Reflections and Goals – the last of the Top Fives

It has been a fabulous year all round and for that I am truly thankful. In terms of sewing, 2014 was the year I bought a machine, discovered that there is such a thing as an online sewing community and even wrote my first blog post.  I attended workshops, participated in a sewing bee and became aware of lots of Indie designers. In terms of reflection, I guess the most incredible thing is that my year ends with my head full of exciting plans linked to an interest/passion I hadn’t even discovered at the start of the year. I even wore my Francoise on Christmas Day! So, not really five reflections there but a general ponder on my sewing year. image In terms of goals, here they are: 1. Make a coat – whilst this is an incredible challenge at least I am confident I will accomplish it because my Christmas present from my other half was a place on Sew Over It’s coat making workshop which means I will have lots of help and guidance from the wonderful Julie. I have already chosen my fabric too. I am going for the black and white – although probably the reverse of the view shown on this swatch. image 2. Complete my Craftsy course on Beginner Serging – I did lessons 1&2 yesterday. This course was the only thing I bought on Black Friday – a rather odd purchase I guess but if it gets me more comfortable with my overlocker (which I am sort of scared of) then it will have been worth every penny. 3. An important goal for me this year is to be a little more organised. I was given a pretty pink diary as a present so I am going to use this as a sewing journal. Having been reading other people’s round ups I’ve realised that some fellow sewing bloggers are very organised and have produced pie charts by garment, fabric etc – Yes, I am looking at you Elizabeth. so my objective is to jot down my ideas, note what fabric I have in my little stash and record what fabric I need for various patterns I intend to make so that I am prepared should a fabric buying opportunity present itself. image 4. The Monthly Stitch Collective is something I would like to join – I am going to sign up and try and commit to at least six of the challenges. The January one is for denim which I don’t feel very confident about tackling so maybe a February start for me. 5. OWOP14 was the first challenge I participated in.  During that week I won three patterns as part of a giveaway and at that time I pledged to make my three patterns; to date that hasn’t happened so I am adding those on my goals for 2015: By Hand London Anna, Colette Hawthorn and Sewaholic Gabriola I am coming to get you. image Whilst mentioning OWOP14, for which I used Sorbetto, I just want to sneak in a quick pic of my last make of the year – surprise surprise it’s a …Sorbetto.  I do realise now that comfort sewing exists and this is it for me.  I used the leftover fabric from my Dahlia and added some buttons from the Button jar my running/sewing friend Ali gave me for my birthday. top 5 Thanks again to Crafting a Rainbow for the hosting the Top Five and as my Nana used to say, I will close now but send you my very best wishes for a Happy New Year! Toodle pip, Clarinda

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Round up of the year – Top five misses

It’s a real shame when something doesn’t work out because the start of every project begins with gleeful anticipation as you decide upon pattern and amass fabric and notions.  To be honest, I think that, with the exception of my Sorbettos, almost all of my makes have included an element of disappointment. No doubt this is due to the combination of being a relatively new sewista and a sort of perfectionist. I say sort of because, rather annoyingly, I get despondent, then cross and don’t really have the patience to sort matters out so abandon projects to my ever-growing WIP pile. I salute those of you who regularly unpick, re-draft, make four toiles etc. so, here they are – my top five misses:

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What possessed me? I don’t know why I thought I would look ok wearing a dress covered in black cats playing with red balls of wool. I made this for the fun Crazy Cat Lady Challenge and I did enjoy participating but, on reflection, perhaps a pair of PJs would have been better.  I nonchantly wore my creation to work and hardly anyone made a comment – which I took as a bad sign. The one person who did refer to my frock asked if I was wearing my Halloween outfit which sort of says it all.

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My Dahlia neckline was a Disaster Dahling – it would have fitted my hips with room to spare. I have now put a four inch inverted pleat into the back but the updated version has yet to be worn. Really disappointing because I love the fabric and the design – as it looks on other people.

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I feel a bit mean including my lace dress as a Miss because I really enjoyed the workshops where I made it but I just don’t like it on me. It is too big and just a bit too conservative – a sort of frumpy mother of the bride type garment.

