Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Great British Sewing Bee inspiration for refreshing techniques and ideas

In the UK the third series of Britain's Sewing Bee has kicked off; this series allows amateur  Sewers the opportunity to showcase their skills and fight for the title of Britain's best home sewer. In each episode, the contestants are tasked to create, design or alter a garment and are judged on the executions of skills, accuracy, and creativity. 

This year contestants;

I must confess; I haven't watched the previous series before. I decided only to watch the first episode out of curiosity as there was nothing to watch on tv. Since then, I've been watching the series on BBC Iplayer on the weekends when I stay at my boyfriends. Over the last few weeks, I certainly have developed my favourites competitors who also demonstrate the strongest skills.

My favourite competitors

Neil a Colonel in the army, who learnt to sew at school in protest to girls being allowed to join the rugby team. He admits his comrades continually mocked him for taking his sewing machine on tour until he demonstrated it usefulness by repairing uniforms and making curtains for accommodation. Neil prides himself on creating his wife's wedding dresses and night outfits, bridesmaids dresses, and 120 costumes for a production of The Sound of Music. In the show, Neil has demonstrated his skills through his military precision to produce a high-quality garment. 

Lorna has sewn from the age of 11 years old, and her mother organised sewing lessons. During her time at boarding school, she became popular with her peers who sought out her sewing skills. Lorna who is six ft 1  found  it difficult to procure clothing to fit her, so  sewing enabled her alter or create clothing to fit her frame. When Lorna had a family, she up-cycled old clothing and transformed it into clothing to fit her two children. . Lorna has demonstrated with her years of experience that she can successfully adapt any outfit and create a spectacular garment from scratch.  

The first episode's design brief, was my favourite. The brief was to construct a summer dress using patterned fabric, tailoring the dress to fit a real human, and maintaining the visual effect of the material once it was sewn into a dress. The contestants were allocated five hours to complete the brief. It appeared a close finish between Neil and Lorna; however, Neil won with his pink polka dress and cut out sides that fitted flush to the model. However, Lorna's creation was my favourite, she demonstrated a high degree of skills, such as finish, and pattern matching, while preserving the pattern's visual effect. 

Every week one of the challenges included altering an existing garment. The first episode, the contestant were asked to change a mans' denim shirt within ninety minutes, and most of the contestants made skirts. My favourite was Alex's creative pink tulle skirt; she was inspired to make an 80' Madonna skirt, and she won the challenge. The Judges commented for her radical, wacky transformation, for skills fitting the panels of the skirt and maintaining a flat and fitted look  

I love this skirt, I am not keen on the colour contrast. I think I would love to make this in black extend the tulle and possibly trim the edges on the tulle skirt. 

The show made me reflects on my own seamstress skills, and to evaluate which ones need improvement. I've been sewing for over five years, yet I consider myself a proficient sewer with mediocre ability range. After watching the show, it got me thinking about my own sewing skills, where improvements are needed. Over the years, I always sewed with black fabric to make a skirt, yet it's difficult to see the material flow, it's never been an issue  I've made two tailored dresses, after watching the show it me consider where I could make improvements. Such as sewing zips, fabric matching, aligning the seam would improve the overall finishing of the garment.

This website teaches how to match prints along seams

The dress I made last year

My one weakness for sewing is zips, I've made skirts, and I've developed my way of inserting zips. They do the job but do affect the finish of the garment, they tend to pucker at the bottom or zip overlaps at one side usually the hidden under clothing. At work the activites coodinator taught me how to sew zips unfortunately, I was never able to master the technique, but did try it a couple of times and noticed the difference in finishing garments, and invisible zip terrify me. I guess it's something to practice on.
I compare myself to my Gran and mam who were both professional seamsters, and worked for Jackson's the Tailor. My Gran was a fantastic seamstress and could make anything. My mam  alterations look professionally flawless, yet, she feels unable to make anything from scratch.

A few example of zips


Sunday, 22 February 2015

A New rock night; Grindhouse

Throughout my blog, I'm always raving on about the demise of the Newcastle rock scene. On Saturday night, I saw a most wondrous spectacle of, new rocks, pvc, band t-shirts and  head banging.  Yay, it's a new rock night that's opened in Newcastle, Grindhouse. I first heard about this from the encyclopedia of all knowledge (the boyfriend) that a new rock night started a few month ago

Grindhouse has found a home within the Northumbria Student Union, it's held on the second floor in Red's Bar. The Northumbria Union is in a great location as it's the on the outskirts of Newcastle, it's still within walking distance of the city centre, yet, far enough away from the fights of the Big Market, this Newcastle's main spot for nights out and there always trouble.  Grindhouse occurs once a month on a Saturday, however the dates do vary, they regularly update their Facebook page with venue dates, so it's worth checking out their Facebook page. The entry fee is five pounds, yet; the alcohol is sold at student prices, so obviously cheap.

