Thursday, 27 March 2014

Taking a respite from sewing clothes.

Snowdrops are blooming in the hedgerows, daffs are nodding on urban roundabouts and Im back in the studio. Still sporting fingerless gloves and wearing my coat all day, but Im here, focussed and putting in a days work. My workshops are filling up very, very slowly and if you know anyone who wants to make a kimono, learn to sew or make some French Knickers please direct them to my site where you can now book classes using Paypal. Hurrah!
Last week I spoke to the Stitch and Bitch group about having a little competition to make a "creature " of some variety using old textiles and found objects. Whilst doing my other work I became involved with making my own character who Ive named Raydene Flanagan.
She started off as a sketch on the back of an envelope and gradually developed from there. I didn't have that much of a plan, although I did make a paper pattern and knew I wanted to use domestic linens. I love hand sewing and free machine embroidery, so she has some funny little tats- mermaids and such. Im also re-connecting with crochet after many years and crocheted her top using 3 yarns twisted together. her skirt is made from silk tie fragments embroidered together and she has fragments of beads, buttons and tiny objects stitched to the hem of her skirt. I sort of came unstuck when it came to shoes so have just left that for now because Im allowed to.
I just stitched away and let the work develop. A rarity for me because Im often working with patterns and deadlines. Its very feeing to work in such a way, you never know what will emerge. She is strange though isn't she?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Kimono Jacket Evening Class Starts in April.

Last year I went on a wandering foray down the High Street. Usually returning with a lipstick and Marks and Sparks biscuits. Aside from the biscuits, I saw some attractive Kimono jackets in River island and whilst i loved the prints i couldn't bring myself to buy one. Mainly because the fabrics are such poor quality and people would know where I brought it from so it would date and lose it's appeal quickly. I'd been toying with the idea of the kimono jacket for a long time and found a pattern in a book my dad had brought for me when I was 15! so that's many years ago now. I had to draft it up but I was a very, very simple shape. It didn't take long to make either.
Then I had a little play around with shortening the pattern and like this version even better. Both lots of fabric are from the Fabric Emporia which is at the end of my street and I'm in there at least twice a week. This shop alone deserves it own posting which Ill do soon. I digress, this jacket has a lot of mileage in it, embroidered panels, massive pockets, contrast fabrics, endless posibilities. My next version is going to be in hand painted silk. Oh, yes also It's going to be an evening class which starts in April and you can book through my website. Hurrah!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Getting Back Into The Swing.

Ive been doing a lot of planning recently as well as writing new workshops. I've embraced 21st Century technology and added Paypal buttons to my website which enables people to book on classes straightaway. I'm pleased that it's actually working out well. The classes at My Little Vintage-where I teach only beginners and Intermediate tick along nicely. And Stitch and Bitch started agin this week after a long 2 months away. There was a definate frisson of excitement as folks caught up with each, happily everyone returned and we managed to squeeze in a couple of newbies as well.
My good friend Sally, who is a total and utter genius when it comes to dreaming up ideas, creating stuff and connecting people up, helped me design this awesome leaflet/letter to promote my classes and workshops. It has managed to capture the essence of Abigail Jackson in picture form. Im so fed up with seeing flyers for sewing classes, nail bars and hair dressers which all look the same and litter shop counters. I wanted something which looked so awesome people wanted to carry it around with them and show it around saying "Look at this...Im going to one of these classes". I (modestly) think we've managed to achieve that quite well.
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Two of the classes Ive planned are making an A Line Skirt with mushrooms on it. And A childs dress with a hickory, dickory dock motif and a mouse in the pocket. I thought that rather than photograph the pieces I would do some illistrations. I don't get to draw as often as I'd like. So found this childs dress a real pleasure.
Finally, Im making stock for Landmark Arts which takes place in Teddingto across the first weekend in March. I've made a decision not to do Selvedge Spring fair this year and to try Landmark Arts instead. I had planned to make some kimono jackets last week but then decided to not buy any new fabrics and to use up trims I brought from raystitch and silks I'd had for years. I made some cushions, which Im happy with but feel I should've made something a bit more substantial. Which means Ill just have to make the kimono tops this week instead.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Burns Street Studios- More Home Grown Talent.

I've been trying in earnest to get back into the studio because it is very cold in there. Today i worked in my coat and fingerless gloves all day. Which became quite difficult as I was painting cardboard tubes with thick glue and trying to wrap string around them. We finally got our sign up outside which looks stonking and I'll photograph that in the next week or so. The folk who work in the studio next door Dan and Lauren are super talented. Dan is an incredibly skilled painter and Lauren stitches creatures and her work is beautiful and wonderfully imagined. Their studio was looking particularly inviting so I snuck in and took some photo's. I hope you enjoy them.
I do enjoy looking at Images of other Artists workspaces. But these days they inevitably have Ikea shelving, tidied fabric piles and plenty of whimsy vintage stuff. And are trying (sometimes a bit too hard) to be whacky or contrived Arty. I don't want to see jam jars of meadow flowers and diolley bunting. Give me a felt mushroom with a menacing face any day of the week.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

One of the best workshops of last year.

