Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Oh my.  The night we arrived, black rain was lashing the windows, breaching the lead panes and the chimneys were thundering.  Locating our rooms from the cosy hub of arrival required looking at a map.  The voices of family faded to chatter and footfall as we intruded further into the empty house, until it began to feel impolite.  I could see my children peeking at me for reassurance, unfamiliar with the unconfined space as I fumbled for switch after switch to light our way.  I peered out of the gallery's windows into the stormy night and saw a house close by - in the morning I realised it was merely the South Wing.
What a place were were inhabiting.  Cutting edge design - medieval simplicity with largesse. Wonderful Arts and Crafts details at every turn easily overlooked due to their parity.  For instance, each oak door was slightly different in its furniture.  The inglenook fireplace in the lounge has a brick arch to one side, behind an asymmetric portion of which is a recessed window with a curved ceiling that you can only really see if you care to go and look up at it.  Now that's an artist enjoying himself.
Lutyens was commissioned to make this for a Mr Merrilees, a man who once owned the Harrods of Russia.  Described by Lutyens in a letter to his wife as "a good sort of a small sort"(?), he built it as a philanthropic holiday home for 'ladies of small means' before shooting himself in the garden.  That was him knocking at night, no,  the central heating,  surely all houses talk at night.
I have never, ever had the privilege of experiencing having the run of an historical property which neatly offset the intermittent moments where things got weird.  Waking in the night to see a boy child in a sailor suit by the bed, the bedroom door which consistently whipped shut too hard behind me until the time I mentioned it and it closed softly,  that kind of thing. Pfff just my imagination. The wind.
It was the best stay and too short.  I finally got behind the ropes to sleep.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vertical bust seam adjustment part 1

Clockwise from top left: 
Take the original pattern pieces and work out the bust point on each.  
Cut vertically through both pattern pieces - I angled them so the bust points were aligned and drew a straight line across both upper and lower cups. 
Paste the sides together matching the edge back up.  The bust curves are now separated. Trace a new pattern piece as shown and recreate the missing edge using a French curve.  Theoretically, the more shallow the curve, the less volume with the inner cup favoured as more shallow.  I think the idea is that this will need playing with but whatever happens, each piece will need to measure the same length.
Here is the new cup with a vertical seam.  But will it fit?
To be continued...

Tutorial thanks to this blog
Photos no thanks to my ipad or the bafflingly user unfriendly blogger. 


Second in the pile marked 'to do'.  The navy, cashmere/wool, ex Seville Row suiting fabric in my stash should do the job.
Image from Ter et Bantine via Honestly wtf

With the Landmark Trust weekend stay approaching, today I am going to try and change a perfectly fitting bra pattern from horizontal seaming to a vertical seamed cup with a view to making it up in a nice navy silk later this week.  Or camisole it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

He had her eye on him...

A Georgian fashion said to be inspired by George IV's illicit love for the widowed Maria Fitzherbert.  He had a habit of surreptitiously wearing a miniature of her eye beneath his lapel.
Opalescently beautiful and compelling en masse.
Collective term? A gaze of eyes? A lash?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

And the bride wore Vogue Couturier 990 in white organza and voile


I think it all went rather well considering I had no prior experience of pattern cutting.
The hem, however, was a complete nightmare as I had gone off map with the fabric.  I liked how the toile was looking with the organza (ebay, 99p for 10m...) so abandoned the plan to use matt satin.
The pattern said to face the main fabric and then hem and stitch the lining to it.  But as you can see, the outer layer being transparent and checked meant that this was never going to work.  In the end after deep googling and hand wringing for many days,  I found my answer of a blind zigzag hem in Gerties better blog for sewing and also this Sewing sequins blog tutorial for which, I am eternally grateful and will be using again.  I was then able to leave the two layers loose and faced the lining instead.
Another brilliant trick learned on my 'journey', as they say on the realitytvdocudramas, was to not iron the faced hem but to merely show it the iron so that it has a loose 50s bagged quality.  Bosh.
I made the garland using an 80s dried flower crown from ebay and sewed in silk and velvet flowers from a wonderful shop Leaf and Petal in Hastings that has the original presses from the days when people needed silk velvet flowers in their lives.  The veil I shortened using the same blind hem method.
So now, I hope you can see why I haven't posted lately. 
Next sewing project is to cut and sew lingerie.  I have some beautiful navy silk with a gold microdot just waiting.  See, there's a night or two at a rangy, old Landmark Trust house coming up and I would like to swan about in it there. 

Photos by the lovely Lowri Pendrell

Monday, January 06, 2014

The bride's shoes were Sophia Webster

How I love these shoes.
4" heels as I wanted to look sensible next to my husband as he is 6 foot 5" whereas I am 5 foot 2".  I was slightly annoyed that they were slingbacks after all...but I forgave them.  I mean, if you are going to have to wear slingbacks...
More to follow.