Outerwear, Underwear – it’s all happening here!

Yesterday was the first of my four coat making workshops at Sew Over It Clapham with super patient Julie who has already guided me through a lace dress and a pair of trousers.  The workshops were a Christmas present (obviously lots of careful hints) to my other half.

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This is my fabric – a beautiful (reversible) daisy wool and the polka dot is for the lining; both from Guthrie and Ghani. I got the gorgeous buttons from Ditto fabrics.

There are just three of us in the class – just as well as the class is labelled as Advanced and at the very best I would describe myself as Intermediate Beginner.  The others have chosen wonderful fabric/lining combinations so I am hopeful we will have a trio of quite dramatic coats to show off mid February.

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The style is 1960s.  Here is a rather unflattering photo of me wearing the sample.  It will be quite interesting to compare my final version with this beauty!

imageThere is a lot to do.  The session lasted for three hours and in that time all I managed to do was cut out the wool and pin the interfacing.  The construction process is carefully broken down into four weeks and there are detailed instructions for what needs to be covered each week during the lesson and separate instructions for what needs to be done for homework.  The homework is substantial – I would say at least a further three hours but I will let you know in my next progress report. Most of the pieces need to be cut out three times: fabric, lining, interfacing. New things I learned: there is a different type of interfacing (not the Vilene type stuff I have used previously) which is used for coats – it is actually woven and you have to cut it on the grain. This I have to cut and iron on for my homework so I cannot comment on if it is easier/trickier etc.  The other interesting thing is that a man in Soho is recommended to do our button holes.  I had commented that they looked great on the sample and despaired of ever being able to do anything like that and then we were given the recommendation.  I did wonder if it was sort of cheating to get someone else to do the final finishing touches but it would be a total bummer to have made your coat, invested hours and hours and then bugger up the buttonholes – which I would almost certainly do.  If you read my blog about the silk top you will know that button holes are my nemesis.

imageI DO love the studio.  It is such a calming (although I was anything but calm and that is going to be the subject of a future, navel-gazing style post), twee, girly space – all shocking pink staircases, pretty jars of notions and tea cup pin cushions.  Always there is lovely cake and tea on tap.  That was something else I learned – when you are sewing, your bladder ceases to function! I have a lovely little routine – established when I did the lace dress workshops –  I leave work and arrive an hour or so before the class starts (I am always a super punctual person and would rather arrive an hour early than with just two minutes to spare) and then sit in a little independent coffee house and use the wifi to catch up on blogs whilst having a couple of lattes. Then, at the studios, there were further mugs of tea and it was only when I got home I realised I hadn’t been to the loo once!  Anyone else get so engrossed they forget such things?!

So, I have made a start – there is much to do this weekend but I hope you found my first progress report interesting.

Just a quick thing to finish with – a pair of pants!

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I saw on IG that JustSewtherapeutic had had a snow day (no sign of any here) and had productively made three pairs of Trixie Lixie pants.  I am a shameless copycat and immediately bought a kit (bargain as it includes the pattern, elastic, fabric etc).  It really is the first time I can say “it came together easily”.  I knocked them out Sunday night – we were watching a box set of Spiral series one (on a colleague’s recommendation) but I found it too distressing so gave up and took refuge in my Janome.  I wore them on Monday and they were comfy too – hoorah!  I plan to make many more in Liberty lawn – specifically the new Alice in Wonderland designs.

Hope you are having a good week!,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