Location of Google map

Red's bar is perfect for any rock night as the decor uses a black and red colour scheme, and the aesthetic combines a fusion of a 50's burlesques vibe, Bram Stoker's Dracula setting, and 90's rock bar, with the use of crimson velvet drapes, a snuggy corner composed of  Black Chesterfield's sofa's, and a stage with dancing pole in the middle for performers to display their talent. The d├ęcor contrast worked perfectly to celebrate St.Valentine's day matching the lack hearts of heavy metal lover's


My  favourite spot was the area behind the bar as it had comfortable and timeless Black Chesterfield sofas. It was intimate and quiet area, which was great a place to scribble my notes for the blog or allow myself some rest. (Recently, I've been experiencing  problems with my ears, and I was intermittently had episodes of sensitivity resulting in pain and ringing , I will discuss further in a future blog).  

The layout was ergonomically designed; the bar was centrally located, and the dance floor was at the opposite side of the bar.  The spacious dance floor allowed people to move freely, and even when the music drew people to the floor, there was still ample room to move. The layout meant no one was barging their way through the dance floor and spilling their drinks everywhere. However, some people who didn't observe dance floor etiquette by bringing their drinks on floor. 

Not forgetting the smokers this venue is perfect as it conveniently has a balcony on the same level, which was great if any members of your party smokes as it certainly  helps to maintain the social atmosphere, and it provides an option for non smokers to go outside fresh air when it gets stuffy.

My complaints regarding the venue was the exhausting walk up three flights of stairs in new rocks strapped to my feet, weighting at least 2 kg each. I felt fatigued after climbing up the stairs before the night even started. The inconvenient location of the toilets, as you have to interrupt dancing and head banging to get to the toilets. I think it's me grumbling than issues of the venue.

I've been researching about the event, and there is a lack of information available on the net that emulates a 90's underground edge where communication relied on of word of mouth before the invention of  social media. I think it's brought something that has long been missing since the closure of  Legends in Newcastle.

Grindhouse has resurrected heavy metal by venturing into the depths of  hell, freeing it from its bondage of retirement and bringing it out to the party. The night produced an phenomenal atmosphere creating intoxicating energy of spontaneous carpe diem. The night was made possible by DJ's Warren Speed and Jess Foxx, playing the awesome collection of 80's, 90's and naughties' tunes spinning their siren's song, alluring patrons to the dance floor.

One of the highlights and unexpected parts of the night, was one performer pole danced to  to Rammsteins's, Du Hast. The dancer was extremely talented as she climbed up the pole and supported herself with on the pole mid air. I admire anyone, who can pole dance because of the immense strength and control required.

  The night had the traditional friendliness that has been long missing in the modern rock scene. As I went around making random conversations with strangers and photographing  them for my blog review; I found everybody cordial and were obliging to pose. At one point, someone fell on the dance floor, and people crowded around them offering assistance.

On a personal note, what made the night for me meeting up with friends, who I certainly wasn't expecting to see, and I hadn't seen since before Christmas. Especially, seeing my girlfriends, we all ended up hugging in a huddle and screaming to the point where only dogs could hear us. It was great as we were reminiscing about when we all used to go out.  

Grindhouse are offering the opportunity for local talent to exhibit their skills and entertain the crowds; they are recruiting performer to join their array of sexy performers  If anybody's interested check out their Facebook page.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Kitchen kataphernalia

For years, I loved collecting farm yard animal kitchen paraphernalia. For example: cookie jars, egg cups, mugs and other random tat. I loved the idea of displaying it in the kitchen.  I've noticed over the last few years; I've stopped collecting farm animals, and a small collection of black cat items have stalking over taken farm animals collection. I think subconsciously, it's occurred because of my experience of sharing my life with a cat, and the yearning to have a cat again, sadly, this may not happen.  I specifically love black cat items with green eyes as they resemble my ex's cat, Morganna, which remind me of her, whom I do miss.

This was my favourite photograph of the her smelling lilies

I recently purchased the two  following items from A charity shop expedition to Whitley Bay:

 I fell in love with the tea pot which reminded me of Morganna siting next to the fire place and being hypnotized by it's dancing flames.The shape of the fire place is identical shape to my ex's fire place.

