Sunday, September 16, 2012

A pair of feckin' women's knickers! Knickers! Women's knickers!

Hey hey folks! Happy Sunday all! I hope this finds you all well. I've been having a trying week - I've been having weird heart palpitations and I have a cold and I've coughed so much I've burst a little blood vessel in my eye. TASTY, right? Also I did one of the stupidest, most annoying things I have ever done. Sigh. What a sorry tale of woe, right? Actually I'm okay - although I am going to see my GP about the palpitations because they're stressing me out. A fantastic day out yesterday with some sewing chums certainly raised my spirits!

Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time emailed me a few months ago to see if I'd like to join her and some other sewing bloggers at The Makery in Bath to learn how to make pants. I considered this carefully for about 0.13 seconds before emailing back "YES!" and that's how I ended up catching the 8:38 out of Leamington on Saturday morning, bound for Bath. I'd never been there before and I was just as excited about visiting a new place as I was about learning new things. It's surprisingly easy to get out to the west country from Leamington and I'm sure I'll be returning with Nic at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Winnie met me off the train - it was only then I discovered that Shivani and Jane had both been on the same train as me - and we headed to the nearby Cosy Club for a coffee and to figure out how we were going to spend the morning. Winnie had thoughtfully organised a massive Jane Austen festival for us, so the first part of the day was spent seeing some of the beautiful sights of Bath and looking at the people in costume:

A lot of Jane Austen fans in the Parade Gardens

But, you know, there's more to Bath than Jane Austen... (I'm not a big Jane Austen fan, well, except for Sense and Sensibility) And this was never more true than yesterday, when Bath was host to these fabulous ladies:
Photo courtesy of Winnie 
Here we have (from top left) Rachel, me, Kerry, Jane, Mela, Shivani, Mimi, Tamsin, Laura and Dibs

We had a great time exploring Bath and, of course, talking nineteen to the dozen. I'd met Jane and Shivani before, but what really struck me once again was how easy it was to fall into comfortable conversation with these lovely women. It felt like old friends meeting up after a time apart, it was so comfortable and fun. And of course, Bath is just such a beautiful backdrop.

 The Avon from the Pulteney Bridge

 Lovely Mela enjoying the scenery - poor Mela, I made her pose like this...

Stunning Bath Abbey

The Circus

Our wonderful host, the Scruffy Badger herself

Winnie was tireless in showing us around Bath's beautiful tourist spots, giving us lots of time to talk sewing and admire each other's handmade creations - including the first outing of Jane's beautiful new Abbey Coat. I wore one of my gingham Cambie dresses:

Me and the utterly fabulous Handmade Jane

All this gossiping and walking worked up an appetite so we retired to the Tramshed for lunch and a swapping session, where we were joined by Sheena. The food was good, the waiter was helpful, and the craic was ninety. We discussed all sorts as well as sewing but the conclusions we came to were that Sewaholic Patterns rock, and we're all totally smitten with Gertie's new book. I brought home some lovely patterns from the swap:

This pattern came from Miss Dibs. I was charmed by the pattern illustration and by the blatant LIE on the pack of the envelope - it claims to be a one piece pattern, but follows this claim up with an inventory of six pattern pieces! I do love that the technical drawings at the back also include a drawing of the woman on the cover dancing with a gentleman who is undoubtedly admiring her fine seamstressing skills. It's a bit on the small side for me but I can't imagine it would be difficult to grade.

This pattern came from Sheena. I was initially drawn to the fabulous Margot Leadbetter style maxi dress of view 2, and I will definitely make this next spring. In the meantime I may well make view 1as it could be a really good colder weather dress if I made it with some sort of stretchy fabric. I also took home a few metres of this aqua cotton, which I think came from Mimi:

I think this might make a good Hazeldale a la Marie. Or maybe a sundress from Gertie's book. Or another Simplicity 2444. I'm going to have to ponder on this one a wee bit, I think!

From there it was just a short walk up the street to the Makery, where Sarah and Cerys had everything ready for us to embark on knicker making! We started off by choosing our trimmings from the basket of ribbons, lace and buttons on the table in front of us:

I went for some pink velvet ribbon and lace to trim my pink floral fabric:

Then it was time for us to attach our gussets (and laugh a LOT about showing our gussets to the world) and sew up the side seams of the pants using a french seam. I SUCK at French seams and haven't done any since I first learned years ago, but luckily Sarah and Shivani were on hand to give me moral support and show me how to do them:

(re)learning how to do a French seam

The scary and exciting bit was attaching the elastic to the waistband and legs, but Sarah explained this so clearly that it was really easy. There was something really restful and fun about hearing the chuntering of the machines and the laughter of friends making underpants!
Bath's answer to Underworld (photo courtesy of Winnie, joke courtesy of Kerry)

I was surprised and delighted at how easy the process was and how quickly the pants came together - I'd say that you could whip up a pair of these in well under an hour, and using scraps. I'm definitely going to be sourcing some knicker elastic and making these as presents for all and sundry. My finished pair are far from perfect but man, I'm happy with them:

I hand-sewed this label on the front of the pants but by this stage, I was having trouble breathing and my hands were really shaking so sewing was proving difficult (I KNOW, and I will make sure to see the doctor) I love how you could really add all sorts of embellishments to this very simple pattern. And, the best thing is that Sarah is going to email us the pattern, but you could easily just trace around a pair of your favourite pair of pants. Everyone came home with cute undies at the end of the workshop!

Rachel's pants. Oh yeah baby. I'd only just met her and she was showing me her knickers. I'm a fast mover lads.
 And I think these pretty panties belong to Kerry...

The Scruffy one, deep in concentration... look at the cheeky wee label on the side of her pants

I had to leave just before the end of the workshop to catch my train, but I was joined by Kerry and Rachel so I had company for a good part of my journey home. I was very tired but really happy - I had new pants, and made some wonderful new friends. Fun is not the word, I had an absolute BLAST. Thanks so much for arranging this all, Winnie!

I'm recovering today as I'm feeling pretty ropey so it's all about lemsip and Flight of the Conchords round here just now. I'm off to put my pyjamas on and scour ebay for cheap knicker elastic!