And now for something different… my first time with embroidery

If there’s one thing I’m terrible at when it comes to sewing, it’s taking risks.

But, as you all know, when it comes to the Twitter dress, one hell of a risk was needed to try and salvage this project. Not to mention, quite honestly, I am really really BORED of this garment now.

Enter embroidery, a craft I’ve never really had a go at and probably should have practiced a bit more before getting my brand-new embroidery needles stuck in – but this is risk-taking sewing here. EXTREME stuff, I’m telling you.

Embroidery requires a hoop to keep the fabric taut while you’re stitching along, desperately praying everything won’t come out all wonky. I was half tempted to go without, but, according to Sublime Stitching, the hoop is an integral part of the ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT and being as this was EXTREME RISK-TAKING TIME, it just wouldn’t be the same without the hoop now would it?

I had planned to buy my ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT from the lovely Sublime Stitching, but, er, I got impatient and toddled along to a lovely craft shop in Guildford called Pandora instead, where I acquired some stitchery goodness.

Keeping my Twittery theme in mind, I asked a good friend of mine to doodle me a  swallow. I get enough stick for having earrings with a passing resemblance to the Twitter logo (especially considering how much I’m on there), I couldn’t quite face actually embroidering it onto a dress. Isn’t it a nice design though?

Now, you’d think the sensible thing to do would be to practice, practice, practice first on the oodles of scrap fabric I have. Psht. Whatever. EXTREME RISK-TAKING has no time for piddly practice. This project needs moving along, pronto!

I sheepishly admit I wish I’d done a bit of practice now. It’s not that it looks too bad, it’s just a bit… wonky. Poor wonky bird. It had such high hopes, coming from a lovely design, but my inexperienced embroidery hands just got a bit over-excited and everything went all over the place. I could take it out, I suppose, but you’re assuming I can be bothered.

Getting stuck in couldn’t have been easier, thanks again to Sublime Stitching. Have you seen the tutorials available on the site? They’re fantastic, really clear and excellent for beginners. If I get more into embroidery, perhaps a cheeky book order is on the cards.

This isn’t even the half of why the Twitter dress is taking me so bloody long. I wish I could promise you an adventure-filled sewing tale full of pattern-slashing and skilful adjustments but it’s more a case of me sitting in a half-sewn muslin cheering on whoever was doing some sporting stuff on the telly.

It’s grit my teeth time to get it done now. The embroidery, while wonky, was actually pretty fun because it was something different. Now it’s back to the sewing grindstone. Sigh.

Do you ever get bored of your projects because they’re taking so long? Sometimes I wish the sewing fairy would come to visit and I’ll come home to find everything done, seam finishes and all…

Me Made May 12 – Key texts

This weekend, James Morrison’s Public Affairs for Journalists has been my best friend.

We’ve been spending a lot of time together, Morrison and I, and my law handbook’s been getting some loving too. Yay revision.

Go on, ask me anything about the House of Lords or the main institutions of the European Union, I DARE YA!

When it comes to revision, everyone knows it’s all about comfort. The graduation skirt is actually the only circle skirt I own and I honestly now wish I owned a couple more, just because they’re so bloody versatile!

Not to mention, easy to make. There are an abundance of tutorials online for you to take a gander at if you want to make your own circle skirt. My favourites are the one I used for the Graduation skirt and also (surprise, surprise) this helpful tutorial on hemming a circle skirt by the one and only Gertie.

One of the ideas I had for the stained Grad Ball dress was to splash it with some bleach, remove the bodice and turn it into a funky circle skirt. You can never have too many twirly skirts in your life, after all.

It’s been heating up a little in Wales, FINALLY, so it was bare-legs o’clock for no one in particular. I also really couldn’t be bothered to do my hair which has been a right bird’s nest of late since I decided to grow it. Lucky for me, I own plenty a scarf and was taught how to do the whole retro turban type thing while working at Lush.

Voila, hair problems not quite solved, but definitely hidden. Add one hell of a versatile batwing top and you’ve got yourself a revision outfit! I’m going to pretend the lipstick was a revision aid and definitely not the result of some make-up related procrastination…

So that was day 12! May is speeding past isn’t it?

Is fashion shallow?

There’s an interesting post over at Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing today about her recent trip to see Wicked on Broadway. The costumes really captured her imagination:

What’s most impressive is how the clothing tells a story in such an authentic way. It’s first a product of good writing, I suppose, that Elphaba’s iconic witch costume comes off as real, rather than kitschy. There’s a story behind each piece: the hat was given to her as a cruel joke by classmate Glinda, for example.

You can check out the full post here, it’s a lovely read, as is the rest of her blog.

As Gertie does often, she threw the discussion to her readers, asking:

Are you ever made to feel shallow for being interested in fashion and garment construction? Do you think that fashion is a powerful art form, or is that overstating it?

For me, fashion and sewing have always been two separate things. Sometimes I’ll take inspiration from fashion supplements in newspapers, but more often than not, my sewing habits pay little to no homages to the current trends.

There are certain aspects of fashion which I do find shallow. After all, fashion is all about how you look. When I think fashion, I inevitably think of Cardiff high street (or any city’s high street for that matter) and its plethora of cheap, fast fashion on show.

For those of you who have read/listened to my interview with Zoe, she speaks of the “feeling of dissatisfaction” which seems to drive the industry, and I can’t help but agree. We’re bombarded with advertising which subtly promises something “better” if you upgrade your wardrobe. In the world of the glossy and the airbrushed, you can achieve anything if you have the right dress and shoes.

Yet, as Gertie says, there are often times when fashion truly is an art form in its own right. I’m sure more knowledgable fashionistas could list off many designers who do great things with their seams!

As for me, I don’t necessarily look to haute couture – I’m the kind of person who identifies more with grassroots projects, and it’s this human touch which adds depth to fashion and clothing. Inevitably I look to the online sewing community for that and there are countless examples of people on the street who can pull off statements with an outfit alone.

One particular example deserves a post all its own, but take a look at this video from The Uniform Project. The idea was to wear the same dress every day for a year to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation. I always think of this example when I think of fashion which makes a point and makes a difference.

Uniform Project Picture Book from Uniform Project on Vimeo.

As for sewing, I can honestly say I’ve never been made to feel shallow for making my own clothes. Sewing is a craft and a skill in its own right. It may be growing in popularity, but it’s not as common as it used to be. As a trainee journalist, I’m learning shorthand, and I often think you could draw a lot of parallels between the two skills. People wonder why I’m learning shorthand when I could just buy a dictaphone in the same way as some people wonder why I’m sewing a pencil skirt I could easily buy for under a tenner.

What do you think? Is fashion shallow?