Thursday, 20 March 2014

Introducing Flo

I have stitched and created for a long time now.  Since 1999 I have been a fully qualified Costume Interpreter. "A what" I hear you say, well when you watch any kind of theatrical production on the stage or screen, the costumes will have been designed by one soul, and their designs then interpreted by another team of souls.  The costume Designer is the person who gets a credit at the end of a programme/film/brochure.  The Interpreters or Makers do not usually get any credit, just the satisfaction of making someone look like their character and hopefully aiding in their over all performance.  Oh and we get paid...a bit...but that is another post, I could go into all the differences between working on film(big bucks) or in Theatre(sometimes not so big bucks), but I won't.

Interpreters or makers as we are more usually known sometimes work in a team, a duo or all by ourselves.  If we work in a team the person in charge is called a "Cutter", because they draft and cut the garments, then the makers construct the garment and the cutter then fits the items on the actor and marks up the alterations and hands it back to the maker to finish.  If we work solo we have to do all these tasks ourselves.  In theatre we rarely use commercial stock size patterns, we work from a set of the persons measurements, and either flat draft a pattern (on paper using a set of slightly complicated instructions-if you are a maths whizz you would love this).   Or you can cut "on the stand", this involves a tailors dummy, a piece of cloth, pins and some twiddling.

This is a dress I am currently cutting "on the stand".
  In industry we use Stockman stands.  Solid and fixed size calico tailors stands which we pad up to a specific size using a bit of wadding until it is a replica of the person we are making for.  They are the lovely things they use on the "Great British Sewing Bee", and cost a lot of money.  You used to be able to pick them up second hand when I was a student, but lots of people have bought them to look decorative in their big houses, with maybe a lovely scarf draped across them (not that I am bitter of course).  So  I have finally accepted that I am never to find a bargain stockman, and instead bought myself a "Lady Valet"( I know it is a silly name).  It is not as flimsy as the little adjustable stand I had when I was a teenager.  She is somewhere in between a lovely Stockman, and a lightweight dressmakers stand, and she is called Flo.

Here is Flo modelling another Client's dress.
She is not merely a decorative prop, she has come in very handy and indeed invaluable when levelling hems and cutting a pattern, and as she is adjustable so I can even make her my size, meaning I no longer have to disrobe in my workroom(back corner where I won't scare the neighbours).
 Isn't she lovely!!! 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Super Sunny Sunday
Well spring has finally sprung in our neck of the woods.  After what felt like the longest winter on record, we finally have the first signs of spring
Like everywhere in the country this winter has been the soggiest and greyest for a long time, last year we had a snowy one-not sure which was worse.  Thankfully we haven't suffered awful flooding like the poor folks down south, we had a scary tidal surge not far away but the damage around here is more to farmers fields rather than the houses.
 So it was so lovely to get out in the garden at the weekend and tidy up the garden.  It is a good feeling to clear away all last seasons dead brown crispy bits, and unearth all the new fresh shoots peeping through the earth.  The cheery daffs really gave me a lift.

The birds have been making themselves known, singing their hearts out, and we have a couple of blue tit families making themselves at home in the bird boxes.  I didn't manage to capture them on film but I did spy this little brown bird( Dunnock or house sparrow maybe), he was singing away on the ivy.

There was so much warmth in the sun that a few brave bumblebees and butterflies were flitting about, this butterfly was attracted to the warm plastic sack I was using for my garden detritus.
The final sign of the weather changing is my washing flapping in the breeze, soo happy to be able to get it dry outside, it always smells so much nicer.  It also means we no longer have to walk through a wall of washing dangling off the airer in the lean-to!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

New Toy!
I spied this beauty in Vintage Mischief over the summer, my Mum was staying with us and she saw how much I had fallen in love with it. She was in her original case with bits and bobs in the drawer as if someone had just stopped sewing a moment earlier.  I have wanted an old singer for ages and especially a hand crank model, so I can sew through a power cut is the practical excuse, but really I just love these old machines and now have several pre-loved machines of various eras.  She was very reasonably priced so I succumbed to my Mum's kind offer and we took her home.  We couldn't get her going, so I have finally got around to taking her to see the excellent machine repair shop in my local town and he has made her all well again.  The chap who repairs them is very knowlegeable  when It comes to machine history, and he was able to tell me it is a 1951 model and that it had hardly been used-but I am going to change all that.  Starting with my son, he is always interested in what I am making, and frequently asking to do some knitting or crochet, I have many balls of wool now in a pickle due to his "knitting" technique.  As all he has to do  nowis turn the wheel he can sew like mummy,  he knows that he doesn't put his fingers anywhere near the sharp pointy thing, and I only let him use it under my strict supervision for any H&S worriers out there. 

We made a St Valentine's card  for his Daddy on it a couple of weeks ago, he selected the cloth and trim and I did all the directing of cloth, the first of many creations maybe...