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And finally, this beanie – photo taken just now on yet another gorgeously sunny December day in the UK. An incredibly frustrating Miss because I do love a hat (you may have noticed) and the shape and feel of this are very me. I like the effect created by using two different wool weights/needle size to create the bands but dearie me, why did I pick an apricot coloured mix? Is there anyone who could wear this colourway or have anything that vaguely would go with it? If only I had gone for a bluey plummy palette this would never be off my head.

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So, there you have it – my misses of 2014 and it turns out, I could only muster four so … Happy Days! Wishing you all a Missless new year and thanks again to Crafting a Rainbow for hosting the Sewing Top 5.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas from Francoise and Clarinda

I made it – literally and metaphorically!

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I rushed to buy Francoise by Tilly and the Buttons as soon as it came out and initially planned to take part in the competition. However, the end of term is so mad that I just never finished in time.  However, I loved looking at everyone else’s dresses and it gave me lots of ideas. I decide to add contrast cuffs to match my collar – now this might not seem very adventurous to you but this was my first time off piste so to speak and I have to say how chuffed I am with how it turned out.

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I bought the fabric from Clothkits – it is some sort of wool blend, gorgeously soft to the touch.  It is a delicate herringbone pattern and I still can’t quite decide if the contrast if black or dark brown.  Bits of fluff were coming off all over the place and I am sure I will regret not having made friends with my overlocker yet.  I bought one a couple of months ago and am still waiting for a chuck of time to devote to us getting better acquainted. So edges which would really benefit from being overlocked are just pinked – however, I do sort of like pinking – it somehow seems very 1960s.

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Having missed the deadline for the competition I decided I would have Francoise as my Christmas Day dress – even this looked in doubt but after a final push yesterday and some last minute hand sewing this morning I finally finished it on Christmas Eve.  Although, you could well be forgiven for not realising it was 24th December from these photos – it is gloriously sunny here in Arundel – the tide is very high (the river always looks prettier) and I thought that the cathedral would make a festive backdrop to my photos in the absence of snow –  although I am sure the neighbours thought I was bonkers traipsing up the garden in a pair of high heeled patent shoes.  On reflection I think the dress will look better with my suede boots.

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In terms of fitting, I cut a size three on the top and graduated out to a four at the hips – I probably didn’t need to do this as there seems to be lots of spare fabric at the back. I’d be really happy to hear from anyone else who has made a Francoise as to how their collar went.  I THINK I have messed mine up – it doesn’t go the whole way round the back – I wasn’t sure if it was a design feature but  suspect not. You can just see where it ends in my back view shot.

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I am super pleased with my dress – it’s my most adventurous make to date (by myself – no workshop hand-holding) and so I feel fairly confident about tackling more challenging projects in 2015: it has been a great first year of sewing. So, from sunny Arundel, very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

Round up of the year – My five top hits of 2014

I really enjoy the community events, most recently Bimble and Pimble’s Sewvember which introduced me not only to Instgram but to some wonderful, inspirational ideas. Now it’s approaching the end of the year and I see that Crafting a a Rainbow is again promoting a Top 5 of the year. As I only bought my Janome at Easter, my round ups will be from the last eight months and here is my first one: The Top Five Hits of 2014

Moneta and Marilyn
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This was my first ever knit and I was particularly proud of myself when I had completed the bodice.  I followed instructions from The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits having bought myself a walking foot and a twin needle.   This post could have made it into the Misses of the year due to my failure with the twin needle and the clear elastic – both of which have still eluded me and will be goals for 2015.  However, the sheer fun to be had from the fabric  and the pleasure of completing my first knit puts in firmly in the Top Five Hits post.
Sorbetto and One Week One Pattern

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Having only been sewing since Easter I did not really have much of a choice for my One Week One Pattern – it had to be the Sorbetto – which I love.  The skill I most enjoyed learning from this make was bias binding.  It was through this that I discovered The Little Tailoress and her super helpful tutorials.  Here are three of my five Sorbettos from that week, including a running top I made from some of the leftover Marilyn knit – as you can see I take my race preparation very seriously.  My participation in this event was a HIT for another reason.  I entered a giveaway competition by Handmade Jane who organised this year’s OWOP and won my choice of three patterns. Having this announced on her blog gave me by biggest number of hits in one day – 99 – the likes of which have never been seen since so as a new blogger this was very exciting for me in addition to the delight of wining three patterns – which will feature in a future post.

