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!

 

 

 

 

Ooh, an award

Hello all,

My sewing time at the moment has been taken up with Christmas gift sewing for my son and daughter, who would never waste their time looking at  my blog but …. sod’s law and all that so I am not going to post my pics just yet.

Anyway, I have something far more exciting to share. I was actually nominated for a Liebster award by one of my fellow bloggers and I am rather chuffed about that.  Although the notification came through a couple of months ago, I have been waiting for a suitable slot in which to respond and that’s today! I was nominated by lovely Becca of Red W Sews and if you don’t already follow her blog I suggest you take a peep; I love her conversational style. So, back to the award, the objective is to promote new/small blogs. According to my WordPress stats I have 107 followers – so thank you dear follower/reader!

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Liebster Award Rules

In order to be eligible, a nominee must:

  • Acknowledge the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominator has set for you
  • Nominate up to 11 blogs with less than 200 followers that you enjoy.
  • Set 11 questions for your nominated bloggers to answer.
  • Let the nominees know they have been nominated by going back to their blog and notifying them.

So here are the questions Becca set me and my answers, of course!

What do you enjoy most about writing a blog?

Connecting with other people who also devote their time to sewing; I enjoy being part of a wider community. I also like to have a record of all my makes in one place. Even if no-one read my blog I would still write it as I use it like a diary.

How do you go about deciding when to blog: do you have a regular schedule or is it just when you’re inspired?

I used to try and do one post a week, usually at the weekend. A hiatus in my work life caused a break in that routine through September and October and I have been trying to get back to blogging weekly but it has been tricky as I haven’t really made anything apart from a sequin top.  I have been attending a number of different workshops to improve my skills instead.

Which post/project are you most proud of?

I wrote a series of posts about a 1960s coat I made during a four week course at Sew Over It. The coat looks really professional but I don’t delude myself – I had a lot of help!

1960's coat made at Sew Over It

1960’s coat made at Sew Over It

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What’s your best tip for making time for yourself?

Be selfish!

What did you learn from your biggest “failure”, either crafting or otherwise?

Walk away, calm down, reflect, then ….. Get back on it – NEVER GIVE UP!

What skill would you most like to learn (craft or life!)

I would love to be able to do fair isle knitting. My sister in law is incredibly skilful and made me a hat for my birthday. I would also need to improve my patience to do this!

Knitted with wool bought in Shetland

Knitted with wool bought in Shetland

A close up so you can see the detail in all its glory

A close up so you can see the detail in all its glory

Should cash and time not be an issue, where would you head on holiday?

I recently psyched myself up to do a trekking holiday through Cuba  – by the time I went to book it, all the flights had gone so that is certainly on my to do list. As a child I was always desperate to go to Egypt to see the pyramids for real so that is also something I hope to do at some point.

What life achievement, away from blogging, are you most proud of and why?

Well assuming that being a mother is a given, I would go for having run a sub-four hour marathon. Everyone in my running club was astonished at my time (no-one more so than me) but it was the result of careful preparation and determined effort. I can remember crossing the finishing line (in Edinburgh) and just laying down on the floor laughing with pure joy and a sense of achievement. This was my second marathon – my first one was over five hours and ended in tears!

Tea or wine? (critical question, this one!)

Impossible to choose. Throughout the day, PG Tips de-caff almost on a drip-feed. At night – Pinot Grigio Blush  – again, on drip feed.

Town or country?

Both! During the week, term time I live in a small flat close to Wimbledon Tennis for an easy commute to work but my home is in Arundel, West Sussex and I am there Fridays to Mondays, all holidays and whenever I am not working.

Cats or dogs?

As a child we had dogs but since leaving home I have always had cats – sometimes as many as three sometimes just the one, as now.  They are usually black and my current moggie is Tambo.

Tambo

Tambo

Huge thanks to Becca, not only for the nomination but for setting such thought-provoking questions.

