Thank you Cynthia …

I haven’t actually done much sewing this week to but I am going to have a whole day of it tomorrow which I will tell you about in my next post. My week has been tedious to say the least so I am delighted to share with you a gloriously generous, unexpected gift I was given this morning which filled me with absolute delight.image My daughter had been given a black bin liner to pass to me by a friend who I have met a few times. I opened it and found it contained an old cardboard box and half a dozen carrier bags: an absolute treasure trove filled with threads and notions. image It took me a good couple of hours to sort out my inheritance stash from “Cynthia”, who her son referred to as Minnie Cool, which I think is lovely. imageimage I sorted into three main groups: vintage wooden bobbins; some permacool terylene thread and Gutermann reels. There isn’t any way I could possibly ever get through it all so I have decided to share it amongst my sewing friends/textiles department at school. Aren’t I a lucky girl! Thursday saw the final of the Great British Sewing Bee – who would have thought it would be Matt to take the hallowed dress form. My money was on Neil from the beginning but he had a shocker – I think all of the excitement finally got to him! The contestants this year really did seem a friendly bunch – it was lovely when they all came back for the presentation. Before the Bee started I had a private lesson with lovely Katya from Sew Pretty. Regular readers will know that I am still frightened of my overlocker which I bought on EBAY back in the Autumn; I haven’t completed a single garment on it yet – in fact I haven’t done more than finish four seams.

Photo courtesy Sew Pretty

Photo courtesy Sew Pretty

It was a really productive couple of hours; we had a cup of tea and a chat and Katya took me through the whole of the manual – I changed the threads – twice; learned how to lower the knife; use a gathering attachment; do a rolled hem etc. etc.  It remains to be seen if I will be able to do these thing by myself but I certainly feel more confident about having a go – thank you Katya.  I would certainly recommend having a private lesson to anyone who has the equivalent of Writer’s Block with any aspect of sewing! Tomorrow I am off to another workshop – as you know I am a bit of a workshop  junkie and I am going to a new studio for me in South London – Badger and Earl.  I am going to be doing a class with Handmade Jane making the Mortmain dress. The feature of this dress is its exposed zip.  I bought this glorious fabric at Sew Over It and a purple zip but I really wasn’t sure if I actually liked the exposed zip idea anyway.  But …. Look … my lovely friend Ali offered to rummage through her vintage supply (kept in a trunk no less) and gave me this gorgeous white zip with silver teeth (?) which I think will go perfectly. image I am feeling really rather humble and grateful for the good things I have been given today.  I hope you are having a similarly rewarding weekend.  Happy Mothers Day to you for tomorrow if you are celebrating; I’m in deep disgrace over it because I am going to my workshop for the day and not the Sunday Lunch at a Manor house which had been planned for me! Toodle pip, Clarinda (and a final picture of Cynthia’s stash – thank you) x image

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The continuing saga of my coat; Class 3 of 4

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I hope you are having a good week? It’s the day before we break up for half term and as per every penultimate day of a half term I am super stressed.  There is a big sign on the wall at the Sew Over It studios which says SEWING SOOTHES THE SOUL … OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. It does but my coat making has caused a lot of stress too.  There are four classes and homework each week – the tasks for which are detailed and numbered on really helpful A4 sheets.  I have just finished class three of four.  The lesson has seven tasks and there are a further three for homework.  I have managed to do task one … of the classwork!

I think the stress-inducing issue for me has been the homework – which is not something quick but a chunky four to six hours worth of work.  This amount of time needs to be carefully scheduled in but with consecutive weeks it can cause a build up in other activities which you normally do at the weekend e.g. marking (I am choosing to forget that I spent a glorious afternoon on the beach – wasn’t Sunday gorgeous?)

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I had not finished the  classwork/homework for week two so decided to skip off early from work and get to the studio two hours before my class.  I sat companiably with one the of the Sew Over It girls, listening to classical music and as I caught up, I did find that, yes, my soul was indeed soothed. Next week is half term so goodness knows what time I’ll have to arrive in order to make up the deficit after this week!

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I did learn an interesting new technique this week – pressing.  When I attached the front facings, Julie (brilliantly patient tutor) told me that I had to “press and pat” to get the facings to lie completely flat.  This involved steaming and pressing and then, so that the fibres don’t spring back into place you have to “pat” them back until the steam has been pushed out and the fabric has gone cold – it then lies much flatter.  The patting was accomplished by whacking the fabric with the ham – you can see how the end has mounded itself to my hand with all the pressure.  Anyway, it gives a nice clean finish.  We also marked on the buttonholes and I am going to take them to a man in Soho who apparently has a buttonhole machine and makes keyhole buttonholes for professional tailors – and amateur seamstresses apparently. I am looking forward to sharing my button hole experience with you next week – are you excited?

imageFinally, it is very difficult not to buy anything when you are in a fabric shop/haberdashery for five hours.  This is what I bought this week.  Some lovely broderie anglaise – isn’t that a lovely thing to say – BRODERIE ANGLAISE and a blue/black chevron jersey.  I’m thinking Moneta for the knit – I have been impressed with recent versions from Sew South London and Navy Blue Threads. For the cotton, another Belcarra maybe? It would make a lovely shirt but I have button hole fear at the moment – to sit alongside my overlocker fear – what IS the matter with me?!