Sureau

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How I love my Sureau.  I adore the button placket at the front and the easy comfortable styling.  I would say this is the make I wear the most.  It is super comfortable and always gets favourable comments.  I plan to make more, many more.  This could be the garment for OWOP15.

Lacy beanie

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I do enjoy knitting – I was a knitter long before I could sew but like many other hobbies of the past it was long forgotten but my interest has been reawakened and I now knit regularly on my commute.  This little beanie was my first time of using both circular and double ended needles.  I really enjoyed making it up and knitting is such a useful thing to have in your handbag  for a spare ten minutes – imminently more portable than a sewing machine.

Bees shirt

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This shirt is a favourite because I have worn it a lot and I love the funky fabric.  It teams well with a grey skirt for work and looks equally at home with denin for a more casual look.  I also have fond memories of making this shirt.  Six colleagues and I held our own sewing bee at work and afterwards we decided to take a workshop at Sew Pretty together to further improve our skills.  Only three of us actually made it to the workshop but we all made a version of this shirt and none of us finished it during the three weeks worth of classes because we were laughing and chatting so much. By the way, as we’re getting to know each other a little more through this series of posts, I’d like to point out that these two photos were taken at the end of my garden

So, four more posts to come.  I am looking forward to pondering about what to include and then writing them; I hope you are looking forward to reading about my Misses, Highlights, Reflections and Goals!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Workshop junkie and my first attempt at manly sewing

Oh I do love a workshop – I love having an expert on hand to help and give guidance; I love the seemingly endless supply of drink, cake/biscuits and I love meeting other people who sew. Rather last minute I decided to book myself onto Saturday morning’s workshop at Clothkits, Chichester to make a tie.

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There were four others on the course. The first task was to choose the Liberty Lawn fabric which we were to use.  I had already brought my fabric with me; a gorgeous wool mix I brought from Ghani and Guthrie and for the lining I wanted to use some Liberty Tana Lawn, Queue for the Zoo , which I had bought ages ago to make a blouse and remains untouched. The tutor, Maria Pulley thought that my fabric may be a little too thick but I had my recipient in mind and knew that the grey/blue floral combo was perfect and was not to be swayed!

A tie has lots of funny little fiddly bits associated with attaching the lining and getting a good point.  I was really pleased to have someone there to show me precisely how to do it but apart from that, I found it relatively straight forward.  The most interesting thing for me was the ….silence!  Once you have the fiddly bits out of the way, the tie has to be hand sewn.  There was a period of about forty five minutes where you literally could hear a pin drop, no-one said a single word whilst we concentrated intently on trying to sew invisible stitches.  So, not quite as social as other classes.

Here is my sewing concentration face.

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Here are the finished ties – quite impressive for a morning don’t you think.  I do love the Liberty prints so will be making more I am sure.

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In the afternoon I cut out my fabric for Tilly and the Buttons Francoise – there is a contest and photos have to be uploaded by midnight tonight.  I don’t think I’ll manage that as today is ear-marked as Christmas card writing day etc but I will give it a go.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Finally … the lace dress of doom is finished

The finally finished dress

The finally finished dress

The hours of my life spent on this dress just doesn’t bear thinking about. Four three hours classes, homework every week of two to three hours, two hours at sewing club and then all the handsewing – phew.  Only to  discover that instead of looking exactly like Lisa Comfort in her dress, I look rather matronly in a dress that doesn’t fit very well.

I feel ambivalent about this dress.  It is very exciting to have finally finished a longer project, particularly one that introduced me to so many new techniques but there is also so much wrong with it I don’t know where to start.

Here are the errors that true sewistas would just sort out: the waggly hem, the dodgy loop fastening, it’s too big pretty much all over.

My toile - why couldn't I see this was too big?

My toile – why couldn’t I see this was too big?

I started the class at Sew Over It  – Clapham in November.  There were five in the class and our tutor was the wonderful Julie.  I love it that the studio has toiles already made up in all the different sizes for you to try on and then you take your own fitting from there.  I went for a 12 and had to take out a central V on the chest to take account of my small boobs.

Lovely studio at Sew Over It - can you see the lovely cake?

Lovely studio at Sew Over It – can you see the scrummy cake?

