It’s been a busy busy week but it’s nice to be writing a blog post. It’s press week so I’m very manic and I keep forgetting to get up for glasses of water. Plus I’m testing a pattern for work because it’s got a fun design detail that I wanted to try out myself.
Enough about that though!! Today I wanted to talk a little about the Beyond Measure open day that Ruth and I attended last weekend. Ooh two Ruth mentions in two posts. But I’ve just managed to delete ALL my photos from my phone while trying to upload them. I could shout out something naughty but I’ll resist. Fingers crossed Grace doesn’t mind me sharing her pictures.
So when Grace mentioned at the Sewing Weekender that her Todmorden studio was opening its doors, it was too good a chance to miss. Tod can be found just outside Hebden Bridge and has plenty of similar charms. Having worked in Mytholmroyd (two train stops away) for 7 years and with friends in Hebbers I know the train route well. It’s about an 1hr 10 from Leeds and 45 mins from Manchester.
Beyond Measure is roughly a 10 minute walk from the station and thankfully Saturday was a lovely sunny day. As it’s not a shop I’m not sure how it looks normally, but Grace had set up the space with mannequins, piles of fabric bundles and tall end-bolts, and of course several racks and trays of pretty haberdashery and tools.
On display there was the well known Sajou and Merchant and Mills supplies, plus the gorgeous tweed, leather and wood pincushions she’s had made locally. Large jars of vintage buttons and toggles sat on turquoise shelves. I loved the handmade ceramic buttons, each slightly unique. We had chance to chat to one of the talented designers who made the pincushions and laughed about how he didn’t really know anything about the sewing industry but throughly enjoyed his work. He was humble and friendly, having brought his daughter on a day trip to see his products in Grace’s store.
There was a also tempting amount of wool of offer which Grace had sourced from a Lancashire mill. Offcuts and end bolts, plus colour coordinated bundles. I succumbed to some smooth soft and almost glossy boucle wool with flecks of colour running through. It was £30 for a 1.6m piece, enough for a short jacket I think. I also picked up something for a Christmas present… enough said about that (spies everywhere).
We spent a good portion of the day gossiping with Grace and her lovely friend Tinkering Textiles about all sort of things and nibbling on the MOST DELICIOUS honey chocolate flapjack before fully giving in to hunger and having a nice lunch at the local Co-op cafe. Mmmm spiced potato and spinach wraps yummy.
Grace’s eye for detail and quality is paired perfectly with her design aesthetic and she has curated her shop to include beautiful, intriguing and charming pieces. Handcrafted items can often be seen as a luxury to own and so there’s a small hurdle to overcome about whether you can indulge but think about it. What value do you place on your garments? I hope you believe in the worth of the hours you’re giving over to your craft. Any guilt should be momentary as your buying something from a talented craftsperson that you know will last. And will definitely have more personality. Food for though hopefully.
I’ll be back soon with some thoughts on wedding dresses and how I’m attempting to edit my eclectic style into one dress.
Recently I shared my sewing room in the magazine and thought it should definitely appear on the blog too! I hope you like this peek into my sewing space. I know how lucky I am to have a dedicated space to sew, and although it feels like an indulgence at times, it has made me so happy in the short year I’ve had it.
Forgive the low light in the pics, these were shot in Jan!
This room is on the middle floor of my townhouse in Leeds. It’s a great size room and is definitely nice and warm, but it doesn’t get the best light and the view isn’t the prettiest. I’ve done my best to make it look lovely inside instead.
The main feature of the room is the cutting table, made by my partner. He used four Kallax units from Ikea, added a large MDF top and used ikea metal feet to raise the table to the perfect height. Underneath I use large baskets to store all my fabric, zips, and interfacing, as well as mugs of chalk pencils, tracing paper and bias binding. The whole thing is over 1m wide and 1.5m long, meaning I can cut delicate fabric single layer without them trying to escape. The only problem is that my cat Chewie thinks it’s the perfect sleeping spot so I have to shoo her away when it’s time to cut out projects. Then she just moves to another spot for a nap!
