Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Tutorial: How to Turn a Handbag into a Bicycle Handbag!

I'll just say it: I want my bike to be pretty and it isn't. I like riding it, but it's not exactly going to be a Pinterest Star. So I've been thinking (and photoshopping, and on-line window shopping) about ways to style it. Bike accessories can get expensive, so any way I can bike 'hack' will help. Along this line, I have made a handbag I didn't use (it's too big for me because I like small handbags) into a handlebar-handbag. This is a photo of it on my bike when it was just pinned (taken on my phone, I will take a better one when I get a chance):
I had to keep the brakes and gear cables out of the way (but still functioning well and safely) with my hi-vis snap bands. You can see one of them -- they're pink. I think it's a smarter option for the professional woman making her way through the City on a bicycle (we'll overlook the fact that I am a student living in the country). Baskets require support, and a lot of bike bags seem to be made with male cyclists or tourers in mind.
This doesn't affect steering, and it enables me to keep my water bottle and my tissues where I can reach them at traffic light stops. It also frees up space in my panner basket where I used to keep my handbag, so I can more easily fit shopping in there. I still have to put my reflector back on the bike. It was hidden by the bag where it was, so I'll have to put it on a curved bit of the handlebars.
Anyway, this is how to make your own stylish handlebar-handbag...

You Will Need

  • A medium sized handbag that fits on the front of your bike.
  • 2 sets of snapping buckles (I'm not sure of their proper name, but you'll see what I mean)
  • Quick-unpick
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Scissors
  • Chalk
  • Pins and pin cushion

Remove the Buckles

I got my buckles off the purple bag that I had originally intended to use, but it was too big and weighted down the mudguard, causing my bike to make a rather grumpy noise, so I tried my navy handbag that I almost never use. If you bought your buckles, you can skip this step.
You use your quick-unpick to remove the webbing-buckle-unit from your bag. Repeat for each buckle.
Buckles removed
Repeat for the other buckle set.
Unpick the webbing that the buckles are on, to remove the buckles from your bag.
Unpick the webbing that the buckles are on, to remove the buckles from your bag.

Mark and pin where you want your buckles to go

On the bag you will have on your handlebars, arrange your buckles where you will sew them. You should check this on your bike. Luckily, I still had the original handlebar from my bike (I have changed it to a North Road Handlebar, which is much more comfortable!), so I could lay it on the bag and go from there.
Chalk around the webbing. Here you can see that I changed my mind about which bag to use. :)

Having marked the placement, remove the buckles and...

Hem them. I used a zigzag stitch, which was barely visible in the photo so I drew over it in white on Photoshop.
DSC05144 copy
Then attach them to the bag with your sewing machine. I used an overlock stitch because it uses straight and zigzag stitches and is strong. Backstitch with a straight stitch, of course.

Attach to your bike:

I have yet to do this, because I only finished this tonight, but here is my finished bag:
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that I have put my buckles on upside-down.  That is what I get for sewing at night.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that I have put my buckles on upside-down.
That is what I get for sewing at night.
If you make a handlebar-handbag, please do post it to BurdaStyle or your blog and leave a link in the comments below!
UPDATE: Here are the photos of my bike now (and I gave it a wash today!):

I think it would hang better if I had put the buckles on the right way up Not bad for a prototype though, if I do say so myself! :)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Tally Ho! I've been on a Cycle Tour!