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Dotty Delectable Delphine

This is my first skirt and I know already that I will be making lots more. It is SO practical – I can see this becoming a real staple for work but there is also scope to dress it up/down too. image In fact, I did try to dress it up and tried it on with these cute shoes I bought for a wedding three years ago and haven’t worn since.  Needless to say, they are not going to be worn with my Delphine because it was just too polka-dotastic and I looked ridiculous! imageBack to the skirt (although it is always nice to look at shoes). This is the Delphine from Love at First Stitch by super-talented Tilly.  This is my third Tilly make now and I am really impressed with her clear instructions, lots of photos and simplicity of design.  I am also a straight size 4 and for someone who is still not confident with fitting this suits me fine.image Although I am really pleased with it – there are a number of things I would do differently next time – to be honest there are a number of things I should do to this skirt to improve it but I am eager to get onto the next thing – as per usual.  I am looking forward to achieving the wisdom and patience that the more experienced sewistas have. image OK – here is my list of boo boos – it never occurred to me to try and wriggle the fabric around a bit so that my seams didn’t slice off half a dot making it look like this.  I thought with a pattern it wouldn’t notice but it does (and at the waistband too), I also, and it’s the second time I have done this, not bought an invisible zip when I thought I had.  I stupidly decided to insert it just as if it were an invisible zip but got into a right mess with the end which was exposed so there is another bodge job involving a bit of hand sewing. image You will recall from my Denim Sureau that I am now an expert at top-stitching (!) so I decided to add it to my Delphine even though there is no requirement. You can see the fabric a little clearer.  It is a lovely cotton which has a look of linen and I bought it on my first fabric shop of the year at Ditto Fabrics. image The big excitement for me this week is that I begin my four week course at Sew Over It to make a 1960’s coat.  I am already thinking this is too ambitious but it was my Christmas present and I am looking forward to learning some new techniques and meeting some fellow sewing enthusiasts.  I am planning to blog my weekly progress so do drop by again to see how I am getting on. Toodle pip, Clarinda x

Chinese silk Yoke top ….. finally done

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If I say so myself, this Yoke top by Lauren Guthrie looks effortlessly chic – however, it was not effortless to make and has been trailing around me and the blog for five months!

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I returned from China in August with this metre of gorgeous silk and another metre of a different floral design. I read up on how to sew with silk, bought appropriate needles and pins and was ready to go.  The pattern features in Learn to Sew with Lauren but I actually picked the pattern up in issue 5 of Love Sewing (what a great magazine).

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(I am absolutely freezing my tits off in these photos by the way – a gorgeously sunny morning whilst the ground was crisp with frost). Anyway, I made a start and I can’t remember why but, I got a bit stuck with the yoke so it became a WIP whilst I tinkered about with other things.

imageCome October I picked it up again, determined not to be one of these people who end up with piles of unfinished objects; the Yoke Top and I went on holiday for a week in the Peaks (alongside Dahlia who was very demanding and prevented the Yoke Top and I from really making much progress).  Again, it disappeared under other sewing priorities.

imageIn December, I took it to the first Sewing Club at Sew Pretty – the fabric was much admired by everyone but I got distracted by the hem on my lace dress and no progress was made.  It sat in its little purple folder for another month (I keep all of my various projects (doesn’t have to be sewing) in clear, purple plastic envelope files).

imageCome January it was Sewing Club again and I spent two hours working on the yoke.  I have to say, I do find yokes difficult.  I managed to get the front correct with Katya‘s help but when left to my own devices for the back, I just couldn’t work out how to do it.  I find construction and “seeing” how things fit together REALLY difficult – I think I must have some kind of condition, Discalculia maybe, linked to fabric rather than numbers. So the back had the raw seams exposed rather than all being neatly hidden away. However, on the plus side, I bravely whisked that single seam through the overlocker and it didn’t end in tears!

imageJust look at the absolute pig’s ear I made of the button holes.  I am supposed to have a one step button holer but it doesn’t work.  I did look at a couple of Youtube videos and I actually don’t think it is me!  The machine does the bar at the bottom, sews one side and then just stops. So I have to reset it all so that the machine it thinks it is doing another one and I have to turn the fabric 180% and wiggle it across a bit.  I only bought my machine in April so it is still under warranty from John Lewis but I don’t think I can bear to be parted from it for the weeks I’ve heard it takes for a repair.  So, I am just going to have to get better at bodging it OR only make garments without buttons.

imageSo, to conclude, Lauren’s Yoke top feels lovely against the skin and I am really looking forward to wearing it with a jacket for an evening out – just don’t look too closely at the finish! My next project is a skirt I will wear IF I ever get to an interview!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

Sureau Sunday Special

Hello, I hope your return to work has been good? Mine has been busy and the kids are exhausted (having had two weeks of not getting up until midday, the shock of having to get up at 7am has clearly taken its toll – them not me, I am an early riser).

