The knitting and Stitching Show

Hi everyone,

I hope you can bear with me whilst I share details of my FAB day and post loads of pics of my (ludicrous) fabric purchases.

We needed fortification before we tackled the remaining stands

We needed fortification before we tackled the remaining stands

A couple of weeks ago I posted an open invite on my Instagram to see if anyone fancied meeting up at The Knitting and Stitching Show – three fellow bloggers took me up on my offer and I have just spent the loveliest time with friends: Jane, Su and Becca. I really enjoy meeting up with other seamstresses. Jane and Su I have met before, a couple of times, so it was great to catch up with them again  and I really enjoyed meeting Becca who graciously allowed me to copy one of her frocks about a year ago!

Lovely Lauren who was at Tilly's stand - I was actually really chuffed that she recognised my sweatshirt - I bought the fabric at Guthrie and Ghani

Lovely Lauren who was at Tilly’s stand – I was actually really chuffed that she recognised my sweatshirt – I bought the fabric at Guthrie and Ghani

Su organised a route around the show so that we visited every stand and then returned to the best. As part of our tour we encountered sewing royalty: Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani; Lisa from Sew Over It and Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons. Becca was wearing an Orla top and had issues with the hem facing so Tilly had a quick peep and gave some advice!

Where elsecould you go where it is perfectly normal to look at the insides of people's clothes?

Where else could you go where it is perfectly normal to look at the insides of people’s clothes?

We all made purchases at Sew Over It – in fact three of us bought exactly the same silk cami kit with little foxes on – I actually thought they were lobsters: I’m getting old – my sight is going!

The silk cami kit and some other fabric I bought at the bargain price of £6 per metre

The silk cami kit and some other fabric I bought at the bargain price of £6 per metre

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To be honest, it was overwhelming having so much luscious fabric on offer – I bought loads but the thing I am probably most excited about it this gorgeous pattern from Sew La Di Da. It is a culottes deck suit with a halter neck – although you could do crossover straps at the back.  My sister is threatening to get married this summer and if she does, this is what I plan to wear. I want to look like Anna Chancellor as she was in Mapp and Lucia.

The parasol fabric I plan to use - only £8 per metre

The parasol fabric I plan to use – only £8 per metre

The only thing I definitely had on my list was some replacement needles for my overlocker – I asked three separate people if you needed different ones for an overlocker before I got my answer – No. However, when I described what had happened to the helpful man on the Janome stand he said it sounded like the timing had gone (?) – I hope that is not the case.

Needles and the only knit fabric I bought - just in case the overlocker and I don't become friends anytime soon

Needles and the only knit fabric I bought – just in case the overlocker and I don’t become friends anytime soon

Want to see the rest of my purchases?

Liberty loveliness - bluey one to make ties and the red one to make a scouttee

Liberty loveliness – bluey one to make ties and the red one to make a scouttee

 

Very thick fabric that I plan to make a tote bag with for future fabric shopping ventures

very thick fabric that I plan to make a tote bag with for future fabric shopping ventures

 

Isn't this gorgeous? A By Hand London Kim I think

Isn’t this gorgeous? A By Hand London Kim I think

 

Don't even ask me what I am going to do with this - I also bought some fine black wool to "tone it down" a bit

Don’t even ask me what I am going to do with this – I also bought some fine black wool to “tone it down” a bit

So that’s it – I sort of think I should feel guilty at having spent so much (I haven’t added it up and don’t intend to) but I can promise you that each and every piece was an absolute bargain!

Tonight I am off to a 50th birthday bash and I have made my friend a Liberty tie for his gift and tomorrow I’ll be in full Matriarch mode for Mothers Day so all in all, a cracking weekend!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

The whole shebang

The whole shebang

 

 

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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

 

 

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

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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Sewing is my happy place

Hello dear sewing chums,

It has been seven long weeks since my last post.  A number of blogs I have read give an apology after a break saying that “life got in the way” or something similar; I fully appreciate that and YAY for “life” anyway.  I recently read Roisin’s blog post  (aka fabulous Dolly Clackett) and in the first paragraph she says that she is not apologising for her break  but that it feels weird not to comment on the fact there has been an absence.  I sort of feel exactly the same so this is my bridge post before normal service resumes!

