If you’re keen to use your sewing skills in a different way, then our Art Cloth Doll Making workshops here at Gartmore House may just be your cup of tea! Here, tutor Angela Neilson explains a bit more about what you can expect to learn from the course, and showcases examples of some of the dolls created by own hand and by her students: I look forward to welcoming everyone, no matter what the skill level or past experience, to my Art Cloth Doll workshop. Beginners will be surprised at what they can achieve; rest assured that you can make a doll you are delighted with. In addition to the courses I’ve run at Gartmore House, I have facilitated a similar workshop with school-age children with great success.So you don’t have to be an expert with a needle and thread or sewing machine. More experienced stitchers can enjoy using their talents in a project unlike any other, making a unique, one of a kind, doll. Making dolls is a great ice breaker if you’re making new friends on the course, and there is always a great deal of hilarity over the creating and handling of dis-articulated “body parts”.
Previous workshop participants have had a great time, and some particularly skilled ladies produced dolls of a standard way beyond my expectations. These examples shown here in this blog (of students work) are outstanding, but don’t be intimidated, something more straightforward can be just as effective.
Although we are making dolls, there is no need to stick with traditions. This is an opportunity to be daring and pursue the ‘artistic’ side of cloth doll making. Recently, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, researching modern portraits by artists such as Picasso and Mondrian, using what I have learned to make less traditional doll faces.
Modern Style Doll’s Head
If you have any questions/concerns then I’m happy to help answer them – please just get in touch with the team at Gartmore House who will in turn put you in touch with me. We could even arrange to have a phone chat about what the holiday offers, before you commit. I looking forward to seeing you in May or October 2020.
For further information about tutor Angela’s Art Cloth Doll Making Workshops at Gartmore House or if you’re ready to BOOK NOW, please visit the Course Webpage, or give our friendly team a call on +44 (0) 1877 382991.
#gartmore experience | gartmorehouse.com | email@example.com | +44 (0) 1877 382991
We’re super excited to introduce our new CORSETRY / CORSET MAKING residential courses here at Gartmore House. Tutor and corsetiere Alison Campbell (owner of ‘Crikey Aphrodite’) says hello and explains more in our guest blog:
Corsetry Tutor – Alison Campbell
I’m very much looking forward to meeting some enthusiastic budding corset-makers at my classes for Gartmore House. I’ve been running Crikey Aphrodite for over a decade now, making bespoke corsets for everyone from brides to performers and people of all ages. Clients looking for a beautiful shape, bust and back support, or just a gorgeous eye-catching garment. I’ve also been teaching for a number of years as I just love seeing others fall into the addiction of corsetry.
The amazing thing about corsets is that they allow you to really let your imagination and creativity fly, but within the constraints of a fairly small, structured garment. In fact corsets in themselves are rather like sculpture, with beautiful lines and curves. They allow you to apply all sorts of other crafts such as embroidery, lace, fabric painting. Or just to showcase that gorgeous piece of fabric you’ve been saving that was too small for anything else.
The corset most people are familiar with, and is most used in modern corsetry, is the late Victorian shape. Very curvy, with good bust support, and works on most figures. This is the style I use in beginners classes. As it’s the easiest to wear with contemporary clothing, either as under or outerwear. It’s also the style most think of as being tightlaced. However it can be as gentle and supportive as you wish it to be. A lot more comfortable and infinitely more beautiful than modern day shapewear. In fact, even the Victorians didn’t lace as tight as is popularly believed. I’ll be dispelling some of the many myths that surround corsetry during our time together.
The other style of ‘corset’ I’ll be exploring with students at Gartmore House is a little earlier and very in keeping with the period of the building. We’ll be taking a turn back to the 18th century and making stays. The type of ‘corset’ (the word wasn’t really used for this earlier style) we see through Elizabethan times right up to the late 18th century was a variation on this conical shape. It shifted and altered subtly over the centuries and ended up with that familiar and very striking shape. Those of you who have been watching Outlander will be used to seeing stays on heroine Claire and other supporting female characters. Also films such as Dangerous Liasions and Marie Antoinette are very inspirational. They are very comfortable to wear, and for this reason, as well as the amazing shape, have been used heavily by designers such as Vivienne Westwood and often show up in bridalwear. We won’t go into full historical accuracy, as we won’t quite have time to hand stitch an entire set of stays… we’ll opt for the modern shortcuts. But we will discuss them, so if accurate reenactment is your thing you will learn where to take the knowledge you gain. However if you want the look and a modern interpretation, we’ll achieve that too.
