Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

I have been nominated for three blog awards, and haven't done anything about any of them! I'm putting this right in reverse order, starting today with The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. 

I was nominated for this by Jessica of Chronically Vintage, who shared her seven very interesting random facts hereIf you are wondering what our connection is, you'll find out below!

Seven Totally Random Facts About Me

1. I have been vegetarian for 29 years!

Yes, next year I will have been vegetarian for three whole decades. I have no regrets, zero interest in adding flesh of any kind to my diet, and I love my animal friends as much as ever!

2. My favourite animals are dogs (OK you may have guessed this one) and horses.

My dogs

love the faithful companionship of dogs and share my home with two (at the moment!). They have brought a lot of pleasure to my life, but easy to overlook are the health benefits. Before I had to go out and walk every day (at least twice), I used to get quite down over the winter. Now I actively look forward to those windy and freezing days, when I can come back after a refreshing walk to a soothing hot drink, having blown away the proverbial cobwebs. Yes, owning a dog is a big commitment, but my experience is that they more than repay the inconveniences. As for horses, my father was an amateur jockey so horses were part of my life from a young age. I rode ponies and often dream of getting back on horseback.

3. I have had several 'lives'.

No, I don't mean I have been reincarnated or regressed, just I am one of those people who for one reason or another has worked in lots of different environments and/or trained for a variety of careers, including those as varied as a beauty therapist, counsellor and personal assistant.

4. I am a secret history and vintage clothing enthusiast.

I am sure you are looking at the stuff I make and not seeing this at all. While it is true I dress mostly in modern styles, I have a lifelong fascination with history which is very broad, going right back to the earliest civilisations. I'm particularly interested in what life was like for ordinary people and how they dressed and why is a natural extension of this. I had colouring books of costumes through the ages in my childhood, and studied a module on the subject at college. 

An illustration I drew for my college fashion history file

Long before 'vintage' was a thing, I frequented second hand shops for individual, inexpensive, one-off items of clothing (often with hilarious results). I sometimes altered them, taking collars off men's shirts or putting two garments together, as well as sewing my own. (Note, in my youth there was a fabric shop selling reasonably priced fabric in every small town and literally nobody was interested in old clothes.)

Notes I made from a book called 'Vogue More Dash Than Cash' when I was
a fashion student in the late '80's. They were typed up on my Dad's old typewriter!

The advent of the internet meant a wealth of newly accessible information. Searching 'sustainable style', I discovered people actually wore vintage clothes head to toe (there is no-one doing that round here). For me it was history coming alive, I love to look at original garments and sewing patterns. Vintage appeals to me on other levels, too. One, there is nothing more sustainable than proudly wearing clothes that are decades old. Two, I love the idea of dressing however you want. Jessica's blog is one of the very first I came across, and one of the few 'vintage' blogs that have remained on my blog roll. I love the mix of history and style, especially the photographs she regularly posts which illustrate exactly how (mostly, but not exclusively, mid-century) folks really looked, original adverts, and recipes (which I occasionally try - what people ate is interesting to me too). I'm sure Jessica won't mind me sharing we have some health challenges in common as well, and it was seeing that she could blog, along with this post by So Zo's husband Pat, that convinced me that even if I couldn't blog often, starting a blog was something I could do.

One summer (before this blog) I decided to try dressing in a fully vintage style myself. I didn't know much about casual looks at the time so this comprised a skirt, lipstick and pearls approach. My teenage daughter kindly shared with me that "I looked older than grandma" (kind of the point, but still)! This was enough to convince me that the full vintage ship had sailed in my case. So these days I confine myself to admiring others, and adding vintage elements to a modern wardrobe. I particularly adore classic accessories - currently I own a structured black handbag, timeless pearl earrings and quite a few pairs of vintage or vintage appropriate shoes (brogues, loafers, wedges). Incidentally, Jessica also has an Etsy shop, should you be looking for some unique vintage additions yourself. I also love a full vintage make-up for special occasions/evenings. I have a handful of vintage sewing patterns in styles I think I can pull off, and have just received a copy of 'Gertie Sews Vintage Casual' (review to follow), so while I have dismissed a full vintage look for myself, there may well be some more vintage-style sewing in my future!

5. I'm also very interested in politics and current affairs.

I love to start the day with a good political debate on the radio while I prepare breakfast and the lunches, although I am not remotely interested in celebrity gossip, and become quite offended if this is presented as 'news'!