I hope you’ve got a nice glass of wine lined up for GBSB tonight – wonder what I’ll spot that I recognise this week?

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

 

A little tale of inspiration involving Margate, Isle of Wight and GBSB

 

The Great British Sewing Bee is dear to my heart and I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of series three.  I felt so inspired to sew at the end of the second series I booked a workshop which offered to teach basic skills to enthusiastic beginners.  The Easter workshop, at Cloth Kits, Chichester was called Make your Mother proud; I think it more likely she would have been bemused.

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The workshop confirmed my new passion and I went straight to John Lewis and bought a Janome sewing machine. I then discovered sewing blogs and a whole new world of inspiration opened up to me: Scruffy Badger; Handmade Jane; House of Pinheiro; Lladybird, Dolly Clackett and Did You Make That.  With only basic skills I became a little like Catherine Tate’s character who always said “I could do that“-  only with me it was “I could make that”.  So, the beginnings of an addiction was born; following sewing blog royalty, I emulated choices and bought patterns and fabrics.  One particular post which inspired such purchases was this one from Did You Make That. I ADORED the fabric – it reminded me of my holidays as a child.  It was a tana lawn from Liberty and the design was called Isle of Wight.

imageI didn’t go to The Isle of Wight as a child; we always went to Margate. I have happy memories of going to Dreamland night after night after having spent my days making sandcastles and paddling; some of the illustrations in the print reminded me of those gloriously carefree holidays of my childhood.  My parents never went abroad (few did to be honest from the little corner of South West London where I grew up) but many years later I took my parents on a day trip to the Isle of Wight.  It was a really special day – my mum was so excited because she thought it meant she had finally gone abroad!  The last family holiday I had with my own children, before they decided they were too cool to go on holiday with their parents, was to the Isle of Wight so it is a wonderfully nostalgic place for me.  Having bought the fabric and pattern I put them in my wicker stash basket where they have languishfor the past six months.

By the summer I decided I too wanted to blog to share my sewing adventures and in early August 2014 Clarinda Kaleidoscope was born.  Retrospectively I realise I made a faux pas with the name because A. it is not easy to remember and B. it does not convey any sense that it is about sewing but, what can you do? In any case, I like it!

So I sewed, and blogged and got more and more involved in my new hobby – even making a running top for my other passion. Since I’ve been sewing I have not run nearly enough – both are absolute time thieves.

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So I’ve had my machine for about nine months now and when the GBSB aired this week I was astonished at how much I knew compared to last time; I recognised bodices, techniques – I can even put in an invisible zip which appeared to cause some consternation!  However, the thing I was most chuffed at was that one of the contestents, Amanada, whose blog I follow made her summer frock challenge in …. Isle of Wight Liberty Tana Lawn.  So, I abandoned my weekend sewing plans and decided to use my Isle of Wight to make Sewaholic’s Belcarra blouse.

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I was really pleased with how it came together and as I was feeling so nostalgic by this point, thinking of childhood and holidays of the past, and of course, my lovely mum, I decided to have a look through her button box to see if I could find anything which would go with my new blouse.

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The Belcarra doesn’t have any fastenings – it just pulls over the head so the buttons I put on are purely decorative. They are incredibly subtle, barely noticeable in the photos but the pleasure for me is knowing that they are there – a little reminder of the precious past.

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Overall, I think the Belcarra is super versatile.  It looks a bit boxy here – I usually go for a size 12 equivalent but went with the measurements on the packet and cut a 10 – I almost think I could go a size smaller.  I think this will look great with denim shorts in the summer and equally good with a work suit – adding just a little bit of fun.

So, there you go, a few memories, places and people who have inspired me, brought together in one sweet little top.

Have a lovely Sunday,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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Claudia the Calf? Where’s Gogglebox when you need it? Welcome back Great British Sewing Bee!

 

 

There was a real sense of excitement and anticipation at home last night – for me at least.  My menfolk were quietly resigned but they watched The Great British Sewing Bee and the endless comments proved that they were clearly engaged.  As our roast chicken supper was cooking, I snatched an hour or so to make another couple of Trixie Lixie knickers in some lovely Liberty Lawn I had ordered from Guthrie and Ghani.  I was SO impatient AND determined to have a sewing filled extravaganza of an evening that I sewed them up without matching thread – Shocking behaviour.

