Hello there! We’re basking in some beautiful autumnal sunshine here at the moment in Gibraltar. If the weather where you are isn’t too great I’ll have a word and see if we can share some of ours with you! Here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens:
A new skill to start the week
On Monday I went to an extra skills workshop with my Dressmaking teacher Dorcas Hammond to learn how to do shirring and make a shirring dress. I saw some of the work produced by my fellow Dressmaking students on the last workshop and it was beautiful. Shirring is such a useful technique, not only can you make pretty dresses, but also tops, waistbands and sleeves.
I can’t wait to find the time in my busy weeks to actually put my new found skills to the test! I have bought fabric and am raring to go! Now this little dress is ready to go to a young lady I know….
The end of an era
There has been much debate and regret on local social media and in the press about the demolition of the Queen’s Cinema. When we first arrived in Gibraltar we lived very close by and I loved the architectural style of it from the outside. On the two occasions I was able to attend events inside, it was so reminiscent of the old cinema in the town where I grew up, it felt so homely straight away.
It had closed as a cinema by the time we arrived here to live, as the new purpose built leisure complex at Kings Bastion had a couple of brand new screens, so I didn’t see it in its heyday. I think it’s such a shame that a developer or the Government didn’t turn it into a facility for the community. Perhaps showing old films or for local productions? Anyway, that won’t happen now, just the bottom of the walls and the skeleton of the balcony remain. So sad…
Whilst visiting the home of a friend this week I spied this mantis on the window of the stair well. It rather took me by surprise! They are fascinating creatures to see up close!
Sewing in the dark…
Whilst at my regular Dressmaking class this week we had a power cut. It was so frustrating as I was on a roll seaming my trial run trousers. I had just one inside leg left to sew, so I had to finish it off cranking the wheel by hand by the light of my phone torch! It didn’t half make my shoulder ache! A handle or even better, a treadle would have been much easier! There’s a lot to be said for manual power, or pedal power – it won’t let you down in a power cut!!
We have had some truly beautiful sunsets this week because we’ve had clear skies and whispy clouds. This is the gorgeous one we enjoyed on Wednesday.
Those clear skies I mentioned… just check out these on Friday. It was absolutely glorious. I went for a very boring trip into town on an admin mission and bumped into Mr Postcard. We had an impromptu lunch in Ocean Village with this lovely view (below):
Guess where we went shopping?
Many months ago I promised Eldest that I would take him to Ikea. (He had his eye on a new desk lamp). We have an affection for all things Scandinavian, you may remember we made a special trip to Stockholm earlier this year. Anyway yesterday was the day we went back to Ikea. We were able to stock up on a few sweet Swedish treats!
We’re into October already, which hardly seems possible. Here’s a few of my September highlights:
That’s all from Sunday Sevens for another week. I hope you have a great week ahead…
Hello there and welcome to the first Sunday Sevens of June! Wowzers, June already! That came around quickly…
Here’s this week’s edition of Sunday Sevens, seven photos from the past seven days:
A morning stroll
One morning this week I found myself wandering around Upper Town. It was glorious up there, the views are amazing.
The sewing begins!
After weeks of pattern cutting, hole disguising and tweaking lining, sewing began in earnest this week at my dressmaking class. I think I’m going to like this top once it’s finished!
Walking on the runway
On Wednesday I had a meeting on the northern side of the runway and had a stroll across it in the sunshine to get there. It never ceases to amaze me that here in Gib, you can actually walk across the runway… I was stopped from crossing on the way back while we waited for a rather sleek private jet to take off before I could head home.
I attended a very inspiring event this week put on by Start Up Grind Gibraltar. It featured successful professional women talking about how they got to where they are and what needs to be done to help more women succeed. It was a great event, and reminded me to just go for it! (I’m not yet sure what ‘it’ is though!)
On Thursday, the kids had the day off school for Ascension Day. They didn’t want to go to the beach or the park, so we went bowling instead. We will be hosting the Island Games in Gibraltar next month and as bowling is one of the sports on offer, our bowling alley has had a bit of a makeover. It got our seal of approval.
