“1 hour skirt *”

I find I’m pulled in two different directions when it comes to dressmaking. Part of me wants to have a fabulous high quality wardrobe full of items with linings, pockets and fancy finishes that you just don’t find in ready made clothes – even the expensive ones. Another part of me wants to be the sort of person who can look at a bolt of cotton and be wearing a thrown together outfit the next day. At the moment I seem to have lots of “nearly finished” knitting and sewing projects so if I was going to start something new I thought it had better be something quick and easy, something from the second category.

I picked up a length of cheap cotton to go with a copy of McCalls 5430 that I already had. The pattern claims to be a “1 hour skirt *”. Nowhere on the pattern envelope did it explain the asterisk. (It does say on the website that it is “sewing machine time only” which is what I would have guessed.)

I started cutting out the pattern, view C with pockets, at 9:50am. Half an hour later I had my paper pattern pieces. Then I attacked the fabric and it took another hour just to get the fabric pieces cut out. I stopped for a coffee before spending another 15 minutes or so cutting out and attaching the iron on interfacing. So far this feels like much the same time I would have spent on a normal non-1 hour pattern.

Finally I get to the sewing machine, just before midday. I made one small mistake that required a bit of seam ripping. I stopped for a lunch break but only for twenty minutes or so. I finally had the skirt ready to wear at about quarter past three. So a total of three hours sewing time, not one. That’s before you count the hour and a half of cutting to begin with.

Apart from not having a zip to insert I can’t really see why this is supposed to be a super simple pattern, I’m not really sure where I could have gone faster. I could certainly make another skirt from the same pattern a little more speedily now I’ve understood all the instructions but not that much faster. Being a wrap skirt there are long ties and acres of waistband to contend with as well as buttonholes to make and buttons to sew on.

I do like the finished item, it doesn’t feel especially cheap & quick. (Darren did comment maybe they meant the skirt would only last an hour…) I’d make it again in a slightly heavier fabric such as a quilting cotton to be less flyaway. I’ll have to time myself making a ‘normal’ skirt to figure out whether that is indeed much slower or whether I’m just a super slow seamstress!

New Skirt

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty

Cover of

As the mother of an eight-year-old it was rather difficult to read a book that is centred around a mother’s response to the death of her nine-year-old daughter in a car accident. Her daughter was very different to mine but I found it pretty nerve twisting all the same. The character in the book says at one point that it’s impossible to imagine how it is unless it happens to you but Louise Doughty did a pretty decent job of imagining it and getting it over to me. I had to put the book down for a while.

The book flipped between the present and the past in a very competent style but that does rather drag the events out. Fortunately the book eventually moves on and the characters response to events is very different to what (I think) mine would be so I didn’t end up too distraught. Very well written and fabulously imagined, I’ll be looking out for more of her books.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a kindle eBook.

I Promise

When I made my Brownie promise as a 7 year old in 1979 I didn’t think twice about promising to “do my duty to God”, I remember being a bit concerned about the “serve the Queen” bit though. The Brownie handbook did a decent job of explaining that “serve the Queen” was shorthand for looking after the country around you and the people in it which seemed reasonable enough so I got over that. As the years went by and I made the same promise as I stayed in the Guide movement as a Guide, Ranger and Young Leader I got a bit more dubious about the “duty to God” part and by the time I left, a decade after I joined the Brownies, I would have described myself as agnostic. The process of changing from a child who accepted whatever religion she was given to a questioning adolescent was ironically accelerated by helping out as a Young Leader at a Brownie pack attached to a Roman Catholic church where the nonsense of different varieties of religion thing became increasingly clear to me.

Fast forward another twenty-something years and I find myself back looking at the Guide and Scout movements from a different perspective. As the atheist mother of a child being raised as a atheist who would like that child to have the benefits of those organisations but who knows the child would baulk at promising anything to do with God even if it were explained to not necessarily mean a religious Churchy version of God (neither Guides nor Scouts have ever been Christian organisations as far as I am aware, I knew that Guides encompassed all sorts of religions when I had my “Brownies around the world” posters as a child). Making promises you need to weasel your way round to fit yourself helps no one. So when the Guides openly asked for opinions on changing their promise earlier this year I was pleased to tell them what I thought, from both child and parent points of view (along with 44 000 others).

So I am really pleased to see the announcement of the latest revision of the Guide promise which includes the wording “To be true to myself and develop my beliefs”. It’s great to see that they have picked one promise for all that can be discussed and interpreted how you choose and ‘develop’ allows girls to change as they grow older; I certainly didn’t have the same beliefs at 7 and 17.

I entirely agree with Gail Edmans writing in The Independent that Guides have never been about religion. For me they were all about being outside with friends, camping, lighting fires, toasting marshmallows, tying knots, learning new stuff about the world, other people and myself. The Promise was one of the things that made the Guides special, it wasn’t just any old youth club, there was commitment involved, there was opportunity to think about things as well as do stuff. I’m pleased that the Guides are still thinking and still changing and still helping girls make the most of themselves.

I should probably add that my eight year old daughter is more interested in joining the Scouts at the moment… come on “boys”, catch up.

Matisse (1903) ‘Studio under the eaves’. Held in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK

(via nocto)

Inspiration – Built-in attic storage – small space – or buy an Ikea dresser, shove it into the wall, and frame around it

(via nocto)