It’s All in the Golden Details

Greetings, one and all. You may remember reading about our recent vacation in Wales and England in my last post, and maybe you also remember the fabrics I brought home.

Two lovely bits came from Butterfly Fabric in Cardiff and the third from Brecon, where I was visiting family. One afternoon hubby and I walked into town and stopped in for a coffee, wandered around the touristy-shops, antique shops, real estate agents (well, yes of course, I always want to move there!) and ended up in an open market. Surrounded by the expected sights, sounds and smells (fish…..) of the market, we were surprised to stumble upon a woman set up at a long table piled with luscious cuts of fabrics! There were many beauties to choose from, but this Japanese cotton really captured my attention. Brightly colored, and highlighted with gold, this print was destined to become a kimono.

Now there was only one teeny little problem with that plan. Kimonos require rather a lot of wide fabric. This was just 2 meters of 44″ width cotton (and it would surely shrink) and there was a 12-inch pattern repeat. Yikes. I might have been able to squeeze the pieces on, but not with any hope of matching. The sleeves and/or body would be shorter than desired. I considered adding a contrast border at the cuffs and hem, but the border would need to be fairly wide, disrupting the print too much. Also, I had been “wearing” the fabric around the house now and then to get a feel for it, and decided it really wasn’t the correct pattern/fabric match after all.

What I needed now was not an actual kimono pattern, but one for a top with kimono sleeves!

My internet search turned up several options, and the Wendy Ward Fulwood Dress/Top pattern was perfect, as it had no back seam. I made no pattern adjustments, other than to add 1 inch to the length. (Well, in the interest of full disclosure, after trying on the basted version I thought perhaps side slits would be – ahem – a nice modification.) I sewed it up using the black thread already in the machine, but then happened upon a golden beige spool while looking for my misplaced hem gauge. Serendipity! It was too late to re-sew the seams, and although it wasn’t topstitching thread specifically, it would be just perfect to topstitch the facings, cuffs and hem. And I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

This is a casual top, but with the elegant print and gold details, it will be easy to dress up. Oh yes! A pair of gold lame cigarette trousers! Or maybe not – maybe just accessorize with a goldendoodle pup.

Being one’s own photographer is not terribly effective.

Now I would like to step away from my normal chatter for just a bit, if you don’t mind. It’s been my habit to apologize with every make, for the time and trouble it took for me to do something so simple. This lovely top, though, was quickly and easily put together. So when it was completed except for the hem, I simply hung it up and admired it for two days. Why? There was no logical explanation not to finish it in one short session. As I pondered my actions, it occurred to me that I was really enjoying the process, and this last bit, hemming, is just another piece of it. Each decision, each step, each moment of angst or accomplishment along the way deserved to be savored. Is this part of what the slow sewing movement is about? Beyond the environmental and social aspects, perhaps it also is necessary for one’s own peace of mind. Just let each project be, to come to fruition in its own time, to sit back and enjoy the process with no apologies. Or maybe I’m just finally growing up.

And finally, Lynn, this is for you!

Griff at 8 weeks.

Griff at 12 weeks. I think we may be in for big trouble with this little one…..

Happy sewing, and whatever method works for you, stitch on everyone!


How I Spent my Summer Vacation – and a Super Special Meet-up

Greetings, all! Long time no post. But I’ve been around (mostly on IG), doing a bit of sewing, planning lots more sewing, and having a lovely vacation in Wales and England. Some of the high points follow. Trust me when I say this is a majorly abbreviated look at our trip. We had so many wonderful experiences (I could write a whole post on the cheese alone!)  Be sure to read through for details of a meet-up with a special someone at the end. She’s a blogger and most of you will know her; she sews, she paints, she makes shoes and jewelry, she’s a writer, and a great photographer…can you guess who she is?

Here we go!

Our boat, and a few of my favorite things about her.

There are eight spare propellers –  seen here from the top deck. It was fun to wander through them.

The cloud of steam is actually coming from a red and black stack
directly behind this giant orb. They’re much farther apart than it seems here.

The radar tower is fascinating, with or without flags.
Good morning, Southampton, we’ve arrived!
We’re off to Cardiff, and rainy day Eistedffod at Millennium Stadium.
Pretty streets downtown (and the shops! and the restaurants!)
A planned visit to Butterfly Fabrics and a vendor in an open air market yielded this.

We explored ancient sites – such as Raglan Castle…

Hubby is at the tip top looking down on twinning cousins.

Photographing him photographing us.

My turn in the crow’s nest.

Stunning 360 degree vistas.

…and Tintern Abbey – remains from the 12-century

Looking out.

Looking in.

Looking up.

We found a high peak in the old stomping grounds near Brecon.

We also found sheep. Who would have imagined?

And horses. Wait a minute, no cows???

Well of course there are cows. This is Wales.

We spent two days in Cheltenham, in a lovely B&B similar to this one.

Prettiest administrative offices I’ve ever seen.

Dinner with another cousin and his family.

And after a short train ride the next day….

We are ready for the Shakespearean actors!

“Now just wait a minute”, you must be thinking. “Shakespeare? Stop teasing us! What happened to the super talented, sewing, shoe-making, jewelry-making, surprise meet-up announcement?” Did anyone guess who she is?

Would you believe Kate Davies of Fabrickated? Yes! The one and only. Her husband Nick retrieved us from the train station and drove us to their lovely home, where we were introduced to Kate with hugs all around. This lovely lady is just as I had expected – warm and welcoming, and all the good things. As we sat enjoying the view, Kate asked about my sewing progress, and my response led from one thing into another, such as children, family, losing loved ones, even a dip into politics. My thoughts were confirmed that we are of like minds on many topics. Somehow we never returned to the sewing conversation!

We had a quick tour of their home and I was wowed by the amazing sewing room where Kate works her magic. A colorful huilpil from her Dress Like Frida challenge was artfully arranged on the dress form in the window. A framed painting of a special dress she had created (from her own hand-painted fabric) was on the wall. With a place for everything, this room accommodates all her creative pursuits, and even allows guest space. This is what happens when two clever, artistic people design a home together!

Nick is a talent in his own right. Not only has he built most of the cabinetry in the home, he is also a marvelous cook. A delicious (and beautiful) lunch spread was waiting for us; meat, cheese, and veggies of our choice on homemade focaccia bread. All he had left to do was assemble it. And all we had to do was enjoy! Which we did, with gusto.

They had also arranged for us to see an outdoor presentation of Much Ado About Nothing on the lawn at Rendcombe College after lunch. The day was brisk and cloudy, but the cast carried on and never moved the performance to the stage indoors. It was funny, well-acted, and completely enjoyable.

They could have chauffeured us back to the train station, but instead took us all the way to our hotel. More hugs, and a most delightful day was complete.

Since the pictures included above are only a tiny fraction of the pictures I took on our vacation, you’ll be surprised (if not appalled) to know that the empty stage shot is the only one I took of the entire day with Kate and Nick. Likewise, Kate took only two photos (of our husbands), so to prove that my story is true, I’m sharing one of them with you! No doubt they are discussing their wonderful wives.

Kate Davies was the first “real” blogger to follow me when I started blogging, and has always been so kind and encouraging even as my postings dwindled. And now I have met her and consider her a friend. How very cool is that.

Be back soon, and in the meantime, stitch on, everyone!