I love RTW: Shock, Horror!

Hi everyone,

I gather that many in the UK have snow today? Not here yet but the local radio weather report seems to indicate that it’s just down the road ….. Which is a million miles away (metaphorically speaking) from where I have spent the last week.

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If you follow my Instagram you will have seen my many photos from beautiful La Gomera – one of the smaller Canary Islands and, by complete coincidence, today’s Sunday Telegraph supplement is all about … La Gomera.

There was no sewing last week (couldn’t manage my Janome AND my walking poles) but I did knit a beanie (which I plan to show you once I have sewn it up) and spent a lot of thinking about clothes – not those that I plan to make but those that I was wearing.

North Face convertible trousers and Rohan shirt

North Face convertible trousers and Rohan shirt

So here it is, my fulsome praise for those clothes which I don’t make but buy because, quite frankly, they are bloody brilliant. Over many years of being a walker, having been involved with Duke of Edinburgh and even having been a school leader on a month long expedition to Madagascar, I have come to appreciate the value of having appropriate, technical clothing. As I walked up yet another steep hill behind someone who was absolutely drenched, their clothes showing uncomfortable wet patches, I smugly congratulated myself on being suitably attired.

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Each day I alternated between one of two pairs of long trousers from North Face (seven years old and still like new) which you can zip off to make shorts or roll up and secure with a strap to make capris and shirts from Rohan. The detail is amazing: fabric which dries almost immediately, secure pockets (and lots of them) and tabs on the inside so that you can hang it up on your washing line for a quick overnight dry. Each evening I washed through what I was wearing and popped it on the balcony to dry (get yourself a travel washing line – I use mine everywhere) and then I was good to go again.

Travel washing line, secure pockets and straps to roll up sleeves to make them shorted and the tabs to clip over a washing line.

Travel washing line, secure pockets and straps to roll up sleeves to make them shorted and the tabs to clip over a washing line.

I had  a made a couple of tops to wear in the evenings/afternoons after walking but although as a solo traveller in the group lots of people offered to take pics of me whilst out walking, I felt too self-conscious to ask any of the group in the evenings to take a blog shot for me. I did however get to wear my new Liberty Grainline Scout Tee on our day off and here it is at a beach bar with a couple of lovely people from my group. I don’t expect it will ever be worn again in such a glorious location!

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Well, I have had a FAB time – do consider la Gomera if you enjoy walking; it is a beautiful island and if you do know of any where that stocks this kind of fabric, do let me know. It seems rather odd for someone who loves colours and print and natural fibres to be so in awe of clothes which are so patently functional but for me, that is where the beauty lies!

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Have a great week ahead; only one more week to go for me then I start my new job which hopefully should mean a couple of WIPs get finished – but don’t hold me to it!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Liberty Lovliness

Hi everyone, hope you week is going well?

I had such a lovely day yesterday. My friend Ali and I went to the Liberty in Fashion Exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum and finished the day off with a little trip to Liberty itself – incredible to admit this but it was my first every visit to the store.

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The first room gave a timeline on one wall and an eclectic display on the other: the overall effect was very calming.

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I particularly liked the smocking on this wedding dress – it looked so dated I couldn’t believe it was 1985 but the Dianasque sleeves gave it away.

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Here are some more pics of exhibits I particularly liked:

Flower power! I wish I knew a man who would wear this suit and some super funky Jimmy Choos

Flower power! I wish I knew a man who would wear this suit and some super funky Jimmy Choos

Adorable details

Adorable details

At first I thought it was feathers but it is actually the material

At first I thought it was feathers but it is actually the material

My absolute favourite was a Vivienne Westwood dress in a gorgeous delicate floral fabric. I took a quick pic of the details so that I could include them in my post and it was only when I looked later I realised the fabric was designed by a former colleague of mine, Rachel Pedder-Smith so that was a lovely surprise.

Dress by Vivienne Westwood: Fabric designed by Rachel Pedder-Smith

Dress by Vivienne Westwood: Fabric designed by Rachel Pedder-Smith

For a more erudite round up of the exhibition, do head over to Fabrikated: Kate’s post has better quality photos and more of the history. The exhibition is on until the end of February so if you can get to London, I would highly recommend it.

