Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Introduction to Dressmaking – Sample Skirt!

Following on from the mass listing of workshops for the autumn, I thought I had better get on with making the sample items for each workshop… Though I am currently temporarily distracted by my Ravellenic Games projects (2 down, 2 underway, 2 more to start before the games finishes – more on those to follow…) I have managed to get my skirt finished that will be the project of the Introduction to Dressmaking course which starts in mid-September.

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This lovely pattern (Butterick 4686 – View C) is flattering to a variety of figures and is also very sympathetic for new sewers… Though it it designed to fit just below the waist, the wide curved peplum waistband enables it to sit at a number of points on your hips depending on your current cake consumption (!) and the accuracy of your seams! The skirt is beautifully full and twirly but not overly girly, depending on your fabric choice. The smooth skirt shape is flattering for curves and provides shape to boyish figures… All in all, a great go-to pattern.

The sewing skills you will learn by making this skirt include:

  • seams and finishing
  • zip insertion
  • hook and eye fastening
  • facing, interfacing and understitching
  • slip stitching and hemming

not to mention the commercial pattern usage, trimming and sizing elements too.

I used a simple craft cotton called Heirloom Rose by Joel Dewbury, but there are many and various weights and styles that could be used with the pattern. Guidance and suggestions for types and sources of fabrics will be given when you sign up to the course, which requires you have a PAT-tested and fully functioning sewing machine at your disposal to take part.

Book your place now, or put it in your ‘to do’ list for the new year: January evening classes will be listed shortly so sign up to our mailing list to be notified of updates.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Craft Cafe: Ruth Singer

I am SO EXCITED to offer my next (rampantly overdue) Craft Cafe interviewee today. Ruth Singer grabbed my attention when I first saw her, years ago, at a Christmas craft fair at Shoreditch Town Hall. Since then, I have been able to use my limited connections to programme her workshops at the Barbican and (let’s be honest) STALK her fabulous self around craftland. I was even able to give my poor husband a ‘present’ (ahem) of my wedding dress fabric in three panels, commissioned from Ruth and photographed here. Following on from her competition-winning entry in Leicester for a pop-up craft workshop space, Ruth Singer Studio is now up and running on a longterm basis, offering all-level tuition and creative fabulouness for lucky Leicesterians out there. So, without further ado, and do try not to drool or grab any pretty gorgeous objet’s…


What inspires you?

My main inspiration always has been and probably always will be historic textiles. There isn't much I find more exciting than museums - fashion, textile, decorative arts, social history… I love them all, but my first true love is costume. More recently, my inspiration comes from other sources but is always combined with textiles and history; I work with memory, stories, personal lives and material culture when working on my more personal or conceptual pieces.

imageWhat would be your dream commission?

Probably a commission from a museum to make a piece related to their historical collections. I love private commissions too, but to have pieces in museum collections would make me really happy.

 Whose work do you admire and why?

Mostly I am huge fans of friends of mine because I know how hard they work and what their work really is about. My friend Amy Twigger Holroyd is a huge inspiration, as is Jennifer Collier - and pretty much anything she displays in her brilliant gallery Unit Twelve in Staffordshire. I also really love jewellers Clare Hillerby & Nora Fok. I adore Rob Ryan and am in the middle of stitching his collaborative needlework design by Emily Peacock. It is huge & will probably take years!

You work with many different materials including varied fabrics, ribbons, leathers... What's your favourite?

image Vintage fabric is always my favourite - I love pre-war fabrics best of all, particularly prints but I don't use them in my work so much. For making, I like cotton - usually organic such as Cloud9 or Liberty Lawn. I use recycled wool felt a lot, that is probably high up on my favourites.  Silk is wonderful stuff and amazing to use, but the slipperiness is a pain! I do love antique silk ribbons a lot too.

You do a lot of teaching and workshop leading. Do you find that to be a creative process too, or a commercial necessity or a bit of both?