I wanted to do something good on my last free day in London, and I miss riding a proper bike (I don't like Bromptons now), so last night I booked a cycle tour with Tally Ho! Cycle Tours. I admit it, the thing that clinched it was that you get to ride a Pashley bicycle. :)
They had a pink bike, but I didn't like the handlebars' weird shape and went on a Princess Classic instead. Once you get the hang of them they are delightful. I've never been on a more upright bicycle! It was like riding a horse (I imagine)! Anyway, this is not a bike review, but a tale about my tour, so here it is:
* * *
It was just as well that I gave myself some extra time to find the place I as (unsurprisingly) took a wrong turn. I used the map on my smartphone and soon found the place.
The meeting point was a pub called the Walrus. It felt strange going into a pub somehow, especially as everyone looked seemed to look at me when I went in. I asked at the bar if this was where the cycle tours start and they said yes and that I could sit down or use the toilet if I wished. I did go to use the toilet but noticed (thankfully ahead of time) that they were out of toilet paper, except for what was irremovable from the dispensers, so I waited until I got home. Other than that, and the torn leather upholstery, it was quite a nice pub, and it had a lot of character.
There were only three of us plus the guide. The others were an Asian-Austrailian couple who really didn't know anything of Yorkshire, but had heard of Wallace and Gromit, which was something at least, even if they are from Lancashire. They seemed quite interested in our proper tea-time (as in the drink with cakes, not the evening meal that I call dinner).
When we were in Archbishops Park (or was it Garden?), the tour guide (called Niall, though some people bizarrely think he's called Liam), told us that the expression "Nosy Parker" comes from The Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of Elizabeth I. Evidently he was a gossip with a big nose, so Elizabeth I called him Nosy Parker (she often gave people nicknames) and that is how we got the expression. Other nuggets were learned (and somewhat forgotten) too, but things like that are interesting, aren't they? Niall knew a lot about all this because he has a degree in Architectural History and evidently finds it thoroughly interesting.
He also seemed to rather like the fact that the pelicans in the park near Downing Street eat live pigeons. I and the other (I hate to call myself one, but) tourists, did not like it and we were quite disgusted at the thought. It seems wrong somehow, but then it's kind of wrong for pelicans to be in England in the first place. Apparently, Russia gave them to us a long time ago to butter us up. Seems an odd present, doesn't it?
We went to Buckingham Palace and saw the procession (the band played The Great Escape). Buckingham House was originally built (or was it "acquired"?) so that the then King could have a place to go with this mistress. He can't have been very bright because his usual home was only a few hundred yards down the road.
IMG_20141221_124630For lunch I had a cup of Early Grey tea (which was very weak and not as nice as Yorkshire Tea) and a pain aux raisins, which was nice once I got to the raisins. I had had a banana before I left this morning, so I wasn't too hungry.
I also found out that A.A. Milne went to Westminster Abbey, so he must have been fairly well off! They have some Winnie the Pooh toys in the window of the music/choir building (the red one with all the cars outside it).
Here are some pictures of the tour. I did some graffiti, but I'm not very good at it because you have to be reasonably strong to use a spray can with any deftness. You can't really read what it says, but it's supposed to say: "Q. War, A. [heart]" as in the song, "Love is the Answer". I thought I might as well do something good and political in graffiti. My fingers got blue paint on them because I had them too near the nozzle. There is still a bit on them now. And before you start thinking I've gone off the rails, this was in the place where it's legal to do graffiti. IMG_20141221_133519

It was all very interesting and enjoyable. The trouble was that it was too short at only three hours. I could have done at least two more.  If anyone is in London, I thoroughly recommend going on a Tally Ho! Cycle Tour. It's £25, which for three hours isn't bad. There are much worse things to spend your money on, like kebabs and beer. :)
It was nice to ride a bike again. I miss it.
NB. I am not getting paid to say nice things about them. They don't even know I have a blog yet, but I'm going to let them know because I think people should be told when they're doing a good job. I really enjoyed myself. :)
Our Tour Guide Niall telling us about the buildings here. The building that looks like a ship is for the Royal Navy, and the posts that look like masts are giant aerials to be used if communications broke down in an attack.
Our Tour Guide Niall telling us about the buildings here. The building that looks like a ship is for the Royal Navy, and the posts that look like masts are giant aerials to be used if communications broke down in an attack.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Week 2 of my Internship

I have now been working at LIBBY for two weeks -- hasn't that flown by?! Here's what happened this week:


IMG_20141208_122144Unpicked all the under-snaps on the jackets for some uniform orders so that they could be made bigger. It looks as though the under-snaps were placed too far from the edge anyway.
Checked the sizing of the jacket by measuring it and comparing it with the pattern specs.
Received deliveries.
Took an order from Shopify account and packed it.
The sample garments for SS15 came in time for me to steam them and for Emily to take them to show to a magazine.
Helped take the jackets down to the car via the loading bay lift.
I sketched designs for the AW15 collection, based on Libby’s secret Pinterest board. I couldn’t log into that account, even with the password that was on the dropbox document, so I had to use her computer (we use only Macs). I am quite surprised how much designing I get to do; I didn’t think I would be given so responsible a task as an intern, but it gives me something nice to do.
Made tea frequently.


