If you live in New York city then Peter organises the MPB meet-up and takes you to the very best fabric shops in the world only to be found in the garment district, then on to lunch at some fabulous Greenwich Village bistro.
If you live in London, then Pinheiro schedules a world record breaking meet-up to fit in with a stupendous exhition at the V&A of some world-renowned designer and a gourmet lunch for pattern and fabric swapping.
Anywhere else in Great Britain and you get the chance to join the Minerva meet up for demonstrations and workshops.
If you live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where do you go for your first ever local sewers’ meet-up?
A jail, of course!
This is the Crumlin Road Gaol, or the Crum , as it is known locally. Closed to the last prisoners in 1995 and now open to the public for tours, concerts, plays, exhibitions and nights out in a genuine Victorian jail setting.
Through some sort quirk of international politics involving NATO, the Cold War and east-west relationships the Bolshoi Ballet and the Russian Museum of Ethnography released some of their costumes for an exhibition in Belfast: the first time these costumes have been allowed out their country of origin. I got a wee bit lost in the explanation as to how this occurred but I’m very glad it did. From Bolshoi to Belfast – now there’s a phrase you don’t hear everyday!
The costumes were arranged along B wing with the exhibits in cells. This was an excellent way of showing the clothes as you had to walk into each cell to see what it held.
The operatic and ballet costumes were works of art; beaded embellishments, applique, embroidery – just breathtaking.
And the original ethnic clothes were inspiring and detailed.
Look at this little bolero – no shoulder seams, so obviously cut on the fold with a little shaping for the back of the neck. And the dress/apron underneath is entirely worked by hand using red cross stitching on white. This was a wedding outfit.
This one is entirely hand-made – see the little stitches? Done in white thread, no attempt to disguise the stitches.
We fell in love with this style of sleeves – slit so the blouse/garment underneath shows.
And while this one was for the chorus line, its simplicity impressed. It is cut on the bias and we all pictured ourselves wearing this in summer. The pattern is painted on the pale yellow linen and buttons are for decoration only, there are snaps underneath the front band (quick costume change I suppose).
Some of the later (1990s) costumes were just downright colourful and reminded us a little bit of Disigual
And if you have a stack of single buttons then make a collar
Here’s the four of us with some tutus – now there’s another phrase you don’t hear every day – LOL
From L – Lynne, Evelyn, me and Stephanie.
Each of these wonderful ladies was resplendent in their own makes: Lynne in one of her signature print dresses, Evelyn in a very stylish grey/silver skirt and matching top and Stephanie adorned with her incredible bead work in the form of a delicate bracelet and matching necklace. I wore black and brown AC.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had to leave to go to see the newest edition to our family – baby Harry, 15 days old today!
Thank you ladies for a great morning out and we’re planning on meeting up again in a few months time. So if anyone else out there would like to join in there’s plenty of advance warning. Can’t promise you an Alexander McQueen retrospective or Goldhawk Road fabric shopping but good chat, good fun and meeting some incredibly talented people.