I would like to nominate two bloggers: Fiona of  Coolarama and Susan (Su) from Butterflies and Lemon Drops. Fiona only started blogging in July (I think) and straight away I was drawn to her wit and self-deprecating style – she is also a bit of a hat lady, like myself, and frankly, someone who I would love to meet and share a bottle of wine with. Su I have been lucky enough to meet on a couple of occasions now and I would say we have transitioned from on-line sewing buddies to real life chums. Su has what I would describe as an understated style and if is clear to see from her blog just how much she is growing in confidence as a seamstress. So, ladies, please don’t feel obliged to accept – it took me two months after all to get round to answering the questions but, if you choose to accept, I would like to know:

  1. writing blog posts – pleasure or pain?
  2. has anyone you know “in real life” discovered your blog because they were a fellow sewist and you didn’t know it?
  3. favourite fabric?
  4. Cheapest and most expensive item you have made?
  5. mixed or single sex schooling?
  6. have you even made a direct copy of something you have seen on a blog?
  7. what’s your reaction when someone asks if you will make/alter something for them?
  8. if you were to have a career change, what would you do?
  9. what do you sew on? are you thinking of upgrading or do you like to stick with a trusted workhorse?
  10. favourite independent pattern company?
  11. please share your moment of fame/shame – your choice

Well, that’s it from me my lovelies. Sorry , quite a text heavy post. I’m off this afternoon to my second nativity of the season but will leave you a picture of our little munchkin from last week’s nativity – sorry no whole cast photos allowed.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Angel Charlotte

Angel Charlotte

 

 

Purchases, plans and pals

Hello to all,

As you may guess from the title of my post I have been busy with sewing related activities but there has been little on the actual sewing front – I have a busy week ahead so anticipate the same but next week …..

This morning I have the last of my six sessions on the introductory pattern drafting workshop at Cloth Kits. It has been a really interesting course, taken at a leisurely pace with an amazing tutor, Maria Pulley. The final outcome should be that we will have made blocks for bodice, sleeve and skirt and have a toile made up for a dress of our own design. Here is my princess seamed bodice which I constructed over the weekend and hopfully today I will decide what I want to do with the skirt – currently thinking seven gored.

Very pleased with the fit across the shoulders and underarm which can be problematical for me

Very pleased with the fit across the shoulders and underarm which can be problematical for me

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In terms of fabric I am going for this which was bought last week during the inaugural SEWBESS meet-up at Ditto Fabrics. The plan is to make the dress in the MOD green wool with sleeve cuffs and belt in the check. I also rather extravagantly bough the floral viscose to use as a lining (more on that later).  The rest of the check is to make a “consolidation” Francine jacket – once I finish the one which is currently still sans lining. The idea is to make a new dress/jacket suit for my new job in January.

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I had planned to write about my meet up with these lovely ladies who are all fellow bloggers and met originally at one of the two Open Days at Fabric Godmother. However Jane has written such a good post on the event I would only be repeating it so if you are interested, please read here. I would just like to add that although we are all based on the South Coast we live in three counties between us so please feel free to join in too.

SewBees at Ditto Fabrics

SewBees at Ditto Fabrics

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At the Brighton Sewing Centre I managed to get the perfect buttons for my yet to be made check Francine jacket and some sparkly zips caught my eye although initially I had no idea what I was going to do with them, I do now!

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Perfect buttons for my jacket – small ones for the cuffs on the contrasting dress

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I only bought one thing in the Black Friday sales and that was the Orla pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. I have decided to make it up in black jacquard (I hope I have enough left over after making my maxi Anna) and use one of the sparkly zips.

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Finally back to that viscose. I had been thinking and thinking about this fabric.  Whilst I think it is wonderful to have a funky lining, I kept thinking it was just too pretty to be hidden away. I then noticed the party dress pattern with the December issue of SEW Style and Home and thought that it might be perfect to make up my Christmas Day dress.

View A - three quarter sleeves destined to become my Christmas Day Dress

View A – three quarter sleeves destined to become my Christmas Day Dress

So that is the plan.  Although as you can see, I have a lot of plans and quite a few WIPs. Presumably others have that problem – so busy buying fabric and making plans and seeing friends that your rate of output is insufficient to keep up?