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Well, sewing is my happy place and to be perfectly frank, I have not been happy; I have been utterly miserable. Sometimes I know it’s good to lose your worries in a hobby but I made the decision not to pollute my happy place and have kept away from the sewing machine; I have barely commented on my favourite blogs or posted on my instagram.  Can you imagine what any garments might have looked like if they had reflected my mood!

I don’t plan to bore you with the details – nobody died. But for those of you who appreciate a metaphor, I have been unwillingly engaged in a game of chess with three ferocious opponents whose skill, cunning and utter lack of integrity led to a very swift checkmate; defeat has been a crushing blow.

On the plus side, I am about to start a sewacation and that is really good. I abandoned not one but two workshops at Sew Over it over the last six weeks.  My mint flamingo blouse is looking rather forlorn at the moment but at least it got started which is more than can be said for the cigarette pants! So, those are my first two WIPs to tackle. I have booked a workshop for November to make the Francine jacket which I am really looking forward to.  I have it in mind to make a maxi skirt suit in tweed which I think could be really something (and possibly slightly eccentric). Over at Bimble and Pimble I am looking forward to SEWVEMBER which is a sewing photo everyday challenge .  I took part last year and it was a great way to get lots of inspiration from other sewistas. Finally on the positives, I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Red W Sews – a bloggers award for those with less than 200 followers.  This is very humbling as well as exciting.  I need to do a separate blog post for my acceptance speech so watch this space!

Oh, and I had another birthday and the beautiful framed embroidery at the top of this post was a present from my dear friend Ali (in fact it was one of a number of lovely sewing gifts and I am going to do a separate post about that too). Ali is madly into vintage and charity shops and this was one of her finds – can you imagine anyone just giving away such a personal piece of work.  I will treasure it and plan to hang it in my sewing corner. I will take a photo once it is in situ  – I need to do some dusting and blow the cobwebs away first!

Well, that’s it for now – I am looking forward to getting back into the groove.  If you have read this far then thank you for indulging me with this rather cathartic post – it’s been like therapy. As it’s been such a personal post I have posted a couple of piccies at the end of me and James Bond taken on my birthday last week – I am even older than the Bond Girl!

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me!

 

Dress from ENVY Arundel

Dress from ENVY Arundel

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

Fitting a dysfunctional pear

Hello all, hope you are enjoying our little bit of sunshine today in a week in which most of us in the UK must have thought that Autumn had most certainly arrived (sounds a bit like Caroline Ahern’s musings at the beginning of Gogglebox)!

At the beginning of the school holidays I had a week on a narrow boat on the Leeds Liverpool canal and without wifi, had to make the most of our stops.  Whilst loitering in Caffe Nero, Skipton I noticed on my IG feed that Sew Over It were having a summer sale on their workshops.  I booked one immediately and on the return journey a couple of days later, I bought another! I do love being taught how to do things properly and really want to get better so  consider these courses a good investment.  Each time I fully intend to immediately make up a second garment to consolidate my skills but to date that hasn’t happened with any of my SOI workshops.  I have booked the Ultimate Shirt and the Cigarette pants – both with my work wardrobe in mind. It also puts me in the happy position of having something to look forward to every week on a Wednesday for the first half term.

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The Clapham branch has recently been refurbished – there is now so much more fabric on offer.   There are six of us in the class; only one lady hasn’t done a workshop before. A very speedy seamstress who also did the coat workshop with me was there so it was nice to meet her again. And, if you have seen the hugely popular Francine Jacket (I have twice missed getting a place on a course) the daughter of “Francine” (whose original jacket was used to design the pattern) was there.

A few months ago I spotted some lovely Flamingo fabric on the SOI IG feed and immediately bought some. I was thinking about making an Anna dress maxi style but my plans were thwarted because the flamingos went across the fabric rather than down the length which I expected.