A mahoosive boat
This week I have spent rather a lot of time working at my laptop on the dining table and whilst looking for inspiration I’ve gazed out of the window and I have seen so many boats. There was a very striking yacht with black sails, another yacht which quickly wound in its sails to cope with strong winds, and then, yesterday, this huge container ship came past our window. Just check out how big it is compared to the dolphin safari boat which you can see to the right of the picture.
Sewing the Rock of Gibraltar
I spent a rather fun few hours yesterday doing a spot of sewing. I have been so busy with work stuff lately that crafty fun time has been very low on the agenda. I haven’t picked up my crochet hook in weeks – but that will change soon I hope! I had fun working on this Rock of Gibraltar for a project I’ll tell you about next week.
And that’s it from Sunday Sevens for another week. I’m afraid Postcard from Gibraltar has been rather neglected of late as I have had so much other stuff going on. I’m sure that things will get back to normal again once we head further into the summer (I hope).
Whatever you’re up to this week, I hope it’s a good one for you.
The sixteenth of December already?! Just 9 days to go to the big day – crumbs. Christmas has been looming but at last it’s just around the corner. We have had yet another busy week with end of term excitement, I’m hoping things start to calm down soon!
Last Sunday, my Mum and Dad arrived on the Rock for a couple of weeks. As I went to pick them up from the airport, the traffic came to a standstill to allow a plane to take off. It may be a bit of a pain at times but I still find it rather dramatic….
My Dad arrived just in time to celebrate his birthday. Any excuse for a thickly laden chocolate cake! Crazy end of term madness meant no time for a home-baked cake, but this one was rather tasty.
Last dressmaking class of 2018
The jacket I’ve been working on has progressed as far as it can for this year. It’s hanging up now waiting patiently for sleeves…
That’ll be why it was busy in town…
Town has been swarming with people this week, Christmas shoppers, visitors from across the border and one day, two rather large cruise ships paid us a visit too. The one on the left was gigantic!
We have been blessed with lovely weather this week, Sod’s Law meant that Thursday morning brought rain and strong winds just in time for my long-booked hair appointment! Still at least we had a gorgeous rainbow (and faint double rainbow) in the Bay. That’s always got to lift your spirits. A pair of bunkering ships were the pot of gold at the end.
Bye bye HMS Astute
On Friday the visiting nuclear submarine HMS Astute left Gibraltar. You may have seen it feature in last weekend’s Sunday Sevens as it arrived. I missed seeing it moving away from its moorings but caught a glimpse of it out in the Bay. Never a dull moment in Gibraltar – there’s always something going on!
Yesterday evening I found myself on the Eastside of the Rock. It was so peaceful and the sky was changing colour as the sun went down behind me. That’s another week done, just one week left of school term craziness before we can all relax and enjoy our festive celebrations. Things have been at fever pitch in our house just lately with all the extracurricular goings on in the lead up to the big day – I’m ready to stop the ride and get off!
I do hope that you have had a good week and that this week is a good one for you too.
Before I go though, I have to recommend a YouTube video. Gibraltar vlogger Ninja Monkey has just posted a fab video showing him climbing the Med Steps. It gives a great idea of what it’s like for anyone who hasn’t walked up them themselves and if you are thinking about tackling them yourself, you’ll see what you’re in for. Do give it a watch – you won’t be disappointed. The link for it is here.
Hello there, I hope you’re having a nice weekend. We have been blessed with some lovely weather this week (I wore a T-shirt to do the afternoon school run on Friday), but – and it’s a big but, I have it on good authority that we are in for some very wet weather over the next seven days.
It’s funny you know, whenever there are severe weather warnings for the British Isles, that often means that for us down here on the southern most tip of the Iberian Peninsular get pretty rubbish weather too – admittedly not as cold as ooop north, but, still bad. So, as the UK grabs it’s thermals and digs out the shovels and grit to cope with a big freeze and snowy weather, we are digging out our wellies and rather fetching waterproof trousers to cope with an impending monsoon.
Anyway, weather talk aside, here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens…
Sunset across the Bay
Clearly last Sunday nothing of note occurred as I didn’t take any photos. This lovely sunset happened on Monday though. All of a sudden the apartment was bathed in the most beautiful orange glow and I looked out of the window to see that the sun was just about to set behind the hills directly opposite our apartment windows. Each day the sun is setting further to the right (north west) as we get closer to spring and it was a beautiful beam of orange which signalled the end of Monday’s daylight.