I can’t wait to share my love of corsetry with you and spend time talking about it as well as sewing of course. So do come along and join us. I can’t provide the time travelling stones of Outlander, but I can make sure you’re dressed appropriately in case you do.
Our lovely Sewing Tutor, Gill McBride is an absolute whizz with a sewing machine. She’s the go-to guru for all things involving dressmaking and patterns. In this Q&A blog Gill shares her top tips and answers some questions about the course – we hope you find it helpful! Q What are your top 3 tips for great sewing?
Get to know your sewing machine! It’s the first thing any new sewer, or any sewer with a new sewing machine, should do. Over the years I have found that a ‘fear’ of the sewing machine is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to being a happy sewer. Once you understand how to de-tangle it, re-thread it, sort the tension and so on, then you’ll be able to go straight to sewing without worrying about ‘what if’ the machine ……!
Sew in stages! Most of us don’t have time to sit and make a whole garment at one sitting! I’ve learnt this over the 45 years that I’ve been making clothes. So, break your project up into stages. Cut and prepare your pattern as one stage; pin your pattern and cut your fabric as the second stage; prepare for sewing and start sewing as a third stage and finally, do your finishing. In this way, you’ll make far fewer mistakes, you’ll manage to fit in an hour here and hour there and you’ll get your garment/project made – even though you have a full time job or are a full-time family and house person – without disrupting normal routines.
Press as you go! Lack of pressing is one of the key things that makes a project look ‘home made’. If you press as you go, you will be amazed at the difference in your finished garment/project!
Q What is your favourite thing to make and why?
A I just love to tailor a jacket. Even though I use modern speed tailoring techniques, it takes quite a long time and in fact the preparation takes most of the time and the sewing probably the least of the time. But it is so satisfying. And because the prep work has taken so long, the sewing to me, is less likely to have to be undone and redone! I suppose that’s because I’m really taking my time to make the jacket properly and not hurrying as I do with so many other sewing projects!! Ready to wear jackets never fit me very well because of my shape, so the pure pride and satisfaction of wearing a jacket that fits me really well, is immense!
Q Who are your courses at Gartmore House aimed at?
A The courses are aimed at all levels of sewers. The beauty of the sewing holiday is that we have 4 sewing days, so there is lots of time for everyone. So if you are not so confident with your sewing, or you don’t have a lot of experience, you will still have time over the 4 days to learn and to sew and you won’t hold anybody up. The number of people on the course is small, so I have lots of time to spend with each person at whatever stage of sewing they are at. The only course that probably demands more experience is the speed tailoring course. It is much more demanding and it is better suited to more experienced sewers. Q What about Sewing Machines?
A Sewing machines come in all shapes and sizes and the best advice is to buy according to your budget. Don’t ever be persuaded to buy more than you will use. It’s easy to upgrade at a later date, but to buy a machine and not use most of it is a pity! At Gartmore House, I can provide sewing machines (hire is £40 for the longer course or £20 for a weekend course), and I also bring along an overlocker. So if you can’t manage to bring a machine with you, that’s not a problem at all. Just let me know beforehand via the team at Gartmore House, and I’ll bring a machine for you to use. And, if you’ve never used an overlocker and are curious, then you can try one out!
Q What’s the best thing about a sewing/dressmaking holiday at Gartmore House?
A Having the time to sew without distraction; having company to sew with; having someone there to help with the sewing problems and questions; having loads of laughs, loads of fun and making new friends! I love it!
If you’re interested in joining Gill on a Sewing Patterns/Dressmaking residential course at Gartmore House, please take a look at the course webpage, give us a call on 01877 382991 or email our team firstname.lastname@example.org – we look forward to seeing you!
