Michelle Pye is the backbone of the English Couture Company with a vast experience of Dressmaking & Tailoring. Michelle started her sewing life at the age of 6 years old when she used to see her Mum sewing & drove her mad by jumping on to the machine as soon as she went to do some pressing.
Tomorrow I’m going to another photography course. It was a birthday present form my sister Wendy. We are going to photograph wild cats, including endangered leopards. I just hope the rain stops otherwise it could be a very soggy experience. We are going to Hertfordshire for the course, I can’t wait. If I get some good shots, I’ll let you know.
This got me thinking about fabrics, as leopard print is very fashionable. Of course, the best model of leopard skin print is the leopard, they are such beautiful animals, with very cute faces. I do tend to buy leopard print without realising it. I have to make a real effort not to buy too much of it when I’m at the wholesalers. Some of you may remember me making up the denim with leopard print for the NEC show a couple of years ago.
I had great fun with this stand. Proving that you can make all sorts of different garments from one type of fabric. I got the idea from my students. When this fabric first came in to the shop I was showing everyone because it was so unusual, the fabric is a layer of denim on top of a layer leopard print chiffon. The denim has been cut away & then the two fabrics have been embroidered together. Everyone seemed to have a different idea as to what they would make using it. I teamed it up with some leopard print chiffon which I already had in the shop. The evening dress has a boned bodice inside.
I hope everyone here in the UK is enjoying this amazing sunny weather at the moment. I’ve spent most of the Easter weekend in the garden but all the time I’ve been outside I’ve been thinking about sewing for the Summer. I’m currently making a short sleeved nightshirt from a piece of fabric I bought at the NEC in March. I couldn’t resist this button fabric. (I know making it up already, has to be a record). I have actually made up 3 more of the pieces I bought at the NEC. One into another nightshirt, one pair of pyjamas & a pair of cut off trousers. I have been very busy. This is what you can do when you have patterns that you know will fit you & all you have to do is make them up. See below.
Now, I have to turn my thoughts to Summer clothes. I’m thinking about making new dresses, I made a few last year & have found them much easier to wear than tops & bottoms. Although I did make some wide leg cutoff trousers & loved wearing them too. I have another idea brewing in my head about a jacket. I did buy a piece of silk & cashmere at the show which would make a jacket or I do have another piece in the stash which would also do the job. I’m thinking about a fixed tie fastening at the front with a design feature on the back with buttons. It may or may not incorporate some lace as well. This would be a complete change for me as I usually wear quite formal jackets. I think it might be a bit of fun, I’m trying to figure out if I would wear it enough to justify the time to make it. Now, whether this will come to fruition is another thing but until I have had a go at it the idea won’t go away. So, watch this space for details.
We had a slow start to the day today. Not many people were around for the first hour or so. That gave me a bit of time to try & catch up on the shirts. I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind a bit on the schedule I set for myself. The two demonstrations I’m doing on the stand seem to be going down well, & lots of ladies seem to be interested in making shirts. I’ve taken a couple of photo’s to show you how the demos work out.
I’ve been getting a lot of compliments about my sewing. So much so that they had to open two doors to let me out of the NEC tonight! If you are there tomorrow for the last day of the show please pop by & say Hello.
A much better start to the day. We sailed through the traffic to arrive at the NEC in record time. Brilliant, plenty of time to have a look around & of course to shop. Now, at the beginning of the week I was cheering as I have got my stash down to 41 pieces, I know that’s still a lot of fabric, but a lot less than I used to have. Well this morning the numbers went up by a lot. I bought some pure Shetland wool in beautiful muted shades with heather tones, a piece of wool & cashmere in beige & a bargain skirt length of wool & cashmere in a navy pin stripe. Wendy also bought a couple of pieces one for pyjamas & one for some cut off trousers. She then informed me that she might need the trousers when we go away for a couple of days in two weeks time. It doesn’t take very long to make the trousers as I have a pattern that fits perfectly, but I think that deadline might be pushing it a bit.
We also went around to see a display of the costumes from the TV series Vanity fair.I haven’t seen this version of it but I do have the series recorded for when I get a few minutes to spare to see it. As you can see I took quite a lot photo’s, it’s easy when there is no one around.