Seaside blanket silliness
I’m really enjoying the twice weekly instalments of the Coastal Crochet Seaside stash busting blanket Crochet Along. Last week, one of my fellow CAL-ers uploaded a cute photo to Instagram with a Lego diver, seaweed and fish on her blanket and I thought I’d join in with the silliness. I spent rather longer than I should have digging about in search of a Playmobil diver and his gear, but only managed to locate his breathing apparatus. I gave up and raided the bath toy box for this pair. I have a horrible feeling our diver has met a sticky end somewhere. (Note to self : I really must grow up).
At my dressmaking class this week I finished my slice and slide frill around the top of my toile dress. It was removed from the mannequin and converted from lots of jigsaw pieces of fabric to just two to check I had the correct drape for the frill. It’s not looking too bad. I’m awaiting instruction on what to do next….
I have been attempting to start a rainbow crochet blanket (requested by a Little Postcard) for a few weeks now, but I have really struggled with it. First of all, I tried a new ripple pattern, which required a lot of concentration by me. I really wanted something I could do without too much thought in front of the telly, but I kept getting so far and having to frog it because I’d made a mistake way back at the start of the row.
On top of this I wasn’t completely happy with the colours I had chosen. I picked them online and got them sent to Gib, but when they sat next to each other, they were a bit harsh. I finally relented and went to the wool shop here in Gibraltar and bought three complimentary shades which evened out the rainbow effect I wanted. I also found a new ripple pattern which worked better for me. Back to the drawing board, but I had a plan!
I mentioned a the start of this post that we have had some beautiful weather this week. This was the gorgeous blue sky on Wednesday lunchtime. I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch but she got a call from school to say one of her little ones was ill, so lunch was postponed and I got the bus home. This was the view from the bus stop over the top of the park and Trinity Cathedral to the top of the Rock in the distance.
I managed to finish my latest watercolour painting at my watercolour class this week. I’m rather pleased with these daffodils. They go well alongside my iris painting from a couple of weeks ago. I have decided to have a go at another painting in this same style with pen and watercolour, and after a bit of a poll on Instagram, it’s been decided that tulips should be my next subject!
I love it when a plan comes together…
My persistence paid off I think, the rainbow blanket is coming along well (although not fast enough for the Little Postcard who wants it for his bed…. “When will it be finished Mummy??” “Errr, don’t hold your breath son.”) I’m finding these ripples so relaxing to make, with not too much counting required by me. I have enjoyed a couple of episodes of Wallander on Netflix as I hooked these rows during a few quiet moments. I have been wanting to work on this all the time and it has come with me to football training and a football match just in case I get the chance to hook a few extra rows! My kids are seriously considering disowning me….
Did you see Batman in my last Sunday Sevens? He’s still up there bless him – I took this photo at 10:30 last night. They must have good helium in Gibraltar!!!
That’s all for this week’s Sunday Sevens, I hope you have a good week. If you are in the snow, keep warm, if you are in the wet, keep dry and I’ll see you next week, same time, same place. Toodleooo!
Hello there, I hope you have had a good week. It’s been as busy as always Chez Postcard and I’m staring down the barrel of a frantic few weeks with all the pre-Christmas antics there are are for the Little Postcards. There’s actually one day next week where I need to be in 4 different places at the same time…. I may be calling on the services of Dr Who and his Tardis to get everything done!
Here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens…
A sunny start to the week
There was an in-service day for some of the Little Postcards on Monday. I haven’t been feeling too great for the last couple of weeks and they behaved so well for me letting me have an easy day, that we did a late afternoon trip to the park at Europa Point for ice cream as a reward. (My fluey cold from the other week turned into bronchitis 😕). The weather was glorious, as you can see, with just the hint of a Levanter cloud forming on the top of the Rock.
It’s finished #1><
Ta-dah! It’s finished at last! I have actually completed a blouse in my Dressmaking class, with a collar, cuffs and buttons (although I was tempted with velcro when the button holes weren’t behaving as I wanted them to). It’s a bit ‘loud’ colourwise so I’m not sure when I’ll wear it… perhaps under a cardigan!
