Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 13

Today I started work straight away on this little guy:
Hon hon hon
He's a French Bulldog and the beagle eyed can hopefully see that he's a little mis-aligned on the right hand side; I personally like offset works but it's not what H&L wanted for this piece so my job was to fill in the blank white bits along the bottom in satin stitch by hand and the extra grey bit will be unpicked later. This was he at the end of the day:
[Designed by Hand & Lock, not me!]
Still some very small bits left to do but I spent some time making sure it looked really good and Laura was pleased with it when I showed it to her as you can't see the difference between the hand and machine stitch; so I must have done a good job. I really enjoyed working on this, it was definitely my sort of thing to do and that always helps make a job easier.
Other than that I ran errands, helped frame shirts to be machine embroidered and also helped with finishing the re-embroidered apron from yesterday:

Monday, 29 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 12

In the immediate post-christmasness there wasn't much to do today, so I started out by spending the morning working on my goldwork sample. I don't have a photo yet as I'm going to wait until it looks a bit more impressive before showing it off.
After that I had to re-cover the big work tables with new, fresh Vilene as they get a bit grubby after a while. Here's one table after I had covered it:
And then after that job I was asked to organise the threads in these big thread drawers:
As you can see there are some thready bits hanging out and they kept becoming tangled up in all kinds of things, which was a bit annoying and slightly dangerous. So I took out each drawer; here is the blue drawer:
And then I untangled everything and put them away neatly:
And that was quite satisfying.

After that I started to unpick a n embroidery that needs to be changed after the customer changed their mind about the font used, so I will continue this job tomorrow:

Monday, 22 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 11

The first job of today was finishing an oven glove by hand that had been embroidered on machine last week. The customer wanted metallic thread and as anyone who has ever tried embroidering with metallic thread knows, it has a tendency to snag... a lot... even using machine embroidery, so a touch up was necessary. Another intern had started to fix it last week but as she has finished her stint the job was passed on to me. Here's the glove as it was when I received it:
As you can see the letters 'J' and 'C' are finished but the 'H' and 'L' are quite patchy, so those are the ones I worked on. The glove was rather thick and difficult to stitch through, so I yet again destroyed my fingers, even with a thimble, and the thread kept tangling up too, but the monogram looked much better in the end. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of the finished thing because the customer came to fetch it straight away!

After that another intern and I had to run an errand to the Topshop HQ to pick up some equipment left there after the Hand & Lock monogramming event last week. Here's the stand in situ during the event:
Photo from @handlocklondon [Instagram]
That big enormous vase with all the threads inside it you can see was one thing we had to pick up, along with some frames and weights; quite a hefty load but luckily Topshop HQ is only around the corner from H&L HQ. We had to get visitor's passes and got a sneaky peep into 'backstage' Topshop... not that there was too much to see but I still found myself a teeny bit excited!

My next job was another errand; to go back to Selfridges and pick up a lamp we had left there after that monogramming event and also to pick up 2 metres of a particular kind of ribbon from MacCulloch & Wallis. I was given a swatch, a map, some money and a contact name at Selfridges and I set off. I decided to head to Selfridges first as it was the furthest away and ended up having to wait a little while there whilst they located the lamp and brought it down to me. The lamp was much bigger and heavier than I thought so carrying it down Oxford Street through the christmas shopper / lunch hour zombie human traffic jam was no picnic! This was when I realised I should have gone to MacCulloch & Wallis first! I slung it over my shoulder and made my way to MacCulloch & Wallis. I'd never been in there before but the staff seemed very helpful and friendly and didn't mind that I had a lamp appendage and no idea where to find my required ribbon.

After making it back to Hand & Lock successfully my final job of the day was to touch up another metallic thread machine embroidery, this time a cat shape on a velvet hat:
This job was a little easier than the glove as there were less layers to stitch through although the thread still tangled up and slowed me down somewhat. Again I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the finished article. After some more goldwork practise it was time to tidy up and head home!

