27 September 2011

tools of the trade // my singer story

my vintage singer story

Brought up surrounded by Singer sewing machines, the name to me is pseudonymous with sewing. So when my mom recently brought to my attention Singer's 160th Anniversary celebration project 'Share Your Singer Story', I was curious to access their database and discover my vintage Singer's history. I also thought it would be rather fun to add my personal Singer story to their growing anthology of tales from other Singer owners and users.

Being in the possession of two manuals (one dated 1916, the other 1928) I have long been curious about exactly how old my machine is. Having already tried a few times over the years with varying results and so-called 'accuracy', I was keen to at least unearth this part of the tale.

I was therefore pleased to have confirmed that my particular machine was manufactured in Clydebank, Scotland in 1929 when my paternal grandmother, who was first to own it, was 24 years old. Considering that this was the same year as the beginning of the Great Depression, her purchase was incredibly timely and I like to think that she had seen the many benefits of being able to sew and mend her own clothing, especially with the arrival of the 'thru'pence' patterns from Simplicity two years earlier.

1929 vintage singer
I am not at all certain for how long she actually used her Singer but it went with her into married life. Eventually it was handed to me when I was eight years old with the intention of learning to sew by creating clothes for my dolls. And sew dolls' clothes we most definitely did! As well as ones for myself and other things for a time, until other interests and events took over. But I always kept it.

Then in 2007 with the purchase of my first Blythe doll and the promise to myself that I would sew all the clothes I needed for this new dolly hobby of mine, out came my trusty Singer again, and we haven't looked back.

When I tell people that I sew on a vintage Singer (and a manual hand-turned one at that), they often marvel at it considering all the fancy things that modern machines are able to do. Sometimes I do envy them, as it would be nice to try out some free-motion stitching, or zig-zags or button-holes once in a while, but for tiny dolls' clothes that require tight turns and short seams, this manual Singer is just right for the control it allows.

Before leaving England in 2009 I sent this fine old lady for a full service and tune up - probably the first and only one she had ever had in her long and industrious lifetime. Though I may indeed move on to a newer model at some point, I have the sincerest heartfelt wish that this lady keeps going for another 80 years.

1929 vintage singer
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25 September 2011

beautiful fashion

I thought today I would share a few glimpses at the work of two wonderful fashion designers I discovered recently and whose beautiful Autumn/Winter 2011 collections are putting me in the mood for sewing up some new threads for my little dolly family. It is a feeling that I find myself unexpectedly excited for especially since I found some gorgeous fabrics in the remnant bin that I just couldn't pass up!

chris benzchris benzchris benz
{ images from Chris Benz via Style }

I really love these effortless, drapey and relaxed pieces from Chris Benz. The 1930's Garbo-esque dandy hat and wide leg trousers are especially appealing as is the vibe of Amelia Earhart in the fur-lined leather cape ensemble. Finally, that *ping!* of vibrant purple and red is eye-poppingly stunning...

ulyana sergeenkoulyana sergeenko
{ images from Ulyana Sergeenko via Russian Vogue }

Meanwhile I also love the retro, country girl look from Ulyana Sergeenko's first collection, which I understand is very reflective of her personal, flamboyant style. The little bonnets are very cute and those funky shoes add a touch of daring fun that hint that all is not as wholesome as it first might appear *hehe*... Lastly the bursts of rust, pumpkin and red puts a punch into those long, grey and overcast late autumn and winter days...

So, yes. I have been flicking through my growing pattern collection and gathering together and playing with fabric combinations as I ponder ideas of how best to use them. Yesterday I didn't get to be very productive, being out for the better part of the day. Hopefully though today I can make a little progress. ©
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17 September 2011

going gocco

mini-print set
{ mini print set, by Katy Horan }

I first heard about Gocco about a year ago on A Beautiful Mess, and while I kind of liked it, I gave it no more thought until just earlier this week, when Traci Bunkers tweeted that the sale of her Gocco P-5 and supplies was coming to an end. Then something just popped and I was obsessed with all the ooh's and ahh's of possibility that such a fun gadget could hold... Yup, seriously crazy! *grin*

{ tiny friend, by Kids Haus }

For those of you who aren't already familiar with this awesome, fun home screen-printing gadget, Print Gocco is a self-contained compact colour printing system that was developed by Noboru Hayama for the Japanese printing equipment manufacturer, RISO in 1977. With it's toy-like appearance and the reference to 'make-believe play' in it's name, it was immensely popular in Japan right from it's launch and it has been estimated that one-third of Japanese households owns some form of the Print Gocco system.

Using manually activated flash bulbs, a carbon-based image or photocopy and an emulsion-coated screen, it's compact table-top size and quick, clean, ease of use is a great solution for people with limited space in their homes (or art studios) who want to screen-print on a small scale. In fact I would say that a huge part of Gocco's quirky charm is the small prints that it produces. Plus, unlike more traditional screen-printing, Gocco prints can be created using more than just one ink colour at a time.