Coincidentally,  I found this clock in the same charity shop for £2, I thought for the price, and the image of  the two adorable cats was a must have. It'll complements my collection of black cat paraphernalia.

I don't really know what to use this item and I'm also confused whether it's meant to be a dish or a tea bag holder. However, it does have a special significance for me, as I purchased it for $2 from Salem, MA during my trip to the US. 

This is my favourite item, I think it 's meant to be a pan or kettle stand, however, I purchased this Turkey, Istanbul last year. I was astonished to find this came back with no damage. I  adore this, as  it reminds me of my trip to Turkey, and the wonderful experience I had. All the cats remind me of Morganna, and various things she did.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

My passion for libraries; my first encounters volunteering in a library

In a previous post, My days off, I recently mentioned that I offered to volunteer at Sunderland Road Library, and I arranged for my induction date. I've wanted to do this since last year because of personal circumstances it was hard for me to commit my time.

The library's entrance

The outside of the library

For me since being a kid, libraries were always my favourite place to be, despite struggling with reading. At that time, I spent a lot of time by myself, I would read, study, draw pictures and use a computer for the Internet when computers were an expensive, luxury item in the late 90's. During my adolescent period, without divulging too much information, this was a horrendous time in my life, specially at school was a living nightmare. At school the library offered me solace and became a sanctuary; I used to use the computers or read books, my favourite book to read was the Reader Digest's Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, as mythology fascinated me, and provided an escapism.

Last year, I was relying on agency and bank work, which meant my working schedule was sporadic resulting often numerous amount of free time, spending most of my time in the library. In between the time from coming back from travelling and meeting my boyfriend; I wanted to apply for the CELTA course to enable me to teach English abroad. I started studying English grammar, punctuation and vocabulary. I increased both reading and writing  than I previously did as way to improve my communication skills. Through re-educating myself on that topic I noticed an immense improvements in my writing skills.During my period of studying I became incredibly reliant on libraries service and it taught me the essential role public libraries  offer to the community, through providing  an array of resources. For example: free wifi (as I prefer using my netbook), books, computers and a place to study

Last Thursday, I had my induction at the library, I met the other volunteers, shown around the premises, and instructed about the daily routine.  My first impression, I really enjoyed myself and found everybody incredibly friendly and helpful. I found the library had a pleasant and quiet atmosphere that serves and supports  the local community with resources like; computers, books and a place to read or study. 

I learnt how the council reduced funding for libraries that weren't so busy, and the Council planned to close them down, until volunteers agreed to oversee the daily operations . Some of volunteers had explained at the moment the fate of the library is unknown. If anyone from Tyne wear reads this blog,  I urge you to support Sunderland road library by coming to use the facilities. 



On Monday, I spent most of the day at the library; I was introduced to the other volunteers, I will be working with and shown the morning routine's contributing to the library's daily operations. On Monday in comparison to Thursday was busier, as on Mondays the local Primary school visits the library. It was wonderful seeing how excited the children were to visit and have the opportunity to choose a book to borrow. The library even served juice and nibbles to the children, which was amazing; I never remember getting juice or nibbles at my local library. There was one child who was extremely determined to take out a particular book, despite being told off multiple times by their teacher; the child's persistence to borrow the book really made me laugh, but I had to admire his tenacity to borrow the book. It proved to be valuable experience to become familiar with the procedure of issuing books. 

The libraries children section 

I met the Monday volunteers, who ran the a crafts afternoon. After discussing my interest in crafts and interest in learning to knitted, they cordially agreed to teach me how to knit. One of ladies in the group graciously donated a set of knitting needles to me and the other was kind enough to chose and photocopy a pattern . I've been wanting to explore and learn new skills, especially, knitting. I have a project in mind to knit a rib beanie style hat made from black and silver sparkly wool. The hat will complement a scarf my brother and sister-in-law brought a few years ago. . Today, I first attempted to make a rib knit hat first and found it rather complex, however, I was advised that I would benefit from practicing plain knit, purl knit and combination of both to perfect the my technique by creating samples. I have learnt to complete a plain knit and cast on stitches. One of the volunteers told me about another knitting group held in Tyneside Cinema, so I've decided to check it out..

The type of hat I want  Source

My scarf , I got for Christmas from my family and inspiration

Life Update.

Hi, it's been a very long hiatus, not to say the least. Since my last post, a lot happened in October. I had a death in the family ...