Cloud free skies!><
We had more beautiful cloud-free skies mid-week. We have been so lucky to have a warm, dry autumn here in Gibraltar so far. I’m dreading having to dig the waterproofs out when the rains come….
It’s finished #2><
It’s been quite the week for finishing things, I managed to finish my autumn crochet wreath – before the end of autumn (a miracle!). I’m thrilled with how it turned out, it looked great in the autumnal sunshine on our front door. The kit came in a Little Box of Crochet and the designer was Kate Eastwood of Just Pootling.
Not much watercolour progress…><
I guess I can’t finish everything at once, so I’m still working on my watercolour painting of town. I’m getting there slowly but surely.
A new project><<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Yesterday I treated myself to starting a new crochet project. I was very disciplined and waited until I’d finished my wreath before cracking open another little box of crochet…
Christmas is coming>
The Gibraltar Christmas lights were turned on on Friday night and yesterday we took a trip into town to visit Gibraltar’s first ever Christmas market. There are artisan stalls set up in little wooden huts, you can even get mulled wine – it smelled lovely (I shall have to go back once I finish my antibiotics!).
I’m linking with Natalie (the proud Mummy of a beautiful new baby girl) from Threads & Bobbins for this weekly Sunday Sevens blog series.
Another week has flown by and it’s already Sunday afternoon – do you ever want a pause button just to stop the world for a moment or two? We’ve had such a busy week in our household this week and I could do with another weekend to catch my breath and take stock (you can probably appreciate the state of mild chaos I find myself in if you noticed that my previous post was published almost a month early by accident – so far, last week’s photo challenge photo is as yet untaken!).
Anyway without further ado, here’s this week’s edition of Sunday Sevens….
Another Sunday, another beachy crochet pic…
Last Sunday was another glorious autumnal day, perfect for heading down to the beach again, crochet hook in hand. I’m busy working on a Christmas gift, but time’s running away with me already and I’m really not as far along as I would’ve liked to be by this point….
Monday morning Med Steps
The lovely weather continued into the start of the week and I had a lovely trip up the Med Steps again on Monday. I glanced up at one point and saw the Europa Point Lighthouse framed beautifully by the branches of a tree.
Technicolor Tuesday sewing
In my Dressmaking class on Tuesday I started working on the sleeves of my blouse. The photo shows the slit at the cuff of my sleeve which is just waiting for a cuff to be added.
Misty Med Steps
Wednesday began rather murky and misty. I really enjoyed my walk back down the Rock from the summit of the Med Steps. Looking out to sea from the road, there was nothing but mist and cloud, it was as if I was on the edge of an abyss. I love it when it’s like this, it’s so atmospheric and magical looking.
After the mist cleared on Wednesday, we had a scorching hot afternoon. Standing outside school waiting for the Little Postcards, I could feel the sun burning my back through my shirt. By dinner time however, the clouds had rolled in and we were treated to a fab lightning storm and then rain shower. Talk about four seasons in one day.
Sunset skies in watercolour
I’ve been working on sunset skies at watercolour class… this is about the third attempt. Mixing that correct shade of orange has proved tricky…
Yesterday, hundreds of middle school children from across Gibraltar came together to participate in the annual Mini Olympiad. Organised by the Royal Gibraltar Police, the event is aimed at introducing young people to the joys of sport as a way of avoiding bad life choices later on (ie drugs).
The Olympiad began with a congregation in the Piazza with an address from the Head of Police, Mayor and a priest’s blessing before a parade through town to the Victoria Stadium. The Parade was led by the drums and bagpipes of the Sea Scout band and the members of the historical re-enactment society and their very loud cannon.
After an opening ceremony and the firing of the cannon, the sports began. It was a great event and was enjoyed by us, although a certain young man was feeling rather achey and tired today after his exertions yesterday!
(Thank you to my friend Sarah for taking this photo for me – I managed to leave home without my phone, but she saved the day!)
Good morning, I hope you are having a good weekend. This week has seen a return to my watercolour class after a very long summer haiatus. It was so nice to be back…
Sunday afternoon on the beach
Last Sunday we did something rather out of character — we went to the beach. We aren’t huge beach goers normally as we don’t enjoy the crowds or the heat at the height of summer. We do, though, rather like sneaking down there out of season.