Tutor Angela runs our Art Cloth Doll Making courses at Gartmore House and explains a bit more about what you can expect from the course:
It is such fun making cloth character dolls. In March the participants in the other craft class at Gartmore House couldn’t understand why there was so much hilarity in our workshop! All our work was closely scrutinized by a very cute four-footed friend (well-behaved dogs are welcome at the House) – I think he approved, although he liked the home bakes better… Making a cloth doll is a lot easier than you might think. You do not need expert sewing skills, just the courage to give it a go. Forty 12 year-old school pupils who worked with me in 2018, some of whom couldn’t use scissors far less a sewing machine at the start, all achieved fantastic results with their marionettes/dolls.
The school pupils worked in pairs on one doll. There was only one pair who couldn’t manage to compromise on their design, so they made a half man, half panda!! If you enjoy holidaying with a friend, why not come and create something unique together.
Over the 4 days that the course runs at Gartmore House, I will explain each step in detail with demonstrations, worksheets, samples, diagrams and personal one-to-one support. As this class is an introduction to the craft, we will use a fairly basic pattern to get you started, thus avoiding complex joint construction. However I will still ensure you learn all the skills needed to make a characterful cloth doll – both to finish your doll and create more at home. Everything you could possibly need and more, is provided for your first foray into doll making. But please feel free to bring with you any inspiring pictures, photos, fabrics, buttons, braids, ribbon, beads etc that you already have and might want to use. Just be aware that the dolls themselves often take on a character of their own, and so your plans might just play second fiddle to those of your creation!
I recently went to a doll making class myself as part of my continuing professional development and “made some mistakes”, shall we say. However I used those mistakes as inspiration. Come and meet “The Jester” and “The Last of the Mole Hecans” and I’ll let you in on their secrets.
Hope to see you at Gartmore House soon for some creative Art Cloth Doll Making fun! Angela Tutor – Art Cloth Doll Making
Visit our course webpage for Art Cloth Doll Making to find out more about dates, prices and a day-by-day itinerary. To book, visit our website, call us on 01877 382991 or email email@example.com.
So excited to be running a ‘Fabulous Fascinators’ weekend holiday at Gartmore House in August! If you’ve ever wanted to have a go at making wearable ‘sculpture’ – this is your chance! If you have a wedding to go to, or if you’re going racing or to a garden party – or any sort of party(!); if you are a bride or bridesmaid – or if you know one in need of a lovely fascinator – come along. If you are a crafter or embroiderer – or a budding milliner wishing to extend and expand your skills – come along too! The weekend will be suitable for all levels of skill and experience.
I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with you and I can guarantee you will leave with a fascinator or two which you will be very proud of. We can use similar skills to make corsages, brooches, shoe/bag clips, hair clips etc. if you feel a fascinator is not for you – or the trims we make can be used to update an old hat that you may have tucked away. Above all, the weekend will be creative fun.
I will be demonstrating how to make the foundation of a fascinator in several different ways (from scratch, from recycled millinery, from surprising raw materials) using traditional skills in a contemporary way. Then we will be playing with many different materials and techniques to trim them – making flowers in many different ways, beaded trims, abstract trims, sculptural trims, feather trims from vintage or found feathers (as I no longer like using ‘new’ feathers).
I will provide the foundation and raw materials required (£20/ pack) so you need bring nothing with you apart from a basic sewing kit if you have it, but all equipment and materials will be provided if necessary.
If you have a particular project in mind and need particular colours etc. then do bring small amounts of fabrics and trims (beads, buttons, ribbons, threads and so on) in your chosen colours to play with – and let me know in advance so I can bring along suitable colours for you too.
It will be a weekend of ‘fascinators without fear’ – a full on fun fascinator fest….
In September 2018 my husband and I (along with our springer spaniel Basil) packed our converted camper van and headed northwards from our home on the South East coast of Cornwall towards Gartmore House (located close to Aberfolye in the Scottish Trossachs) for a Felting Course. I had discovered Gartmore House and it’s residential courses/workshops quite by chance having sought out one of its resident tutors Ewa Kuniczak a (passionate felt maker/tutor of over 40 years experience and co-founder of The International Feltmakers Association).
