Haberdashery Heaven

My first big summer project nears completion.

Courtesy of The Great British Sewing Bee which has inspired me enormously I decided to do some more serious sewing projects.  Instead of the frivolous (and quick) bags and purses that I enjoy doing so much I thought I would tackle some really good clothes, taking a lot of care and attention over the details.  So when my brother asked me what I wanted from Singapore for Christmas (he was working over there at the time) I instantly pronounced 'silk! 3 metres  of silk please so I can make a dress or maybe a blouse... oh and some more silk so I can make Steve a shirt for fiesta'.

When I opened my Christmas presents there were four lots of silk (all three metres or close to it) and another four lots of Batik cotton (2 metres each).  I was in heaven.

For a short while anyway.... I'd never sewn pure silk before and I could tell by the feel of it that it wasn't going to be easy.  Simply cutting out the pattern was a bit of a nightmare, the pins made holes in the fabric and it still kept slipping around as I started to cut.  I ordered a walking foot for the sewing machine which is designed to help stop the top layer of fabric slipping.  Since silk is very slippy this is a serious issue... and even with the foot it wasn't easy to keep things exactly where they were supposed to be.

Anyway... I made myself a blouse first.

And although it is far from Couture sewing I am very pleased with the result so far.  The buttons and buttonholes are still to be done.... oooh er.... I am very nervous about ruining it at the last hurdle.  My machine does automatic buttonholes but doesn't do silk very well... and in fact sometimes the automatic buttonholes don't work either and I don't know why.... and of course with the automatic buttonholes you can't use the walking foot.

Before starting I raided the button box for buttons but there were none suitable in black so I decided to visit the haberdashery store in our nearby town of Miajades.  What a delight that was.  Almost like stepping back in time.  They have EVERYTHING you could possibly need all stacked carefully in drawers reaching up to the ceiling and the shop assistant has to stand on a little step ladder to get the things out.  Some of the stuff in the shop is on display and you can choose what you want but its not quite what we would call self service.

All the customers wait their turn to be served and advised by the shopgirl.  Swatches of fabric are revealed and expert opinions are given about matches in thread, zips or buttons, sometimes the other ladies in the queue will comment or offer their own opinions too.  Everyone waits very patiently to be served... there is even a chair for the elderly or infirm.

I had a carefully written and translated list of what I needed.  Luckily the sewing pattern has instructions in English and Spanish so it was simply a case of spotting the Spanish word for what I wanted.  A zipper for my fiesta dress, some elastic for a pair of summer trousers I plan to make (and here my Spanish pattern let me down... the translation for elastic was elastico... but when I asked for that she shook her head and said 'goma' and then produced the elastic!)... once I had all my purchases she wrote down each item with the price on a piece of paper... totalled it up and then wrapped my goodies in the paper to make a neat little parcel.  It was delightful.

Shopping in the UK was not an enjoyable pass time for me, everyone always seemed to be in a rush but here it is very different.  It can be rush and bustle don't get me wrong, they have big city shops and supermarkets to rival anything in the UK, but in the smaller towns and the villages its quite a different story.  And in the village here we have a tiny wool shop where you can buy all sorts of sewing and knitting goodies (as well as sweets and cake!?!) but I have shied away from it a bit due to my lack of Spanish, because shopping there is a social occasion requiring a lot more Spanish language than I have at present... and it also means discussing and perhaps even showing the shopkeeper and her customers my current sewing project. The last time I went in there I left with a pattern for a knitted bikini (like I really need such a thing?) only because I felt obliged after she had pulled out a million and one knitting patterns in order to find one with instructions in English.  But I digress...

...... now I must tackle those buttonholes.... this blogging lark is simply a delaying tactic!


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