A floral Anna and some funky shoes

Last day of the holidays guys – boo hoo. Anyway, hello and how are you?

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I find I am getting a lot of inspiration via Instagram these days and today’s post is about one of them.  I have seen Liberty Carline on numerous blogs but when I saw Rebecca’s Kim dress I knew I had to make one. I tracked down the fabric on EBAY and bought two metres for a reasonable price (end of roll, seconds – can’t remember) and it sat patiently waiting in my stash for me to get round to it. This was during my KIM phase.

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Following the success of my By Hand London Anna, I decided I would make the Carline up into an Anna (still love my Kim’s but Summer is slipping by) and had a little vote on my instagram as to whether I should go short or maxi – it was close but I went with short as I thought I would get more wear out of it. I am pleased with the result but sort of wish I had made the maxi after all – Love the drama!

imageSo, what to say about this Anna? Just to reiterate what everyone has already said – it is a superb pattern. It is SO straight forward to make up as the little cap sleeves are just part of the bodice – no bias binding or tricky facings for me to sew in upside down. The clever little pleats just under the boobies to provide shaping are really excellent and made this fairly flat chested person look as if she had some curves. Finally, the seven gored skirt panel is a triumph if like me you are sometimes rounder in the tum area!  I don’t know how but it just seems to skim the body in  a flattering way, easily adapted to the extra half a stone I have put on and still feel comfortable.

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I did think about putting in an exposed zip but once I had decided to go with the shorter length, I thought I would keep it a bit more subtle for school.  The dress had its first outing on GCSE results day, worn with a cream cardi (not the one in the picture below as that is a bit fluffy and glam) and was perfect.

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If you follow me on IG, you will know I have just come back from my first ever cruise (am mentally planning a post on this so won’t say more now) and wore my frock one of the evenings. Sorry the photo is not great – the combination of swaying ship and endless booze did not make for a steady hand.  Can you see my feet?

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A couple of days before we left, I went shopping in Chichester thinking to myself that I would try to get a pair of pink shoes (actually to go with my Flamingo Dress) in the last knockings of the sale. Who on earth would have thought I would ever stumble across anything so glorious.  I can confirm they are very comfortable to wear, go well with both  dresses and compel absolute strangers to stare at your feet (hopefully in awe but possibly not; Mr CK thinks they are diabolical).

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Today I will be mustering myself into return to work mode.  I have booked two further workshops at Sew Over It in Clapham which will be on the next six consecutive Wednesdays so I am looking forward to sharing the details of those with you – hoping not to get too stressed this time!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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A would be “glittery flamingo in a park full of pigeons”

Hello everyone, I hope you having a good week? GCSE results tomorrow for me to be feeling anxious about and then on Friday, off on a walking cruise to Norway which I am super excited about.  It has been dream of mine for many years to go to the Norwegian Fjords.

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I am really pleased with this dress – even though there are still a number of fitting issues.  However, I pushed myself a bit and realise that I am getting a little more confident in what I am prepared to have a go at.

First up the fabric. I bought this on my trip to Goldhawk Road, At that point I didn’t have a specific project in mind so only bought 1.5 metres.  I then got frustrated with myself because I didn’t have enough for what I decided I wanted to do with it (Ultimate trousers, Anna dress).  Having just completed a Gather Mortmain dress which I was pleased with (see here)  I decided to have a go at making another one but this time with sleeves.

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To fit in with the theme of Two is the Magic Number for The Monthly Stitch I decided to make up my Mortmain in two fabrics – I felt the box pleats would show off the flamingos to their best advantage.  I found a plain cotton in a similar shade to the flamingos in C and H fabrics – I only bought 0.7 of a metre to make the bodice and really had to eek this out. When I looked at the pattern for the sleeves properly I realised that there was a cuff detail with elastics, buttons and keyholes.  I immediately dismissed this as being too complicated.  However, once I actually sat down to start the dress, I thought I’d try and see how it went and I’m pleased I did! It is worthwhile reiterating here that this is an absolutely brilliant pattern with really clear instructions.

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I don’t know why I still get so anxious about doing anything for the first time – it is these little cuffs which have given me a sense of achievement with this frock. A few months ago there was a little flurry of knicker making (since replaced by, firstly the Morris Blazer and then the Bettine).  I was part of the knicker brigade and bought shedloads of elastic which has since sat languishing somewhere amongst the fabric.  I just used this for the loop after having first cut off the lacy part of the knicker elastic. The button is a glass one from my mum’s button box (1960’s).

