Is it the height of vanity to take a selfie or is it because the rain clouds have gone at last and Mr Sunshine has crept into every nook and crany and made us sun drunk and wanting to share my sunny feeling?
I packed up all the winter woolies into boxes and took them to the Farmhouse where winter gardening and poultry poop cleaning will need layers of hand knit, thick thermal socks and jeans to get mud spattered.
No point lumbering up the barn cupboards. Sunshine clothes. Cottons and linens. Pretty shades of my favorite colours – yellow, blue, green, orange and pink. As an ex London city girl, and accountant ( yawn), my wardrobe was sombre, so called professional. Black, navy and grey. I adore grey but now it needs colour. I have for the first time ever filled my life with mismatched combinations of hues and shades. It’s liberating. I feel alive.
So in this little wee postette, here I am. Happy in stripes and about to head off for my sewing class.
A leisurely drive through the lanes, unless a French driver has attempted to attach their bumper to the back of mine; to a small village just south to sewing lessons run by a Northern English seamstress. There are three of us attempting to make clothes, cushions, curtains and upholstering furniture. My next project is making a dress.
My love of 1960’s and 70’s fabrics and fashions has persuaded me to finally commit to making my own clothes. Fed up with badly made Chinese imports and dull fabrics of suspect quality, a recent stage of 1960/70 magazines opened my eyes to the quality of sewing back in the old days. Attention to detail. Pockets, covered buttons, collars and cuffs. Sharp tailored shapes and structuring. Just blew me away to be honest. I wanted to wear clothes like that. I had to learn to sew.
I remember Vogue and Butterick patterns being on the top floor of John Lewis in London. Tightly packed envelopes full of tissue paper thin patterns and complex colour coded cutting marks. The instructions were a foreign language. It was packed. Now the patterns are gone. The haberdashery department is a sad corner near the toilets and the menace called Primark expands down Oxford Street like a plague. I want to rebel. I want to sew my own clothes.
I can make curtains and cusions but this is a new skill. I am setting up a sewing studio this winter. I have my mannequin and a whole array of 1950’s cabinets to store the notions of sewing. These unloved units in their brash coloured Formica are perfect. A blast from the past like the dresses I hope to make.
I made cushions over the last two weeks, for my Citroen 2CV. Very pleased. The fabric was an end coupon piece and cost under €5.00.
The boot of my hybrid van is now a sewing storage area and I have sorted all my fabrics ready for each room as we decorate. The lemon fabric is for the farmhouse kitchen.
My mother sewed for a time. But was an impatient teacher. She stopped suddenly when I was only eleven and the sewing machines were cast away into cupboards. Last year, on my mother’s passing, I cleared the house. Unearthing a treasure trove of fabrics, three sewing machines and more equipment than I could dream of, felt like a good omen that sewing would be my next venture. I sourced sewing bags and cottons from the local Brocante and bought three huge tables from Troc, another Brocante, for cutting on. The sewing studio will be a haven of creativity. I can’t wait. It’s cost me about €200.00 to set up and I even have 2 commercial machines from London that cost under £250.00. Only this week the seamstress gave me another industrial flatbed Singer machine for a dozen eggs. Deal!
My accountancy fingers need flexing. Inputting on computers has made them stiff, almost clumsy with needles. But one cusion or little dress at a time will get me started.
I will post projects as I progress. I won’t be hired by Chanel anytime soon but I have to say…my cushions are rather good. Not sew sew in any way! 🙂