Kim, Flamingos and a (Copy) Cat

Hello all,

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I finished my Kim Sewalong a little bit behind schedule but still on time for my niece’s wedding on the 11th April.  She is having a very colourful wedding in Peckham and I thought this fabric would be perfect for a fun dress – here I must confess – the inspiration came from Dolly Clackett whose dress I have completely copied – please forgive me and thanks SO much for being such a huge source of inspiration to me during my first year of sewing.  There, I’ve got that out of the way right at the beginning of the post so now I can give you the deets.

I am writing this post as my contribution to the Monthly Stitch Collective and the theme for March is Inside Out.  Well, the insides of this frock will probably make you sigh with disbelief.  So far, every dress I have made has had shedloads of surplus fabric so instead of the three metres I should have got, I went for two.  Big mistake.  The skirt is supposed to have all three metres in it so mine is nowhere near as swishy as it should be.

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The bodice is lined and as I didn’t have the full amount of fabric (Grrrr), I couldn’t get the lining out of the same fabric. As I had already started cutting out and just wanted to get on to sewing I searched my stash – which is nowhere near as abundant as some I  have seen.  The only fabric I had which was not printed or not cotton was some gorgeous broderie anglaise I had bought from Sew Over it and cost half as much again as the dress fabric itself.

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It looks very pretty anyway.  If you are a regular reader you will know I have a fear of my overlocker, which came threaded with black.  I decided I would be bold and use it to finish my seams …. can you see where this is going?

imageI promise I won’t do this again.  I have now had a private lesson and been shown how to change my threads – although I haven’t yet done it by myself. If you look very carefully at the picture of the bodice you can see just see the darkness of the thread peeping through – Oh I am a wally. Luckily it’s on the inside so only I know.  The bodice top was a challenge for me – I have never done that thread the fabric through the shoulders thing before – I didn’t think it would ever go through and when it did, the fabric was so creased it looked like a rag.  Here is a picture mid procedure – looks rude doesn’t it?

imageI also learned a new technique for gathering and I have to say, it has produced the best results so far; you prepare the gathers by hand-sewing two rows of running stitch at the same time.

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Although I am please with the overall outcome, there are a few things I regret – of course, there are. The black overlocking and the fact that I didn’t handstitch the hem.  On the plus side my invisible zip insertion is improving and if I can get my waist seams to line up it would be moving towards perfect.

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So all in all a reasonable outcome. The fabric is called Flaming Boarder and I got it from Fancy Moon; the dress pattern (which I would highly recommend) is By Hand London’s Kim – but don’t skimp on the fabric.

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imageI thought you might like a little close up of my shoes.  I have become obsessed with Swedish clogs – I bought two pairs at the end of the summer in the sale which I hadn’t had chance to wear but now that I have and know exactly how comfortable they are, I have bought another …. sssshhhh, don’t tell Mr CK this ….. three pairs.

So, the clocks have gone back, Spring is officially here and it is the first day of my two week Easter break – Happy Days!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Magnificent Mortmain

Well hello there, I have broken up for Easter today and I can’t tell you how happy I am about that.

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Look … I made something which actually fits me and doesn’t have too many boo boos – thanks to the girls at Gather for their amazing pattern and to Handmade Jane who led the workshop at Badger and Earl where I made this dress over two consecutive Sundays.  For ten hours in total we worked on our frocks and not one of us managed to completely finish so our fashion parade at the end was somewhat hurried.  Had we been on the Great British Sewing Bee we would probably have had ninety minutes and had to throw in a bolero jacket as well!

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I had a specific event in mind for this dress which influenced my fabric choice – a gorgeous ….. actually, I’ve no idea what it is!  A cotton sateen maybe? There was a bit of stretch which I hadn’t realised initially and the white background is embossed; the lilac/purple splodges look like watercolours. My school colours are lilac/purple and this year a new event was introduced: The Lilac Dinner.  The idea was to have an evening where the students, parents and teachers all have supper together just before the students go off to take their GCSEs. I do like to throw myself into things so decided I was going to make a lilac dress – of course I was!  I originally bought a purple gingham but when I was at Sew Over It making my coat the fabric kept calling my name and whispering “Lilac Dinner, Lilac Dinner”.