I had said in a previous post that I thought denim was a little beyond my capabilities at this stage but look … I surprised myself!

imageI made my second Sureau and I absolutely love it – it is very much me.  I bought the fabric just before the return to school in Ditto fabrics along with top stitch thread and denim needles – all a first for me.  I had made a SBA first time around but looking at these photos, I think I needed to actually make a smaller size and then do a SBA on top.  I have no idea which size I cut before because I traced the pattern and then did not mark on it the size but I am sure I would have graduated out at the hips because, well, I am that sort of girl.

imageThe gathers on the skirt were OK but I have been reading on other blogs there are myriad ways of doing them so perhaps I will experiment more next time – I do have a big gathering project coming up with the BHL Kim dress I bought this week for my niece’s wedding – get me – this fledgling seamstress who would immediately have run out to buy a whole new outfit upon receipt of a wedding invitation now goes on line to buy a pattern and fabric instead.

imageI was actually very inventive for me – I have rarely gone “off piste” before. I chose a contrast facing (I had so much fabric left over from my dreaded Dahlia, I have already made a Sorbetto, used it for this and still have some left) and used it for the bias binding on the sleeves.  Also, because I made the sleeveless version I thought that the shoulders looked too wide  – well they were because it was literally the dress without putting the sleeves in – so I hacked an inch and half off from the shoulder graduating to nothing underneath the arm.

imageI love, love, LOVE topstitching – I think it is my favourite technique.  I was quite fascinated to see how the thicker thread worked with the ordinary thread and was anticipating (in my usual panic panic way) that it would all go horribly wrong; it turned out fine.  I think having the right tools for the job really helped.

imageI guess this photo is technically an out-take – it’s me trying to flatten out the gathers over my boobs – just look at that bamboo in the garden – it is taking over.

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Well that’s my first make of 2015 done and I am really pleased – I don’t often say that.  I know that there are SO many things which could be better but I do feel more confident.  I have also been busying on the planning front having bought four new patterns this week: BHL Kim; Sewaholic Oakbridge Blouse and the Granville Shirt and, inexplicably, the Katie and Laney Tap Shorts – this is what comes from being an avid follower of Elizabeth who lives in far sunnier climes.

Other things that have occupied me this week in my little kaleidoscope world are job-hunting and Broadchurch.  I have re-watched the whole of series one this weekend as, annoyingly, at the start of series two on Monday, I couldn’t remember the intricacies of all the various character relationships.  It lost nothing by being a second viewing and the fact that I knew who did it.

Broadchurch 3Have a good week,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

 

 

A week of firsts and a trio of Dahlias

My pink sewing journal has recorded a lot of firsts during the early days of January and I am feeling rather pleased!

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I went fabric shopping in Brighton for the first time and thanks to Ditto Fabrics I have increased my stash which was paltry compared to others I have seen.  I loved having a jolly good rummage and I can see how addictive it could become.  Anyway, having said in my last post that I thought sewing with denim was a bit of a challenge for me, I DID actually go ahead and buy some which has led to further firsts: sewing with a denim needle and using topstitch thread.  I know this probably seems rather dull to some of the more experienced sewistas but if you are fairly new to the sewing, you will appreciate my trepidation and excitement – hopefully I will be able to blog my denim outfit in due course but here is a taster of my fabric and facing combination – look familiar?!

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The doggie fabric is for a shirt which I will wear with black twill Ultimate trousers – once I have made them that is. The polka dot is for a skirt and as for the bird fabric – who knows? It just looked so sweet I couldn’t resist it. Any suggestions for one metre? Whilst in Brighton I also saw this amazing display in All Saints – 200 antique sewing machines: I counted them!

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The overlocker has finally been used on a garment – shock, horror.  When did I get it? October maybe? Anyway, I am tinkering about with Tilly’s Megan (sounds rude doesn’t it?) which has been a WIP abandoned from about August. I’m still making slow progress.

I never sleep well the night before the return to school so when I was wide awake at 2am I decided to read some blogs, as you do, and saw this absolutely cracking dress from Dolly Clackett.  I have to admit I shamelessly immediately bought the fabric and pattern – Paypal makes everything too easy – and intend to make one for myself for my niece’s wedding in April.  What do you think?  Stunning.

And lastly, we had another sewing bee at work.  Six of us were supposed to take part but Christmas is a busy time and not every one finished.  Here are three of the Dahlias – without exception we all had problems with excessive fabric at the neckline and had to make significant adjustments.  I do love Liz’s version  – the plaid.

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So, lots of things on the go at the moment but nothing quite finished as yet!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x