I love teaching! I suppose I wouldn't do so much if I could sell endless quantities of my work, but realistically, all full-time makers have another income of one sort or another. I do miss teaching if I don't do it, I am a sociable person and love sharing. I get a great kick out of inspiring people - whether they be adults with a love of textile, or kids who just love doing anything hands-on. I wouldn't want to give it up.


What's on your workbench right now?

I'm working on a new fabric manipulation book so there are samples all over the place. I am also working on a huge quilt for myself and there's a dress I started last November which needs finishing!

imageWhat do you listen to in the studio?

Radio 4. Constantly.

Are you a 'Pretty Organised' or 'Creatively Chaotic' artist?

Chaotic artist but organised studio manager, events organiser and administrator.

 What are your plans/hopes/dreams for 2012? What's next after Ruth Singer Studio?

My permanent studio space opens at the end of 2012 so that will be the start of new exciting ventures - I am planning to expand the workshop programme to cater for kids, mums, professional designer-makers and much more. Also my new book comes out in May 2013 so I am planning a solo exhibition to tie in with it. Plenty to keep me busy!

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Thanks so much, Ruth. Keep up to date with Ruth’s work here and make sure to read her books, Sew It Up and Sew Eco.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Knitting Q&A: Right Side, Wrong Side

An unexpected by-product of Homespun Living’s shiny new site is the increased traffic, and a few lovely questions and enquiries from some lovely people. I thought this one may be useful to have online to keep any semi-newbie knitters on the rights and wrongs of the craft!

I am using a Tiny Tots DK knitting pattern No.1560. The pattern is formed in 4 rows. The front is the same as the back until the required length to start shaping the neck. My problem is, the instructions say: cont until front measures 35cm, 'ending with a ws row'........ if the pattern's 4th row is knitted on the ws, what does this mean? Please help. Sheilagh

Image courtesy of Helenpurls via Ravelry.com

Hello there Sheilagh
Thanks for getting in touch and what a lovely pattern you have chosen!

RS and WS are abbreviations for 'Right Side' and 'Wrong Side'. The 'right side' is the side that will be facing outwards and be the 'shown' side of the work. The wrong side is the inside of the work. The side that is facing you as you work is the side that is being named - so that when you finish working a side while the wrong side has been facing you, you have finished a 'wrong side' row. When you are working normal stocking stitch, that means you'll be knitting with the right side facing you and purling with the wrong side facing you.

So… it doesn't matter how many rows into a pattern you are when you are told to finish on a 'wrong side row'. As long as you finish on the wrong side, your next row will be a 'right side' row and you will most likely begin shaping then, as shaping is invariably designed to take place on a 'right side' row.

So, in your case, you keep on working the piece in pattern until the work measures just shy of 35cm. When you finish your next 'wrong side row', whether that is row 2 or row 4 of the pattern, taking you up to 35cm, you will then follow the instructions given for the neck shaping. It will most likely say 'continue in pattern, while decreasing blah blah blah....' which means that you follow the instructions for decreasing, while continuing to follow the surface stitch pattern as you have done for the rest of the garment.

Good luck!

I am now offering 1-to-1 tuition and pattern assistance for £8 per half hour in and around the St Albans area. If you’re stuck on a pattern, frustrated with seaming or needing to clear that small hurdle to finish the project, please contact me at homespunliving.co.uk to enquire further.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Hooking and scrubbing


My current obsession… My current hooky obsession… Scrubbies, flannels, washpads, reusable makeup remover pads, eco-friendly cotton pads…Whatever you want to call them, they provide instant gratification, practice following crochet patterns of varying nationalities and invariably lacking charts and they are so pretty and USEFUL.

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I have had such fun experimenting (and using) these little beauties, that I thought it would be unfair to keep the love from you any longer.

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Available now in my Folksy store, there will be more colours (and a neutral collection, too), to follow soon.