IMG_20141209_143715Today I did the book-keeping, entering purchases into the online system called “Xero”. Libby showed me how, and I was glad I had a diploma in book-keeping.
Jenny, the designer came. We spent nearly all day discussing the samples-disasters and what we could do to ameliorate them. She agreed with some of my suggestions about the Stanhope dress.
I went to the Post Office and sent a parcel to America. It cost £15.15 sign-for and tracked. This was more than we charged the customer for shipping (£12), but considerably less than the quoteIMG_20141209_172649 from the courier (£22.22 or so).
I helped Libby’s Mum bring garments and fabric up via the loading bay lift.
I started sewing the buttons onto the Ottery Dresses, and designed a dress idea.


IMG_20141210_150617Sewed buttons onto Ottery Dresses and ran out of buttons before I finished.
Libby told me that Jenny was impressed with my pattern cutting. 😊
We went to the factory. The sample cutter says that I can come in for a day to see how things are done, but we have to make sure that this is okay with the boss.
We visited a leather supplier and chose and purchased samples fabric for the Brompton dress. We took the one we’re using as inspiration, and a swatch card from GH Leathers (who supply this supplier but are too far away for convenience) to get the right samples.
Given how late it was by the time we were fIMG_20141210_164448inished, Libby dropped me off at Chelsea Bridge and I walked back to the studio (she went to dinner at friends’). I took the wrong exit the roundabout, but found my way back through Battersea Park and then took the correct exit.
I arrived at the workplace but didn’t know how to get through the gates. I realised that I needed to touch my electronic key fob to the intercom box and the gate started to open. Then it stopped and I assumed it was locked. I was wondering what to do, when a man on the other side of them who was about to drive out got out of his car and smiling kindly, said in what sounded like a Polish accent, “Needs a man,” and opened the gate. He got back into his car and drove through the gateway. I went to the studio. I got my things, washed some cups, and left.
I was going to get the Richmond tube home, but found that I had -5p credit on my Oyster card and the Queenstown Road ticket office was closed so I had to go to the Battersea Park station and top-up. I went home from there.


IMG_20141211_105201Libby was late to the Studio because she had to go and pick up the jackets from the factory. After I had checked the company emails and orders, emailed me asking me to phone her mobile. She had left the studio phones on call re-direct so when she called the studio, her mobile took the call, which meant that she was calling herself. I called her and she asked me to cancel the call re-direct (which I did) and she gave me instructions to sketch some designs for the Farley dress, which was less-than-satisfactory in its samples.
I sketched designs until I ran out of paper on my desk (which is a cardboard table that an elephant can stand on and not break!), working on instructions Libby had given my on the phone, to have a simple bodice with a waistline seam; narrow, chiffon sleeves with a baby hem; CB zip; the same skirt as on the Farley dress; a boat neckline. She liked some of my designs and some features like chiffon-layered shoulder sections.
She had also given me instructions as to packing a large order.
Packed three dresses and sent to The Times for the Sunday Style supplement. I printed out an address label (which surprised Libby), and gave the parcel to the courier when he arrived.
Sewed poppers onto jackets, but only got two jackets done because I worked partially on the stand and that is evidently not how I work best.
Took three parcels to the Post Office just before closing time.
Went home via Richmond tube.


IMG_20141212_151025Went to work via Richmond and Waterloo. According to the CityMapper app, this will knock about forty percent off my travel costs. It is also evidently a much less crowded trip to work.
Spent nearly the entire day sewing poppers on and taking up sleeve hems. We delivered the jackets and were glad to be free of them after a stressful week with them. The final three (which aren’t needed until Monday) will be sewn by Gayle, one of Libby’s freelance seamstresses, over the weekend. Libby was exceptionally delighted that it was Friday.
On the way to delivering the jackets, Libby asked me what I would do this weekend, and when I told her she was excited for me that I had a Skype interview for another work placement and offered me a reference. She was also very excited when I told her I would be enquiring about going to the Savile Row Training Academy in Leeds and asked (jokingly, I think) if I would come back and work for her full-time when I had finished it. (Wouldn’t that be great?!)
Libby dropped me off at West Kensington Tube Station and I went home from there. I'm getting the hang of this TFL thing now. :)
I have only one photo today because there was no time to take any more.


