Sewing Related Musings …

Hello dear sewing chums, how are you all?

Have you guessed from my title that I haven’t actually got any sewing to share with you? Just telling you up front so that you can move onto the next blog if you don’t want to read my ramblings. Anyway, I am back from ten glorious days in Yorkshire seeing my cousins (my mum’s side of the family are all  in Wakefield) and pootling about on a narrow boat.

Social Media and Holidays

I had a wonderful time on the boat – once I’d mastered the locks and swing bridges (it’s quite different “down south” – on the Thames the lock-keepers do it for you!).

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Wearing one of my scraps sorbettos

However, there is no wifi on a narrowboat boat!  Holidays are times to relax and I really enjoying reading blogs for relaxation/inspiration so it was quite frustrating not to be able to nip online for a quick five minutes here and there as I am used to.  We moored up each night and went to a pub (which had to have free wifi) so that I could log on for half an hour.

Being touristy in Haworth - there is a Sorbetto hidden under the Rohan

Being touristy in Haworth – there is a Sorbetto hidden under the Rohan

This only really gave me time to update my personal facebook and quickly scroll through a few instagram pics. Poor Mr CK tried to be accommodating but after ten minutes of sitting silently whilst I was frantically clicking/scrolling away he would say “Well, this is fun.”  Reluctantly, I had to sympathise with his viewpoint. We arrived home yesterday and I spent two hours in bed this morning trying to catch up on my blog feed – I had 104 post to read – now down to 47.  I did wonder if I should just start afresh from today but I didn’t really want to miss out on what people have been making (the Southport maxi and Tilly’s new Bettine have gone bonkers). I then thought perhaps I could scroll through and just delete ones I wasn’t especially interested in but realised, joyfully, that everyone I follow, I enjoy following and didn’t want to skip through anything. So if you blog, and I follow you, and you are receiving random comments a week plus after you posted … now you know the reason why!

Sewing Gifts

I stayed in Wakefield with my cousin Mel, a gloriously talented seamstress who used to own her own wedding dress shop.  Whilst I was there she was frantically sewing on sparkles for a dress she was delivering the following week. She had lots of stories to tell from her wedding shop days including a man who came in and wanted a wedding dress made to measure in pink and a lady who came in with a drawing she had made herself as a nine year old child of what she thought her dream wedding dress would be and said “I want that”.  The lady’s mother subsequently came to the shop to countermand the instruction saying her daughter would look ridiculous. The nine year old’s dream dress was made – sadly I don’t have a picture to share.

Thread catcher being put to good use whilst I was hand sewing a tie on the train

Thread catcher being put to good use whilst I was hand sewing a tie on the train

Last time I met my cousin she had made a couple of sewing related gifts for me; a travel pin holder and thread catcher and a pin cushion with (I think) a cathedral design. The thread catcher is brilliant – it is actually structured around a Pringles lid and folds down so that you can slip your pin holder in the lid. – the pins are stored around the edge – a little like a wheel.  This was made with fabrics Mel had used for dresses/waistcoats for weddings of her own family. She said her idea was that you could just “pop them in your pocket” for sewng on the go  – as you do.

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Closed thread catcher

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Pin wheel sitting inside the closed thread catcher

Pin cushion with "cathedral dedsign" (I think)

Pin cushion with “cathedral dedsign” (I think)

In the time I have been blogging I have made some lovely blog friends and I hope to make more.  I  have found this to be one of the many pleasures of blogging (even  today I felt the need to blog but without having anything sewn to show you!). One of my early blog pals was Sew South London and being a South London girl myself, hers was one of the first blogs I was drawn to. We struck up a friendship quite quickly and I am looking forward to following her adventures now that she has moved on from South London to sunnier climes. Imagine my delight a couple of weeks ago when, as I was laying on the sofa feeling really sad after having attended the funeral of one of my former students, I suddenly decided to check my post box and found there a lovely gift – a metre of super funky fabric bought in Bangkok. I have decided to make a Clemence skirt with it and just as soon as I have finished this post, that’s what I’ll be doing. How lovely that someone you have never met can “know” you and be so generous too.

Funky fabric and what it is destined to become

Funky fabric and what it is destined to become

Whilst writing about gifts, I just want to refer to one I blogged about here – a wonderful stash of sewing goodies given to me by a friend of my daughter’s.  His generous gift means that I will probabaly never have to buy thread again in my life and have a choice as I did here with my Anna.

