Wednesday, 30 April 2014

I WAS IN PARIS



(Picture heavy!)

Heck yeah!! I was in Paris for 3 days in mid March with 140 other first year art students from Gray's, and it was possibly the most fun I have had EVER in such a short space of time. We were staying in the Gare du Nord St Christopher's Inn, which was brand new last year and really lovely to stay in. It was also easy for us to socialise altogether because there was a pretty big bar and restaurant. There was no way we were heading out into the Paris nightlife, because as far as I am concerned the day was scary enough... I've not experienced much street harassment in my life, it happens but never to the extent that me and the girls I was with most of the time experienced in just 3 days there!

Someone's home underneath stairs at the Palais de Tokyo
My favourite day was "the shittest Thursday ever". It started out so bad because we wasted an entire morning (not good if you are there for just 3 days) but looking back it was so funny. Myself and 12 others were all heading to the catacombs under Paris (where they moved about 7 million bodies when they ran out of room / were building) but managed to get onto an RER train instead of a metro train, which not only took us to the airport OUTSIDE of Paris, but also in the wrong direction. 

A genuine French market(!) just in front of the Palais de Tokyo
We then spent 30 seconds in the airport and got on a train back to Paris, which took one hour altogether and we got charged 30 Euros each because our metro ticket was for inside Paris only. Great! 

It then got better - we finally made it on the right metro (not a train... sigh) to the catacombs, and then one of the girls had the lovely experience of sitting next to a man who was masturbating. Yeah, masturbating on the metro. Yay Paris! The catacombs were awesome, and the following afternoon we wandered into the Saint Chapelle trying to find the Notre Dame, found the Notre Dame and also the really cute padlock bridge.

Saint Chapelle - so so so pretty! (unfortunately just had my iPhone camera at the time)
The first day was the visit to the Eiffel Tower (natch), a really cool Conde Naste exhibition about fashion photography, wandering of the streets, finding all the expensive high end fashion designers, and going to the biggest shopping centre in Europe (which didn't seem that big!).

Views of a bridge while trying to find the Notre Dame 

The final day we went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa (exactly what people say, pretty pants), went to Les Arts Decoratifs and saw the incredible Dries Van Noten exhibition and finally, my favourite thing we did, visited the Issey Miyake flagship store on Rue Royale!! It was so cool finally stepping inside a proper fashion designer's shop. The clothes were about 30cm between each other on the rails and touching them was amazing because you could literally feel the quality and effort that went into them.

Our little padlock

I had an amazing time and desperately want to go back to experience everything I missed out - going up the Eiffel Tower, more wandering of the streets and lots and lots of fashion and textile related exhibitions and shops we just didn't have the time for.

The infamous Louvre triangles

I am pretty chuffed because I have convinced one of my closest friends Anye and my sister Heather to go to Paris next summer for 6 nights at the same youth hostel. I'm hoping I can get them to squeeze all the interesting fashion things into one day and then we can go to Disneyland another day! 

Issey Miyake flagship store!

Going to Norway last summer and Paris this past March has really made me realise how much I want to see of the world!!

Stay squiggly,

Jean 
XXXXXX



Assortment of cute Paris streets and buildings

Sunday, 27 April 2014

sewing the high street: using a pattern


Hey guys! This is the third post in the Sewing The High Street series, you can find parts one and two here. This post is focusing on a pattern and how to use it! I don't know about you guys but initially looking at a pattern gave me the heebie jeebies. I hope to clear some of the confusion surrounding patterns today!

General instructions

Most patterns will have a section marked "General Instructions / Directions" and it's pretty important to read this first as it will give you brief instructions to techniques used in the pattern, as well as a fabric key, which just tells you what the right side, the wrong side, interfacing, and (if there is lining in the garment) the lining look like in the pictures. If you get stuck at a particular point your first point of call will be to see if there are instructions in this section, then... if not, google it!

Cutting layouts

Cutting layouts can at first look a little confusing, but if you are slow and check carefully what you are pinning and cutting on your fabric before you do it, you will be fine. 

Find the right view in the cutting layouts, and the right length of fabric (90cm, 115cm, 150cm) according to what you bought. Look out for "fold" which will tell you which way to fold it, and "selvedge" which is the finished edge of a fabric. If there are two cutting layouts listed, do the first one and then cut it out, and then use the remaining fabric to do the other cutting layout.

Make sure to transfer any notches and markings on the pattern to the fabric, by either using tailor's chalk or a few pieces of thread. Notches are used to line up different parts of the pattern to the other, and other markings can be a variety of things from points to stop and start sewing to button holes.