I'm now on my christmas break (which I desperately need as I have laryngitis and need to recover!) but I will return to Hand & Lock and blogging next week!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Days 9 & 10

Day 9 was a day of goldwork, unpicking embroideries that needed to be reworked, finishing off a rather exciting celebrity project that I sadly can't write about and searching through the Bead Room for sequins and beads intended for refurbishing a pair of rather exotic baby shoes. No mean feat as I had to match colours and shapes to the existing decorations and given that this is only a portion of the boxes available to look at:
and I had to balance on [another] scary ladder I think I did quite well! I thought it would take me a long time to find the right embellishments but it didn't take too long in the end. I also discovered that although I don't think I'm scared of heights I think I might be scared of ladders?!

Day 10 was probably my personal worst day so far. I've not been feeling very well this week but wanted to push myself to go in to work anyway so as not to let anyone down - especially myself - and to make the most of my short time at Hand & Lock. The main task of the day for myself and another intern was to hand sew goldwork monograms onto velvet blazers (this is not the one I was working on, I forgot to take a photo, but it's from the same job):
First we had to pin them on straight, tack them down and then sew with invisible stitches all around the inner and outer edges; this is where I wish I had a photo of mine as it was more intricate than the above example with a lot more curls and swirls. These had to be partially unpicked and re-done if they were even slightly wonky or in my case, a little bumpy, which set us back but we managed the job in the end. The linings also had to be sewn up by hand and I had of course chosen the one with the biggest seams to be mended; this was where my confidence took the biggest knock of the day. I had to be shown how to do the fell stitching, a process I knew the concept of but had not previously tried and I managed to quite gloriously psyche myself out into another dimension.
Luckily my colleagues at Hand & Lock are unbelievably patient and lovely and helped me out with demos and pep talks galore (and even a hug!), so I feel very lucky to be among not only wonderfully skilled people but also people who can see the bigger picture. I stayed late to help finish the job and they were very grateful for this too, so hopefully I'm showing my enthusiasm to do well in the textiles field.
Again I feel that I am struggling with the desire to work quickly versus the desire to do an impeccable job, but perhaps I am too early on in my training to achieve both and may have to accept the fact that until I am more practised, I realistically may have to sacrifice one or the other; with quality being the obvious option to maintain.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 8

First job of the day was to cover the machine embroidery font display boards which are shown to customers choosing their embroidery style. This is the front of the board:
And the back of the boards looked like this before they were covered:
All those stringys criss-crossing everywhere were getting snagged on things and generally looking a bit untidy so they needed to be covered. One of the other interns and I found some navy blue fabric and stitched it on by hand, using the invisible stitch so that they would look extra neat. Here's the result:
Much neater I think... I covered two of these which took most of the day as it was very fiddly sewing onto the hard backed board. After that I had to recover an embroidery frame with the backing canvas stuff, my most feared job after the other day, as major strength and multiple hands are required... but actually as I'd already done it once and had to re-do it, I knew what I was doing this time and did it right the first time and much faster than I previously had. A small victory, but a victory nonetheless!
After this day and yesterday's tricky sewing jobs my sewing hand is really hurting; still enjoying myself though and not gonna let some hand pain stop me from learnin some learns!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 7

Today I sewed some crystals onto a dress bodice and ironed pillowcases but mostly I finished off the blanket I had started appliqueing yesterday. This job seemed to have taken me a very long time but I think this was because firstly the embroidery frame I was using was a bit loose / broken making the tension difficult to work with and nextly because I am still a learner of course. Being around people who work very fast and efficiently all day can sometimes make you forget that as a learner you will naturally work a little bit slower. Anyway my boss was pleased with the job I had done so that's all that matters ultimately.
Besides this, I often tell myself that it's best to do a job well the first time rather than rushing it and having to re-check / re-do it several times; in the long run you will probably save time and your own mind from going batty.