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Adding to the Stash

Just before I went to Yorkshire I had a little day trip with my neighbour and friend Ali, a fellow runner and sewista.  We went to the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A and then on for an afternoon’s shopping in Goldhawk Road.  The exhibition was a glory – very intense.  The music  alone was enough to make you want to slash your wrists although interestingly, as soon as you exited into the gift shop, a rather jollier tempo met your ears.

postcards of two of my favourite exhibits

postcards of two of my favourite exhibits

After a FAB lunch in Knightsbridge we moved onto our afternoon of shopping. I suffered from overwhelmedness in Goldhawk Road – odd that I had never been before.

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Just a tiny corner of one of about ten shops we went into

Just a tiny corner of one of about ten shops we went into

We traipsed into every shop and I had to keep sitting down like an old lady.  On the way back, we spread out all our wares on the train and a group of young men across the aisle from us, clearly amused, offered to take our photo.

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My purchases from Goldhawk Road - think I was quite reserved

My purchases from Goldhawk Road – think I was quite reserved

I am thinking another Clemence skirt from the Flamingos (if my first one goes OK).  The middle fabric I think will make a nice shirt – I was lucky enough to book Sew Over It’s Ultimate Shirt class during the summer sale. Finally, the floral fabric is a delicate needlecord (allegedly Liberty) which I hope to make some sort of pinafore out of – maybe a Sureau without the sleeves.

I have never bought fabric in Cath Kidston before but couldn’t resist this in their sale – £8 a metre – it’s really heavy so I’ll have to think carefully what I’ve going to do with it. Any ideas? Photo also includes my notions purchases that day – I was super organised and took samples of the fabrics with me so that  could colour match my zips.  The book was an impulsive purchase, which, now that I’ve read it, deeply regret!

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Well, I have rambled on for ages and although I still have more musing to share, will save those for another day. Just to conclude by saying that I have a big birthday coming up so look out for a celebratory blog post early next week. It is the school summer holidays now so I am looking forward to lots of sewing and keeping up to date with my blog feed. I have really enjoyed wearing my makes this summer so will close with this pic of me at the evening races at Epsom which was followed by a brilliant Madness concert – I had forgotten just how many glorious sing-a-long songs they had made. But the best part of the evening was when a lady came up and said “I have been looking at your dress – it is really lovely” – of course you can guess my reply!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Partying with Anna and Parrots

Hello all,

Allow me to introduce my favourite make so far with huge thanks to Elle for inviting me to her International Anna Party which gave me the final push to make a dress which has been on my To Do list for a year.

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Let’s go back to the beginning. Way back last September I was lucky enough to win three patterns of my choice as part of a prize giveaway linked to OWOP. I chose BHL Anna, Sewaholic Gabriola and Colette Patterns Hawthorn and pledged to make all three – see here.  Having failed by Christmas to have made any, I re-pledged to make them up during the course of 2015. Gabriola done; Anna done; Hawthorn outstanding.  To be honest, now that I’ve made Sew Over It’s Vintage Shirtdress I’m not sure if I will get round to making the Hawthorn.

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This fabric was bought specifically for the Hawthorn from Fabric Land in Portsmouth. I think it was about £8 a metre.  Anyway, I had three metres of it sat waiting. I also recently acquired three metres of a lovely antiquey/autumnal floral so when I read about the International Anna party and accepted the invite I couldn’t decide which fabric to use.  I actually put it to the vote on my Instagram. Absolutely nobody voted for the floral! I also found out that these little sweeties are in fact Love Birds – I checked it out and it’s true: ” a social and affectionate small parrott”.

imageimageI can now absolutely understand why everyone raves about this pattern – Pip who blogs at The Girl in a Teacup has 16 (probably more by now)! It really does come together beautifully. When you come to attach the bodice to the skirt – all seven panels of it – everything lines up perfectly.  I cut a straight size 12 and I think it fits perfectly – apart from the length where I had to cut off about 15 cm.  Well, that’s a white lie.  I did need to take off a chunk but due to the one directional fabric I couldn’t get the dress out of my three metres without having the minimalist of hems.

imageThe sleeves are so straightforward, the facings worked, the zip went in first time.  It really was a happy sew. I decided the world wasn’t ready for me with a thigh-high slit so didn’t include that.  I have really gotten into maxi’s.  I feel lovely swishing around in my Gabriola so I thought I’d go bold with Anna but I will make others in the shorter length as I think they will be perfect for work.  So, I currently have ten orange buttons to add to my stash and three metres of floral fabric which is having a bit of a confidence crisis!

