Sparkling all over

Hi guys,

I have had such a FAB few days on the sewing front I think I am going to spread the cheer over a couple of posts! First up my Sequins workshop at the wonderful Guthrie and Ghani studios

A super sparkly window display

A super sparkly window display

A friend and I had decided we would have a little day trip to Birmingham – I hadn’t realised quite how quickly you could get there from London or how cheaply you could buy train tickets. The premises are wonderful – a lovely detached property with the haberdashery downstairs and the studio covering the whole of the top floor – sorry SEWBRUM people – I know you know all this already.  We had arranged to arrive early to give us a little shopping time – of course we did!  Although I had already ordered my gold sequin fabric, once I was there I was drawn to a blue and pink geometric design so bought that (and some silver sequins as well just for good measure). I now have quite a lot of sequins in my stash so have the potential to sparkle quite a bit.

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The workshop was run by Layla – who was so approachable, knowledgeable and laid back; I felt in safe hands all day.  The pattern we used was Grainline Scout Tee – which was included in the cost of the workshop making it excellent value. Layla gave us some realy good advice linked to looking at the finished garment measurments as a way of determining our size.  My friend Liz was wearing one she had made earlier linked to her measurements and I did think it looked big.  In the end she went down a size and I sewed up a 4 – which is two sizes less than my measurements indicated but I thought they both looked just right.

The blue sequins were super pretty daisy shapes

The blue sequins were super pretty daisy shapes

In terms of sewing with sequins I was surprised at quite how straight-forward it was. New needles, sharp scissors and away you go – sew up almost as normal.  The only thing you had to take care to do was to finger press your seams and break the sequins before you ironed them. It is also essential to use a lining because the fabric is so scratchy against your skin – it was also a first for me to line a top. You need to be prepared for sequins to be everywhere. I noticed when we were leaving that there was a trail of my pink sequins running down the stairs to the loo!

The workshop lasted six hours and everyone finished comfortably and was delighted with their tops.  We also had time for lunch and went to a Syrian restaurant a couple of doors down for a lovely wrap and a piece of baklava. So all in all, a great day – really enjoyable. Huge thanks to Layla for being such inspiring tutor.

Tried to get a couple of photos yesterday but it was so cold and blowy. Mr CK was not happy and I was freezing so the two below are the best of a bad bunch – Yes, even with my eyes closed!

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Please ignore wellibobs which of course would never be worn with a sparkly top!

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It was also serendipitous that this is the first garment I have made since I received my own labels ….. from Liz – the friend I did the workshop with. Now my garments have the potential to look really professional I must ensure I take care over the details!

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Finally, I just wanted to share with you some really good news – which I received on the morning of my Birmingham jaunt. I shared recently that I have got a maternity leave cover to start in January; I now have been offered a permanent position (at a different school) from September. It is such a relief to have got everything sorted out so now I can just relax for the rest of 2015!

Have a good week,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

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Behind schedule … again

Hello sewing chums, hope you are having a good week.

My plans for today have been thwarted.  As last night was the final session in my Francine Jacket workshops at Sew Over It,  I had planned to visit my old friend, the button man of Soho (read this post if you want to know more). However, this is the state of my jacket at the time of writing (and don’t even ask me about the lining).

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I am disappointed.  I had to fight off feelings of despondency which threatened to overwhelm me all evening.  I think I   must be a right pain to be with on a workshop. Having completed my homework (which took hours), the subsequent fitting saw my sleeves having to be ripped off and reductions made to the centre back, side back and sleeves.  It seems that all of the bits I had added in to accommodate my shoulders have had to be removed. The sleeves which I had taken up to a 16 are now down to an 8 – weird. Anyway, twenty minutes before the end of the class I was back to the point I had been when I arrived!

I have learnt a lot this time about tailoring techniques. A new thing for me was something called …. I thought Julie called it ICE WOOL but I just looked that up to double check and I obviously have got it wrong. So , if you know, please tell us all via the comments. Anyway, it is a small piece of material, incredibly soft and fluffy which you sew into the sleeve head, ahead of the shoulder pads, just to smooth out the line of the sewing, prevent the seam allowance from showing and just make it all look a little more polished.

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I’m not the only one behind – none of us finished so there are no photos to show you of us all proudly wearing our jackets. The tutor Julie is amazing; so patient.  She was still there at 10pm when I left helping the last student to make sure she knew how to finish. I just hope I can remember what I need to do!  Hopefully this time next week I’ll be able to post a photo of my finished Francine. As soon as I finish I plan to make another (you’ve heard that before haven’t you!).  I ADORE Brora and have been admiring this jacket for a couple of months but really can’t afford the £325 price tag so I am going to make up a Francine version – I think I have been able to track down a similar Harris Tweed so we’ll see.

photo courtesy of BRORA

photo courtesy of BRORA

Earlier in the week I had the fourth of six lessons in my pattern drafting course at Cloth Kits. This week we were making our skirt block which was definitely more straightforward than the bodice and sleeves. The highlight of this week was a sneaky peak in the tutor’s studio.  Maria Pulley, as well as teaching, has her own couture dressmaking business and her studio is above Cloth Kits.

