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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clarinda x

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Magic Mortmain – Mark 2

Hello all on this lovely sunny Sunday,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will be my first vintage pattern make

What will be my first vintage pattern make

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

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

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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

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