Today I had a Skype interview with Wayside Flower of Bridlington to see if I could get an internship there (I did). I have been looking into accommodation in Bridlington, and it turns out that I don't need it. I can take my bike and the train to and from Bridlington and save a considerable amount of money (£235.49 -- I worked it all out). I could save even more if I get a railcard, but I can't get that until I get home and get my passport information. I won't be starting this internship until January, so I will get some time at home, and hopefully, get to help out at the Bike Hub. :) I am so looking forward to getting back on my own dear bike.
My thoughts on London: I think I might live here, or near here, one day. I feel like I fit in quite well with middle to upper class people, what with evidently sounding posh, and liking their way of life. I think I am upper-middle class in just about all but money (I'm not being big-headed, really). The Surrey accent is also very nice. :) If I lived here permanently I would definitely have my bike and use that to get about as much as possible.
One thing I have found is that I can live quite easily on my own, so Mum will have no need to worry if I have to move away for work or university. I also don't need (or particularly want) a television. All my favourite shows are so old that people have put them on YouTube, or they are available on DVD. On Sundays I practise a bit of cooking to increase my skill (which is woefully basic). Last Sunday I made fried eggs on toast. Don't laugh. Everything needs to be learnt if you've never done it before. And have you tried finding instructions for scrambled eggs that don't look like purée? It's so difficult!
My appetite has increased as I've been working five days a week. I must be eating at least twice as much as before (I ate a whole 400g tin of spaghetti with four slices of toast for lunch today!). I've been eating sometimes half a packet of chocolate digestives in a day; two sandwiches for lunch; a banana; four roast potatoes or a fair portion of chips with chicken pie, pizza or 2-4 fish fingers for dinner; for breakfast I have Shreddies and a glass of milk; and I've been eating a fair amount of chocolate, but if anything I've lost weight, which is not a good thing for me. I don't get much exercise, unless you count trying not to fall over on the Tube (which is really good for your legs!). I hover around 7 stone, often going below it, and I really ought to be at least 7st 3lb. I wonder if I just have very lightweight bones and muscles?
Well, I'm off to put dinner on. Pizza and roast potatoes tonight! :)
Until next week,

Friday, 19 December 2014

Week 3 of my Internship

15th December, Monday

Today I packed, shipped and processed two orders.
Following the trouble with the Stanhope dress, Libby thought it would be a good idea to try it without the chiffon insets, and have them as cutouts instead, so she asked me to remove one of them, which I did. I left my comments on a piece of paper pinned to dress. I think the pieces would need fuse tape on the seams, or else (as Jenny would suggest on Wednesday) block-fusing because the seam went wavy when I sewed it. Notches would also help with aligning things properly. I topstitched the shell to the lining, and Libby didn't notice that until Wednesday, which shows how discreet it was, even though I did it a bit roughly as this is turning out to be a toile-sample-dress.
Went home late, around 6:15ish
At Libby's request, I photoshopped the design sketches from the Design Wall to coloured and colourless versions with different-coloured variations. I made a PhotoShop pattern from photo of “jacquard” fabric and used it in one of the illustrations.
I  updated the inventory on our Pinstripes and Pearls account.
Gayle (on of Libby's freelance seamstresses) came in today with the jackets she had altered over the weekend for the lobby girls at Howard Kennedy.
Helped unpack samples-to-be for Libby to take to factories.
Tidied up.
Libby showed me how to make production dockets. These are sheets of information for the sample-makers and -cutters so that they know how many of a thing to make, which way up the fabrics go, where each fabric goes (if it's colour-blocked for example), what sizes to make, what notions are needed, and what goes on the care label. It also tells them what the fabric is, which factory is making it (them), when the docket was prepared, and the date the garments are required. Here is an example with things blurred out for confidentiality reasons:
production docket image
Libby is going on holiday on Thursday. She "confessed" this evening that her husband (who is Eton-educated! :) ) is whisking her away to Austria for a much-needed break (how sweet and romantic!). This means that I will be on my own from then until Monday. 