I was also asked today what the point of me writing this blog was. I didn't really give a sufficient answer to that person but it got me thinking about what my point was so I thought I may as well re-affirm it by discussing it on here, as a kind of renewed manifesta to myself. This blog is a place to keep a record of all my achievements; however big or small they might seem to others is kind of irrelevant (sorry) because I don't even expect others to read it and am always pleasantly surprised if and when they do. I was recommended to have a blog by my university tutor and as I had already been keeping this one prior to starting university it seemed easy enough to continue it. It's sort of like a very informal CV of all my crafting, creative ideas and projects so far, some of them great and some of them not so much and I learn just as much, if not more, looking back at the 'not so much' ones as the great ones. Simple really!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 6

Today was another bits n bobs day, I worked on my goldwork techniques, did some jump thread trimming and some errands at Selfridges but the biggest job of the day was appliqueing the letters I'd started last week.
This was even more tricky than cutting them out as I had to make sure they're all straight and equidistant, plus make hidden stitches through two layers of suede. I hadn't really done anything so delicate before so I'm sure I worked very slowly, plus my fingers are hurting a bit now! Buuut it's all good practise and I'm appreciating the chance to learn new, important skills.
Here you can see a picture of me working / concentrating extra hard [in the background]; in the foreground Head Designer Scott is discussing techniques and traditions with a tour group:
Photo from @handlocklondon (Instagram)
That's all I have to write about today! Follow Hand & Lock on Instagram, Facebook and / or Twitter for more excitement than I can provide!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Days 4 & 5

Day four was an odd job day; firstly we finished off the monogrammed pyjamas and then I was given a small task cutting embroidered letters out to be appliqued onto a blanket at a later date.
Here is the embroidery before:
 And after:

As you can see I had to cut them suuuper close to the edges which was quite tricky as there were lots of awkward angles and little bits to get into and of course I had to be careful not to snip the embroidery itself! 
After that there wasn't really much else to do, so I was allowed to begin my own project learning a new technique right there with the masters of embroidery! I decided to learn Goldwork (which you can learn about if you click that link); I'm not going to give away all of Hand & Lock's secrets by going into details so I'll just show you a picture of the work so far:
This is the first part, the couching down of threads. I've been told that I am pretty good at this for a beginner; in fact some of the staff couldn't believe I hadn't done it before which was a huge compliment and ego booster. 

Day five began with the most difficult job so far; re-covering the embroidery frames. Here is a picture of what it looks like when it's finished:
The black fabric is the part I had to attach and to do this you have to pull it very taught and stitch into place on the frame with a cross stitch, pulling the threads very tightly as you go. They need to be as tight as possible as sagginess would cause big tension problems when trying to embroider. I felt like I could have used an extra six hands to do this job - it was very painstaking and I had to undo it all and re-do it a couple of times but I got there eventually.
After this I had to accompany some of the embroidery ladies over to Selfridges as they have a monogramming stall stationed in the formal menswear section and needed help carrying equipment. This was a pretty exciting job, especially as I had never been to Selfridges before, which of course nobody could believe! 
They sell more than just fridges
Here's the stand [almost] all set up in the menswear department:
After that I did another odd job cutting jump threads and then was at a bit of a loose end again so carried on with my goldwork project. And that was my first week at Hand & Lock complete! I am really enjoying it so far and although London is like another world compared to Bournemouth it's also a lot of fun. Finally, as promised here's a picture of the completed christmas window that I helped to design and install (a bit blurry but you get the idea):

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 3

Today was the best day so far! Firstly we finished off the monogrammed pyjamas so that was quite satisfying. After that myself and another intern started to finish up the christmas window and make it look all beautimous. This was the window as I left it yesterday:
And this was the window at about 3:45 today:
A little bit difficult to see but we changed the font of the 'Merry Christmas from' part, added more wrapped gifts and fairy lights and snowflakes (I actually added them after I took this photo so I shall try to get another one tomorrow). I'm really happy with how it turned out and everyone at Hand & Lock who saw it said it was lovely so I feel extra chuffed.
Other than a few small jobs that was it for today, but here's a picture of the mini tree I decorated yesterday:

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 2

Today us interns finished off the Christmas window which we started yesterday:

It was a collaborative effort; I made the large velvet bow just visible at the top of the giant wreath (and managed to use the invisible stitch I learnt during my internship at Nelly's Treasures for part of it!), I also made several of the metallic tassels and strings of oversized sequins (not visible) and generally offered help with styling / ideas.