As you can see from the photo above, we weren’t alone, but there was loads of open space where we could sit, chat, splash and dig without upsetting anyone else.
My neighbours may not agree with me but I really do try to keep a lid on the level of noise coming from our apartment (I don’t think I’ll ever get used to living so close to other people). Being somewhere where the Little Postcards can scream and shout without upsetting anyone is a very valuable space for me.
Oh, and I got a bit of crochet done too…
Monday Med Steps
Last week on one of my Med Steps trips I was surrounded by a pack (troop?) of apes, on Monday it was Barbary Partridge bingo! There were loads about. This pair were very tame and I got very close before they scarpered.
Don’t you just hate it when that happens? I was making great strides with attaching my collar to my blouse at Dressmaking class when I managed to accidentally sew my underarm seam to the collar by accident – whoops!
Med stepping into the Levanter
These two photos were taken about 20 minutes apart. One below the cloud in bright (and rather hot) sunshine. The other at the top of the Rock and slap bang in the middle of the Levanter cloud.
I started Wednesday morning’s walk in hot sun but was relieved to hit the cool, damp Levanter near the top. I almost took an amazing photo at the top… as I gazed up at the misty summit, on that low bit of wall to the right of the fence was the silhouette of a mother ape with a baby on her back. By the time I’d got my phone camera on, they’d vanished into the mist. Never mind…
Thursday morning saw my return to watercolour class. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it over the summer. Our teacher began the new term with a refresher lesson on washes. It came just in time for me to get back to a picture I was working on before summer which had a very dodgy wash for the sky. My new aim for this term is to be less wishy washy with my colours – I need to embrace BOLD!
Beautiful Botanic Gardens
You may have noticed that my excercise levels have gone up in recent weeks. After a rather sedentary summer I have a good few kilos which I need to shed. On Friday I took a trip into town and on the way home I opted to walk rather than catching the bus. I was rewarded by with a walk through the beautiful Alameda Botanical Gardens.
On Instagram recently I have noticed lots of crafty people publishing photos of the WIPs (work in progress) they have completed as part of a WIP-along with Gosling & Plumb. Check out the blog post in the link above to find out more about it.
When I finished my last crochet project (Jenny’s Mandala from Little Box of Crochet) I almost started something new but I could hear some of my many WIPs calling me from carrier bags hidden in my secret hidey hole. So far I have worked on three; circles in granny squares (see beach crochet photo), a green granny square blanket and a cute crochet cactus pin cushion from a Simply Crochet Magazine kit.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a read about my week. It’s been lovely to have your company.
In my Sunday Sevens over the past few months I have alluded to the fact that I was working on a special secret sewing project. I can now reveal what I was making was a wedding gift which was given last month. You have probably guessed by now from the title that it was a quilt…
It isn’t my first attempt at making a quilt, that happened when Eldest was about 6 months old. Coping with being a new parent, selling a house and moving to a new area, I fancied an additional challenge. I decided to make a quilt for his pram and as my sewing machine was well and truly buried under boxes of junk, I sewed it completely by hand. Using paper hexagons and some fabric I had bought on the local market I set to work, much to the bemusement of those around me.
It was rather a long winded affair but I managed to complete it while he was still young enough to need it in his pram! It lasted well, despite my hand stitching, and was used by both of his brothers.
I started and failed to finish a much larger quilt for a double bed after that, it still languishes in a box somewhere in the back of beyond I’m ashamed to say… My next attempt was completed using scraps of material I had in my stash; from new pieces of cotton and a few fat quarters bought many moons ago to salvageable parts of Mr Postcard’s old work shirts and even a pair of my Dad’s old pyjama bottoms!
I made this one especially for Mr Postcard to bring in his suitcase to Gibraltar when he moved here on his own a few months before we came to join him. It was a thin summery quilt and meant that he didn’t have to rush out and buy a whole load of new bedding in the interim before we arrived with the furniture van several months later.
Next was this starry affair for the astronomy fan in the family. Made using a large central panel featuring the solar system this was a quick make over a weekend and a perfect birthday present for a young man who still uses it 6 years on.
