I’ve recently discovered a world of fat quarters, oscillating bobbin mechanisms and notches. You might be familiar with it all, but in case you’re not, I’ve dragged out my sewing machine which has been lingering at my parents’ house for thirty years. I got it as a teenager, snapped several needles, made a shift dress and lost my temper with it. So it got put away, didn’t move out when I did, and has been Somewhere in their house ever since. I blame Goth Weekend for it, to be honest. There were some fabulous outfits there, more specifically bustle skirts, and I wanted one. A bit like this one below. Desperately so.
However, unless you’re a) a size 6 (seemingly translates from XL in many Asian countries who stock beautiful clothes on Amazon) or b) very wealthy (custom made outfits are crazy prices and if you’re not a size 6, forget even trying to find one online for a reasonable price), you’re a bit stuffed. I was stuffed. Very stuffed. So in a Prosecco-ridden haze, I began Googling one Saturday night and discovered you could actually get patterns for these outfits! Sewing patterns, that you can customise, make Steampunk, make Gothy, do whatever you want to do with them. Awesome. So I ordered one. Okay, maybe two. All right – three. Just to have a selection. Then I sweet-hearted my Dad to dig my sewing machine out and we overhauled it. I was still snapping needles and getting annoyed, so my Mum loaned me her machine, which is older than me. It dates from earlier than 1968, and I know this because she made a dress for their honeymoon in June that year, on that machine.
Suddenly, I had a vintage machine and good grief, it was still working perfectly. (As an aside, mine is also now working perfectly, as a Very Nice Lady in John Lewis told me what I was doing wrong. My oscillating bobbin mechanism wasn’t fastened in properly. And I was using metal bobbins. ‘But they haven’t made those in over thirty years!’ said the Nice Lady at John Lewis. ‘I know,’ I muttered, purchasing a packet of plastic ones and some spare all-purpose needles. ‘I know.’)
Fabric was the next sticking block. For the amount of yardage required, it was going to cost over forty quid for the cheapest stuff. No way. So I nipped to Asda, and bought a black King Size bed sheet for nine pounds. Hey, it did the job for my prototype skirt, and soon I had a bustle skirt, a peplum jacket and, eventually, a bright red Victorian walking skirt – and I love them all. This is me trying to get a pic of what the bustle skirt looked like on – at some point, I might, just might, share a pic of me wearing the outfit. But I need make-up and stuff on first – and I need not to look like a beach ball on legs, as mentioned in my Whitby post earlier.
I have also been haunting the most fabulous websites for patterns and I’m astonished at how big a business this is. I have so many things on my wish list it’s embarrassing. However, I bought two remnants from a local place for one pound each, and my husband now has a Steampunk waistcoat – and I hacked up an old curtain from my parents, so my dog has a super doggy coat. Although he tends to freeze in an embarrassed fashion when you put it in him. I can’t convince my son to have anything yet, but I shall work on it….
This, dear readers, is the sort of dangerous thing I get up to between writing projects. I do have some edits coming in for a novella, so my writing downtime won’t last long, but I think if you’re quite creative, you sometimes need to channel it. I have been known to bake or paint in downtime before, and sometimes it’s nice to step away and let stuff develop. I am working on a new timeslip novel at the minute, but it’s not right, and I need to think it over a bit. I know that to do that, I have to leave it, and suddenly it’ll come together and I’ll go at it relentlessly. But until that happens, at least I have something else to amuse myself with – even if the dog doesn’t exactly enjoy looking like a Steampunk rugby ball!