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I LOVED the workshop.  There were four of us and we all had gone for floral prints. The dress was a great fit on all of us without any real alterations – it seemed to be a magic pattern. Everything seemed to fit together perfectly. The only really tricky thing was the exposed zip – I thought invisible zips were supposed to be hard but they are a doddle compared to the exposed zip.  Thank goodness Jane was there to expertly guide us through every step of the way.

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Here is the back view – I have to admit I was a little sceptical of the exposed zip but it does make a statement and a lot of the girls had similar zips in their outfits so it must be very “in”!

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It was really great to meet Jane – she was very perceptive at gauging exactly where we were at any one point and who was fine and who needed help.  The only thing I messed up, and I am so cross with myself about this, was that I managed to put my armhole facings in upside down.  Jane was so kind in offering to re-set them for me as she knew I needed the dress for Thursday but I just pressed the life out of them and they stayed in place.

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And obviously we have to mention the shoes!  Aren’t they gorgeous?  I saw them on Dolly Clackett’s blog and knew they would go perfectly with my dress so I literally ordered them just before the workshop on Sunday; they arrived from Sweden yesterday at 1pm – cutting in fine!  I find I am being influenced more and more my reading sewing blogs – it’s the second time I’ve “borrowed” style from Dolly and have also blatantly copied Justsewtherapeutic. Is that wrong – I’m not sure? Do you say copy or inspired by?

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Anyway, I have had a hideous half term and I am really pleased to have broken up today.  I was thinking about going away but actually I just want to rest at home, read and sew so hopefully I will have a few things to show you over the next couple of weeks.  I will definitely make the Mortmain again (arm facings the right way up) and have already bought the zip.

Hope you have lovely things planned for Easter,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Calling all you Overlocker Queens – Help!

Hello all,

I hope your week is going well?

Look what arrived in the post for me today!

imageNow, this is very exciting.  I got the pattern out to read on the train coming home from work (cue lots of surprised looks from commuters) and had a bit of a surprise.  I have pledged to myself that I am going to make up Sewaholic’s Davie as my first garment on my overlocker but … now that I have the pattern, it is awash with topstitching.  How do I do that on my overlocker?  Or, do I make the dress up on my overlocker but then topstitch on my normal machine? But … how will I do that with knit fabric? Do I use my walking foot? Or, if on the overlocker, do I use top stitch thread?  Oooh, so many questions – all suggestions gratefully received.

Making the Davie will probably be my first project of the Easter holidays (eight days to go – not that I’m counting but it’s been a foul half-term) as this weekend I have the second of my Mortmain workshops.  Want a peep of progress thus far?

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The bodice looks as if it will fit well – I cut a 10.  You can’t actually see the darts on this but I do look gloriously flat-chested (I am).  If you think it clashes somewhat with my stripey top, just look at the skirt when I was still wearing my jumper!

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Really looking forward to sharing the finished garment with you and telling you all about Badger and Earl. Will have to remember to wear appropriate shoes/tights for the group photograph as the above photos are decidedly unflattering!

Have a good rest of the week,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Thank you Cynthia …

I haven’t actually done much sewing this week to but I am going to have a whole day of it tomorrow which I will tell you about in my next post. My week has been tedious to say the least so I am delighted to share with you a gloriously generous, unexpected gift I was given this morning which filled me with absolute delight.image My daughter had been given a black bin liner to pass to me by a friend who I have met a few times. I opened it and found it contained an old cardboard box and half a dozen carrier bags: an absolute treasure trove filled with threads and notions. image It took me a good couple of hours to sort out my inheritance stash from “Cynthia”, who her son referred to as Minnie Cool, which I think is lovely. imageimage I sorted into three main groups: vintage wooden bobbins; some permacool terylene thread and Gutermann reels. There isn’t any way I could possibly ever get through it all so I have decided to share it amongst my sewing friends/textiles department at school. Aren’t I a lucky girl! Thursday saw the final of the Great British Sewing Bee – who would have thought it would be Matt to take the hallowed dress form. My money was on Neil from the beginning but he had a shocker – I think all of the excitement finally got to him! The contestants this year really did seem a friendly bunch – it was lovely when they all came back for the presentation. Before the Bee started I had a private lesson with lovely Katya from Sew Pretty. Regular readers will know that I am still frightened of my overlocker which I bought on EBAY back in the Autumn; I haven’t completed a single garment on it yet – in fact I haven’t done more than finish four seams.

