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

Finally … the lace dress of doom is finished

The finally finished dress

The finally finished dress

The hours of my life spent on this dress just doesn’t bear thinking about. Four three hours classes, homework every week of two to three hours, two hours at sewing club and then all the handsewing – phew.  Only to  discover that instead of looking exactly like Lisa Comfort in her dress, I look rather matronly in a dress that doesn’t fit very well.

I feel ambivalent about this dress.  It is very exciting to have finally finished a longer project, particularly one that introduced me to so many new techniques but there is also so much wrong with it I don’t know where to start.

Here are the errors that true sewistas would just sort out: the waggly hem, the dodgy loop fastening, it’s too big pretty much all over.

My toile - why couldn't I see this was too big?

My toile – why couldn’t I see this was too big?

I started the class at Sew Over It  – Clapham in November.  There were five in the class and our tutor was the wonderful Julie.  I love it that the studio has toiles already made up in all the different sizes for you to try on and then you take your own fitting from there.  I went for a 12 and had to take out a central V on the chest to take account of my small boobs.

Lovely studio at Sew Over It - can you see the lovely cake?

Lovely studio at Sew Over It – can you see the scrummy cake?

The dress needed further taking in on the seams and again after I tried the zip – I ended up trimming so much off I think I definitely should have gone with a 10.  The interesting thing about the class was how I emerged as a student.  Being a teacher I thought I would be a good student – retrospectively I think I was probably a pain. To encourage me every time I wailed, Julie would say “It’s couture!”.

My first problem was my lace.  I decided to buy my lace from Sew Over It so that I could look exactly like Lisa Comfort. I soon realised that everyone else had bought their lace elsewhere and it was far prettier than mine: moan, moan.

The lace and the lining

The lace and the lining

Then I realised I was slower than everyone else; my dress fitted less well than everyone else, and so it went on.

Cutting out - there seemed to me a huge number of pieces - a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

Cutting out – there seemed to me a huge number of pieces – a seven panel dress and a separate yoke

As I approached the class for the last night of the four week workshop I only had my zip and hem to do – I was very excited.  I came away from that class three hours later with still only the zip and the hem to do!  The last minute fitting took for ages.  It became apparent that what I thought was an invisible zip was not in fact so I decided to hand sew in a normal one which took me ages because I realised, rather perversely, that in my brief sewing career I have only put in invisible zips so didn’t know what to do.

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Hand sewing my not so invisible zip

Working with lace was a pleasing challenge.  It had to be “mounted” on a base fabric = I used the crepe de chine I was using for my lining  – it has made the dress incredibly heavy.  Julie suggested a way of using my lace to make a more interesting necklines (others had scalloped edges as part of their lace).  I had to cut two rows of daisies out, run a line of stitches thorough the middle to gather and then sew onto the neckline – I am pleased with this.

Lace finish on the neckline - a unique feature!

Lace finish on the neckline – a unique feature!

I have realised that I need to get a camera that sits on a tripod – these photos on my IPAD are rubbish and my photographer has to be cajoled and bullied so does not undertake his task with good grace!

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

Finishing the dress at Sewing Club

I plan to wear the dress of doom to my work’s Christmas supper on Monday week. It’s a very low key affair so I think I might just about get away with my waggly hem and matronly fit.  So, onwards and upwards on the sewing front.  I am tentatively thinking about booking the coat making workshop!

Front yoke – can’t imagine Tracey Emin, herself a great sewista, wearing a frock like this

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

Weekday Knitting

I have been able to knit since a young age and I go through phases of being madly into it and then not doing anything for a good couple of years. I was certainly having a dry spell but since I’ve started sewing and reading blogs I have been inspired by a number of sewistas who finish off their handmade clothes with a funky little cardigan and so I have gotten into it again. I have a number of WIP but did want to show you a little lace beanie I made which has had SO much wear already. I found the pattern in KNIT magazine.

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I really needed to concentrate on the lacy pattern so I couldn’t really knit whilst I watched TV so it was pretty much completed on my commute. It was my first experience of circular needles and I have become a huge fan and now knit using them even when the pattern doesn’t need circular needles.

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The wool is Sublime cashmere merino silk dk – I have already bought another 100g in an inky blue to knit another as this one has proved to be super versatile.

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Worn on my birthday for a walk across the South Downs – this is the lunch stop – champagne in a beaker.

 

Selfie on the beach with the family in Gand background

Selfie on the beach with the family in the background

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I tend to knit every day on the tube and train into work. I keep my WIP in  this little bag I made during my first workshop at a Clothkits – I have had some odd looks when I open my Mulberry and pull out my knitting. I am currently working on a variety of squares to make a blanket for my daughter.