Altering your pattern

There are two main ways of altering a pattern, before you begin and then as you go. Before you begin you can alter a pattern to change it to a style you are wanting which is a bit different to the one given. Where there is an option to lengthen or shorten, there is clear lines indicating where you can, for shortening, either fold it up, or for lengthening, where you cut the pattern and pin paper to get to your preferred length. For more seasoned sewers it's likely you will want to change other parts which aren't given prerequisite lines to lengthen or shorten, so long as you are aware of how the garment will look with your changes it should be fine.


You can also alter a pattern as you go, and this way means you will get a tailored fit for the person who will be wearing it. This way of working is necessary for success, since if you don't put the garment periodically your end garment may not fit you as well as it could. Just be careful when putting something on which has pins in it, and you should be fine!

Before you begin
Mark on your pattern the parts relevant to the garment you chose. For me, I have highlighted sections of the main instructions which relate to view 2. 

Then, make sure you have washed and pressed your fabric, and once you have cut out the pattern pieces (with a little room away from the size you need for security purposes!) you can iron them with a dry iron to make sure there is no creases. 

Pin the pieces according to the layout and also keep to the grain. The grainline runs parallel to the selvedge (which is why it is marked on cutting layouts) and it is super important to make sure it is, since if it isn't the way your garment drapes and lays on the body will end up a bit wrong! Stick a pin in one end of the grainline arrow and measure to the selvedge and then do the same for the other arrow, in order to make sure both ends are of the same distance. 

Cut it all out, and you have your pattern pieces ready to begin to sew!!

Ciao 
Jean XXXXX

Next week I'll be talking about how to use a sewing machine, things like threading up and good etiquette to follow when using one! Stay tuned every Sunday for another instalment of Sewing The High Street! 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The usefulness of HabitRPG


I came across the website HabitRPG when I was mindlessly scrolling through Tumblr back in January, and to say it came at the exact right time is a bit of an understatement, as it has really helped to change some of my worst habits, and is on track to really help me out in my life!

Use it to form good habits, and to stop doing bad ones

For people who have struggled to find a productivity app or system for them, like me, HabitRPG is really good because it kind of puts all the other ones to shame in the respect that it really makes you, the one using it, be put in charge. It makes you feel guilty if you cheat or delete something so that you can pretend you did it, and if you cheat then the achievements have not been "won" by you. It's a really simple but ingenious solution to bad habits, and helps you to make good ones!

The system of using a game, or an RPG, for productivity boosting, is very effective

I know not everyone will appreciate the fact that your life has been "game-ified" but for many people the thought that tidying their room can get them some cool items or gold is a really clever way of making people tidy their room. It makes it a lot easier to keep track of your to do list (under To dos) as it is in one place, along with things you tend to do every day (Dailies) as well as trying to curb bad habits and integrate good ones into your life (under Habits). Whether you use the lift instead of the stairs, you either lose Health Points (HP) or gain achievement points and gold. The risk of losing all your health and dying (going down a level) makes you continue to work hard to do all your Dailies, finish as many To-Dos as possible, and keep your Habits blue.



There is nearly too much on offer for me to talk about in one post
There really is! I haven't even gotten on to talking about pets and mounts you can win, or the schematics of customising your To-dos and Rewards, the scariness of seeing Habits go red when you don't (or do) them... The community is also really varied with a Tavern where anyone can chat, or separate Guilds for groups of people to discuss similar things, as well as Parties where you can invite friends to work together doing your dailies to defeat bosses and do quests!!
Check out the website for yourself here, and have a wee play with it. I highly recommend it, but it isn't for everyone so don't be disheartened if it doesn't work for you, there's plenty other productivity solutions around, or you know, just get on with it! (but obviously, if it was that easy this website wouldn't exist ;)) 

For an even better idea of how different people use it in different ways, check out this guy's Tumblr post about how HabitRPG works, and his corresponding tips on using it

Try it out, you never know you may be conquering your bosses and adopting pandas before you know it!

Au revoir mon squiggles
xxxxxx

Jean

Sunday, 20 April 2014

sewing the high street: researching patterns and fabric


If you missed last week's post, you can find it here - where I talked about what the concept behind Sewing the High Street was, and also made a few confessions.

Figuring out what you want to sew

As a beginner, I would recommend to find a pattern which either states it is "easy" or "fun" to sew, as most likely that will have more detailed descriptions and explanations of what to do on each step.



However, there is nothing stopping you from getting any old pattern you can find, as most patterns, even vintage ones, follow a certain pattern, (pun intended) and questions you may have regarding it may be easily googleable.