Photo courtesy Sew Pretty

Photo courtesy Sew Pretty

It was a really productive couple of hours; we had a cup of tea and a chat and Katya took me through the whole of the manual – I changed the threads – twice; learned how to lower the knife; use a gathering attachment; do a rolled hem etc. etc.  It remains to be seen if I will be able to do these thing by myself but I certainly feel more confident about having a go – thank you Katya.  I would certainly recommend having a private lesson to anyone who has the equivalent of Writer’s Block with any aspect of sewing! Tomorrow I am off to another workshop – as you know I am a bit of a workshop  junkie and I am going to a new studio for me in South London – Badger and Earl.  I am going to be doing a class with Handmade Jane making the Mortmain dress. The feature of this dress is its exposed zip.  I bought this glorious fabric at Sew Over It and a purple zip but I really wasn’t sure if I actually liked the exposed zip idea anyway.  But …. Look … my lovely friend Ali offered to rummage through her vintage supply (kept in a trunk no less) and gave me this gorgeous white zip with silver teeth (?) which I think will go perfectly. image I am feeling really rather humble and grateful for the good things I have been given today.  I hope you are having a similarly rewarding weekend.  Happy Mothers Day to you for tomorrow if you are celebrating; I’m in deep disgrace over it because I am going to my workshop for the day and not the Sunday Lunch at a Manor house which had been planned for me! Toodle pip, Clarinda (and a final picture of Cynthia’s stash – thank you) x image

Knitting and Stitching Show and a grumpy CK

Hello all, hope your weekend is going well?

I am going to be completely upfront and say I have had a really horrid week at work because, well basically because, I work with incompetent, spiteful morons. Ooh, you’d think it would feel better getting that off my chest but no … I’m still cross!

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The only reason why I’ve said that is because it might have affected my view of The Knitting and Stitching Show. I was SO looking forward to it but left feeling distinctly underwhelmed. It’s the first show of its kind I’ve been to since I’ve become passionate about sewing. I had imagined it would be like the Ideal Home Show exhibitions in their 1970s heyday. I anticipated returning laden down with freebies, giveaways, samples, literature, offers etc. but no: Love Sewing Magazine and a metre of jersey stripe (suggestions of what to make anyone?) was my total haul.

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I did see one of the BHL girls – the patterns looked beautiful all stacked together on the shelves. I was going to say thanks for the excellent Kim sewalong which I am currently sewingalong with but she was busy with a paying customer so I didn’t interrupt. I did get to say Hi to the ladies at the Badger and Earl stand. I am doing a workshop with them next Sunday to make the Mortmain dress. It was good to see one made up. The ironic thing is that one of the features of the dress is it’s dramatic exposed back zip which … I’m not sure I like – I think I might end up putting in an invisible one!

Bodice completed just the skirt to go

Bodice completed just the skirt to go

So, perhaps it was my mood that made me think everything looked a bit tired – a sad man wandering around pushing a 1970s domestic carpet cleaner didn’t help. If you are going, I hope you have fun.

It was nice to have two of my makes featured on Lauren’s Guthrie and Ghani blog round up this week and this weekend I hope to do a bit more on my Flamingo Kim but mainly it’s preparation for an interview I have on Monday – fingers crossed.

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Finally, something good to end the weeks – clogs!

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Toodle pip,

Clarinda x