Whilst tidying my desk(what I really should be doing is research for a workshop)I found a disc with images on from a workshop on free motion embroidery which I ran sometime in Autumn.
Of all the subjects free motion embroidery is my favourite. I use the technique a lot on the clothing I make. And I just love the sheer pleasure to be gained from drawing with threads.
We also found time to use the technique and incorporate dissolvy. Trapping threads and small pieces of sheer fabrics to create a "mesh effect" once the dissolvy had been washed away.
We also applied a wash of colour in the form of Brusho inks which are really versatile, mix well and have good strong pigments.
Im a sorry old sporadic blogger and I don't take enough quality pictures of my fabric stash, coloured pencils in a jar, or dinners Ive made with red and green chillies. I just pitch a tale here and there to keep my hand in and impress any new people who may wander my way. I also have no clue how to insert a hyperlink or how to position my pictures so they form a cohesive pattern. They're all things i could learn though, aren't they....? So for now Im going to tell you about the latest trip which I went on. Back in the middle of September I got a job designing some outfits for a cruise ship show. The show is called The Midnight Hour and has no story as such but is a rollicking frolick through all those Motown and dance numbers they play at your cousins' 18th in the Monks Park Working Mens Club. It was fairly stressful at times but I had a great machinist who worked alongside me and we'd worked together before, we did a lot of work on getting the patterns and fit right for the female singers. The male singers were easier because I could buy their outfits off the peg. We were fortunate because our lovely male lead had also been a stylist at Tony and Guy so he was a marvel with the girls hair-what a godsend. Due to a timely twist of fate one of the two shows we were installing was A Midnight Hour, so I got to see the costumes I'd made on stage. At the risk of sounding like a proper Luvvy the people that i worked with work so hard, they're such a great bunch of folk and although it's a strange form of "another life" for me, I do love the comraderie and get thoroughly immersed in the job when I'm onboard. We went to Rome and sailed around to Gibralta, Cartegghana (probably spelt that wrong) and Lisbon- which was delightful, I got off to buy some fishnets for the singers and the shops were still old fashioned, very quaint and rammed full of stock. There were plenty of haberdashery shops such as this one I photographed (at the top) with the gorgeous hand painted roses above the window. I espied a nun buying some lace in a haberdashery shop and tried to take a covert photo, but It came out wrong. Those places sell the most incredible range of items and I brought some lovely embroidered ribbon because I really don't have any at all back in my studio .......?

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Sick of the shops.

I've been fortunate to have regular work for the past few weeks designing and making the costumes for a new show onboard a cruise ship. Subsequently,this means I've had extra money to treat myself to some new clothes. What a let down. I spent a couple of evenings online becoming befuddled and confused- i don't particularly enjoy being on the computer and find the experience of clothes shopping like standing under a waterfall with a paper cup hoping for a drink of water. It's a torrent. Northampton Town Centre is like many clone towns the length and breadth of Britain. Same old shops selling the same old shite. So I brought some fabric and thought I'd make a skirt for myself. I've been reading Dolly Clackkets wonderful blog and was very inspired by her pictures of the dresses she makes and the gorgeous fabrics she uses.

Strange, considering my profession that I don't make anything for myself to wear. And in the past it's been because I'd rather sell it and have the money. Then I spend the money on clothes from charity shops or vintage stuff. In the past few years quality pieces in charity shops are more difficult to find, and the term "Vintage" has been flogged to within an inch of it's life. So I had in mind a skirt which I wanted to make. I ordered the fabric from fabric moon online and it was £13p/m which is a bit more than I'm used to spending but each piece of fabric will make 2 skirts because the underneath is a plainer colour.

The skirt I had in my mind's eye met in the front with ties so that it resembled an apron, had decent sized pockets, have no waistband and be A-line. The pattern started off as an A line Prima pattern and admittedly i could've made my own but It was much simpler to trace round theirs and adapt for my purposes. I sort of made it up as i went along and would do some things differently next time. As I was stitching away i got that frisson off excitement when i realised I could indulge my love of pom-poms and ric-rac, I just love putting the colours together. The pink fabric which I used for the pockets has tiny red stars on it and is from a collection given to me by a friend who's elderly mother was a dressmaker. It has that gorgeous crisp feel of 1950's cotton and can only be used sparingly as it is very special.
Im so pleased with the results. Im glad I sat at the machine and made it with great care and even put hanging loops inside it. This is going to be my wardrobe staple for winter and I can't wait to make another version. Or maybe a pinafore version with crossover straps would look good too?