Look at the scarf and not my face please!

Look at the scarf and not my face please!

Onwards to Liberty! I felt I was quite restrained in the circumstances (i.e. of being in Liberty). I bought a little headband so that I could try and emulate the sassy style of Suzi of Alternative Ageing and a silk scarf. I had been umming and ahhing about the scarf but then the most magnificent sales assistant wearing a gold jacket and black brocade maxi (see first photo) sallied forth and started tying the scarf on me in various ways – of course I bought it!

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Finally up to the 4th floor and the fabrics! I bought a wonderful liberty tana lawn with a tiger design.  I am going on a walking holiday tomorrow, hand luggage only, and I thought this would go perfectly with my blue/grey only palette. So, I threw myself into it when I came home and Tah Dah!

Grainline Scouttee in Liberty Tana Lawn

Grainline Scouttee in Liberty Tana Lawn

I will by using Instagram whilst I am away In La Gomera so please feel free to have a peek and see how I am getting on – my first ever holiday as a solo traveller (but joining a group of 14).

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

How distracting would it be to sew on this?!

How distracting would it be to sew on this?!

Gifts: Given and Received

Hello all,

Commiserations to you if today is the first day back to work; bigger commiserations if you have already been back for days/was never really off. As I’m in the post Christmas tidying everything away phase I thought I would share with you some of the lovely gifts I received and show you what I made.

First up – some ties.

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I have made ties before using a pattern I got at a Cloth Kits tie making workshop a year ago.  The pattern is for a structured tie that has a separate piece of fabric in the middle – I thought it was called chad but I might be wrong. Anyway, although I really like that pattern I noticed that in Love Sewing magazine they had a pattern to make a Liberty tie which was actually much slimmer and used interfacing rather than a separate piece of fabric. This style seemed a bit younger/more trendy. I bought some lovely Liberty fabric (from Cloth Kits); .70m is enough to make two ties. The paisley I made for my husband and brother-in-law and the speckled one for my son and a friend. I really like using a fun fabric for a surprise lining – Queue for the Zoo anyone?

My sister-in-law came to spend the day with us on the 27th. She is the one who made my Shetland Tam which I am so happy with. We had a lovely time together which included a walk around the Wetlands. She had knitted for me some beautiful mittens with the flip back top to reveal fingerless gloves – very useful when you need to get things out of your purse. It was her husband who I had made the tie for. He was really chuffed and put it on immediately and wore it for the rest of the day. Surprisingly it goes well with his checked shirt!

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For my sister-in-law I made a little tote bag out of the wool fabric I used to make my daisy coat; I lined it with bird fabric. It was my intention that it be used as an on-the-go knitting bag so I included four lovely balls of Rowan Merino Alpaca so that she can do a little bit of selfish knitting for herself.

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By coincidence I also received a bag as a present from my friend and neighbour who is also a talented seamstress. It is made from a lovely thick tapestry style fabric and it is the perfect size for my (almost daily) trips to the Co-op.

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Sorry this picture is a little dark – we haven’t had decent light for what seems like days

Another neighbour doesn’t sew but she cooks! We share a side entrance and I found a whole pile of food goodies which she had pushed through the cat flap! Over a period of a few days I received cranberry sauce – gorgeous with sausages; mincemeat; rough puff pastry; a Christmas pud.  Can you see the little rabbit decoration on my mince pies? I bought crackers from Joules last year and this pasty cutter was one of the gifts – incredibly I didn’t lose it and was able to use it this year. I love food gifts – did you receive any?

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Finally to show you is a gold sequinned Grainline Scouttee I made for my daughter – she has promised me a photo WHEN she wears it so you might be waiting quite a while for an addendum to this post! I do really love the ease of this pattern. A couple of days ago I used it to make one for myself for my walking holiday – I go on Friday and am getting rather excited about it.

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I also received a new camera – a wifi camera no less. I haven’t yet used it to take any photos (as you have probably guessed from the rather dreadful quality of today’s pictures – sorry about that) or worked out how to use the wifi but it is on my list of Things to Do… soon.

