2017: Into the Light...(or; how sewing saves me..)

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Leaving the path of 2016, I'm hoping that it's going to be a path into the light.

2016 has been a year of turbulence. The delicate ship of our little family was rocked by waves and we've struggled to find our even keel for most of this year.

In the spring Mr As it Seams lost his job, having worked in the same place for 20 years. It had a profound affect on his sense of identity, our security, our vision of the future. The ripples of stress and anxiety have affected me, the children, everything really. I've had to work more, and reassess everything.

We've had to build something new. And as well as our little family drama, there have been so many other ripples of trauma. My wider family has also coped with personal trauma. And we've had Brexit, Donald Trump, a global future that seems unrecognisable, and daunting.

In the midst of this all, I've wanted to sew more than ever. A few weeks ago I read Marie Fleurine's post How sewing Saves me. Her openness about why she sews, in the face of her own difficult year and hard path ahead, really resonated with me.

Marie Fleurine's blog is so beautiful, her creations always gorgeous, and I love the glimpses of beautiful Norway in her photography. Yet her post was a reminder that beneath the beautiful photography, fabric and clothes, we're all carrying our own story. 

I've learnt that so much this year. That people who smile in the street, who say hello in a shop, may all be living with their own personal struggle, and anxiety. We keep going, we look for human connections and reach out and that's what helps us to get through the day and the next day.

I've tried to be kind this year, to allow everyone I meet a little bit of gentleness. Because this world is cruel and hard enough, so let's try to soften the edges.

And in the midst of this sewing, has been a little lifeline. When I sew, my mind is absorbed completely. I create something that began as a vision in my head. I see my little girl wearing a new dress, knowing that no factory in India was involved. My online sewing friends share my sense of achievement, encourage me a long, and share the joy of beautiful fabric. And that is how sewing saves me...

Now a word about these pictures. This is our much needed holiday in the south of France, visiting the river gorge at Minerve on a baking hot day. The river has carved out a tunnel beneath the village, with welcome cool air. The children, like every visitor there, paused in the tunnel to build rock towers and create their own sculpture.

Missy wore an Experimental Summer Sewing Dress... A beautiful piece of voile that I hacked into a dress in less than a hour, on the night before we left for our holiday. It's a simple rectangle, shirred at the top, with an attempt at flutter sleeves.

Perfect for exploring caves, mediaeval paths and more.

It was a beautiful day. A bit of building, and a tunnel  into the light. And that's where we're aiming for in 2017.
Happy New Year to all As it Seams readers... looking forward to sharing, sewing, creating in the year ahead 

Sewing for Sara's Baby... a little gift for a new baby

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

There aren't many people for whom I will cut up the last remnant of my precious Nani Iro fabric.
But Sara, of Made by Sara is one of them.
Or rather, for Sara's beautiful baby boy.

Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel, ocean, vest

He's baby number four in Sara's lovely little family in Portugal. Isn't that so special? 
My little family is just a dinky twosome of children - so four children seems so amazing, and so much fun.

Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel, ocean, vest

Sara is just the sweetest person, as well as a lovely seamstress. And she's always brimming with good ideas, like the Alice in Wonderland and Japanese Sewing Series which she organised and hosted.

So it was hardly surprising that a gang of us all took to our sewing machines to sew for Sara and her new little boy.

Now I've forgotten a lot of what it's like to have a new baby. How small are they? What do you need? It's all a blur...
Which might be why I've sewn something that Sara will have to put away for a little while.
This pattern is the vest from Little Kiwis Closet, sewn in size 12 months, the smallest available.

My scraps of special fabric are precious, but I know they'll go to a good home with Sara in Portugal.

This vest is sewn from Robert Kaufman's Shetland Flannel, the softest loveliest fabric, and a remnant of Nani Iro double gauze. Both are the kind of fabric that make me want to stroke them lovingly like the fluffy hair of a newborn baby.

The vest is completely reversible. Yes, I know the Nani Iro is a little girly/pretty, but Sara's boy can carry that off I'm sure.