6. I am content.

Believe me, I haven't always felt this way but now I know I have enough in a material sense. It's so easy to get caught up in the pursuit of things, and miss out on what's really important...material possessions will never bring that deep down, long lasting happiness (however intense the initial hit), and devoting a lot of time to chasing them means missing out on so much other stuff. Even during times of crisis (which come in everyone's life), I try to be thankful for what I have. See below!

7. I have had swine flu and lived to tell the tale.

A few years ago I had a major health crisis, which shook my body and soul. The flu I had led to persistent infections, necessitating me giving up my job working with children and becoming virtually bed bound. I'm not going to go over all the symptoms here, suffice it to say they were horrendous, and had a massive impact on my ability to do anything of significance for a long time. 

Not being able to rely on my previously relatively healthy body (which I had taken for granted all my life) had a major psychological impact. I completely reassessed my life. I realised I needed to live differently to increase my chances of recovery, and began an on-going process of simplification. I scaled down my social life, volunteered less and said 'no' more often. I radically reduced the amount of clothes and styles in my wardrobe, so that getting dressed in the morning was easier. I had to slow down and relax previously high standards, which I found particularly difficult.

Apart from desperately searching for cures and longing to be well, I realised the only regret I would have at the end of my life was if I hadn't spent enough time with my close family and friends. I saw how precious and irreplaceable they are all over again. Time spent with them, even if it's just something ordinary like having dinner together, is the most treasured time of all....hug your family and friends!

Finally, I am a lot better these days although I have been left with a couple of chronic illnesses which do cause pain and some tiredness, but not like the first few years. There are limitations on what I can do (I can't write more than a paragraph by hand for example, as my hand cramps and I am not yet well enough to resume aerobic exercise), but I am going to interviews for (part-time) work outside the home and have managed some long drives, albeit with lengthy stops.

The lessons I learned during those hard years continue to work themselves out in my life, but ultimately I hope one day to be able be able to say I got more from the bad times than I lost. In the meantime, I'm just so happy to be here :)

Finally I would like to nominate:

Solvi of Delfineslise
Helen of Grosgrain Green
Kerry of Kestrel Makes
Debbie of Minnado's House
Kristin of Sunny Sewing

I chose these blogs because I feel they already reflect something of the personality of the blogger, and they've made me curious to learn more! Feel free not to take part if awards aren't your thing, or you've had the award before....if you do take part, I look forward to reading 7 Random Facts about you! Thank you for nominating me, Jessica and giving me the chance to share a bit more about myself here.

Happy sewing, 'til next time,

Philippa x

Monday, 15 September 2014

Little Tie-dye Skirt & Do You Post Everything You've Made?

This skirt is a repeat make of Simplicity 2343, first one here in stretch denim.

The fabric is a firm woven canvas from my stash. I put the darker side of the tie-dye on the front and the lighter side round the back. There was no logic to that decision really. It wasn't particularly nice to sew (see slightly wobbly stitching on zipper lap) - I don't think it's clothing fabric. I puchased it as a remnant intending to make a cushion, but my lack of interest in sewing for the home has been documented before - hence it ended up as a skirt!

This pattern seems to work in virtually any woven fabric and one of the best things imo is if you make the short version it doesn't need much yardage at all (not much more than a cushion ;)).

The top I am wearing here is one of my Cocos, but I am hoping to imagine a better pairing eventually. I do feel like 'me' in this skirt, as it has elements of 'old hippie' in the tie-dye but a more tailored shape which I like on my body.

On a side note, I am wondering whether you post everything you've made, including repeats and fails? I know it's personal choice, but I'm curious because I'm still working out what I want to post. I like to see repeats on other blogs, as if a pattern is made multiple times it's usually a winner, and it's nice to see the same style in a different fabric, too.

As for fails, I see it as a kind of solidarity thing (we all have stuff that goes wrong). They are especially useful if they flag up a problem with a pattern. I don't aim for perfection with my blog as you can probably tell, so at the moment I post everything. For me, my blog is another way to have fun with like minded friends :)

So, what's your view on this pressing matter of great sewing blog importance? Do repeats bore you? Do you hide your fails in a secret place?! There are no right and wrong answers, but I'd love to know your opinions!

Happy sewing, 'til next time,

Philippa x