After that we had a bit of a production line going with monogramming some silk pyjamas and I was given the task of taking off the backing, cutting the jump threads, and folding and packing the pyjamas in their little boxes. This was a super satisfying job for someone who thrives on repetitive tasks and getting the little details just right!

That's it for today!
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Monday, 8 December 2014

Hand & Lock Internship: Day 1

Today was my first day interning at Hand & Lock in London! I didn't really know what to expect at all; I knew that all the people there were lovely as I came for an interview earlier this year so luckily I wasn't too nervous. There are also a few other interns there so I wasn't completely on my Tod.
I won't go into specifics about what I did today... but I will share this image from the workroom that I pinched from the Hand & Lock Instagram (hoping they don't mind as I forgot to take my own photos!):
Festive Spirit
And I can reveal that I got to play with these too:
Shiny Sequince Gown
That's about it! Worst part of the day was the commute into and out of central London; quite the experience when you're used to living in sleepy Bournemouth town!
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Postcards For Peace Update!

The printed postcards from the Postcards for Peace competition are now available to buy at Bournemouth Library! This was mine:
The postcards are printed on high quality, matt card and look even better than I was expecting; mine even has a rather trompe l'oeil effect which is rather exciting. Anyway they're a mere 45p to buy and the proceeds go to charity so it's a win-win!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Heavy Medal

This morning as I was in the library printing off some research I was surprised to be presented with a lovely medal in return for my entry into the Postcards For Peace Competition.
My first medal
The medal is a reproduction of the original Peace Medal which was awarded by the mayor of Bournemouth in 1919 and which I referenced within my design so it's quite a nice memento to have:
Original flavour
The perks of the competition seem to keep growing; all the entrants will receive a medal and it seems that many of the designs will be made into postcards to be sold for charity! Still no news about the winner, but it's all very exciting anyway!

In other news, I returned to an old favourite recently by making a couple of cross-stitched coasters as a gift for my penpal, Sally. I used to make these fairly often and sell them on my craft stall (until that seemed too easy!) so it was fun to think of new phrases for them:
'Treat Yo' Self' and 'Stay At Home' because that's what an awesome hardworking librarian bookworm gal deserves!
Here they are in situ; Sally decided they'd also work very well as hanging decorations and I must say they do look very snazzy indeed keeping her skeleton friends company:
Them Bones

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Blood Bag Project

Whilst recently perusing an issue of Embroidery magazine in my university library (yes, really), I came across an article about Leigh Bowser, a super talented embroidery artist who makes ultra rad pop icon brooches in her Etsy shop. On investigating her work further, I found that she also runs an ongoing campaign / exhibition called The Blood Bag Project, which raises awareness for Diamond Blackfan Anaemia. Anyone can take part in the exhibition and since I am not monetarily blessed I thought this was a really fun and unique way to contribute to a worthy cause, so I did:
I liked the idea of trying to make the bag look like a real transfusion bag and then filling it with different textured textiley things which represented the blood; I used ribbons, wire, lace, foam hearts, fake flowers, fabric scraps, shaped sequins and handmade cords, I also made cords and braided them together to make the 'tube' which hangs down under the bag. These were made from yarn, some shiny, slippery embroidery thread I'd struggled to actually embroider with and some metallic gold embroidery thread.
For the outside of the bag I used my anatomical heart motif which I had printed onto paper for a previous uni project, based on a similar concept. The heart is one of my favourite things I've done so far and it seemed very fitting to include it here where blood is a theme, so I stitched the paper hearts to the outside of my blood bag (one on each side). I'd never really sewn into plastic much before and luckily I chose a plastic which was very easy to work with; after considering a few options I cut up one of those plastic protective sleeves from a 12" record. It was very pliable and forgiving, although I didn't dare run it through my sewing machine and decided to opt for hand stitching instead. For certain projects I prefer the look of hand stitching over machine anyway; although it takes much longer, there is something I find aesthetically pleasing about a neatly hand-sewn item, not to mention the therapeutic nature of hand sewing!
Some detail shots:

I am quite pleased with how the bag turned out and had a lot of fun making it - although of course I keep stumbling across more materials I wish I'd put inside! That may be my excuse to make another one sometime... hopefully one day I'll also get to see the full exhibition in the flesh!