I’m fortunate to have several machines. The Janome SMD4000 is my main machine, then there’s the machine I learnt on – a Toyota Jeans Machine. I also have a Singer 14sh754 overlocker and two vintage Singer machines (a 1939 hand crank and a 1970s machine set into a table. My dad is a great antique hunter!). Having all my machines in a row means bouncing between each is easy and I usually keep the Janome and Toyota threaded in different colours in case I need to work on multiple projects at once.
My gorgeous pink mid-century inspired chair has a pretty scalloped back (Very.co.uk) and I’ll sit here when it comes to hand sewing and unpicking. The vintage glass cabinet was a gift from my partner’s grandmother and it makes perfect storage for yarn, ribbon, button tins and boxes of sewing patterns. (Orla Kiely tins, Selvedge yarn)
Decorating is still a work in progress but the majority of my wall space is used for spool racks. I chose polka dot wallpaper from Prestige Textiles (in Graphite – my first ever wallpapering attempt! Under the careful eye of my mum) as an eye-catching feature when you first enter. My most-used scissors hang from a pretty coat hook from BHS for easy access and fun quotes and pictures keep me smiling while I work. (Vintage decorative dressmaking stand, Korbond pear pin cushion, Sasse and Bell spool holder). A vintage sewing-themed calendar from SewDirect.co.uk adds retro inspiration and an illustrated portrait I was given for my birthday shows me wearing my favourite handmade dress (artist @andsmile). My plan is to frame some of my vintage patterns and add a bit more shelving space and then the room should be complete!
After years of working on my dining table and cutting out on the floor, it’s so nice to have a separate sewing space. I do miss Mr AR though, so we regularly run up and downstairs to see each other and take it in turns to brew up!
I hope you enjoyed having a peek in my sewing room. Hopefully the next time I share it the walls won’t be as beige or sparse heehee!
I did it! I completed one of my New Year’s Resolutions.
Not to be confused with Sewlutions. These are things I wanted to do outside of sewing.
(Though this one has yielded sewing related benefits.)
I signed up with Leeds Library!
I’m talking about the city’s main public library which is handily placed smack bang alongside the art gallery.
Leeds Central Library building was completed in 1884 and is Grade two listed.
The library’s interior is so beautiful and impressive; there are tiled floors and large white pillars lining the staircases made of 380 million year old Devonian coral reef.
Wrap your brain around that for a minute.
I love it in there. It’s so calming and inspirational whether you’re in the library, the tiled hall or the art gallery.
As well as having a pleasing amount of general interest books to loan, it also has a specialist art library, as well as a specialist music and performing arts section and an extensive collection of local and family history.
I made a beeline for was the cinema and tv section and then the FASHION SECTION woooooo.
Signing up? Less than 5 minutes.
I sat for 10 minutes gazing at Elizabeth Taylor: A Life In Pictures
Then I picked up a delightfully bemusing book on recreating the vintage style of your favourite film and music stars, and a fab looking analysis on the stylistic reboot of James Bond since Daniel Craig took the role.
Feeling smug I went up to the art library. This contains art history, architecture, photography, fashion, sculpting, printmaking and much more. It was paradise.
I picked out:
- Print In Fashion — A book on print and design in textile development which I’m hoping will inspire me to make some designs of my own.
- Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting — in preparation for the pattern drafting classes I’ve booked myself onto.
- Fashion A-Z: An Illustrated Dictionary — this is a lovely way to brush up on my terminology.
- The Merchant and Mills Sewing Book — this beautiful book has excellent tips and a few projects.
- Fashion: The 50 most Influential Fashion Designers in the World — excellent photographs and biographies of the key designers in fashion’s history.
Fast forward to me sitting at home in the yummy sunshine flicking through all my books.
I’ll leave you with this lovely quote that I hope encourages everyone to use their library…
“[D]on’t ever apologise to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologise to an author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read.” ― Neil Gaiman