Are you partying with Anna? Huge Happy Birthday to Elle and thanks for your fun initiative – you encouraged me to get another one of my promises completed.  I haven’t actually got an occasion in mind for this dress but I do have a wedding next month and this could be Anna’s first formal outing.  Until then here are another couple of Anna enjoying her photo session in the garden!

imageimageI am just starting my holiday – I am having a week on a canal boat in Yorkshire after first visiting my cousins.  There will be no sewing for ten days but lots of reading which I am looking forward to. Will post piccies of travels on IG if I can get wifi on the canal!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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The Vintage Shirtdress … at last

Hello sewing chums,

I normally try to post each weekend with an occasional mid-week post but the combination of end of term madness and Wimbledon has meant that I have fallen behind with my self-imposed schedule … now I get why the more sophisticated bloggers schedule posts.  Still, I have been active on Instagram and am very pleased with just how frequently I am wearing my own makes these days. Anyway, the only reason I am bothering to give you this little explanation is just in case you were following my progress at the Sew Over It studio to make my Vintage Shirt Dress; I blogged Week One, then Week Two – were you having restless nights worrying about what happened on Week Three? Well fret no more – it’s finished!

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I have to admit the final workshop was not a happy experience for me.  Following the problems of the previous week I had done a lot of work at home to get back on track and arrived at the class with only the neckline facing, buttonholes and hemming to go. The first task we all had to do was choose fabric for our next shirtdress. Lisa had kindly arranged for each of us to have a new pattern and fabric so that we could make another shirtdress (if you read about week two you’ll understand this).  I picked a floral in deep, rich colours which I thought would make a great layering shirtdress in the cooler months (what is the matter with me thinking about autumn at the start of the summer holidays?) but yesterday when I was wearing my Gabriola and thinking about how much I enjoy wearing a maxi, I suddenly realised what a great maxi it would make.

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Anyway, back to class. The neck facing went on swiftly and I began to get excited thinking I might actually be able to wear it to see  The Importance of Being Earnest later that week (a theatre trip with colleagues to see farewell to a lovely lady who had been at our school for 29 years). Well, that was SO the wrong thing to do.  Once I had had that thought, nothing went right.  I spent about two hours faffing about with the buttonholes and didn’t get a single one finished.  It turned out my machine was at fault but by the time that was established I was in a complete strop and left the workshop in tears. Apologies to Julie if you read this.  I must repeat here what a wonderfully patient sewing teacher Julie is.

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Our school library is actually much better appointed than this photo would indicate!

Another frustrating feature about this is that my own machine had a fault with the button hole function and as I haven’t got it fixed, I couldn’t finish my frock at home.  Hoorah for working in a school – I went to the textiles room after work and finished my button holes.

My not very good buttonholes - I need to work on this

My not very good buttonholes – I need to work on this

I struggled to get decent photos – tried to get a few in the garden but it was overcast and the others were taken at school on my first day of wearing the dress.  It was Prize Giving day (linked to Y13 leavers) so it was actually worn under my academic gown  (no photos of that piece of ridiculousness).  Thanks to my colleague Liz for taking photos in the library for me.

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A silly picture of me twirling - it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

A silly picture of me twirling – it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

I will definitely make the dress again – I actually really like it and it fits well after all the alterations but next time I will make it in the right size.

imageI really must comment on the gorgeous fabric.  It’s Liberty Tana Lawn bought in Cloth Kits, Chichester.  They always have a good selection of Liberty including some on sale (which this was).  The design is Winter Dreams of Spring and if you study it closely all sorts of lovely things come into focus but from a bit of a distance it looks rather subtle.  I bought three metres as the pattern suggested I needed and managed to also get out of it a Sorbetto (of course I did) and made a tie for my colleague to celebrate him passing his NQT year.

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

I think it works really well as a tie

I think it works really well as a tie

I haven’t seen the tie on yet as I only gave it to my colleague on Friday – the last day of term – but he seemed pleased with it.

Well, it’s been a picture heavy post and not too many details about the actual shirtdress.  I think that’s because the making process was fraught and not a happy experience for me so I didn’t want to dwell on the detail but I am certainly pleased with the outcome.

And so begins, seven happy weeks of holidays with much reading, sewing, running, tennis, cooking and hopefully blogging planned.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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