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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Hello Heather

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while hasn’t it? My new job is keeping me busy – how lovely to be able to write that!

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As soon as Sew Over It announced a new class to make their Heather dress, I was on to it. Having repeatedly struggled to get a place on the Francine Jacket course I knew I had to be quick. So it had been booked for a couple of months and I had been really looking forward to it but the day before I had a bit of a wobble and almost didn’t go. How glad I am that I did. I had a fantastic day; met some lovely ladies (who all finished their frocks) ; ate cake; made a dress that fits me and is versatile and, thoroughly enjoyed being in the sewing zone again.

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The Heather dress is a knit dress with deep pockets that are sewn in the side seams and somehow fall from the Princess seams – I have probably described that incorrectly. Anyway, I have noticed how fellow seamstresses rave about pockets: me, not so much but I have to say that on this dress I do really like them.

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I had hoped the class would give me a bit of confidence in using my overlocker (I shamefacedly admit it has been in its bag for over a year – shocking behaviour). I envy those people who are constantly posting items that they have knocked up in an evening/afternoon – I think this could be such a dress. On the odd occasion I have sewn with knit fabric, I have used a walking foot and zigzag stitch on my normal Janome. I assumed we would make the whole dress on the overlocker but we didn’t. The tutor (lovely, calm Sue) told us to make it up on the sewing machines using stitch length 3 and we just finished the seams on the overlocker. I have to say it all went extremely smoothly.

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I cut a 12, made it up then took in the side seams about an inch each side from the top down to my waist.  I noticed in the photos there is a bit of pooling in the back so I will take a little bit off the back seam too next time. And there will be a next time! I didn’t alter the length which surprised me as I had to add a whopping 10cm to my vintage shirtdress and I am on 5ft 4.

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I was a bit confused at the pocket construction – I didn’t think this would ever end up looking like the sample.

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Some of the other students made a colour block dress and I have to say, I think that is the best plan for this pattern to show off the wonderful lines and emphasise the pockets. Although I am really pleased with mine, I do think that the detail is lost. The fabric? It is a lovely jersey which stretches in all ways (I know this because Sue tested it  to see as she said I need the stretchy way going around my body). I bought it in September from Sew Over It when I was there doing my Ultimate Shirt Class (still a wip I am ashamed to say). I thought it was amazing value at £12 as I had seen it a week previously in C & H fabrics for £21. I have loads left over so I think I will have a try at making either a Lark Tee or an Agnes top as everyone raves about them.

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It was a complete rarity for me to finish in a class but I did.  During the morning I chatted away to a lovely girl who was working opposite me but after lunch I was so focused on finishing, I just shut up and got on with it – much to her relief I suspect! I was first to finish and as I wanted to see everyone elses, I filled in the time hemming a fat quarter I had bought to make my son a handkerchief – he has become obsessed with them!

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Obviously I bought more fabric for myself – even though I’m trying not to. Both purchases were inspired by choices I had seen on my Instagram:  the wool check – Ozzyblackbeard; the bees – sorry I can’t remember on whose feed I saw this. Just like Lynne the wool is going to be a Tulip Skirt (I need to buy the pattern first though). The bees? I am currently thinking that a Scout tee would go nicely with white jeans.

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I love workshops. If you are debating about doing one, I would really encourage you. It is utterly uplifting to spend time with other people who love to sew and have someone there to help you with the tricky bits.

After taking these photos, I layered up even more and we went out for a Valentines brunch. The dress has so many lovely colours it is really versatile. I teamed it with teal and green. After eating we had a walk around town and I picked up a Benetton 100% wool cardi in a charity shop which actually goes really nicely with the dress and brings out the yellow – not a colour I often wear to be honest. Mr CK is trying to grow a beard – he feels it makes him look like George Clooney. That dear sewing friends is my closing comment today … there are no words!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Brunch at The Parsons Table, Arundel with George Clooney and, keeping it real with my charity shop bargain

Brunch at The Parsons Table, Arundel with George Clooney and, keeping it real with my charity shop bargain

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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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 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.

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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

 

 

 

 

A week of firsts and a trio of Dahlias

My pink sewing journal has recorded a lot of firsts during the early days of January and I am feeling rather pleased!

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I went fabric shopping in Brighton for the first time and thanks to Ditto Fabrics I have increased my stash which was paltry compared to others I have seen.  I loved having a jolly good rummage and I can see how addictive it could become.  Anyway, having said in my last post that I thought sewing with denim was a bit of a challenge for me, I DID actually go ahead and buy some which has led to further firsts: sewing with a denim needle and using topstitch thread.  I know this probably seems rather dull to some of the more experienced sewistas but if you are fairly new to the sewing, you will appreciate my trepidation and excitement – hopefully I will be able to blog my denim outfit in due course but here is a taster of my fabric and facing combination – look familiar?!

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The doggie fabric is for a shirt which I will wear with black twill Ultimate trousers – once I have made them that is. The polka dot is for a skirt and as for the bird fabric – who knows? It just looked so sweet I couldn’t resist it. Any suggestions for one metre? Whilst in Brighton I also saw this amazing display in All Saints – 200 antique sewing machines: I counted them!

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The overlocker has finally been used on a garment – shock, horror.  When did I get it? October maybe? Anyway, I am tinkering about with Tilly’s Megan (sounds rude doesn’t it?) which has been a WIP abandoned from about August. I’m still making slow progress.

