Monday, April 23, 2007

Finally, a purpose for scrap

It's with some degree of surprise that I have to admit that I've been making costume for over five years now. Never one to be daunted by a challenge, my first project was a full length semi-fitted coat. It was made of thick coating and lined with linen, which was very prone to fraying and creased if you looked at it. Over the years, I've progressed from those tentative days when I consulted with Esther (who has oodles and oodles costuming experience) over every stitch and these days she's only likely to receive a panicked call if I'm really, really stuck - something I'm sure she's eternally grateful for.

The point of this nostalgic trip down memory lane may not be obvious, but in those five years of sewing costume I've accumulated a lot of scrap fabric. At first, I used to save all of the scraps as I cut, putting them aside, not sure what I'd do with them but reluctant to just throw them away. As the months turned into years and the project count increased, so my scrap mountain grew and grew and grew...

Now, I no longer keep every scrap but I do keep those fragments which I think may be large enough to do something, anything with. Unfortunately, despite my long standing intention to give crazy quilting a go, those scraps still pile up and I never have got around to making anything from them.

Until now that is. I finally found something I can make which uses scrap fabric and here it is!

This is an 'Acorn Hat' taken from The Medieval Tailor's Assistant and it is made entirely of fabric taken from my scrap mountain. The outer shell is grey wool and I've lined it in calico, with four pieces of each sewn together to form the hat shape. I used an even tinier piece of scrap from cutting out these pieces to make a stalk and I'm pretty pleased with the result. In fact, I'm so pleased I may well have to make some more which may end up being donated as kit to Andy.

Before I make any more examples of this little hat, I think I may need a rotary cutter to speed things along. Cutting out the eight pieces of fabric which sew together to make this hat took as long, if not longer than making it up. With this in mind, I dropped by the Singer shop in Coventry on Saturday morning to try to purchase one.

The obvious mistake there was assuming that the ladies who work in Coventry's Singer shop would be more helpful than they usually are. Instead, the conversation went something like...

Sales Lady #1: Can I help you?
Me: Yes, I hope so. I was wondering if you sell rotary cutters?
Sales Lady #1: *Puzzled* A what?
Me: A rotary cutter? It's sort of like a pizza cutter but for fabric and you use it to cut out shapes.
Sales Lady #1: *Shaking head* Never heard of a...'rotary cutter'? Is that what you called it?
Sales Lady #2: *Coming over* Is there a problem?
Sales Lady #1: This lady is looking for something called a 'rotary cutter'.
Sales Lady #2: Oh, a rotary cutter. *laughs* No one uses them any more, so there is no call for them and no one makes them. Sorry.
Me: *Blinking in surprise* Pardon? I think you'll find they get used quite a lot by quilt makers.
Sales Lady #2: Oh no one bothers to make quilts anymore, so as I said, no call for them.

I refrained from commenting further and put this down in the list of bemusing conversations I've either had or overheard in the Singer shop. If it were not for the sewing work they take in and their sewing machine sales, I really don't think this shop would stay in business. My worry is that sometimes they give this kind of advice or information to customers who don't know better. No one makes quilts? Have they checked the craft section of a book stores? Or the magazine rack? Or looked online?


Richard said...

Nice hat, could not bring yourself then model or get Dave to volunteer :)
I can think of other little projects for your scraps, and my head size is, dam no mesuring tape handy.

This singer shop should see some of your project, I wonder how many customers make baby bumps.

Esther said...

They are at best ill informed in there..Don't they ever look at the magazines in the news agents.. how many quilting mags are there ???

Go to the sewing machine shop next to the station, opposite the road to hobby craft (the one that sells Jamone and the one starting with H) they will know what a rotery cutter is.. Hobby craft sell them too.

Quilting rulers are brillient too especally if you want to cut accurate strips, squares etc. I couldn't believe how much more accurate I got after getting a couple.

You were always a very good student and probably the most naturally gifted at being able to work out what 2D shapes you need to make the 3D on you want I have ever taught. You are also one of the most self critical and determined to do things right which is probably why your work is so good these days.

Julie said...

I think the 'no one makes quilts' comments ranks up there next to 'no one makes wool anymore, manmade fibres are so much better' discussion.

After checking Busy Fingers - who know what a rotary cutter is, sell replacement blades instore and will order one on request - I decided I need to either drop in at Hobbycraft or the Sewing Centre. I didn't have time on Saturday to make the detour out of town; I'll aim to get there this weekend if I can.