Flower making Day 1 and a surprise encounter

Today I started the first of my two millinery sessions at Kensington and Chelsea college. Monday and Tuesday will be spent flower making while Wednesday and Thursday will be used to explore the use of sinamay and straw in millinery. 
Our teacher is Bridget Bailey, a really talented and down to earth milliner. I really loved the way she taught us today. I went in thinking she would be very uppity, especially as she is well known, but I was pleasantly surprised by her teaching style. I’ve decided I like her….very much actually. You can see some of her work here. These are my favourite of her pieces

The day started with us examining some of the flowers she had made using the techniques she would be teaching us.

 Next she showed us how to carve lino to make moulds for the flowers. My attempt looked like a dodgy half onion.

Time to dye some silk.
Dyed strips of silk laid to dry.

 Then she showed us what we would be doing with our carved lino blocks and dyed silk fabric tomorrow.

My biggest surprise of the day was meeting Susan ( wearing a red cardigan in picture below). We got chatting, and I mentioned I would be taking pictures for my blog. One thing led to another, and she said she reads sewing blogs as well. I asked her if she read Did You Make That?, she said yes. Then she asked me for my blog name. I wrote it out for her, and her eyes lit up.

” Oh I know your blog”She exclaimed.

Boy did that make me happy. I felt like a little star. I offered to give her an autograph, to which she smiled politely. One day folks, one day someone will faint with excitement upon seeing me. What? You think I jest? I think you will find my friends, that I am dead serious.

The brown leather hat box was begging me to steal it. It belonged to Martine ( pictured closing it). The lucky girl. Its a 1960’s pure leather hat box she got off ebay for £20. What a steal. Considering the fact that cardboard hat boxes are currently going for more than twice that amount, you would understand the temptation I was fighting right? By the end of this week, if I am still blogging, then you should know that I succeeded in resisting the temptation to steal it, thereby avoiding jail.

Tomorrow we get to use our dyed fabric to make the flowers, and I am so excited.

The Blogger Series: Sew Incidentally

I was really touched by all the lovely comments you sent my way yesterday about my hatmaking attempts. Hopefully I go on to make nicer things. I am hoping when I get more confident about my millinery abilities (non-existent at the moment), I could do a couple of tutorials for you, so you could make your own little pieces at home. Would you want that?

Today’s guest on the Blogger Series is Claire, from Sew,Incidentally.

What can I say about Claire? Phew!!. Those of you who have met her, would know about her organisational skills, and her selfless nature. She’s always willing to help people ( thanks for the chocolate bar when I was preggers Claire) and is quite generous at swaps ( I have an impressive jersey stash thanks to her). Her IT skills are good too, as she turned the Sorbetto sleeve pattern Mena of Sew Weekly fame used for her Sorbetto challenge into a PDF, and also helped So Zo, with digitising her free vest/camisole,singlet pattern.

Claire and I had so much fun filming this video, and editing it was so hard because I wanted to put everything she said on the final video. I don’t know how long you would like the videos to be. This series is still new, so I am not sure what the perfect duration would be. What do you think? The first one I did was less than 2 minutes, the second was about 4minutes. This one has gone just over 5 minutes. I think 5 minutes should be the maximum so they are standardised. What is your take on it?

Video duration issues aside, I could not stop looking at the video. Claire is so expressive when she talks, and she made me laugh throughout. There is a bit at the end where you here a cackling sound….that was me laughing. Sorry guys. My laughter is not the most appealing.

Good, so with that little matter of my hyena-like laughter out of the way, here is Sew, Incidentally.

PS: Don’t you just hate how pretty she looks on camera? eesshh!!

What I did today

What a day I’ve had.

My day started with me waking up at 7am, and going across town to spend 6hours with a legend in the millinery world. Those of you who have been bothering to read my ramblings will remember that last year I was going to take lessons with this living legend but unfortunately, I got knocked up, and due to complications could not attend. Many of you said I could always do it the following year. And I just did. Yay!!.

Today is the start of a number of classes I will be having with her. My next class will surely be sometime in August after my holidays, but no matter. Today was everything I hoped it would be and more.

I am dead tired, so without further ado, here are a few pics of my day.

 The legend started me off with something easy, blocking a sinamay base and making trimming for it. Taking notes, with serious spelling errors.

Cutting out squares

Blocking the sinamay on a hat block

making a tear-drop shape out of millinery wire and drawing the shape unto the blocked sinamay squares.