Well it’s time for me to scurry off and get ready for my final workshop – lunch afterwards with my fellow student Debbie who I have struck up a lovely friendship with – us sewing peeps are such a lovely bunch! I will leave you with a final photo of the fabric because it really is beautiful and the colours are more like they are in real life. Have a FAB, Festive week.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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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

 

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

 

Gorgeous Gifts

Hello all, hope you are well and happy? Today I am wishing I was going off to the SEWBRUM meet-up  – it sounds like SO much fun.  I am looking forward to all the pics/comments on Instagram.  We have a little get-together to look forward to down south in a couple of weeks at the Fabric Godmother Open Day on Saturday 7th November.  If you live on the South Coast – or you can easily get there from London, DO come.  I bought some amazing fabric last time and met some lovely sewing chums.

Anyway, the purpose of today’s little (picture heavy) post is to share with you some of my lovely, sewing related, birthday gifts – A.  because I am feeling blessed and want to share it, and B. some of the items might make nice ideas for your own Birthday/Christmas wish list OR give you ideas of what you could make/source for your own sewing pals.

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Quick coffee break during half term family visit to London Zoo (plan B after we discovered a four hour queue to get into Madame Tussards)

First up is this absolutely gorgeous Midnight Tam knitted in Jamieson’s Shetland wool. This was knitted for me by my amazingly talented sister-in-law Deborah who bought the wool in Shetland when she was there on holiday.  In the past I have also received hand knitted socks and when I was pregnant with my first, Deborah knitted a fair isle baby suit and a sleeping bag with a poirrot character embroidered on the front – both of which were stunning.

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Just look at the amazing detail of this hat – it really is a beauty – and as you may have noticed, I am a hat person so it will get lots of wear.

Next up is a most surprising gift from my son. When I saw the shape of the present, I thought it was the new Nigella cook book so imagine my delight when I opened it to find this …

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I wasn’t even aware that he had noticed I am into sewing! I am building up my collection of sewing books but haven’t got a really solid reference book so this classic from Alison Smith is ideal.  On the knitting front, I occasionally (once every couple of years) have a knitting binge but my skills are rather basic so this is also a very useful addition to my bookshelf.

Ali is a close friend and neighbour. We run together (when I can get my lazy arse into gear) and we also enjoy sharing our sewing experiences. Ali particularly likes vintage and charity shop finds and this ethos was behind her rather overwhelming and much appreciated array of gifts to me.  First up was this lovely pin cushion made using an antique cup.

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Next was this lovely piece of embroidery she had found in a charity shop.  Can you believe that anyone would give this away?  The detail is really intricate and I am looking forward to hanging it up in my sewing space (which is currently awaiting an Autumn Clean.

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Lastly from Ali, (this is not everything – there was a beautiful scarf as well!) was a necklace she had made herself using a SYLKO label.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t photographed very well due to the curvy glass. I have worn it a few times and I keep noticing people looking at it with curiosity but no-one has been bold enough to ask me about it … yet.

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Finally, a colleague and friend from work, Jacquie, gave me this wonderful Merchant and Mills workbook.  I didn’t actually open it until my birthday and haven’t seen her since to let he know how delighted I was with it. I have seen lots of garments made using their patterns but to date haven’t tipped my own toe in the M & M water. This will change!

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The photographs are beautiful.  The garments all looked really relaxed and comfortable to wear. I also like the style of the book which makes it clear that the garments are for the intermediate sewist – I think I am just about ready to boast that I have reached that stage. Although, yet again, I do need to get my lazy arse into gear and do some actual sewing!

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Well, that’s my round up. Friends/family are so precious and it is lovely when people know you well and give you a gift which really lifts you – just at the point when you need it. As it’s Halloween, I will leave you a Pumpkin picture.  Rather bizarrely, this was taken in the garden of a local village to us.  Apparently they do a spectacular display like this each year.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

PS My Sewcation  starts on Monday so watch out for an increase in blog posts!

Display at Slindon Pumkins

Display at Slindon Pumpkins