{ snowy owl lavender sachet, by Melanie Green at Ink Me Up }

Curiously, just as it's popularity was starting to wane in it's home country of Japan, Print Gocco started developing a renaissance among the indie-craft movement, gaining notoriety as a cost-effective and efficient method of printing multiples (up to as many as 100 before re-inking was required). RISO seemed unaware of this turn around as in 2005 they announced that they would be ceasing production of the Print Gocco units, claiming the sharp decline in demand on the increase in use of home computers and printers. Though the last shipment of units and supplies was sent to their US partner in 2008 and the doors of Gocco were closed (seemingly) forever, RISO said they would continue producing supplies for the printers until further notice.

{ limited edition gocco print, by Lauren George }

Interestingly, none of the major sources I found mentioned the apparent reintroduction of the Gocco printer unit at RISO. Under their products list their website includes a 'GoccoPro 100' unit which seems to be doing a tour of various sales exhibitions this very year. Incorporating computer technology which enables straight from the computer to print much like a regular printer. While this is all very exciting, it unfortunately comes in a not-so-compact size, requiring a considerable amount of desk space. Maybe if it takes off among the larger producing printers, and knowing the Japanese tendency for producing tiny (and cute) technology, this new beast will also miniaturise in due time.

If you are interested in further information check out the sources below for a ton of links. For more samples of Gocco prints, browse Flickr's 'Gocco' group, among others, and 'Team Gocco' on Etsy is a good starting point in finding current vendors of gocco prints.

So, do you Gocco? I'd love to hear your input on Gocco printing vs. regular screen-printing. Both are a considerable (for me) investment and while I am seriously smitten with the idea of the fun, all-in-one Gocco, at the same time have reservations as to it's longevity over traditional screen-printing. Your advise would be greatly appreciated, thank you! xo

(research sources and information: DIY Life, RISO, Save Gocco and Wikipedia)
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13 September 2011

moved by mustard

...aka Pantone's 'bamboo'...

Last autumn I bought a pair of the most wonderful golden mustard-coloured cord pants which I absolutely adore. This year Pantone included this sunlight shade of a late autumn afternoon among it's fall colour trend report and once more I am totally in love with it...

{ it was love at first sight with this 'yellow brick road' Holga }


{ awesome socks from JCrew }


{ pretty golden-hued hand block printed cards and envelopes from Katharine Watson }


{ this vintage rotary telephone from Freuden des Lebens would be so cool! }


{ a Waterstones' exclusive, this hardcover 'Pride and Prejudice' from Penguin Classics was found via Hello Friend }

For more bamboo and mustard-hued handmade finds, you might like to check out my latest Etsy treasury. Today, after a weekend clearing the summer's detritus from my workroom, I am *so* looking forward to getting back to some creating again. Hopefully, I'll have something of that to share next time. Take care... ©
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07 September 2011

an ever growing book list

First day back at school was really, really short so I didn't get to dig in to my new schedule as I would have liked. Hopefully today will be more like it! *sigh*

As a girl who wants to live both intentionally with as little excess clutter about her and to spend her limited means wisely, I absolutely love using my local library system to borrow all the art and craft books that interest me before deciding whether or not to make them permanent residents on my bookshelf. Unfortunately there has been a slow but steady list growing of such books that I am unable to get this way, either because they are just too new or have received little demand to be added to their catalogue as yet.

I am therefore trying to track down these books via other means, such as making a trip to the largest of the bookstores in our area to view them on the shelf *grin*, or still second-best in my opinion, find really thorough previews online. Claire at Heart Handmade UK not long ago suggested Issuu, which I still have to run through, (Note to self: do this this week!), and I am sure there are others. Your insights on which, are truly welcome below... (thank you!)

Anyways, I thought I'd share my little 'wish list' with you here today. Maybe you have read some of these yourself and can offer your thoughts on whether or not they would be worth chasing down further...

sew wild alisa burke

Alisa Burke's latest book Sew Wild is really giving me the free-motion stitching bug... *uh-oh!*

Lena Corwin's Printing by Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils, and Silk Screens looks like a good book to tie in with other techniques I want to explore further...

Hand Job: a Catalog of Type by Michael Perry ...again, potentially a good reference for generating ideas on hand-drawn fonts... (click the image above to see more page previews)

The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real by Lisa Sonora Beam... for a dream that doesn't want to go away anytime soon *grin* {images via Kelly Pratt and Lisa Beam}

As I said, these are just a few of the books on my ever-growing reading list. What books are on your 'list' currently? I'm always interested to hear your recommendations, especially if I can get them through my library *wink*

Have a great day! xo, Beka

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