From an inspirational idea to reality
Just over 12 months ago when I was researching other jewellers websites I came across a page which really caught my eye. A jeweller in Herefordshire was offering workshops for couples, to make their wedding rings. Wouldn't that be a brilliant thing to do, I thought. At the time I had just started to run silver smithing classes at my own workshop, the Rocks Jewellery Workshops. I was nowhere near ready to offer such "fancy" courses like I was reading about.
The basic silver smithing workshops have taken off now and the local public are getting to know about it. As I was increasing my confidence in leading workshops, my thoughts turned again to the wedding rings idea. This year in spring a friend of mine got married, she asked me to make their rings. I used this as a starting block to create wedding rings, and I have made one more pair since, and a replacement ring. In September I took part in a brainstorming workshop, and used the time to discuss my wedding ring course idea. The other participants were all very enthusiastic, and helped me with great ideas and suggestions. One particular point was to make the day a real 'unique experience' with a luxury feel, and a very personal, romantic approach.
I also arranged for a couple of meetings, one with a wedding supplier and someone who could make a video with me. These meeting were really encouraging, and I soon had the plans written up and a video shoot done. At the same time, a new website meant I could have completely new pages on my workshops and particularly the wedding ring course. With a special collaboration with a local hotel, I was able to include lunches and afternoons teas (including champagne) in a variety of packages.
One wedding show later, I've had plenty of interest, and I am positive that some bookings will come out of this. However, the very first wedding ring course has been booked up, and it is to take place in Germany next spring.
The 3P’s of bespoke picture framing
Simply put bespoke framing acts to Present, Protect and Preserve the artwork/subject.
Well-presented imagery is a complete joy, its uniqueness, freshness and identity cannot but help evoke emotion in people.
As Art is not of a standard size, and different media vary in depth, clarity and properties individual tailor made frames are necessary.
A bespoke picture framer will enhance the art work by designing and constructing a creative well proportioned frame using techniques most suited to the project. The choice of mounts and mouldings is enormous and one can always be found to suit the customer and project.
Photos of cat good and bad - see separate photo x 2 (click on pics to enlarge)
Protect and Preserve
The longevity for artwork comes from a combination of proper framing and protection from environmental damage whist on display. Damage will devalue artwork and documents.
Artwork, particularly paper, is primarily under threat from the following:
Ultra violet light
Humidity and damp
Extreme heat and cold
Insects and mould
Air bourne pollutants
The quality of materials and techniques used by the framer.
Fine Art Trade Guild (FATG) framers aim to slow the rate of natural decay and damage from these threats by using best practice techniques and best quality materials, and framing to a conservation level where possible.
Whilst ready made, of the shelf, frames are initially cheaper they often do not aesthetically enhance the artwork, and in the long run often cause irreversible damage.
‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ N Bonaparte, it stands then that ‘The memories framed are priceless’.
"What to do with 19 ties and a yard of knicker elastic?!"
Well make a dress, of course!
I have a collection of ties, mostly donated from a year ago when I was making waistcoats out of them, but some bought in charity shops. I was having a tidy up in my fabric stash the other day when I came across this tie collection. I fancied using some of them but didn't really know what to make.
I had a rummage and found that I had a dozen or so in a soft silky fabric so thought I'd make a skirt. Ties are cut on the bias so drape very well. So having selected the softer ties I took them all apart, it's amazing how much fabric is in a tie when it's pressed flat.
I then arranged them in a pleasing sort of order, keeping bugs bunny away from the pub frog! and proceeded to stitch them together along their length keeping the bottom front edges together. This gave me a big panel that was wider at the bottom, ideal for a skirt.
Having set my dressmakers dummy to my size I started draping this panel on the dummy to see what I could so with it and came up with a strapless sundress affair. Looking good so far but quite liable to fall down in an embarrassing manner so another rummage found a quantity of pink knicker elastic ( you have to acquire these things when available and cheap!! I have about 10 yards of it!!) ideal to stitch around the inside of the dress to hold it up.
Elastic stitched in and a halter strap made from another tie later I have a slightly, OK very, eccentric sundress to wear when the sun comes out. It's not quite finished yet, a few loose ends to thread through and the hem to finish but then the sun isn't shining is it?
It's amazing what you can make from scrap fabric when you have a needle and thread to hand.
Of course I also do conventional dressmaking with fabric and pattern for those of you who don't have 19 ties and a yard of knicker elastic!
Find my details on the CAP Business Clubs member listing.
or at www.fashion-revived.co.uk
Caroline Jones, dressmaker in chief at Fashion Revived
There are pearls - and then THERE ARE PEARLS!
A recent enquiry led me to find out more information about the world of pearls, and it became an investigation into a particular kind of pearl, the Tahitian Black Pearl. The only pearl in the world which is naturally dark, other kinds are coloured - something that was new to me - it comes in sizes of around 6mm up to 14mm.
And the colour can vary from pale grey through mid grey to near black. These stunning cultured pearls are only grown on Tahiti and in the South Seas.
