Friday, 17 June 2016

Charity shop Wedding Dresses

The other week I was extolling the virtues of Charity Shops as a Wedding Dress outlet, well here is the proof of just that!  I was in Salisbury today and had time for a look in the charity shops after my dental appointment; the best place for this is Catherine Street in Salisbury as there is a large concentration of them, although there are plenty of others dotted around the city – and Fabricland too which is a bonus.  I think there are at least eight charity shops in Catherine Street that I can think of off the top of my head.

This is not the best photo I have ever taken but the sun was shining and it was a bit tricky to get a pic with no reflections with all the parked cars around.

Imagine how pleased I was to come across this lot!

The lovely member of staff on duty was very pleased for me to take photos and write this article and let me have free reign pulling some examples out to take a closer look.  I explained what I do and my views on how expensive weddings have become and we shared a bit of a discussion about it.

This smaller section is stuffed with around seven or eight Wedding Dresses, one being brand new, and some lovely Flower Girl & Bridesmaids dresses too, one of which has been lovingly and beautifully made at home by someone who is exceedingly accomplished; their rulo loops were even finer that mine.

I particularly singled out this one as it is very contemporary and I loved its simplicity and understated decoration, it would be gorgeous for a lovely summer wedding.

All these dresses are priced from around £10-£25, which in any book is a fantastic bargain, they are all in super condition and I heartily recommend that you take a look if you are in the area.

Have fun

Friday, 10 June 2016

Sunny Days at the Fairs

This last weekend was spent at two different Craft Fairs, Saturday was at the Sturminster Newton Big Weekend which Crafts at the Exchange was a big part; and Sunday was at Tinker Belles in Stourton Village Hall, Stourhead.

Crafts at the Exchange was based upstairs in the Stour Hall which is much larger than the foyer area we usually occupy so there were at least twice as many makers exhibiting at this all day event.

The weather was beautiful all day and there was a nice steady flow of visitors, I gave out so many cards that at the end of the day I had to pack up in record time so I could get back to Gillingham in time to pick up a pack of card to print some new ones in the evening.  I’m so looking forward to getting some really nice full colour post cards printed so I don’t have to print my own anymore!  A project for some time soon methinks.

Downstairs there was the beer festival and in Sturminster Newton High Street were all the local food producers.

I really enjoyed the day and here are a couple of pictures of folk having a good look at other stall holders on their way round, some before visiting me and some after.

Looking across the hall at a slightly busier moment.

The view looking to my left, the lady with the spotty dress was lovely to talk to.

Sunday morning dawned very warm and I was rather glad to get all my wares unloaded and into the shady sanctuary of the village hall at Stourton.

Carey and Teresa hang their lovely bunting out to let visitors to Stourhead know we are in residence.

Bustling with lots of visitors as I came out of the kitchen with my brew, you can just see two of my stands peeking above all the lovely folk chatting to makers.

At one point I was chatting with one of my clients, who I had first met at the last Tinker Belles Market in March, and another lady came in and asked about my work and my lovely client gave such a ringing endorsement that the other lady went away to think about some possible projects.

I was given a little extra room this time and I filled it with all three stands for a great show.  I had brought with me a new waistcoat I had made for my lady hawker and a skirt alteration for which she had requested some embroidery embellishments as well.

This is the waistcoat and altered & embroidered skirt; I am really very pleased with how they have turned out and thought it a great idea to show off to other prospective clients.

My Aunt came to help out later in the day, and insisted that I sit down for a while, and we had a great time working as a double act; a little help packing away ensured there was no repeat of my somewhat heated unpacking of the morning too.

It was a great weekend and I met lots of lovely people as well as catching up with lots of my clients too; thank you to Liz for a great day at Sturminster Newton and to Carey and Teresa for an equally fab day on Sunday.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

A good challenge, making someone’s day

A few weeks ago, in the course of working for one of my brides, I was asked if I could make a tailored suit for her Brother in law to be, he has a number of physical challenges including his lack of mobility and a feeding tube to accommodate.  When I spoke to Mr C he told me a horror story about being trapped in a jacket when trying on a suit at major men’s retailers, with staff there ignoring his needs! Shocking.