Whilst my little boy has been machining I have gone back to a bit of therapeutic hand stitching.  I purchased a partly made paper pieced quilt a couple of years ago, and I am slowly completing the final section.  Whoever started this lovely thing had kindly done all the donkey work for me, it came with a bag full of hexagons ready to sew together.  So not only do you get the joy of looking at all the lovely pieces of vintage cottons, but the lovely little card templates are old cut up greeting cards from way back when.  My son loves getting all the brightly coloured hexagons out and making pictures out of them,  he sat beside me for  a while and selected the next hexagon for me to sew onto my growing section of quilt.

I am hoping to hand quilt the finished patchwork, so it is going to be an on going long term project, one for the long winter evenings and hot summer days stitching in the garden.

The day I took these shots my little one was recovering from a tummy bug doing the rounds of our area, and I had a stinking cold.  It felt very cosy and calm as I sat and stitched and he snoozed himself well.  Another memory that will be stitched into the quilt forever.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Frantic Friday
I spent a happy few hours on Friday afternoon after completing my jobs for the day, preparing a project that had come to me the week before.  I have a collection of cloths from all sorts of eras and use the majority of them to make things to sell.  I always end up with a few bits left over, so I've been looking out for a way to use them up on something for the house.  My industrial machine sits in it's heavy duty table with the motor and associated gubbins dangling out of the bottom, looking quite frankly-ugly!  So I decided to pretty it up with a patchwork curtain, using my eclectic mix of scrap vintage cloths.
Lots of yummy cloths

So I got out my ruler and rotary cutter and set to turning scraps into squares(5 1/2" squares).  Then I started the fun task of arranging the squares in a pleasingly clashy pattern, I didn't quite get them all stitched together before I had to pick up my little one.

Is this going to be the final arrangement???
 Crafting was temporarily postponed, whilst the important job of den building taken up by myself and my junior engineer, he happily lounged about in here whilst I stitched a bit.  He then decided that he would like to get a bit of creating done, so out came the Mr Man comic and a happy pre-tea hour was spent building them a house and completing many a page of stickers.

Camp Lulumama

Mr Man House on patchwork fields

I came down with some horrid headache, general body ache, sore throat cold to your bones lurgi that night so the curtain was put on hold until today, when I managed to back it and put on a channel for the stretchy wire thingy we(hubby) are going to attach it with, it is only sellotaped on but I am soo pleased with it.  No more sitting and staring at an ugly(but brilliant and necessary) engine, and I managed to start and finish something for myself within a few days- a very rare occurrence indeed!

Ta Dah!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Tick Another One off The Long List 
We are very slowly getting our house how we want it here at Lulumama Towers.  2012/13 was the major building project time, with a new room added, and now its the minor jobs.  I say minor but they still take an age, as we seem unable to simply buy an item and install it.  We have  bit of a soft spot for the old and unloved, and therefore my other half spends a lot of his time taking off old paint, sanding down and re-painting many bits of furniture/light fittings etc etc.   One reason for this is that he often picks up pieces which people are throwing away so we get to satisfy our frugal genes.  Another reason is that we simply cannot find things we like on the High Street, everything seems the same unless you can afford to pay a lot of money, and reclaim yard prices have gone up lots in the ten years we have lived here.  We also get quite excited about finding things that say "Made In England/Britain", they don't turn up a lot on the high street, and i'm not talking handmade Etsy style things because yes there are plenty of those and I do support this market.  I am talking about boring industrial things like light fittings and simple fixtures and fittings. My hubby gets very excited if he finds an old bag of British made screws at the back of an old Ironmongery shop(we have a healthy supply of those in our region). 

So here is our latest rescue, a lovely 50s style cupboard with sliding glass doors.  The glass has those funny bobbles on, and take me right back to some relatives kitchen when I was a child.  It was in a bit of a poor way until Mr Lulu got to it.  He lovingly sanded it down and re-painted the inside and out.  We have filled it up with our tea and coffee accoutrements, and breakfast gubbins and it is as if it has always been there.  We will eventually decorate the kitchen, as it is currently a lurid orange with peeling bits of paint, but just imagine it a nice grey/cream, that is what I will  be doing for a while yet!


Whilst the kitchen is an on going project our new room is 99% there.  It is light bright and stays warm when you heat it-magic!  My little one loves spending time in there, and as you can see enjoys a good jigsaw, we have to help a little of course as this was a 1,000 piecer.  We are slowly settling in, although I keep re-arranging my bits and bobs, I have spent sooo long waiting and imagining how it will be that I want it to be just right.  I really wanted to have some plantlife in here, but as I generally kill plants I thought i'd start with some simple bulbs. They have filled the room with their heady scent.

I too have been loving the new room, its such a light bright workspace and makes it so much easier to get on with my work.  I have been making a few bits for when the weather warms up to sell at "Vintage Mischief", several pairs of flattering 40s style trousers.

A few  summery 1950s frocks

My other job this week has been to photograph all my stock, I went a bit mad last year making bits to sell at local markets etc, so now I have an excess of stuff I thought i'd try and sell a bit through my website.  A friend has offered to list some of it for me as I am so slow with techie stuff, so yesterday I spent about 5 hours pressing and photographing all the things I have to sell.  It ranges from handmade bunting.