16th December, Tuesday

Libby wasn’t in today (a lot of errands and visits), but Emily (the PR lady) came and she was good company for me. That's such an important part of happy workplace, isn't it?
I draped and sketched LOTS of variations (Stanhope) and designs (SS15 top, and Stanhope). Emailed some to Libby. I can't show those here for confidentiality reasons.
Photoshopped Evelyn dress cutout to look more true-to-life as the colour wasn't right. This was done mainly with colour balance.
Used PS and Ai to make clothing labels with new logos for cutout shots. I'm not sure what these images are to be used for. Perhaps Libby wants to see which colour label would look best; she asked me to email the images to her, which I did.
I labelled the designs on the Design Wall so that everyone knows which design we are talking about and what to call them/
Before she went home, Emily realised that she would not see me again because she comes in on Tuesdays and I finish on Monday, so she gave me a hug! People certainly are friendly in this industry!
Before I went home I left lots of work in four organised piles on Libby's desk.

17th December, Wednesday

Libby had looked at my piles of work and said she loved my sketches. We never seem to get around to showing them to Jenny though.
Today I had some work to do on the two remaining jackets. I had to sew the under poppers on and take up the sleeves. I wanted to do this professionally and quickly so I looked it up on YouTube and found a video which helped and I bagged the sleeve linings. It was surprisingly quick and easy.
I packed the dresses and jackets clothes for the girls at Howard Kennedy. I had to remove all the temporary paper size tags from the dresses. We have the factory put these in instead of permanent size tags because it is more considerate of the clients' feelings, and we have to alter the clothes, so they won't match the standard size when they're finished anyway.
Look at the label inside LIBBY LONDON clothes:
MADE IN ENGLAND -- That's what I like to see!
Jenny came. I don’t think she likes me. Maybe that’s just her way, or maybe she feels threatened because I’ve been designing. She knows a lot about production and the technical side of it all. It's unusual to meet a designer who knows so much in that line. I wonder how she got to know so much? I'd like to learn it too.
We have a huge potential uniform order which could mean £400,000 pounds in turnover!
Libby and I went to deliver dresses and jackets to Howard Kennedy girls. They were pleased and looked nice in their new uniforms. They are much nicer than standard suits, and much less boring.
Libby gave me a huge list of things to do while she is away. I will be "in charge" for the rest of the week (mainly because I'll be the only one there), but she says to email her if I’m in the least doubt about anything.
One of the orders I sent yesterday had a corrected postcode and I thought I'd put the postcode onto the wrong parcel. I’m still in doubt about it, but it seemed to be alright when we checked the receipts and orders.
Today I answered the phone a few times.

18th December, Thursday

Libby is on holiday until Monday so I was the only one in the studio today.
Yesterday she gave me a huge to-do list:
  • Sew the lining to the zip in the remaining dress (as the seamstress evidently forgot to finish it) and ship it to her (had to find the address, checked with Libby by text).
  • Courier Evelyn and Westbury dresses to iHeart Studios (by phone to be sure of address)
  • Log-in to studio emails and use them
  • Call Mehmet and see if the Brompton and Laurel dresses are ready (they will be ready tomorrow so I will call again)
  • Change the Laurel cutout to black in PS (easy)
  • PS the Suzy skirt to yellow and also to navy
  • Shortlist 5 lining colours and zip colours for yellow Suzy skirt
  • Shrink-test yellow fabric (had 5% vertical shrink) and email photo to Libby
  • Made a production docket for Suzy skirts with a separate box each for the linings and outer fabrics (navy and yellow)
  • PRODUCTION DOCKET FOR SKIRTS (started today, finish on Monday when she’s back)
The things in capital letters are for after today for one reason or another. Everything else I got done with time to spare, so I spent the last hour or more sketching designs for AW15.
The man from across the corridor came and asked for his key which Libby was to have copied but didn’t have time. He asked me to phone Libby to find out about the key because I didn’t know anything about it and he needed it. He waited while I talked to Libby and told her that everything was fine. Libby wanted me to take down his mobile number which I did, and I took down his name (Abbey — he’s foreign, Greek or Spanish or something - I can't tell). Before he left he said, “You have a beautiful smile, by the way”, which made my day, even if he is middle-aged. :)
In the morning, one of our customers called and was audibly delighted with the Ottery dress! She loves it so much that she wants the black one! I was checking the stock list and she had to go, but said that she would fill out the form later. I thought we had run out of the Black size 16 Otteries, buy I found one in the suitcase.
On the way home I got some milk for the studio because the little we have left is on the turn, and I like to have a cup of tea at work.