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Something I have only realised since I have been sewing is that although I have small boobies I do have large shoulders. I had completely forgotten this when I started to make up the Mortmain (my previously one having been sleeveless it was not an issue). SO annoying! It was incredibly tight under the arms so I decided to do a big scoop out of the fabric and re-sew.  I am sure there is a more professional way to do this.  It worked to a certain extent – i.e. it feels OK and I can move my arms but looking at the pictures it really is too tight and pulling across the back. Talking of which ….

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I now absolutely love exposed zips – I bought this delight on EBAY and when it arrived I had to keep looking at it as a thing of beauty. Mr CK caught me staring at it as I had laid it out on the sofa and thought I was bonkers.

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The experience with the armholes has taught me a valuable lesson – I will now always take extra care with measuring/fitting sleeves.  I remember now that when I made my 1960s coat, after all the fuss of putting the shoulder pads in, we decided it would look better without on me, so I took them out again.

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Photo taken at the end of the garden – the swans have become regular visitors

My final flourish was to use bias binding on the hem – this was because I wanted to make the dress as long as possible and I had used all of my fabric on the length.  Whilst I quite like short/above the knee in winter with thick tights, I favour just below the knee in summer because my legs/knees are not what they used to be! Which brings me to another little ponder!

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I recently read the following  in a FAB new blog  – Coolarama   which made me have a little bit of a wobble: “I need to stop making cutesy dresses for 20/30 year old’s, I’m a bloody 40 something! Get a grip and dress like a grown-up!” As I surveyed my recent makes and pondered my own age, I wondered if others might be thinking that about me: Parrots, Frida Kahlo, Flamingos, Queue for the Zoo, Tennis Racquets etc etc. Anyway, hopefully you’ll be pleased to hear that I didn’t ponder that for too long! I love the amazing choices of fabrics we can buy to make really unique clothes for ourselves and I plan to grow old disgracefully making whatever takes my fancy.

Just to reinforce that little moment of positivity I just bought a new paid of shoes this morning which will go perfectly with my dress – shame I didn’t have them when I did the photos.

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Toodle pip dear friends – I am off to continue my dream of becoming “a glittery flamingo in a park full of pigeons” (can’t find where that quotation comes from to credit it but it sure is a cracker (along with another favourite motto of mine – it’s really doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty – there is still room for more wine).

Clarinda x

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A Fabric Godmother indeed!

Hello all,

I have had a very exciting week which included A level results , another 12 mile stretch of the South Downs Way, a visit to Peppa Pig World and the Open Day at Fabric Godmother and may I just say, what a Godmother indeed!

With Butterflies and Lemondrops, Daisy creates in Sussex and Seams Odd Louise

With Butterflies and Lemondrops, Daisy creates in Sussex and Seams Odd Louise

It is the first time I have ever met any other bloggers in real life and it is quite a surreal experience – to encounter someone you exchange with on a regular basis and feel you “know” but then to meet them in the flesh and have to formally introduce yourself.  This was slightly complicated by the fact that our blog names are not our real names, i.e. Daisy is actually Linda and in a rather odd inversion my blog name is actually my real name but I use a different name in real life!

So, to the Open Day.  The fabric choice was overwhelming – SO much good stuff. I went with a plan – which I fulfilled and bought a couple of other things as well.  Next time, I hope there is a next time, I will have a bigger plan! It was lovely having a cup of tea afterwards and swopping tales/showing off our purchases. Absolutely no-one left empty handed.

I have LOVED wearing my maxis this summer (Gabriola and Anna) so I decided I would make a maxi for winter with a cropped jacket to go with it. One of my prizes as a winner in The Monthly Stitch dresses contest was a pattern from Named and I chose the Lourdes jacket.  I hope it will look very funky paired with the skirt but also realise it could look dreadfully Edwardian and frumpy. What do you think?

Skirt in check; jacket in plain

Skirt in check; jacket in plain

I am also wondering if I could actually make up version B of the Gabriola and use the plain fabric for the contract yoke (is it called a yoke on a skirt?) and waistband – what do you think?

imageTo set off my autumn suit, I bought this lovely bird fabric to make a shirt – the colours match perfectly although I accept it will look super busy when paired with the skirt.

imageI did intend to get some lining of a similar hue but was completely drawn to this silky, dotty fabric so I am afraid that if you look inside my skirt they’ll be even more busyness/clashing going on!

imageMy final purchase was this wonderful cotton – as I said I do love my birds.  They are large ish – almost a handspan from beak tip to tail.  My original thought was a shirt but my frame might be overwhelmed.  I bought two metres to give me options – what do you think I should make? As I’m typing this and thinking about my lining comment above I have just thought that this would make delightful lining on a black jacket (not that I want to use it for lining though).