To children's clothes,

A lovely local shop called "The Patchwork Cow" has taken a few of my bits to sell, its a great place and sells good quality second hand children's clothes and everything you need when you are having a baby, I got all sorts of bits there when my boy was teeny.  So fingers crossed I will sell a few items so I can make some more!

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Joy of Handmade
I have always enjoyed making things "by hand", since I was little I have always got a kick from starting with a pile of stuff and ending with a pretty/useful/edible product.  Nowadays it is very trendy to be able to make things, not a necessity for most for us, as it was when my mum used to make mine and my sister's clothes.  It is no longer a cost effective way to clothe/feed ourselves, as cloth, wool and everything associated with the process is expensive.   However, like anyone who has tried making their own......., I know the joy it can bring. 
For Christmas 2013 I made my two close friend's gifts.  They each got a unique lovingly made cushion, and I crafted a doll for one of their littlies using wool a crochet hook and a little imagination.  So every time they rest their behinds they can think of me, mmmm not sure that sounds quite right but I think you get the idea. 

The most rewarding thing about this, was the gifts I received in return were also of the handmade variety.  Yes I have infected them with my love of creating, and proved to them that it is easy and really doesn't take that long.  Indeed , much to her horror one of my friend's now regularly says this phrase herself.  When I first urged her to take up crochet she wouldn't believe me but I have brought her over to the dark side.  I usually get my crochet or knitting done, of an evening in front of the tv, so time spent vegetating is also spent creating.  I think I have a slight obsession now and feel wrong if I simply sit and watch tv.
Made by hand does of course cover a multitude of "crafts".  My Mother-In-Law always make the most delicious cakes, and at special events she makes her choccy marble cake.  It has to be baked in the doughnut style tin, and it has to be covered in a thick layer of Cadbury's milk chocolate-yum.  If she simply bought a cake it just wouldn't be the same.

I was commissioned by said In-Law to make a baby blanket for her friend's new Grandchild.  So there is the other option.  If your simply not into the whole making thing i'm sure you will know some one who is, so go on ask if they can help, or visit one of the excellent handmade sites like Etsy or Folksy and support the growing Handmade businesses out there.

My little one enjoys a bit of creating too.  Whether it is with the Playdoh, or building a lighthouse with foghorn and light with his Dad (see weird photo below).

A great place to get inspiration for a bit of creating is Pinterest.  So for all those people I meet who say "I just don't have the imagination" I point them there.  My pal shared a fab pin of a button clock which I loved.  So I was thrilled when she made me one for  Christmas.  My other pal who is also a fan of the homemade,  has crafted me an objet d'art for the last two birthdays.  She is always embarrassed by her creations-who wouldn't love a crochet Satsuma cover, or a felt lipbalm cosy?  However, I appreciate these things as much as any other as I know that she has spent time and energy thinking about me and making them-so Thank you Blackbird and Wren, I was vey touched and loved my gifts!!!

Blackbird picks the loveliest handmade gifts from Folksy/Etsy when she hasn't time to craft, and I love these too.  Soo much nicer than a soulless box of smellies! 

This is the weird lighthouse, a happy afternoon spent fiddling with wiring, and it makes the most annoying noise when the foghorn is pressed-little person heaven!

And finally........handmade doesn't have to be forever, my little one loves nothing more than a couple of hours building lego with his Daddy, and Daddy is happy too!
Ps.  Not wanting to appear too smug or virtuous- just so you know my little one is currently being entertained by the tv!

Monday, 6 January 2014

 Blowing Away The Cobwebs

We have had a lovely time over the Christmas break this year.  We spent the Christmas week up with my sister and family, so my little one was spoilt by all his relatives and had a marvellous time playing with his big cousin.  His favourite thing when we go to stay is playing with his cousin's model railway.

We enjoyed lots of lovely food and company.  We had a rare afternoon just the two of us, as the Grandma's kindly looked after our little man, who knew buying the Christmas veg could be such a pleasant experience, just because you don't have to worry about your child getting bored/needing the loo/whining like a wounded animal for no reason etc etc.  We went to a local farm shop where my hubby was mistaken for a shop assistant/ farmer(he sports marvellous side burns) and asked for advice on how many sprouts a rather posh local should cook for her family.

After a lovely week with my folks, we enjoyed a lazy week at home.  It has been blissful, lots of long lie ins in bed, my hubby hasn't stayed in bed past 7am for the last year (building work etc).  We have enjoyed catching up on the Christmas tv in our cosy new room, its the only room in our house that retains heat so our living room has been sadly neglected.

  We have managed a few walks around the area, and made our annual trip on the North Norfolk Railway and a walk around Southwold on one of the few nice days. I have enjoyed looking at all my new craft books and made a start on a 1940s cardi, and have almost completed a blanket for a friend's new baby.  As well as practicing Tunisian crochet and 4 needle knitting (gifts from my crafty sis), so all in all it has been a fabulous break

We had a great day in Southwold, blowing away the cobwebs with a walk along the prom and lunch in the harbour cafe.  This is my house of choice for our new year visit-bit grander than usual but it faces straight out to sea so it had to be this one.

We have to have an obligatory shot of the lighthouse to start 2014, Happy New Year to you all!!!!