Planning for the visit to Gartmore House had begun some twelve months prior to our visit and involved convincing my husband (who is not a Feltmaker) to accompany me. Thankfully he was easy persuaded based on the stunning location of the House, the availability of good fishing/walking close by and Tripadvisor reviews which gave Gartmore House good ratings for both their food and hospitality. An added benefit was that the local pub was within walking distance, was dog friendly and served a good whisky (he’s a “single malt kind of guy”, with a love of the peaty Islay whiskys).
We arrived at Gartmore House on a wet and rainy Sunday afternoon after a long drive from home. After walking the dog, unloading the car and settling into a very spacious bedroom with grand views across the surrounding countryside, we joined fellow students (and their partners) for an afternoon tea and a brief from the tutors in the grand old sitting room. Two courses were being run the week of our stay; the felting course on which I had booked and a watercolour painting course.
The next morning began with a hearty breakfast and a leisurely 10am start to our workshop. Having chosen/dyed the base fabric upon which we were going to create a large piece of Nuno felted material, we worked on the process of laying down our wool fibres ready for felting the next day. I had previously made Nuno felted jackets and coats however these had always been constructed using a template and a carefully considered approach. Ewa’s approach on this workshop however was more organic and intuitive with the focus on designing length of Nuno felted fabric first and only once this was completed then considering the drape/construction of the final finished garment. Initially I found this approach challenging as it took me out of my comfort zone however with Ewa’s encouragement and expertise as a teacher I started to engage with the process and my work quickly started to take shape in terms of design. By the end of day three I had successfully overcome my initial concerns and had constructed a piece of fabric which, when fully felted, became the reversible top seen here.
Days four and five allowed myself and another student on the workshop to develop our confidence and skills further as we focused on making a spiral scarf or a piece of neckwear. In designing/making this piece I tried to draw upon some of the influences/designs within the architecture of the house ie: stunning Mackintosh style windows/staircases and work in a bold colour palate of strong reds/blues to reflect the Scottish heritage. The results of applying Ewa’s intuitive approach in designing a garment from a single sheet of Nuno felted fabric were remarkable, and by the end of the five day workshop we were all proud owners of two quite individual and unique garments of which we were immensely proud.
I fully intend to return to a Gartmore House again soon to attend another of Ewa’s workshops for not only is she a passionate tutor but one who is incredibly generous in sharing her wealth of knowledge and skills. As for the staff at Gartmore House – all I can deliver is praise for their warmth and hospitality. If you are looking for 5 star accommodation then Gartmore House is perhaps not the place for you. If however if you are looking for a site with history, warmth and which is “good value for money” then step through the grand entrance of this lovely building…stay a few days and experience true Scottish hospitality.
Feltmaker (SE Cornwall)
To find out more about our Felting Courses at Gartmore House, visit our Felting course webpage, call us on 01877 382991 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Well the weather outside is freezing and grey so working with the bright vibrant colours of traditional Seminole Patchwork is warming and cheering!
Seminole Patchwork was developed by the Seminole Indians in Florida when sewing machines first became available and is a strip piecing technique which was used initially to decorate clothing. It’s a very flexible technique with a great variety of designs – some very suitable for beginners and some more challenging for the more experienced. The designs can be used not just for quilts but for runners, hangings, bags,cushions and more…
Here is a picture of my Seminole Quilt – a lovely project for 2019!
Happy Quilting Clare
Tutor – Gartmore House
Christmas is coming… Lace making tutor Jean Leader shares some of her festive crafty ideas…
Although Christmas is nearly three months away, I’ve already been asked about suitably festive patterns for bobbin lace to hang on the tree or use on cards. It’s a long time since I made my first lace ornament for our tree — a little green Christmas tree decorated with coloured beads inside a ring. At a lace course I was given an anonymous page with three patterns, one for the tree and two others for a candle and a star. I made all three and when they were finished attached each one to a bangle ready to hang on our tree (the original tree in a ring went missing a few years ago and for its replacement I used fabric stiffener to give it more body instead of a ring).