You can see more beautiful and creative contributions to The Blood Bag Project on the tumblr site

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blue Belle Season

I've been wanting to make more dresses to improve my sewing skills and kill time / use up excess fabric stash so since my friend Aimi is always complimenting my dresses I offered to make her one for her birthday. She had already picked out a fabric she liked from a bargain hoard I bought from lovely Helen:
And although I secretly wanted to keep that fabric for myself, as everyone knows, bagsy is a complete and final done deal!
I used vintage Style pattern 2382 again:
Regular readers might remember that I used it before for this dress, except this time I made it sleeveless (last time I used the sleeve pattern from the overcoat and adjusted it for use in the dress). This pattern is not really intended for stretch fabrics, but the fabric I was using was stretchy, however I found that it didn't make much difference other than being slightly trickier to sew! Despite that it turned out as one of the most well-made and fabulous dresses I've ever created:
And luckily it fits like a glove! And Aimi looks gorgey in it! This was also the first dress I've ever hemmed properly (e.g. by hand) and although it takes a while it certainly gives a nicer and more professional looking finish so I was extra pleased about that. The dress is a sort of landmark for me as I can see that my skills are gradually improving, which is very encouraging!
Some close ups:
La Boutons
I added vintage orange flower buttons to complement the blue, which I think makes the dress extra special! I'm a little bit jealous of Aimi now, but one thing I have realised is that when you make dresses for yourself, you don't really have the opportunity to look at them much, whereas I can admire this one from afar.

Aimi's dress was inspired by Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Pleasure Seekers and halloumi!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Postcards For Peace Embroidery Competition

To keep myself busy over the first hurdle of summer, besides the odd job here and there I also decided to enter an embroidery competition via my local library. Since my usual style of embroidery is somewhat ermm... Postmodernist and I haven't had a lot of time for personal projects lately I thought it would be a lot of fun to create something a little more traditional. The competition, called 'Postcards For Peace', entailed designing an embroidered silk postcard in the style of those made during the First World War (such as these) for the Centenary which falls this year. I'd never come across these postcards before but the colours, designs and textures in them, not to mention what an important memento they are in terms of textiles within history were so inspiring that I couldn't wait to start.
If you want to know more about the whatnots of the competition you can click here
This was my entry:
I used real silk for the backing fabric to keep the authentic touch, French knots with glass beads leftover from another project for the poppy seeds and hand stitched the whole thing. For each colour of the rainbow I used a different stitch:
Red - cable stitch
Orange - stem stitch
Yellow - running stitch
Green - split stitch
Blue - chain stitch
Violet - couching
Pinky - back stitch
although I feel that perhaps because this element is so small the stitches get a little lost. But I know they're there, and now you do too.
The rest of it was back stitch (the lettering at the bottom) and satin stitch, plus a kind of satin stitch / long and short stitch hybrid for the poppy petals. This was a great exercise for me to practise my stitch techniques and I treated it almost as a sampler in order to showcase my skills. I previously didn't think I was any good at satin stitch so I am really happy with how it turned out.
The design itself was heavily influenced by the peace side of things rather than the war; not being a big war person (who is?) and believing that it is good for huh, absolutely nothing, I researched different symbols of peace and used the white poppy and rainbow. Not only is the rainbow for peace, it also represents all the fabulous PRIDE we have here in Bournemouth!!! The yellow, white and blue banners and the phrase 'To Commemorate Peace' came from the Bournemouth Peace Medal which was part of the Peace Thanksgiving Service in July 1919. Although part of the competition brief was to modernise the concept, I seem to have stuck to a more traditional look; but I'm really proud of my work for this and can't wait to see it hanging in the exhibition which all the postcards will go into at Bournemouth Library.
That's enough blabbing, have some details:
I leave you with this