I love the red dress but the hats have to be my favourite part of the display. We did eventually get to the stand & have had a great day seeing lots of people. The shirt making is going reasonably well. I’ve just about finished one shirt & have made parts of a second one. Less talking & more making would help but I’m there to talk to everyone who comes to the stand. So, if you are at the show tomorrow come & see how much you can disrupt the shirt making process. See you there.
Our day didn’t start very well. We got stuck on the M6 for around an hour. The weather was very bad too. Fortunately is was only rain & we always allow a lot of time to get to Birmingham. We still arrived about 30mins before the show opened. Not enough time to shop as we planned but time enough to rearrange bits of the stand & prepare for the day. We also had to get the electricians out before the show opened as we had no appliances working.
I started work on one of the shirts I planned to make. The demonstration of the collar at 11 am went very well. I am demonstrating on the stand P16, we are located at the back of the hall opposite to the entrance. A little while later had a couple of ladies come to the stand who had been told that I was demonstrating in the lecture theatre. I also did a demo at 2pm which was quite well attended. The show was busy all day , so I didn’t get to have a look around, but from the reports of ladies who came to the stand, there are a lot of fabric stands & everyone seemed to find something to spend their money on.
I’m afraid I don’t have any photos to show you as I forgot to take any until I was about half way home. I’ll make sure I take some tomorrow. If you are at the show pop by & say Hello.
I’m also having a few computer problems, so I will do my best to write a post tomorrow.
We have set up at the NEC Sewing for Pleasure exhibition. Surprisingly everything went according to plan. We loaded up the car without having to repack it. We got to the NEC without getting stuck in traffic. Managed to get a space inside the hall to unload. Set up the stand in record time & didn’t forget anything we needed. I think we might be getting the hang of this exhibition thing!
I even managed to sit with my feet up for a couple of hours when I got back. Amazing! Now we are ready to welcome everyone to the stand starting tomorrow until Sunday. Don’t forget I’m demonstrating a shirt collar at 11am & a sleeve placket at 2pm everyday. I will be making the rest of the shirts during the day, so pop by & see how much I’ve managed to do.
We are on stand number P16 on the wall opposite to the entrance. See you there.
After seeing the weather forecast last week for the weekend, we decided to have a sewing weekend. We planned all the meals, got in anything we needed from the shops, made sure I posted the birthday cards that I should have sent & paid the newspaper bill. This meant that we didn’t need to go out all weekend. Such a comforting thought as it was so cold. We didn’t have any snow, but it was freezing cold.
On Saturday morning, we got up at a reasonable time, had a leisurely breakfast, prepared the stew for lunch & got showered & ready for action. By 10am we were sewing. Great, we could sew all day until the England rugby match started a 4.45pm. I did a couple of jobs that needed finishing before cutting out a bra. Wendy resumed work on a sweatshirt she had started the last time we had a sewing day. At 11.30, we decided that we deserved a tea break. We made tea & coffee & sat with our feet up for 20mins.
Then back to work, this is where things started to go wrong. We had just gone back to work when the doorbell rang. When we opened the door, we saw our cousin & his wife brandishing a bag from a very expensive clothes shop. Their daughter is getting married in April & the bag contained the dress for the mother of the bride, which didn’t fit. So I had to try to sort it out. An hour & a half later they finally went, leaving the dress with me. By that time the stew in the oven was a bit overcooked, so I made some dumplings & did some potatoes, we ate a nice lunch. Finishing off with another cup of tea. We had just made up our minds to get up & start again when, the doorbell rang again.
Standing on the doorstep this time was a friend. Her first words as she came through the door were ‘I’m not stopping’ She wanted to ask me to cut out a kit she had bought to do some applique. She hadn’t brought it with her, but I agreed to do it. Of course, she stayed a while just to catch up. By the time she left, we had 10mins to rush around & get settled to watch the Rugby.
Sunday was a little bit more settled, but Wendy was going out to a football match. So, we again got up & sorted ourselves out. She finished the sweatshirt & we cut out a dressing gown for her. The fabric, was a pale blue fur fabric which we bought at the NEC a few years ago. We tried to work out how long ago it was but gave up after going back 4 years. It made a complete mess in the workroom & all the bit’s stuck to the socks I was wearing & trailed all the way up the stairs. Whilst she was at the football, I almost made the dressing gown for her, as you can see from the picture. (The sleeves are the same length, it’s the crazy angle I took the photo from that makes it look wrong).
It just needs a tie belt & hand finishing. I have almost finished the bra I started as well.