Tree, candle, star lace patterns
Since then I have built up quite a collection of Christmas patterns, some I’ve found in magazine or books, and others I have designed myself. I try to come up with at least one new pattern every year but I’m still thinking about something for this year and I still have plenty of time!
festive lace creations
If you’ve never made bobbin lace you may be wondering if you’d be able to make any of these. The answer is a very definite YES. The twisted spirals can be made by complete beginners and even the little tree would be possible — it’s made with finer thread which means there are more stitches (think 2-ply versus double knitting) but they are the same stitches. In case you’re wondering the spirals are made flat, then wound round a pencil wrapped in cling film (to keep the pencil clean) and painted with stiffener. Once they’re dry take out the pencil and hang them on the tree!
If you’re new to bobbin lace making I can bring what you’ll need to get going (pillow, bobbins, thread etc) — please just let the folk at Gartmore House know in advance.
On the other hand if you’d prefer to work on something other than Christmas decorations then please also get in touch. I’ll be happy to help if you have any questions. For further information on lace making courses, see our website or simply pick up the phone and give us a call on 01877 382991. Our next course before Christmas starts 9 November 2018. Find out more about tutor Jean Leader, visit https://www.jeanleader.net/
Sewing holidays are quite new at Gartmore House, but everyone who has come so far has loved them! Its such a treat to come to a wonderful place, be able to sew all day for 4 full days, be fed and treated as very special guests and not have to make the beds, think about dinner, or walk the dogs!
Our sewing holidays suit most sewers and will especially suit you if you are confident about using your sewing machine. You will pick up wee sewing tips as you go through each day and you will learn new techniques as well.
On the ‘Understanding and Fitting Patterns’ holiday, we spend a lot of time actually finding out all about the pattern – what’s in it and what information it is giving us. It’s amazing how much we don’t know about the pattern and even the pattern envelope. You’ll also learn how to take body measurements and then choose the correct size of pattern to cut before you even begin sewing. Everyone agrees that this is incredibly useful and informative.
By the end of the holiday, you should have made a toile or a practice dress/top in calico or some other practice material that you bring along, learned all about fitting it on you – with the help of everyone else on the course – and made your pattern adjustments. Many of you will manage to finish sewing your final dress/top before you leave.
The ‘Trousers’ week is great! How many times do we wish we could get a perfectly fitting pair of trousers and better still, MAKE the perfect pair of trousers. This is the holiday for you! You’ll get to grips with the pattern and hopefully really understand all about fitting those trousers. Crotch depths and crotch rise and all the terms used about trousers can be so confusing but we get them sorted out during this week, having lots of fun and laughs whilst we do it!
Speed tailoring a jacket
Other holidays that are planned include Speed Tailoring a Jacket. This holiday will suit intermediate and confident sewers to get the best from the holiday. It takes 3 full days to make a wonderful jacket for an experienced sewer but this course will get you to the point where you can take your jacket home and finish your hems and buttonholes etc. Its amazingly satisfying to fit and make your own jackets!
Each workshop will accommodate everyone who comes and Gill will work with all of you individually, ensuring that you get the best of attention and help when you need it. You will learn lots of sewing tips from Gill and from each other and your sewing knowledge and confidence will grow considerably. Hopefully you will go home ready to start a new project knowing that you will be able to finish it and be proud to wear it! Other sewing topics can be included in a holiday – just get in touch and let us know what you want to learn.
There is so much that goes on during an activity holiday at Gartmore House. We have put together an example activity holiday schedule, so you know what to expect when you arrive and over the next few days of your residential course. Sunday/Day 1 16:00Arrive and settle in. Tea and coffee available with a selection of home baking. You could use your free time to go for a walk along one of the area’s scenic routes, or take a wander up to Gartmore village, where there is a handy community-owned shop and friendly pub. 18:00 Welcome talk in the lounge. A member of our friendly team will give you a brief welcome talk. This is also an opportunity to get to know your tutor and other guests on your activity holiday. 18:30 Dinner time! Our fabulous chefs will make you a scrumptious 3 course dinner to start your week on a high. There is a set menu every day which offers 3 options for you to choose from. Example dinner mains include: Roast Loin of Pork, Pan-fried Fillet of Salmon or Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Curry. Please note: we will always cater to any dietary requirements we have been made aware of in advance. 21:00 Tea/coffee in lounge. Enjoy some down-time in the lounge, before the next busy day ahead.
