Guest Feature – Ella’s 5 Lockdown Lessons

ella

So, there I was, having a lovely snooze – I was chasing squirrels in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, it were right grand an’all – when blow me down, if I didn’t hear the strangest noise. It sounded all, like, snotty and undignified.

I leapt off the bed and padded through to the office. There she was, wringing her hands and wailing in front of the laptop.

‘What the blooming heck is wrong this time?’ I barked, leaping onto my favourite chair.

She looked over at me. You’ve never seen a face like it. Well, you probably have, seeing as she constantly posts photos here, I mean, give me a break, who needs to see that many dresses? Or her noggin? Anyway, it wasn’t a pretty sight. All red and blotchy.

‘Ella!’ she cried.

‘That’s my name, don’t wear it out.’ I’d been awake for two minutes and she STILL hadn’t given me breakfast. ‘Come on, spill.’

‘I just don’t know how … I can’t … I mean…’ She was doing that crying thing again. ‘I don’t know how to make everyone feel better.’

‘Is that all? Come on.’ I circled a paw through the air for her to hand the laptop over.

She slid it onto the dog table and opened the screen. ‘What are you … doing?’ She stared as my paws started to fly across the keyboard.

‘Don’t worry,’ I told her. ‘I’ll make it sound like it’s you writing. Just like I always do. Now, go get me breakfast. And whilst you’re at it, light me a goddamn cigar.’

She shuffled off, all pathetic like, and I started writing…

ella writes a blog post

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A Quick & Easy Sewing Project

how to sew an oven glove

If you’re anything like me, home cooking has suddenly become a THING – even if it wasn’t before.

With that, came a realisation that my oven glove wasn’t that great. But here I was, a Sewist who:

  • wanted to sew
  • without being challenged
  • had a stash
  • had time

So, off I went! I delved into my stash for:

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Five Ways To Create In Lockdown

adult colouring

The world currently feels divided between those of us who relish our creativity and those of us who … just can’t get going.

If the latter is you – or if you want to inspire a friend who might benefit from an injection of craft – I thought I’d round up five home-friendly creative projects that could help.

COLOURING IN

You may remember the spurt of adult colouring books a few years ago. I predict a resurgence! It’s calming, comforting and gives you the opportunity to colour in a gift. Check out the free downloadable template from Jacqueline Colley that I coloured in recently, with a dear friend in mind.

Isn’t it just perfect?

If you fancy a spot of colouring in, I strongly recommend these Caran D’ache Swisscolor color Pencils. They’re gorgeously waxy with great pigmentation.

KNITTING

If you don’t fancy sewing, you can always knit. Right now, Whitney Hayward is generously sharing her knitting patterns for free, in support of the community.

Please don’t think you can’t knit! If you can learn knit one, pearl one, you can knit anything! Even one of my most complicated shawl patterns is basically knit one, purl one.

pop-spots-shawl-details

EMBROIDERY

A couple of years ago, my mum announced that she could no longer knit because of arthritis. I was bereft. The hobby that we’d shared for certainly all of my life. But you can’t keep a good woman down! She discovered blackwork and was soon creating the most stunning pieces. She even inspired me to buy my own embroidery kit.

blackwork

WRITING

Lots of people are inspired to write their memoirs right now, or even the novel they’ve always had burning inside them. Could that be you? Or might you even … start a blog? I wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to this format, as we all crave long form, more meaningful ways to engage with each other. I have a few blogging tips. It’s all about the fine art of conversation…

conversation-collage

MAKE UP

I know this one sounds crazy, but bear with me! I’ve recently really enjoyed watching Youtube make up videos. So calming, late at night when I can’t concentrate on reading. The queen for me (and many others) is Lisa Eldridge. You’ll quickly learn that applying make up is a craft like any other. And a swipe of lipstick keeps us buoyant in trying times. If you’re into the vintage look, Timeless: A Century of Iconic Looks is a great book.

lisa eldridge

I hope that helped. What other creative activities could you recommend? I’m all ears!

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Playing With MakeUp And Dresses

double gauze dress

Let’s play with makeup and dresses, shall we?

This outfit was sewn from wine-coloured double gauze bought from eBay, with a metallic gold dot. It’s super cute, wears and launders well – what’s not to like? Of course, because of those gold dots, I pressed the fabric on the wrong side, and not at top heat. If I pressed from the right side, I’d use my silk organza press cloth.