The dress needed further taking in on the seams and again after I tried the zip – I ended up trimming so much off I think I definitely should have gone with a 10.  The interesting thing about the class was how I emerged as a student.  Being a teacher I thought I would be a good student – retrospectively I think I was probably a pain. To encourage me every time I wailed, Julie would say “It’s couture!”.

My first problem was my lace.  I decided to buy my lace from Sew Over It so that I could look exactly like Lisa Comfort. I soon realised that everyone else had bought their lace elsewhere and it was far prettier than mine: moan, moan.

The lace and the lining

The lace and the lining

Then I realised I was slower than everyone else; my dress fitted less well than everyone else, and so it went on.

Cutting out - there seemed to me a huge number of pieces - a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

Cutting out – there seemed to me a huge number of pieces – a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

As I approached the class for the last night of the four week workshop I only had my zip and hem to do – I was very excited.  I came away from that class three hours later with still only the zip and the hem to do!  The last minute fitting took for ages.  It became apparent that what I thought was an invisible zip was not in fact so I decided to hand sew in a normal one which took me ages because I realised, rather perversely, that in my brief sewing career I have only put in invisible zips so didn’t know what to do.

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Working with lace was a pleasing challenge.  It had to be “mounted” on a base fabric = I used the crepe de chine I was using for my lining  – it has made the dress incredibly heavy.  Julie suggested a way of using my lace to make a more interesting necklines (others had scalloped edges as part of their lace).  I had to cut two rows of daisies out, run a line of stitches thorough the middle to gather and then sew onto the neckline – I am pleased with this.

Lace finish on the neckline - a unique feature!

Lace finish on the neckline – a unique feature!

I have realised that I need to get a camera that sits on a tripod – these photos on my IPAD are rubbish and my photographer has to be cajoled and bullied so does not undertake his task with good grace!

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

I plan to wear the dress of doom to my work’s Christmas supper on Monday week. It’s a very low key affair so I think I might just about get away with my waggly hem and matronly fit.  So, onwards and upwards on the sewing front.  I am tentatively thinking about booking the coat making workshop!

Front yoke – can’t imagine Tracey Emin, herself a great sewista, wearing a frock like this

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

New Sewing Club – Hoorah!

I am SO delighted that Sew Pretty have started a Sewing Club on the first Tuesday of each month and tonight was the inaugural meeting. I have been to a couple of workshops previously and really have enjoyed the friendly, welcoming atmosphere and the expert help and advice from Katya.

My concentration face - hand sewing the zip on the mammoth saga that is my lace dress

My concentration face – hand sewing the zip on the mammoth saga that is my lace dress

The focus for the club is that people can take along their various WIPs which they need help and advice with, or simply want to use a sewing machine or overlocker.  There were five of us and everyone had really interesting projects.

A lovely, almost finished, quilt

A lovely, almost finished, quilt

There was a quilt in the final stages; a child’s dress; one lady who had had a doll’s cot as a child and was revamping it for her own 18th month old daughter. Her father had renovated the cot and she was making bedding and a mattress cover. A friend of mine also went along who had bought back some GORGEOUS silk from her recent trip to Cambodia and Vietnam and wanted some help cutting out the fabric (best done with tissue underneath – I did not know that).

How lovely is this silk? I am hoping for a scrap to be able to make a tie!

How lovely is this silk? I am hoping for a scrap to be able to make a tie!

And finally there was me. Remember my Dahlia dress with the off the shoulder neckline?

Dahlia neckline

Dahlia neckline

Well, I took that along to see if anything could be done – I had decided that I simply didn’t have heart (euphemism for couldn’t be arsed) to unpick my bias and take all the raglan sleeve seams in. Katya repinned the back and suggested I try an inverted box pleat.

Back box pleat - I had to take in four inches

Back box pleat – I had to take in four inches

I did that and it looks OK – an interesting design feature is what I shall claim!  Then it was onto my Time Thief lace dress. There is a strong possibility I may actually finish it this weekend and finally be able to blog it – but don’t hold me to that.

Super skilful Katya

Super skilful Katya

I really enjoy social sewing. It must be a real challenge for a teacher to assist with five different projects but Katya coped admirably and we are all looking forward to the next sewing club in January. Hope you are all having a fun week,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x