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

 

 

 

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A morning of manipulating my darts

Hi everyone,

Hope your week is going well?  Mine is super busy (for someone who is technically not working). Went to the second session of my six week course: pattern drafting at Clothkits: less maths this week for me to fret about.

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This week was mainly spent cutting and sticking – it reminded me of the best primary school lesson ever!

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We cut out six  – I don’t know what they are called – bodice fronts?  – and manipulated the darts into one of six different positions so that we could see how it would work in practice. I actually really enjoy the theory side of things.

The one I found most baffling was where the darts are right across the middle of your chest.  I really couldn’t work out why you would ever do this but the tutor explained – with the aid of a piece of lined paper – the effect which would be created if your fabric had horizontal stripes.  I have to say  – there was a light bulb moment when it finally twigged.

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You’ll have to excuse my shoddy photos – there just wasn’t enough light and I was rushing because I needed to concentrate on what the tutor was saying rather than faff around with my IPAD.

We have to start collecting ideas of what we would like our own dress to be like.  I hadn’t realised but the ultimate objective of the course is, as well as making the blocks, to have made a toile of our own design.  After having spent the morning manipulating darts, I think I am going to go for a bodice with wing darts – similar to princess seams but the darts go under the arm rather than up to the shoulder. I am thoroughly enjoying the course and am very excited to be making up my own design – at this stage I am thinking a Christmas Day dress, perhaps in a floral needlecord.

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We then spent some time fitting the toiles we had made up for homework. My darts had to be lowered by a centimetre and there was also an adjustment to remove some fabric from the back shoulders and to reduce the overall length.  It was really interesting to see how you swivelled the darts around to move the fabric from one area to the other. Please excuse my mum tum on display – I am amused by the intense concentration on my face! We now have to make up a second toile incorporating all of our adjustments – precision is key apparently.

At the end of the morning the tutor, Maria Pulley, took us into her studio (which is based above Clothkits) to show us some of the beautiful couture garments she is working on.  One of her original designs for the formal robes of the High Sherriff of (?) had had its inaugural wear the previous day at a Remembrance Day service and Maria showed us her initial sketches.  It is a real privilege to be taught be someone who is clearly incredibly gifted.

Will close now with some good news – I went for a job interview yesterday and was successful.  I was really chuffed with all the lovely messages I received on my Instagram so thank you lovely sewing community – you lift my spirits.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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The Sewcation begins …

Hello all, I hope you have had a good Monday?

Today my euphemistically named Sewcation began and it got off to a wonderful start – silver linings and all that.

Having unexpectedly found myself with time on my hands, I researched local sewing workshops – of course I did – and found that ClothKits had a Pattern Cutting course starting today.  When I rang at the beginning of last week, only one other person had booked so it wasn’t running.  I asked if I could leave my number in case there was a flurry of last minute bookings and imagine my delight when I received a call on Friday to say the course would run.

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In fact, there were only two of us – such a privilege. The tutor took us through taking our body measurements and then we drafted the bodice pattern.  This took from 9.30 – 1pm and I didn’t sit down once.  It was SO mathematical AND I finally got to see how a Pattern Master works.  I bought one months ago when I was on a workshop at Sew Over It. That saying All the Gear and No Idea certainly applies to me but I do now know how to use the curved edge to draft a neckline.  It is really interesting looking at your measurements in such detail.  You may recall I have previously bewailed my big shoulders (here)  The evidence was there in black and white today! The other lady and I both looked normal to me. Interestingly our measurements were juxtaposed: I have no boobs and definite shoulders whilst she has a bosom and narrow shoulders.  It’s perfectly clear to me now how all of you experienced seamstresses make wonderful garments that fit – I think my approach has been tentative tweaking and hoping for the best.

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We eventually finished our draft pattern and cut it out in calico – goodness knows how many toiles we are going to make to get this right but we were each advised to buy three metres. Our homework for this week is to sew up the bodice top and “Draw design ideas for top” – Lordy Lordy. That might be a step too far for me – I just want to be able to adapt the patterns I do have to fit me.

By the end of the morning my tummy was rumbling in an embarrassing way.  I really fancied pasta so on the way to the station I popped into Carluccios – so now I have became one of the Ladies who Lunch. I only mention this because it was delicious and you might want to try it.  I had the homemade ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta in a buttery and sage sauce.  When it arrived there were only NINE pieces of ravioli but it turned out to be the perfect portion size as you can see!

Thank you Mr Carluccio

Thank you Mr Carluccio

Just before I close, I want to give a little mention to Lynne who blogs at Ozzy Blackbeard because it was her posts on pattern drafting which first made me wonder if it was something for me – well, thank you Lynne – it is!

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Tomorrow I am going to tackle the flamingo shirt which has been laying, sadly forlorn, in a bag since I shoved it there six weeks ago. As you see, my homework is considerably overdue!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x