Saturday, September 27, 2014

So many different sewing projects

Sewing for me has never just been about clothes. I should be so lucky!
Owning the oldest and biggest haberdashery business in downtown Wellington means that all manner of projects come my way. Sometimes I deflect them to dressmakers, but if the idea appeals to me and I have the time, I will take it on.
The latest projects are pretty diverse. This last fortnight, I made metres of Oktoberfest bunting and hemmed endless blue and white draping cloths, to decorate the St Johns Bar for the annual Brass Band showdown and fund raiser. But I cannot find a single photo of it online!
This week, I got a mysterious call on Monday about red, white and blue ribbon. When questioned, the caller admitted it was for the opening of the new Arras Tunnel in Wellington. I explained that one could not buy 15cm (6 inch) wide red, white and blue ribbon just like that, but I could make it for them. And so, I did just that.
Here it is; and the news story I pinched the photo from. I carefully sewed 50mm wide satin ribbons together, with only a scant 3mm overlap. Matching the top and bottom thread to the ribbon it was lined up with even.
I am never going to get a civic statue for my work in this area, but it is becoming a fairly regular thing. And because I can say, I made this or that ribbon for an opening, the requesters are always impressed.
I think this comes down to contextual satisfaction. I do not particularly enjoy sewing straight lines like this, but to know that I have in a tiny way contributed to a project so special, and with so much input by luminaries such as Peter Jackson, gives me a bit of a thrill. :)
I take my thrills where I can!

Monday, September 22, 2014

WSBN Tour #22 - My Sewing Space

Well, have I got a story for you. I joined the WSBN sewing room tour mid way through, as it just was so much fun looking at the others', I got FOMO and jumped in. With a week to go, I took lots of photos of my incredibly messy space, and wrote a post. But you know what? I kept qualifying and justifying the mess, and after reading Joy's post on Acharmofmagpies (see below) and her ponderings on messiness vs creativity vs productivity in the face of messiness, or lack of it, I realised that I wasn't content to leave it that way, let alone show it that way.
So, today MrC and I got stuck in and transformed it.. It only took us a couple of hours, which given how bad things were was quite amazing. Plenty of trips to the skip to chuck out things we had been hanging onto for years, sorting a pile for donating, things to go to the shop or downstairs, a really thorough vacuum and a cursory dust and here we are.
Presenting my work room. It is 24sqm (about 250 sqft) which is pretty big eh! Spesh since our whole floor space is only about 85sqm. It IS the reason we bought the apartment though. It triples as an office, a work studio and a guest bedroom. Yay!
First up, the costume rack. It is to the right by the top of the stairs as you come up (so the stairs are on the right of the pic, see?) Usually it is draped in a sheet and a quilt, to keep dust and light off it.
And now, turning around and facing into the room from the top of the stairs, we have the office station. My quilt design wall is to the left. The stereo by the printer is essential, for listening to National Radio or books on CD while I am sewing.
Moving into the room, tall stash cupboards - the futon couch for guests in the corner. Up top are patterns, boxes of projects and felt, trims and laces. A pile of books I collated today from various spots around the room. My threads in several boxes. I am tall and it is really easy to hook things down from up there!
The dressmaker's dummy, and a pile of things to go to the Sallies. The alcove formed by the big shelf and this second bank of tall stash cupboards holds a bookcase and a tall laundry basket of rolls of buckram, Vilene, paper, etc. etc. The big shelf holds board games, quilt batting, bedding, books, fabric, tools - so much stuff. Up top of the cupboards is interfacing, more tools and notions and projects.
And here we are, at the business area! Yesterday you couldn't see the wood of that table top for stuff. The tables are arranged like this to make best use of space - the area by the stairs has angled beam coming into the room. It works.
My Bernina 1230 - replacing the 1120 I bought in 1991 that died three years ago. I was so lucky to find this honey on trademe (NZ's ebay) for under $1000 - yup even a 25 year old machine is worth that much. I am looking after this honey, she is going to see me out! Behind are baskets of tools, machine parts, needles etc etc. I love baskets. My angle poise lamp is essential for night work as the overhead lights are not great. Looking past the desk is the costume rack and the stairs
My work table. I use it for cutting small projects but big ones I take to work, or use the kitchen bench. It's  big enough table, just quite low. It's awesome to have it cleared! The lower photo is of the same table yesterday.
The stacker tray behind my chair - my brown frock coat and some mending jobs piled on top. It also got a workover today and now has paper craft things, small gifts and UFOs in it.
And now, stash cupboards. RED things - this cupboard is about heavy fabrics and synthetics. Except the top shelf which holds the most gorgeous cotton voiles I bought recently for this summer.
Another blurry one, sorry! Silks, cottons and other glorious stuff.
The other cupboards - notions in the drawers, fat quarters in boxes, random fabrics in the bottom. The right cupboard is all quilting fabrics.
Under the table is my box and basket of shirt fabrics. And a green container of costume jewelry from my grandmother. The box on the left is for cotton offcuts. This was a mess and a half until this afternoon.
See? A mess.