19th December, Friday

I am bored stiff because I got everything I possibly could done from my to-do list yesterday and I've no instructions for today. I did some sketching.
Tried for ages to call Mehmet to see if the dresses were ready. Eventually got through and they were, so I booked courier.
The courier didn't come for hours. t got worried that I had missed something out when I booked him and that it hadn’t gone through, so I called Mehmet and he said that it had been picked up ages ago. About two hours after that it still hadn’t arrived so I contacted the courier company and the courier arrived just as I was finishing chatting with them.
There were some issues on the dresses, and I took photos and sent them to Libby.
In the last hour we got an order with next-day delivery. I marched it down to the Post Office and got there at the very last minute (ran across the pelican crossing -- and with my knee!). I paid for the postage with my card because Libby has taken hers with her. She owes me £8.45 and 49p for the milk.

The order was for the size 16 Ottery in Black (our last one!) so we will have to get some more in, especially if the other customer (from yesterday) still wants one.
When I got back I was so hot and sweaty from the rush that I had to take of my cardigan. I am so unfit!
I have got the wi-fi working on the printer too. Libby had thought it broken.

Again, I don't think I ought to post any photos from today for confidentiality reasons. Sorry.

Monday will be my last day. It doesn't feel as though I've been here very long. Overall I've enjoyed it, and tomorrow I'm going to get some sweets and Christmas cards for Libby and the people I've met who work for her. Maybe I should give a Christmas card to Mehmet and the Gang and Jock too, just to be nice...

Until Monday or Tuesday,

Best Wishes,

Saturday, 6 December 2014

My Internship


On the morning of Saturday the 29th Novmember 2014, I lugged my heavy suitcase downstairs, and with my backpack and handbag on as well, I set off for Hull Interchange to board my train to London. I had been planning it for weeks. I had my accommodation set up, my Oyster card with £10 on it, and my train tickets in my handbag. I was going to London to do my work placement with Libby London. My suitcase was so heavy that my hands were going red where the handle touched them (and it's on wheels). I was in such an obvious struggle with it that throughout the day three kind gentlemen helped me by carrying it downstairs for me. Obviously, some Londoners have manners even in stations. :) So far so good, until I arrived in London, ended up at the correct tube station and then went in the wrong direction at the corner near Goldhawk Rd. I spent the next hour or so going in every direction but the correct one. Eventually I noticed the map on the wall at Stamfood Brook (on my third visit that hour), photographed it, and used that to find my way. I found the correct house and met my landlady. She helped my carry my case upstairs and showed me my room, w/c and bathroom. I gave her the cheque and she gave me the keys and a map of useful things on Chiswick High Street. After unpacking I went to the shops (Tesco's Express and Sainsbury's Local) to get some essentials like food and milk. After dinner (which was a single serving Chicken pie and chips), there wasn't much to do so I got ready for bed. When snugly inside my featherbed (never had one before -- they are heavy!) I watched Dad's Army on iPlayer and FaceBooked my friends who had asked me to keep them up to date. I also booked a Brompton Bike and emailed Mum. :)

THE WEEKEND (memory is sketchy)

On Saturday, I got up early as I wanted to get my bike and explore. In a way that happened, but mainly because having got my bike and figured out how to fold/unfold it, I got off at the wrong stop on the overground and got lost. I eventually found my way back by following a bus (traffic is so slow that even I could do that) and then street signs when another bus blocked my view. In the afternoon I set off again on the Brompton to try to find where I now work. I took the scenic route and got lost again. I went to places in so many different directions that I don't really know where they are, except that they are somewhere near the Thames (there are so many bridges!). london 1On Sunday, while trying to find Ingate Place, I did happen upon a MacDonald's and had a Happy Meal (don't laugh -- they're good value for money) and gave the toy to a child who was there with her Mum. The MacDonald's food is so much better in London! You can get a plain burger without all that sauce and the gherkin, and it's hot! Actually hot! Not just warmish! But I digress. On Sunday I was so lost that I ended up near Harrod's. I had to ask a policeman for directions. He asked his colleague, who consulted his smartphone. Even Londoners get lost in London. It's not so bad that I did then, is it? Anyway, they gave me rough directions (with help from a cabbie who was picking up a fare) and I went towards the large Tesco's. Eventually I gave up walking my Brompton (I was tired and it's geared very hard) and took the train back when I found a station. I got "home" quite late, had a bath, and got ready for the next day, exhausted.


