What Did The Ancient Egyptians Ever Do For Us?

Walk Like An Egyptian

This evening I attended a book launch in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. Book launches sound glamorous but can be awkward social events. You’re there to support someone you know and like, but heck that person will be in demand. They’re signing books, giving speeches, shaking hands… It’s a bit like being at a wedding. It’s your job to turn up, smile, clap and go home.

So I was really impressed by my friend’s choice of venue, with LOADS to look at. After checking that it was okay to take photos, I put on my Sewing Spectacles and thought: What can my fellow Sewists and I learn from the Ancient Egyptians?

Well, there’s the beaded net dress, for starters. Full image here:

Isn’t it divine? I’m guessing that’s jade. Worn over a sheath of some sort? I hope so! It reminds me of a 1920s flapper dress.

Then there were the accessories:

Eight rows of beads. You can’t get that in Anthropologie.

And the most intriguing item of equipment:

I stared and stared at this for ages, thinking: What’s ‘fulling’? I figured I’d never find out. I hadn’t counted on the wonders of Wikipedia. Turns out, it’s a way of cleaning and felting wool. See for yourself, here. From Ancient Egypt to a 21st Century free information website. How can you beat that?

I’ll tell you how! By sitting in a classroom. On Tuesday, I turned up for my first ever sewing lesson at Morley College:

I can’t tell you how lovely it was to be back in a learning environment. I’d baulked at the prospect of a three-hour evening lesson. Would my tired brain keep up? I shouldn’t have worried. In contrast to my workaday, commercial world of deadlines, the luxury of inductions, library tours, toilet breaks and gentle hellos was a delight. I met Nancy, who reads this blog (hi, Nancy!) and she kindly lent me a pen when I realised I had nothing to write with. (Doh! I can make myself a tote bag for lessons, but turn up with pen and paper…) Nancy and I took each other’s body measurements. If you can’t break the ice with a tape measure down another person’s back, I don’t know how you make friends. I also met other students working on an interesting variety of projects: a men’s shirt, a vintage Vogue pattern, and a coat.

I turned up to class with my Lady In Red dress as an example of previous work. The tutor’s assessment? Very good. I nearly leapt out of my seat and punched the air. But my plans to make the Simplicity 2443 jacket will have to go on the back burner. (Don’t worry – I’ll be responding to everyone’s BRILLIANT linen suggestions when I announce the winner of the Giveaway.) For the class, I’ve been asked to make a dress. I’ve chosen the V8667 dress.

Shame. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it out of jade.

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12 Responses to What Did The Ancient Egyptians Ever Do For Us?

  1. I’m pleased you had a good experience at your sewing class, because I was thinking about starting one but I’m a bit shy and I don’t know what to expect. I think the V8667 is a really good choice.

  2. Clare says:

    That neck-piece is incredible! Even though the dress pattern is fab, I hope you still make the linen jacket; I really liked your ideas for it.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, I can’t wait to see your version of that dress! Too bad you can’t replicate the Egyptian dress. ;0

  4. Nancy says:

    Lovely to meet you Karen! I’m already fantasising about all the books I can borrow from that library …

  5. Rachael says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your first lesson at Morley. I’m taking the draping course on Wednesday evenings with Gillian. I think the dress is gorgous – I’m tempted to try it myself and I can’t wait to see how yours turns out.

  6. Carly says:

    Ooh that beaded necklace is lovely, thanks for sharing – I’d never heard of the Petrie Museum.

    Glad you’re enjoying the course – I really like the pattern you’ve picked to work on, looking forward to seeing your updates. And well done on the ‘very good’ work – did you get a sticker? 🙂


  7. Lysy says:

    Ooh – I have that pattern cut out and ready to go in black wool! I’ll be very interested to hear how you get on with it 🙂 The class sounds fab – I’m v jealous!

  8. Roobeedoo says:

    Good pattern choice, but please don’t bead the cowl! have you seen the latest Boden catalogue? Someone let them loose in a bead shop. I bet the Egyptians didn’t have to worry about the beads falling off in the washing machine!

  9. That beaded dress is incredible! I will stay tuned to see how fabulous your dress turns out.

  10. Suzie says:

    Good luck with your class. I attended an evening sewing class last term, but unfortunately I was a bit dissapointed with it. Sounds like yours will be much more successful!

  11. Amy says:

    Wow, great pattern! I really don’t need any more dresses, but now I’m tempted by this one too…

  12. CuriousGem says:

    I love your blog. I’ll be following your progress on your course with great interest. I very much want to do a beginner’s class at Morley if I can get a space.

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