So, here's to wishing Rebecca the best of luck in recovering from her surgery... and meanwhile we're happily discussing some gorgeous vintage curtains that are going to be turned into a dress one day - when they're not adorning Rebecca's windows!
I've been wearing my ancient cheesecloth blouse since the heatwave started. As I pulled it from the washing line yesterday I realised that it's made entirely from rectangles, which means that no fabric waste was left over from its production. This has been bothering me lately. I've been making lavender bags and summer hats from my fabric scraps, and I donated a bag of bits to a friend who's organising a charity quilt project, but I still have more leftovers than I'd like. So... why not try and design the leftovers out?
This rang a bell with a cutting diagram that I'd seen in one of my textile history books... and here it is! How to cut a top or dress, using the maximum width of the fabric, without wasting a single piece.
The garment in question is one of these - a nineteenth century smock - but the construction is identical to the summer blouse I'm wearing today.
The first volunteering I did for the Museum of English Rural Life, about nine years ago, was documenting their collection of smocks, so I've been lucky enough to get my hands on about sixty examples of the real thing. Another volunteer and I took detailed measurements, studied whether they'd been stitched by hand or machine, and described the patterns of smocking and embroidery stitches on each garment. One particularly interesting thing we noticed was that the vast majority of the adult smocks were made from the same width of fabric, regardless of the size of the wearer. The side seams were almost always made from the selvedges, so we could see straight away that the entire width of fabric had been used.
I'm starting to feel an experiment coming on... not to replicate a 19th century smock, because I know how much time that would take! And probably not a 1970s or 80s smock like the ones in my pattern books. But maybe a pintucked blouse or a coat dress, made entirely from rectangles, with no scraps left over. I like that idea very much.
Mind you, there is one thing I'd like to replicate at some point... and that's a smocked aesthetic dress. Obviously this one has a much more complex construction, including a very heavily structured inner layer. Not quite the no-waste experiment I'm looking at right now, but isn't it gorgeous?
For our dress giveaway, Sarah of Rainbright Photography and I asked folks to leave a comment describing what their child would be most likely to keep in the pockets of this dress. The results were many and varied, ranging from kisses (so sweet!) to little toys. Certain themes did crop up quite frequently though, so I've compiled a Top Five list of Things To Keep In Your Pockets:
Stones, pebbles and rocks were the most popular answer, by a very long way! Maybe the current painted rock craze has something to do with that... or perhaps everybody loves a nice smooth pebble?
Daisies and other flowers were second on the list - perhaps inspired by Sarah's beautiful photos of Sienna, who definitely enjoyed picking lots of different flowers and popping them in her pockets!
After that, there were clear groupings of other items. Natural treasures such as leaves, feathers, sticks, acorns and fir cones were very popular. Then came a selection of actual creatures, from slugs, snails, worms and baby birds to a pet mouse! There was some concern as to whether a pet mouse might nibble a hole... but can't you just imagine a sweet little mouse curled up in a cosy pocket nest?
In fifth place, with an equal number of comments, came fairies and snacks - clearly both very important items to keep about your person!
Given that the majority of the pocket treasures on the list are things found in nature... I had an idea to maybe write a monthly(ish) blog post (or start a mailing list) about what you might find out and about each month that you could bring home in your pockets. What do you think? Is that the sort of thing you might be interested in reading, either on the blog or in an email? Let me know!
You know that train of thought where you’re looking at your felted witch’s hat and thinking that it’s a bit hot to wear for the summer solstice and then you start to wonder what a summer witch’s hat would look like and suddenly you’re drawing up a new sewing pattern...?
So, here's the thing. I seem to have made a Liberty tana lawn witch's hat.
It needs some minor alterations to the brim (it's asymmetrical, and a bit floppy on the other side), but I rather fancy making a few more of these!