Sewing the wire to the newly cut shape

Sinamay strips cut on the bias. Apparently in millinery, everything is cut on the bias.

The edges of the bias strips were hand rolled, and attached to the sinamay tear drop base.

Here is the almost finished hat. I have to sew on the elastic, and a few bits, and it will be done. We ran out of time, but I had so much fun, and I can’t wait to go back next month.

All of next week I will be involved in millinery classes at another location,where I will be taught how to make flowers, and how to wpork with sinamay and straw. I will be posting my experiences after each class, so if millinery is something you are curious about, do pop back in next week.. 
This hat makes want to finish this dress I started, but which has since been relegated to the UFO bin. Hopefully  will be able to do that and take pictures of me wearing both the hat and the dress. Wish me luck please.

In which I moan again

I know, I know.

It seems like all I do these days is moan. That is what happens when you are at home all the time. Not everyone though. Some people sit at home and make wonderful use of their time. Not me. All I do is plan things I want to make, start making them, and then get distracted by all your lovely blogs. Lovely blogs, which fill me up with intense envy. Ha! I said it. Yes I get envious when I see some really cool stuff on blogs, and wish I had the skills to make those things, or had access to some of the cool gadgets I see on those blogs. The american blogs are most often the guilty ones. Yes you Americans, with your Joanns and Walmarts.

Just the other day I was reading Sunny’s blog. She is currently doing a sew along for not one, but 2 dresses from Simplicity 1880. I have that pattern, and will use her instructions when making mine. First I have to do my Cambie dress, which is becoming a challenge, as I have somehow managed to ruin my pattern. That, I fear, is the subject of another post. Now where was I? Ah yes. Sunny. She was doing a post on button hole placements, and she had this cool tool, the Simflex expanding gauge.

 I had seen this on the Jaycotts website, but had not really convinced myself I needed it so, I never really paid any attention to it. After seeing it featured on Sunny’s blog however, I decided it was time I bought one. I went back to Jaycotts, and what do you know, it was out of stock. Come to think of it, it has always been out of stock. I am talking a year from when I first saw it there. Get your act together Jaycotts. I searched high and low for it here in the UK, to no avail, and finally bought it here, on ebay. I probably did not search low enough though, because one day, I found it here.

 Yes people, in a place called Sew-Quick. According to their website, they are ” A leading supplier of American sewing notions”. Truer words have never been written. They stock items from Nancy Zieman, Clotilde, Sandra Betzina, Collins, Dritz and Palmer Pletsch, and are based in Scotland. I am beginning to love Scotland more and more each day. Not only has it given me Andy Murray, who I love with a passion (sorry Mr.Dibs), it is now leading the way in providing me with american sewing notioins. Take that you American bloggers.

Now on to another thing. Stabilising tapes. 

Source:Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers by Julie Cole and Sharon Czachor

When I flicked through my copy of the most recent Threads magazine, I saw a feature on stabilising tapes.

Naturally, as I am wont to do, I went searching for them. And again, did not find them. I’m sure we have them here, but probably under different brand names. I don’t care for that. I want what I see on those blogs. After searching extensively, I ended up ordering some from a US based shop on ebay. And that is not the only thing I have bought from american based shops on ebay. I also ordered some Hug Snug seam binding from this place. All is not completely hopeless though, because I managed to find Steam-a-Seam fusible web from this Welsh ebay shop. England what are you doing?

See the pattern here? Why do we in the UK not have access to these nice notions? If, and that is a very BIG if, we do see them here, they are most often expensive. In my last moan about our lack of visible sewing experts, Karen mentioned the size of the US compared to the UK, and that the craft industry there is massive, and well supported. True. However, the craft industry in the UK is growing, and we need the all the support we can get. There are probably more shops selling these goodies, but either they are not publicising themselves well, or I am just not doing my research well. 
What about you, have you seen and sourced something locally that helps you with your sewing? or in the absence of that, can you recommend useful sewing gadgets which you bought from another country?

And they asked me to bring these…..

Rubber gloves MOST important!
Sewing kit
Paint brush (one inch)
A piece of towel 2 ft square to paint on
Sinamay –  pale coloured is fine not black. half a metre
Parisisal straw cone

A bucket or large plastic bowl to dye fabric in.

Cotton or silk fabric bits if they have them
If they don’t bring gloves and a bucket they won’t be able to dye silk till other people have finished with theirs.

Where do you think I am headed?

All I can say for now is that I am super excited to be going there.hihihihihihi…