Baby steps, baby steps

Is it possible to window shop in haberdasheries? To resist the temptation of a metre or so of something divine? Well, after this evening’s experiences the answer is – yes!

I began in Maccullough and Wallis, photographed here. This is a unique, independent haberdashery bang in central London, just off a bustling (read horrific) Oxford Street. Having lived in London for 18-odd years I was oblivious to its existence until I began sewing. It’s a treat to visit, if only for the bizarre sense of being slightly … hmmm, how do I put this? Looked down on. All the staff seem expert and – crucially in the UK – posh. (For any American readers of this blog I won’t try to explain the British class system in this entry. Frankly, neither of us has the time.) Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with feeling a bit condescended to – it makes me laugh.

In theory, I was looking for some lovely, crisp, white cotton for a blouse. I soon became distracted by an ivory voile with a print of cornflowers scattered across it. ‘No,’ I told myself sternly, ‘don’t start sewing with such a light fabric when we’re still in the middle of winter.’ I frogmarched myself out of the shop but as a postscript I should add that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that fabric. I suspect a return trip may be in order.

John Lewis Haberdashery

I stopped by the haberdashery in John Lewis, Oxford Street (seen above). I nearly bought some cream broderie anglaise. Then the staff took a bit too long to get to me and I remembered that I could probably buy similair fabric for a tenth of the price at Walthamstow market. I marched myself out of that shop, too – stopping by the wool section to watch this woman giving us a display of real-time crocheting. (I can never decide if I want to attempt this craft or not. It reminds me a bit too much of my grandmother.)

After all that, I went to meet my boyfriend for dinner at Skylon on the South Bank. We sat in this beautiful restaurant, gazing at the Thames and marvelling at all the dedicated runners pounding past in the pouring rain. When I say ‘marvelling’ what I mean is ‘rolling our eyes and pouring another glass of wine’. I run. I love running. I’ve even run in the rain. But it was chucking it down out there. I can only guess that these were people training for the London Marathon in April.

Skylon Restaurant

I came home to the most lovely email from Sunni, author of The Cupcake Goddess – a beautiful and instructive blog. I recently commented on a jacket she’d made, the Lady Gray Coat. She sent me some sweet, encouraging and constructive feedback about my own fear of making a jacket. I have bought the pattern – it’s McCalls 5815 as blogged about here by Erica. But I’m terrified. Truly terrified. I’ve only lined one thing previously. A skirt, and it was no big deal. But how to line a jacket? I come out in hives even thinking about it. So I should say thank you, Sunni. With your encouragement, I’m going to take some baby steps with a muslin. There’s no pressure and no deadline. I just need to take things slowly and have a go.

One thing might help: I’ve ordered the Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing, a book recommended by Gertie. My copy is on its way. The reader reviews look good. I just need to read and learn … and sew. Baby steps, baby steps. I hope I get there in the end!

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