And that is where my quilt making endeavours end until my recent make, well apart from another unfinished project – my only other attempt at paper piecing aside from my first ever quilt. I am embarrassed to admit I started this for Middle Postcard when he was still small enough to like sea creatures (well he still does to be honest) and most specifically the Octonauts programme on CBeebies. Then I had another burst of activity when Littlest came along and when he had an interest in pirates and sea creatures. Then I ran out of steam…. Perhaps I will have a grandson one day who might like it?!
Now to the present day and the latest quilt. It was for a very special couple who like the colour green and the great outdoors. With those criteria in mind I ordered some fabric.
It’s so difficult to order fabric online I find, especially if you want different fabrics to sit closely together – you could end up with something which looks good on the computer screen but in reality clashes hideously. I took a gamble and it paid off, the different fabrics looked just dandy next to each other. (It arrived the same day as a Little Box of Crochet- hence the photo).
So the fabric had arrived, but what to do with it? I had all sorts of grand plans for patterns, log cabins etc but thankfully common sense prevailed before I got scissor happy. I opted for the most straight forward design I could think of – squares. Don’t be fooled by squares though – I have discovered to my cost over the years that squares can be tricky little blighters especially if their corners don’t behave and join up with their neighbours in the right way.
I spent a very happy day planning and cutting. I had an unusually free day with absolutely nothing to do whist the Little Postcards were at school (well apart from the usual housework but that can wait). I had such fun listening to podcasts while I worked, it felt like bliss!
I even managed to get some sewing done as I made up the horizontal rows of the quilt. I worked right down to the bell and had to clear everything up as quick as a flash and run to school in time for pick up time.
A week or so later I had the chance to get my machine out again and get the rows finished and then join them. I am so pleased with how they went together, clearly my almost two years of dressmaking classes with a very exacting teacher who has taught me the merits of careful measuring and 1cm seam allowances have paid off! Just look at the corners on THAT!
The quilt top then had to be put away for a while as things got too busy. In the meantime I bought a good quality king size white sheet for the backing of the quilt and ordered some nice cotton batting to go in the middle of the quilt sandwich. And finally the time came for me to make that sandwich. I had kind of been dreading it, thinking that this could be the point when I finally make a mess of the good work I had done patching the top together.
I was so so careful laying the three different layers out onto the lounge floor, trying my utmost to make sure there were no lumps, bumps or bulges anywhere. I carefully pinned all the layers together before tacking them all together both horizontally and vertically along all the seams. Perhaps this was a bit belt and braces and over the top but I didn’t want to come a cropper when it was time to machine quilt it and it all go wonky.
I machine quilted in the joins between the squares and held my breath for much of it. I have learned from experience that what looks good on the top of the quilt may look dreadful underneath. It worked though!
Next up, binding. I bought a fifth fabric at the same time as I chose the fabric for the top of the quilt. I had intended to use it in the pattern, but the dark grey looked too much of a contrast with the pale grey and acid green of the other patterns so I held on to it and decided to use it to bind the quilt together.
I have never made my own bias binding before but as a habitual reader of craft books over the years I had a pretty good idea of how to go about it. With a protractor to get my angles right I set about marking out the strips ready to be cut.
The whole process was really easy, the only problem I had with the whole thing came when I discovered that my iron shoots out steam horizontally and as I was holding the folds into place before steaming them my fingers got a bit sore!
The binding went on fine as well, although at times I found it a bit tricky to try and pick up all the fabric on the back of the quilt as well so a little hand stitching had to be done to make sure everything was neat and tidy.
And so it was done. Would you like to see it in all it’s glory?
I am really pleased with how it all turned out. What’s most important is that the recipients of the quilt liked it too. (And when I took it to my dressmaking teacher to show her – she said it was worth a gold star, so that was a real seal of approval 😊).
For interest I bought all of the quilting fabric for this project and the batting from Quilt Room. The staff were really helpful especially when I was slightly dim and did something daft at the online checkout – thank you ladies!
Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely Mums, Grandmas and everyone else too.
Here’s the gorgeous Mother’s Day window at Originarta shop which featured in my post on Upcycling recently in my Creative Gibraltar series.
Now to the rest of week’s edition of Sunday Sevens…
I had the excuse to buy some flowers this week for somebody and thought these yellow gerberas were just lovely. Such sunny flowers!