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I credit GBSB 100% for getting me into sewing and how funny a year on to see how much more I know about it all.  Was it a BHL Kim bodice I saw (two possibly?) in the summer frock category? The trousers for the first challenge – surely Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trouser with a tweak at the waist to swap facing for bias. Both currently in my stash!

imageThe Kim pattern is because I am taking part in the Kim sewalong – not that I am up to date with that of course.  The Ultimate trousers I made at a workshop a couple of months ago and immediately rushed out to buy some Black twill (?) to make super boring work trousers.  It is because of the super boring bit that the fabric has sat in my stash but I think I will make them up this weekend.  If the Sewing Bees managed it in three hours then I’m going to try and match that.  Regular readers will know that we have had a Sewing Bee at my work.  One of the Bees asked on Wednesday if we were going to follow along with the series – we all looked at her as if she were bonkers. But here I am, actually considering doing one of the challenges for this week.

imageWas one of the dresses made of this fabric?  I thought so but we didn’t get a close up.  It is a gorgeous Liberty lawn with lots of little seaside related illustrations on it. It’s waiting to be made up into a blouse/summer top of some description – hopefully with enough left over to make another pair of pants – they are VERY addcitive!

Finally, onto the contestants and the challenges. Why oh Why is Gogglebox not on tonight?  I LOVE Gogglebox – a glorious celebration of family and what it is to be British in our wonderful,l multi-cultural society.  I would love to know what Steve and Chris, Steph and Dom and Sandy and Sandra think of the garments, characters, challenges.  It is sad when someone has to leave – especially when you have barely been introduced but what a travesty to lose Annie so soon. Did you catch that glorious retort to Claudia when she told she had to leave: Don’t worry – I’ll still name a calf after you!

Have a great weekend sewing,

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

Week two of my coat making plus a dollop of naval gazing

At my coat making workshop last week, I became acutely aware that I was a nightmare student – as a teacher myself this is particularly embarrassing. There were only three of us which is an excellent ratio but even so I ended up with far more than my fair share of the tutor’s time because I was continually fussing. I really don’t know what happened but I became completely flustered and got myself into quite a state.  At the end even the tutor said she was surprised that I was so insecure  – she actually said that – as I could clearly do the work.  SO ….. I have spent a long time pondering about why I had been so needy and I finally came up with a theory: I am a control freak.  We were given all of the pattern pieces (three huge sheets) plus separate A4 packs for each week with associated diagrams of what was to be covered. I think I was so overwhelmed at seeing the sheer volume of what had to be done, I just kept asking and double checking.  Retrospectively, I think had I taken ten minutes to just sit down and read what needed to be done so that I least I knew where I was going, I would have been fine.

 

imageHaving felt so needy during the workshop I was determined to get ahead for the next week so I diligently threw myself into my homework on Saturday – it was extensive!  It took me five hours to finish cutting out the pieces and iron on all of the interfacing/lining, some of which you had to “draft” yourself.  The instructions said you needed to iron over a fine cloth but after pressing and pressing and getting nowhere, I abandoned my liberty lawn scrap and applied my iron directly to the interfacing and hey presto, it worked a treat.

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Last night we had the second workshop and I was much calmer which I think was a relief to everyone!  Three hours rushed by and all I really did was attach the pockets/linings – a really interesting technique and then, after a fitting, adjust the back.

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Needless to say there is a LOT of homework again this week: attaching the collar to the front facings and the coat back and constructing the lining including little dart pleats which I haven’t done before. All of which means I won’t get to do all of the other sewing I had planned!

imageAlong with many others – Justsewtherapeutic and Lazy Daisy Jones  – I am having a bit of a knicker phase at the moment; I bought these gorgeous fat quarters from Guthrie and Ghani in the new Liberty Lawn Alice in Wonderland designs.  Seriously, aren’t they gorgeous?  Having made a pair already I should only need an hour but I have to prioritise my coat so we’ll see.

imageWhilst as Sew Over It, I took the opportunity to buy some little goodies from the haberdashery (How I LOVE that word!); zips and threads for the Mortmain dress I plan to make in March and a funky little magnetic pin tray.  All of that lovliness AND The Great British Sewing Bee is on tomorrow night – Life is Good!

Hope you are all having a fun week, enjoying the snow etc.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great British Sewing Bee – the teachers version

Today has been the first day of One Week One Pattern 14 and I am really looking forward to being involved in an event with the on-line sewing community.

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As I was putting on my Sorbetto and thinking about what I would say in my round up blog, I remembered  that the fabric was left over from my Great British Sewing Bee – the work version so thought that I should do a catch up blog about that.

Break time in my school is the only time of the day when we get ten minutes to sit and chat with our colleagues.  We are a funny bunch and tend to sit with the same group of people. My particular chums were all huge fans of The Great British Sewing Bee and decided to run our own version.  We chose the same pattern, asked the textiles teacher to be our judge and gave ourselves the May Half Term to complete our task.  It was SO much fun. I had only bought my sewing machine at Easter, another Bee literally bought hers to take part in the sewing bee.  We wore them all on the same day the first week back.  Our judge had really thrown herself into the spirit of things making her own dress, devising a mark sheet with judging criteria. There was an overall winner and individual categories – which surprisingly each of us won one of.

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The report of our successes and short-comings were written up and appeared in the week’s school newsletter.  We were each given a prize – a pin wheel in  a handsewn case made by our generous judge Heather in the material she had used for her own dress.

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We enjoyed it so much it could become an annual event – what about you?  Could you run a sewing bee in your place of work?