What do these items cost? Well, anything from £10 - £3000 each! The price depends on size, evenness of shape, thickness of the nacre, which is the covering of mother of pearl the oyster puts around the impurity inside its shell, colour evenness and (lack of) blemishes.
The pearls only come from one type of oyster, the Pinctada margaritafera mollusk. It takes two years for an oyster to mature enough to produce pearls. The cultured Tahitian pearl comes in various shapes, sizes, and colors; shapes include round, semi-round, button, circle, oval, teardrop, semi-baroque and baroque. Because of their darker hues, Tahitian pearls are commonly known as "black pearls". However, Tahitian pearls have the ability to contain various undertones and overtones of green, pink, blue, silver and yellow.
It would be lovely to work with these beautiful pearls one day....
I get a lot of enquiries about alterations to evening, wedding and bridesmaids dresses bought online. Often the dresses are bought very cheaply from websites which although may seem to be English, actually source their dresses from the Far East either that or the websites are blatantly Oriental.
Some of the cheap dress websites, and there are many, are better than others, but as a rule you need to be very careful about the sizes you order as it can be very difficult to return dresses or get any compensation.
There are a few rules of thumb which it is best to go by when ordering a cheap dress online.
1. always use a site which allows you to input your own measurements.
2. always actually input your measurements, don't just buy the dress in your usual size. Most of the sites use American sizes which are about 2 sizes bigger than ours so if you order a size 16, you'll receive something approaching a UK12!
3. get a friend to take your measurements and don't skimp to make the number seem smaller, it is better to get the dress a little too big than too small as there is much less scope to let a dress out than to take it in.
If you do decide to go down the cheap online dress route don't expect perfection, the dresses can be very good but they won't be as good as something made to measure in this country and just occasionally a dress will arrive and be a big disappointment. In this scenario don't panic just take the dress to a good dressmaker and she will be able to alter it to fit perfectly and to modify any design details you don't like.
The picture shows just such a dress. The dress was a bargain, much cheaper than similar seen in a UK shop but when it arrived it was badly made, being unevenly stitched with asymmetric seaming which should have been symmetric and it didn't fit at all well. The bride was in her words 'distraught' when she brought me her dress, but a lot of work later she had the perfect dress and looked lovely on her big day. And she still saved money on the UK dress price after paying my fees to sort the dress out to her satisfaction.
So buying special clothes online can be a big money saver, but buy the right size according to your measurements and expect to have do some work on it.
Caroline Jones, Fashion Revived, your friendly local dressmaker in the Forest of Dean.
So you're a dressmaking newbie, where do you start?
As a teacher I'd say with lessons, of course I would, but if you don't fancy lessons then here's how you get started.
Buy a pattern, there are a a few big pattern companies about, all sell online and some you can buy in shops, here in the Forest of Dean the best shop is Zig Zags in Coleford and they stock New Look patterns. Wether you're looking online or in a shop have a good look through the pattern choices available and base your choice on 2 main factors.
1. choose something you will want to wear, sounds silly but if you choose something you're not really sure about, you'll make it up and then not wear it. So you'll have wasted time and money and dented your dressmaking confidence just a little bit more, every time you pick it up you'll think "nah" and put it down and it will put you off having another go.
2. choose something within your dressmaking ability, again sound obvious but I've known students try to make garments outside their skill range, they've got stuck, panicked, put it aside and given up. If you're a real newbie, never done it before then pick the patterns variously labelled as 'easy', 'very easy', 'basics', 'it's so easy' and the like. Some online pattern sellers categorise patterns so for example Jaycotts have an easy pattern section at http://www.jaycotts.co.uk/collections/patterns_easy this is a great place to start.
When teaching I usually make the students choose something a little outside their comfort zone pattern wise but then they've got me there to push them along!!
When you've got your pattern, read it carefully before choosing fabric, the packet will tell you what type of fabric to buy and how much, more of that another time.
If I can help more with pattern selection then get in touch at www.fashionrevived.weebly.com or 01594 861286
Do you want it singly or in a group? Sewing tuition that is!
As you all may know, a part of my Fashion Revived business is tuition in dressmaking, patchwork and rag-rugging?
Of these disciplines rag-rugging is easily taught to quite large groups, it's a simple craft requiring little demonstration but lots of imagination, once a student has got to grips with the tools used and the main technique they are away and can rapidly move onto designing and making their own rag rugged creations. In fact this craft is one I offer both workshops and talks on and I find that large groups at a talk will often pick up the techniques and then stimulate creativity through their own discussions amongst themselves.
Sewing, a discipline which encompasses dressmaking and patchwork as well as crafts like quilting and embroidery is a craft which requires rather more tuition, as there are many techniques to get to grips with before a student can begin let alone successfully complete an item for example a garment or a bedcover.
I usually teach sewing to beginners as a 12 hour course covering 6 weekly lessons, this is very successful with student numbers up to about 4 or 5, I find that many student lack confidence in their abilities and my job as their sewing tutor is as much about persuading them that they can sew as it is about teaching them techniques. There are after all very many good books written about the techniques and craft of the different sewing disciplines but what most student lack is the vision to see that they are able to follow the instructions given in the good books. Teaching in a small group of say 4 student gives me the ability to spend a good proportion of the 2 hour lesson with each student, so they feel they've had good instruction, have learned something and importantly have got good value for their class fees. It also allows me to properly asses how each is doing so that I can ensure they all progress. In this way all my students so far have finished a course able to undertake basic dressmaking and patchwork tasks.
