Anyway, it's been a pretty good weekend, all things considered. I worked from home on Friday, as usual, and was able to get out at lunchtime to see some friends. That was lovely, and I'm glad there was something good in the day because the particular task I was doing was very boring but I couldn't stop until I was finished - which I wasn't until 8pm. What didn't help matters at all was the fact that a local church started in on bell ringing at about 5 and didn't stop until nearly 8pm, by which time I was feeling like I was going mad. Poor Nic came home from seeing a friend to find me in tears of exhaustion and frustration. He made me dinner, I experimented with putting henna in my hair, had a bath and went to bed. All fixed. I hate it when work makes me cry.
Anyway. I was up early on Saturday to get over to Birmingham for a meet-up organised by Marie and Kat. I was joined by Charlotte and the weather was pretty disgusting when we left Leamington (in fact, it was pretty much as it is right now.) However, the sun was starting to peep its head out by the time we reached Birmingham, and after coffee and a croissant I was starting to peep my head out, too! We had arranged to meet at New Street and, when we got there, the ladies were waiting for us with personalised badges and little bags of cakes!
That gingham was no accident...
Once assembled, we headed down to the Bullring Markets to have a look around the stalls there while the sun still shone. There are quite a few fabric stalls and stalls selling trims dotted among the fruit stalls and they're well worth a poke around - there are some really interesting fabrics at very reasonable prices. I didn't buy anything myself there, but Char picked up some burgundy plaid for a tunic dress. The combination of the sunshine and the cheap fabric made lots of my sewing compatriots happy:
Here's Steph enjoying the animal print on offer...
I fared better inside, buying fabric I'd spotted back in May (but didn't have the money to buy) as well as some haberdashery from the brilliant Pete's Sew Good:
I don't generally enjoy puns, but Pete's really has an astonishing range of haberdashery at excellent prices, so I'm going to give him a pass here.
All shopped out, it was time for lunch and a swap at nearby Cafe Soya. Cafe Soya was the first restaurant I ever ate in in Birmingham! It was at the smaller branch, in the Arcadian, but still. I love that place, and I'd recommend it to anyone. The set lunch was a bargainous £6.95 and included tempura banana, so I was one very happy customer. After a whirlwind morning of shopping and gabbing, it was good just to sit down and take stock! The food was amazing, too. I had vegetarian Singapore Vermicelli - YUM.
After food, it was time to get down to the serious business of a swap. This WAS a serious affair - there were 15 of us, and one of those people was Claire, so there was a lot of stuff to swap! I had only brought one thing - a Very Easy Vogue pattern that I knew I'd never get around to making - but that was all good! There was much excitement around the table and I'm very happy with what I came home with (I'll show you in a bit)
Swap in progress. Katie brought about 17 frajillion vintage patterns!
Even Char came home with something, picking up a fantastic book of knitting patterns with unlikely celebrity endorsements...
Sidney James: "I like to see a dame in a red sweater. It's nice. I love it. My mate 'Ancock thinks it's a fair treat, too. Smashin'."
Not pictured - the celebrity endorsement by Andy Capp. SERIOUSLY.
Charlotte had to head home after lunch and the rest of us hit up Fancy Silk Stores - a Birmingham legend. I didn't buy anything here but drooled (not literally) over some gorgeous jade green wool crepe - it was £21 a metre but it'll be perfect for a Gertie wiggle dress at some point in the future. Winnie kindly agreed to snap a quick outfit shot for me among the bolts on the first floor:
Home Sewing is Easy dress and Vivienne Westwood for Melissa Ultragirl shoes - perfect for a day of fabric shopping!
You can see that Jade green wool crepe just to the right, there. The pink wasn't bad, either! Of course I had to wear my Home Sewing is Easy dress, the only shame was that the beauty was hidden all day by my coat! Ah well...
Marie got a photo of us all (minus Char) outside the store itself -
Photo by Marie - from L-R here's me, Alice, Helen, Katie, Helen, Rachel, Mellie, Catherine, Amy, Suzy, Karen, Winnie, Steph, Claire and Kat
I should point out here that I don't know why I'm standing awkwardly with my hand over my tummy. I'm not pregnant. Not unless a noodle baby counts.
After some misdirection from me led us to the decidedly NOT FANCY "Fancy Fabrics" we headed to Barry's Fabrics on Moseley Street. Oh mummy, how did I never know this place was there?! Barry, I don't know who you are, but I salute you. Your fabric warehouse is CLASS. I dropped a few more pounds on some awesome fabrics and with that, I was done. We headed back into town, I bid my companions farewell and, after a quick stop at Urban Pie to bring home some pie for Nic, I was on my way home. I was low on funds and had started to lose my voice from all of the talking but man, what a fabulous day. I can't thank Marie and Kat enough for organising - it really was so much fun. And I should reiterate how wonderful these women are - friendly and sweet and funny and awesome!
So, what did I buy?! From the Rag Market itself I bought...
2.5 metres of this Matryoshka print cotton - this was the fabric I'd looked at earlier in the year. It wasn't the cheapest in the market and at £5 a metre was maybe a bit overpriced but I love the print. I'm thinking of using this for an experiment in pairing the bodice of Simplicity 2444 with a gathered skirt but I haven't totally made my mind up yet.
I also came home with 2 metres of this - which I know will make Amber wince...
Rock lobster, baby! I scored this in the swap, courtesy of Marie. I have no immediate plans for it, but fabric this fabulous will have to be paired with an amazing pattern. I also came home with:
Retro Butterick B5708 from the swap, some Rit dyes and a variety of zips from Pete's Sew Good
And that was my day! I got home, had dinner, put my pyjamas on and have basically been on the sofa ever since. But I'm looking forward to feeling a bit better and getting to work on sewing with some of these gorgeous fabrics. Not now, though. Now it's time for apple crumble and custard. Goodnight!