Sunday, 18 August 2013


Looks like I left you hanging there for quite a while. Ooops. Okay, let's jump back into it again with a post with no project.

 A few weeks months ago, So-Ha of Unlabelled Clothes  very kindly nominated me for a Liebster award. Or half of one? I'm not too sure. So-Ha's attention to detail and quality is outstanding. Her style of blogging always seems so calm and considered, and really inspires confidence in simple execution of projects, having the details speak volumes. If you've not seen it already you should definitely check it out.

I love seeing these 21st century chain letters float around the network of sewing bloggers. The best bit is to see sewists answer some really interesting questions not simply about making. I'm a little nervous as she certainly didn't disappoint with some thought-provoking questions, but hopefully they're a good kickstart to diversifying what I post about. You may have guessed by the name of the blog, but there really should be more cultural content in here. With the Edinburgh Fringe in full swing and new theatre season looming in September, now seems like a pretty good time to get into gear and post a bit more about all the interesting stuff about.

Without further ado, thank you again So-Ha and here are some answers to your questions:

Where would you most like to be right now?
As I write the summer sun is streaming through my sash window. It reminds me of spending hours wandering in the Alsace countryside. I'd love to be back there again, high up in the Vosges mountains walking with friends. We discuss anything and everything, sip locally produced wines and chow on tarte flambee late into the night. Glorious.

That's what I'm talkin' about
If you were Queen for the day, what would be your first rule/change?
Remove all limitations on international broadcasting and media. Not just legal but practical and economic too. Even with the internet it's quite difficult to discover content outside of your own language, country or niche interests.You learn a lot just by flicking through magazines or watching the TV while on holiday, so it would be great to experience that once in a while at home. It would spark curiosity and encourage people to discover something new.
What does love feel/look/sound like to you?
Oh come on! That's super difficult! I guess love is a bit like Sailing By. You feel like it's being broadcast just for you, though there are millions of people out there experiencing precisely the same thing. That doesn't make it any less meaningful or unique, just quite different to a lot of other human experiences.

If you were to make a garment for anyone - who would it be and why?
Initially I was to tempted to answer with a couple of friends who I respect supremely. I've got that sense of duty to make something exceptional for them and there's a big emotional investment. But actually, I think I'd rather make a garment for an experienced sewist I'd never met. Like Ann Rowley for example. Someone who's aware of the learning process, who knows considered execution, who's seen every mistake, fix and fudge in the book. Someone who knows when and why you should push the boat out or play it safe.

Why do you sew?
There's a TV series on Arte called Tous Les Habits Du Monde (go on, Google it). A documentary crew travel all over the world and do short shows on clothing in different countries. They look at the cultural background behind mass clothing choices and unconscious everyday wear. They also cover fashionatas showing off, family celebrations and occasionwear. They go beyond the simple idea of  "because it's like that" and really look at how cultural dynamics are shifting, what you can know about a population from their clothing. They look at the role of veils in Israel, uniforms in China, rural and urban clothing in Morocco...even hats at country shows here in the UK.

In light of that, I guess I sew because I want my clothing to be a more deliberate expression of the cultural and subcultural groups I associate with. If the Arte crew were to stumble on a group of sewists today, what would they know about us? Or the community that exists around us? What would we be able to tell them about each of our garments and the stories behind them? Garments shouldn't exist in a vacuum. The clothes we wear have so many important meanings, connotations and narratives on a cultural and personal level. For me, sewing is a means of proactively controlling that.

Are the clothes you make different from the ones you normally buy?
Definitely. The clothes I choose to buy are normally suited to situations with fairly rigid social rules where me-mades could be seen as a liability. Bought clothing is all on the basis of a path of least resistance. The clothing I make is brighter, less pristine, more quirky. I work in a fairly conservative office and doubt they'd appreciate me-mades on a daily basis. 

If you could have a sewing buddy, who would it be & why?
Colin Hammick. He wouldn't be much of a buddy though, he was a master tailor and managing director at Huntsman. I found out about him in Richard Anderson's book Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed. His mastery and exquisite taste is evident and to learn from him would have been incredibly challenging. I would love to carry that sort of wisdom through to make my own work much better. Here's a quick snippet from the book:

"I would hear Hammick intone as though walking an aspiring surgeon through a lobotomy, 'we need to take a good eighth off the front edge, we need to deepen the scye a quarter, we need to lengthen the back balance three-eighths, and we need to shorten the right sleeve a sixteenth.' That's right. Hammick worked to the sixteenth of an inch. Show me a lobotomist who can work to the sixteenth of an inch using ten-inch shears."

I blitzed through the book in a couple of days. It's absolutely fascinating, you should read it.

 Some carefully chosen facts about me
i) I spent 2 hours drafting a version of this post only to accidentally delete it.
ii) I've been working at the Paradise Green venues in Edinburgh over the Fringe, post to follow on some of the great stuff that I found up there.
iii) While traveling around Europe a few years ago, I developed a short-lived lampost fixation. This is my favourite:

iv) I'm quite a fan of The Prisoner and am considering signing off blog posts in the future with the line 'Be seeing you'.
v) When bored on the train, I like to make up backstories for the other passengers.

Here are a couple of nominations to pass the Leibster on to
TheainSewingLand - I bumped into Thea at the London meetup in April. She was wearing a fantastic skirt in a Liberty wool print I'd been struggling to get to grips with at home. It was at that moment I knew she had excellent taste.
Auxetically - Laura's another London meetup contact, she found a Chanel lining somewhere in a basement on Goldhawk Road and it's yet to show up on her blog. She's currently running a series reviewing Craftsy classes which should be really interesting.
Treadling in Benin - I do wonder whether Cathy counts as 'up and coming', she seems to be a bit of a blogging veteran! She always has the most interesting stories to go with her projects and has such an enthusiastic writing style. Plus, there's the whole mystery of what's going to happen once she leaves Benin, here's hoping going offline isn't one of the possibilities!

So in sticking with the rule of not quite sticking with the rules, here are some questions for you:
- What's your most significant handmade/homemade item?
- What's your sewing soundtrack? 
- If you could pass on your knowledge of making things, who would you want to teach?
- Do you have a sweet tooth or are you a savoury person? What's you favourite dish?
- How do you define 'home'?
- What's the most important thing you've learnt or discovered over the last 12 months and why?

Have fun!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your thoughtful answers - especially about why you sew & your answer of 'Sailing by'. I learnt some new things.

  2. Good good! Do you know if the other loggers you passed questions on to answered them? I'm sure I've looked

    1. Hello Katrina. One blogger said she would try but she was busy at the moment. The other I didn't hear from. I know I agonised (unnecessarily) lots over my answers.