Examples of work in Maria's studio

Examples of work in Maria’s studio

She is currently working on wedding outfits for a mature lady (see the floral jacket above) and her 91 year old mother. This nonagenarian  lady has chosen a dress in blue silk and to go over it, this most gorgeous peacock feather coat. Isn’t that FAB? Imagine being 91 and having your own couture outfit – SO much for us to still look forward to.

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Whilst I was there this week, I noticed some new Liberty fabrics which had come in and were just being stored upstairs – I think they are “old” rather than new and Liberty have sold them off to their distributors.  Anyway, this rather quirky design caught my eye. It is called Transport Threads. I bought 1.75 m – originally to make a shirt.  It is incredibly thin – see-though I would say – so I am now thinking that maybe I might use it as a funky lining for a subsequent Francine.

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So another week has gone by without anything finished to share with you!  It’s funny but looking back over my blog, I was churning out a frock a week (I know, I know, some of you can do that in an evening) but now that I have a little more time on my hands, I am working at a slower, more thoughtful pace. In addition, I have been more involved in social sewing, or to be more precise eating.  I have met two fellow sewers for lunch (hello Jane, hello Debbie!) – it is so great to meet people and to talk about sewing and life. Inspired by the SEWBRUM bunch, a few of us who live on the South Coast are having a meet up for the first time this Saturday in Brighton and I am really looking forward to that – If you can get to Brighton and would like to join us for coffee and a mooch around Ditto fabrics, do let me know and I’ll give you the details – all are welcome. I do love this little community of ours.  Ooh dear, I had better sign off before I get too maudlin!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

samples from Linton tweeds - potential Francines

samples from Linton tweeds – potential Francines

 

 

 

Workshops galore – the Sewcation continues

Hi all, hope you are well and happy?

Well this is the third week of my Sewcation and I’m learning lots but still haven’t actually completed anything to show you! So here is a round up of this week’s activities.

Pattern Cutting Workshop at ClothKits

Dear Lord, there are only two of us on this course – such a privilege – and we are behind!  It was the third session on Monday and we were supposed to be drafting our sleeves – which we did do BUT there were so many niggles with our bodices – we both had to do further alterations on our second toiles.

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Just look at this odd adjustment on my bodice – a bizarre pleat going horizontally over the top of my right boob.  The tutor said it was because I was “hollow” – I think this is more to do with my massively padded bra rather than my inherent body shape. Having seen all of the miniscule alterations needed to get something to fit, I am surprised that we ever mange to get anything to fit rtw  – what with my size 20 shoulders and hollow chest it’s a wonder I don’t live in saris – actually I love saris – so elegant. You can read here a very early post of mine about this beautiful sari.

Thought I'd brighten up my post with a pop of colour

Thought I’d brighten up my post with a pop of colour

Anyway, I digress. The sleeve drafting had less mathematical calculations than the bodice but I still made a couple of errors. Next week we are going to put our patterns onto card – the Block. Then it’s onto the skirt drafting and finally to designing our own dress – exciting!

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After the class I met up with Jane from Jane Makes  and we had lunch in Carluccios and chatted about sewing and life.  It’s really lovely to meet up with people who I have met through the on-line community. Next week I am having lunch with Debbie, my fellow student on the course – so  I have become, temporarily,  a lady wot lunches with other ladies wot sew!

Francine Jacket Workshop at Sew Over It, Clapham

Last Wednesday I started the Francine Jacket workshop – it has been so incredibly popular it has taken me  months to get a place. The workshop runs over three consecutive Wednesdays.  Having done a number of workshops now I know that there is a lot you have to do at home.  With just three weeks for this jacket there was a huge amount of homework to do.  I left the class only having cut out my pattern – I am SUCH a slowcoach.  To be honest, if I hadn’t been on sewcation I would never have been able to get the work done – I must have spent about ten hours on it.  A lot of this was because I couldn’t squeeze the pattern out of the 1.5m I had earmarked for the project and spent ages faffing about with my jigsaw.

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I resolved this by using some of the check fabric I am going to make a Gabriola out of – I plan to make a maxi skirt suit. There are six of us in the class. I love Julie’s super calm manner. It must be really stressful trying to fit six different people  – each of us needed a number of alterations – but you would never guess it from her demeanor.

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To account for my super shoulders we went up to a size 16 on the arms (the rest of the pattern was a 12) and added some extra in at the centre back seam but look – now that I’ve made it up, I think it’s too much.  The photo doesn’t really show it properly but the back is so rounded I could squeeze a small hunchback in there – to balance out my hollow chest obviously.

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The second class is tonight – I was supposed to have finished the under collar but I can’t work out where it finishes.  It will be really interesting to see how the others have got on.  One of the other girls bought her fabric from Linton Tweeds and it is beautiful – I’ll try and get a photo tonight.

Guthrie and Ghani – Sewing a Sequin Party Top

Finally, a friend and I have booked a little jaunt together to go up to Guthrie and Ghani for a one day workshop to make a top in sequins.  I am really looking forward to visiting the haberdashery – it always looks SO beautiful and welcoming in the photos and Lauren has an amazing fabric selection.