Well that’s it for now my lovelies,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Farewell to all that …

Hello all,

I have been enjoying all of the end of year round ups and reflections. It prompted me to look at my own post from this time last year when I set myself five goals – see Here. Oh dear. Only one was accomplished but nevertheless I think it has been a successful year on the sewing front. There is no point beating myself up over what didn’t get done. One of the lovely things about getting older is that you care less about things which, on reflection, are not important. I had a complete meltdown at 40 but since turning 50 I would say I have entered one of the happiest phases of my life. I get so much pleasure from my family and friends and I think that that, and continued good health are worth celebrating.

My 54th birthday - somewhere in the bay of Biscay. Dress from ENVY Arundel

My 54th birthday – somewhere in the bay of Biscay. Dress from ENVY Arundel

So,  my year in review. I discovered the joys of cruising. Here I am on my 54th birthday feeling FAB – the only thing which would make this better would be if I had made the dress myself … but I didn’t so there you go – no point fretting about that either! Something to aspire to … maybe.

I was super lucky this year to go to three weddings and for each of them I made my outfit. This was an achievement I am proud of and it added to the pleasure of a wonderful day. First up the first of my thirteen nieces and nephews got married. Here I am with Summer Rose, my son Sam and two of my nephews.

Flamingo border Kim for my niece Sarah's wedding

Flamingo border Kim for my niece Sarah’s wedding

Secondly, a friend of mine, Andy married his beautiful bride Onuma in a beautiful village in Hampshire.

A BHL maxi Anna covered in parrots (lovebirds actually)

A BHL maxi Anna covered in parrots (lovebirds actually)

Finally, a really close friend, Claire got married the first week of the Autumn term. I had been involved in wedding dress shopping and the hen night and was just elated for Claire all day. As a bit of a cheesy joke I made Mr CK a matching tie – people who knew us thought it was really funny but for anyone who didn’t, I guess they thought we were right weirdos!

Mortmain and matching tie!

Mortmain and matching tie!

The only thing I did complete of my stated goals was to make a coat. To date this remains my sophisticated make and I am really pleased with it – although I don’t know if I could do it again.

1960's coat made at Sew Over It

1960’s coat made at Sew Over It

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Social media became an increasingly important part of my life – as well as a time thief! I find myself getting stressed if I get behind on my blog reading/commenting.  The last third of the year I haven’t blogged as much but have continued to contribute to Instagram and now have over 400 followers there. Through the sewing community I have met a number of on-line friends – people I feel I could literally meet and we would be able to start chatting as if we had known each other for years.  This has happened with the people I have met up with, firstly at the Fabric Godmother Open Day and then at the South Coast SewBees meet up – a little nucleus of half a dozen bloggers which I hope will grow next year. And I have a penpal too! One sewing blogger (who shall remain nameless so as not to embarrass her!) and I have developed a friendship over long emails. Our life styles are different but through sewing we found a connection and that has been one of the really lovely things about my year.

SewBees at Ditto Fabrics

SewBees at Ditto Fabrics

Other highlights were that I was nominated for a bloggers award; my Frida Kahlo dress won a competition organised by The Monthly Stitch and I participated in various photo-hop challenges “meeting” new people and getting lots of inspiration along the way.

My winning dress

My winning dress

I’ve decided not to make any pledges for 2016. I have not one but two new jobs to start and I expect that will keep me very busy. I have a ridiculous amount of WIPs so feel I should try and finish at least some of those before I move onto other things. WIPs: Francine jacket; gabriola skirt to match my Francine Jacket; Cigarette pants; Ultimate blouse in a flamingo print; maxi Anna with sequin bodice and brocade skirt.

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So, thank you for following along with me this year. Your comments and support are very much appreciated – being part of a wider community has been a real blessing, particularly in the latter part of the year when I was overwhelmed with other matters. Onwards and upwards! Wishing you all a very happy new year – I don’t know where the quotation comes from to credit it  but … May your bobbin always be full.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!