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Dealing With Anxiety

Today, an extract from The Little Book of Sewing. It feels appropriate.

Did You Make That Small

You can’t sew if you’re anxious; you can’t be anxious if you sew.

In 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK, but being mindful is proven to reduce anxiety. What does being mindful mean? It means devoting time to your thoughts and feelings, often by engaging in a deliberate activity that you pay attention to without judging. Sound like sewing?

From personal experience, I know that sewing can be a brilliant way of dealing with anxiety.

handstitching silk hem

When world or life events beyond my control agitate me, I take out a piece of sewing. Often, I turn to a smaller task that forces me to work slowly and concentrate but isn’t as mentally taxing as, say, trying to ease in a sleeve head or neatly insert a zip.

Some examples of mindful sewing tasks might be:

• Hand stitching a hem

• Cutting out pattern pieces

• Tacking temporary stitches

• Embroidering a motif

If you want your sewing space to be your sanctuary, build slow sewing into your acts of self-love. Your serotonin levels will thank you!

Screenshot 2020-03-24 at 17.43.00

‘I am always aware that I am continuing a tradition that human beings have learned all over the world for centuries. What we are doing is both important and inconsequential.’ Blog reader, Rachel Begley

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Giveaway Winner & Double Gauze

Ten Years Did You Make That

Thank you to all the people who entered my giveaway to celebrate 10 years of blogging!

The winner is Pat K – I’ll be in touch for an address, Pat.

double gauze

I hope you’re all having great weekends. I’m sewing with some gold dot double gauze and it’s lovely!

My behind-the-scenes newsletter will be going out later today, so don’t forget to sign up. It’s so much fun!

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10 Years Of Blogging – Giveaway!

Ten Years Did You Make That

What were you doing 10 years ago? What the heck was I doing?!

Well, I guess in some corner of my house, I sat down with a laptop and opened a WordPress account. I remember being very inspired by sewing and wanting to be part of the online conversation.

Back then, it was all about leaving long, enthusiastic comments on other people’s blogs. If you want to hear how it really worked, you should definitely listen to this podcast I took part in. The online sewing community was US-focussed, fledgling, and vibrant.

Much has changed – other than the vibrant part. And I am sooooo happy to see how many people have filled this world of ours with thousands of Instagram posts and comments. It really is staggering to see how some of my peers have grown from isolated individuals (“You sew?!”) to being successful authors, business people, Youtubers and community hosts. What else is to be achieved, and by whom?

So, let’s celebrate with a giveaway!

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Reasons To Sew A Toile

sewing a toile

andy powell

Did you witness the rather magnificent costume designer, Sandy Powell, wear a toile to the BAFTA awards? She’s raising money for Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage, the home of his creativity. The plan was to persuade famous attendees to sign her toile, and auction it off.

Her plan worked! The Instagram photos were amazing.

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Two Sewing Patterns In One Handmade Dress

viscose animal print

When I was a teenager, I had a white cotton drop-waist dress. God, I loved that dress. And now I love this one almost as much.

It’s a hack, inspired by Lisa Comfort’s recent vlog where she shared a hack of the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress to make a maxi dress. Mind. Blown! So simple, so inspiring. And I had exactly the right fabric waiting to be pressed.

It’s an animal print viscose from – you guessed it – TMOS. It’s super cheap and so lovely to work with. There’s still some on a roll, so canter down to Walthamstow market, like the eager sewing unicorns I know you are!

I didn’t exactly copy Lisa’s version. Mine isn’t quite a maxi dress. I paired the Shift Dress bodice and the Myosotis Dress skirt, thereby combining two of my favourite patterns. Done!

Myosotis Shift Dress

I’ll be wearing this dress to death, I can tell. Have you done any hacking lately?

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Sewing With A Polka Dot

nora top tilly and the buttons

Have you guys seen polka dots EVERYWHERE this season? I have! The great thing about sewing is that we all likely have a polka dot somewhere in our stash, so we can crown ourselves officially ahead of the trend.

Winning at life.

On which basis, I sewed a Tilly And The Buttons Nora Top!

tilly and the buttons nora top

I don’t entirely buy the received wisdom that knits are easier to sew with than wovens. Sure, the fitting is more straightforward, but with each knit you spend some time (at least!) understanding the fabric’s structure and behaviour. Patterns for knit makes forewarn you to explore the personality of your fabric with swatch tests. Interesting.

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