I added piping, well because piping is always good, but this did mean I needed to think about the construction carefully, because I had to sew the side seams first so that I could keep that continuous piping line around the whole edge. In the end I had to handstitch the armholes.

There's something very special about sending something in real life to a blogging friend. I love to think that Sara's little boy, and Sara will be holding this in their hands very soon.

I always get soooo excited about new babies. Perhaps it's because I know that I'm not going to have any more. Every day with my children is still filled with the joy of discovery and I think as your children get older you know even more, just how much they bring to our lives, how big and long and exciting the journey is. I look at teeny babies now and think, "wow, there is sooooo much to come....How completely thrilling."

Now there's going to be a lot of lovely baby Sewing for Sara. Be warned, taking a look around this lovely group of bloggers will make you broody!

Japanese pattern tour - the London Sew Social team showcase Tuttle

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Ah, Japanese sewing books - they've been a recent, and happy, discovery on my sewing journey. 

So I was thrilled when Tuttle, who publish translations of some of the loveliest Japanese pattern books, agreed to sponsor the London Sew Social gathering this year. 
We all generously received a pattern book, and this week, the London Sew Socialists are sharing creations from Tuttle's books, showcasing some of our favourite Tuttle patterns. Today I'm joined by the lovely Marta of Do Guincho, who's been sharing some wonderful creations from Stylish Party Dresses, with a stunning blouse on her blog today. And there are more  posts across our European group. See below....

This little dress pattern is rapidly climbing up my 'top pattern' list.

It's the square necked dress from the essential Tuttle children's book, Happy Homemade Sew Chic Kids.

Before our holiday to France I embarked on a sewing frenzy and this was one of those creations.

It's a dress I created in an evening, from heavenly seersucker from Miss Matatabi, which was a gift from the lovely Sara of Made by Sara.

This fabric is so simple, yet so perfect. It's crisp and cool and almost silky-fine cotton weave. I kept everything simple - dressing it up only with two teal blue buttons.

I love stripes - playing with stripes, and this cool seersucker and fresh orange stripes is just perfect for river paddling, or exploring French Mediaeval lanes. Wouldn't you say?

It was a very easy sew, the only little twist I added was I made the button loops out of elastic, so that Missy can pull this over her head herself. 

This is an easy pattern but also versatile - I'm half way through my next square necked dress, cutting out  cotton flannel for a winter weight school dress.

Watch this space.

Thank you Tuttle!

Now my fellow London Sew Socialists are also show-casing Tuttle all this week - take a little tour around, there's some incredible creativity out there. Here's a few links.....

Experimental Summer Sewing #1 - When a tablecloth becomes a blouse

Thursday, 1 September 2016

It's been a rough old year, so our holiday in the south of France was really, really needed. 
Of course the landscape is wonderful, the sunshine endless. But what was really special was having those little moments of time together. Like watching my son teaching my daughter card tricks. Or seeing them both explore mediaeval streets of tiny villages by lantern light.

And our holiday inspired me to sew. And experiment.

This was one of my summer Experimental Sewing projects...

Last summer, when I took part in the Alice in Wonderland sewing series hosted by Made by Sara, I acquired a pile of vintage table cloths. (honestly - buying bundles of the most exquisite hand-embroidered linens at our local market is cheaper than buying new fabric.)

So this particular pretty tablecloth, bought for just a pound or two was destined for my cutting table (aka my kitchen table - I have no sewing room sadly).

I drew a rough pattern, by drawing round an existing top. Very simple pattern, just bust darts, with simple straps.

Sewing with a tablecloth meant some modifications. The side seams are squared off - to make use of the existing hems, and I pieced the back together out of two over-lapping pieces, leaving a mid-back split.

It's not a perfect top - I'm not convinced it's totally flattering at the neckline or shoulders.

And these photographs aren't the best.
They were taken on a visit to Minerve, which sits in the middle of a stunning gorge.
It was the hot afternoon sun, and we were a little tired, when I begged Mr As it Seams to take a few photos.