And just before I close, I have some news.  I went for a job interview last week and was offered the position.  It is only a mat leave cover but a huge relief for me. The school seems lovely and although I am still applying for permanent roles from September 2016, at least I can relax a little bit for now.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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A morning of manipulating my darts

Hi everyone,

Hope your week is going well?  Mine is super busy (for someone who is technically not working). Went to the second session of my six week course: pattern drafting at Clothkits: less maths this week for me to fret about.

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This week was mainly spent cutting and sticking – it reminded me of the best primary school lesson ever!

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We cut out six  – I don’t know what they are called – bodice fronts?  – and manipulated the darts into one of six different positions so that we could see how it would work in practice. I actually really enjoy the theory side of things.

The one I found most baffling was where the darts are right across the middle of your chest.  I really couldn’t work out why you would ever do this but the tutor explained – with the aid of a piece of lined paper – the effect which would be created if your fabric had horizontal stripes.  I have to say  – there was a light bulb moment when it finally twigged.

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You’ll have to excuse my shoddy photos – there just wasn’t enough light and I was rushing because I needed to concentrate on what the tutor was saying rather than faff around with my IPAD.

We have to start collecting ideas of what we would like our own dress to be like.  I hadn’t realised but the ultimate objective of the course is, as well as making the blocks, to have made a toile of our own design.  After having spent the morning manipulating darts, I think I am going to go for a bodice with wing darts – similar to princess seams but the darts go under the arm rather than up to the shoulder. I am thoroughly enjoying the course and am very excited to be making up my own design – at this stage I am thinking a Christmas Day dress, perhaps in a floral needlecord.

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We then spent some time fitting the toiles we had made up for homework. My darts had to be lowered by a centimetre and there was also an adjustment to remove some fabric from the back shoulders and to reduce the overall length.  It was really interesting to see how you swivelled the darts around to move the fabric from one area to the other. Please excuse my mum tum on display – I am amused by the intense concentration on my face! We now have to make up a second toile incorporating all of our adjustments – precision is key apparently.

At the end of the morning the tutor, Maria Pulley, took us into her studio (which is based above Clothkits) to show us some of the beautiful couture garments she is working on.  One of her original designs for the formal robes of the High Sherriff of (?) had had its inaugural wear the previous day at a Remembrance Day service and Maria showed us her initial sketches.  It is a real privilege to be taught be someone who is clearly incredibly gifted.

Will close now with some good news – I went for a job interview yesterday and was successful.  I was really chuffed with all the lovely messages I received on my Instagram so thank you lovely sewing community – you lift my spirits.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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The Sewcation begins …

Hello all, I hope you have had a good Monday?

Today my euphemistically named Sewcation began and it got off to a wonderful start – silver linings and all that.

Having unexpectedly found myself with time on my hands, I researched local sewing workshops – of course I did – and found that ClothKits had a Pattern Cutting course starting today.  When I rang at the beginning of last week, only one other person had booked so it wasn’t running.  I asked if I could leave my number in case there was a flurry of last minute bookings and imagine my delight when I received a call on Friday to say the course would run.

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In fact, there were only two of us – such a privilege. The tutor took us through taking our body measurements and then we drafted the bodice pattern.  This took from 9.30 – 1pm and I didn’t sit down once.  It was SO mathematical AND I finally got to see how a Pattern Master works.  I bought one months ago when I was on a workshop at Sew Over It. That saying All the Gear and No Idea certainly applies to me but I do now know how to use the curved edge to draft a neckline.  It is really interesting looking at your measurements in such detail.  You may recall I have previously bewailed my big shoulders (here)  The evidence was there in black and white today! The other lady and I both looked normal to me. Interestingly our measurements were juxtaposed: I have no boobs and definite shoulders whilst she has a bosom and narrow shoulders.  It’s perfectly clear to me now how all of you experienced seamstresses make wonderful garments that fit – I think my approach has been tentative tweaking and hoping for the best.

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We eventually finished our draft pattern and cut it out in calico – goodness knows how many toiles we are going to make to get this right but we were each advised to buy three metres. Our homework for this week is to sew up the bodice top and “Draw design ideas for top” – Lordy Lordy. That might be a step too far for me – I just want to be able to adapt the patterns I do have to fit me.

By the end of the morning my tummy was rumbling in an embarrassing way.  I really fancied pasta so on the way to the station I popped into Carluccios – so now I have became one of the Ladies who Lunch. I only mention this because it was delicious and you might want to try it.  I had the homemade ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta in a buttery and sage sauce.  When it arrived there were only NINE pieces of ravioli but it turned out to be the perfect portion size as you can see!

Thank you Mr Carluccio

Thank you Mr Carluccio

Just before I close, I want to give a little mention to Lynne who blogs at Ozzy Blackbeard because it was her posts on pattern drafting which first made me wonder if it was something for me – well, thank you Lynne – it is!

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Tomorrow I am going to tackle the flamingo shirt which has been laying, sadly forlorn, in a bag since I shoved it there six weeks ago. As you see, my homework is considerably overdue!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x