Delicious dinner at Gartmore House
Monday/Day 2 08:30Breakfast. Get your day off to the best start with our wholesome cooked Scottish breakfast, made by our chefs using local produce. 10:00 Course begins (course will run until 4pm). Now the fun starts! You will get cracking on your projects for the week under the guidance of our expert tutors. For example on the Felting Holiday, previous guests have made hats, mittens or boots. 11:00 Tea/coffee break. Enjoy a little break with some tea/coffee and home baking. 13:00 Lunch. Enjoy a delicious homemade 2 course lunch and take a well-deserved break from the morning’s activities. An example lunch time menu is soup and a baked potato with filling. 15:30 Tea/coffee break. Time for an afternoon tea/coffee break, with some delicious home baking. 18:30 Dinner. Another freshly made 3 course dinner will be served. Further dinner menu examples include Tomato & Mozzarella Salad with balsamic glaze, Braised Beef and Sticky Toffee Pudding for dessert. 21:00 Tea/coffee in the lounge. A chance to chat and reflect on the day’s events.
Tuesday/Day 3 08:30 Breakfast. Another freshly made, traditional Scottish breakfast. 10:00 Course begins (course will run until 4pm). Another day to work on and progress with your projects. On a Photography Holiday for example, previous breaks have taken a trip to Loch Katrine to capture landscapes and water movement. 11:00 Tea/coffee break. Take a short break from your projects, and relax with a tea/coffee and cake. 13:00 Lunch. Another 2 course lunch will be served. An example of lunches includes soup and sandwiches. 15:00 Tea/coffee break. Time for some afternoon tea along with a selection of cakes. 18:30 Dinner. Our dinner menus vary daily, however another sample menu that you may be of your choice is: Trio of Melon Salad, Vegetable Kiev and Eton Mess. 21:00 Tea/coffee in the lounge before bed.
Double or Twin bedroom
Wednesday/Day 4 08:30 Breakfast. 10:00 Course begins. A further opportunity to progress on you projects. On a Watercolour Painting Holiday for example, you may work on your paintings in the studio or outdoors, weather permitting. 10:45 Tea/coffee break. Enjoy your morning tea/coffee break with another one of our chef’s mouth-watering cakes/tray bakes. 12:30 Lunch. An earlier lunch today as you will get the opportunity to go on a day trip later on. 13:30 Day trip. As you’ve been hard at work all week, we offer a complimentary day trip to either go and visit the Woollen Mill in Aberfoyle, or take a cruise on Loch Katrine. 15:30 Tea/coffee break. Return from your day trip to some light cakes and a tea or coffee. 18:30 Dinner. Once again, you will get to make 3 choices from our set menu of the day. More examples include: Breaded Brie Wedges, Breaded Haddock Fillet & Fresh Fruit Salad. 21:00 Tea/coffee in the lounge.
Thursday/Day 5 08:30 Breakfast. Once again a delicious full cooked Scottish breakfast. 10:00 Course begins (course will run until 4pm). This is your final day to work on your projects with the help of your tutor. On previous Knitting & Crochet Holidays, for example, guests have worked on a range of different knitting/crochet including: Tunisian crochet, brioche knitting, Aran Cables knitting or sock knitting. 11:00 Tea/coffee break. Again, with some home baking. 13:00 Lunch. Another 2 course lunch for you to enjoy. 15:30 Tea/coffee break. Your final afternoon tea break. 19:00 Dinner. A celebratory dinner will take place on the final night in our Cayzer room. This is a great opportunity to reflect on your week with your fellow guests. This will be followed by some entertainment in the lounge. We often have Scottish folk singer Gary Spiers come along, so make sure you’re in good voice if you want to join in! 21:00 Tea/coffee in the lounge.
Rainbows dyeing wool
Friday/Day 6 08:30 Breakfast. A traditional Scottish breakfast to finish your week. 10:00 Departure. We offer a complimentary drop off service back to Stirling train station on the day of departure. Please note: For weekend breaks the courses will run from 4pm on Friday, until 4pm on Sunday.
To enquire about any of our courses or to book, please visit our website gartmorehouse.com or give us a call on 01877 382991.