashion course. We have been looking at the Georgians this week, the embroidery on the men’s coats is amazing and I have been lucky enough to see lots of examples of these in museums, we saw some gorgeous examples on our recent trip to Liverpool. That was the weekend of the dreadful Storm Ciara, we really are having a challenging 2020 aren’t we?

I have recently discovered another historical costumer through You Tube and she does the most amazing Georgian garments. Go and have a look at the wonderful things on Sewstine’s blog, she writes really detailed step by step posts about her constructions and makes the most wonderful things. This is a reconstruction of a 1780s gown and she digitised all of the embroidery herself, made the gown and had a baby in the middle of all of this process, what a superwoman! Picture from her blog.

Georgian dress

So over the weekend I have plans for some more Liberty blocks, more Barbie dresses, another coat of paint on the shed and probably a walk. I am back at work on Tuesday so am going to really enjoy this extended time in the house. We are probably going to be on lock down for another four weeks or so and that gives me plenty of time for sewing.

I hope all is good with you and your families, take care, stay safe 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 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙂

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.

 

Watch while you work

I am on the final countdown for the celebration dress, it should all be done by the end of tomorrow, fingers crossed. I had a very lovely day yesterday watching various things on Netflix and hemming the sleeves. It was the best kind of day and very welcome after a somewhat fraught time at work recently. All ended well though, with a lovely week where the students did lots of different activities and we held a conference that I organised which went smoothly, thankfully.

I am now looking forward to a final fitting of the dress this coming week and on to my next project! I am continuing with the Barbie wardrobe but will also be cutting out one of my Steampunk outfits as the next big project.

I have been accompanied during my many hours of stitching in the past months by some new inspiration in the form of podcasts and vlogs so thought that I would share them with you as they may be of interest. This post will concentrate on the vlogs and I will do another one later on the brilliant podcasts out there for anyone interested in sewing and fashion.

It is due to watching one series of vlogs that I came to be making the celebration dress really as my friend was looking at buying her celebration dress from the internet. However I have seen quite a few vlogs warning how things don’t sometimes look at all like the pictures and that the fabric and manufacture is very sub-standard.

Bernadette Banner is one of the first historical sewing vlogs that I started watching and she had an awful experience with someone using her photo of the reproduction medieval dress that she had painstakingly hand sewn to sell a very shoddy reproduction. This kind of practice is just awful and far worse than merely selling dresses that look nothing like the photo on the model. You can see what happened here as she bought a copy of the dress to examine. Picture from Bernadette’s blog with all credit to her for the 250 hours it took to make the dress.

Bernadette Banner 1

Bernadette is so wonderful to watch, she has a lovely way of presenting and talks a lot about hand sewing techniques, so I have learnt so much from her. I have been very inspired by her makes, the medieval dress especially but also her wonderful Lady Sherlock Holmes outfit that she made for Costume College last year. I love everything Sherlock and am currently watching Elementary and really enjoying that take on the stories.

Angela Clayton was introduced to me by Ellen and she is an amazing seamstress who both creates her own patterns and uses other vintage ones for a variety of different periods of costume including very recent fashions.

Angela uses a sewing machine for her work so I have been learning so much about the importance of toiles, fitting, and how to construct costume from different commercial patterns which has been really useful to me for Steampunk.  I love this Edwardian blouse, I need more blouses for Steampunk and I am tempted to try and make something like this using some of my lovely stash of vintage lace. All pictures from Angela’s blog.

Angela Clayton 3

It is unlikely that I will make much more medieval kit now apart from occasional shirts and I do have a peasant dress to finish this summer but I love seeing her reproductions from all periods that I can use as inspiration. This one is just stunning!

Angela Clayton 1

She has also produced a series of patterns for McCalls and I am very tempted by the walking outfit here, I love the shaping of the waist on the jacket and the sleeves. I have to be good though and use my current patterns for this year’s outfits before I buy any more.

Angela Clayton 2

The last one I will mention in this post, although there are many more I have yet to listen to fully, is Morgan Donner. She is a member of the SCA, a re-enactment society in the USA who do lots of crafts from all different periods so her vlog is fascinating.

Morgan Donner 1

She makes the most beautiful garments and accessories and gives really detailed information, it has been very useful to see her posts on making medieval shifts, hose etc. And she has the most amazing hair, I love her hair 🙂 and all the different styles that she does with it. All pictures from her blog.

Morgan Donner 2

Morgan Donner 3

She has also introduced me to the term history bounding which is wearing historically inspired clothing as everyday wear and now I have joined the history bounding group on Facebook there is no stopping me for inspiration for day wear. From her blog I traced down the source of some fantastic material inspired by one of my favourite pieces, the Elizabethan Layton jacket below that someone has used to make this dress.

Layton Jacket

The fabric has been reproduced and made available on Spoonflower. I do now have two samples of this one and the blackwork inspired from the same designer and one day may be tempted to order enough yardage to make something with them. I think the Layton jacket one would make an excellent Steampunk waistcoat.Someone has actually done a pattern similar to the Layton Jacket , thankfully it is only available from the USA with high shipping costs or I may have been tempted!

So thank you all of you historical costume vloggers out there, I have been entertained, kept motivated, educated and inspired and there are many more resources out there that I have yet to explore.

I hope that you have all had a good week and are planning nice things for the week ahead. We have a quieter time at work over the next couple of weeks and then I have some leave planned over Easter so I am really looking forward to getting underway on lots more projects.

Take care and thanks for visiting.