Sunday, 7 January 2018

Sultry stash buster

Happy New Year! I've finally been able to make the most of sewing time over the holidays. I've completed one project start to finish and completed another, not to mention the work on my costume for the upcoming pantomime that I'm in at the end of January.

So for my complete make! - Another party dress - as if I need any more - this one was a stash buster and used some fabric that has been in the stash for at least 4 years just waiting for me to decide what to do with it.

The Fabric is a stunning shocking pink and gold Chinese brocade that my hubby brought back from China a few years ago. It was a narrow piece about 1m wide, but about 2.5m long. I overlocked the ends and washed it, which softened the fabric a bit. I knew it was going to fray like mad so sewing had to be planned to handle it as little as possible. It was also very synthetic, which meant careful pressing was in order. Once washed and dried, the bodice pieces were cut out and neck and armholes stay stitched twice to help protect against fraying. The sides were overlocked. The skirt was cut in one piece in the cross grain - I say cut, it was just the width of the fabric. I kept the seam at centre back and used pleats to shape the fabric to match the bodice. with this sort of fabric the least you cut it the more likely it is to stay together. All pressing was done with a cool iron and a scrap of tana lawn as a press cloth - which worked beautifully.

On to the pattern - the bodice is from the sultry sheath dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. I made a muslin in size 6 to check the fit. The fit was ok, but I do wish I'd have pinched out a bit at the neckline to make it hug a bit better. I lowered the armholes by 1cm and the back by about 3 cm, just for personal preference.

The bodice has 4 waist darts on the front and two on the back, plus bust darts, this gives a good amount of shaping. I did not use the pencil skirt from the book, although I do love the pencil skirt I knew that the fabric needed special care and I wanted to keep construction as simple as possible. the skirt is a simple rectangle using the remaining fabric and pleated at the front and the back to match the darts. It's not particularly full, but the structure of the fabric gives some nice shaping.

As the fabric is scratchy I decided to fully line the dress. I used a purple fabric with a soft handle for the skirt, but I didn't have enough for the bodice so I used some tana lawn which was left over from my last project. The lawn is lovely and cool and perfect to line the dress. The bodice seams are fully enclosed, which should also help with reduction of fraying. the skirt seams are all overlocked and the hem makes use of the selvedge edge and was hand stitched.

This dress was ready for NYE, but we ended up staying home, so it got it's first outing at the Church meal yesterday. My hubby also wore the shirt I made him for Christmas - more on that another time.

Monday, 1 January 2018

5 ways to boost creativity... my guide to a creative new year.

A rare opportunity to have a full day printmaking at home
 I'm well aware that as a blogger I'm inconsistent. It takes time to write good posts and when time is short I don't write so many, I really enjoy reading blog posts of those who have something to say so I stay engaged with the creative blogosphere even when I'm not writing my own.

This used to worry me a bit. How would people know what I'd made? Would they be interested in what I had to say? where would I get a response to the creative things I do? Is blogging stuff more important than making stuff? Hence my guide to boost creativity - this is sort of a new year resolution, but also a letter to myself and to you if you find this as challenging as I do.

Quick studies - A few minutes a day experimenting with hand embroidery

1. Little and often
Whatever you do, make it part of your daily routine, or something you can do in short bursts. It's really tempting to just want to spend a whole day being creative - I love doing this, but in the reality of life it just doesn't happen as often as I'd like. Can you find 5 or 10 or 15 minutes to do something creative. Carry a pen/ pencil and sketch on your bus/ train commute. Knit or Crochet while waiting for the kettle to boil or the spuds to cook. 10 minutes at the sewing machine as soon as you get in? A few photographs taken on a walk during lunch break or while walking the dog?

Experiments in texture - the bag the oranges came in and a bit of ink
 2. Stop caring what other people think about your art/ makes.
I used to worry that my art was not commercial enough. In fact I changed my style a lot to try to make it appeal to others. While I Like doing a bit of observational painting/ drawing now and again - I get bored of it very quickly. When I make art to please others, when I blog to please others, when I try to fit in the things I make with those things that are 'on trend' on other blogs, websites I find I lose myself a little. In honesty I'm always happiest with my work when I don't care what others think. when it doesn't need to be good, when it's just me trying something out, when I mix and match ideas to suit my own tastes - in other words when I stop trying to be something I'm not!

Gelli Plate prints - first attempt - not quite sure what was going to happen
3. Play and have fun
Always be willing to try something new. Learn a new skill, read a book or watch a video about a technique that you've never used. Try a new idea. This could be as simple as changing the surface you draw on, or what you draw with. It could be a whole new medium or technique. It could be drafting your own sewing patterns, trying to write a poem in a different form, using a different sized needle to hand stitch a design. If you feel the need go on a course it could open up a whole new world!

Learning how to make 3D wet felted forms

Crafternoon - Craft & Chat - a great way to make friends
4. Collaborate
Work with other people. Making things together is often one of the most creative outlets. Sometimes just seeing how someone else tackles a technique or skill and open up a whole new way of doing something. Its a way of learning and sharing. Join a craft group or art class. Could you teach someone how to do something? Could you make something together for a community group, school, church etc.

Demonstrating a skill to others

A selection of prints from my full day printing day a few weeks ago.
5. Value your craft/ art
I'm not talking about money here. Value the time it gives you. Personally time creating functions in many ways for me. I know that it helps me unwind from the work day and helps my well being. It gives me a sense of purpose and self esteem. I am more confident than I was before. My creativity is an expression of my faith and world view. some people use it as a meditative practice, for me it helps me pray and reflect on God's provision for my life.

So as we start 2018 I won't be creating a Resewlution list, or a #Makenine2018. Hey I hope I'll make more than 9. I won't promise to blog often but i will continue to create - It might not be very regular, I might not create any finished works or items of clothing worthy of recognition. but I will make and I will be creative - it's a part of who I am, who God has made me and that's the way I like it!
If you'd like to keep more up to date with what I do, join me on instagram.


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