Desperately Seeking … Susan? Marilyn? Moneta?

This post combines a number of icons but is principally about the Moneta dress by Colette Patterns which has already become an iconic dress. I was swept along on the enthusiasm of so many bloggers, bought my pattern AND the book! The next decision was the fabric. Whilst trawling through the internet for Jersey knit just look what I found:



It it comes from L&S Prints who offer customised printing on a wide range of fabrics.  The instructions for making the Moneta were really clear and I was impressed with how the bodice came together. I was pleased to be learning new skills such as inserting a lining. I’ll be honest, I struggled a bit with the elasticated waist which was due to a combination of using a technique for the first time, the fabric being a little slippery and me being too tentative using my new walking foot (I’ve used it since and let it know that I’m the boss and will not be  putting up with any nonsense).



I wore the dress for a night out and teamed it with a black leather jacket – maybe too old now for a leather jacket now but the dress got lots of compliments and will certainly be worn again on other nights out.  I plan to make a further Moneta more suitable for work, perhaps in a plain fabric.

image image

I ended up with a little bit of fabric left over so, you’ve guessed it – I squeezed another Sorbetto out of it – minus the front pleat.   I had planned to make a VNA top to wear for the Arundel 10K but did not order the fabric in time.  So here is the Sorbetto as a running top – as you can see I took my pre- race preparations very seriously, posing on the riverbank at the end of my garden.


The race went well – I can confirm that the fabric had no wicking properties whatsoever (which I didn’t need the pace I was running) but that it was very comfortable.  I have decided to run the Chichester Half in October wearing a VNA running top so watch this space.


It is a miserably wet Bank Holiday Monday and incredible to believe that these photos were taken yesterday on such a gloriously hot, sunny day. Final comment – in the ’80’s I loved Madonna’s styling in Desperately Seeking Susan but would never have had the confidence to wear a headscarf with a big bow plonked on top of my head – a few decades on, I couldn’t care less and actually enjoyed my fun look for a fun race. What do you think?



Secrets of the Sari

This week I really enjoyed reading Scruffy Badger’s post about how she had used a sari to make a beautiful dress;  that gave me the idea of writing a post about  some of the secrets of the sari. So, although it is not about my sewing, it is an appreciation of the beauty of fabric, drape and clever stitching.


At the beginning of the month I was invited to attend a ball which had the theme of Last Days of the Raj.  I asked my good friend Uzma if she would consider lending me her sari – I thought she would give me an old sari which could withstand some boisterous behaviour and a jig along to Oasis.  Imagine my surprise when she gave me one of her favourite saris – it was peacock blue, patterned with gold thread and absolutely gorgeous.

With my friend Sue - pre the dancing

With my friend Sue – pre the dancing

I was very worried about how I would be able to get it to stay on; I had always thought that modesty was maintained by some extremely efficient wrapping/folding/twisting method.  How wrong I was.  The sari is carefully constructed so that it hangs beautifully and is very secure.


One edge is weighted with a heavier fabric/lining and there are pleats actually sewn onto the band which give it a beautiful, drape.  There are hook and eye fastenings along with press studs which mean the whole thing is constructed to sit nicely on your waist and all you have to worry about is the throw over the shoulder.  I am sure any regular sari wearers reading this will smile at my simplistic explanation but I really did think it was a genius idea.


I LOVED wearing the sari – it was so elegant and the vibrancy of the colour and pattern really was beautiful.

WW1 song – Sister Susie Sews

For the last couple of months, since I have been reading blogs ( it’s become quite an addiction – I wake up at 3am and have a quick peek) I have been amazed at how quickly you sewistas whip something up for a specific occasion. Well, this week I did just that!

This weekend saw the start of the Arundel Festival – a ten day extravaganza of art, drama, live music, the silliness of the bathtub race ( yes, really – people use a bath as a vessel in which to race down the River Arun) and SO much other fun stuff.  This year I signed up to be part of a choir singing songs of WW1 for an event taking place the first weekend. There was a dress code – wear red!  Although I love the colour, I do not have any red clothes so, for the first time ever – thank you lovely sewistas and bloggers who have inspired me – I thought . . . . . I’ll make something!


And so I did. Clothkits have a bucket where you can find cheap remnants that are all one metre and, incredibly, I found lurking there this super appropriate poppy fabric.  It was labelled as Italian sateen – I don’t even knows what that means but it sewed up beautifully.  The Sorbetto has become (admittedly from a limited pool so early in my sewing life) a favourite pattern.   I increased the length by three inches – no one wants to see my mum tum/ middle age spread peeping out – and sadly had to abandon the centre pleat as I just couldn’t eek it out of my metre.

It was really satisfying to make something specific occasion and also a really enjoyable evening singing the songs from WW1.


One of the the most surprising things was that we got to sing a song about an early seamstress called Susie.  It’s rather fun but her efforts appeared not to have been appreciated.  I have copied it below just in case you want to do your own sing-a-long whilst you sew!

Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts

Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts For Soldiers

Sister Susie’s sewing in the kitchen on a “Singer”,

There’s miles and miles of flannel on the floor And up the stairs,

And father says it’s rotten getting mixed up with the cotton,

And sitting on the needles that she leaves upon the chairs.

