Super proud to finally present ….. my Francine jacket (now I’ve just got to make the skirt)

Hi everyone,

I have had such a lovely half term pottering: reading (latest William Boyd); cooking (including homemade soups); eating out; visiting the cinema (Dad’s Army); marking (Years 9, 10, 11); knitting (scarf – still on-going); running (10K coming up next month) and sewing (ties x 2, sweatshirts x 2) BUT what I really want to share you today is my finally finished Sew Over It Francine Jacket of which I am super proud. Beware – this is a picture heavy post: we are talking about a jacket six months in the making!

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Way back in August I met up with some lovely ladies at the Fabric Godmother Open Day and bought this amazing wool suiting fabric for, I think, £15 a metre. I had it in mind to make a maxi skirt suit so that I could waft around at work looking like a suffragette.

Skirt in check; jacket in plain

Skirt in check; jacket in plain

I only bought 1.5 metres of the plain because I always find that I use less that the pattern indicates. Then I promptly started sewing other things – as you do. However, as soon as I saw the Francine Jacket I knew that was the one for me and enrolled on a course in September. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I have done a number of courses at Sew Over It.  For nearly all of them I have had as my tutor Julie, who is wonderfully patient, highly skilled and determined that her tutees should learn true tailoring techniques. On the first night all I did was sort out the sizing, cut out my pattern and make some adjustments – most of which I subsequently altered back. My homework was to cut out at home  – this happened:

Oops

Oops

I decided I would have to cut a few pieces out of the skirt material – what a good idea this turned out to be as the contrast really works and it will certainly look much more like a suit rather than coordinated separates.

Francine jacket pieces cut from my Gabriola skirt fabric

Francine jacket pieces cut from my Gabriola skirt fabric

Progress continued at class during week two. We had made a number of alterations for my big shoulders and curved back but once I tried the jacket on it wasn’t right and I had to undo most of what I had done.

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Week three – our final class and it became clear early on I wasn’t going to get finished. In fact I hadn’t even got my lining in by the end of the evening. What I had done though is learn a really valuable technique whereby you fill the sleeve head with wadding before you insert the shoulder pad and it gives it a more smooth line.

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I was full of good intentions of finishing the jacket the following week but became ensconced in all manner of other things throughout November/December. During January I picked it up again. The impetus was that I was going to the Liberty exhibition and planned to call in on the button man in Soho for him to do my button holes for me. I am not going to lie – I really struggled to finish the jacket by myself. Whilst the instructions were good, I struggled to make out the tiny detail, particularly on the black and white photos. If the button man thought it odd to be presented with an unfinished garment to add the finishing touches to, he never gave any indication – just sent me off to Liberty and told me not to rush back!

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This is how the jacket looked when the buttonholes were being done

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I finally finished the jacket in February – to be honest, looking at the pics I think I should have taken more care over pressing it; the jacket has gotten so squashed on its various train journeys.

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So there you have it – now I just have to get on with the skirt but I suspect other projects will rush to the fore and it’ll be another six months. Would you like some detail shots? Of course you would if you have stuck around this far ..

Buttons courtesy of Cloth Kits, Chichester

Buttons courtesy of Cloth Kits, Chichester

very pleased with the neckline which actually sits flat

very pleased with the neckline which actually sits flat

The back - we added in, took out, re-drew the curve - I blame my posture

The back – we added in, took out, re-drew the curve – I blame my posture

lovely lining which came from Guthrie and Ghani

lovely lining which came from Guthrie and Ghani

The story of Francine is concluded – I hope you enjoyed it!

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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!

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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)!