Sunday, 31 January 2010

Pass the apron and Woman’s Weekly, dear

Cross-stitch is usually associated with ‘beautiful’ farmyard scenes and teddybears. You just know when you walk into a room with a cross-stitched, framed kitten, that the musty smell and offer of stale Victoria sponge will quickly follow.

However, I have recently discovered modern crafting. Dragging what used to be viewed as solely for housewives into the 21st century, the craft revolution has given cross stitch new meaning and new appeal. Thanks to websites such as and cross stitch is now cool, and even a little sexy. Waaaaooow!!

My first attempts, and I’m officially hooked (dammit, I should’ve saved that for a crochet post.) I imagined that counting the stitches would get on my nerves, but it’s exciting to see how the piece is progressing. And, MOST importantly to me, it can be done whilst watching Twilight on repeat and eating cake. Because where’s the fun of crafting if you can’t eat and perve over hot fictional guys?

Here’s my first go, from a Subversive Cross Stitch pattern. It’s very me, and goes perfectly with my “fuck, yeah” pillowcase and “that’s what she said” tshirt. It took a couple of sittings, but was great to fill time on the train or whilst waiting for a student to arrive. I love it! 

My second was a birthday present for a friend, who’s a bit of a music guru and has a wicked sense of humour, so I thought he’d prefer it to the Extreme Trout Fishing dvd I got him last year. It’s a pattern made by a Craftster, found here:
And here is my attempt:

I can predict this won’t be the last of the cross stitch. I just need to sew myself an ironic apron and bake a tart in anticipation of my next project.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Le Chic? Just Pass Me The Gold Spandex

One day I a couple of years ago, I decided to make myself a skirt. I was fed up with the cycle of clothes I had begun. It started with seeing something on the tv or in a magazine that I liked, not being able to afford or find it, ending up with something similar but unsatisfying, and ultimately leaving it at the back of the wardrobe to rot.
Whilst bagging my still-labelled failures into a charity shop binbag one day, it struck me: why not try this myself?

A trip to Argos and a £50 sewing machine later, I was on my way. Cheap fabric was going for £1/metre at Upton Park Market, and a local haberdashers provided thread, pins and, well, cute little buttons I couldn’t resist but would “definitely” use at a later date (update: still sat in sewing box). Google “sewing tutorial” or “sewing patterns” online, and away you go.

Starting a craft in Britain is quite easy; you cant really go wrong. No wonder our fashion graduates are the envy of the world, and the UK is renowned for such modern and enigmatic clothes.

Paris…..Paris is known as the “capital of fashion”. Where chic just happens. People flock here to be seen and to soak up the ambiance, hoping it will unconsciously influence their wardrobe.

It is also a right pain in the arse if you want to create anything yourself.

Before heading out here, I was in contact with a member of a craft website for some tips on moving to the Ile de France. The most memorable piece of advice she gave me: the French don’t bother trying to make anything that can be made for them by someone with formal training. Crafting for the fun of it isn’t much of a pastime here, and that’s been made pretty clear to me during my teaching.

A few of my adult students have raised both eyebrows AND engaged the pout at the mention of crochet. At admitting to sewing a dress, I repeatedly received the “but you know you can buy them in H and M, oui?” reply. Which, quite frankly, I had a hard time not taking as an insult.

It just staggers me that for a city people regard as being so chic, no one is creative. It is reflected in the fashion. If you wear anything outside of grey, black, or navy blue, you are considered a daring outcast. Fancy a winter coat? Better make it a babydoll swing with strict collars. It’s enough to make a Central St Martins student flee back to the Eurotunnel and die happy in a sea of neon jeggings.

Apparently this subdued chic is a reflection of the egocentric French mentality, where simply trying is the first step to a guaranteed faux pas, as losing face if it doesn’t work out holds too big a risk of social downfall. No wonder the administrative system hasn’t been altered since Napoleon.

Right, I’m off to attempt the impossible; completing a bank transaction in less than 72 hours. *le sigh*

Lu et approuvé,
miss chlo

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sorrow and the scarlet leaf, sad thoughts and sunny weather; Ah me! This glory and this grief agree not well together!

and the big chill is upon us! so what better to do some pics of jumpers i made in january 2009. always the on the ball, me. so without further adieu, i give you:

the hoody that could potentially be a sailoresque creation but as yet is just "bleu"
this is from the lydia pattern on , and was relatively easy for a sewing n00b like me. although, i had to add a couple of panels down the side as it comes up small, and i loves my roomy jumpers. i also hated the v-neck so added some rectangles on the front, and also lined the hood with the same material. i really like the way it came out, and - most important challenge - my sewing survived the washing machine. i'm on my way to making things that are totally wearable!
materials used: sweatshirt jersey and cotton interlock jersey
times worn out in public: 4
negative comments from public: 0 (yessss.....)

wow, my photos are professional. love the paper on the floor and the ferret cage hiding out back. there's another resolution i should make and then get too excited to remember.

creation number two: attempt to win battle against winter neck chills
this little number i really enjoyed making. i drafted the pattern from a tshirt i really liked the fit of, then added length to the body and arms (i hate jumpers that are too short. it makes me feel exposed and slightly vunerable. wierd? normal? tmi?) the neck was a style that i've been perving on for a while, but had been too scared to attempt, and turns out was annoyingly difficult to recreate. i wanted a stiff collar that stood up alone, so used ALOT of interfacing, but it still droops a little....if it could type, i'm sure it would write "sadface". but alas, the jumper is still a great fit, and the learning curve is a profitable one.
materials: sweatshirt jersey and cute little heart broach i made from lace and felt *happyface*
times worn out in public: 5
times worn on a saturday night on the sofa with wine and cake: too many to count. goodtimes.

ps thats one of my beautiful ferrets, bear. he says hi.