I am just so happy to have a tidy space. It is a big space and gets messy fast, but now it is set to rights it won't take much to restore it. Nothing we threw out today was sewing related, either.
It's particularly useful as I have TWO big shows coming up to costume, so I need the mental space of a tidy space. I am happy with a lot of stuff and some clutter, I prefer it. But when I can't find things it drives me nuts.
Tomorrow I will do a short post of my other work area, at the shop. In the meantime, here is the list of other posts in the tour. I hope you find or found it as inspiring and motivating as I did!
1st: Gemma at 66 Stitches
2nd: Laura at Laulipopnz
4th: Nikki at NikkiStitches
5th: Juliet at Crazy Gypsy Chronicles
6th: Sandra at SewistStitch
7th: Sophie-Lee at Two Random Words
8th: Kat at Macskakat
9th: Holly at Polycraftual
10th: MaryLouise at Thanks I made this myself
11th: Nina at Ninavirgo
12th: Sandra at FlossieFT
13th: Melissa at The Curous Kiwi
14th: Zara at Off-Grid Chic
15th: Crafty Mermaid
16th: Gillian at Sewing Down Under
17th: Leimomi at The Dreamstress
18th: Teresa at Adventures of a Girl from the Naki
19th: Joy at Acharmofmagpies
20th: Nicola at Silvern Swan
21st: Jenna at Ruby Dust
22nd: Moi!
25th: Elisabeth at The Sewphist

Happy blog hopping everyone! And if we have inspired any of you to get into your pace and sew - be it a tiny corner of your bedroom or a huge mezzanine floor, (I have had both and it never changes my output!) then it was all worth it. And if it makes you feel better about your space, that's good too:)

Monday, September 8, 2014

But wait, there's more!

 The Saturday before Wellington Winter Vintage, I had a photo shoot with Ngahuia from Ataahua Pinups, but this time, it was as myself not as Constance.
I haven't seen much of the photos yet as she is still processing them, but this delightful, and rather flattering 'meme' popped up on her Facebook page the other day:
 We had great fun as always, so there were lots of laughs. I'll share some more when they come through. It may seem a tad vain to be so excited by photos of oneself but I tell you, Readers, the best thing I have ever done is to embrace having my photo taken. It is very liberating to get past that cringy feeling! Instead of fixating on my crooked teeth as I once would have, I just see myself as a package deal, imperfections and all :)
The next pic is the only one I've seen from the evening of Wellington Winter Vintage. Moustacheless and sporting a diaphanous purple costume, I 'read' palms for the evening and had a great time!
BTW, this piece of embroidered net is one of the highlights of my stash. I only have about 1.2m of it and as it is a border, I've never really been able to fix on what to make from it. In the meantime it is handy for dressups.

Happy Week!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Another Circus, Another Show...

Well it's done and dusted. Yesterday was Wellington Winter Vintage day, and I was fully costumed.
It was a bit touch and go - with a bad cold and so little time left, I ditched my more ambitious plan of a whole new garment, and instead did some makeovers. I am quite tickled about it all really - because I have so many new gigs coming up, all having quite different and specific requirements for costuming, any shortcuts are welcomed with relief. I live for the day when I can start reusing some of these crazy get ups! :)
Here are some pics:
Mark took this portrait, I love it! So silly! The venue was decked out in heaps of amazing old circus props, and this lion was a favourite. I am wearing my Constance skirt, the little top hat, my red torselet with a velvet peplum added and embellished with lots of circusy blings, and a RTW jacket safety pinned back to make a tailed bolero with added blingy epaulettes.  Oh, and a moustache. And really weird makeup.
I love my bling - it's Indian and looks old when it is new. Diamantes so soft you can cut through them with scissors. It made cutting all those strips much easier. The circles were on a continuous black strip and I got the very last metre of it. The epaulettes I made from fusing two layers of heavy vilene together then just gluing everything to them. They are safety pinned on. Thank goodness for safety pins!!

This photo of the Mighty Angus tickled my fancy. Angus is all of 14 and is such a showman - he did amazing equilibristic feats with such comic presence a real star in the making. And there I am on stage, smack dab in the middle of his gesture! It's like one of those trick techniques Weta used in the Hobbit movies!

Group photo - me right at the top bending down as I was the only one standing on the stage. Down the front are Claire in white sleeveless shirt and black bow ie, Rose beside her in red, and Tim in tweeds like a carnie - these guys are the Dream Team from Glory Days Magazine who put it all together.
As well as the circus performances we had bands, stalls, dancing and competitions. It was such a blast!
And in the evening, I had another role to play. Photos to come!
If you want to see more, check out #wintervintage.

Happy Sunday!