There are lots of things that Mr As it Seams does brilliantly, but photography isn't one of them. I think he still thinks of camera as something with precious 'film' in it that mustn't be wasted. He takes one or two pictures and then says "Right? done."  Without bothering about focus, or whether everyone was looking at the camera, or the little details I fuss over (typically I might take 100 pictures before editing for a blog post).

So these three or four will have to do...Because I won't be wearing this little blouse anywhere so hot or beautiful again soon...
I'm ignoring my sweaty face and wrinkles and remembering a lovely day, and the sense of time and space with people I love, before we launch into the whole September crazy routine.

Next steps... Running away to the circus?

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Oh this summer.
It's been a bit  of a rollercoaster. 

We're off on holiday tomorrow (yes tomorrow .- so why am I writing a blog post when I should be sleeping/packing?!... ummm)

We're heading for a little adventure in the south of France, and that's the perfect reason to start sewing, n'est pas? 
So I whipped up a few summer dresses.

This is one - and it was perfect for our outing to the circus last week

It's a Tinny dress by Straightgrain... a pattern I've sewn a zillion times.
And the fabric is Yoko Okamoto's "Love Osaka" for Yuwa, in teal from Miss Matatabi, now sold out in this colour, but available in a lovely green and red still.

It's such a fun print, I've been a bit lazy not taking close-ups. Sorry, like I said, I go on holiday tomorrow. I should not be blogging....

A visit to the circus requires a fun dress, doesn't it?! 

And oh my Missy is so much fun to be around. She's a comedian and a performer, and something about her open-heartedness makes people smile. Here's her stand-off with the incredible bare-back horse rider...

Last time I posted, I wrote about the turmoil after Mr As it Seams lost his job after 20 years.
Now it's the summer break, and we're taking little steps forward.    It's not been easy, and there's still along way to go, but one of those steps is that Mr As it Seams has found some new work. He's been offered another job, again teaching music, in another school. And although it's only for a couple of days a week, it's encouraging.

Time for the As it Seams show to get back on the road....

"What's it like being an adult?"... answer #1

Thursday, 7 July 2016

So mostly this blog is about sewing, but it's headed 'stitches and stories' so occasionally I stray off into other territory.

And it was a little question, that crystalised so many thoughts.

I was driving home in the gorgeous June evening with my beautiful boy. It's the best time for chatting with him, for letting go and connecting.

"I've been wondering Mummy, what's it like being an adult?" he asked.

It was a question that made me pause and think...

Well, my beautiful boy. This was the answer I might have given...

"Right now, my love, it's a bit tough being this particular adult.

"I know that for you, my lovely boy, your dad and I are  your anchor. But just now I'm not feeling too solid.

"Everything has gone a bit crazy. And that's because daddy is losing his job, the work that he has done for 20 years. He's been sharing  his creativity and teaching the young people from very different backgrounds, who need him most. He's been helping them to play and create music for so long.

"And now all that is ending. And we're just not sure what the future holds. It's all been so solid for so long, and now it's all a little fluid and shaky. 
"Sweetheart, you know that I've been working more and more hours just to have a little bit more money, and that means I'm just so tired, and more grumpy. And I never get enough time for you, or Missy, or to sew.

"And you know, it's funny because I'm all mixed up inside. Sad, fearful and also a tiny little bit excited underneath the tiredness. Sometimes it all feels like a mountain to climb...
"So you know, maybe....being an adult is not so different from being a little boy."

Of course that's not what I said....I was lost in thought trying to answer....and driving.

It's been the hardest few months. I feel like I am 'holding' so much, my children, Mr As it Seams, my work, my unsewn sewing ideas, my teeny shabby house which never, ever has all the laundry put away.

But it's also a time to focus on the joy of my little family, to connect and support.

And we escaped to the seaside for a few days staying with dear friends who live near our favourite English secret beach.

Missy spent every minute that she could in the sea, splashing in her wetsuit. I don't think there is any purer joy than her delight at playing in the waves beneath the cliffs, where this rocky corner of England crashes into the Atlantic. 

A sunset drive with my son, or a sea swim with my daughter are my anchors for my soul right now, as we all try to navigate new waters....

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