So, all in all not quite the weekend, I planned but at least I got something done!
Did you manage to get time to sew over the holidays? With all those people to see, cooking & partying to do, my time was very limited. I also spent some time tidying up a corner of my workroom. In a pile of stuff, I found a couple of pairs of jeans which only wanted buttons putting on them. One in black denim & the other in the cream denim. Both of these fabrics I have in the shop. I did remember the cream ones but the black ones I had completely forgotten about. I now have two new pairs of jeans.
I spent some time before Christmas cutting out a few things, just in case I found a few minutes. I managed to get this top finished but not for Christmas day as I had planned. I did wear it when we went out to the theatre one evening. I like the simplicity of it.
I made it from a piece of fabric I had left over from another shirt. There wasn’t enough fabric to do sleeves or facings, but I think this piece of lace looks fantastic on the sleeves. The lace trim around the bottom of the sleeves was a faulty piece I had in the shop, which managed to find its way home! I used a piece of cotton lawn for the facing, as it’s inside, you can’t tell it’s a different fabric.
The other project I just managed was this bra.
I have quite a lot of bras in my drawer, but they all seem to have lost their colour or are fading. Now, I follow my Mum’s advice & always put on clean underwear, just in case you get knocked over, but even though the bras are clean they don’t look nice. So, I’m going to make some more & this is the first off, the production line. (It might be the last for a while, if I get an idea for making something else)! All the bits & pieces came out of my stash, so I didn’t need to buy anything. There was enough of this fabric to make matching knickers as well. When I wear this set I’ll be properly dressed in case I get knocked down!
I had a bit of fabric left over, after making the padded coat I made for my sister before Christmas. So, as a surprise for her for Christmas, I decided to make some accessories to go with the coat. She likes to wear a rucksack instead of carrying a handbag, so I set to with a pattern I have tried out & modified a couple of times.
This bag uses quite big pieces for the main front & back of the bag. I had enough to do the back of the bag but when it came to the front of it the piece, I had left wasn’t long enough. I had a piece of leather look cloth in my stash & so I decided to use that for the bottom half of the front. Once it was teamed with the pocket flaps & straps, it looked like it was meant to be. I like to work with this imitation leather, because it really is a fabric so easy to use.
One thing you might like to bear in mind when using it is, sometimes ordinary machine feet get a bit stuck on the surface. If this happens, I use a Teflon foot or plastic foot. If you don’t have either of these put some talcum powder on to the fabric surface before you sew. This will help the foot to glide over the fabric & will easily brush off when you have sewn it. I also use a leather needle in the machine.
I liked the wooden buttons for the flaps as well. They came out of my button box at home. I used magnetic buttons underneath to keep the flaps closed. Wendy’s love of pockets extends to handbags as well as coats. So, the inside of the bag has numerous pockets for anything she decides she needs to carry.
With the smaller pieces that were leftover I decided to make some mittens. The inside of the mittens is fleece, so they are very warm to wear. Wendy likes to tuck them into the sleeves of the coat.
They are a bit cumbersome & doing anything whilst wearing them can be a bit difficult but as you can see from the final picture, she likes to wear them.
I have, at last managed to finish the padded coat for my sister Wendy. Those of you who have been following the progress of this coat will know that she kept on changing her mind about details, like the pockets. I loved working with the fabric & it made up really easily. I had this fabric in the shop a couple of months ago & it sold out within days. As you can see from the photo’s the coat is down to the knee. This is to stop it being cold on her legs when she sits outside watching football. It had numerous pockets, & even pockets within pockets.
I have seen lots of padded coats, which look very shapeless so I put an elastic casing at the waist to give a bit of shape without being fitted. This fabric does not take too kindly to being fitted tightly.
Of course, a hood is essential at this time of the year. This hood does right up to the chin & I cut it just for Wendy, as she wears glasses, I cut the front of the hood to come out over them to stop her getting raindrops on the lenses.
I also like the little features on the back, first, a pleat across the upper back. The longer centre back makes sure that when she sits down on to cold or wet seats she has her trousers protected.
She has been wearing this coat non-stop since I finished it a couple of weeks ago. On several occasions, she has had to undo it, as it is a very warm coat. Let’s just hope that continues when the colder weather comes in.
I sold lots of this fabric & I would love to see what everyone else did with theirs. Send me some photos when you get the chance.