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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Chinese silk Yoke top ….. finally done

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If I say so myself, this Yoke top by Lauren Guthrie looks effortlessly chic – however, it was not effortless to make and has been trailing around me and the blog for five months!

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I returned from China in August with this metre of gorgeous silk and another metre of a different floral design. I read up on how to sew with silk, bought appropriate needles and pins and was ready to go.  The pattern features in Learn to Sew with Lauren but I actually picked the pattern up in issue 5 of Love Sewing (what a great magazine).

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(I am absolutely freezing my tits off in these photos by the way – a gorgeously sunny morning whilst the ground was crisp with frost). Anyway, I made a start and I can’t remember why but, I got a bit stuck with the yoke so it became a WIP whilst I tinkered about with other things.

imageCome October I picked it up again, determined not to be one of these people who end up with piles of unfinished objects; the Yoke Top and I went on holiday for a week in the Peaks (alongside Dahlia who was very demanding and prevented the Yoke Top and I from really making much progress).  Again, it disappeared under other sewing priorities.

imageIn December, I took it to the first Sewing Club at Sew Pretty – the fabric was much admired by everyone but I got distracted by the hem on my lace dress and no progress was made.  It sat in its little purple folder for another month (I keep all of my various projects (doesn’t have to be sewing) in clear, purple plastic envelope files).

imageCome January it was Sewing Club again and I spent two hours working on the yoke.  I have to say, I do find yokes difficult.  I managed to get the front correct with Katya‘s help but when left to my own devices for the back, I just couldn’t work out how to do it.  I find construction and “seeing” how things fit together REALLY difficult – I think I must have some kind of condition, Discalculia maybe, linked to fabric rather than numbers. So the back had the raw seams exposed rather than all being neatly hidden away. However, on the plus side, I bravely whisked that single seam through the overlocker and it didn’t end in tears!

imageJust look at the absolute pig’s ear I made of the button holes.  I am supposed to have a one step button holer but it doesn’t work.  I did look at a couple of Youtube videos and I actually don’t think it is me!  The machine does the bar at the bottom, sews one side and then just stops. So I have to reset it all so that the machine it thinks it is doing another one and I have to turn the fabric 180% and wiggle it across a bit.  I only bought my machine in April so it is still under warranty from John Lewis but I don’t think I can bear to be parted from it for the weeks I’ve heard it takes for a repair.  So, I am just going to have to get better at bodging it OR only make garments without buttons.

imageSo, to conclude, Lauren’s Yoke top feels lovely against the skin and I am really looking forward to wearing it with a jacket for an evening out – just don’t look too closely at the finish! My next project is a skirt I will wear IF I ever get to an interview!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

Sewing Bees

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Having only bought my sewing machine at Easter I needed some help with learning to sew and was really chuffed to find that, literally, round the corner from me, was Sew Pretty, a sewing studio run by Katya Essery.  Katya is a great teacher who immediately made me appreciate what fun social sewing is.  I’ll let you into a secret – Katya always cracks open a bottle of wine for her evening workshops.

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I signed up for a shirt making workshop, along with a couple of my colleagues who had participated in the Sewing Bee at work (a future post) and along with two other sewists we embarked upon our projects under Katya’s careful guidance.  I chose Makower Bees fabric which I bought online from Guthrie and Ghani which I would highly recommend. Lauren despatched the material swiftly and wrapped it up so beautifully I felt I was upwrapping a birthday present.

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The collar was tricky – my first one  ever and I’m not sure I could remember how to do it again. I had to finish off my shirt at home – too much chatting, laughing and quaffing wine during the workshop.  I used the  one step button-hole feature for the first time. Really annoyingly it is not a one-step. It does the base and one side and then stops so you have to take it out and do the other half – which was a bit hit and miss. Very annoying. I also didn’t like the sleeves which were just hemmed and therefore rather plain.  I fiddled about it and managed to fold in a cuff which looks ok but has meant that the three quarter sleeve now rests right on my elbow and is a little big irritating.  I’m going to have another go with some lovely Liberty lawn.

So, shirt: tick.

 

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