Researching patterns

Finding a pattern is relatively easy so long as you know what kind of thing you are looking for. I searched for a "midi skirt" as that is the most broad term for what I am looking for, and typing in the specific name of the ASOS skirt was highly unlikely to draw any patterns.

What can be difficult is, when looking, you can't really imagine any of the pattern images as final outcomes suitable for what you want, and I think patterns can sometimes fail on that front when their photographs or drawings on the front of the pattern aren't good enough.

Keep an open mind, and have a look on etsy, ebay and the pattern makers websites themselves - Vogue, McCalls, Simplicity, Burda, New Look or Butterick.

You are more likely to find over priced patterns on Etsy, and bargains on eBay, and patterns tend to be more expensive on the pattern makers website, so general sewing websites like Jaycotts (for UK readers) have a bigger selection and have sales and promotions, making patterns cheaper.

I bought one pattern from eBay for 99p, but the one I have decided to use is a vintage pattern from 1982 which my mum had - making it very cheap for me!


Researching fabric

It's important that you figure out which pattern you want to use first, as the pattern itself will have a list of fabrics which are suitable, or recommended for the pattern.

However depending on the style you want you can use different fabrics, but the end result may end up different to what the image looks like. And, if you decide to use something much lighter or much heavier than is recommended, the instructions won't be taking that into account and your result may differ greatly.

The pattern I am using!
For me, the pattern I have chosen states the recommended fabrics are poplin, cambric, lawn, lightweight linen, panama or seersucker. These are all either linen or cotton fabrics, but since the pattern is from 1982 and the skirt I want to emulate is made mainly from polyester, I decided to use some stretch polyester instead. I bought 2 metres of stretch polyester in a colour similar to the ASOS skirt to try and stay as close as possible.

Fabric used to be quite expensive to buy but since the introduction of more man made fabrics the costs have decreased quite a bit, especially as there is now a "handmade revival" in the 21st century, where many people are turning back to "make do and mend". I bought my fabric from cheapfabrics.co.uk and for the UK that is a really good website to buy fabrics cheaply from. Simply googling "cheap fabrics" will list plenty popular fabric websites to check out.



The pattern will also tell you how much fabric you need, depending on the size you are sewing, and the width of the fabric. For older patterns the widths of the fabric may not include the standard sizes of today (90cm, 115cm and 150cm) but there are charts available online if you are confused, and if in doubt go over how much fabric you will need. The fabric I bought was 150cm in width and the largest width on the pattern is 140cm, and states you need 1.80 metres for a size 10 - I bought 2 metres as it is always better to be safe than sorry!

For beginners, stay away from patterns and instead use plain fabrics, as it will end up being an extra thing to think about when placing your pattern on the fabric so that the pattern ends up in the right place on the final outcome!

In addition to fabric, you will also need to check the pattern for any thing extra required such as interfacing (material which is ironed / sewn on to areas in the fabric that are strengthened such as the collar or waistband), zippers, thread (very important! ;)) etc.

My pattern calls for a 18cm zipper and 0.90m of interfacing, which I am yet to buy! Better get cracking!!

Au revoir,
Jean
XXXX

Stay tuned every Sunday for Sewing The High Street! Next week we'll be learning how to read a pattern, and the prep you need to do before beginning to sew, and I start to sew my skirt!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

yarn along: what i'm knitting



I am knitting the way easier version
 in the top right
The Yarn Along is a cute wee link up organised by Ginny, and I thought it'd be a nice idea to do it every couple of weeks so that I had something to motivate me to finish my knitting projects! The Yarn Along is a way of people connecting through what they are knitting and what they are reading, cute huh?

I am currently knitting a jumper, which I have been knitting since Christmas. It is my first ever knitting project through a pattern so I think I am doing okay so far. I am really close to finishing, with just a few more rows to do on the second sleeve and then to try and conquer the neckband.

I am currently reading "Women and the Material Culture of Needlework and Textiles" and several other books on that topic as I have an essay due next Wednesday. We're allowed to choose any topic from the lectures the past semester so I've decided to focus on whether craft is actually relevant in the 21st century anymore. I find it ridiculously interesting and I've checked out about 7 books, but there's so much information I have now that I need to narrow it down!

Check back again on Sunday for the second post on "Sewing the High Street"!

au revoir mon petite squiggles xxx

Jean

Sunday, 13 April 2014

sewing the high street



Watch me turn ASOS into Alet's winch you out of there before the sharks get you!
(oh my god that pun was so bad. It was so bad I'm going to have to bold the part in ASOS I was trying to make a pun out of because it's so impossible to see where I was going with it)

I've been in a really thrifty and creative mood since being at home for the Easter break for a week, which is probably influenced mainly by my mum who seems to always get me excited by her many projects and general enthusiasm. It's harder for me to find the enthusiasm through my flatmates about things such as knitting and sewing!