Company at the top
I made my first trip up the Med Steps for this week on Wednesday. It was so warm. Although it was cool to start with, once we’d climbed round to the eastern side of the Rock, it was in direct sunshine and sheltered from the wind.
In spite of the heat, my friend and I managed it in under thirty minutes for the first time this year. We have talked about doing the Med Steps 5 Challenge again this year, but by this time last year we had done it at least twice round if not three times round in our training… I’m not sure whether we’ll (read I’ll) be ready to do 5 times round this time.
The start of another painting
There’s not much to show for this week’s watercolour class as there was a lot of planning (and quite a lot of chatting) but I have started a new painting. I have fancied having at go at trying to paint a section of the Med Steps seeing as I’m such a frequent visitor these days.
I have hundreds and hundreds of photos of the Steps, wildflowers and views on my phone that it was quite hard to make decision which one to go for. We’ll see how this one turns out….
It was a beautifully clear morning on Friday, when I made a solo trip up the Steps. I had toyed with the idea of making my first ‘twice round’ trip, but alas no. There just wasn’t enough in the tank, so I headed home after the first circuit and used my time sewing! I’m working on a secret project which I can’t share yet, but I promise I will as soon as I can.
In the meantime just check out how clear the mountains across the Strait were on Friday. There are times when you almost feel like you can reach out and touch Morocco – it’s so close and clear!
A few hours later…
We had a very heavy hailstone shower just a few hours later after lunch! The spring weather is a bit unpredictable at the moment… four seasons in one day!
Bunnies and crochet don’t mix, or so I learned this week. Every evening we get Diamond out to have a run around the lounge. He loves the freedom and bunny hops his way from one end to the other and tries to fit into holes he really shouldn’t be able to fit into (if the laws of physics have anything to do with it).
One evening I was sitting with my crochet and I hadn’t realised the ball of yarn had rolled off the sofa and onto the floor. All of a sudden I felt a tugging on the other end of the yarn and I found this tinker all tangled up! He was none the worse for his ordeal, but I learned that trying to hold a fidgeting rabbit and trying to untangle him from a length of yarn at the same time is harder than you think!
That’s all for Sunday Sevens for this week, however you’re spending your day I hope you have a good one. Thanks so much for stopping by!
From making clothes for her Pippa doll out of scraps of discarded fabric, to creating the dress worn by Miss Gibraltar the night she became Miss World and setting dozens of sewing students off on their own making and designing careers, Dorcas Hammond tells me how she turned her passion into a creative business.
Christened with the name of a seamstress from the Old Testament, it would seem that Dorcas Hammond was born to sew. Her father, who Dorcas describes as a very religious man, had liked the name and as his wife was a keen seamstress herself, he thought it appropriate to name his second daughter Dorcas. Little did he know at that time, what an accomplished designer and dressmaker, she would later become.
Dorcas began sewing at a very young age. Her mother made curtains at home and she picked up the remnants of curtain fabric and hand sewed them to make dolls clothes. By the age of six, she was using her mother’s sewing machine in secret with the help of her older sister, Ingrid. “When my mother was out, my sister helped me get the sewing machine to work” she told me. The pair would operate the tredle-powered machine until Dorcas was able to manage on her own using her tip-toes to reach the pedal.
Her secret was only discovered when “the ironing lady (who came to the house) said she needed two sheets sewing together but as my mother wasn’t there it couldn’t be done. I told her I would do it and machined them together for her … the ironing lady told my mother that it was me who had done the sewing”. After being rumbled for using the sewing machine, Dorcas’s mum put her to work doing embroidery but she hated it, “I remember embroidering this bird and it was rubbish, I just wanted to sew”.
Later on in childhood, she would make simple clothes using Burda and Simplicity patterns and experiment with her cousin. They would lock themselves into a bedroom and measure, sew and fit the clothes. No one was allowed to see what they had done until they were completely happy with the finished result.
Dorcas’s passion for sewing continued into her teens, she began making clothes for clients at the age of 18 while working in a cosmetics shop on Main Street. Each lunchtime she would rush home at 1 o’clock, her mother would have her lunch prepared for her and she’d spend her lunch break sewing garments for clients before returning to work at 3pm for the second half of her shift.
