A soggy day in London town / Why I’ve been quiet

(Note: it was wet when I started drafting this post on Wednesday morning.  It’s since brightened up!)

Well, um…hi everyone.  I mean, hi to everyone who hasn’t given up on me after about three weeks of silence!  Sorry about that.  I hope you’ll believe me when I say I have a fairly good reason for being quiet.

I (sort of) alluded to some changes in a paragraph of my last post, but now I can explicitly say that my silence on here has been because I started a new job just over a fortnight ago!  The offer was on the table, and I’d accepted it when I last posted, but…you know how it is – or I hope you do.  I wanted to wait until the contract had been signed and I was a little settled, but time got away from me and before I knew it, April was nearly over.

FashionTechContract StaffGardenAs you can see, I’m now a part-time fashion technician in a busy London college!! 🙂 🙂  Incidentally, this college is a place very dear to my heart; I’ve been taking various FE courses here for several years and know it well.  Plus, working as a technician, or having some kind of technical role in industry or education, has been on my wish list for a couple of years now.  I had a fairly near miss at Central St Martins some time ago (this was a maternity cover post for a knitwear technician), and the experience and feedback was certainly enough to keep me on the path of hope.  I’m glad I stuck to my guns!  Typically for the first few weeks, it’s been a steep learning curve, but I’m far from bored – and most importantly, I’m VERY happy and grateful.

The last few weeks have been about establishing a new routine and working patterns for both sides of my professional life: I’ll still have my freelance teaching running alongside the technician commitments, but the one difficulty has been, and still is, working out how on earth I’ll fit in any design work.  At least a couple of commission briefs have come and gone (read: necessarily ignored) over the past few weeks.  The honest answer is that I’m not sure if publishing my work in magazines is feasible.  Any future designs will have to be intermittent and/or project-based.  I’ll just have to see what does and doesn’t work, and do my best as always – but the blog is ahead in the queue.  I’ll never stop writing!

So, that’s the big news.  Here’s a round-up of everything else:

SoniaDelaunayTicket WomenFashionPowerTicket

Last week I visited the Sonia Delaunay retrospective at Tate Modern, and nipped into the Design Museum to catch Women: Fashion: Power before it closed.  The latter exhibition had its good points; specifically the current and historical examples of how past and present high-profile women have appropriated clothing at pivotal moments in their lives, but it was a bit overstuffed and I think it needed more ruthlessly focused curation.  I ended up feeling as though I was just zigzagging (literally and figuratively) through a chronology of women’s dress history.  Fewer, more insightful and in-depth examples would have been better and created more cohesion.

Sonia Delaunay was also a big and spectacular exhibition, but I will definitely need to visit again and buy the catalogue!  I’ve never read about Delaunay in depth; only observed how frequently her name pops up and vaguely thought “I must follow that up” – and now I see why she’s heavily referenced.  I was completely bowled over by her life’s work and how prolific an artist and designer she was.  I’d like to write in more depth about this after the second visit, which I hope will be in the next few weeks.  Until then, JUST GO AND SEE THE EXHIBITION if you can.  Highly recommended.

ChouxJumper3 ChouxJumper4 ChouxJumper5The blue chevron jumper continues.  I’m now onto the second sleeve and might have that done by the end of the weekend – it’s a bank holiday so it’s likely to happen ;-).  The view from my window this morning demotivated me a bit (a cotton lace jumper in this weather?) but summer isn’t far away, and I’ll be glad of it then.  It’s my first summer knit, and at this rate it’ll be the only one!  But I can’t fall into the trap that many of my freelance friends have done and neglect my personal knits.  It is hard finding time to make something current, but personally speaking, part of the job is to model and inspire.  As a teacher, there’s almost nothing better than having a student or acquaintance ask whether you’ve made your jumper/cardigan/dress/etc and being able to say YES.  It allows newcomers to the craft to visualise what they can achieve, the kind of garments or accessories that they can make and how it can fit into their lives.  I wear something handmade to every class that I teach, even if it is just a scarf.  The possible kicker is when I do that, as was the case last Friday at Woman’s Weekly, and someone asks about my dress instead of my cardigan – or coat or scarf!  *sighs*

ColetteHazelFabric ColetteHazelLayplanI have slightly more chance of getting some sewing done, and have been organising and buying patterns for quick and easy summer dresses.  I downloaded and pieced together the Hazel dress from Colette over the weekend, and played around with the cutting layout this morning.  On the right of the shot is a metre ruler.  Yep, that’s right: I managed to get all the pieces onto a length of 150cm wide fabric measuring just over a metre long.  The entire cutting is 1.5m, so lots left over.  Yes, I do need four pocket pieces instead of 2, but the other half of each pocket bag will probably be made in a lighter, preferably cotton, lining fabric.  The fabric you see here is a light cotton lawn from Sew Over It, so not heavy by any means…but even so.  Old habits die hard!

Long overdue sharing is my 1960s coat (just need to badger someone into taking a photo, and more importantly, look vaguely presentable for said photo), and when the hem’s done, my very first jersey dress.  I squeezed onto the Nina class at Sew Over It and soaked up as much as possible of Sue’s expertise with jersey fabrics, and to get the pattern for this little number.  It comes together very quickly – always a bonus – and it’s easy to wear.  Shift dresses have a habit of being boring, but the ease and functionality makes them a practical, versatile choice.  Nina is perfect here because it has the comfort of knitted fabric and added interest from the side pleats.  Mine were quite drapey and a little Grecian because of the lighter-than-recommended fabric I used from my stash, but lovely all the same.  Thicker, ponte-like fabrics give a more structured, tailored look instead of a relaxed one.  Below is the grey I used for Nina 1; Nina 2 will be this funky little print I’ve had hanging around for YEARS.  The pieces are all cut out and waiting for me to do the necessary.  Patiently, of course…;-)

NinaDress1Fabric NinaDress2Fabric







Last to be shared are a few things that made me smile.  The first is the only thing I’ll post on here about the upcoming general election in the UK; the second is this sweet little cat’s effort to brighten up everyone’s day; and finally, some silly laundry symbols!  Until next time 🙂



2 Comments Add yours

  1. jan Horrox says:

    Congratulations Natalie – which college are you working at – or is it a secret?

    1. Thanks Jan! Sorry I haven’t already replied to this. It’s not a secret but I don’t quite know how long I’ll be there (interim contract to begin with), so didn’t want to give details in case they got out of date very quickly. I will share when/if things become more permanent, one way or another. Hope all’s well with you x

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