Monday, 13 July 2015

Birthday weekend in London and frantically getting porfolios ready

I haven’t written a blog post in a while as I have been too busy.

My main reason for starting my blog was to act as a kind of log book for me. Tonight I handed in my portfolio for the Fashion and Clothing Course I have been doing. Whew! It seems a long time since I had to do anything like this - and while I was used to academic submissions, this was very different. It means, though, that as I was documenting for my portfolio, I had less reason to blog, as well as less time. I haven't mentioned the courses for a while. The Pattern Cutting Course has been running smoothly, and to plan, but the Sewing Course has been a fiasco from start to finish, not due to the tutor. I spoke about the problems previously but I elected to continue, in any case.

I made a dress for my final garment, see above, which was submitted alongside a previously made skirt, see below. I will submit a review of the dress later.

Tonight, I’m too tired to sew and not tired enough to go to bed just yet, so decided I’d write this post. I’m not through with sewing, you see - I have another portfolio to submit on Thursday for my Pattern Cutting course and I’m way behind. I drew up the pattern for my final garment - a pair of cropped trousers for golf and today cut out and made up the toile. It was awful! It was too baggy, too long at the front and rather twisted in appearance. DH took some photos.

How could that happen when I’d been so careful? Well, I found out the answer! I realised that the sewing class tonight would involve a lot of waiting and paperwork and that after I had sewn on the last poppet to finish my dress, I could look at my toile. These crops have side vents - and I realised I had cut one longer than the other! In a vent, there is a crucial point to which the side seam must be sewed. I had very carefully marked these points - but a 2.5 cm difference in the position of one made a huge difference! I started sewing at that point, sewing up to the side waist so it is no surprise that the front was 2.5 cms too long for the back!

When I realised what I had done, I inadvertently made the situation worse by reducing the length of the long side, when what I should have done was move the stitch point down by 2.5cms. Magic tape will come to my rescue - tomorrow. I'll get it sorted.

I ripped the toile apart and re-pinned to the correct position. Now, the trousers at least met at the top in the right place. I tried them on in the college toilets, just pinned, so my critique is likely to be far from accurate. However, I don’t think I now need to alter the waist height. However, I do need to narrow the trouser legs, increase the side seams to tighten a little and make a knock knee adjustment as they were not lying properly due to my knock knees (the left is a lot worse than the right due to arthritis). I thought that had been taken into account previously as I had already made such an adjustment at an earlier pattern stage for my block, but it's relatively easy fix, though I'd probably be better having separate right and left leg patterns. I'm not sure I have time for that though.

So my plan is that tomorrow I will re-sew the toile, making a knock knee adjustment, greater on the left, narrowing the legs and adjusting the vent. If the result is reasonable, I will draw up what will have to be my final pattern and stitch up a complete garment - if I have time. I’m busy tomorrow night and Wednesday morning and all day Thursday, but I hope there will be enough time to achieve this by Thursday evening.

So I have been pretty immersed in the course work for the two courses I’m doing but not everything has been course work.

By birthday is on 4th July and I said I'd like to visit the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A in London. We arranged our hotel but I was unable to get tickets for Alexander McQueen. Fortunately, I joined the V&A as a member and that gave me access to a members' only showing on the morning of my birthday. I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. I don’t have any pictures but there are many online and the exhibition was reviewed very well by Kate from Fabrickated. My youngest daughter was unable to go with me, though she had so much wanted to go, because she had a lot of back pain after camping at Glastonbury a few days before that. So DH accompanied me to that too. The exhibition finishes on 2 August and has been so popular and constantly sold out that the museum is opening overnight for the last two weekends. There are many supportive materials available. One of my pattern cutting friends went at a busy time and found that she couldn't read the notices (I use a large print book - but she's young and doesn't need that!) because people kept getting in the way. Although I don't live on London, I still think that my membership plus 1 guest has already been very useful; I do have a number of things later in the year pencilled in. We're likely to be in London reasonably often.

While in the V&A I also chose to visit the shoe exhibition Shoes: Pleasure and Pain which is on until January. This was also well reviewed by Kate. This time, it was at a rather busy (Saturday late morning) public time and my enjoyment was a little spoiled by the crowds - and the heat! As a northerner, I’m not used to the heat in London. Fortunately, I hadn’t been in London 3 days earlier when the temperature broke all records.

In the course of our weekend, I also visited the Imperial War Museum to see the exhibition 'Fashion on the Ration’. I very much enjoyed that too but was disappointed that in addition to not being allowed to take photographs, or sketch, there were no postcards available of particular garments and the book was text rather than any exhibition photos. I liked a utility garment - these must have been two a penny at the time; one was sold by M&S. But no joy, I’ll just have to remember, as although I'm not a vintage enthusiast, this looked fabulous and I'd love to make it.

Not everything was sewing related, though. I did visit Tate Modern for the first time. I found London very wearying in the heat.

On each of the two evenings we spent in London, we met our youngest daughter and her fiancé (we can't stay with them as their flat is so tiny (and they have so far been thwarted in their attempts to get onto the property ladder) but we stay in a hotel across the road). The first evening, I was so pooped and my feet were killing me that we ate in our hotel. The second evening was my birthday and we went to a lovely and helpful restaurant not too far from our hotel that my daughter recommended and booked. My oldest daughter came to London to join us so that was lovely.

A while back, my youngest daughter had requested that I make her a kimono and she chose the fabric for it when we were at Olympia in February. Eventually, we decided on one of the patterns I already had (free with a magazine) and she requested that I make it as long as possible both in body and sleeve - there she requested 3/4 length sleeves. Well, I did make it and took it to London with me to give her. I will review that, too, later. I took a couple of photos of it on my mannequin but we weren't able to get any of my daughter wearing it. She’ll send me photos eventually. I'll post then.

On the Sunday, we decided to leave London and return to Cambridge slowly, via Duxford (we drove to London; originally we were going to leave the car in Cambridge and get the train but our plans changed.). No, I didn't do any fabric shopping while I was there! My daughter had prepared a lovely family celebration evening meal and my grandsons gave me their handmade cards. Then, unexpectedly, my middle daughter arrived. So I didn't see all three daughters at the same time, but at least saw them all in the same weekend.

On the Monday morning, we were babysitting for our younger grandson until he went to nursery school in the afternoon but then we made our way home slowly. This meant I missed my sewing class, which meant in turn that I have been more pressurised since! As I went to London via Cambridge on the Thursday, I also missed my pattern cutting class.

So it comes full circle. I need to go to bed now so I'll be refreshed for my marathon to come, tomorrow!

On Friday I'm going to see the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the Bowes gallery. Should be good. I'll write more about that next week, perhaps.

Bye for now.




  1. What a busy time you have been having - galleries, coursework, families, and finally those trousers. Getting over the hump of making the first pair will soon be behind you. Even if they don't work out, you will have discovered a lot of information. Good luck with the portfolio.

    1. Thank you. Today I'm making up what I hope will be the final toile. I've cancelled everything else to concentrate on this. It has to be the final from the course point of view as I need to hand in tomorrow but it would be great if I could then go ahead and make them up for me to wear.

  2. Looks like you have been having such a great time!! Congrats on handing in your project! Happy belated!

    1. Thank you. Now I hope to catch up on reading the blog posts I've missed over the last few weeks and see what everyone has been getting up to.


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