In the evening, Dorcas would begin her sewing work again with the help of her mum. “My mother would go to bed when she got tired, but I would carry on until I’d finished. I couldn’t sleep until the garment was on the hanger – sometimes I’d sew until 2am”.
Sewing has run in Dorcas’ family for generations. Her grandmother had a workshop with her own mother making clothes. When Dorcas told her mum that she would like a workshop like her grandmother’s (at a time when no one else had one in Gibraltar), her mother said she was crazy and said she was to keep working at her job in the shop.
It wasn’t until the age of 26, when she’d been married and had her two sons and “had a load of problems that I decided it was the time to do it”. The ICC shopping centre had just opened in town and she opened her first shop there.
At that time, Dorcas created her garments using manufactured patterns but soon discovered that they didn’t always work well for her clients. “Someone would want a dress with a sleeve from this pattern, the skirt from another pattern and a top from the other pattern”. Dorcas then had to decipher how she was going to join all the elements together.
She’d had no formal training but was given a book of instructions on how to cut your own patterns by one of the ladies who did sewing for her. “I still have that book to this day” she says, “it was very old but I went through it and as I have always had a good eye, I knew some parts were wrong for what I was making. It was the first steps to the pattern cutting system I use and teach now”.
The first made-to-measure garments Dorcas created (using her own patterns) were for her mum before implementing the method in her shop. Because she’d not been formally taught how to make the patterns properly, Dorcas says she was always scared that she wouldn’t have enough fabric to fit the garments properly. As a consequence, she cut huge seam allowances. It wasn’t until she went to a crash course in pattern cutting in Madrid in 2000, that she learned the seam allowances only need to be 1 or 2cms.
While in Madrid, she was asked by one of the teachers why she had come to the course as Dorcas had created the best sample jacket sleeve the teacher had ever seen. It was thanks to this compliment that Dorcas left filled with the confidence to truly believe in her designing and dressmaking capabilities. That was almost seventeen years ago and since then her business has gone from strength to strength.
Alongside her dressmaking and designing business, Dorcas inadvertantly ended up teaching the skills she’d developed over the years to others. During the time she had run her shop, people had occasionally asked her to teach them dressmaking. She also took on interns every now and then from University, however it was an ecclesiastical request which set her on the road to teaching properly.
“I was at a song contest and Father Caruana asked me if I would teach some of his social cases. By the time I said yes, a room had already been set aside at Nazareth House and six sewing machines had been bought”. Dorcas spent several years volunteering at Nazareth House teaching not just sewing but life skills to the young women who attended the classes. She says “we discussed things like what you should wear to go to a job interview and how to behave” a bit like a mother or big sister might.
The lessons came to an end when Father Caruana died, but there were still a few students who wanted to carry on being taught. Eventually, Dorcas needed to find new premises for the lessons and converted the rear of her workshop into a classroom and began the Dorcas Hammond Fashion Academy. After perfecting her own method of pattern cutting, she compiled all her notes into a four year course to teach dressmaking, from beginners through to tailoring and wedding dress design.
Dorcas says she has had many highs throughout her career including fashion shows in London, Marbella, Morocco, Madrid and Portugal. She designed and created the Gibraltar National Costume worn by the Miss Gibraltar contestants when they attend pageants, and is most famous for creating the dress worn by the 2009 winner of Miss World, Gibraltar’s Kaiane Aldorino.
Dorcas says she still gets a thrill out of making dresses “I love what I do… I get butterflies in my stomach when it looks good”. The biggest highlight for her though, is seeing her students go out from her Academy and make the most of their great potential. So far she has seen former students go on to study fashion at University, get PGCEs and go into teaching themselves and one has opened her own fashion boutique. “I want them to achieve what I haven’t and fulfill their dreams” she says.
So what does the future hold for Dorcas? “Well I’m a chicken” she says. “If I haven’t done more things it’s because I take a long time thinking about doing them. When I was young I just jumped into things, but not so much now”. Her small alterations and dressmaking shop developed into a fashion design business and academy and the next step will see her selling her fashion designs online. “Some days I wake up and I say who will buy my clothes? But then I think if other people can do it why can’t I?”
Dorcas is currently working on her first online collection and is looking forward to launching it later on in 2017. You can find Dorcas at her shop on Governor’s Street and on Facebook and Twitter as Dorcas Hammond Fashion Design.