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On the sewing front, I just wanted to share a little peak of how my lace dress is coming along.

Week two of four at Sew a Over It lace dress workshop

Week two of four at Sew a Over It lace dress workshop

And finally, I am LOVING Sewvember – so many interesting glimpses on a daily basis. Have a peek on Instagram at #bpsewvember. So much inspiration; so little time.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

 

 

Dahlia in disgrace and the joys of being part of sewing communities

I have been feeling a little down.  I proudly boasted in my last post how I was going to make a Dahlia whilst on half term and had visions of elegant poses of me in the Peaks looking suitably smug showing off  my autumnal sewing success.  I did not finish the dress in the week; I have not finished it since; it is currently looking at me from where I have tossed it on the sofa – this particular Dahlia is in deep disgrace.  Its misfortune would have remained private but I have been encouraged to move on and blog, regardless of having anything to share/show, by Sew South London who has blogged today of her own frustrations and an unfinished Dahlia.

Just look at that renegade seam - it is supposed to be on the inside. How did that happen?

Just look at that renegade seam – it is supposed to be on the inside. How did that happen?

So, once my patience has been replenished (the store is currently closed) I will complete the last bit of hand sewing and post photos of my finished dress.  The sewalong started today so I might well have another attempt – I did have some nice navy and red plaid lined up but my confidence is currently depleted.

However, what I did want to share was some of the fun things that are going on at the moment linked to various sewing communities.

1. Tomorrow I am starting a course at Sew Over It  for four consecutive Wednesdays to make a lace dress – hopefully it will look like this:

photo courtesy of Sew Over It

photo courtesy of Sew Over It

The tutor is the brilliant Julie who guided me through my first (only) pair of trousers.  It will be tiring going to a workshop after work but I am excited about having expert help with my sewing and learning some new techniques.  I am also looking forward to meeting some fellow sewistas.

2. By complete chance I read about Bimble and Pimble’s Sewvember on the day it started

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I have been diligently uploading my photos to Instagram (quite a new experience for me) but the really fun thing is all the sticky beaking you can do.  I have been truly over-awed with the sheer size of some people’s stash and the sewing space pictures on Day One are really making me think about how I can pretty up my own space.  I guess that’s what Instagram is about for us – caring, sharing, inspiring and I have been inspired!

Finally, 3. the wonderful Katya Essery of Sew Pretty is starting a Sewing Club at her gorgeous studio in Wimbledon on a twice monthly basis where you can drop in and get help with your projects – no doubt I will be turning up with my Dahlia!

Photo courtesy of Sew Pretty

Photo courtesy of Sew Pretty

Katya has also introduced some new workshops including a winter coat, a tie and Christmas stockings.  If you can get to Wimbledon, do consider taking a class at Sew Pretty – I have done a couple now and love Katya’s relaxed approach which combines really skilful instruction with wine and friendly banter.

Hopefully, I will be able to share a garment, of some description, soon – you can guarantee I will not be saying “this came together really easily”.

Toodle pip,

Clarinda

First trousers and a lovely day at Sew Over It

I had a really fun day yesterday at Sew Over It sewing cafe in Clapham where under the expert guidance of a lovely lady called Julie, I managed to make a pair of Ultimate Trousers which I have worn today, are comfortable and fit me!

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The studio is great and I would highly recommend taking a class there if you can get to Clapham. Tea was available throughout the day and elevenses included gorgeous handmade cupcakes. The studio was super girly, bright pink stairs, pin cushions in China cups and saucers etc. There was also a wonderful selection of fabric.

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I had bought my fabric the week before,  black cotton twill, but when I saw all the lovely fabrics  on display I changed my mind.  I made my trousers up in a moss green polka dot cotton (and bought more fabric for two future projects – I really am beginning to see how sewistas can easily build up a significant stash.

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I thought it was brilliant that they already had a number of toiles to try on to check your fit. We double checked the fit after we had cut out – I needed a slight alteration at the back. Rather annoyingly I didn’t mark it on my pattern at the time and now I can’t remember it.

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The best thing of all was that I finally got to use an overlocker. I loved it. I’ve looked at EBAY but there doesn’t seem to be many floating about. I do have a birthday later this month so perhaps I could go for the combined birthday/Christmas gift approach. What do you think – do the benefits justify the cost?

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So it’s been a really satisfying weekend on the sewing front – made and wore my trousers  (photos taken at Elmer beach – what an absolutely glorious day it’s been) and this afternoon I have been busy making a rather bonkers dress but that is for next time.

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Toodle pip,

Clarinda