All in all, a really great visit – I got to say hi to Rachel from House of Pinheiro but most enjoyed meeting some of the ladies I think of as my sewing chums!

Sewing this week has taken a bit of a back burner due to all of the other things happening.  I was making good progress on my Flamingo Mortmain but annoyingly, having decided to add sleeves to this one, it never occurred to me that my great big shoulders might need a larger size. I am currently feeling a bit despondent about the frock as I am going to have to unpick, re-sew and re-set the sleeves with the absolute minimum seam allowance – Grr.  Off to do that now!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Magic Mortmain – Mark 2

Hello all on this lovely sunny Sunday,

Guess what? I’ve been having another one of my little ponders and have realised that the garments I make multiple versions of are the ones where I have had success e.g. Sorbetto and Kim.  However, the trickier ones where I have been to a workshop and KNOW that I should make another as soon as possible after to consolidate just doesn’t happen despite my good intentions.  And so is true of Gatherkits Glorious Mortmain which fitted so well I previously thought it must be magic.

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I made my first Mortmain at a workshop run by Handmade Jane at Badger and Earl.  I was delighted with the result (notwithstanding that in my haste to finish I managed to insert the armhole facings back to front/upsidedown). You can read about that workshop here.  As I said, full of good intentions I bought a further large exposed zip from Badger and Earl whilst I was there. I had a rootle through my little stash and came across the fabric I had bought when I first got my sewing machine so at that point it was a year old and I guess my first ever “stash”.  I bought it from Clothkits. It is covered in large daisies but the centre is actually a rose.  I’ve included a close up here so that you can see the fabric as it is not really so clear on the photos.

You will see I took no chances this time with the pesky armhole facings

You will see I took no chances this time with the pesky armhole facings

I cut the dress out straight away and there it has sat – since March – on the corner of my sewing table.  I think I shied away from it for so long because I was worried about the exposed zip – and the box pleats for that matter without Jane to hold my hand. I kept putting other projects on top. A week ago I cut out an Anna (another previous success) in a lovely Liberty poplin …

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… and just as I was about to start working on it, I heard a little voice in the corner say “What about me? You were excited about making me once. What went wrong?”  Well … I thought it was a good point, well made so I put my Anna (and an Edith I got out of the scraps) in the corner spot instead, picked up poor, abandoned Mortmain and just got on with it. By the way, does anyone else think of Brideshead Revisited every time they read Mortmain because they link it with Marchmain? Remember Laurence Olivier as Lord Marchmain swanning around Castle Howard (Brideshead).

For me, one of the most amazing British dramas on television

For me, one of the most amazing British dramas on television

I am so pleased that I did.  It really is a lovely pattern.  Everything is so carefully explained with diagrams and then close-ups of the diagrams.

image It turned out to be a straight forward sew – armhole facings in correctly; exposed zip – almost perfect.

imageYou can see here the box pleats and the close fitting bodice. I do still need to get a decent camera instead of my ipad so that I can improve my blog photos. I haven’t actually got a specific event to wear this frock for – I always like to have something special for a first public outing. Feel free to invite me to anything Mortmain Appropriate!

Which reminds me. Thank you for all your kind comments on my blogiversary which I celebrated in my last post.  I really do appreciate the lift that our supportive sewing community gives. My lovely friend and neighbour Ali popped round unexpectedly with a little gift: a metre or so of a navy blue wool with a pin stripe in a brighter blue and a vintage pattern of a skirt which I had admired on her, for me to trace. This will probably be my first make of the Autumn sewing phase but I am not there yet – too many summer plans still to get through!

What will be my first vintage pattern make

What will be my first vintage pattern make

I was hoping to give my blog heading a facelift but so far have only managed to get my sewing machine serviced. You may remember some moans about that fact that my machine has never been able to do button holes? Well, now it does and it won’t surprise you to read that, apparently, it has always been able to do button holes if only I had set the dials appropriately!

Lots to look forward to next week: Open Day at Fabric Godmother; working on my project for The Monthly Stitch Two is the Magic Number Challenge and … A level results.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Just one last peep at the exposed zip - I am in love with it

Just one last peep at the exposed zip – I am in love with it

 

 

 

 

Clarinda Kaleidoscope celebrates First Blogiversary – Hoorah!

Hello and thanks for reading!