I set off on the bike again. Not knowing the way and with new, but no more helpful directions, I got lost again. To add salt to the wound the Brompton decided to keep dropping its chain off. Three times I put it on! I gave up and walked. I phoned my boss and explained that I would be late because the chain kept falling off my bike, and she told me not to rush because she would be late too (the flu). (She is such a great boss!) By 11am I gave up trying to find my way and went into the nearest Premiere Inn to ask them to book me a cab, which they very kindly did (and gained Brownie points with me). I got in the cab and called Libby (my boss) to get her postcode for the taxi driver and we got there by 20 past eleven. Amazingly, London cabs don't take banking cards! I had to go right through my coin purse. It was £16 from Putney Bridge. When I found the right room (which is quite small) in the maze that is the industrial area where the studio is located in SW London, I met Libby. She is a very nice person to work for. She showed me what we were to do today: pack some parcels neatly. I also sewed up a dropped hem and a size label that wasn't attached to a dress. In the afternoon she had to go to a meeting, the post office, and to a warehouse. She would have taken me to the warehouse, but as it was on one trip and she couldn't take me to the meeting, she went on her own.
She had given me some things to do though. I was to source some buttons for samples, take messages on the phone, take some deliveries that she had arranged, and make a flared skirt pattern to match a photograph she had. I did all this, and was just finishing the skirt's lining pattern when she got back several hours later.
By then it was about time to go home. She kindly found me the way on her smartphone (I have since bought a Vodafone Smart Turbo with 4G), and I took the tube and train. Libby also clarified for me that the number that flashes on the oyster card scanner is the balance on your card, not the cost of the trip (that's a relief).
The bike is no good as the chain won't stay on the front sprocket. I will return it to a dock on Saturday and complain to Brompton. I want to see if I can get my membership fee back. I'm so glad I didn't buy a Brompton folding bike! I'm going to take public transport. I can't be spending 3 hours getting more and more lost when I could spend 40 minutes on the train and tube (without having to carry a Brompton with me) and getting to work on time! And I have so many bruises on my legs from how I have to carry the "lightweight" bike that I look like I'm part giraffe!
When I got back to Chiswick I bought some frozen pizzas and honey at Tesco Express. I wanted to get pizza because a place I passed repeatedly this morning had the aroma wafting out of it. It wasn't even a pizza place! All in all, not a bad day!


I arrived nearly on time. Today we did stock-taking and organising. This meant that when we knew what we had, I would fold up the garments that we didn't need out and put them in individual bags on the shelf. We also posted some orders, and I got logged into the company's online accounts.
The PR lady, called Emily, was in today. She is electrically enthusiastic! She is working with various magazines (like GRAZIA and BRIDES) to increase the awareness of our brand. I think she's also working with the Guardian. We want to get into the business section so that we can connect with our target audience: intelligent business women who want to look nice as well as professional.


Today we measured the sample garments to check their resemblance to the patterns. This showed that some of the garments had stretched, some had shrunk, and some were correct. We had to drop one design because the fabric was a nightmare for the factory to sew.
IMG_20141204_151400We also finalised a dress design for SS15, which meant that I held the pin cushion and agreed while Libby draped some fabric to resemble the design she had and decide which fabric should go where, and which side out (double-faced fabric).
After that we went to two factories. At the first one we arranged for samples to be made, and at the other we collected some garments and buttons. The first factory also makes for Christopher Kane. :) The bosses were quite convivial -- one gave me a hug! I was to say the least surprised by their informality.