This beauty of a skirt (ASOS Midi Skirt in Ponte with Pocket Detail) came on my radar a few weeks ago, and despite being not too expensive, the price is definitely not student-friendly. So I have had it sat in my save list for weeks now and I'd been mulling it over when I came to the great idea to try and sew a copy of the skirt, aiming to get it as cheap as possible!

I thought it'd be a really nice idea to teach some sewing basics, right up from finding fabric and patterns to the finishing ironing of the seams and wearing the garment, whilst simultaneously getting a really rocking new skirt out of it. I've never tried to emulate another garment so close before so this should be really interesting!

It's also really good for me because you all will be able to hold me accountable...

Time to finally get my sewing productivity on and sew my second ever piece of clothing. I know. I KNOW. That's so bad considering I am meant to be a fashion student. It's a combination of the following:

a) being too much of a ninny to try and attempt to sew by myself without the aid of my mum - lame
b) not having much time to get out my sewing machine - also lame. I had many summers the past few years to take advantage of!
c) my course is YET to make us sew even a smidge of a garment - super lame. I feel sorry for the girls who have done 2 years of college and have masses of pattern cutting knowledge but haven't touched a sewing machine yet at the art school

and many, many other reasons.

I mean, I've managed to conquer knitting patterns and much more to do with knitting in about 7 months than I have done with sewing, which I have shown an interest in for years. uHG I am so bad at being who I want to be!

Nevertheless, I hope to not only benefit complete beginners, but also advanced folk who would like to have a laugh at me! But if you don't try in life, what's the point eh?

CIAO
Jean
XXXX

Stay tuned every Sunday when I attempt to impart my knowledge unto you. Next week I will be focusing on how to find patterns at cheap n cheerful prices, and how to source cheap n cheerful fabric.




Monday, 7 April 2014

the importance of being idle



Most people have probably experienced at one point or another, possibly from a friend or a parent, the phrase being directed at them "why the heck are you still in pyjamas at 6pm" or "are your eyes not tired from looking at that screen for hours" or "there is only so many days you can spend just lying like that".

Alright, that might have just been me. But everyone has felt that, after a day of nothing in particular, that they have wasted their day and consequently their life and then you have an existential crisis. No?
It's a fact of life, you have probably spent many days in which you have just not felt capable of getting up out of bed and living life.

It's time to realise that you don't have to be living every day with a vigorous certainty for productivity.

It is ok to not be living the life you dreamed of

There is this expectation in modern life these days to always be on the go, always be working and always trying to achieve the best. Sod that.

Life may be short, but you can do whatever the heck you want with it. Feel like a 90's Disney Renaissance revival? Go watch them in a marathon, I don't care! To be perfectly honest with you, that's exactly what I did last week. Did it impact my life so badly that I am completely failing? No.

It's difficult to heed the advice from others about trying to accomplish your dreams, they are your dreams after all. I was reading a recent Rookie article about death (I can't remember the article name unfortunately) and the author regularly used the idea that "Everybody dies" as a way of pushing past bullying and criticism. In many ways the same phrase could be used to try and forget about living a scarily modern and busy life.

Obviously, not everyone wants to be idle all the time, and I completely respect that. Some people are born wanting to be active and busy all the time. But I have found that many people burning out and being idle every now and then is so so so important in order to continue being at their "optimum levels".

Just be willing to be flexible, and most importantly, realise there is a limit

There are only so many times you can tweet about how far behind you are in your work (which I can't even do any more anyway. My mum follows me on twitter AND my dad periodically stalks my twitter. how unfortunate) until you realise it is actually due in about 12 hours. Chipping at things is waaay better than rushing it at the end, but in our brains we try and put it off by saying there are still days and days left to do stuff. And our brain covers the importance up right until it kicks us to the ground into panic mode when the deadline approaches. Kind, right?

Basically what I am trying to put across is: even if you don't reach that deadline, or you perform "not so good" because of your being idle... it isn't the end of the world.

The end of the world is more likely to happen from a global worldwide computer meltdown which could happen at any time, anywhere, and lead to an apocalypse worse than any fictional world has predicted!!

So, get idle. Then get busy. Or both.

Lots o love,

Jean
XXXXX

Now, hold your breath for the next post in this (particularly short) series, the importance of being busy. because paradoxes are the foundations of life.