Homemade London: Mystery Workshop

A few weeks ago my friend and I had to cancel our long ago booked Mystery Workshop at Homemade London. The tube strike was in full force, the weather was stormy and traffic in Central London was grid-locked. We rescheduled and the evening came around again yesterday.

You book a place, paying £12, and basically have no idea what you’re going to be doing for the hour until you arrive. Apparently they’ve run Mystery Workshops since May and haven’t repeated one yet.

When we arrived I was slightly dismayed to see a table laid with jewellery making pliers and fixings. I’ve enjoyed the jewellery workshops we’ve done, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do for an hour last night. Then I popped downstairs to the loo and discovered my idea of heaven set up downstairs; a table lined with posh Janome sewing machines. ‘I guess they’re ready for tomorrow’s classes’ I sighed.

Wrong!

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A dainty glass of something vodka based with several raspberries (only wafted near a vodka bottle it has to be said, but that’s probably not a bad thing before handling jewellery pliers) before we started to make earrings. There were 10 in the workshop in all which was a good number. The girl running the workshop was lovely, bubbly, really helpful and fun.

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The atmosphere was good and great fun as we laughed, groaned and muttered all grappling with jewellery links, trying to open the chain links to make four separate chains (from a choice of silver, rose gold and gold) and affix shells (pearly or blue/black.) The girl opposite forgot to breathe as she concentrated hard, prompting concern from her friend as she turned slightly purple!
Half an hour on each activity of the workshop meant we had a little time to play with those super sewing machines; making little bags for our earrings.

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We shared the machines in pairs. It’s the same as G has, so she cranked up the speed and whizzed along.
My sewing’s definitely getting better. My little seams are pretty straight now.

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We’re getting a bit more cocky now that we’ve sewn a few things and think that the basic little bag design could be better, rather than having raw edges at the end of the ribbon seam. But I did enjoy having the chance to use a sewing machine. Before meeting in the afternoon I’d spent some time chatting to the sewing demonstrator in John Lewis, Oxford Street, discussing buttonholes (last week’s revisited skill along with another friend. I need some practice so I haven’t shown you!) The chat had whet my appetite to do some sewing. Good timing all round. We stayed to chat after the class for a few minutes talking about machine embroidery which I’d really like to try sometime. The book below was recommended…

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And that, was another good day.

Sew Happy Again

Yesterday my friend and I had another day of sewing after the success of our last get together. Another sausage and egg bap for late breakfast and then we sewed until dinnertime.

My friend has a really handy bag which she uses all the time, it was made by a Swedish acquaintance. She asked for the hand-drawn pattern so we could make one. The instructions seemed a little scant, but then when you’ve made 75 bags for a recent event you probably can’t even list the steps, you sew on auto pilot. I was a little fuzzy though, because I hadn’t ever seen the actual bag and my (dozy?) friend forgot to bring hers as a finished sample!

I have to tell you that:

a) it took us about 8 hours of sewing time

b) we were very hungry by dinnertime

c) I suddenly had a light bulb moment 10 minutes before we finished when I realised what the template instructions meant when they said ‘on the fold’. I apologise if by some magic the ear burning sensation was felt by the pattern writer  something along the lines of  “the instructions are a little poor as they were written by someone for whom English is an additional language.”  It really highlighted that anything I ever learnt at school about dress making and reading patterns has vanished into my brain of custard. Also that buying a sewing instruction book is pointless without actually reading the book – the knowledge and skills do not seep into your consciousness

d) next time we’re sure we could make these bags in 4 hours, or much less, as we literally doubled the amount of sewing by having double the quantity of pieces

e) at the end of the day we modelled the bags with an onion in each. It had been a long day by this point…

f) I refused to let my friend take her onion home as I was thinking of the spiced parsnip, ginger & apple soup I’m going to make

g) next time she can have all the onions she wants

Click on a photo if you want to view a larger size. Please don’t judge me on the straightness of my seams.

Mine needs ironing and the gappy part where you put your hand/scissors/moans and sighs (when it came to sorting out the handles) in to pull the whole thing the right way needs to be hand-sewn. That’s going to be the easy part – I will enjoy giving it many admiring looks as it’s the first bag I’ve ever sewn.

Onion anyone?