Libby seemed stressed this morning so I made us a cup of tea each to cheer her up.
Today I sketched some designs for the SS15 collection (I know it's late, but the company has been making changes and we're thus behind). When the designer comes we will discuss them.
In the afternoon we went for a fitting at No.1 London Bridge for some uniforms for the lobby girls at Howard Kennedy. The dresses were too big on top so we checked the measurements when we got back. It fits the fit model correctly, and the mannequin. We think the problem was probably with us those three girls, though it is a coincidence. They are cowl neck dresses and they seemed to start hanging off the shoulders. We're sending the dresses to the factory to be altered.
On the way to the fitting I dropped off a parcel. We listened to music in the car (Libby has quite varied tastes and I was glad to see that she listens to Magic too).
When we got back we had another cup of tea and some biscuits before I went "home". On the way home I got on the wrong Waterloo train and ended up in Westminster, where I caught the train/tube back to Stamford Brook. My smartphone's data isn't working yet; I can't register my account at Vodafone because they're having technical difficulties. I can't be the only one with trouble either because on Friday the 5th December I rang the customer services number and was on hold for so long that I gave up. It cost me nearly £5!


I arrived 10 minutes early (celebration smile!).
Today I made some boxes for sending orders in and folded the tissue paper neatly for them. I also improved a dress that someone has ordered, so that the v-shaped darts look nice instead of like a deflated bust. It took me most of the day to get it just right, but it's important to have high quality work.
Libby went to pick up some jackets for a uniforms order, and we had to use the loading bay lift to get them upstairs. Once we had put the labels with the girls' names on onto the jackets, she went to a fitting. They will need a few alterations, but she thinks that we can do those without sending them to the factory.
While she was out a dress came back from Woman & Home magazine because the lady had selected the wrong size. We will send her the right size.
Libby's mum went to collect some dresses from our factory and had navigational problems, but got there in the end.
I lost my umbrella so I had to buy a new one when I got home. I was going to buy one at Victoria Station but to give you some idea of the price hike in stations a packet of chocolate digestives was £2.60 at their WHSmiths, while at Tesco Express (which is a convenience store and may be still overpriced) they are £1. I'm not paying that sort of inflation rate!


Stayed in bed for an extra hour this morning (first time in a fortnight!). Took Brompton bike back to dock at Ealing Broadway. I'm actually glad to be rid of it. For all they're meant to be convenient, I found it a burden. They are heavy (to me), geared hard (so no fun to ride), the wheels are too small for my liking (you can feel the difference), and you have to fold them up and take them into every shop you go to. I much prefer to lock a bike up outside hand instead of having to push, pull or carry it around with me. It's almost like having a huge metal baby with no pushchair. I'll be glad to get back on my own dear bike at home.
Anyway, while I was in Ealing I went round the shops. You would be amazed how difficult it is to find tights in London! I did find some (on sale!) at Boots so I bought three packs. They should have been about £8 for 3 pairs, but today it was £6, and buy-2-get-third-free. So I have saved £12!
I wandered into a shopping centre where they have -- you'll never guess -- Santa's taxi! I've never seen one before. When I was a child it was Santa's Grotto. Don't they have those any more?
I had a Happy Meal for lunch (it was so nice and hot!) and went "home".
Since coming to London I have spent £78.60 on food, drink (counting MacDonald's), and other essentials like bathroom things. I suppose for London that's not bad for one person, especially considering I've been eating more (working has increased my appetite, and yet I've lost weight!).
Of course I've spent quite a lot on transport, owing somewhat to my apparent tendency to get lost. On transport (counting train fare back to Hull) I've spent:£117.05 (including what I still have on my Oyster card).
On "other" (my smartphone, top-up, phone case, and umbrella): £91.50.
My rent, including a £1000 deposit which I get back when I leave, is £2450.
There were other expenses for coming to do my work placement in London too, like my fares to get here (£38.75 + £2.05 bus fare), the purchase of a suitcase (£45 on sale -- which I'll need for Paris anyway), and the Brompton Bike Hire (😒) at £20, but they credited £20 to my Brompton account when I complained. I had it a week, so that's £17.50. Total for this paragraph: £103.50.
Total expenses so far: £2840.45, less deposit, =£1840.45. Bear in mind that that will not be my weekly expenditure. The rent is for the full four weeks at £350 pw. So my weekly expenses will be about £545.65 -- gosh! How do people afford to live in London (answer: they have jobs and cheaper accommodation).
I will update you next week. :)