And should you knock at our street door Ma whispers, “Come inside.”

Then when you ask where Susie is, She says with loving pride:


(fast) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers

Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles

Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

Verse 2

Piles and piles and piles of shirts she sends out to the soldiers,

And sailors won’t be jealous when they see them, Not at all.

And when we say her stitching will set all the soldiers itching,

She says our soldiers fight best when their back’s against the wall.

And little brother Gussie, he who lisps when he says “yes”,

Says “Where’s the cotton gone from off my kite? Oh, I can gueth!”

(Chorus faster) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

Verse 3

I forgot to tell you that our sister Susie’s married,

And when she isn’t sewing shirts She’s sewing other things.

Then little sister Molly says, “Oh, sister’s bought a dolly.

She’s making all the clothes for it With pretty bows and strings.”

Says Susie: “Don’t be silly” As she she blushes and she sighs.

Then mother smiles and whispers with a twinkle in her eyes:

Final Chorus – sang twice

(even faster) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

(Breakneck Speed Finale) “Sister Susie’s sewing shirts for soldiers Such skill at sewing shirts Our shy young sister Susie shows!

Some soldiers send epistles, Say they’d sooner sleep in thistles Than the saucy, soft, short shirts for soldiers sister Susie sews.”

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

A Sorbetto and the start of the Arundel Festival

Today is the start of the Arundel Festival, an extravaganza of music, art, drama and some general silliness. I thought I would try and wear some of my recent makes to the festival for some location shots and then blog about them (my sewing is going well but the blogging less so – there are so many things I don’t know how to do!).

Colette Patterns Sorbetto was one of my first makes and I love the pattern – it is so straight forward for a beginner like myself but still has an air of sophisticated chic about it (or am I just kidding myself?).



This is actually my second Sorbetto; I cut a 10 on the bust, graduated to a 12 on the hips and added a little bit to the overall length.  The fabric is a lovely Liberty lawn which I bought from Clothkits in their sale of discontinued designs.

Is this what people call 'swayback'?

Is this what people call ‘swayback’?

I adore this print – it is so pretty and versatile. The creams/oranges work well with a neutral palette but then the various shades of blue go so well with denim as you can see here. This is the monthly Farmers Market in the town square and today helped to kick off the festivities.



Sewing Bees



Having only bought my sewing machine at Easter I needed some help with learning to sew and was really chuffed to find that, literally, round the corner from me, was Sew Pretty, a sewing studio run by Katya Essery.  Katya is a great teacher who immediately made me appreciate what fun social sewing is.  I’ll let you into a secret – Katya always cracks open a bottle of wine for her evening workshops.


I signed up for a shirt making workshop, along with a couple of my colleagues who had participated in the Sewing Bee at work (a future post) and along with two other sewists we embarked upon our projects under Katya’s careful guidance.  I chose Makower Bees fabric which I bought online from Guthrie and Ghani which I would highly recommend. Lauren despatched the material swiftly and wrapped it up so beautifully I felt I was upwrapping a birthday present.


The collar was tricky – my first one  ever and I’m not sure I could remember how to do it again. I had to finish off my shirt at home – too much chatting, laughing and quaffing wine during the workshop.  I used the  one step button-hole feature for the first time. Really annoyingly it is not a one-step. It does the base and one side and then stops so you have to take it out and do the other half – which was a bit hit and miss. Very annoying. I also didn’t like the sleeves which were just hemmed and therefore rather plain.  I fiddled about it and managed to fold in a cuff which looks ok but has meant that the three quarter sleeve now rests right on my elbow and is a little big irritating.  I’m going to have another go with some lovely Liberty lawn.

So, shirt: tick.



Lilou and Lemons

Rather than start with my sewing back story I thought I’d kick off my blog with my latest make – a Lilou – one of the patterns included in Love at First Stitch by Tilly.  Three weeks ago I was sat in Heathrow departures making use of the free wifi catching up on my bloglovin feed and saw this fabulous dress covered in lemons made by Jane and before I went to the gate I had tracked down the same fabric and ordered it so that it was waiting for me upon my return.


Knowing that I had some lovely bright fabric waiting for me cheered up on my return from holidays. I nipped into Chichester to pick up the notions (before Easter I wouldn’t have even know what notions were) and decided to go with the Lilou as I had bought Love at First Stitch  a month or so ago.  I decided to make a muslin – going from a size 4 at the bodice and graduating to a 5 at the waist.  Having made the muslin I decided to sew a size 4 all over as it seemed a bit loose but found it actually quite difficult to tell with the back hanging open as I was too impatient to insert a zip – yes, I will learn from this mistake.


The final garment is not a great fit on the bodice.  It is too tight under my arms whilst there is an excess of fabric across the boobs.  However, the skirt seems to fit OK although next time I might make it a little longer.  It was quite a windy day when I took these photos and the skirt kept blowing up in Marilynesque fashion.


Having initially put my zipper foot on back to front I managed to insert the zip on the second attempt.  Not sure what I had done wrong first time around but the stitches didn’t attached to the zip.  There are a few ruffles around the bottom but overall I am pleased with my first invisible zipper.


So, that’s it … my first blog – I think it took longer than the dress!  All tips and advice gratefully received.