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This caused me to return the fabric to my stash but I thought that it would be lovely for my shirt. At the workshop it became apparent (when Julie pointed it out to me) that the fabric wasn’t really suitable because in order to cut the shirt out on the grainline, all the flamingos would be laying on the backs waving their legs in the air.  Anyway, I decided to carry on regardless (this is why I frequently have disasters).  I had taken another fabric with me but this is for my grand winter outfit (maxi skirt suit) and Julie concurred that I might as well make my first one with the flamingos and make all the necessary improvements for the second.

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I have been getting a bit more confident with my own sewing recently and turned a corner in that I am now trying to get things to fit.   Something that has emerged is that although I always have to grade between bust and hip sizes due to my pearfulness I am still finding the top half is tight on the arms etc. It has gradually dawned on me that I have big shoulders and need to account for them. When I was being fitted (using Lisa’s own shirt as a toile!) the measurements indicated that as per usual I would do 10 bust 12 hips but then I asked Julie about my shoulders.  She agreed they were promininet and remembered that when I made my coat, after all the faff of putting the shoulder pads in, we had to take them out again. Anyway, she measured me, the pattern and the the size 10 toile, worked out how much had to be added and copied it onto the pattern. Dear reader, guess what size my shoulders were? 20! I really don’t think they do look that disproportionate but their prominence became really clear when we were completely the vintage shirt dress class in June.  Before we put the sleeves in, the shoulder seams covered the shoulders of the other girls but mine were significantly visible.  I’m not sure if this ramble will make any sense without specific photos. Anyway, to abate my wailing/disbelief we finally cut between size 16 and 18 on the shoulders and will do final alterations after pining.

All I achieved in the class this week (there was a lot of chatting going on between me and the newbie workshop lady) was to cut out my fabric on the crossgrain.  This meant I had a lot of homework to do but I have been a little miss goody two shoes.  Not only have I done my homework but I have cut out another shirt so I shall be consolidating my skills as we go.

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Finally, I popped into C and H Chichester yesterday to buy some buttons – got some glorious, glittery ones – and was rather surprised (disappointed) by their window display. That little card at the bottom says “Make it for Christmas”.

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Really looking forward to next Wednesday’s class. Have a good week all.

Toodle pip.

Clarinda x

Clarinda Kaleidoscope celebrates First Blogiversary – Hoorah!

Hello and thanks for reading!

Today my blog celebrates being one year old proving that it wasn’t just  a seven day wonder and no-one is more surprised than me.  It has been a wonderful year of learning new skills, making friends and (incredibly) creating an on-line presence!

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An early make worn last week for a picnic at Parham House (the car is not mine by the way)

Blogging

My first post was about my Lilou from Love at First Stitch – you can read that post here.

Photo from my first blog post

Photo from my first blog post

I have 90 followers – thank you so much if you are one of the 90! I have written 62 posts and usually post at the weekend.  I still feel a bit underskilled in relation to blogging, for example, I can’t work out how to add an About Me page (although I thought I had written one during the original set up) and when I try to add a button to say I am joining in with something (e.g. OWOP) it is very hit and miss if it works. I am looking at giving my blog a bit of a facelift and to that end am considering having a customised blog heading designed – I just can’t decide what the image should be though. Any ideas?

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My instagram was set up five weeks later and has 200 followers – I enjoy using instagram and only follow fellow sewistas. I am currently doing the daily sewphotoblog set up by House of Pinheiro which is a great way to find out what others are up to.

Sewing

I had been sewing for about four months before I started my blog.  I have learned so far that there is much I have still to learn!   I mostly enjoy the learning part but sometimes I’m quite impatient and get frustrated when things don’t go right first time.  I have had some triumphs:

1960's coat made at Sew Over It

1960’s coat made at Sew Over It

and some disasters:

How could I not have noticed this until I put the finished garment on

How could I not have noticed this until I put the finished garment on

but most of all I have had fun!

Originally made for my niece's wedding, this dress was equally at home at the races

Originally made for my niece’s wedding, this dress was equally at home at the races

It has been great meeting people on line and in the next couple of weeks I am actually going to meet some of my on-line friends at Fabric Godmother.

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The most exciting aspect of blogging for me this year was being voted as a finalist and then a winner during The Monthly Stitch Independent Pattern month – it was really wonderful to know that other sewistas had actually voted for my dress – a By Hand London Kim featuring Frida Kahlo.