So, the challenge was firstly, to make a jacket that would sit nicely, that was not too bulky around the neck, that was split down the back and closed with Velcro to make it easier to get into, and an opening for his tube to go into; all this and for it to look simply like a well-tailored suit jacket.  The trousers needed to have a soft waistband with a Velcro fly made to look like a standard one, no pockets and fully lined.

We started with the fabric, it had to be a good match for the suit his Brother, the Groom, was wearing – especially given that Mr C was the Best Man.  At Bailie House I found some beautiful English 120s Wool & Cashmere, Navy shot with Grey.  It is super soft and lovely to work with and feels more like silk!  To go with this wonderful fabric I got some very silky Navy Twill lining.  My only small misgiving with the fabric is that because it is light weight it can look a little creased no matter how perfectly it is pressed, but the big payoffs of comfort and softness far outweigh that minor point, added to this is that in the wheelchair it will get a bit scrunched anyway.

To start the suit off there was the shirt which had already been bought and needed altering and adapting.

The shirt sleeves were mighty long and were shortened as far as possible without losing the integrity of the cuff opening.

I moved the pocket to the other side and using the leftover fabric from the sleeves, made a jetted opening for the tube that sits about 8cm below the opening in the jacket to ensure the tube comes up through both without any trouble.

Next, came the trousers which are a slim cut dinner suit design without the flat piping.  We changed the waistband for a nice soft Cotton Jersey and made it much deeper to be really comfortable, to strengthen it I have used some 8cm wide elastic rather that any kind of stiffener.

Here you can see the trousers from the side with nice crisp creases pressed in front and back.

The waistband close up with the front fly in detail.

Rather than a zip and button I have used Velcro and poppers which are set in to look like zip flies.

The piece de resistance is the jacket.  The front has a welted pocket style opening at the top left and closed welted pockets on both sides lower down.  We designed the jacket without a collar to save bulk around the neck especially given the narrowness of the shoulders.  I am really pleased with the buttons; they were a fantastic find at Hansons in Sturminster Newton.

I love the buttons, they are really subtle with a matt finish, in the bag are the spares –one of each size for the front and sleeves and a bit of matched thread.  The sleeves are finished with 3 buttons and fake buttonholes.

The welted opening only differs from a normal pocket in that there is no pocket bag and a hand finished jetted opening inside.  You can also see the back neck facing similar to that of a women’s jacket which was the most practical to help strengthen the top of opening in the back of the jacket.

Here you can see the disguised welted pocket opening; I stuck a pencil in to demonstrate how little impact the tube will make to how the jacket sits.

This is the Velcro opening for the back which is so important for Mr C to be able to be dressed and escape from it relatively easily.  Finishing the lining inside was a bit of a challenge although you would not think so to look at it, it was a bit like a Chinese puzzle and I had to walk away from it and let my brain percolate for a while after the first go!

Here is Mr C in all his glory on his brother’s wedding day, it was such a delight to see him all gussied up for the day and looking very sharp.

You can see why it was important that the neckline was as slim line as possible from the side view.

The whole wedding party, the only outfits I had no hand in was the Groom and the Best Man’s second, I had done all the alterations for the Bride, Bridesmaids and Flower Girl.

When I delivered Mr C’s suit and the last of the alterations over to the Bride & Groom’s home in the week before the wedding, many the family were there to see the suit, everyone was so pleased with it and for myself, this has been one of my favourite projects since graduation in 2004.  This kind of project does not come along very often, to truly aid someone to look their very best and adapt clothing to accommodate with dignity my client’s particular needs has been a great privilege.  I love a good technical challenge and this has been a triumph all round.

Thank you Mr C for this fantastic commission and for your patience with all the fittings, I have enjoyed every minute.