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

 

Round up of the year – My five top hits of 2014

I really enjoy the community events, most recently Bimble and Pimble’s Sewvember which introduced me not only to Instgram but to some wonderful, inspirational ideas. Now it’s approaching the end of the year and I see that Crafting a a Rainbow is again promoting a Top 5 of the year. As I only bought my Janome at Easter, my round ups will be from the last eight months and here is my first one: The Top Five Hits of 2014

Moneta and Marilyn
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This was my first ever knit and I was particularly proud of myself when I had completed the bodice.  I followed instructions from The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits having bought myself a walking foot and a twin needle.   This post could have made it into the Misses of the year due to my failure with the twin needle and the clear elastic – both of which have still eluded me and will be goals for 2015.  However, the sheer fun to be had from the fabric  and the pleasure of completing my first knit puts in firmly in the Top Five Hits post.
Sorbetto and One Week One Pattern

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Having only been sewing since Easter I did not really have much of a choice for my One Week One Pattern – it had to be the Sorbetto – which I love.  The skill I most enjoyed learning from this make was bias binding.  It was through this that I discovered The Little Tailoress and her super helpful tutorials.  Here are three of my five Sorbettos from that week, including a running top I made from some of the leftover Marilyn knit – as you can see I take my race preparation very seriously.  My participation in this event was a HIT for another reason.  I entered a giveaway competition by Handmade Jane who organised this year’s OWOP and won my choice of three patterns. Having this announced on her blog gave me by biggest number of hits in one day – 99 – the likes of which have never been seen since so as a new blogger this was very exciting for me in addition to the delight of wining three patterns – which will feature in a future post.

Sureau

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How I love my Sureau.  I adore the button placket at the front and the easy comfortable styling.  I would say this is the make I wear the most.  It is super comfortable and always gets favourable comments.  I plan to make more, many more.  This could be the garment for OWOP15.

Lacy beanie

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I do enjoy knitting – I was a knitter long before I could sew but like many other hobbies of the past it was long forgotten but my interest has been reawakened and I now knit regularly on my commute.  This little beanie was my first time of using both circular and double ended needles.  I really enjoyed making it up and knitting is such a useful thing to have in your handbag  for a spare ten minutes – imminently more portable than a sewing machine.

Bees shirt

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This shirt is a favourite because I have worn it a lot and I love the funky fabric.  It teams well with a grey skirt for work and looks equally at home with denin for a more casual look.  I also have fond memories of making this shirt.  Six colleagues and I held our own sewing bee at work and afterwards we decided to take a workshop at Sew Pretty together to further improve our skills.  Only three of us actually made it to the workshop but we all made a version of this shirt and none of us finished it during the three weeks worth of classes because we were laughing and chatting so much. By the way, as we’re getting to know each other a little more through this series of posts, I’d like to point out that these two photos were taken at the end of my garden

So, four more posts to come.  I am looking forward to pondering about what to include and then writing them; I hope you are looking forward to reading about my Misses, Highlights, Reflections and Goals!

Toodle pip,

Clarinda x

top 5

 

 

New Sewing Club – Hoorah!

I am SO delighted that Sew Pretty have started a Sewing Club on the first Tuesday of each month and tonight was the inaugural meeting. I have been to a couple of workshops previously and really have enjoyed the friendly, welcoming atmosphere and the expert help and advice from Katya.

My concentration face - hand sewing the zip on the mammoth saga that is my lace dress

My concentration face – hand sewing the zip on the mammoth saga that is my lace dress

The focus for the club is that people can take along their various WIPs which they need help and advice with, or simply want to use a sewing machine or overlocker.  There were five of us and everyone had really interesting projects.

A lovely, almost finished, quilt

A lovely, almost finished, quilt

There was a quilt in the final stages; a child’s dress; one lady who had had a doll’s cot as a child and was revamping it for her own 18th month old daughter. Her father had renovated the cot and she was making bedding and a mattress cover. A friend of mine also went along who had bought back some GORGEOUS silk from her recent trip to Cambodia and Vietnam and wanted some help cutting out the fabric (best done with tissue underneath – I did not know that).

How lovely is this silk? I am hoping for a scrap to be able to make a tie!

How lovely is this silk? I am hoping for a scrap to be able to make a tie!

And finally there was me. Remember my Dahlia dress with the off the shoulder neckline?

Dahlia neckline

Dahlia neckline

Well, I took that along to see if anything could be done – I had decided that I simply didn’t have heart (euphemism for couldn’t be arsed) to unpick my bias and take all the raglan sleeve seams in. Katya repinned the back and suggested I try an inverted box pleat.

Back box pleat - I had to take in four inches

Back box pleat – I had to take in four inches

I did that and it looks OK – an interesting design feature is what I shall claim!  Then it was onto my Time Thief lace dress. There is a strong possibility I may actually finish it this weekend and finally be able to blog it – but don’t hold me to that.

Super skilful Katya

Super skilful Katya

I really enjoy social sewing. It must be a real challenge for a teacher to assist with five different projects but Katya coped admirably and we are all looking forward to the next sewing club in January. Hope you are all having a fun week,

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

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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