Some students are very lacking in self confidence and these benefit for more intense tuition, this is afforded by smaller classes, say 2 students or even one to one tuition, some of my students who've had this individual tuition have improved in their dressmaking skills but also in their life skills as their increased confidence in sewing has meant they are happier and more confident in everyday life. I also take a great pride in helping these student to get on with their sewing and being happier people for it, a win, win situation all around.
The other end of the spectrum is a sewing bee type class I'm hoping to start in the Spring, this will be an open class, available to all skill levels to attend when able, it should run fortnightly in Coleford when the weather improves, we'll see how it goes.
In the meantime if you'd like to know more about my dressmaking, patchwork or rag-rugging tuition please contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01594 861286
Buying local - how important is it?
With THAT time of year very fast approaching, thoughts come to mind about were best to spend our hard earned cash. Even though it's tempting to look online, and buy on ebay, amazon and the like, this will not help our local shops to survive. It's of course not easy to find the latest electro-digital gadget in the nearby high street, or the designer handbag at the independent fashion boutique next door. The handbag might be there, but not at the online price.
The immediate effect of buying locally is that there are less travel costs involved and also no postage to pay. Internet shopping is quite handy, but there are usually a good few pounds added for postage and packing. It's also quite often a bit of a gamble buying something you can't actually see in 'the flesh' or touch. The long term effects are something we do not notice straight away, but are made obvious when we think about what has already happened in a lot of places.
We have a catch 22 situation - the less money people spend in their local shops, the less choice there will be, the more likely it is that customers stay away. And the more likely that good local shops will close, allowing charity shops and coffee outlets to take over the town. So the downward spiral continues. It's a sight that we see duplicated more and more often in more and more towns.
Encouraging people to spend their money locally is not easy in these times when disposable income has generally gone down across the country. And people will make choices that affect them directly. Maybe it's time to see the bigger picture, at least to think about it now and then, how our buying habits affect the world around us.
"Are we what we wear?"
This morning I attended a meeting with Shoo Rayner, a very talented drawer!! he showed the meeting how to draw a simple cat and then got us all to draw our own feline using our own creativity.
I started off drawing a sort of lion but as the meeting went on I added a tutu, well I would wouldn't I? My lion, a ferocious creature surely, when wearing a frilly tutu with a bow at the waistband became a kinder, happier, softer creature! Hence todays blog.
We all know first impressions count, we are all judged by how we look on a daily basis, both by people who don't know us and by those who are familiar with our appearance and who we are as people.
A big part of this is what we wear, whether as corporate beings we wear sharp suits or as more creative beings we wear stripey jumpers and purple jeans (for example, not me of course!! well sometimes!). Corporate beings can of course wear stripey jumpers but that would probably be frowned upon and possibly not do their business prospects any good and vice versa, creative beings could wear sharp suits but they're, well, not terribly creative are they?
I think a good word here is individuality and to achieve that, when limits apply, compromise. The corporate person can add a bit of their personality to their sharp suit with beautiful accessories and colour, I know a business woman who always wears a smart suit but look at her feet and she has fabulous, quirky shoes adorning them, these are her true personality I'm sure! The creative bod meanwhile, in everyday life presumably has no need to dress sharply but the time may come when he or she needs to dress more smartly for say a job interview or a meeting with the bank manager, in this instance how about wearing the purple jeans with a smart blouse and jacket?
Above all of the style choices we can make, the most important thing we can do to make sure we look good is to make sure our clothes fit properly. Well fitting clothes will always enhance, as far as I'm concerned a beautiful fitted stripey jumper beats a badly fitting sharp jacket every time.
Caroline Jones, Fashion Revived
"This is a difficult blog to write, it's about secrets, but it's a blog!!!
I have a couple of biggish dressmaking jobs on the go at the minute, both are for Christmas and both recipients use the internet and specifically facebook so much as I'd like to describe in detail the work I'm doing I can't? Both of these secret dressmaking projects would be brilliant for my marketing as each is interesting in it's own way and may be of interest to my readers and followers who might suddenly realise "I didn't think she could that sort of sewing, but she can so maybe I'll talk to her about a commission".
But I can't tell you, my customers have asked me to keep these jobs a secret and as I like to do my utmost for my customers keeping the jobs a secret is what I will do. For now!
My point is that my customers wishes are paramount, even to the detriment of my marketing abilities in the short term. I like to look after my customers and hope that they will help me in return by giving me more work themselves and by telling all their acquaintances about my work so that I get work from them as well.
Of course in the long term, specifically for these two 'secret' jobs, look out in the New Year as then there will be pictures online and I will be showing the new outfits off to the world and with any luck I'll have brilliant testimonials form both the customers involved. Then we may see some orders roll in perhaps?"
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