My winning dress

My winning dress

In the coming year I hope to continue making clothes in fabulous prints, engage more with the on-line sewing community to gain inspiration from others and finally, get over my fear of the overlocker.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Just so you know - It's not all about me (but mainly it is)!

Just so you know – It’s not all about me (but mainly it is)!

 

The Vintage Shirtdress … at last

Hello sewing chums,

I normally try to post each weekend with an occasional mid-week post but the combination of end of term madness and Wimbledon has meant that I have fallen behind with my self-imposed schedule … now I get why the more sophisticated bloggers schedule posts.  Still, I have been active on Instagram and am very pleased with just how frequently I am wearing my own makes these days. Anyway, the only reason I am bothering to give you this little explanation is just in case you were following my progress at the Sew Over It studio to make my Vintage Shirt Dress; I blogged Week One, then Week Two – were you having restless nights worrying about what happened on Week Three? Well fret no more – it’s finished!

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I have to admit the final workshop was not a happy experience for me.  Following the problems of the previous week I had done a lot of work at home to get back on track and arrived at the class with only the neckline facing, buttonholes and hemming to go. The first task we all had to do was choose fabric for our next shirtdress. Lisa had kindly arranged for each of us to have a new pattern and fabric so that we could make another shirtdress (if you read about week two you’ll understand this).  I picked a floral in deep, rich colours which I thought would make a great layering shirtdress in the cooler months (what is the matter with me thinking about autumn at the start of the summer holidays?) but yesterday when I was wearing my Gabriola and thinking about how much I enjoy wearing a maxi, I suddenly realised what a great maxi it would make.

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Anyway, back to class. The neck facing went on swiftly and I began to get excited thinking I might actually be able to wear it to see  The Importance of Being Earnest later that week (a theatre trip with colleagues to see farewell to a lovely lady who had been at our school for 29 years). Well, that was SO the wrong thing to do.  Once I had had that thought, nothing went right.  I spent about two hours faffing about with the buttonholes and didn’t get a single one finished.  It turned out my machine was at fault but by the time that was established I was in a complete strop and left the workshop in tears. Apologies to Julie if you read this.  I must repeat here what a wonderfully patient sewing teacher Julie is.

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Our school library is actually much better appointed than this photo would indicate!

Another frustrating feature about this is that my own machine had a fault with the button hole function and as I haven’t got it fixed, I couldn’t finish my frock at home.  Hoorah for working in a school – I went to the textiles room after work and finished my button holes.

My not very good buttonholes - I need to work on this

My not very good buttonholes – I need to work on this

I struggled to get decent photos – tried to get a few in the garden but it was overcast and the others were taken at school on my first day of wearing the dress.  It was Prize Giving day (linked to Y13 leavers) so it was actually worn under my academic gown  (no photos of that piece of ridiculousness).  Thanks to my colleague Liz for taking photos in the library for me.

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A silly picture of me twirling - it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

A silly picture of me twirling – it seems to be the rage in blogs at the moment

I will definitely make the dress again – I actually really like it and it fits well after all the alterations but next time I will make it in the right size.

imageI really must comment on the gorgeous fabric.  It’s Liberty Tana Lawn bought in Cloth Kits, Chichester.  They always have a good selection of Liberty including some on sale (which this was).  The design is Winter Dreams of Spring and if you study it closely all sorts of lovely things come into focus but from a bit of a distance it looks rather subtle.  I bought three metres as the pattern suggested I needed and managed to also get out of it a Sorbetto (of course I did) and made a tie for my colleague to celebrate him passing his NQT year.

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

Sorbetto worn at work with chinos

I think it works really well as a tie

I think it works really well as a tie

I haven’t seen the tie on yet as I only gave it to my colleague on Friday – the last day of term – but he seemed pleased with it.

Well, it’s been a picture heavy post and not too many details about the actual shirtdress.  I think that’s because the making process was fraught and not a happy experience for me so I didn’t want to dwell on the detail but I am certainly pleased with the outcome.