I never sleep well the night before the return to school so when I was wide awake at 2am I decided to read some blogs, as you do, and saw this absolutely cracking dress from Dolly Clackett.  I have to admit I shamelessly immediately bought the fabric and pattern – Paypal makes everything too easy – and intend to make one for myself for my niece’s wedding in April.  What do you think?  Stunning.

And lastly, we had another sewing bee at work.  Six of us were supposed to take part but Christmas is a busy time and not every one finished.  Here are three of the Dahlias – without exception we all had problems with excessive fabric at the neckline and had to make significant adjustments.  I do love Liz’s version  – the plaid.

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So, lots of things on the go at the moment but nothing quite finished as yet!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Reflections and Goals – the last of the Top Fives

It has been a fabulous year all round and for that I am truly thankful. In terms of sewing, 2014 was the year I bought a machine, discovered that there is such a thing as an online sewing community and even wrote my first blog post.  I attended workshops, participated in a sewing bee and became aware of lots of Indie designers. In terms of reflection, I guess the most incredible thing is that my year ends with my head full of exciting plans linked to an interest/passion I hadn’t even discovered at the start of the year. I even wore my Francoise on Christmas Day! So, not really five reflections there but a general ponder on my sewing year. image In terms of goals, here they are: 1. Make a coat – whilst this is an incredible challenge at least I am confident I will accomplish it because my Christmas present from my other half was a place on Sew Over It’s coat making workshop which means I will have lots of help and guidance from the wonderful Julie. I have already chosen my fabric too. I am going for the black and white – although probably the reverse of the view shown on this swatch. image 2. Complete my Craftsy course on Beginner Serging – I did lessons 1&2 yesterday. This course was the only thing I bought on Black Friday – a rather odd purchase I guess but if it gets me more comfortable with my overlocker (which I am sort of scared of) then it will have been worth every penny. 3. An important goal for me this year is to be a little more organised. I was given a pretty pink diary as a present so I am going to use this as a sewing journal. Having been reading other people’s round ups I’ve realised that some fellow sewing bloggers are very organised and have produced pie charts by garment, fabric etc – Yes, I am looking at you Elizabeth. so my objective is to jot down my ideas, note what fabric I have in my little stash and record what fabric I need for various patterns I intend to make so that I am prepared should a fabric buying opportunity present itself. image 4. The Monthly Stitch Collective is something I would like to join – I am going to sign up and try and commit to at least six of the challenges. The January one is for denim which I don’t feel very confident about tackling so maybe a February start for me. 5. OWOP14 was the first challenge I participated in.  During that week I won three patterns as part of a giveaway and at that time I pledged to make my three patterns; to date that hasn’t happened so I am adding those on my goals for 2015: By Hand London Anna, Colette Hawthorn and Sewaholic Gabriola I am coming to get you. image Whilst mentioning OWOP14, for which I used Sorbetto, I just want to sneak in a quick pic of my last make of the year – surprise surprise it’s a …Sorbetto.  I do realise now that comfort sewing exists and this is it for me.  I used the leftover fabric from my Dahlia and added some buttons from the Button jar my running/sewing friend Ali gave me for my birthday. top 5 Thanks again to Crafting a Rainbow for the hosting the Top Five and as my Nana used to say, I will close now but send you my very best wishes for a Happy New Year! Toodle pip, Clarinda

Round up of the year – Top five misses

It’s a real shame when something doesn’t work out because the start of every project begins with gleeful anticipation as you decide upon pattern and amass fabric and notions.  To be honest, I think that, with the exception of my Sorbettos, almost all of my makes have included an element of disappointment. No doubt this is due to the combination of being a relatively new sewista and a sort of perfectionist. I say sort of because, rather annoyingly, I get despondent, then cross and don’t really have the patience to sort matters out so abandon projects to my ever-growing WIP pile. I salute those of you who regularly unpick, re-draft, make four toiles etc. so, here they are – my top five misses:

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What possessed me? I don’t know why I thought I would look ok wearing a dress covered in black cats playing with red balls of wool. I made this for the fun Crazy Cat Lady Challenge and I did enjoy participating but, on reflection, perhaps a pair of PJs would have been better.  I nonchantly wore my creation to work and hardly anyone made a comment – which I took as a bad sign. The one person who did refer to my frock asked if I was wearing my Halloween outfit which sort of says it all.

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My Dahlia neckline was a Disaster Dahling – it would have fitted my hips with room to spare. I have now put a four inch inverted pleat into the back but the updated version has yet to be worn. Really disappointing because I love the fabric and the design – as it looks on other people.

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I feel a bit mean including my lace dress as a Miss because I really enjoyed the workshops where I made it but I just don’t like it on me. It is too big and just a bit too conservative – a sort of frumpy mother of the bride type garment.

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And finally, this beanie – photo taken just now on yet another gorgeously sunny December day in the UK. An incredibly frustrating Miss because I do love a hat (you may have noticed) and the shape and feel of this are very me. I like the effect created by using two different wool weights/needle size to create the bands but dearie me, why did I pick an apricot coloured mix? Is there anyone who could wear this colourway or have anything that vaguely would go with it? If only I had gone for a bluey plummy palette this would never be off my head.

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So, there you have it – my misses of 2014 and it turns out, I could only muster four so … Happy Days! Wishing you all a Missless new year and thanks again to Crafting a Rainbow for hosting the Sewing Top 5.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x