Today my blog celebrates being one year old proving that it wasn’t just  a seven day wonder and no-one is more surprised than me.  It has been a wonderful year of learning new skills, making friends and (incredibly) creating an on-line presence!

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An early make worn last week for a picnic at Parham House (the car is not mine by the way)

Blogging

My first post was about my Lilou from Love at First Stitch – you can read that post here.

Photo from my first blog post

Photo from my first blog post

I have 90 followers – thank you so much if you are one of the 90! I have written 62 posts and usually post at the weekend.  I still feel a bit underskilled in relation to blogging, for example, I can’t work out how to add an About Me page (although I thought I had written one during the original set up) and when I try to add a button to say I am joining in with something (e.g. OWOP) it is very hit and miss if it works. I am looking at giving my blog a bit of a facelift and to that end am considering having a customised blog heading designed – I just can’t decide what the image should be though. Any ideas?

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My instagram was set up five weeks later and has 200 followers – I enjoy using instagram and only follow fellow sewistas. I am currently doing the daily sewphotoblog set up by House of Pinheiro which is a great way to find out what others are up to.

Sewing

I had been sewing for about four months before I started my blog.  I have learned so far that there is much I have still to learn!   I mostly enjoy the learning part but sometimes I’m quite impatient and get frustrated when things don’t go right first time.  I have had some triumphs:

1960's coat made at Sew Over It

1960’s coat made at Sew Over It

and some disasters:

How could I not have noticed this until I put the finished garment on

How could I not have noticed this until I put the finished garment on

but most of all I have had fun!

Originally made for my niece's wedding, this dress was equally at home at the races

Originally made for my niece’s wedding, this dress was equally at home at the races

It has been great meeting people on line and in the next couple of weeks I am actually going to meet some of my on-line friends at Fabric Godmother.

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The most exciting aspect of blogging for me this year was being voted as a finalist and then a winner during The Monthly Stitch Independent Pattern month – it was really wonderful to know that other sewistas had actually voted for my dress – a By Hand London Kim featuring Frida Kahlo.

My winning dress

My winning dress

In the coming year I hope to continue making clothes in fabulous prints, engage more with the on-line sewing community to gain inspiration from others and finally, get over my fear of the overlocker.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Just so you know - It's not all about me (but mainly it is)!

Just so you know – It’s not all about me (but mainly it is)!

 

I had a vision

Hello all,

Hope you have had a wonderful sunny Sunday.  I have just got back from a weekend Hen-do in Bath which was great fun and proved to me that the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun mantra is just as true for Hens who are 40/50 something is it is for the younger chicks.

I was SO lucky to receive as a gift from Ms Sew South London as metre of fabric she had bought in Hong Kong and posted because she thought it was very me and that I might like to make a Sorbetto out of it.  Well, as you know I make a Sorbetto out of practically every piece of fabric I have but nearly always as the second piece – i.e. my Scraps Sorbettos.  I really felt that such a lovely gift deserved to be used on a garment which would show off the fabric and felt that Tilly’s Clemence  skirt from Love at First Stitch was calling to me. By co-incidence a week or so before I had treated myself to some gorgeous shoes in the sales which were a coral colour and perfectly match some of the little handbags on the skirt.  I had a vision that I would waft around and look as glamorous as Tilly.  Well, it was a vision that sadly did not come to fruition!

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The instructions for the skirt were very good. I am certainly enjoying working my way through Love at First Stich and would highly recommend it – the technique I most enjoyed on this pattern was “sewing in the ditch”. As I had a metre I went right up to the selvedge and reduced the waistband by half; this was a mistake and unnecessary.  I think the skirt would actually look better for being a bit shorter.  What do you think?

This should be an out-take really - it's me trying to flatten my tummy for the photo

This should be an out-take really – it’s me trying to flatten my tummy for the photo

I decided to see if I could get away with wearing the shoes without tights.  The answer to that question is No – I only went to the local coffee shop to meet a friend and by the time I had walked back, I had an enormous blister!

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All of which has led me to consider another vision.  I think this skirt will look absolutely cracking in early autumn with navy tights, my coral shoes and a plain navy top. I am really looking forward to showing you another photo of this come September when I have styled it in work mode. It is exactly the sort of garment that my students will really enjoy and comment upon.

It is so lovely to have become part of our sewing community and to have made on-line friends like Rachel – it really was the most up-lifting experience to receive something in the post unexpectedly.

Toodle pip for now but there will be another post in a couple of days to celebrate a special birthday!

Clarinda x

Funky fabric and what it is destined to become

Funky fabric and what it is destined to become