And so begins, seven happy weeks of holidays with much reading, sewing, running, tennis, cooking and hopefully blogging planned.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

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A tale of two Wandas

Hello sewing chums, I hope you are having a good weekend? I am LOVING being part of The Monthly Stitch during Indie Pattern Month for a number of reasons: so many talented sewistas are joining the community and sharing their makes; every time I check my blog feed I see more gorgeous things which I want to make; it’s FAB that everyone is getting so involved with the challenges and last but not least ….. I was a winner in the first week Dresses category! More of that later …. It all kicked off for me by reading about the inaugural secret santa style pattern swap. It’s the first time I had participated in something like this and it was really good fun. I know that the person I bought a pattern for liked it because she has made it up and written a blog post about it – I thought she looked gorgeous so have been congratulating myself on my excellent choice (it’s actually really hard not to comment on the post and say “It was me” but then I’d be just as bad as my Y9 form who do Secret Santa each year and everyone knows who has got who!). I was chuffed when my pattern arrived – my partner had organised for it to be sent directly me to and the company addressed it to her so I do actually know who my partner was! Anyway, you know who you are and you made an excellent choice for me so many thanks. image I decide to make the dress up in some lovely floral cotton I had bought at Badger and Earl when I was doing a workshop there. I measured myself and went for 12 on the bust grading out to 14 at the waist. The paper is really study, i.e. not tissue and the instructions are OK.  The pattern is described as beginner  but to be honest, if I hadn’t already got a couple of frocks under my belt I might have struggled a bit with some of the instructions e.g. pleats.  Anyway I made the dress up and … was hugely disappointed. imageimage The dress was too big – I didn’t need to have graded out at the waist after all. Unlike Wanda the yoke did not come immediately beneath my boobiloobies (although in fairness the line drawing does show it as being more on the waist but that version doesn’t include the bust pleats/gathers) and my floral fabric looked positively frumpy.  All in all I thought it looked like a 1950s utilitarian type frock you might have worn to do the housework! image I really was hugely disappointed.  However, I decided to try and put  a positive spin on it and congratulated myself on having made my first wearable muslin.  I felt I owed it to my swopsie partner to have another go – I did not want to just blog about a failure so I immediately set about making another. I bought some cornflower blue linen at Sew Over It whilst doing my first Vintage Shirtdress workshop and decided to use this for the dress part and use the last of the scraps from my Liberty Queue for the Zoo left over from my Belcarra.  I spent a stressful Friday night trying to eek it out … and failed. imageIn the end I had to give up.  It was only the interfacing I couldn’t squeeze out so I had an idea!  I decided to use the linen as a full lining.  Having made a couple of  BHL KIMs recently I was familiar with this method. The is a real departure for me  – I normally stick to the pattern because I haven’t got the knowledge/confidence to deviate but this time I really went off piste! I did a full lining in the linen and it worked!  To be honest I am not sure if the delicate tana lawn would have held up the linen base anyway. imageI even made alterations so that the dress would fit me and was more like the Wanda of the pattern illustration.  I chopped off an inch and a half from the bodice and took the sizing down too.  It looks so much better with the yoke ending just under the bust rather than at the waist – don’t you think? imageimageSorry the photos are not great.  The sun wasn’t out and Mr CK was not in the mood for taking photos – how I need a blog manager! There is still some pooling at the back which I will attend to next time. image I wore the dress to work this week and lots of people commented on it; it really is a work dress I feel. Anyway, I decided what I needed to finish it off was a little cropped jacket – made in the blue cornflower linen. Which brings me neatly onto my exciting news.  I was one of the winners for IPM2015 dresses contest. My prize was a Tia Dress Craftsy Class and a Named pattern of my choice so I have chosen the Lourdes Cropped Jacket to join Wanda.  I am not sure when I will get round to making this up as my sewing TO Do List has just gone off the scale this month. image So, here it is then …. my entry to the New to Me contest.  Thanks to my swopsie partner for choosing the pattern for me in the first place and I also want to say a special thanks to Elle from Laura Loves Pugs whose clever ideas for using precious fabrics inspired me for the second Wanda. Toodle pip, Clarinda x